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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dolphin assassins menace Gulf of Mexico

The Guardian "reports:"
Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina: "It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing."
Odd indeed. In fact, it sounds like monkey fishing to us. The mammals could be carrying tactical nuclear weapons, too, and that's almost as unlikely as "toxic dart" guns.

The Register is also skeptical of the story in The Guardian, pointing out that the source cited, one Leo Sheridan, has a bit of a checkered history:
"Worrying to be sure. We find, however, that Sheridan has made sport of gullible reporters in the past. In 2003, he was confident that he and a team of divers he advised had located the site where English aviator Amy Johnson died, after her plane went into the sea off Kent in 1941. The Guardian carried that item too. Not surprisingly, there has been little news about Johnson's plane since the announcement.

He also appears to have been confident, back in 1998, that a group of US Navy killer dolphins had come to grief off the French Mediterranean coast when they got loose and their handlers detonated a 'radio-controlled explosion of their signal collars, so that no one could find out their missions.' (Find out their missions?)"
Well, of course, everyone knows dolphins can't keep a secret. So naturally they had to be killed.

Zero Intelligence

The Omaha Public School District is trying to convince the neighboring districts that this is an organization they should join. Catching 6 yr old Ethan Gray, an Omaha first grader, with a "deadly weapon," OPS immediately swung into action. "OMAHA, Neb. -- A butter knife in a boy's book bag led to suspension at Omaha Public Schools this week. Ethan Gray is a first-grader at Ed Babe Gomez Heritage Elementary School at 17th and P streets. Gray said he didn't know the knife was in his book bag. OPS said it has a zero-tolerance policy."
They might also have mentioned that they have zero sense, but perhaps that was clear enough without saying it. Apparently, the boy's 4 yr old brother slipped the knife in the bag when no one was looking. The parents contacted a lawyer to fight the suspension, who advised them to keep the boy out of school and threatened to sue OPS if the boy's record wasn't cleared.

So Nebraska once again looks stupid on the newswire and in Best of the Web. Fortunately, some sanity returned, and the suspension was lifted. The child won't be punished.

Omaha World Herald columnist, Michael Kelly, says:
"For every overreaction, there is an equal and opposite overreaction.

An Omaha school, earnestly trying to do the right thing under a zero-tolerance policy, gives a 6-year-old a one-day, in-school suspension because a butter knife fell out of his backpack.

The child said he didn't know it was in there. (His parents say a 4-year-old brother may have slipped it in.) Was the swift-and-certain justice of a first-grader losing six hours of in-class instruction really merited?

Then came the second overreaction:
The parents take the child to the office of attorney James Martin Davis, who on Tuesday stands with the boy in front of TV cameras. Davis threatens a lawsuit and righteously fulminates about this unfair blot on the pupil's Permanent Record.
Omigosh. Overall, wasn't the whole situation overkill?

Couldn't the school have contacted the parents, emphasizing the importance of not allowing any kind of knife in school and letting it go at that? Was it necessary for the theatrical Davis to call a press conference?

Even the attorney's friends joke that the most dangerous place to stand is between Jim Davis and a TV camera. His is the most familiar face and mop of graying hair in the Omaha legal community.

Davis, a Vietnam infantry veteran and former Secret Service agent, boasts that he keeps some Omaha reporters' phone numbers on his speed-dial."
Well, at least he got his client off, but we agree this looks like massive overkill. Meanwhile, the world has heard about the incident now, so the fact that it's not in the boy's official file is almost beside the point. Now it will show up in his Google searches for life. Talk about a "permanent record."

One hopes that a quiet talk between the parents and OPS could have given the same outcome without actually needing to push the button to launch the lawyer. We weren't there, of course, but wouldn't OPS officials have been smart enough to cut their losses before they looked like complete idiots in front of the whole country? One hopes.

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Can a Picture Lie?

Zombie shows the context of a photo of the San Francisco "anti-war" rally held last Saturday. The Anatomy of a Photograph shows how dramatically what is not shown can affect the message. (H/T Ryne)

While you're there check out the rest of Zombie's photos of the event. It's almost impossible to overstate just how nutty these people are, and yet from the news reports you'd think they're just "Ordinary Folks Standing Up for What They Believe." See for yourself at Zombie's page, then read what Christopher Hitchens says in Slate about what he calls "the phony peaceniks who protested in Washington." They're not against war; they're just on the other side.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Academic "Diversity"

Van Helsing at Moonbattery provides another piece of evidence of the hypocritical, intellectual rot in today's universities. Academic Freedom must be defended at all costs, regardless of how far left of leftfield the speaker is, and how wacky the views expressed. Steady losses at the ballot box are leading to erosion of leftist domination of the courts. Fortunately, at least in the hallowed halls of academe, conservative views can still be safely suppressed and derided.
"From the point of view of a moonbat, what could be more intolerable than a black conservative? The way blacks with the independence and self-respect to stray from the Democratic plantation are treated, you might think nothing. But what about a patriotic Indian?

