Maggie Gallagher vindicated, of course. Washington Post: "In a related matter, the GAO also looked into a Health and Human Services Department contract with syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher to help promote a marriage initiative. The GAO said the Gallagher contract did not violate the propaganda ban 'because the services provided were not covert, self-aggrandizing or purely partisan.'"

I left a really long comment that probably should have been posted here

on Mark Shea's blog about this story.
Here's what I said, if you don't want to click:
It's sad, though, because lots of mis-educated people don't understand the problems and think that "Science" has really concluded something here. I had a nice atheist I was corresponding with send this to me as though it represented something of importance. Of course, had the scientist been the sort of theist to conclude that the data meant that God was punishing the U.S. for its sins, no one would have given this "research" the time of day.
Just to spell it out - scientists rightly look on meta-studies, or studies that merely aggregate the data from other studies, as significantly less revealing than individual studies with large subject sets. One reason for this is because in a meta-study, such as this one, the researcher has all the results at the same time he designs the methodology of the study, which makes it difficult to be objective. For example - why does this study compare abortion, suicide, and murder rates? I'll bet my left leg it is because those are the areas in which the U.S. compares poorly with other nations, and a researcher who wants to show that the U.S. is hypocritical can selectively choose these criteria. I'm sure there are other criteria on which the U.S. looks better (or even other sets of studies, or subsets of data within the studies used - what years are compared, for example) but these are simply not included, since that is not the point the researcher wants to make.
And of course there are thousands of reasonable explanations for divergences in these rates that don't include religion. And of course he is stepping wildly out of reasonable interpretation of the data in concluding philosophical claims. But Mark already made that point.
I'm sure there are decently conducted meta-studies. But these "studies" are cheap and easy to fudge in these ways, hence their popularity.
The men's room of Cross Campus Library is safe once again!

I know my husband will like this.

BBC NEWS | Satellites to monitor panda sex: "Scientists in China plan to use satellites to track pandas to learn more about their sexual behaviour.
A Chinese-US project will use Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites to monitor panda movements in a reserve in remote Shaanxi province.
It is part of an attempt to understand the panda's poor breeding record.
'Tracking them with advanced technology and observing their sex activities might help us find ways to avoid their extinction,' an official said. "
O.O. says, "Kids, 911 was a joke even in the Book of Judges."
A moment later: "In the Book of Judges, one could also say, 'Welcome to the terrordome.' In fact, I'm just going to quote PE for the rest of this lecture."

Baby doesn't want to sleep.

She wants to stand up (holding on to the crib bars) which she learned how to do on Wednesday. This makes sense. If you had just learned to fly, would you want to sleep, or fly?
I would probably want to sleep, but most people would probably want to fly.
Telegraph | Women bypass sex in favour of 'instant pregnancies': "'People want everything now. If they can't have a baby now, they want IVF. They think it's no different from putting your name down for a handbag. Some people are horrified by the idea that they have to have sex two to three times a week. About 10 per cent of people I see don't have time to have sex. It's usually when you have two professionals who are based in the city and are very busy.
'Mothers might be working or their children sleep in their bed. I told one of my patients who is going through IVF that another IVF patient had just conceived naturally. She said: 'What? She's having sex? Bloody Luddite'.'"
New blog color for fall.

Insert your own joke here...

Stewart Gets Through Her 'Yale' Experience: "Martha Stewart's euphemism for prison was to call it 'Yale.' She explained her coping mechanism in an appearance Monday on David Letterman's 'Late Show' to promote her two new TV shows."
O.O. says, "Want a crazy quote for your blog?"
Power-dressing man leaves trail of destruction
SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.
Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.
When he walked into a building in the country town of Warrnambool in the southern state of Victoria Thursday, the electrical charge ignited the carpet.
"It sounded almost like a firecracker," Clewer told Australian radio Friday.
"Within about five minutes, the carpet started to erupt."
Employees, unsure of the cause of the mysterious burning smell, telephoned firefighters who evacuated the building.
"There were several scorch marks in the carpet, and we could hear a cracking noise -- a bit like a whip -- both inside and outside the building," said fire official Henry Barton.
Firefighters cut electricity to the building thinking the burns might have been caused by a power surge.
Clewer, who after leaving the building discovered he had scorched a piece of plastic on the floor of his car, returned to seek help from the firefighters.
"We tested his clothes with a static electricity field meter and measured a current of 40,000 volts, which is one step shy of spontaneous combustion, where his clothes would have self-ignited," Barton said.
"I've been firefighting for over 35 years and I've never come across anything like this," he said.
Firefighters took possession of Clewer's jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.
David Gosden, a senior lecturer in electrical engineering at Sydney University, told Reuters that for a static electricity charge to ignite a carpet, conditions had to be perfect.
"Static electricity is a similar mechanism to lightning, where you have clouds rubbing together and then a spark generated by very dry air above them," said Gosden.

Oh, good.

Vampire novelist takes a bite out of the Bible
By Mario San Juan

Immortality. Homoeroticism. Beauty. These are just some of the most common themes Anne Rice explores in several of her books.

Anne Rice, Queen of the Vampires, well-known for her sensual world of vampirism, has contributed to the canon of literature with rich works of fiction. Creating carefully luxuriant, detailed tapestries where philosophy, humanity, sexuality, history, and, most importantly, homoeroticism play a part.

And now, Rice returns to the world of literature with perhaps her most ambitious project: "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the infancy of Jesus Christ. It is based on the four gospels, apocrypha, and New Testament scholarship.

