USA Today is reporting that Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport will next month begin trials of backscatter x-ray screening. And how are the TSA ensuring that “naked” pictures of passengers wont appear online?
At airports, they will be programmed to shade or blur travelers’ bodies and medical devices. Screeners will view the images in remote rooms and delete them instantly.
Yeah, that will work.
(The above picture, by the way, is of Susan Hallowell, director of the TSA’s security laboratory, who said “It does basically make you look fat and naked – but you see all this stuff”.)
I like this photo for some reason – seven-day-old stump-tailed or bear macaque (Macaca arctoides). Follow the link for pictures of adults and details of this endangered species.
As part of the Panda’s Thumb series debunking Jonathan Wells’ latest dreck (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design), Tim Sandefur, himself a self-avowed
conservative libertarian Republican, argues that Wells’ work offers “no helpful contribution” to any debate about the compatibility of conservatism and evolution. Tim ends his piece:
The bottom line is this: the genuine conservatism of people like Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver really is fundamentally at odds with evolution, not because of anything having to do with the free market or evolution’s alleged links with racism and whathaveyou–all of which are superficial issues relative to what conservatism is about. Evolution undermines the conservative ambition for an eternal order where each person knows his or her place in the “beautiful pattern”. On the other hand, many, if not most, of those who call themselves “conservatives” are actually libertarians–believers in individual liberty, free markets, small government, and so forth–who do not believe that we should live within a “beautiful pattern” of outwardly-enforced order. For these people, evolution presents no serious threat. Morality, aid to others, political freedom, and the rest can all be perfectly well defended from a Darwinian perspective, and Arnhart has done a very good job of doing so. Wells’ book offers no helpful contribution to this debate.
Read the complete article here.
With the ASU football season winding down, it is time to turn to other things. So why not rugby? The Irish team are favorites for the coming Six Nations Championship, after winning the Triple Crown last year, and a series of victories over South Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islanders which left them the #5 ranked team in the world (bizarrely behind two teams that they beat fairly handily).
The first home game will be played in Croke Park, the fourth largest stadium in Europe. This is fairly significant as the Gaelic Athletic Association (governing body for Gaelic Football and owners of the stadium) had long prevented “foreign games” such as rugby and soccer from played in their stadium.
- Feb 4: v Wales
- Feb 11: v France (last years winners)
- Feb 24: v England
- Mar 10: v Scotland
- Mar 17: v Italy
Good stuff to look forward to next year! Any other rugby fans out there?
I’ve managed to finish my grading. Yipee! What this means is that the semester is finally beginning to wind down. Sure, there will be some grading left to do, but it will be relatively less onerous. Three classes left to teach, a handful of graduate student papers, and some short pieces from my undergraduates. Then Fall graduation and convocation … and then the winter break (a.k.a. time for writing all those book reviews and suchlike that were put off this semester).
No posting today (or perhaps even tomorrow) as I’m tucked away in my lair grading. In any case, Mike Dunford made the only point I was going to make.
It’s the last regular season game for ASU – the Territorial Cup game against the University of Arizona Wildcats. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that ASU would have a 3-5 PAC-10 record and U of A (4-4) would have beaten three ranked opponents in a row entering into this game.
Both teams have a 6-5 record overall and the winner gets a (possible) bowl game. U of A hasn’t been in a bowl games since 1998; ASU has been in five since then. An ASU win would send the team to the Emerald Bowl on December 27th.
Best case scenario for coach Dirk Koetter is that ASU beat the favored Wildcats and he keeps his job. Worst case is that we lose and Koetter gets canned. The later would involve paying out $2.85 million to buy out Koetter’s contract. Given that attendance dropped in a season when ASU raised prices, there are going to be some frenetic financial calculations should people be seriously considering changing the coaching staff.
The Territorial Cup, by the way, is the oldest award given in a NCAA rivalry, and dates from 1899 when Arizona was a territory rather than a state.
The big game tonight outside of Arizona is clearly the USC v Notre Dame matchup with a win for (over-rated) USC probably being enough to send them to #2 on the BCS ranking. So, I never thought it would come to this, but I’m rooting for ND. Oh, wait a minute, I rooted for them last year as well.
On a sad note, the 5-1 #12 ASU Women’s basketball team were supposed to be playing today in the championship game of the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam against #18 Rutgers, but the game was canceled after a family member of ASU forward Aubree Johnson died while in St. Thomas to watch her play.
Update: First half is over and ASU leads 21-14. The Sun Devils came out of the gates strong, leading 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, and playing like the team we expected to see all season. The Wildcat defense got into it a little more in the second quarter. At the half, ASU has 284 yards (versus 107) and certainly dominated the offense, but two turnovers and five penalties hurt the effort. The Wildcats forced a turnover with a Rudy Carpenter fumble in the red zone, and a Carpenter interception eventually lead to UofA’s second touchdown with 26 seconds to go.
The Sun Devils need to get their composure back during the break and come out strong, particularly considering Arizona is a second half team.
Update: Game over and ASU win 28-14. The Sun Devils neutralized the Wildcat offense for the second half, forced some turnovers, quietened the crowd, and the last quarter essentially became a story of running the clock.
ASU’s 429 yards of offense dominated the 176 yards put up by the Wildcats. Ryan Torain rushed for 134 yards, giving him a 1000+ yard first season for ASU. The Miller brothers together accounted for 127 yards receiving and one touchdown.
