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Friday, November 21, 2008

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Freedom does not evolve. It revolts!

Do you read this blog only for news on the intelligent design controversy?

Then please bear with my "intellectual freedom in Canada" posts. We are fighting a pitched battle here for intellectual freedom, and so far we are winning.

Freedom does not evolve. It revolts!

So, if regular programming is interrupted by "news from Canada", -as it often has been - scroll a bit. You will find the usual intelligent design controversy news to which this blog was originally dedicated - and to which it will constantly return.

I love my country, and - like many bloggers - I am determined to defeat the grievance hustlers who are deforming it.

Recently, I wrote about the possible attack on Toronto Life magazine for describing the death of sixteen-year-old Aqsa Parvez as an alleged "honour killing." Her father and brother have been charged with murder.

Now, historic Maclean's Magazine (December 1, 2008), a veteran of the free speech wars, has weighed in:
Reaction to the use of the term "honour killing" has been fierce. Feminist and Islamic groups even organized a press conference to denounce the magazine. Their argument is that Aqsa's death should be seen as an example of domestic violence rather than connected in any way to the specific cultural aspects of her home life.

[ ... ]

The Oxford English Dictionary just added honour killing to its word collection last year. And its definition - "the killing of a (usually female) relative perceived to have brought dishonour upon the family, associated especially with certain cultures in which familial honour is of paramount importance" - appears to fit the alleged circumstances of Aqsa's murder. Like date rape, honour killing adds to our understanding of a situation where the generic term "domestic violence" does not.
Yes, exactly. Phrases like "mob hit," "assassination," "date rape," and "honour killing" put us in the picture. Good for Maclean's for joining the resistance to the speech police, before things get any worse.

Also: Here's Jonathan Kay on Steve Janke, an apparent victim of a SLAPP suit (= a strategic lawsuit against public participation).

We really need a way of stopping people from using lawsuits as a way of preventing new media from disseminating news. One critical weakness of new media is that we are small, low-budget operations - and it's probably better that we stay that way. But SLAPP makes that difficult.

And Ezra Levant on "The Jewish Exemption" notes that he continues to publish, as a Jew, material that got a Christian a lifetime communication ban in Canada's province of Alberta.
In the entire history of section 13, stretching back to 1977, not one single Jew, Muslim or gay has been taken before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal by the CHRC.

Not one.

Gentle reader, do you really think that not one single Jew has uttered hate speech in 31 years? I'll answer that for you: I published hate speech on my own web -- I published Rev. Boissoin's comments. I know that's hate speech, because both the Alberta HRC and the CHRC said so.

Do you really think that not a single Muslim radical, or Sikh radical, or Tamil radical, has uttered hate speech in 31 years?

Don't be ridiculous. But Lynch's McCarthyist inquisition has never gone after those. 100% of the CHRC's targets have been white, Christian or conservative.

And, of course, the conviction rate before the tribunal has been 100%.

This is not the rule of law. This is not a real court. The CHRC are not lawful prosecutors. They are rogues -- corrupt rogues, ...

Ezra, it's even worse. Look back at this: Apparently Muslim girls rank right down there with white, male Christians as people who simply don't count. Their deaths are not important; people split hairs about the terms we are permitted to use to describe their deaths.

Isn't that just what Muslim girls who live with violent, oppressive, and possessive male relatives need? - a fuss over terminology!

No, Aqsa deserved better from us, but the best we can do now is: NEVER AGAIN.

For lots more free speech and "No more fascism!" stories, go to Free Mark Steyn. And thanks to all generous PayPal donors.

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Earth to Darwin fans: Building things up is way more trouble than destroying them

