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Monday, October 31, 2005

My Theory On Teaching Evolution: Believe It Or I'm Going to Punch You in the Face 

I promised St. Nick a response in this monkey debate, but I'm going to have to actually be real brief here for a change. Hopefully, I can afford to be; my point is a simple one-celled organism and I would hate to see it split and evolve into a predatory, mammalian beast of an argument (some species of which the Saint seems to have bred below) about the merits of intelligent design, Mendell, the Discovery Institute, or the seperation of church and state.

Not that I wouldn't love to discuss these topics over cigars and brandy sometime. But for now I really don't have much to say about all this intelligent design theory, "ID," whatever you call it. The only time I argue about ID is when I don't have mine with me and some waitress won't serve me a vodka tonic.

Clearly I said nothing of these supposed competing theories when I responded to the Got's comment in Nick's Onion post. My one point - and I stand by it - is that proponents of evolution theory have no right to demand that the theory cannot be questioned. If even those scientific theories that have been supported by strong evidence of all the major propositions that follow from it are above questioning, evolution theory falls far short of this. Just as an example, there is no direct evidence of how, why or if a species can jump its genetic track and morph into a different species.

When you are looking for answers about where the multitude of animal and plant forms came from, unanswered questions like these are not a matter of a couple missing fossils, as the Saint would try to present them. I'm not trying to say that science cannot one day answer questions like this. I'm just saying it hasn't.

And I don't understand why that has to be kept such a secret.

Let me be clear. Obviously I think the fullest understanding of evolution theory that time and circumstance allows should be taught in classrooms. But - to take the Saint's example - if my kid wants to be a scientist or engineer, I would want him or her to seek out the unanswered questions that science and other disciplines are grappling with, and to be aware of where current theory and evidence falls short. The Saint calls this "the illuision of doubt." But in science, is doubt an illusion or a necessity?

I find it outrageous that kids today would get denied the chance to ask or be aware of these questions because some people might think it is somehow politically incorrect or unconstitutional to ask them in a classroom setting. It is one more piece of evidence that public schools are failing kids when they all grow up and go to college without any concept of those observations in nature that evolution theory cannot explain, and start threatening to punch people if they don't "believe" in its infallibility.

But let's be honest. It was never about the science for those people who go beserk when you question the theory, or suggest that kids might actually benefit from some kind of footnote to the theory of evolution that illuminates these issues. The Saint in all his good intentions is an example of the sort of Blue Stater who really really wants evolution to be considered infallible and taught as such in classrooms because he sees himself as the Enlightenment protector of intelligent, scientific disciplines against the Dark Age evils of bible-thumping alternatives**. There's politics afoot.

I for one am very sympathetic to the human frustration of seeing the concrete and provable threatened by but the seemingly purile and imaginary. But the progress of science requires a distinction between the provable and the proven that our high school bio classes refuse to provide.

Why short-change science? Look for example, at how the Saint points out that humans share 96% of their genes with chimps. Interesting factoid, to be sure. But does it explain anything? The Miller Lite in my fridge and the Bud Lite keeping him company no doubt share something close to 96% of their chemical composition - from this can we deduce that the Bud Lite evolved from the Miller Lite? I do not deny to be the descendant of an ape, I'm just really interested in learning how that happens genetically. And I would think scientists would be too.

Biology teachers in our schools are charged with providing students with an introduction to the scientific process and a background in life sciences. They should leave questions of a spiritual or philisophical nature for outside the classroom. But if students of science, like Einstein***, find a way to reconcile a dedication to scientific discovery with a belief in, well, something science can't explain, no should be surprised that questions of a very "politically incorrect" nature surface from time to time.

**
FOOTNOTE 1

If the Saint was really the "realist" he claims to be, one wonders why he would ignore the reality of the very situation he brings up here in his complaint? He asserts, for example, that what they did in Dover PA would require the "educational hours of American youth."

In reality, Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. The teacher is required only to read the following before they starting tecahing it:

"Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

"Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.

"The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments."


Okay, I think this Pandas and People stuff here might be out of bounds depending on how necessary it is to introduce students to ID. I really can't comment on whether or not ID is a junk science or accepted in any scientific community because I haven't read all that much about it. I do think it sounds interesting and I'd love to chat about it over cigars and brandy, like I said. The last bit strikes me as a reasonable disclaimer. The top part they should be teaching in the course anyway. This takes about 30 seconds to read. So how is this detracting from education again?

