Dodos of your own

You may recall that I reviewed Flock of Dodos last week—it’s good, you should all see it if you can. The movie now has a distributor, so maybe you can. Unfortunately, this isn’t a release for private use yet, so what you need to do is get an institution to fork over $345. Yeah, that’s steep, but it includes public performance rights. Maybe you could convince your local university to get it for a Darwin Day showing…? Recoup the cost by selling tickets?

Fools and monsters

I’ve long respected the Amish—they aren’t Luddites, as typically portrayed, but a community that consciously deliberates over the effects of technology on social interactions, and limits those effects (in ways I would find personally disagreeable, but hey, it’s their life), and I like the fact that they are willing to let young members explore the life outside their communities. The recent murders were monstrous, their perpetrator sick and evil, and I can’t even imagine the pain those families have to be going through. This comment, though, says that at least some Amish also live a life of sad delusion.

“We think it was God’s plan, and we’re going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going,” he [Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker] said. “A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors.”

No, no they’re not, and this old kook should know better. If his claim were true, you’d have to argue that the murderer did a good thing for those children, and that parents ought to strangle their kids as soon as they’re born.

Welcome to the Fascist States of America!

Just read Leiter.

So the record had been mixed, even before Bush & his bestiary of madmen, but describing the U.S. as a nominally democratic society seemed to make some sense.  Yet even that status officially ended last week.  The legislation known as "the Military Commissions Act of 2006" (usefully described by Professor Balkin here)–approved by what might be called, euphemistically, "the supine Congress" and which is sure to be signed by the alleged President (on orders from the actual President, Dick Cheney)–is the stuff of totalitarian societies, pure and simple.  (As Stephen Griffin (Law, Tulane) observes, the law should really be called the "Military Dictatorship Act," because that is what it actually is, all the bullshit to one side.  Or as philosopher Matt Burstein wrote to me:  "these fuckers read Kafka and Orwell as a god-damned manual, not as a critique!")

The full fascist impact of this legislation won’t be felt immediately, of course, but its contours are so clear as to admit of no whitewashing:  the Dear Leader, i.e., the executive, now has the right to disappear anyone, without having to answer to any other branch of government, except, perhaps, officials who serve at the pleasure of the executive.  Hitler and Stalin and Mao had versions of this power; so, too, now does George W. Bush.  If there is a pertinent difference, it is that the public culture in the U.S., at least currently, is still mildly resistant to capacious exercise of this power, at least against the proverbial "white folks" and other right-thinking and right-looking Americans.

OK, read Ivins, too.

In another change, a clause said that evidence obtained outside the United States could be admitted in court even if it had been gathered without a search warrant. But the bill now drops the words “outside the United States,” which means prosecutors can ignore American legal standards on warrants.

The bill also expands the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant to cover anyone who has “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.” Quick, define “purposefully and materially.” One person has already been charged with aiding terrorists because he sold a satellite TV package that includes the Hezbollah network.

The bill simply removes a suspect’s right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open.

I haven’t talked about this at home, but somehow the implications are even sinking into the consciousness of sixteen year old girls (a smart 16yog, but still…).

So where are the Democrats leading the charge? Will this be a subject of discussion at YearlyKos, and can we howl at any Democrats who show up? Who else will be joining me at the protest lines at the Fascist National Convention in Minneapolis next September? How can we light a fire under the craven Democrats?

What the heck…now you can even get arrested for publicly disagreeing with Dick Cheney?

Forget civility and decorum. It’s time to impeach these slimemeisters.

Slides from my NDSU talk

By popular request, I’ve uploaded the slides I used in my talk at NDSU. I fear they won’t be very useful; you can see the structure of the talk, but what I was saying was the meat. For instance, there’s a slide that says “Francis Collins” and the title of his book, and what I did there was read an excerpt from his work, which isn’t anywhere in that document. Mac users, you can download the Keynote file, which has all the nice builds and transitions; everyone else will have to make do with a barebones
html version (there are a couple of slides where I dissolve in some photos that overlay the title…sorry, they won’t be readable here).

By the way, I’ve been using Keynote a lot lately—even when I’m going to do the presentation on a machine that only uses PowerPoint, I do all the creation and editing in Keynote and then export the whole thing to a ppt file. It’s beautiful. PowerPoint always gets in the way, doesn’t provide any help with what I actually want to do, and like everything Microsoft, is cumbersome, awkward, and ugly. Keynote is simple and clean and does the job, and then has those clever bits that make you appreciate how good Apple design is. Those alignment guides—brilliant! The dual-monitor setup so the presenter gets to see the next slide, with timers—I want it all the time! It’s also not that expensive for educators…heck, it’s not that expensive for non-educators.

Now if only it were available on every computer on which I have to do a presentation…