In "When Fossil Genes Become Fossilized Rhetoric", 11 05 08) Robert Deyes recounts the trouble an evolutionary biologist named Sean Carroll went to in order to demonstrate that evolution occurs without design or purpose - largely demonstrating the opposite:
There are no grounds for assuming that the processes through which genes might degrade are the same processes through which they could be built up (Ref 1). In simple terms, genes are long stretches of DNA that carry the information necessary to code for the production of functional proteins. Intelligent design theorists claim that a piece-meal assembly of information-rich genes using the basic building blocks of DNA exceeds the capacities of Darwinian selection and is better explained by appealing to the activity of an intelligent agent (Refs 3,4). If anything, this very principle should have been Carroll's first point of contention if he was to say anything against ID. From a philosophical perspective the possibility remains that a designer may have supplied an organism with more genetic information than may have been needed for life- what one may call an "all the options, all the bells and whistles" approach. Such a designer could have been interested in placing non-functional genes in the genome for a future role in his or her design. We all install software into our computers that may not be operational until some later date when we finally choose to use it. Computers can now be accurately scheduled to start a process at a specified instant in the future, similarly to the programming of a recording on a video-recorder.
Deyes follows up with a discussion of the "living fossil"fish, the coelacanth, noting:
The finding of the first coelacanth in 1938 was hailed as a breakthrough in the evolutionary saga for it appeared that here paleontologists had a 'living fossil' upon which to closely study the internal, soft anatomy of a supposed rhipidistian relative (Ref 7). Named after its discoverer Marjorie Courney-Latimer, the story of the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) was from the beginning one that was filled with suspense and political intrigue (Ref 7-8). Its internal biology proved to be no less fascinating for it showed no clear cut evidence of having been intermediate for a terrestrial environment and thus was far from what would be expected for a terrestrial ancestor (Ref 7). While its fins were admittedly 'limb like', it had no backbone. Instead it displayed a notochord- a hollow tube filled with oil that ran from the brain to the tail (Ref 7). Some organs were similar to those of sharks and rays while other parts of the soft anatomy, such as vena cava which brings blood back to the heart, resembled those of land animals (Ref 7). The heart itself was extremely fish-like, lacking the right and left division that is characteristic of all land animals. Curiously the coelacanth revealed a number of specialized organs such as a gel-filled cavity in the nose thought to be responsible for detecting electrical impulses from potential prey. The overall picture was not, as many had hoped, unarguably indicative of a terrestrial precursor Indeed, if the internal biology of the rhipidistians had in any way resembled that of the coelacanth then they too would have been far removed from the sea-to-land transition (Ref 7).

Nevertheless, the picture of the coelacanth as a window into life's aquatic origins was heavily publicized (Ref 7). Darwinists supplied a simple exit from the inconsistencies in the data. They claimed that while its outward appearance had changed little over its 400 million year existence, its internal anatomy must have evolved such that its intermediary status between fish and tetrapods was no longer recognizable. Thus the uncertain nature of the coelacanth's soft anatomy was precisely what we would expect to see from a long period of internal evolution (Ref 7). Needless to say, such a proposition was unsupported by any evidence and was merely designed to fit into the pre-conceived model of vertebrate evolution. Indeed paleontologist Niles Eldredge admits that living fossils, such as the coelacanth are today, "something of an embarrassment" for the evolutionary picture (Ref 9, p.108).
The only really uninteresting fossil is the rhtoric, the endless attempts to shore up a failing theory. Oh and, by the way, the "fossil fish" is a live bearer. I remember when live bearing was a sign of more advanced, modern life forms ...

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

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Goodbye GATTACA, again ... do I have to change my phone number or what ... ?

GATTACA, I keep telling you it's all over between us, we are not just our "genes." It's not even clear any more that there is a gene, in that sense.

But you are just so not listening ...

If you want to predict how tall your children might one day be, a good bet would be to look in the mirror, and at your mate. Studies going back almost a century have estimated that height is 80–90% heritable. So if 29 centimetres separate the tallest 5% of a population from the shortest, then genetics would account for as many as 27 of them1.

This year, three groups of researchers2,3,4 scoured the genomes of huge populations (the largest study4 looked at more than 30,000 people) for genetic variants associated with the height differences. More than 40 turned up.

But there was a problem: the variants had tiny effects. Altogether, they accounted for little more than 5% of height's heritability — just 6 centimetres by the calculations above. Even though these genome-wide association studies (GWAS) turned up dozens of variants, they did "very little of the prediction that you would do just by asking people how tall their parents are", says Joel Hirschhorn at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led one of the studies3.

[ ... ]

There could be scarier and more intractable reasons for unaccounted-for heritability that are not even being discussed. "It's a possibility that there's something we just don't fundamentally understand," Kruglyak says. "That it's so different from what we're thinking about that we're not thinking about it yet."

Still the mystery continues to draw its sleuths, for Kruglyak as for many other basic-research scientists. "You have this clear, tangible phenomenon in which children resemble their parents," he says. "Despite what students get told in elementary-school science, we just don't know how that works." (Personal genomes: The case of the missing heritability by Brendan Maher, Nature News (Published online 5 November 2008 Nature 456, 18-21 (2008) doi:10.1038/456018a)
See also:

Farewell, fat gene ... goodbye gay gene ... so long, sloppiness gene. And can someone please text Lamarck and tell him ...

Goodbye GATTACA: Environment and lifestyle affect which genes are actually expressed

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