Natura non facit saltus
Debunking the Paradigm Shifters
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Sunday, Apr 30, 2006
National Popular Vote
There is a new movement for a National Popular Vote (NPV) for president of the USA. Some of the more populous states would form a compact to throw their electoral vote to whatever candidate they believe to receive a plurality of votes, nationally.
Under the USA Electoral College system, third parties are discouraged because they have to carry a state to get even a single electoral vote. Usually they have no hope of that, and few people waste their votes that way.
The main problem with third parties is that they can prevent a majority, and make it difficult to elect a President that everyone will recognize as the rightful winner. Suppose there are 3 candidates, receiving 46, 45, and 9 percent. The one with 46% could be declared the winner, but what if the other 2 candidates were ideologically similar? Then we'd have a president that 54% of the people voted against.
The NPV proponents will probably spend most of them time arguing that it is wrong that someone can win a majority of the popular vote but not get elected. I wouldn't mind so much if their proposal just favored those with a majority of the votes. Instead, the primary effect is to help those candidates who cannot get majority support.
In 1948, 1960, 1968, 1992, 1996, and 2000, no one won the popular vote. In 2000, Gore won a plurality of the votes. There is no consensus on who got a plurality of the popular votes in 1960. Perhaps Nixon would have been elected in 1960 if NPV had been in effect.
I don't attach as much significance to the plurality v. majority issue. People who favor democracy don't care about that. People who favor the Electoral College don't care much about that either. It seems like a red herring.John writes:
I agree with Roger (not Andy) about the significance of "majority vote" vs. "the most votes." An essential feature of our present Constitution is that nobody can be elected president without obtaining an absolute majority of something -- either the Electoral College, or state delegations in the House of Representatives.
Thursday, Apr 27, 2006
Naming the Lacrosse accuser
Crystal Gail Mangum is the 27-year-old stripper who launched a hysterical attack on the Duke lacrosse team. I got the name from The Johnsville News, which has a lot more detail. Another blog spells her name as Crystal Gail Mangum and has some other info. See also tdaxp.
I really disapprove of the way that the legal system and the MSM branded the boys as racist rapists on very flimsy charges, and protected the accuser from being held accountable for what she has done.
I just listened to a radio talk show host go into a big rant against the prosecution and defense lawyers for attempting to try the case in the press. I agree with him about the prosecution, but I think that it is the duty of the defense lawyers to defend the lacrosse boys both in the press and in the courts. They have alibis and other reasons for saying that the accusations are false. Nobody is giving the boys their presumption of innocence, so they'll have to publicly prove their innocence or their lives will be ruined.
Why are you naming a rape victim? Won't that discourage other rape victims from coming forward?I don't think that she is a rape victim. Naming her is like naming Katelyn Faber, Kobe Bryant's accuser.
Monday, Apr 24, 2006
Anger control classes considered harmful
Anger management courses for convicted armed robbers, wife beaters and stalkers are being axed by the prison and probation services following an official inquiry into the murder of the city financier John Monckton.Too many people assume that such psychobabble classes are beneficial. They may be harmful.
Sunday, Apr 23, 2006
Judges Interfere With Elections
Remember the nutty decision of a 9th Circuit panel that stopped the California recall (later reversed en banc)? Now the same logic has been picked up by the 6th Circuit, which throws out Ohio's entire voting system just 2 weeks before the primary at which Ken Blackwell (defendant in this case) is running for governor.Some people are going to say that if the US Supreme Court can interfere in an election like the 2000 presidential election, then so can other judges. But Bush v Gore did not change any votes or election procedures. It merely said that the courts had insufficient cause to interfere. OTOH, these judges justify taking radical action by quoting Earl Warren's memoirs!
Friday, Apr 21, 2006
Unholy alliance opposes ID tags
This story describes industry gripes about difficulties forcing Americans to carry ID tags that can be passively read:
[Marc-Anthony] Signorino said the political climate in New Hampshire has made it especially difficult for the industry to make a case for itself. The Granite State has been particularly active on the ID front. House lawmakers there last month passed a bill to reject a 2005 federal mandate for standard driver's licenses.Funny. I guess that the industry thinks that there is an unholy alliance of people who don't want to be treated like cattle.
