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Showing posts from September, 2008

Abortion Rate Continues to Decline

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The Guttmacher Institute released their annual study on abortion rates. I think the most stunning fact is that abortion rates are almost at the level they were in 1974 when Roe v. Wade was decided. good news in my view. There is also a host of other demographic information for anyone serious about abortion reduction. Here is the Washington Post report:

In the first comprehensive analysis since 1974 of demographic characteristics of women who have abortions, researchers found that the overall drop in the abortion rate has been marked by a dramatic shift, declining more among white women and teenagers than among black and Hispanic and older women.

"There's been a real change in the picture of women who get abortions," said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a private nonprofit reproductive health research organization considered to be one of the most authoritative sources on abortion trends. "This is the first time anyone has loo…

A Liberal Woman's Take on Sarah Palin

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Some on the left seem so keen on victory in November that they come close (well, ahem, real close) to suggesting that that Sarah Palin should stay home and raise her kids. My decidedly liberal (well, in most ways) wife has a different view. She is an ardent Obama/Biden supporter, but thinks that the candidacy of Sarah Palin has much to celebrate. Here are her thoughts as expressed in an email blast that she sent to her friends around the country:

I think we should be grateful to Sarah Palin. Really.

These are things I think changed when Sarah Palin became the darling of the Republican Right:
1. It's OK for a woman to be politically ambitious. Before this, women were condemned by the Right for such ambition. Sarah Palin is the poster child for political ambition, and the Right just eats it up.
2. It's OK for a woman to be tough. Before this, a tough woman was perceived as not feminine enough -- not enough of a woman. Sarah Palin has shown that a woman can be tough and f…

September 11th: Remembering Friends

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On Memorial Day last year, I posted my own memorial for four men and women I called friends and colleagues who died serving this country. Three were solders. One was a civilian. All died serving this country. As I said in that post, "Sadly, most Americans have lost touch with the military. Joining the Army, Marines, Navy or Air Force is something that others do. As a result, a day like Memorial Day is too abstract--we vaguely (and briefly) recall the brave men and women who died while serving this country, but don't remember anyone in particular."

As I did last year, for my memorial for September 11th, I would like to remember two friends who died in the September 11th attack on the Pentagon.

Lieutenant General Timothy J. Maude was the highest ranking officer to die in the September 11th attack of the Pentagon. I knew him as a friend and client. We had lunch together virtually everyday in the Pentagon's General Officer's mess. He was serving as the the Army's …

Climate Change: New Evidence for the Hockey Stick

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The so-called "hockey stick" chart--which shows a rapid rise in global temperature is a mainstay in arguments that humans are causing climate change--a center of attacks by climate change denialists. A new study offers a revised chart that conforms the hockey stick chart. Climat Feedback explains the development:

The contentious ‘hockey stick’ climate change graph has again been upheld as broadly accurate, doubtless to the rage of climate denialists/sceptics/whatevers.

A team led by Michael Mann of Penn State University has looked at a whole range of proxies for surface temperatures over the last 2,000 years in an attempt to counter criticism of the graph, which showed a long ‘handle’ and a sharp upturn (the blade).
Their findings? As the Christian Science Monitor puts it: “It still looks a lot like the much-battered, but still rink-ready stick of 1998. Today the handle reaches further back and it’s a bit more gnarly. But the blade at the business end tells the same story.

”The …

Time for Decency: What They Said

If you are are tempted to make political use of the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter's pregnancy, please heed these words.

First, from Hilzoy:

It's easy, in the midst of a political campaign, to forget that the people involved are, after all, people. Some of them -- Sarah Palin, for instance -- place themselves under a media spotlight of their own free will. Others -- her daughter, for instance -- wind up there through no fault of their own. Imagine yourself in her position: there you are, seventeen years old, pregnant, unmarried. Maybe you understand what happened and why; and maybe your parents and friends do as well. But zillions of bloggers and reporters and pundits are about to make the most personal details of your life into a political issue, and they don't understand it at all. And yet, despite that, they are about to use you and your unborn child to score points on one another, without any regard whatsoever for you and your actual situation.

I want no part of …

Can Democrats Get Votes From the Faithful

The obvious answer to the heaqdline is, of course, yes. After all, I am an active member of a church, worship there weekly, and I am an enthusiastic Obama/Biden supporter. The real question is whether Obama/Biden can win the votes of socially conservative religious voters (both Catholics and Evangelicals). The New Yorker has a very interesting analysis:

The most effective Democratic religious outreach has been performed by the Democrat to whom it comes most naturally, Obama. Almost as soon as he joined the Senate, Obama became a prized booking on the speech circuit, where he proved to be fluent in what Jesse Jackson once called “faith talk.” Obama spoke forthrightly about his Christian beliefs and about his conversion experience (“Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side in Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me”), in a way that was hardly customary for Democratic politicians. In casting Republicans as the dangerous God Party, Democrats had turned themselves into the …

Genetic Diversity in Europe

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Well. I am back from a tough month at work followed by a week's vacation. In searching the web today, I found Ed Young's fascinating account about how European genes mirror European geography:

Within a drop of blood, you can find all the information you need to reasonably guess where a person came from, without ever having to look at their face, name or passport. Small variations in our DNA are enough for the task. They can be used to pinpoint someone's place of origin to a remarkable degree of accuracy, often to within a few hundred kilometres.

The new discovery comes from a team of Swiss and American researchers led by John Novembre at UCLA, who wanted to understand how the human genome varies on a continental scale. To that end, they looked at the genomes of over 1.300 people sampled from almost three dozen countries across Europe. The sample was originally collected by GlaxoSmithKline to hunt out genetic variations that influence the effectiveness of drugs and their sid…