***
FOOTNOTE 2

As you will see in the comments section, St. Nick nearly hemorrhaged when I brought Einstein's personal beliefs into the E=MC squared of why I think we shouldn't be surprised if people dedicated to science still want to ask questions "outside of the box." I can understand why this terrifies the St. Nicks of the world. But should it surprise them?

Not if they are aware of some of the questions the most successful and important scientists have come up with.

Einstein once asked, "How much choice did God have in constructing the universe?" (Protesting quantum theory, he also asserted that "The Lord God does not play dice.")

Stephen Hawkings, discussing the possibility of a unified theory:

"Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?... Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?"

And finally, the very famous Hawkings ending to A Brief History of Time. Note to The Got: your sis may enjoy this quote:

"...if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we would know the mind of God."

All of this obviously lies outside my point about the cirriculum of high school biology. But if we are to accept that what Dover PA did amounts to a violation of the "seperation of church and state," how does one respond to the high school chemistry or physics teacher who suggests to an interested student that he read A Brief History of Time, or fails to edit from an article about Einstein where his musings may touch on the philisophical? Do we run him out of town for "shoehorning" religion into a classroom?

No one refutes that Hawkingses and Einsteins make the contributions they do to science because of a dedication to scientific process and the design of testable hypotheses. But the day the Blue State Mind Police succeed in their demands that the education of science requires doing their damnest to make sure kids never share or are exposed to the thought patterns of some of our greatest scientific minds is a dark day for science indeed.

P.S.
Where did the first cell come from?
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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Darwin's Newest Nightmare 


In response to the Onion Cover, N-Dot wrote:

Newsflash, there are a lot of scientists who recognize the major flaws in evolution theory too. For some odd reason they just never get mentioned in high school bio class.

Why should it be demanded that everyone "believe" evolution theory? If its science, it (still) needs to be proven.

Now N-Dot and I may not agree on anything even remotely political, but when it comes to the really important things, I like to think that we're usually in line. Rarely do I encounter a difference born out of anything other than completely rational, independent thought, as I feel that usually, we both (he more often than I) rise above the typical slogans and party lines. This, then, doesn't compute.

What you just introduced is exactly the kind of nonsensical argument that these Intelligent Designers are using to shoehorn creationism into American education. Step one: present the illusion of doubt; Step two: introduce a completely unrelated, unproven challenger; Step three: demand that if both are in doubt, both should get equal billing. It's a fool's game, and somehow we've all gotten roped into playing.

Take this example that's only marginally more ludicrous than ID itself: if I start calling you Harry, because I can't find any documentation that says specifically that your name is not Harry, you wouldn't be too pleased, and it certainly wouldn't merit your mom referring to you as such just to be fair. Alas, such is the stance that such revered institutions as the Kansas Board of Education are taking.

But evolution is just a theory you say? Sure, as is relativity, and, by that measure, Newton's theory of gravity. Of course there are gaps, as gaps are a way of life in a scientific process that is seeking to explain the origins of life. More important, however, is that the gaps in the theory - which, by the way, has almost universal acceptance among scientists and has been backed up by discovery upon discovery since Darwin sailed the Beagle, not the least of which was Mendel and his pea fetish - are due to gaps in the fossil record. You can hardly fault these scientists for the inconveniences brought about by the destructive nature of erosion and plate tectonics. Why not turn you ire on those not at all involved in the scientific method? Perhaps against those comfortably ensconsced in their ivory latrine, the Discovery Institute, whose main argument is essentially, "We can not unravel this mystery and must never dare try."

And what are the examples that this anti-Discovery Institute provides? The human eye, I've read. Surely this complex machine had some sort of creator, they say. That's a hell of a blueprint this designer churned out, considering our optic nervee goes right through our retina, causing a blind spot. If I were creating a light sensor, I certainly wouldn't have put that there, unless of course I were designing drunk.

So N-Dot, just because all Liberals hate something, doesn't mean it's true. The fact is that only a ridiculously small minority of educated people don't subscribe to evolution, and only a minority of that minority have the balls to parade their creationist leanings around as "Intelligent Design." Even those sitting in the buckle of the bible belt simply accept that the Judeo-Christian god created everything in 6 days and then kicked back; there's no pussyfooting around. Somehow these ID people are making even Evangelicals look cosmopolitan.