ASU end the regular season 7-5, 4-5 in the PAC-10, and are probably bowl-bound. Not what was expected, but considering the receiving corp and the O-line were decimated, it could have been worse. Whether Koetter keeps his job remains to be seen.
Update: ASU men’s basketball squad came back twice from double digit deficit in the second half to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 67-64. and go 3-2. Wells Fargo Arena was louder than I’ve heard it in years. It’s a good evening to be a Sun Devil.
Update (11/26): ASU announced tonight that Dirk Koetter has been fired. Koetter finished 40-33 across six seasons, 21-28 in the PAC-10, 2-19 against ranked teams, 0-12 in California, and 4-2 against Arizona. Some of those numbers are more significant than others.
As of today, November 25th, US involvement in Iraq has lasted longer than US involvement in World War II – 1348 days. The “War on Terror” has been longer. And what do we have to show for it?
PZ drew our attention to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s roundup of hate groups nationwide. As a public service announcement, I note that Arizona has fifteen hate groups which seems like a bloody high number to me: five Neo-Nazi groups, one Christian Identity group, two Black Separatist groups, two racist skinhead groups, one KKK group, and four “others”. My own city, Tempe, is home to a unit of the National Vanguard,
an organization of racially-conscious Whites who seek to maintain the cultural and biological qualities of our race, and ensure that they exist forever to be handed down to future generations. National Vanguard members and supporters view the White race as a distinct nation, worthy of preservation, and we unabashedly reject the absurd notion that “diversity”, i.e., the mixing of the races, is a beneficial trend for White societies to follow. (source)
Someone in all this brouhaha (I can’t remember whom and can’t find the comment online) claimed that only creationists use the phrase “Darwinian Fundamentalist”. The phrase actually originated with Stephen Jay Gould (New York Review of Books, June 12 1997) for the “conviction that natural selection regulates everything of any importance in evolution, and that adaptation emerges as a universal result and ultimate test of selection’s ubiquity.” He cites Maynard-Smith, Dawkins and Dennett as being “ultra-Darwinists” and thus Darwinian fundamentalists. In fact, Dennett (speaking in March 2006) agreed with Gould:
The late Steve Gould was really right when he called Richard [
LewontinDawkins] and me Darwinian fundamentalists. And I want to say what a Darwinian fundamentalist is. A Darwinian fundamentalist is one who recognizes that either you shun Darwinian evolution altogether, or you turn the traditional universe upside down and you accept that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the cause but the fairly recent effects of the mechanistic mill of Darwinian algorithms. It is the unexceptioned view that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the original driving engines, but recent effects that marks, I think, the true Darwinian fundamentalist”
If a Darwinist can be a fundamentalist, can they be evangelical?
Marked by militant or crusading zeal [Webster]
Eager to share one’s enthusiasm with others; hortatory, proselytizing. [OED]
Yes, of course. Dawkins, for example, is definitely an evangelical Darwinian.
Is there such a thing as an evangelical atheist? Obviously. Again, Dawkins is one. As are PZ and many of his commentators.
There is a flamefest going on at the moment regarding atheism, agnosticism and creationism and it strikes me that many of us are missing the wood for the trees. I hope most of us can agree on the following:
- It has been claimed that there are two broad groups within the pro-science movement: those that see the issue in terms of science versus anti-science within the classroom and those that see that issue as being part of a larger cultural battle between science (identified with “rationalism”) and religion (identified with “superstition”). Clearly, this broad-stroke characterization is a little simplistic, but it has received support from both groups. Talk of the “Neville Chamberlain ‘apeasement’ [sic] school” of evolutionists only strengthens the apparent divide.
- Both sides are committed to scientific thinking as a way of knowing about the natural world. Individuals may differ in their commitment to the existence of anything outside the natural world, or for that matter, their interest in such a question.
- While some in the first pro-science group are theists (e.g. Ken Miller), none are advocating teaching non-scientific ideas in science classrooms or, for that matter, any injection of religion into public school classrooms. They remain strong supporters of the separation of church and state and thus broadly support the second group in the cultural battle with respect to attempts to inject (private) religious beliefs into the public sphere. They may however differ with the second group in the possible value (positive or negative) of these private beliefs.
- Members of the second pro-science group tend to be atheists, and despite rhetorical flourishes adopted from Dawkins’ ‘muscular atheism’, none are advocating “stoning, disembowlment [sic], burning at the stake, or other forms of auto de fe” (source) of theists, or for that matter rounding them up and putting them into camps.
- Both sides have, on occasion, indulged in excessive sniping, mischaracterizing of the others, and perhaps excessive certainty of their own correctness.
I’ll just repeat what I said on November 20th:
What worries me here is that infighting among people who share a common cause (good science education) will prevent the effective championing of that cause.
Note what I’m saying – I’m not worried whether PZ or Moran being vocal atheists is preventing the effective championing of the cause. I am worried that infighting within the community is making us perhaps less effective.
I may, of course, have this totally wrong.
Under Bush, the US has taken upon itself to bring democracy to other countries. However, as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of democracy [pdf] shows, the US ranks fairly badly as a democracy itself, coming in 17th worldwide. Evaluated based on electoral process & pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties, the top fifteen are:
- New Zealand
The other major partner in the “war on terror”, the UK, is ranked 23rd.
Should someone perhaps be talking to those crazy Nordic countries before exporting “democracy”?