Clearing Out My Backlog of Links
- John Leo retired from his regular column, but, thankfully, is still writing. He has a good piece in City Journal on censorship from the Left in higher education. I think most of my readers are already aware of the problem, but it's always good to be reminded of the egregiousness of the matter.
- In other higher ed news, the faculty of Yale is objecting to accountability for how grant money is used. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, as ivory tower residents have been speaking out against accountability for years -- unless, of course, the one to be held accountable is a Republican.
- In lower education news, a Republican state lawmaker in Texas has proposed a law to punish parents for not attending parent-teacher conferences. The proposed law would make it a misdemeanor with a $500 fine attached. While I believe parents should be involved in their child's education, and that this includes at least some meeting with teachers, this seems more than a little excessive. Thankfully, it looks unlikely to pass. I might be willing to tolerate some less severe action on a more local (i.e., school district) level, depending on the details. A private school, of course, could institute its own rules on such matters, without the criminal aspect, though the fines for parents not attending would likely have to be restructured as tuition rebates or some such for those who do attend. That would be imminently reasonable.
- Scientists have re-evaluated their estimated extinction date of the "terror birds" -- flightless, predatory birds up to 7ft in height -- by about two million years. This would not be a big deal if they were originally thought to have died 65 million years ago, but they were thought to have died a mere 10,000 years ago, making this not the minor adjustment it would have been in the former hypothetical case, but an extreme change in belief. Reading the last section of the article, they had believed that the birds migrated from South to North America when the Panamanian land bridge was formed about 3.5 million years ago, but they now believe some fossilized remains found in Texas that they believe pushes the migration date back to 5 million years ago (the article is unclear on exactly how old the remains in Texas are believed to be). All of this furthers my hypothesis that these scientists have no idea what they're doing, and possibly use a dartboard to sort out any questions that linger.
- Damn Interesting has a post on the toothpick fish, which has become one animal I'd fear getting into a confrontation with. How could a catfish that's one of the smallest vertebrates on the planet cause such terror, you ask? Well, let's just say that any fish that would cause men to choose castration is worthy of fear.
- A man accidentally burned down his house because he couldn't find any clean underwear. I don't really have anything to say to that.
- Reuters has decided to turn an eye towards Mormonism's baptism for the dead, under the guise of asking whether Pope Benedict XVI will become Mormon after he dies. Among the Mormons' confusing beliefs about multiple heavens and such is their belief that full access requires a Mormon baptism, that with Christianity having lost its way relatively soon after its founding (I'm not clear on exactly when they believe it lost its way), all other baptisms since that time are invalid. They seem to have been assigning wives to dead popes, as well (some earlier popes did, in fact, have wives, but they mostly, if not entirely, were products of the first millennium A.D., whereas Mormon baptism for the dead seems to have focused on those from the second millennium A.D.).
- Someone left a comment on the myspace page for Mitt Romney's campaign on Groundhog Day (fittingly for that day, it was posted twice). I know the birthdate for Bill Clinton is wrong, which calls into question the other ones (as if the extreme coincidence factor alone wasn't enough) for those curious, but I did find it amusing:
Many will recall that on July 8, 1947, witnesses claimed that an
unidentified object with five aliens aboard crashed onto a sheep and cattle ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico.
This is a well-known incident that many say has long been covered up by the U.S. Air Force and the federal government.
However, you may NOT know that in the month of March 1948, exactly nine months after that historic day, Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., Hillary Rodham, John F. Kerry, William Jefferson Clinton, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Charles E. Schumer, and Barbara Boxer were born.
See what happens when aliens breed with sheep.
This piece of information may clear up a lot of things.
- The Snickers ad that showed two men unintentionally kissing in Lady and the Tramp fashion has been pulled. I didn't think the ad was particularly great, but it was somewhat humorous. The usual suspects started complaining that it was "homophobic" and their bully campaign got its usual results. Really, though, 90% of men in this country do not want to be kissing another man (at least in such a romantic fashion) -- it's not "homophobia" (a word that's come to mean just about anything gays don't like), it's reality.
- Returning to the topic of higher ed, George Leef has an article on the usefulness (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) of law school, or at least the ABA's version of it, with which I largely agree. It doesn't get into everything (such as how the ABA-mandated third year adds very little to what could easily be a two-year study), but it's good for a shortish article.
- The other day, aljazeera.com (affiliated with the magazine, not the television station) hotlinked a photo from Snapped Shot. Snapped Shot decided to fight back in an interesting way.
- Ah, the lunacy of the U.S. Senate and media bias. The Dems want a (non-binding) resolution opposing the troop increase. The Republicans have offered some other, competing resolutions, which the Dems dislike. The Dems want to limit debate to a couple of resolutions, while the Republicans want another one considered. The dems tried to end the debate over the parameters of the debate, and the Republicans blocked cloture, leading to headlines, such as this one in the Washington Post, accusing Republicans of stalling debate. They tried to keep open debate in order to have a broader debate, but are merely accused of stifling it. Par for the course. Also, one of the Senate Democrats, I forget who, spoke out on the urgency with which the nation needs a debate over Iraq. I despise the notion that until the Senate has debated it, the nation has not. Moreover, there has been debate over Iraq since before the 2002 election, and it's been a more or less continuous debate over the last four and a half years. Now, you can certainly despair over the quality of that debate (I do -- "No blood for oil!" is not a debate point), but to pretend it hasn't existed is absurd. What they really seem to mean by "we haven't had a debate" is "we haven't won the debate."
- The AP, once again, is talking about how much tax cuts "cost" the government. There are several problems with this. First, given the variablity of the economy, receipt of income taxes is the least reliable of budget projections. Second, those projections do not account for the positive economic impact of those tax cuts, and, in turn, the improved income tax receipts based on that (I'm not going to argue that it's always a net increase, as some tend to, but budget projections of income tax receipts following a tax cut are always low). Thirdly, "cost" implies that the government is intrinsically entitled to a higher proportion of your income.
- It looks like Hillary is a student of Hugo Chavez style economics, at least when it comes to oil companies. Chavez may not like her ends, but he's crazy about her type of means, even though he may not like their application to oil companies, which could negatively affect his bottom line.