aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Blogger and Word
Google released a Blogger for Word Toolbar. I like the idea; would love one for Movable Type (though for the moment I use a Mac and that’s not supported). But I really like how it came about.
Last July, a few of us visited the Democratic National Convention to see political bloggers in action. Many were using Microsoft Word to post their reports. It was a multi-step process that didn’t look like fun, but for citizen journalists, punctuation, spelling and grammar are important. That got the Blogger team thinking about how to help Word users to become bloggers.
Via CNet News.com. And spell-checked in Word.
I’m making my way through Jerry Coyne’s 27 page Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name, the case against Intelligent Design in the New Republic this week. (Subscription only.)
Some comments on theory:
It is important to realize at the outset that evolution is not “just a theory.” It is, again, a theory and a fact. Although non-scientists often equate “theory” with “hunch” or “wild guess,” the Oxford English Dictionary defines a scientific theory as “a scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena; a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment, and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts.” In science, a theory is a convincing explanation for a diversity of data from nature. Thus scientists speak of “atomic theory” and “gravitational theory” as explanations for the properties of matter and the mutual attraction of physical bodies. It makes as little sense to doubt the factuality of evolution as to doubt the factuality of gravity.
When applied to evolution, the erroneous distinction between theory and fact shows why tactics such as the Dover disclaimer and the Cobb County textbook sticker are doubly pernicious. To teach that a scientific theory is equivalent to a “guess” or a “hunch” is deeply misleading, and to assert that “evolution is a theory, not a fact” is simply false. And why should evolution, alone among scientific theories, be singled out with the caveat “This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered”? Why haven’t school boards put similar warnings in physics textbooks, noting that gravity and electrons are only theories, not facts, and should be critically considered? After all, nobody has ever seen gravity or an electron. The reason that evolution stands alone is clear: other scientific theories do not offend religious sensibilities.
I’ll have thoughts and comments when I finish the article…
Mired in the mud
Bush’s “both sides ought to be properly taught” answer to a question about the “growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design” at a “round table” with Texas reporters a couple weeks ago has resulted in a bunch of magazine pieces that I’m only getting around to reading now.
I.D.Ã¢â‚¬"whose central (and easily refuted) talking point is that certain structures of living things are too intricate to have evolved without the intervention of an “intelligent designer” (and You know who You are)-enjoys virtually no scientific support. It is not even a theory, in the scientific sense, because it is untestable and unsupportable by empirical evidence. It is a last-ditch skirmish in a misguided war against reason that cannot be won and, for religion’s sake as well as science’s, should not be fought. If the President’s musings on it were an isolated crotchet, they would hardly be worth noting, let alone getting exercised about. But they’re not. They reflect an attitude toward science that has infected every corner of his Administration. From the beginning, the Bush White House has treated science as a nuisance and scientists as an interest group-one that, because it lies outside the governing conservative coalition, need not be indulged. That’s why the White House-sometimes in the service of political Christianism or ideological fetishism, more often in obeisance to baser interests like the petroleum, pharmaceutical, and defense industries-has altered, suppressed, or overriden scientific findings on global warming; missile defense; H.I.V./ AIDS; pollution from industrial farming and oil drilling; forest management and endangered species; environmental health, including lead and mercury poisoning in children and safety standards for drinking water; and non-abstinence methods of birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease prevention… In this White House, science’s name is mud. And, unlike those intelligent designers in the sky, all this crowd knows how to do is sling it.
A budding anti-war movement
Dave Fried on the modern protest movement:
Cindy Sheehan held a press conference this morning from Crawford, and I was impressed by the differences between the current anti-war movement and the one during the Vietnam War. The current protests are for the most part peaceful, well-groomed, re made up of people of all ages, overtly patriotic (displaying the American flag nearly everywhere), and remarkably polite.
Here in nearby Macon:
About two dozen people from across Middle Georgia lit candles, prayed and sang in Macon’s Washington Park on Wednesday in an anti-war ceremony.
“Twenty-five hours ago I sent out six e-mails and we have about 20 people here,” said Macon dentist Lindsay Holliday, who organized the vigil.
The local event was among hundreds of candlelight vigils held across the nation Wednesday calling for an end to the war in Iraq. The effort was spurred by one mother’s anti-war demonstration near President Bush’s ranch.
Kelly O’Donnell just reported that “hundreds answered Cindy Sheehan’s call” in New York City’s Union Square. Given their relative sizes, the Macon turnout is impressive.