Sincerity is better than bullshit

I’d rather

read 10 letters like this one from Jerry Wright or the earlier one by Sheila Harris, both restauranteurs, than one by the ingrate Vern Raburn, CEO of

Eclipse Aviation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or the xenophobic Pfeffer. These are thoughtful

and sincere and less about frightening people with nonsense about school invaders and lost constitutional rights.

I do not want to put Wright or Harris out of business; I don’t want them to have to fire anyone. Nevertheless, I’m willing to risk

that on the chance that the cumulative effects will be better than the status quo. When did “conservative” come to mean “afraid”? mjh

Living Wage Counterpoint

A business is nothing but its bottom line, and if it shows a profit, we get

to continue the game for another fiscal quarter. Behind each business are people. I am our business. My family is this business. Those

who choose to work with me to accomplish our goals are our business. In my case, this means 60 employees get to take home a paycheck.

Sixty souls can pay rent, pay a bill, buy some food. And if this law costs me more than I can bring in, then there are 60 families I have


This law picks on my industry: restaurants. … Jerry Wright
[full letter here]

Panel debates wage increase

This is all I could find about the debate a few days ago.

I still find it very hard to believe a Lowe’s or Chili’s would relocate. How can it possibly be economical to do so? mjh


debates wage increase

Heinrich and five others discussed the pros and cons of the proposed local minimum wage increase at the

UNM Continuing Education building on Tuesday night. The proposed increase of the minimum wage in Albuquerque from $5.15 per hour to $7.50

per hour will appear on the Oct. 4 ballot.

About 20 people came to the event, which was sponsored by the Anderson

Schools of Management. …

Jerry Easley, chairman of the Albuquerque Employment Growth Initiative, said he was against the

increase. He said $7.50 per hour will not help workers enough.

“To characterize $7.50 as a living wage is disingenuous,” he said.

“It will never support a family.” [mjh: so it isn’t enough and this opponent wants more?]

He said the increase would

push employers out of Albuquerque. He said after the 2003 minimum wage increase in Santa Fe, several businesses including Lowe’s and

Chili’s relocated or started businesses outside the city limit.

Los Lunas Commuter van halts rides to Albuquerque

The News-Bulletin: Commuter van halts rides to

Albuquerque by Jane Moorman News-Bulletin Staff Writer;

Los Lunas Commuters using the Village of

Los Lunas’ transportation van to travel to jobs or school in Albuquerque each day are having to scramble to find rides. …


commuter van had a limited route into Albuquerque with stops at the University of New Mexico and the hospitals.

Otero said there

was light use by area residents but there were several established riders who depended upon it. …

“We are working as hard as we

can to get the Rail Runner up and running,” said Chris Blewett, director of transportation and planning services for Mid-Region Council

of Governments, which is coordinating the commuter rail project.

Originally Gov. Bill Richardson set the start-up date as November

of this year, but now that date has been moved to late 2005 or early 2006.

Work on the rail platforms in Los Lunas and Belen has

not begun. Blewett said construction should begin in early October in Los Lunas for sure, but negotiation with the Burlington Northern

Santa Fe Railroad could delay the Belen construction.

Meanwhile, Otero said his department is canceling the commuter van in

preparation for developing additional routes within the Los Lunas area to take commuters to the rail station, which will be

located at Courthouse Road and the railroad tracks.
RailRunner Home Page

Los Lunas Station

Google Maps – Courthouse Road and N.M. 314, Los Lunas, New Mexico

More Science, Less Nonsense

class="mine">This entire article (read it!) seems to do more justice to the science of Evolution, without having to give equal weight to

the mysticism of Inteligent Creationism. mjh

New Analyses Bolster Central Tenets of Evolution Theory

By Rick Weiss and David Brown, Washington Post Staff Writers

That a mechanism driven by random events should result in perfectly

adapted organisms — and so many different types — seems illogical.

“Even today a good many distinguished minds seem unable to

accept or even to understand that from a source of noise, natural selection alone and unaided could have drawn all the music of the

biosphere,” Jacques Monod, a French biologist and Nobel Prize winner, wrote in 1970 in the book “Chance and Necessity.”


selection was really hard to accept in Darwin’s day. But it has become easier with the discovery of genes, DNA and techniques that have

made it possible to watch natural selection happen. …

DNA is a stringlike molecule made up of paired beads called nucleotides.