If you ever want to take a field trip and watch some bonobo's display behavior that's more human that what you'll see on the subway, or discuss the fact that right now, we're all just a collection of little strings vibrating in 11 dimensions, I'm down. You can refute any theory you like. But come at me with something legitimate, and not the intellectual equivalent of a raspberry. I may be a lowly athiest, but I'm also a realist. If this is something you really believe is worth the educational hours of American youth than so be it - I can't stop you any more than I can stop KS or Dover, PA. But if your kid - who, by the way, will share 96% of his genes with a chimp - ever wants to be a scientist, or architect, or engineer, or just about anything that involves a firm grasp of the sciences I wouldn't recommend sending him to public school there, unless we're outsourcing our teachers to India by then.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ku Klux Klan - Back again 

The Ku Klux Klan, best known for their role in the Jerry Bruckheimer hit, Bad Boys 2, have finally found something to hate again. While gay marriage may not be so prevalent in the south that they will have a plethora of yards to burn crosses on, and they may also have to join forces with many right wing southerners (who may also be black shhh), they have in fact, decided to rally the troops.



"AUSTIN, Texas -- The Ku Klux Klan plans to rally in Austin to support the gay marriage amendment set for the Nov. 8 ballot"

"The rally planned on the steps of city hall the Saturday before the election will urge voters to favor proposition 2.
However, some who support proposition 2 don't welcome the KKK's assistance. One such person is Pastor Ryan Rush of Bannockburn Baptist Church. Rush said that a group that would come in that is characterized as hateful and bigoted is not welcome in this city. He said he doesn't want the Klan as a partner on any cause."

Rush then stepped down from the podium to urge the clan to attend his own church rallies, but to perhaps trade in their patented White hooded robes (which are rather obvious in crowds due to their tall pointy nature) for instead, dark curled-up mustaches and soft maniacal laughter. He added the he will, also, still be accepting monetary donations.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Will Those Heathen Evolutionists Never Quit? 

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And in news that isn't funny... 

U.S. Military Deaths Reach 2,000 in Iraq:

Earlier Tuesday, the chief spokesman for the American-led multinational force called on reporters covering the conflict not to look at the 2,000 death since March 2003 as a milestone.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force's combined press center, described the number as an "artificial mark on the wall."

"I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq," Boylan said in an e-mail. "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives.


[via YahooNews]

Yes, but it must mean something.
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Monday, October 24, 2005

Dazed and Confused 

Construction of the Freedom Tower has stalled. Real Estate Developer, Larry Silverstein, holds the 99-year lease on the World Trade Center site. Mayor Bloomberg doesn't want Silverstein involved in the project at all.



"It would be in the city's interest to get Silverstein out," Mr. Bloomberg was quoted as saying in an article in The Daily News yesterday. He said the plan to build as much as 10 million square feet of office space on the site might force "a kind of construction which maybe the marketplace doesn't want." The mayor suggested adding housing to the mix.





Silverstein responded by calling the Mayor's remarks, "Confusing."

What a great response. Silverstein could have responded and said that Mayor Bloomberg's remarks were short-sighted, misinformed, misleading, or just plain incorrect. Instead he said they were confusing. Just perfect.

Silverstein has my vote, should he decide to run for anything.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The NBA is implementing... 

...a dress code. NBA players will be expected to wear business casual attire to any league functions- including pre and post game interviews.

Many players have taken issue with this policy. Stephen Jackson, who was involved the Piston/Pacers melee last November, is calling the league’s policy racist:

"I think it's a racist statement because a lot of the guys who are wearing chains are my age and are black. I wore all my jewelry today to let it be known that I'm upset with it."


Protest. Fight the power.



Bling, bling.



[Note: In this photo it appears that Jackson is actually wearing a big chain with business casual attire. David Stern, is this feasible?]



Allen Iverson, whose fashion stylings almost single-handedly brought corn-row braids into the hip hop main stream, was asked what he thought about the NBA's new policy. [Regrettably, I couldn’t find a transcript of Iverson’s commentary, which I watched on Sportscenter last night, but I think this is fairly accurate]:

I’m 30 years old. I’m a grown man. Nobody should be telling me how to dress. You can put a murderer in a suit, but he will still a murderer.


What exactly is Iverson trying to tell us?



I mean I understand the point Iverson was trying to make, but the way it came out, it sounded as if Iverson was implying that he was a murderer and that suit or no suit he will still be a murderer.