There's no reason that Indians shouldn't be patriotic, or any reason to think that they aren't -- but don't spread that around in the morbid alternate reality known as academia.

Indiana University Associate Professor William Bradford has gotten himself into hot water by refusing to sign a petition in support of faux Indian Ward Churchill and Churchill's belief that those who died on 9/11 deserved what they got for being 'little Eichmanns.' What makes this thoroughly unforgivable is the fact that unlike Churchill, Bradford really is part Indian (half Apache)."
Disputes among academics are always vicious, because the stakes are so small. Professor Bradford has clearly crossed the line. He's jeopardizing Academic Freedom by dissenting from the views of its guardians. Doesn't he realize that his stubbornness is just giving aid and comfort to McCarthyites? If he won't support the views of a prominent, fake Indian like "PsychoWard" Churchill, how can Bradford claim to be an authentic Indian himself?

International Freedom Center Out of Ground Zero

The plans of the "International Freedom Center" (IFC) to create a Blame America First exhibit at the site of the World Trade Center are officially off. The handwriting was on the wall when Sen. Hillary Clinton came out publicly against the project, and now Gov. Pataki has shown the IFC the door. The WaPo reports:
Museum Dropped From WTC Site for Now: "The decision followed months of acrimony, with some Sept. 11 families and politicians saying that such a museum would overshadow and take space from a separate memorial devoted to the 2,749 World Trade Center dead and would dishonor them by fostering debate about the attacks and other world events.

'Freedom should unify us. This center has not,' Pataki said. 'Today there remains too much opposition, too much controversy over the programming of the IFC. ... We must move forward with our first priority, the creation of an inspiring memorial to pay tribute to our lost loved ones and tell their stories to the world.'

Freedom Center officials said in a statement that they did not believe there was a viable location elsewhere at the site.

'We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end,' they said.

The campaign by Sept. 11 families to oust the museum had grown to include four police and fire unions, an online petition with more than 40,000 signatures, and several politicians including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani."
Despite the headline, there's no indication in the WaPo story that the IFC has just been dropped "for now." In fact the statement above from the IFC sounds a note of finality. The story also makes no mention of Take Back the Memorial, the group that fought along with the 9/11 families against the IFC project.

Our only question is, if Pataki had the power to do this, why did it take so long? Is it too much to expect political "leaders" to lead rather than waiting for cover before acting? Apparently.

Fouad Ajami on Iraq

Fouad Ajami has another excellent article about Iraq and the rest of the Arab World in the Wall Street Journal today. You can catch it for free at OpinionJournal:
"It was the luck of the imperial draw that the American project in Iraq came to the rescue of the Shiites--and of the Kurds. We may not fully appreciate the historical change we unleashed on the Arab world, but we have given liberty to the stepchildren of the Arab world. We have overturned an edifice of material and moral power that dates back centuries. The Arabs railing against U.S. imperialism and arrogance in Iraq will never let us in on the real sources of their resentments. In the way of 'modern' men and women with some familiarity with the doctrines of political correctness, they can't tell us that they are aggrieved that we have given a measure of self-worth to the seminarians of Najaf and the highlanders of Kurdistan. But that is precisely what gnaws at them.

An edifice of Arab nationalism built by strange bedfellows--the Sunni political and bureaucratic elites, and the Christian Arab pundits who abetted them in the idle hope that they would be spared the wrath of the street and of the mob--was overturned in Iraq. And America, at times ambivalent about its mission, brought along with its military gear a suspicion of the Shiites, a belief that the Iraqi Shiites were an extension of Iran, a community destined to build a sister-republic of the Iranian theocracy. Washington has its cadre of Arabists reared on Arab nationalist historiography. This camp had a seat at the table, but the very scale of what was at play in Iraq, and the redemptionism at the heart of George Bush's ideology, dwarfed them."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Will, Feinstein and Grandstanding

Of all the silly reasons for opposing Judge Roberts' nomination that were given by those most tightly in the grip of left wing lobbying groups, Diane Feinstein's take the cake. George Will calls her out:
"She was, she said, disappointed when Roberts was asked by another Democrat whether 'he agreed that there is a 'general' right to privacy provided in the Constitution.' Roberts replied, 'I wouldn't use the phrase 'general,' because I don't know what that means.'

Well, what does it mean? Roberts had clearly affirmed his belief that the Constitution protects privacy in various ways that amounts to establishing a right to privacy in various contexts. But what would make such a right a 'general'' right? Do Americans have, say, a constitutional privacy right to use heroin in the privacy of their homes? No. To sell prostitution services in the privacy of their homes? No, again.

