Archive for July, 2008
Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers reports on a recent action by the city council of Birmingham, West Midlands, UK, installing blocking software on staff computers to block access to atheist webpages. As noted, this is not a matter of blocking religion pages in general to avoid disctractions from work. Instead, as noted in the BBC article:
The authority’s Bluecoat WebFilter computer system allows staff to look at websites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions but blocks sites to do with “witchcraft or Satanism” and “occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism”.
As Prof. Myers notes:
I’m always peeved at this inconsistent categorization. If you’re going to group undesirable topics under the heading of “Forms of mysticism”, then atheism does not belong there, but Christianity and Islam do, right along with witchcraft, the occult, voodoo, and New Age nonsense.
Personally, I’d note that this is the UK, and what else can you expect from a country that still has an established church?
The Wall Street Journal does the math on “tax cuts for the rich.”
The idea that this has been a giveaway to the rich is a figment of the left’s imagination. Taxes paid by millionaire households more than doubled to $274 billion in 2006 from $136 billion in 2003. No President has ever plied more money from the rich than George W. Bush did with his 2003 tax cuts. These tax payments from the rich explain the very rapid reduction in the budget deficit to 1.9% of GDP in 2006 from 3.5% in 2003.
Wired.com gives real-world comparisons to Batman’s gadgets in The Dark Knight.
Men and women don’t compete with and against each other in these sporting events. Title IX has been very successful at expanding womens’ participation in sports, because it focused on equality of opportunity and did not assume equality of ability — women are not fighting for a roster spot on a single football, soccer or baseball team, etc. Title IX did not require adopting direct competition between the sexes; there are obvious physiological differences that make this impractical. Certainly there are situations where the women would do better (the uneven parallel bars in gymnastics springs painfully to mind), but would have anywhere close to a 50-50 mix in most sports, if we had mixed-gender teams and ability were the only metric? The lack of opportunity for women that prompted Title IX was the lack of teams on which they could compete, and one could (and did) create and fund these teams. The situation in science is very much different in the difficulties that exist and the solutions that can be proffered.