I love how the print news media tries to paraphrase/translate Iverson’s remarks into a more palatable format, rather than quote him directly about these murderers and their suits. For example the Courier Post writes:

Iverson's point is that a good guy can wear jeans, while you can put a suit on a bad guy and he'll still be a bad guy.
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Monday, October 17, 2005

One Year Later... 



...and I'm still shocked and awed.
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Time to Finish the Job.... 


We've been soft on those bison for too long, and what have we got to show for it?

That's right - less tanned leather for our covered wagons and a thriving population of rare, friendly animals roving our national parks, delighting our vacationing children, and chewing our cud.

This ends now. Break out the six-shooters, Annie.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

There is a subtle art to recruiting from a position of weakness. 

I read this article in the New York magazine. I'm not sure why. The picture at the start of the article was this:



Which would make almost no one want to read on.

But I did. I don't care about Columbia's Economics Department. I'm not interested in the narrative of how Columbia worked its way from barely in the top 30 Economics Departments in the country to entrenched in the top 10. But, as I said I kept reading and I found this:

Sunspot Theory.


Which applied to me, to my employer. To the recruiting class that was hired in July. And the subsequent class recruited in September:

Sunspot Theory. The idea is that economies get stuck in a rut because of a breakdown in coordination. It seems that people will be productive only when those around them are also productive. Suppose, for example, that you live in a country of skilled, educated people where no one is doing much more than subsistence farming because the economy had recently tanked. (Think of an extreme version of the United States at the beginning of the Great Depression.) Even if you knew how to manufacture sophisticated products like computers, you wouldn’t do it. Why? Because no one would buy them. What good is a computer to a bunch of dirt farmers? For the same reason, none of your countrymen would manufacture anything either.


According to the theory, the only way out of this dilemma is to change everyone’s state of mind at once. The impetus could be anything, really—a new president, a change in the fortunes of a beloved sports team, even something as arbitrary as a spot on the sun. The key is that everyone has to believe that everyone else will suddenly start producing again. The expectation that the economy will improve becomes self-fulfilling.


This theory applies to Columbia's sub par (by Ivy League standards) Economics Department. This theory also applies to nearly everything corporate, cultural, or otherwise. It doesn't seem like Michael Woddford really needed to articulate this theory. It's common sense. It's momentum. It's the basis of Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point which I only partially read, and which read like a sociology textbook of what we already knew.

Trends start. People start them. It's nearly impossible to get the first person to believe the Earth is round. But, it's incredibly easy to get the two hundred millionth person to believe. It was probably fairly difficult hard to get the first few people to pay money to buy a Pet Rock. But, soon Pet Rocks became the must have gift during the Holiday Season, 1975. All at once people changed their opinion of exactly what the utility value of a rock was.



There are hundreds of examples along these lines.

These types of trends, this type of change is not



linear, it is



exponential.

And to bring this back home. A company who has no business hiring Ivy Leaguers (a company that I happen to work for), who has no business listing that only Ivy League or equivalent need apply, ends up becoming a destination for just that type of graduate. How?

By hiring in bulk. By convincing one Ivy League Grad to accept an offer by telling that graduate that they are planning on hiring 50 Ivy League Grads this month. And they all (or at least most) accept the offer because they believe the others (their classmates, their peers) will accept.

Now it's easy. Now it's true. This is a company with talent (or at least it's a company with Ivy League grads). It is a destination for graduates from top-tier schools. It was not the case before, but all at once it became true.
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Funny Business: Why I (Am the Only One Who) Can't Stand Jon Stewart 



There’s something funny going on here.

I realized it this weekend when I scanned Al Gore’s latest rant about how American democracy is being dismantled, given at some media conference in New York. Nothing new there, really – we already knew Al Gore lost all faith in American democracy the day it rejected his personal bid for executive power and prompted the former Veep to grow a beard like Ron Burgundy when he is jobless and demoralized and wandering around San Diego with a carton of milk.

I’m not posting to hate on Al. But I do want to take a look at one point he was trying to make. Though served as an appetizer on a platter of Gore whackjobbery, Gore’s point strikes me as valid enough: he thinks journalists should take their jobs more seriously, and that there should be “a distinction between news and entertainment.” Sounds good.

But he added:

This was the point made by Jon Stewart, the brilliant host of "The Daily Show," when he visited CNN's "Crossfire.”