The question is not just: Does Feinstein, evidently a believer in a 'general' right to privacy, think, as a rigorous libertarian might, that such heroin use and prostitution should be permitted? Rather, the question is: Does she think the Constitution protects those activities as rights? If not, in what sense is the privacy right 'general'?"
But this part of the article had us laughing out loud:
"Remarkably, Feinstein was reading her statement. So her mare's nest of inapposite words and unclear thoughts cannot be excused as symptoms of Biden's Disease, that form of logorrhea that causes victims, such as Sen. Joe Biden, to become lost on the syntactical backroads of their extemporaneous rhetoric."

The Next Nominee

Our favorite of the named contenders is Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Melanie Kirkpatrick, in a rundown on likely female nominees on OpinionJournal, says this of Judge Brown:
"If anything, Judge Brown is even more outspoken [than Judge Edith Jones]. She once referred to colleagues on the California Supreme Court as 'philosopher kings' when it overturned a law requiring parental consent for minors who wanted abortions. She's an advocate for property rights, and she's called big government 'the opiate of the masses' and the 'drug of choice' for many segments of society. In 2000, she wrote the opinion affirming Proposition 209, which banned racial and sex preferences in state hiring and contracting.

Her credentials aren't as impressive as Judge Jones's, and she might be too libertarian for Mr. Bush. But if nominated, her personal story would complicate matters for liberal interest groups. The NAACP would have to decide whether to oppose the confirmation of a daughter of a sharecropper from Alabama. She was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit earlier this year as part of the filibuster-ending deal in the Senate."
We love that kind of libertarian talk in a potential SCOTUS Justice. She would make a great complement to Thomas and Scalia on the court. It would also seem that, her circuit court appointment having just been officially cleared in the deal that ended the filibusters, "extraordinary circumstances" could not be asserted against her just a few months later. At least it could not be done, if that term is to have any meaning at all.

Manuel Miranda also discussed a possible Brown nomination last week in an article about how the smear game is played. We would love to see Teddy Kennedy try to claim the moral high ground while attempting to browbeat Judge Brown. It's quite likely she would make him very much regret that, and it's time the Republican majority began to stand up and act like one. They are so afraid to take a stand for principle that they've forgotten that being a "spineless invertebrate" is not the way to win voters.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Men Aren't Going Extinct

Much to our relief, the rumors that the Y-chromosome is gradually falling apart are greatly exaggerated. It still only has 27 genes compared to 1,000 for the X, but at least things aren't getting worse. It had been theorized that over a few million years even those 27 would be lost, but Forbes tells us, "No worries:"
"But now researchers at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute have compared the human Y chromosome to the chimpanzee counterpart, searching for genes that men may have lost or degraded since humankind diverged from chimps six million years ago. To their relief, they found not a single gene has been lost in that long period, indicating that the Y isn't falling after all.

By contrast, the researchers found that the chimpanzee male chromosome has lost five genes over the last six million years, which may be due to chimps' promiscuous sexual habits, the researchers theorized. Men have one X and one Y chromosome, while women have two X chromosomes.

'Somehow this idea...that the Y chromosome is headed for extinction...has achieved tremendous market penetration,' says Whitehead geneticist David Page, the senior author of the study. 'But despite all the doomsday scenarios, it actually looks like the Y is sailing along quite nicely. It has established a new lifestyle with fewer genes. Our species has a long to-do list, but I think we can cross this problem off the list. You can sleep a little better now.'"
Whew! Now, if I could just stop worrying about the Entropy Death of the Universe and the Big Crunch.

The DNA of humans and chimps are 98.8% identical, making them our closest non-human relatives. Yet there are still important differences, at least for most of us.
"Still, after all this work, researchers are only at the very earliest stages of figuring out why we are so much smarter than monkeys.

'The original idea was by comparing [chimps' genes]with the human genome we would discover why we write poetry or become reporters. Sadly today we can say almost nothing about that topic that we couldn't say before the chimp genome was done,' says Whitehead Institute's Page. 'We genomicists can pile up the DNA letters very quickly but are very primitive readers of the text. It is an overstatement to say we can read it at the first grade level.'"
We suggest starting with the comparatively easy problem, comparing the chimps to reporters, lawyers, and politicians.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend Activities

Not much blogging this weekend at DLMSY. We were watching or playing in a Magic The Gathering (card game) tournament. On Saturday, Viper and I went to watch as Tycho played. Today Viper and I were playing in a team tournament, along with Tycho and his teammate. For those who have any idea what this is, i.e. probably no one, today's tournament was a "Two-Headed Giant" format.

Viper and I were 2-1-2 overall, and Tycho's team was 4-1-0