It carries the instructions for making proteins and RNA, the chief building materials of life. Individually, these instructions are

called genes.

The random changes Darwin knew must be happening are accidents that happen to DNA and genes. Today, they can be

documented and catalogued in real time, inside cells.

Cells sometimes make errors when they copy their DNA before dividing. These

mutations can disable a gene — or change its action. Occasionally cells also duplicate an entire gene by mistake, providing offspring

with two copies instead of one. Both these events provide raw material for new genes with new and potentially useful functions — and

ultimately raw material for new organisms and species.

Richard E. Lenski, a biologist at Michigan State University, has been

following 12 cultures of the bacterium Escherichia coli since 1988, comprising more than 25,000 generations. All 12 cultures were

genetically identical at the start. For years he gave each the same daily stress: six hours of food (glucose) and 18 hours of starvation.

All 12 strains adapted to this by becoming faster consumers of glucose and developing bigger cell size than their 1988 “parents.” …

When Lenski and his colleagues examined each strain’s genes, they found that the strains had not acquired the same mutations.

Instead, there was some variety in the happy accidents that had allowed each culture to survive. And when the 12 strains were then

subjected to a different stress — a new food source — they did not fare equally well. In some, the changes from the first round of

adaptation stood in the way of adaptation to the new conditions. The 12 strains had started to diverge, taking the first evolutionary

steps that might eventually make them different species — just as Darwin and Wallace predicted.

In fact, one of the more exciting

developments in biology in the past 25 years has been how much DNA alone can teach about the evolutionary history of life on Earth. …

As scientists have identified the totality of DNA — the genomes — of many species, they have unearthed the molecular equivalent

of the fossil record.

It is now clear from fossil and molecular evidence that certain patterns of growth in multicellular

organisms appeared about 600 million years ago. Those patterns proved so useful that versions of the genes governing them are carried by

nearly every species that has arisen since.

take a stand for Jesus

Intelligent design tied to creationism in Dover

trial By Bill Toland, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

HARRISBURG — Board members who succeeded in introducing “intelligent

design” to students in Dover Area School District were wary of evolutionary theory and explicit in their desire to balance the

teaching of evolution with a more Christian-friendly philosophy, three plaintiffs testified yesterday during the second day of a

landmark federal trial. …

“If evolution was part of the biology curriculum, creationism should be shared 50-50,”

[Aralene] Callahan quoted [Alan] Bonsell as saying.

[William] Buckingham, according to the testimony, expressed fears that the

biology textbooks he’d reviewed were “laced with Darwinism,” and too one-sided in their deference to evolution. At a board meeting,

Buckingham criticized a college student who studied evolution, saying the man had been “brainwashed.”

Buckingham said somebody

needed to take a stand for Jesus, witnesses said. His wife, Charlotte, quoted Old Testament verses during public board

meetings, one plaintiff testified.

The Globe and Mail: By

accident or design?

As governor of Texas, George W. Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism

and evolution. Last month, he said intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution. “Both sides ought to be

properly taught,” he said, “so people can understand what the debate is about.”

The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney — and how the Media plays into the Radical Wrong’s hands

I know of Chris Mooney (and others) thanks to links from John Fleck. The title of Mooney’s new book seems apt (mjh to jfleck — a review?).


An interview

with Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War on Science | By David Roberts | Grist Magazine | Books Unbound | 27 Sep 2005

My thesis is that this is a political phenomenon that is unique to Republican rule in the United States, and which is epitomized by the

Bush administration. This administration is constantly doing favors for its big-business and religious-right constituents. That prejudice

drives distortions of science on issues ranging from global warming to sex education. …

Poor science education doesn’t help

matters, but I wouldn’t link it directly to the kinds of abuses we’re seeing. The role of fundamentalist religiosity — and

particularly, politically conservative Christianity — is, I think, more significant.

On evolution, on embryonic stem cell

research, on alleged health risks from abortion, and much else, religious conservatives have their own spin on the science, and even

their own “experts.” For instance, they deny evolution and have come up with a scientific-sounding alternative, “intelligent design.”