Slow that Mustang down, Sally. Now we all know that everyone finds Jon Stewart to be funny and adorable and wants him to bear their children and be the next head of the U.N., etc. But you could be the Treasurer of the National Jon Stewart Fan Club (you can’t really – Gore already has that position) and still recognize the inherent contradiction in Gore’s statement. Not too mention a queasy feeling when a politician still trying to be president finds it necessary to perform verbal sex acts on a comedian whilst delivering a sermon on the evils of the modern media.

If you still needed the disclaimer, I personally don’t have much of a stomach for Jon Stewart anymore. He’s a talented comedian and I’m sure he’s still funny. But he’s not funny enough to be endured in every capacity he asserts himself in.

To understand my hatred for Jon Stewart, you have to understand my love of the Daily Show. I was one of the original fans who caught the first episode when it aired on Comedy Central and talked it up in school the next day. The humor behind Daily – as it survives through the work of other comedians on the show – was originally a parody of the self-serving egos and over-the-top personalities of news anchors and their news teams. In that sense, the cast was led perfectly by Craig Kilborn, who self-mockingly played the sort of arrogant character that he shows up as in Old School. As Kilborn’s successor host of the new Daily Show, Jon Stewart also plays the role of a self-glorifying egomaniac. It’s just that he’s not in on the joke.

What else but a hyper-inflated ego can explain Stewart’s absurd appearance on Crossfire (much lauded here on Billiken), where Jon Stewart was invited as a guest and proceeded to lecture Tucker Carlson on how to be a journalist, dictating that Tucker needed to take his role as a news talk show co-host more seriously?

Hu?

Stewart defended his kettle’s right to call the teapot black here by saying that because he was on comedy central, he could be as biased, exaggerated, fake, and downright silly as he wanted to when reporting the news. Seems fair. How can we be expected to take Stewart seriously, given that he appears on a show before puppets making crank phone calls?

Here’s the problem. We ARE being asked to take Stewart seriously. Every day. He comes on CNN and lectures journalists on how to do their jobs. I see him on C-SPAN doing these panels where he sermonizes on what the media should be like. He does book tours and interviews talking about politicians and the news and expounding on his problems with the administration. He is mentioned CONSTANTLY in the news as a legitimate media figure and is offered to us as an authority on the modern American media.


And now a presidential candidate has his head so far up the man’s backside that we can’t see if he still has that lumberjack beard or not.

Even bigger problem. People ARE taking him seriously. You hear kids all the time admit that they only get their news from the Daily Show. You hear people like Idle blogger A-Wood saying “turn off everything but the Daily Show,” suggesting that it is the only media voice out there keeping it real. Keeping it real, of course, by keeping it fake.

Stewart cannot be blamed for this alone. He’s a funny guy and has every right to make a career of fake news and political comedy. It is not his fault that high school and college age kids out there are too lazy to seek news elsewhere, and find out what is happening in Iraq through Jon Stewart’s jokes. But I find it real hard to accept him as some kind of prophet because he tells us that the line between the media and entertainment should not be blurred when he is the one, through every media appearance and arrogant lecture, who is trying hardest to blur it.


If Jon Stewart cannot make an entertaining fake news show from which people actually end up getting their news, why do Tucker Carlson and James Carville not have the right to make a news show as entertaining as they see fit? I find Carville at least as funny as Stewart, and Carlson wears a freaking bow-tie. A bow-tie, people. By what standard are we responsible for taking him seriously, but give a free pass for Stewart to do what he wants and then lecture others to do the opposite? Because they are on CNN? So was Stewart. At least Stewart wears a tie.

Jon Stewart may very well be “brilliant,” as Gore assures us. But if so, why do we have to keep hearing it from politicians? It is a little disconcerting that Stewart lectures conservatives like kindergarteners, then has ridiculous figures like Gore on his show and asks them such hard-hitting questions as “So what is wrong with these Republicans, anyway? Is it just that they’re evil?” (Gore didn’t confirm or deny that theory).

It is easy to understand Stewart’s appeal to Gore. Remember that many political analysts opined that the cast of Saturday Nigh Live actually moved poll numbers by emphasizing Gore’s sighing and overly aggressive manner in the debates, depicting him memorably as a jerk to Bush’s likeable frat boy. The new Al Gore doesn’t intend to be on the receiving end of harsh parodies this time around. And though he masquerades as a champion of press and speech freedoms, Gore has an unabashed hatred - clear in this speech - of the fact that conservatives like Rush Limbaugh are legally allowed to voice opinions on the radio, or that newscasters on Fox News can serve news marinated in a conservative sauce instead of doused in the usual liberal flavor.

