Thursday, June 28, 2007
This story via Atrios sounds like it should have been from 1956, and not 2006. We still have a lot of work to do in this country. Very sad and sobering. Brown v. Board of Education did not fix everything, even though our current Supreme Court thinks otherwise. The Bay Area certainly is not perfect, but stories like this make us very thankful we run a business and live here, in a freer society, than many other places in this great country.
Photo by tizzie used under a Creative Commons license.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Friend of the store and Berkeley Boozers Book Club member JL points us to this children's menu linked to from a University of Florida webpage.
"Dinosaurs and reptiles never stop growing!
The largest dinosaur egg ever found was smaller than a football
Dinosaur footprints and people footprints were found together in Glenrose, Texas.
The most up to date scientific information shows that dinosaurs lived not millions of years ago, they lived with man. there are still some around today."
Friday, June 22, 2007
This is great news. The Senate passed a bill raising the minimum fuel economy of all cars, SUVs, and light weight trucks to 35 mpg over the next 10 years. Think Progress reports that the effort was lead by California's own Sen. Feinstein.
Feinstein has released a statement on the vote: "The compromise legislation raises the fleetwide average fuel economy standards for all cars, trucks and SUVs by 10 miles per gallon over 10 years — or from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by Model Year 2020." By 2025, the fuel economy increases for cars and light-duty trucks would:Now it just needs to pass in the house. Call your house rep and tell them to support raising fuel economy standards.
— Save between 2.0 and 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, nearly the amount of oil imported today from the Persian Gulf.
— Achieve up to 18 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from anticipated levels, or the equivalent of taking 60 million cars off the road in one year.
— Save consumers $79-98 billion at the pump, based on a $3.00 gas price.
Photo of LA smog by Flickr user recursive_1 used under a Creative Commons license
OSHA has determined that the tiger attack that left a keeper with half an arm was the fault of the SF Zoo.
It was obvious that any of the cats could reach through or under the bars and that a potential hazard zone extended approximately 18 inches from the cage face," concluded the report by California's Division of Occupation Safety and Health.
Lori Komejan was mauled by Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger, on the afternoon of Dec. 22 -- exactly six months ago -- as dozens of horrified visitors watched. The incident occurred inside the Lion House after a routine public feeding of the big cats.
"The flesh was torn from her right arm," said Cal-OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer in a phone interview Thursday. "It was peeled off, similar to peeling off a glove."
The investigation said zoo officials were aware that hazardous conditions existed at the Lion House, closed since Komejan was injured. Cal-OSHA ordered changes -- which already have been made -- in the setup of the cages and wants to impose an $18,000 penalty, which the zoo can appeal.
Photo by Flickr user Graybeard763 used under a Creative Commons license
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Disappearing Lakes in the Andes ... bizzare.
A five-acre glacial lake in Chile's southern Andes has disappeared -- and scientists want to know why.Note: photo is of a lake in the Andes, just not the one that disappeared, nor one in Chile for that matter, but on the other side, in Argentina.
Park rangers at Bernardo O'Higgins National Park said they found a 100-feet-deep crater in late May where the lake had been in March. Several large pieces of ice that used to float atop the water also were spotted.
"The lake had simply disappeared," Juan Jose Romero, head of Chile's National Forest Service in the southernmost region of Magallanes, said Wednesday. "No one knows what happened."
The 2 million year old skull of a pygmy giant panda was found in a limestone cave in southern China.
The animal, formally known as Ailuropoda microta, or "pygmy giant panda," would have been about three feet long, compared to the modern giant panda, which averages in excess of five feet (1.52 meters).
President Bush has used only his third veto, refusing to sign a bill passed by both houses of Congress that would allow Federal Funding for embryonic stem cell research. This is the second time Bush has vetoed the "stem cell bill."
President Bush on Wednesday issued his second veto of a measure lifting his restrictions on human embryonic stem cell experiments. The move effectively pushed the contentious scientific and ethical debate surrounding the research into the 2008 presidential campaign.
“Destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical,” Mr. Bush said in a brief ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He called the United States “a nation founded on the principle that all human life is sacred.”
At the same time, Mr. Bush issued an executive order intended to encourage scientists to pursue other forms of stem cell research that he does not deem unethical. But that research is already going on, and the plan provides no new money.
The hypocrisy is stunning. The embryonic stem cells to be studied would come from unused embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics that are already being destroyed. Not sure how the Iraq war protects the "sanctity of human life" or how the death penalty does either (not a pro- or anti- death penalty comment here just pointing out the hypocrisy).
Matt Yglesias brings up another hypocrisy angle here too, pointing out that it is perfectly legal to study embryonic stem cells in the United States, with private funding or in our case State of California funding. If studying stem cells is equated with murder then should he not try and outlaw all stem cell research.
