The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Religious extremists target academics

From today's Chicago Tribune:

Creationism-as-myth professor beaten

LAWRENCE, KANSAS—A college professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he derided Christian conservatives said he was beaten by two men along a rural road.

The Lawrence Journal-World has a long series of stories about this.

For my money, I'm hoping there are enough rational people in Kansas to prevent them blowing up statues and the like.

I'll drink to that!

It was on this day in 1933 that Prohibition ended.

Shortly afterward, marijuana was criminalized, in no small part because the alcohol lobby has always been more powerful, and in the 1930s popularly associated with a different ethnic group, than the marijuana proponents.

I was going to provide links to scholarship to support this point, but there isn't a lot of it out on the Web right now. Even the relatively de-politicized National Institutes of Health and the Journal of the AMA have a dearth of information about the relative dangers of pot vs. booze. (And yes, despite the flap about Plan B, I think the NIH are relatively apolitical. The FDA, on the other hand, not so much under this administration.)

I did find a link to a site about Reefer Madness, which is hi-larious. But it's not really scholarship.

Note: I'll stop parroting the History Channel's daily list for now. But if you're interested in histroy, you should subscribe to it.

North Carolina breaks the tape

North Carolina executed the 1,000th person since the U.S. reinstated capital punishment in 1976, putting us 1,000 ahead of our friends and allies in the contest to become the most barbarous democracy on earth.

I don't have time at the moment to go over the problems with the death penalty, except to note that the Jeanine Nicarico case is back in the newspapers in Chicago. The man most likely responsible for Nicarico's murder is finally on trial for it 20 years after a man who couldn't possibly have killed her was sentenced to death for the crime.

There are myriad reasons why no other country in the OECD still kills its prisoners, reasons I will articulate in future posts. For now, though, let me reflect on the passing of this milestone, and sigh.

Predicted effect of global warming cools Europe

New Scientist is reporting this hour on findings published today in the journal Nature, showing a 30% reduction in warm-water flows in the Atlantic Gulf Stream. This is a long-predicted effect of global warming, similar to changes in the flow that may have caused the so-called "mini ice-age" of the 14th and 15th centuries—and the major ice age of 110,000 years ago.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but this news is the climatic equivalent of seeing fifteen "for sale" signs on your block. It shows that something is very, very wrong, and the effects will be very, very bad. Think: ice skating straight across the Thames from the London Eye to Westminster. Think: Western Ireland under three feet of snow. Think: Madrid with Denver's climate.

Think I'm exaggerating? Nature is, after all, an alarmist publication. And New Scientist is only repeating the party line. You've got to be skeptical of the evidence-based community, you know.

Look, we've known for decades that we were influencing the climate. Journalist James Burke talked about exactly this happening in his 1991 miniseries After the Warming. Only, he speculated the slowdown happening in 2050, not 1995.

I've always thought global warming would benefit Chicago, even as it punished cities like Edinburgh. I just didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.

(Why the sheep? He's in Western Ireland, and he's cute, and ten years from now his descendants will be glad they have wool coats.)

Tropical storm Epsilon

The National Hurricane Center just a few minutes ago released this report:

...TROPICAL STORM EPSILON...THE 26TH NAMED STORM OF THE 2005
   ATLANTIC SEASON...FORMS OVER THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC OCEAN...
 
AT 11 AM AST...1500Z...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM EPSILON WAS
LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 31.6 NORTH... LONGITUDE 50.4 WEST OR ABOUT
845 MILES...1360 KM...EAST OF BERMUDA AND ABOUT 1395 MILES...2245
KM... WEST OF THE AZORES ISLANDS.

For those of you keeping score at home, this means we've seen 7 more named storms than the previous record (19, in 1995), and 5 more than the record for all tropical storms and hurricanes in a season (21, in 1933), since we started keeping track in 1851.

Now, the NHC admits the evidence doesn't fully support a link between global warming and storm frequency, but the hypothesis supporting the connection continues to gain evidence. Evidence like, for example, the most intense tropical storm season on record, including the only known tropical cyclone ever to reach Europe (Vince, October 11th).

Aren't you glad the best President we have right decided to make us the only Industrial country to refuse the Kyoto Protocol?

Anne cancelled our J. Crew card

Anne writes:

I told the credit card woman that it was because I was boycotting J. Crew because they sell fur. She actually had the nerve to say, "I can assure you that the fur that we sell comes from reputable breeders and not from animal destruction."
I think that was off-script, huh? I just said, "I think by definition it comes from animal destruction."
I encourage everyone who is getting J. Crew's catalogs to call (800) 562-0258 and ask to be taken off their lists--and be sure to tell them why.

I didn't even know we had a J. Crew card...