Friday, June 27, 2008

So Much For Reform

Bobby Jindal, a biology major during his college days, was elected Governor of Louisiana with much fanfare as a candidate who claimed he would reform the state's corrupt, backward government. Now, even though as a biologist he presumably knows better, he has signed into law a bill that would allow creationist bullshit to be introduced into science classes in the state. How is pandering to creationist nutcases in Louisiana "reform?" Instead, he just shows himself to be another politician, willing to do or say anything to polish his credentials as a potential vice-presidential candidate. In this case, however, it only makes him more attractive to the kind of wing-nuts who wouldn't possibly vote Democratic anyway.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Catholic's View on Evolution

Frequent commenter and Friend of the Blog Kevin Clark has published an article on evolution and faith in Catholic Men's Quarterly. In the article, he gives his perspective on how Catholics can reconcile the facts of evolution and their deeply held beliefs. Summary: Evolution demonstrates the power of God. The article is thoughtful and interesting. Go read it here.

A couple of notes about the article--I went to the Catholic Men's Quarterly webpage and looked at a sample issue. I was surprised to note that, unlike Gentlemen's Quarterly, there are no glossy ads or eight-page fashion layouts. Also, the blurb at the end of Kevin's article has this most interesting tidbit: "Kevin Clark lives in Front Royal, Virginia, with his wife, Laura, and their eight children." Apparently, Kevin is a practicing Catholic, if you get my meaning.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why It's Great to Be a Biologist

I'll be in Costa Rica with a group of students for the next ten days. We'll be looking for birds, mammals, reptiles, and the best Costa Rican beer. I hope to have some spectacular pictures to put up here when I get back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wrong in Every Conceivable Way

The city of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, has closed its animal control shelter and released the dogs held there into the St. Francis National Forest. This is apparently seen as a good thing by the director of the Humane Society of the Delta, Gloria Higginbotham, who said the animals were "better off" fending for themselves. Apparently, some of the released animals were sick, and some were dangerous, having already bitten city animal control officers.

How in the world can the Mayor of Helena-West Helena think that releasing dangerous animals into the woods is a good idea? How is this a good solution for the public, the wild animals living in the forest, or for the animals themselves? Has the mayor considered what would the legal ramifications would be if one of these animals attacks or kills a child? What about the pets and livestock of persons who live in or near the National Forest? What is going to keep the released dogs from starving to death, from contracting rabies, or from being hit by cars? How ignorant must a director of the Humane Society be to think that abandoning animals in the forest is somehow beneficial to the animals?

Feral dogs are a huge problem over the United States and the world. They attack livestock and pets, spread disease, destroy native wildlife, and attack and even kill people. Starving free-ranging dogs are known to resort to cannibalism. Feral dogs breed with wild coyotes and wolves, disrupting the genetics of wild populations.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm a firm believer in kindness to animals, but the city cannot release dogs that it knows to be dangerous into the woods. If the city is unwilling or unable to find shelter for the animals, there is only one possible solution, euthanasia, and the city has failed in its duties by avoiding it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Gifts Once Given

The Bell, a frequent commenter at Slate Magazine's Best of the Fray has a commentary on the recent California gay marriage decision. Here's an excerpt:
Much like John Adams on the subject of self-government two hundred plus years ago, I now have strong reasons to believe that no gay persons who have enjoyed the entitlement to refer to the reflections of their own souls as “my husband” or “my wife” will (easily) give it up and return to such euphemisms as “my life partner,” “my significant other,” or “my special friend” – and neither will their families and friends.

If one month of such entitlements launched the lawsuits that led to this ruling, imagine what five months’ worth will catalyze. There is no question that Californians stand about an equal chance of taking away what their state constitution currently allows. But even if the worse happens there, this only means final victory will be a little later rather than a little sooner. Perceptions are changing, attitudes are changing; those who resist will ultimately find themselves unable to mandate a cessation toward what is right anymore than they can shout back the tides.

That is just the way it is with some gifts, once given. The gift has now been given. It was long overdue.

In some ways, it's astounding that more Americans haven't been upset that a significant minority of our citizens has been denied a basic civil right. Apparently we haven't learned much from our past.

The Bell's entire commentary is available here.