Because of this phenomenon of science appropriation, Republican politicians sympathetic to the religious right can easily cite their own

favored experts, in the process distorting mainstream scientific understanding. This sets in motion a wide array of abuses. …

Through their instinctive tendency to create a “balance” between two sides, journalists repeatedly allow science abusers to

create phony “controversies,” even though the scientific merits of the issue may exclusively be with one side.

Here’s my

real fear when it comes to the press. Suppose there’s some mainstream scientific view that you want to set up a think tank to challenge

— to undermine, to controversialize. Suppose further that you have a lot of money, as well as an interested and politically influential

constituency on board with your agenda. In this situation, it seems to me that as long as you are clever enough, you should be able to

set your political machine in motion and then sit back and watch the national media do the rest of your work for you. The press will help

you create precisely the controversy that lies at the heart of your political and public relations strategy — and not only that.

It will do a far better job than the best PR firm, and its services will be entirely free of charge.

I think we

have actually seen this happen repeatedly. A good example is the issue of evolution. …

We have to drive a wedge between moderate

Republicans and conservative ones on matters of science, because only the moderates can rescue their party from its current, destructive

addiction to abusing and distorting scientific information.

The Republican War on Science by Chris Mooney [mjh: numerous copies on order at the

Albuquerque Public Library but not yet received.]

CJR September/October 2005 – Undoing Darwin

The [evolution trial … in

Pennsylvania over intelligent design] is likely to be a media circus. And, unfortunately, there’s ample reason to expect that the

spectacle will lend an entirely undeserved p.r. boost to the carefully honed issue-framing techniques employed by today’s anti-

evolutionists. …

As evolution, driven by such events, shifts out of scientific realms and into political and legal

ones, it ceases to be covered by context-oriented science reporters and is instead bounced to political pages, opinion pages, and

television news. And all these venues, in their various ways, tend to deemphasize the strong scientific case in favor of evolution and

instead lend credence to the notion that a growing “controversy� exists over evolutionary science. This notion may be

politically convenient, but it is false. …

Without a doubt, then, political reporting, television news, and opinion pages are

all generally fanning the flames of a “controversy” over evolution. Not surprisingly, in light of this coverage, we simultaneously find

that the public is deeply confused about evolution.

In a November 2004 Gallup poll, respondents were asked: “Just your opinion, do

you think that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is: a scientific theory that has been well supported by evidence, or just one of many

theories and one that has not been well-supported by evidence, or don’t you know enough to say?” Only 35 percent of Americans answered a

scientific theory supported by evidence, whereas another 35 percent indicated that evolution was just one among many theories, and 29

percent answered that they didn’t know. Meanwhile a national survey this spring (conducted by Matthew Nisbet, one of the authors of this

article, in collaboration with the Survey Research Institute at Cornell University), found similar public confusion about the scientific

basis for intelligent design. A bare majority of adult Americans (56.3 percent) agreed that evolution is supported by an overwhelming

body of scientific evidence; a sizeable proportion (44.2 percent) thought precisely the same thing of intelligent design. …


thing, above all, is clear: a full-fledged national debate has been reawakened over an issue that once seemed settled. This new fight may

not simmer down again until the U.S. Supreme Court is forced (for the third time) to weigh in. In these circumstances, the media

have a profound responsibility — to the public, and to knowledge itself.

Chris C Mooney

DefCon — The Campaign to Defend the Constitution

DefCon Blog
DefCon celebrates all of our First Amendment freedoms, and this blog is an open

invitation to speak your mind on the topics we cover. Join DefCon’s Blogger-in-Chief Clark and a rotating host of provocative guest

bloggers for discussion, debate, and news.

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution encourages all visitors to post to our blog. We

hope for a lively discussion and debate. …

DefCon is a new organization dedicated to confronting the power of the religious

right. We are a diverse group of individuals from an array of backgrounds united by the belief that the religious right is a threat to


We are dealing with a powerful group driven by a specific agenda, who seek to control many different facets of our

culture. As their power has grown, the religious right has alienated, frightened, or infuriated millions of Americans along the way.

DefCon is here to unite these Americans. Regardless of what drove you to fight the religious right, it is imperative we realize that

advancements of their agenda anywhere increase their power everywhere.