If the cells are sacred human life, then surely it's not okay to kill them in a privately financed manner. The nonsensical nature of Bush's position on this issue is old news, but continues, in my view, to be under-remarked upon in mainstream coverage of the issue. Years ago, he hit upon a goofy split-the-difference compromise and ever since then he's been wandering the country insisting that he's taking a bold stand of principle.
Have to agree here as does most of America as the Christian Post points out.
Friday, June 08, 2007
He starts his piece with things I can agree with ...
The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.Emphasis added for the parts that are most agreeable. Not everything in those paragraphs are quite right in my mind, but the overall gist of it is good. Hints of the late Stephen J. Gould.
People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.
Here is where Brownback begins to go wrong.
The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.First he misuses the word "materialistic." Brownback's choice of materialistic brings the negative connotation of over-consumption, when in fact evolution is materialistic in the sense of "made of matter." Second evolution is not believed to be deterministic, but as he states later the product of random chance. The view of deterministic evolution, similar to Lamarckian evolution is no longer held. Science does not believe that we are evolving to a predetermined endpoint. Nor does science have anything to say about an "intelligent guiding force" Science only deals with materialistic things. Next Brownback deploys the "intelligent design"/creationist favorite "[t]here is no one single theory of evolution" Only problem is he uses a very poor example. The differences between classical Darwinian evolution and punctuated equilibrium (looks like he didn't read Gould's natural history papers all the carefully) deal with temporal differences. Both assume that evolution is the product of random mutations and selection. Classical Darwinian evolution sees evolution as a slow, steady process with little to no acceleration or deceleration. Punctuated equilibrium, however describes evolution as a process that shows periods of relatively little evolution (not no evolution) followed by periods of rapid evolution in a cyclical fashion. Why evolutionary pressures create periods of rapid evolution is under debate but usually major global climate changes such as warming periods, increases in atmospheric oxygen, meteor and volcanic based atmospheric changes. Many times these periods of rapid evolution immediately follow periods of rapid extinction, where new pressures are found and new niches are available. With global warming and mass extinctions happening right now we may be due very soon (on the geological scale, not in the anyone alive now will see it scale).
There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.
Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.
Biologists will have their debates about man’s origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table. For this reason, I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion. An attempt by either to seek a monopoly on these questions would be wrong-headed. As science continues to explore the details of man’s origin, faith can do its part as well. The fundamental question for me is how these theories affect our understanding of the human person.
So bold is agree and italics is disagree in the passage above.
Creation of the universe does have its place in discussion of "human person." And Brownback is right when he states that it is a question of philosophy. He is being deceptive when he states that "I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion" implying that reason and faith go together but reason and science do not, which I think he has almost exactly backwards.
Discussion of the human person is not exclusively a question of science. But if it is going to be discussed it needs to be done in the philosophy and religion NOT in science classes where it does not belong. This goes for our schools and our society at large.
But the worst of it is ...
Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.So if the science agrees with his faith then it is good and if it disagrees with his faith then it is the evil work of atheists and needs to be discarded!?! That is the Sen. Brownback I am used to. Way to finish up and kill all credibility. I was getting scared that he made a bit of sense there for a minute.
And that concludes my longest post ever.
UPDATE: Sad, but true. It only took me minutes to find a rebuttal of Brownback way better than mine. Read Prof. Coyne's smackdown of Brownback. Expect more posts from his new-to-me blog in the future.
The sad story is of the first captive born panda released into the wild died most likely after being attacked by other pandas. Ygelsias missed the boat on this one as far as I can tell, but maybe he was just scared of linking to Al Jazeera which is curiously the first item when one googles "wild panda died."
He was trained to live in the wild, but it seems he could not fit in.
Xiang Xiang, the world's first lab-bred panda, lasted less than a year living the wild life.
The five-year-old male was found dead on snow-covered ground on February 19, apparently after falling to his death, reports in Chinese state media said.
His body was found in a mountainous area of China's Sichuan province more than a month after scientists last picked up a trace from the global positioning tracking collar he was wearing, Xinhua news agency said.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Our good friend Anthony Paone was named by the East Bay Express as the best chef in the East Bay. Anthony is executive chef at Sea Salt and T-Rex. We can highly recommend both, which are under 1 mile from our shop. Go check them out for sure.
Most chefs risk an ulcer from running just one kitchen. Anthony Paone runs two within Haig and Cindy Krikorian's Berkeley restaurant empire: the mod barbecue cafe T-Rex and the sprawling seafood brasserie Sea Salt. Forging fresh, inventive food in radically different genres represents a feat of splits that'd make the most limber cheerleader envious. But the 34-year-old chef keeps both kitchens on a sustained quest for kickass.