Science in the Classroom

I used to raise dogs professionally. (Golden retrievers if anyone is interested.) Get involved in the business, or any biological industry, and you’ll see that selective breeding works.

My thing was breeding dogs with short haired coats. Everyone always complains about the hair littering the couch when their golden starts to shed, so I decided to do something about it. I simply chose dogs with short hair for breeding while keeping those with longer hair penned up. I didn’t do it long enough to see a significant change, but just a glance at all the different breeds out there will show that it would have worked eventually.

That is pretty much at the heart of evolution. Some sort of environmental cause either reduces the chance for organisms with a certain inherited trait from breeding, or it increases the chances for individuals from the same species with a different trait. Undesired traits are bred out of the species while those that increase the chance of hooking up become commonplace. This is, in fact, the basis for just about all of our modern biological science.

Today a judge in PA banned the teaching of Intelligent Design in public school biology classes, saying that it was thinly disguised religion.

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The President’s Perspective

Bush’s speech. When we listen to the contrast between hawks & doves (roughly republicans and democrats, especially as seen by matched pundits post-speech), we see them arguing past one another. As irritating as the democrats’ political spin may be to a hawk, the narrow & superficial approach is understandable if we assume, as many of them do, that this is only a “war.” Indeed, since it isn’t real, it is best analyzed as political ploy. Dots going back to, what, 1983 in Beirut and moving on to the German hostages today do not cohere to them. Nor do they read the fatwas, listen to the speeches in Iran or watch the celebrations in Gaza – these are not parts of one implacable foe. Hawks see a pattern; doves do not. That the doves’ arguments fall into the cheapest of partisan arguments arises from the fact that they do not see this as, well, important. So, they fall back on old cliches – speaking of offering peace rather than war without feeling a need to define who that peace would be with and how it would be accomplished. Bush recognized that difference, but made his own stance clear:

September 11th, 2001 required us to take every emerging threat to our country seriously, and it shattered the illusion that terrorists attack us only after we provoke them. On that day, we were not in Iraq, we were not in Afghanistan, but the terrorists attacked us anyway – and killed nearly 3,000 men, women, and children in our own country. My conviction comes down to this: We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them. And we will defeat the terrorists by capturing and killing them abroad, removing their safe havens, and strengthening new allies like Iraq and Afghanistan in the fight we share.

He further distinguishes between these two points of view.

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The President’s Speech

I think the speech was very good but that’s a detail. The main thing is, Bush should give these talks every few weeks (and should have been doing so for the past three years, but never mind).

He has given several speeches on Iraq lately, so perhaps he now realizes what he has to do. Nonetheless he appears to be going against his own nature in speaking frequently and repeating himself and in responding to hostile and often inane criticism. In this regard he should not see himself as an executive, making and briskly executing plans, someone who expects to be listened to the first time and who doesn’t suffer fools. He is now, rather, a marketing man who must respond quickly and cheerfully to critics, even those for whom he has disdain, and must repeat his pitch until it sinks in throughout a diverse population. I hope that he will continue in marketing mode, and that he will not revert to executive type once his popularity recovers from the effects of the recent anti-war offensive in the press.

Our enemies, in tacit alliance with Bush’s political opponents, fight fiercely in the media because that is the field of combat where they are most effective. Bush & Co. have been much too slow to appreciate this fact and to fight back. Indeed it isn’t obvious that they fully understand it even now. The crazy thing about it is that they have by far the strongest arguments on their side if only they will make them, as Bush did tonight and as I fervently hope he will continue to do. There really is no choice if we are to win the war.

UPDATE: In the comments, Rizalist makes some subtle points about the content of Bush’s speech. See also this post on his blog.

RELATED: Ginny posts her take on the President’s speech.