Friday, September 28, 2007
The price of corn is the highest in a decade. Ethanol plants are
sprouting up in the corn fields. Land prices are turning farmers with 200
acres into millionaires. And yet, they still get direct government
subsidy checks to "save the family farm." "We're harvesting the sun," one
of the new breed of business-man farmers boasts to Dan Morgan in today's
Wash Post. Maybe "harvesting moonshine" would be more accurate. There is
no credible study showing that ethanol is saving one drop of oil.
Poor Larry Craig (R-ID) fumbled. Busted for foot tapping in the men's
room, he first pled guilty and then denied it. But when the phone number
of "moral-values" Senator David Vitter showed up in the "client" book of a
D.C Madam, he knew just what to do: he immediately repented. He
understood, as Craig did not, that fundamentalist Christians love a sinner
who repents; the more times they sin and repent the better. As a token of
repentance, Vitter earmarked $100,000 of taxpayer's money for the
Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote science education."
That's Family-Forum talk for "get Darwin out of the schools." Ironically,
Darwin's theory explains why Vitter sinned.
A story by Cornelia Dean in yesterday's NY Times described the production
of a documentary titled "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Leading
Darwinists were interviewed, but they had been misled about the name and
purpose of the film and they're pissed. The film, set to open in
February, is described as "a startling revelation that freedom of thought
and inquiry have been expelled" from public educational institutions. It
cites the case of Guillermo Gonzalez, author of The Privileged Planet
(WN 3 Jun 05) . The book is a daffy
twist on the already daffy anthropic principle. To paraphrase: "If things
were different than the way things are, things would not be the same."
Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State for the reason anyone is denied
tenure: department members didn't want him as a colleague. They made a
One of the global warming nightmares is that thawing permafrost might
release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This positive feedback would
accelerate warming. A group led by M. Turetsky of Michigan State found
that new plant growth in thawing Canadian peat bogs more than offset the
release of methane.