The story will be narrated from Jesus Christ's voice, as some of "The Vampire Chronicles" were told through the voice of her most renowned character, the vampire Lestat.

And how will the queen of vampires portray Jesus Christ?
My husband gets the Torres situation absolutely right:
"God desired that the entire struggle to save Baby Torres become an absolute statement in favor of the value of human life, and so He removed any possibility of conflating the value of the struggle with the goodness of the consequences everyone envisioned from the birth of the apparently healthy baby girl. Her loss is enormously sad. But we did not save her for baby smiles, tricycle rides, long nights in Daddy's loving arms, or her eventual emergence into adulthood. We helped save her because she was a human being and deserved to live. Baby Torres' death does not alter the force of that motivation; rather, it underlines the intrinsic worth of that motivation in a grave, irrevocable way."
Lack of plan hurt Katrina-hit states' response: "But the most recent Louisiana emergency operations plan doesn't address how to evacuate in the case of flooding from storm surge, saying simply that 'The Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Area represents a difficult evacuation problem due to the large population and its unique layout.'
...Louisiana officials could not be reached for comment this week. Mississippi and Louisiana officials, however, have increasingly decried what they called a slow federal response to the disaster, blaming the Federal Emergency Management Agency."
O.O., to Baby V: "Drunk Daddy loves you more than Sober Daddy."
Four years ago, Grover Norquist declared, "My goal is to cut government… down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."
Judge Orders Berger to Pay $50,000 for Taking Classified Material- The punishment handed down by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson exceeded the $10,000 fine recommended by government lawyers. Under the deal, Berger avoids prison time but he must surrender access to classified government materials for three years.

From a spam e-mail:

If little else, the brain is an educational toy.
Jefferson still survives.
"Jesus Seminar" Bible scholar Robert Funk dies - Now here's a man who can use prayers for the repose of his soul.

Revised to add: O.O. says, "I guess Biblical scholarship will be a lot less Funky."

"Educational" videos?

What do you parent-types think of "educational" videos like Baby Einstein (or others)? Are they just less trashy tv shows for your baby? Does the child actually learn anything, or does he just learn to watch tv? What's the story?

Did you know that the most interesting thing in the world is a very very small piece of tissue paper?

This message brought to you by Baby V, age 7.5 months.
Mark Shea is Back!
Which is great, because I have all this free time to kill. Ha. Ha. (Throw self off bridge.)

Ok, that was a little excessive. But I don't have time to read his blog. Even though it rocks.

Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

McCarrick's Resignation NOT Accepted
O.O. says, "In the future we'll have very well-trained ants to lick the water off of us. We won't have to towel dry anymore."
BBC NEWS | Magazine | The modern rules of advertising?: "Men are tired of their portrayal in advertising, according to a new book by Michael Buerk. But images of men behaving stupidly is not the only cliche which irritates writer John Camm.
Dad in muddy boots walking blithely across a kitchen floor just cleaned by an exasperated mum who just gives a frustrated but loving smile to her giggly children, who cry out: 'Da-a-ad!'.
Just one advertising cliche, and just one where no-one behaves like people really do.
It's the kind of thing which irritates John Camm. 'It's tiresome to see male characters in adverts who don't resemble anyone you know,' he says. 'But what's perhaps worse is the absolute reliance of advertising on its own regurgitated cliches.'
He has drawn up a list of seemingly unwritten rules which, he concludes, might as well be the Advertising Bible. Add your views to his list at the foot of the page.
1. Men are obsessed with sex but will forego sex in order to watch football or drink beer.
2. Women are locked in a constant battle with their weight/body shape/hairstyle.
3. Career success is entirely based on your ability to impress your boss.
4. Mums are often harassed but NEVER depressed/unable to cope.
5. Any act of male stupidity (e.g. walking across a clean floor in muddy boots, putting the dog in the dishwasher, etc.) will be met with a wry smile, not genuine annoyance/anger.
6. Married men will flirt with other, younger women but NEVER act upon it.
7. Anyone with a scientific career will have a bad haircut and dreadful clothes.
8. If you work for the emergency services, you are a better person than the general population.
9. Elderly relatives NEVER suffer from senile dementia.
10. Scandinavians are, without exception, blonde and beautiful.
11. Women have jobs they never do in real life, e.g. dockworker (who looks like a model).
12. Children will not eat fruit or vegetables. Ever.
13. Both men and women find driving deeply pleasurable, never boring or stressful.
14. Men are inherently lazy/slobbish; women are the reverse.
15. Chocolate, however, will cause women to immediately fall into the languor of the opium eater.
16. High Street bank staff are (A) friends of the customers, and (B) of slightly above-average attractiveness (only if female).
17. Modern men own a cat.
18. Hot beverages have miraculous rejuvenating effects.
19. Professional people have strangely trivial preoccupations, e.g. a female barrister who is morbidly obsessed with finding a healthy snack bar.
20. All women (except stay-at-home housewives) have interesting and enjoyable careers.
21. Any over-the-counter medical product will work instantly and 100% effectively.
22. Children know more than adults.
23. Women never merely hop in and out of the shower, instead preferring to act out some sort of soapy Dance of the Seven Veils.
24. School is a happy experience for all children.
25. Tortilla chips are the most exciting experience any group of young people can experience.
26. Playing bingo is THE number one pastime among 18-25 year old British women."
O.O., to Baby V, while teaching her to walk: "Man walks on two feet. His feet subdue the earth! His hands manipulate and transform it! Animals walk on four feet! They cannot subjugate!"

O.O. to Zorak: "That's an excerpt from the textbook I'm writing for her - Allegories on the Posture of Animals."