Monthly Archive: February 2006

Feb 28 2006

The later Martin Luther King

Some writers are very good at planning ahead for their writing and preparing pieces that coincide with upcoming anniversaries. I am hopeless at this, reacting to events after the fact rather than anticipating them. So, for example, Charles Darwin’s birthday was on February 12 but I completely forgot about it, even though I have been …

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Feb 27 2006

The Harry Belafonte-Coretta Scott King funeral mystery

Harry Belafonte’s talk at Case has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 28 at 7:00pm at Strosacker. The event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. The tickets issued for the earlier date will be honored at this event. The original talk was postponed because Belafonte said he had to give a …

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Feb 24 2006

Estimating Civilian Casualties in Iraq

The bombing of the Shia Askariyah shrine in Samarra threatens to lift the existing low-level civil war in Iraq to the status of a major one. Already, the level of deaths has risen dramatically. Which again raises the question of how little we know (or even seem to care) about the level of Iraqi deaths …

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Feb 23 2006

The state of literacy in the US

The government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is an invaluable source of information about the state of education in the US. Among other things, it periodically measures the state of literacy and determines what percentage of the population falls into four categories: below basic, basic, intermediate and proficient. These levels are defined (with samples …

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Feb 22 2006

The Death of Conservativism

In a previous post, I wrote about how political language has been abused and how words have either lost their meaning through misuse or whose meaning is deliberately kept vague so that they can be used as political weapons. Glenn Greenwald (over at Unclaimed Territory) points out how this process of distortion is in full …

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Feb 21 2006

Why is ice slippery?

I have been meaning to write about this for some time but got sidetracked by all the other topics. It formed the basis of an article by Robert Rosenberg in the December 2005 issue of Physics Today (pages 50-55). How people respond to such a question can tell you a lot about their relationship to …

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Feb 20 2006

Hot buttons and the people who push them-3

When it comes to how to find and push hot buttons in the US (see here and here for the first two parts of this series), we can all learn from the master, the infamous Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. These people are so off-the-wall hateful in their message …

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Feb 17 2006

Baby killers

I saw the documentary film Winter Soldiers on Wednesday night at Strosacker and it was a very moving experience. (The film will be shown again on Sunday at 1:30pm. I strongly recommend it. See below for details.) In February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre, more than 125 veterans of …

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Feb 16 2006

Secret Agent Vice President

What amazed me is that after Vice President Cheney shot 78-year old Harry Whittington, the administration started by essentially blaming the man for getting shot. From what I have read (see here and here), the consensus among bird hunters is that in such incidents, the fault almost always lies with the shooter. It is like …

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Feb 15 2006

Ohio Sets Back Intelligent Design

Yesterday the Ohio Board of Education (OBE) struck a huge blow against intelligent design by voting 11-4 to remove benchmarks in its science standards that called for “critical analysis” of evolution and to eliminate a lesson plan based on that benchmark. Here is some background to the issue. In 2001 I was selected to be …

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