So who better to suck up to than the media’s new most powerful fake-news anchor (that people get their news from), who we’re not supposed to take seriously (but is brilliant and asked his opinion on every news channel)?

And when Americans are turning to Fox instead of trusting Dan Rather and the New York Times for real news, what better market for liberals to corner than fake news (from which people get their real news)?

Jon Stewart’s politics have nothing to do with my complaint. I’ll laugh at the Bush-is-dumb-joke as much as the guy next to me, if its at all original. I even concede that he and Al Gore have a point about seriousness and professionalism in the media.

But it’s not decline of the news media that really upsets me. It’s the decline of the comedy.

Watching Al Gore and Jon Stewart publicly exchange body fluids is an excruciating experience for the truly Daily Show fan. There was a time when comedians made a point through the genius of parody and satire – the cast of the Daily Show was making their hilarious critique of the news media when Stewart was still making those cheese-ball sappy romance movies.

Humor is a matter of taste, and I would stop myself before I tried to convince anyone that Jon Stewart – though he has his moments – is the least funny guy on the show. Not that that’s a huge insult. But let’s just say I’m really looking forward to the premier of the Colbert Report (debuting right after).

It’s fine with me that people get a kick out of the Daily Show. Even I still manage to. I just feel that somewhere between poking fun at reporters and lecturing them, the show lost something. Somewhere between making fun of Al Gore and teaming up with him, the comedy got cheapened.

Somewhere between being the Daily Show and becoming the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the show got hijacked by an ego that dwarfs any the show originally set out to poke fun of. Of all people, Al Gore got the last laugh.
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And in other news Joe Scarborough Sucks... 

And also reveals that he doesn't know how to properly use of the word - GLIB.

Scarborough is quoted in a NY Times article about Stephen Colbert's upcoming Comedy Central cable news mockery "The Colbert Report".



The Colbert Report, which will air immediately after Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, is a parody of cable pundits such as Bill O'Reilly, Dan Abrams, Aaron Brown, and Joe Scarborough.



Colbert comments on Scarborough:

"Scarborough's got 'the real deal,' meaning 'here's how it really is,' " Mr. Colbert said. "It's always, 'It's just common sense, folks.' "

As an example, the real Mr. Colbert imagined how the fake one might dismiss Darwin's theory of evolution. "Intelligent design," he said. "It looks like somebody designed the world. At this point, I'm just looking for the signature in the corner."


Fine. Nothing ground-breaking. But when Scarborough was asked to respond and weigh in on The Colbert Report, he said the following:

In an interview, Mr. Scarborough said he thought Mr. Colbert had actually pegged him pretty accurately.

"It's hard to read Jefferson's 'Notes on Democracy' in the format we're given," said Mr. Scarborough, a former four-term Republican congressman from Florida. "You do your best to strip it down, in much the same way Reagan would strip down the great economic questions of the day into a glib little anecdote."


Scarborough's comments mean one of four things:

1. Scarborough doesn't know the meaning or GLIB. Or more importantly he doesn't know the connotation, the common usage and implication of the word or some synonyms for glib which include... insincere, nonchalant, superficial, deceitful.

2. Staunch-conservative Scarborough does know the meaning of GLIB, and has taken issue with Ronald Reagan's economic policies during the 1980s, and is taking a shot at our 40th President.

3. Scarborough is a linguistic master and is using a more-nuanced definition of GLIB - marked by ease and informality .

4. I don't really know the meaning of GLIB.
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Friday, October 07, 2005

Gooooood Morning San Antonio! 

This just in- Texans actively support the war in Iraq.

"A Judson graduate of medium build, with a soft blond mustache, Mr. Ecklund signed up a month ago for an Army infantry unit without being approached by recruiters. Standing in Sergeant Davis's air-conditioned recruiting station after a run, a few weeks before starting basic training, he said that he had known he wanted to join the Army two years ago, after getting goosebumps while watching the movie 'Black Hawk Down.'"

That's the best review Ridley Scott has gotten since Gladiator.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Home Front 


According to the Washington Post, ol' Harriet Miers might not have the universal appeal Bush is claiming.

