Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Obama knows his priorities

Campaigning is important, sure, but the announcement that Obama is going to visit his serious ill grandmother who raised him shows two things to me. One, he really cares about interpersonal relationships, and second, he knows his priorities. A sick and, if I read correctly between the lines, dying grandmother deserves this kind of attention. This is not a situation where he has to decide to nuke a foreign country or not, there is no national security involved, and thousands of lives, so, this is the right thing to do!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Which foreign dependency is worse: Oil or Money

if Americans think they have it bad with their dependence on foreign oil, they haven't even started to realise how incredibly dependent they are to foreign money. Without China, Japan, Korea, the Arab oil states and Europeans, the USA would not even be capable of sustaining the incredible trade and budget deficit it is currently trying to control. So, if we compare, which of the two is worse? Oil or Money?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Does Biology rules out Gay Marriage?

Gay marriage is a hot button in the US. Where I come from, the Netherlands, it is not any more and even the CDA now considers is something not to be fought any more. Anyway, the US is making head ways, now that a third state (Connecticut, after Massachusetts and California) legalized gay marriages.

Some people opposing gay marriage use biology to argue that the traditional marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. They argue that “It takes a man and a woman to create children and thus create a family”. And that therefore, marriage should be limited to one man and one woman. Unfortunately for them, they only would be right if, and only if, marriage was a biological phenomenon, which of course, it is not. Marriage is just a social construct, nothing more.

But besides that marriage is a social construct, using biology in this way is oversimplifying what biology actually tells us. Using biology in the way it is used against gay marriage ignores the large variation that biology shows. It for example assumes that you only have man and woman, ignoring that there are a substantial number of intersex people. During development of the foetus, many biological processes have to line up perfectly to get the proper sex-determination. if anything goes wrong, because of genetics or environment, some of the characteristics typical for a man or a woman will be skewered and defining whether the person is a man or a woman becomes a legal nightmare.

For example, in Texas, the state's 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, ruled that a man is defined by his chromosomes. This results in that same-sex couples, of which one is transsexual, can legally marry (with the cravat that it is considered illegal in the rest of Texas). Thus just illustrates that using biology to define a social construct as marriage is anything but build on the most shaky grounds.

But I think the argument is made this way because it avoids the insertion of overt religious arguments into something that should be free of religion. We have to expose the argument for what it is, a thinly veiled argument to insert religion into the legal system.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Voodoo economics: China or America?

So, which country is mostly unaffected by the current money crisis? Yes, China. The least capitalist based market of the larger nations, with substantial government regulation, but seems to best now that the credit crunch is getting worse.

But things are worse, China is probably the only nation in the world that can actually finance the bonds that the US will need to cover the 700,000,000,000 US $ that the US wants to invest in their bankrupted (no pun intended) financial system.

The US government was already unable to tell China what to do. Every time a senator or other politician made some waves for reform, for example to limit imports from China, or to prevent jobs from going there, a mid-rank official would appear on Chinese television, and indicate that China was considering to diversify their bonds. And without failure, the stock market would cringe and the US politician would shut up. Now, the sell-out to to China is just going to be worse.

What I really do not get is that many poor people vote for the republicans, because in the end, they are the victims of the voodoo economics of that party. But I guess that prohibiting gay marriage is more important than having money in their wallet.

Abstinence only increases abortion rates

Abstinence only increases abortion rates. This is a simple one:
  1. Sex drive is natural
  2. Many do not have the control to withstand nature
  3. So, they have sex before marriage anyway (who wants to wait till being 27 or so before having sex?)
  4. When they have sex anyway, they have no clue about avoiding pregnancies, because the ONLY line of defence against it, abstinence, just faltered
  5. result, the baby is coming.......
And it explains in part, why of the western countries, teenage pregnancy rates are so substantially larger in the US than in other countries. In the Netherlands, where sex-education is part of high school education, teenage pregnacy rates are around 6.2, while in the us, it is a nine-fold higher at 52.1.......

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wikipedia's version of Natural Selection

Several years ago, I tried to help out at wikipedia. It was a waste of time. The article I spend most time on was Natural Selection, and my hand is still visible in the article. Unfortunately, the uneducated masses rule wikipedia, so, wikipedia now tries to let you believe that:
Natural selection is the process by which favorable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms, and unfavorable heritable traits become less common, due to differential reproduction of genotypes.
Yawn, this is the perfect definition of Evolution by means of Natural Selection, which is NOT the same as Natural Selection. Unfortunately, this is an error even made in some text books, especially those that are interested in the result of Natural Selection.

Natural Selection by itself is a process. And that process has an effect. The process is that individuals that are better adapted to a specific environment survive and/or reproduce more often than individuals that are not as well adapted to the same environment. The result is that gene frequencies in the population changes for the traits under selection, which is exactly the definition of evolution.

By carefully distinguishing the process from the multi-generational effect, a much clearer understanding of how Natural Selection acts can be gained. Unfortunately, wikipedia won't do that, as they are ruled by the ignorant masses.......