Today's Blogs

Jonesing for Science

Bloggers today are abuzz about the decision by a Dover, Pa., judge to banish intelligent design from the classroom. They also discuss Saddam Hussein’s allegation that he’s been abused in prison and chronicle hardships—abstract and podiatric—of Day 2 of the New York City transit strike.

Jonesing for science: In a major setback for intelligent-design proponents, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, a Republican appointed by George W. Bush, ruled Tuesday that the Dover, Pa., school board had resorted to “breathtaking inanity” in trying to peddle ID as an “alternative” science. Bloggers divided between hosannas and imprecations. Read Jones’ decision here.

Wisconsin law prof Ann Althouse argues that this precedent will be hard one to combat for defenders of ID who don’t want to be confused with defenders of the faith. “If there is any controversy at all—and could there not be?—opponents will bring up the Dover case and make much of the fact that a federal judge has equated Intelligent Design with religion,” she writes. “It simply won’t be possible to adopt Intelligent Design without talking a lot about religion now.”

Remarking on the disconnect between those who think Dover is now doomed to perdition and those who say ID is no justification of deism, Englishman Joe Bunting at the Birmingham-based The Club writes, “They have been telling the judge that intelligent design has nothing to do with god so why he would consign an entire town to burn in the firey furnaces of hell for something which has nothing to do with him is an interesting insight into his character.” Ed at Dispatches From the Culture Wars hopes the ruling bodes well for Michigan, where the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor has threatened to sue a local school district over the banning of ID. Ed opines, “Given that the Dover trial established beyond a shadow of a doubt that Of Pandas and People is a creationist textbook no different from what was banned in Edwards v Aguillard, the TMLC would be foolhardy to attempt to defend it again.”

However, not everyone is gung-ho for Darwin. Jack Rich, a Reformed Baptist at Wrong Side of the Tracks, reprehends the decision and suggests that evolution has some dark spots of its own: “What I’d like to know from some unbelieving evolutionary biologist is this: given that great apes still exist, and have nowhere near the intelligence of homo sapiens sapiens, it’s clear that apes did not and do not need our big, fat, chess club brains to survive. Yet we have them.” And Yaakov Menken at the orthodox Jewish journal Cross Currents draws a distinction between biblical creationism and ID, which he thinks is an inchoate theory made controversial only by its conclusions: “If we employ the same standards of probability that we use in every other area of life—including critical life and death medical decisions—we reach the conclusion that both the formation of life and the development of many structures most probably did not happen by chance.”

Survey more of the ID contretemps here. Read William Saletan’s take in Slate here.

World’s smallest violin: Few in the blogosphere are shedding tears over Saddam Hussein’s charges in court that he has been beaten “everywhere on [his] body” by his captors.

Aaron Margolis at the righty site Pardon My English wonders how bad it could possibly be for Saddam: “While the truthfullness of the former dictator is always in question, has the imprisoned Hussein been raped, subjected to electric shocks, forced to watch the rape of his family members, thrown off a building, beheaded, or had his eyes gouged out, fingernails pulled out, hands pierced by an electric drill, suspended by his limbs for long periods of time[?]” The civil libertarian Dread Pundit Bluto believes Saddam’s allegations simply represent an ever-declining metric for evaluating prison abuse: “Thank you to all those whose short term political goals have so watered down the definition of torture that this senile old mass murderer thinks wearing the same underwear for three days qualifies.” Meanwhile, marketing consultant Jeremy Votaw detects the telltale signs of a PR gimmick: “This stands as proof that the Americans are letting him watch TV, he knows what American liberals are saying and he is using that against us.”

Even vehement anti-warriors like the Cambridge medical student Imran Idris at is underwhelmed. “Now, I don’t normally agree with George (I firmly believe he should be tried for crimes against humanity),” she minutes, “but I find it sort of amusing, and ironic as well, the way Saddam is bitching right now.”

Read more about Saddam’s abuse claims here.

Hoofing it, Day 2: With major newspapers weighing in on the legitimacy of the MTA transit strike in New York, bloggers are characteristically vocal about both the collective stakes and the personal straits.

Recently transplanted from D.C. to New York, Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo averted the worst of the shutdown by having a day job conveniently located within the cozy confines of a domestic “bubble.” Nonetheless, he comments: “It was a surreal feeling since I knew I was in the center of a city whose civic metabolism had been turned upside down.”

Pro-strike Steve Gilliard at The News Blog is indignant that the TWU has been portrayed as “thuggish.” In an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gilliard fumes, “You and your editorial page allies need to realize that 52 percent of New Yorkers support this strike. A majority. A majority of people walking to work in the cold, who understand if they can’t get a contract, no one can.” And Beth at the metro-diary citycrab is kind of blue about the low quotient of urban togetherness the strike has engendered: “I bonded with no other commuters, I had no warm experiences. I didn’t share any stories with anyone. There was no Sept. 11th or blackout comraderie. I did get a free hot chocolate from the Red Cross. That was nice.”

Read what other bloggers are saying about the strike here.

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