aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Hope for Arnold
...I’m mildly intrigued that Arnold still hasn’t vetoed the bill the Legislature sent him legalizing same-sex marriage. He promised to veto it, it’s been on his desk for six days, and there it still sits. Do you think—dare we think—that the TV ads comparing him to George Wallace, and the entreaties from Hollywood pals and Maria might—just might—have gotten to him?
Could he actually be thinking about his legacy, and wondering which chapter he wants to be included in? The one about bigots who fought the very last battles opposing inevitable civil-rights advances—or the one about minimally visionary politicians who were able to look a mere year or two into the future and see that that cutting-edge bill was just ever-so-slightly ahead of its time?
Knowing what I know of the Governator, I don’t think he’d be happy being in the George Wallace chapter at all.
Mike wants us to take action and contact Arnold. I’m hopeful.
No one shot at helicopters in NOLA
A report on Good Morning America featured a Times Picayune reporter saying that no one shot at helicopters and that the reporting blew things out of proportion. More precisely, that frantic, excited, panicked exhausted people told reporters things that turned out not to be true.
The shooting-at-rescue-helicopters story was oft quoted in these parts. Today I searched some for more; when I can get the GMA transcript I’ll quote it because the guy was great. I didn’t trust the helicopters story when I heard it; I’m glad to see it turn out to be false:
As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation’s media: evacuees firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people killed for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center. Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers supposedly fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises.
In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of “babies,” and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of “hundreds of armed gang members” killing and raping people inside the Dome. Unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies, “we couldn’t count.”
The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. Nagin told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an “almost animalistic state.”
Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.
The Market and Intelligent Design
This guy’s one smart fellow. He says that evolution’s been proven and Intelligent Design refuted but “rehashing the refutation” isn’t his goal because “those who reject evolution are usually immune to such arguments.”
Rather, what he does is point to ”a surprising crossing of political lines:”
How it is that modern free-market economies are as complex as they are, boasting amazingly elaborate production, distribution and communication systems? Go into almost any drug store, and you can find your favorite candy bar. And what’s true at the personal level is true at the industrial level. Somehow there are enough ball bearings and computer chips in just the right places in factories all over the country. The physical infrastructure and communication networks are also marvels of integrated complexity. Fuel supplies are, by and large, where they’re needed. E-mail reaches you in Miami as well as in Milwaukee, not to mention Barcelona and Bangkok.
The natural question, discussed first by Adam Smith and later by Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper among others, is: Who designed this marvel of complexity? Which commissar decreed the number of packets of dental floss for each retail outlet? The answer, of course, is that no economic god designed this system. It emerged and grew by itself. No one argues that all the components of the candy bar distribution system must have been put into place at once, or else there would be no Snickers at the corner store.
So far, so good. What is more than a bit odd, however, is that some of the most ardent opponents of Darwinian evolution - for example, many fundamentalist Christians - are among the most ardent supporters of the free market. They accept the market’s complexity without qualm, yet insist the complexity of biological phenomena requires a designer.
They would reject the idea that there is or should be central planning in the economy. They would point out that simple economic exchanges, which are beneficial to people, become entrenched and then gradually modified as they become part of larger systems of exchange, while those that are not beneficial die out. Yet some of these same people refuse to believe natural selection and “blind processes” can lead to biological order arising spontaneously.
I will be using that illustration again and again with the fundamentalist students I work with, who I find to be intellectually curious and good thinkers. When they proffer a good answer, I’ll be sure to share it.
If you found yourself needing an old biology textbook and couldn’t locate your battered copy from college, you’d have a few options.
You could go to a university bookstore and snag a used copy; you could drop a few dollars on a new one at Amazon.com; or you could track down some old college chums and ask for their copies.
But if Jimmy Wales and his colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation have anything to say about it, you could have another way to go--the Wikibooks project. It’s their attempt to create a comprehensive, kindergarten-to-college curriculum of textbooks that are free and freely distributable, based on an open-source development model.
Brown told congressional investigators Monday that he is being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to a senior official familiar with the meeting.
On Saturday, Jane wrote:
And now I will leave you to guess where this bit of gossip came from, because I promised not to tell. But one of the above-mentioned folks called me this afternoon to say that according to sources within the Enquirer itself, the source for Bush’s drinking story is—an incredibly pissed-off, recently scapegoated head of a federal agency who thinks that BushCo. done him wrong.