Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oh God, here come the Creationists

I've been reading A.J. Jacobs' new book "The Year of Living Biblically" where the Esquire editor attempts to follow the Bible as literally as possible for an entire year. I love the idea, but I can't help shuttering at the thought of trying it myself. The book is chock-full of funny moments on the subway, "stoning" adulterers in the park, and responding to the obligatory Unabomber references (if you saw his beard, you'd understand). But what interests me most is, among other things, his battle with the ideas of creationism.

I remember a conversation I had with a family friend some years ago; I was probably in my early teens then. While discussing the evolution v. creationism issue, he said it was silly to think that an explosion (The Big Bang) could create a universe. "When's the last time you saw a bomb do that?" he asked me. At the time, I was stumped.

I'm now befuddled by the claims creationism sets forth. In his book, Jacobs documents his journey to a creationism museum in northern Kentucky. It's a beautiful building, Jacobs says, and after visiting the website, I agree. Somehow, though, this museum doesn't appeal to me. Dinosaurs and man living together--in peace? Or claims that "dragons" were actually dinosaurs that existed into the Middle Ages?

And you're telling me an explosion can't create a universe?

Nothing against creationism, but it all sounds a little far-fetched to me. How can somebody accept the "fact" that man and beast co-existed peacefully but a series of explosions in space couldn't begin the process that would eventually lead to our planet being formed?

So here's what I'm thinking: Yeah, evolution doesn't make complete sense (just enroll in Human Origins here at the UI and see the leaps of faith involved in accepting it), but the utter lack of reason in creationism just doesn't cut it for me. Or scientists.

But believe what you want. Me, I just believe you're kind of crazy.

Monday, October 15, 2007

In defense of myself

Today's piece seems to have drawn the ire of a few commentators. Rarely do I ever feel the need to defend my writings, but some of the charges leveled at me go too far.

Paul comes out of the gate firing, taking issue with my line: "It seems never again means never again- until the next time." Paul seems outraged by this, though he failed to actually read the statement. If he had, he would have recognized that I was lamenting this fact, not white washing it. In fact, I suggested that those concerned over the Armenian genocide should focus their energies on Darfur - a genocide occurring at this very moment. It's hardly fair to accuse me of not caring.

Paul ends his thought-provoking comment with the question: "What message are we sending - you can kill your minorities as long as you help us with Iraq?" I never suggested anything of the sort, so Paul's conclusion here is way out of place.

Next up is Pete, who frankly committed blatant libel. He blames "apologists and isolationists" like me for genocides. Pete, you have no idea what my actual foreign policy views are, and they are far from being of the realist school, as you described me. And to call someone an apologist for genocide is simply sickening.

Kat seems to have actually read my column, unlike the two posters before her. This piece is about interest groups and the harm that narrow interests can inflict on America, not the resolution itself.

As I wrote in the piece, the passage of time doesn't excuse past atrocities. But if we're going to have an honest debate about this resolution, it's unfair to call opponents of it apologists and isolationists.

Monday, October 8, 2007


The Hawks stink this year. On ice, on carpet, and especially on grass; they stink for all seasons. My question is: Why didn't we see this coming?

Answer: we never do. Football fans at this school act like 14-year-old girls every year. Pre-season:
"Oh my god, the Hawks are going to be soooooo good this year! We're going to be, like, eight and four!"
"We're totally going to be ranked. It's going to be sweeter than unicorn sweat!"

This year is, of course, no different. We've got the same solid defense that looks absolutely crushing against early-season creampuffs, but gets humiliated when they're stuck on the field for 90 percent of the game, which they usually are against real opposition. Like, not even cool.

It was ever thus. Remember our big-time world-beating quarterback, Drew Tate? Aside from the odd concussion and, admittedly, one of the most memorable passes in Hawkeye history, he never really did all that much. We started 2005 (I think it was 2005) ranked in the top freaking ten, and hid under the bed whenever anybody showed us a picture of a quality opponent. Infinitely annoying.

Am I angry because of the ridiculous expectations or the poor performance itself? I'm not sure it matters, nor do I know for sure.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Spotlight on Justice

For the last 24 hours, I've not been able to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper without hearing about Clarence Thomas. I can't put my finger on the exact reason why, but I find it unbecoming of a Supreme Court justice to publish a memoir to coincide with the new term of the Court. I will concede, it's difficult to offer an intellectual argument to support my distaste, it's based on my emotional reaction rather than any wrongdoing on his part. I have a great appreciation for the Supreme Court. Their job is to operate in a non-partisan manner to interpret the constitution and maintain the system of checks and balances with our elected officials in the other two branches. A justice may serve for life, and their decisions often have significant effect for years thereafter. I appreciate the reclusive nature of many justices who have always avoided the media spotlight. Since I can't really base my feelings on anything other than personal respect for the sanctity of the court, I decided to keep my unsavory view of justice Thomas' media blitz to myself. Until now. I reached my saturation point when I turned on the radio this afternoon and heard justice Thomas being interviewed by Rush Limbaugh. It was not just a quick plug either, he gave a 90 minute interview.

At first, I was saddened, pleading with the oblivious voice on the radio: Please! Please just maintain the facade that the Court operates in a nonpartisan manner. I know it's unrealistic, but please, radio voice of Clarence Thomas- let me live in my fantasy world where the Court is somehow above all of the entangled politics of Washington.

My pleadings went unanswered as Limbaugh and Thomas bantered like old friends, and at that point I realized a couple of things. First, that the sanctity of the court is a myth and second, I seriously need to get a life. How long could I truly revere the Supreme Court? They are the folks who brought us "separate but equal."

So, if Long Dong Silver wants to be in the media spotlight this time, who am I to judge? I should welcome it- in fact, let's bring cameras into the Court so that they can all get their mug on television and in the spotlight. Mattel can make action figures so kids can collect all 9 and add to their collection with each new confirmation. I know I would shell out a pretty penny for a Limited Edition William Howard Taft figurine! Little girls can dress up Ruth Bader Ginsburg in miniskirts and brush her hair. It would be a great way to raise awareness for the highest Court in the United States.

And while we're at it, let's really bring the Supreme Court into the spotlight. Instead of watching CourtTV, Americans can watch the suspension of Habeas Corpus in real time. In case you hadn't heard mention in any of the numerous interviews in the last few days, a new term began today. If Clarence Thomas wants to be in the spotlight, I'd much rather hear his decisions regarding voting rights than details of his childhood or Anita Hill.

The decisions of the Supreme Court are crucial, and they shape our society by establishing precedent for all legal matters thereafter. Unfortunately, the reclusive nature of the court has kept it largely below the radar of the American public. The majority of Supreme Court coverage revolves around confirmation hearings and the dirty laundry that they bring with them. Beyond this, other than brief media coverage of some landmark cases, it's easy to forget that the Supreme Court is in session at all. Maybe justice Thomas has the right idea, maybe it's time to bring the Supreme Court and its justices into the spotlight after all. Until that happens, maybe I really should get a life.