Saturday, December 30, 2006

And then there were four...

Just this week, polar bears finally ruled by the Bush administration to be "threatened" (not quite as serious as "endangered," which is a crock. When you see polar bears swimming for miles and miles, then drowning, in search of ice floes, I'd call that "endangered," wouldn't you??).

Now, an ice shelf 25.5 square miles in area and several millennia old has broken off near Greenland. Before, there were five ice shelves. Now one has broken free.

Here's the weird thing: The vibration from the shelf breaking was so intense that earthquake-detecting instruments 150 miles away picked it up when this happened -- in August of 2005, and the scientists are JUST NOW reporting it. Apparently, they felt they had to make absolutely sure why it had happened before reporting it. WHY?

Giant Ice Shelf Breaks Off in Canadian Arctic
Richard A. Lovett
for National Geographic News
December 29, 2006

A huge Canadian ice shelf 500 miles (800 kilometers) from the North Pole has disintegrated, leaving a large floating island of ice stranded 30 miles (48 kilometers) offshore, scientists reported yesterday. . . .

Sixteen months of study led Copland and colleagues to the conclusion that several factors were at work, mostly related to global warming. . . .

Friday, December 29, 2006

United Methodist COR and "Atheist" series

January 6 & 7, Adam Hamilton, minister of United Methodist Church of the Resurrection at 137th & Roe, starts a six-part sermon series entitled, "Conversations With an Atheist On the Existence of God."

Sounds like he'll be dealing with material by Dawkins and other prominent atheists in his first topic, "Science and God."

Though I'm not part of Adam's flock, I admire him as a minister who isn't afraid to deal with controversial issues. He even tackles questions to which he has no clear answer. In other words, he makes you think.

Paul Morrison honored by Sun Newspapers

Sun names Morrison Johnson Countian of the Year
Johnson County Sun - December 28, 2006
Which Johnson Countian had the most impact on residents' lives, for good or ill, and deserves to be named the Sun Johnson Countian of the Year... This year's choice is District Attorney Paul Morrison.
. . .
Morrison said he plans to pursue an agenda of nonpolitical, no-nonsense prosecutions in his new office in Topeka, just as he did while serving as Johnson County's district attorney.
[Morrison beat out Kline (among others) for the honor. Fitting, isn't it?]

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Queer Specimen Indeed

I offer you the queer specimen known as "politicianus slimus ballus" -- Phill Kline. After a humiliating 65% to 35% defeat in his bid to remain Kansas Attorney General, he's taken advantage of his last few days in office to slime Paul Morrison, his successor.

Kline has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue his obsession -- persecuting and trying to prosecute Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita abortion provider. Naturally, Morrison will nix the whole wrong-headed effort as soon as he takes over. But the point is that Kline will force him to do it, and Kansans for Life and other anti-choice groups will see him do it. This way, Kline thinks, he can disadvantage Morris politically.

The real loser is Kline. Phill "Slimy" Kline has acted shamefully and at times, nearly unlawfully, in his role as Kansas' chief law enforcer. He has always played to the Religious Right and blatantly ignored his real job. Now, as Johnson County District Attorney, he might have to learn how to prosecute real crimes, like, oh, murder, arson, theft, burglary, aggravated assault -- you know, the stuff you see on the news every night.

The real injustice is that in switching jobs with Morrison, Kline gets a substantial pay raise, while Morrison, a real lawman, takes a cut. Read more:

Kline tries to keep investigation alive
Charges against abortion doctor are still blocked, but inquiry gets special prosecutor.

By DAVID KLEPPER and JIM SULLINGER - The Star’s Topeka correspondents
December 28, 2006 - KC Star

WICHITA | Attorney General Phill Kline lost a court battle Wednesday, but he also ensured that his investigation of abortion provider George Tiller will continue. For now.
Kline named a special prosecutor, Wichita attorney Don McKinney, to continue the investigation after Kline leaves office in early January. Kline’s successor, current Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, said Wednesday that McKinney would be out of a job once he’s sworn in as attorney general.

An hour after Kline’s announcement, a prosecutor from Kline’s office failed to persuade a Sedgwick County judge to reinstate 30 misdemeanor counts that Kline filed against Tiller last week. . . .

Stranger and Stranger...

Sebelius criticizes Kline's actions in abortion probe
By Scott Rothschild
LJ World - December 28, 2006


Topeka — Gov. Kathleen Sebelius today criticized Attorney General Phill Kline’s actions in his abortion investigation into George Tiller.

“The story just continues to get stranger and stranger,” Sebelius said in response to questions from reporters.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What were they thinking? Or were they?

Most Outrageous Comments of 2006
MediaMatters.org - December 22, 2006
How extreme were conservative commentators in their remarks this year? How about calls to nuke the Middle East and an allegation that a "gay ... mafia" used the congressional page program as its own "personal preserve." Right-wing rhetoric documented by Media Matters for America included the nonsensical (including Rush Limbaugh's claim that America's "obesity crisis" is caused by, among other things, our failure to "teach [the poor] how to butcher a -- slaughter a cow to get the butter, we gave them the butter"), the offensive (such as right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel's question about "Barack Hussein Obama": is he "a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?"), and the simply bizarre (such as William A. Donohue's claim that some Hollywood stars would "sodomize their own mother in a movie"). Since there were so many outrageous statements, we included a list of honorable mentions along with the top 11, which, if not for Ann Coulter, we might have limited to 10. . . .

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Review of Dawkins' "The God Delusion"

A Mission to Convert
By H. Allen Orr
New York Review of Books - January 11, 2007

Biologist H. Allen Orr offers a thorough, thoughtful review of Dawkins' "The God Delusion."

About time someone with the creds to challenge Dawkins' thinking about religion did a thorough examination of his new book. A long review, and well worth reading, especially since then you don't have to pay for the book.

Unfortunately, Dawkins has become the poster child for the "scientists are all Christian-hating atheists" theme that is the gasoline fueling the so-called "science vs. religion" fires .

Ken Miller has the right idea. In "Finding Darwin's God," he proposes that one can accept the fact of evolution and also be a person of faith. This is a sane position the "intelligent design" creationists try to discredit (at least Phillip E. Johnson, the "Godfather of ID," did in the beginning). The ID "Wedge" strategy was created to drive a wedge between moderate Christians and conservative Christians. According to the Wedge, either you're a supporter of "intelligent design creationism" or you're not a "real Christian." Horse hockey.

Yes, there is evolution in Kansas

At least, there will be in February, when the new, moderate Kansas Board of Education jettisons the "ID-friendly" science standards the current crew of creationists adopted. Then they'll adopt the "A-grade" standards developed by the science standards writing committee they appointed, as they were supposed to in the first place.