Is This His Final Answer? Gore Not Running

Reuters reports No Al Gore in U.S Presidential race, saying he says he is involved in “a different kind of campaign.” Video story on Gore available.

Update: Not surprisingly this isn’t the final answer.  Bloomberg’s take on this is similar to Gore’s previoius comments in which he never totally closed the door on running:

Gore has said he hasn’t ruled out making another run for president, but he doesn’t “expect” to launch a campaign. He made the comments during a visit to Australia in September, where he was promoting his film.

Note they date this back to September. It isn’t clear if Gore said anything new which led to the Reuter’s report.

Dinosaurs and Humans Coexisted


See dinosauers and humans together at this museum:

“I think we’ll be surprised at how many people come,” Ham said as he dodged dozens of designers working to finish exhibits in time for the May 28 opening.

The $27 million project, which also includes a planetarium, a special-effects theater, nature trails and a small lake, is privately funded by people who believe the Bible’s first book, Genesis, is literally true.

For them, a museum showing Christian schoolchildren and skeptics alike how the earth, animals, dinosaurs and humans were created in a six-day period about 6,000 years ago — not over millions of years, as evolutionary science says — is long overdue.

While foreign media and science critics have mostly come to snigger at exhibits explaining how baby dinosaurs fit on Noah’s Ark and Cain married his sister to people the earth, museum spokesman and vice-president Mark Looy said the coverage has done nothing but drum up more interest.

“Mocking publicity is free publicity,” Looy said. Besides, U.S. media have been more respectful, mindful perhaps of a 2006 Gallup Poll showing almost half of Americans believe that humans did not evolve, but were created by God in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

I’m happy to give them the free publicity. After all, everyone knows that humans and dinosaurs lived together–assuming their views were shaped by watching The Flintstones.

Hat tip to Grrl Scientist, who is “interested to know how they explain how god created light on the first day and waited until the fourth day to create the entire solar system, including the sun, which provides most of our light — essentially re-creating light for a second time.”

Intelligent Design and Peer Review

Proponents of creationism/intelligent design often try to sound fair and open minded by advocating “teaching the controversy.” There are a couple of problems with this. First, there is no real controversy over evolution within the scientific community. Evolution is established science and is a basis of modern biology, verifed by years of research verifying predictions made by the theory. Secondly, beyond its specious attacks on evolution there isn’t anything left from intelligent design. There is no real scientific theory which can be tested. They propose no specific alternative to claim to be different from religious creationism.
Panda’s Thumb speculates on what would happen if proponents of intelligent design were to face peer review as is standard for material published in true scientific journals. They track a lengthy discussion between an advocate of intelligent design and a scientist who descriibed herself as a “Christian theist” as well as a scientist. She starts out with a twist on intelligent design which its advocates probably did not anticipate:

I am happy to accept “Intelligent Design” as a scientific hypothesis to account for the development of life, as proposed by yourself, Dr Dembski, as long as you stand by this definition of intelligence:

‘ by intelligence I mean the power and facility to choose between options–this coincides with the Latin etymology of “intelligence,” namely, “to choose between” ‘…

However, such a hypothesis need not (and should not) be presented as an “alternative to evolution” as it is described in the Truth In Science materials. Far from rejecting an agent “with the power and facility to choose between options”, this is exactly what the Theory of Evolution postulates as the agent of evolutionary change – a process of_selection_ (aka “choice”) between options.

The response and full exchange is followed by Panda’s Thumb, leading them to ultimately conclude:

Not only is ID scientifically and theologically vacuous, it also is not ready for any peer review. I wonder if ID activists who are rooting for ‘teaching the controversy’ where expecting a form of ‘controversy’ about their own thesis… How ironically appropriate to see how ID is forced back into the shadows of our ignorance.

24 Examines Constitutional Issues, Upsetting Conservatives

It is best to watch 24 for the pure enjoyment of the show without thinking much about either the reality of the stories or its politics. Neither entirely hold up to close scrutiny. In early seasons conservatives tended to cite the show as an example of their beliefs, although liberals could still sometimes find lessons, such as that, although Jack too quickly turned to torture, the torture rarely provided reliable information in past seasons.