Thursday, Apr 20, 2006
Free speech for certain views only
Tyler Harper wore an anti-homosexuality T-shirt to school, apparently responding to a pro-gay-rights event put on at the school by the Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. On the front, the T-shirt said, "Be Ashamed, Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned," and on the back, it said "Homosexuality is Shameful." The principal insisted that Harper take off the T-shirt. Harper sued, claiming this violated his First Amendment rights.I wouldn't mind if the school banned all homosexuality-related T-shirts, but it is promotes one particular political view, then it should allow alternate views.
Judge Reinhardt is famous for being a pro-ACLU leftist activist judge who is frequently overruled by the Supreme Court.
Update: UCLA law prof Volokh points out that in 2002 Judge Reinhardt decided that "First Amendment judicial scrutiny should now be at its height" for people like Taliban sympathizers. But not for anyone who thinks that sodomy is shameful, I guess.
Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006
Humans are still evolving
A reader recommends this NPR interview of Nicholas Wade plugging his new book Before The Dawn. (The NPR link is flaky and I could not hear the interview.)
I blogged earlier about a NY Times article in which Wade said:
It had been widely assumed until recently that human evolution more or less stopped 50,000 years ago.So I guess that Wade has gotten religion on this subject, and is now trying to convince all the other evolutionists who deny that humans are still evolving. Wade says that Iceland was only settled by humans 1000 years ago, and the people there have evolved already.
There are people who find the concept of human evolution very unsettling. If humans are still evolving, then some people might be more evolved than others. I think that their concerns are a little silly.
No sign of supersymmetry
NY Times reports:
Physicists are a bit frustrated that their results keep agreeing with the Standard Model and so far show no hint of supersymmetry.It is funny how so many physicists can believe in supersymmetry when there is no hard evidence for it.
Friday, Apr 14, 2006
Another missing link
Science news from Nature:
NAIROBI (AFP) - Four-million-year-old remains in Ethiopia have provided the first hard proof of a link between two key stages of human evolution by bridging the gap between pre-human species, paleontologists said.It is pretty crazy to call these fossils hard proof of anything. They are small-brained with no known connection to humans. Some people speculate that they might be human ancestors because they might have been able to stand up a little better than the typical chimp, but the evidence is extremely weak.
Thursday, Apr 13, 2006
How the Government Creates Child Abuse
Stephen Baskerville writes:
Just in time for "Child Abuse Prevention Month," the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) publishes its annual contribution to obfuscating the causes of child abuse.He's right. Govt programs to prevent child abuse are actually causing more abuse than they prevent.
Monday, Apr 10, 2006
Human Events rates The 10 Most Harmful Government Programs:
Cosmic Landscape v Evolution
The blog Not Even Wrong cites this:
Of course, the anthropic principle is in some sense a tautology: we must live where we can live.This is from evolutionists, not creationists.
Sunday, Apr 09, 2006
Kerry exaggerates his vote count
I just watched John Kerry on Meet The Press. He is certainly the master at forcefully saying nothing. He said that he takes full responsibility for mistakes made by his 2004 campaign, but refused to say what they were.
Tim Russert started the show saying that Kerry won 48.3% of the popular vote in 2004, and Kerry said that he thought that he won 49.2%.
The 2004 election tally is a strange thing to dispute. If we cannot agree on that, then I don't know how we could agree on Iraq WMD. I checked CNN, WikiPedia, and National Archives. They give slightly differently figures, but they all imply that Russert is right and Kerry is wrong. It is hard to understand how Kerry could make a mistake like this. Perhaps he was thinking about Bill Clinton getting 49.2% of the vote in 1996.
In other J. Kerry news, he continues to show that he is not afraid to mention religion:
Not in one phrase uttered and reported by the Lord Jesus Christ, can you find anything that suggests that there is a virtue in cutting children from Medicare.Meanwhile, Kevin Phillips says:
Now that the GOP has been transformed by the rise of the South, the trauma of terrorism and George W. Bush's conviction that God wanted him to be president, a deeper conclusion can be drawn: The Republican Party has become the first religious party in U.S. history.He says Bush is only concerned about money, oil, security, and God.
I don't know why this should be so upsetting to Phillips. We are not a theocracy just because our President is concerned with money, oil, security, and God. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton talked about God more than Bush does.