"[Fellow churchgoers] say her personal values have been shaped by her abiding faith in Jesus, and by her membership in the massive red-brick Valley View Christian Church, where she was baptized as an adult, served on the missions committee and taught religious classes. At Valley View, pastors preach that abortion is murder, that the Bible is the literal word of God and that homosexuality is a sin -- although they also preach that God loves everybody."

Sounds like a recipe for some bench-legislatin', if you ask me.

Meanwhile, in Reno...

A woman was ejected from Portland-bound Southwest Airlines flight for wearing a shirt depicting Bush, Cheney, and Condi and the phrase "Meet the Fuckers." The lack of cleverness aside, this CNN article nevertheless includes the obligatory surly-relative-of-soldier-making-irrelevant-comparisons quote and a tepid self-defense statement from the airline. Seems SW has let the fact that just about every other US airline is operating in bankruptcy go to their heads. Good thing their toeing the republican line all the way out west, what with those democratic hotbeds of Arizona, Utah, and Nevada simmering unchecked.

Yep, seems that despite the numerous predictions of imminent Republican political demise, you can't keep a good abortion hating, Cheney loving populace down. Float on, America.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ha. 

The bloated price tag of $200 billion to recover from Katrina and rebuild New Orleans has been discussed on Billiken.

The Washington Post provides more evidence that those with spending power in Washington are either dangerously inept or extremely corrupt:

On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day.

The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract -- staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties -- has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation.



This collection showcases Washington Post reporting on the debate over the government's response to Hurricane Katrina and its pre-storm planning.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person -- and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

"When the federal government would actually save millions of dollars by forgoing the status quo and actually sending evacuees on a luxurious six-month cruise it is time to rethink how we are conducting oversight."


Carnival Cruises is now coming under scrutiny as well.

Not only are questions being raised over the contract's cost, but congressional investigators are examining the company's tax status. Carnival, which is headquartered in Miami but incorporated for tax purposes in Panama, paid just $3 million in income tax benefits on $1.9 billion in pretax income last year, according to company documents. "That's not even a tip," said Robert S. McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice. U.S. companies in general pay an effective income tax rate of about 25 percent, analysts say. That would have left Carnival with a $475 million tax bill.


So first audit Carnival Cruises, then audit the FEMA and the US government.

As for the Katrina evacuees who are currently being housed in the Carnival Cruise ships - here's to hoping that the $1,275 weekly cost per person is the all-inclusive package and includes the open bar out on the poop deck.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Eye in the Sky 





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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Don't make no sense 

I remember listening to Lil' Troy's Wanna be a Baller back in 1998 when my friends first started to get their licenses and began driving. The song had a real laid back beat, something that you could listen to while driving around in the local CVS parking lot in your 86' Volvo.



But even while enjoying the song we all recognized how preposterous some of the lyrics were. A lot of it was really bizarre and nonsensical. Witness Yungstar stumbling over and mumbling the following verse:

Licks in Kuwait,



got links in Pakistan



Boys don't understand virtual reality Caravan



Double doors marble floors naked hoes around me


Preposterous.

This weekend I listened to Kanye West's new album Late Registration. It includes another song that I could see myself listening to whilst cruising around a parking lot - Drive Slow featuring Pall Wall & GLC. The song is full of bragging raps - Rims, Diamond fronts, Candy-coated painting, CL Mercedes, and many many ladies - that sort of thing.

Kanye spits a dubious Yungstar-esque lyric:

My cars like the movies, my cars like the crib
I got more TV's in here then where I live




And rather than me or one of my friends having to critique the logic underlying the lyric, Paul Wall, next up in the song saves us the trouble:

And that don't even make no sense but baby I'm the shit And everything I flip you know is something serious


As far as I'm concerned that is pitch perfect on so many levels. And that don't even make no sense... That line speaks to so many rappers and acts as a commentary on so much rap music.

It doesn't make any sense. But, it doesn't matter. Because I'm the shit.

Rappers can brag about drug connects in Indonesia. Talk about their virtual reality devices in their custom 2007 Lexus Jeeps that haven't even been released yet. They can reference their Teflon-coated silk pajamas. Talk about their Jacuzzi filled with warm champagne, or the caviar eggs from the Loch Ness Monster that they ate while down in MIA. Whatever ridiculous consumer-commericial-wealth references they can string together consecutively. It doesn't matter. It is all a front to show that - baby, I'm the shit.

I love it.
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Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Voluble and Voluminous David Wells 



(So titled by ESPN.com.)
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