There was some concern about the show’s frequent portrayal of Muslims as the villian to the point where they found it necessary to issue this diclaimer during the fourth season:

Hi. My name is Kiefer Sutherland. And I play counter-terrorist agent Jack Bauer on Fox’s ‘24’. I would like to take a moment to talk to you about something that I think is very important. Now while terrorism is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world, it is important to recognize that the American Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism. So in watching 24, please, bear that in mind.”

Jack didn’t bother with issues of warrants, although I suspect this was more a matter of keeping the action moving and the story resolved within twenty-four hours than a conscious desire to disregard such legalities. Craig Crawford noted the similarities between Jack Bauer’s actions and current conservative disregard for civil liberties in 1995:

I have been watching dozens of back episodes of Fox Broadcasting’s “24” over the holidays, and so far I haven’t seen rogue U.S. anti-terrorism agent Jack Bauer stop once for a court warrant — not even when he sawed off the head of an informant he was interrogating. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard the Constitution mentioned a single time as Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, repeatedly breaks the rules to thwart terrorist plots.

This is how the President wants us to see the real world. Indeed, George Bush is the Jack Bauer of presidential power. There are no rules in Bush’s world when it comes to the War on Terror — only wimps like the whining bureaucrats on “24” balk at torture, spying, propaganda, whatever it takes.

I guess I am one of those constitutional wimps. Even the reality cop shows get me riled, as we watch the police routinely trample the individual rights of hapless suspects. Maybe we do live in a Jack Bauer world where constitutional liberties take a back seat to stopping killers. But I’d rather live in Patrick Henry’s world: Give me liberty or give me death.

Conservatives still remained big fans of the show last June as the Heritage Foundation hosted a panel discussion on the lessons of 24 in fighting terrorism. (A previous post on this panel is reprinted under the fold.) Liberals also found a reason to be excited by the show last season’s story about President Logan, a rogue President with similarities to both Richard Nixon and George Bush. This season appears to continue this trend, upsetting many conservatives such as Debbie Schlussel. There is conflict between Presidential advisor Thomas Lennoix (Peter McNichol) who “treats the Constitution like a list of suggestions” and those who understand the need to preserve our Constitutional liberties. Detroit Free Press TV critic Mike Duffy wrote:

So in addition to delivering a gangbusters contemporary thriller, executive producer Gordon aims to focus even more this season on such hot-button, post-9/11 topical issues as torture, ethnic profiling and the erosion of civil rights.

“All the terrible byproducts that come from a desperate population is what we try to convey,” notes Gordon.

Of course, in addition to being the scarred victim of torture, Jack Bauer has often been the one delivering agonizing pain in an attempt to extract vital information.

“Sometimes in the rare ticking time bomb context of ’24’… some sort of coercive interrogation is sometimes called for,” explains Gordon. “That said, Jack pays a terrible price. We see the cumulative wear on his soul, and never more than this season.”

Over the years, “24” has occasionally been criticized for trying to have it both ways, using torture as a topical talking point … and torture as entertainment.

“We’re far more sensitive to it than we’ve ever been and really, really would seek not to trivialize it in the storyline,” insists Gordon.

Ironically, despite the apparently more liberal philosophy of the show, Sunday’s episode provided one of the rare incidents in which torture did provide meaningful information, except in this case it was done by a Muslim after Jack uncharacteristically backed down. Most likely the show will continue to provide incidents which liberals and conservatives can both agree and disagree with, and all must remember that this is essentially escapist fantasy and not evidence for any political viewpoint.

Update: Not all conservatives are upset about the discussion of Constitutional issues on 24. Right Wing Nut House differes from many conservative bloggers in writing:

But after all, it is a just a television show. And despite the extremely serious nature of the civil liberties vs. security debate perhaps, in the end, it may be that reducing the complex arguments for and against extraordinary security measures to one line sophisms is the best way to get a national conversation going on the topic. Goodness knows we need it. Too often, when it comes to discussing this vital issue, people have been talking past each other rather than trying to come to some kind of consensus on the best way forward.