I think there is only one reason Kevin Phillips is quoted by anybody. It's that he wrote a book about the emerging Republican majority about 30 years ago, so now, 20 years after he has become a total flack for the left, he can be quoted by the MSM as a conservative - and of course he just has nasty things to say about conservatives.Joe is correct.
Friday, Apr 07, 2006
Libby followed instructions
LA Times reports:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush personally authorized leaking long-classified information to a reporter in the summer of 2003 to buttress administration claims, now discredited, that Saddam Hussein was attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction for Iraq, according to a court filing by prosecutors in the case against former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. ...No, Bush never said that. He said:
Listen," Bush said in response to a reporter's question in Chicago on Sept. 30, 2003, "I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action.Bush has always punished leakers, Bush's statement was just a restatement of what everyone would expect. But Bush and Cheney have the authority to declassify information, so an authorized disclosure would not have been a leak of classified info.
I continue to think that no crime was committed here.
We don't want the President to goto war based on secret reasons. We want the White to declassify and release the necessary evidence. Once the NY Times and Valerie Plame's husband Wilson published an article claiming to have inside info that one of Bush's reasons for war was mistaken, then it was entirely appropriate that the White House release the info and the surrounding circumstances because Wilson was lying.
Thursday, Apr 06, 2006
Lawrence Krauss: Science under attack
Lawrence Krauss is a respected physicist and science popularizer, but he cannot resist taking leftist evolutionist political positions, and accusing anyone who disagrees as being anti-science. This blog agrees 85% with him, but says:
After he explained that science should never advocate things that cannot be defended scientifically, because it is not right and moreover it diminishes the power of science, he listed approximately five principles of the scientific ethos (or even the scientific method), and one of them was "egalitarianism".Krauss went on to say Bush was anti-science on the subjects of global warming, stem cell research, and missile defense.
Wednesday, Apr 05, 2006
Missing link fish
NY Times reports:
Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375 million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought "missing link" in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.Let's assume that these evolutionists are correct, and that this fossil is the first fossil found with part fins part feet. Then why is it that creationist web sites were the only places to have this info that was completely correct? The evolution textbooks should have been willing to admit that this gap existed.
The creationists will never be happy with a fossil that fills a gap. They'll just say that now there are two gaps: one before and one after this new fossil.
Monday, Apr 03, 2006
Gabriel Lavigueur was suspended from his South Shore school on March 20. His mother, Danielle, says his Ritalin was causing insomnia, loss of appetite and aggression. Published: Sunday, April 02, 2006 The case of a 12-year-old Longueuil boy suspended from school when his mother refused to give him Ritalin has sparked concerns over who is in charge of the medicine cabinet.There have also been reports that American schools have pressured kids to go on ritalin.
Study rejects benefits of light drinking
The LA Times reports:
If you think a glass of wine is good for your heart, think again.This should rebut some of the pro-alcohol propaganda.
Sunday, Apr 02, 2006
Chasing the Babe
The San Jose paper says:
Just ask Aaron, the only man so far with the audacity to pass Ruth. He was greeted with a barrage of racist hate mail. In 1974, the year he became the home run king, Aaron was asked about someone breaking his own record.Yes, wish granted. The attacks on Barry Bonds are far worse than the attacks on Aaron ever worse.
I don't know why you want to make excuses for Bonds. Bonds used steroids. He has admitted his amoral disregard for the integrity of baseball by saying, "I don't know what cheating is."No, Bonds was saying that the MLB rules on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) were ambiguous, and it is debatable whether his alleged use of the "cream" and the "clear" was cheating. Some people probably think that Lasik surgery is cheating. No one knows whether MLB and the public will eventually consider Bonds a cheater. Bonds cannot know either.
Paul Campos defends Bonds against various arguments that he cheated, and that the strongest argument against Bonds is that PEDs are dangerous. But there are no studies on the adverse health effects of the "clear" (THG), so I don't know how Bonds or anyone else could be so certain of its danger. Maybe it is no worse than taking a vitamin supplement.
The LA Times reports:
LIBERTY, Mo. — Monday morning, Room 207: First day of a unit on the origins of life. Veteran biology teacher Al Frisby switches on the overhead projector and braces himself.Most science teachers just love it when students ask questions. If someone doubts that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old, then they get an opportunity to explain the scientific evidence.