Granite State Pride!

Matt Yglesias writes:

New Hampshire, which you never seem to hear anything about except that they have a primary, slightly edges out New Jersey to be the richest state.

I should be outraged, having lived in New Hampshire all my life, but he’s right. Completely, utterly right. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; at least we aren’t reported on in a negative light, like some states. For that matter, I can’t think of any state that’s routinely portrayed positively. Better no coverage than negative coverage.

Exploiting Katrina

We knew this would happen. First, there’s an economist ripping off the Ayn Rand Institute’s argument that the government shouldn’t have helped tsunami victims last winter. Then there’s the Christian conservatives, claiming that the hurricane is God’s punishment for abortion and gays. And I’m not even going to count the number of posts at liberal blogs blaming Bush for not spending more on hurricane prevention. Come on, people. A tragedy is occurring, which has taken more than 120 lives. This is not the time for partisan mudslinging.
Non-politicians are taking advantage of the situation as well. Looting is taking place on a massive scale. I can’t say that I’ll feel that bad if looters can’t get out because they care more about theft than their own survival. There are even luxury evacuations occurring. I can’t express how much this disgusts me. They ride in a limo, while others are left to die in the Superdome? The least they could do is offer some people a ride. But no. They care more about personal comfort than basic morality.

The Gap

This Pew poll is simultaneously encouraging and saddening:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted July 7-17 among 2,000 adults, also finds deep religious and political differences over questions relating to evolution and the origins of life. Overall, about half the public (48%) says that humans and other living things have evolved over time, while 42% say that living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Fully 70% of white evangelical Protestants say that life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time; fewer than half as many white mainline Protestants (32%) and white Catholics (31%) agree.
Despite these fundamental differences, most Americans (64%) say they are open to the idea of teaching creationism along with evolution in the public schools, and a substantial minority (38%) favors replacing evolution with creationism in public school curricula. While much of this support comes from religious conservatives, these ideas particularly the idea of teaching both perspectives have a broader appeal. Even many who are politically liberal and who believe in evolution favor expanding the scope of public school education to include teaching creationism. But an analysis of the poll also reveals that there are considerable inconsistencies between people’s beliefs and what they want taught in the schools, suggesting some confusion about the meaning of terms such as “creationism” and “evolution.”

The good, not great, thing is that a plurality of respondents now believe in evolution. It should be unanimous, but this is better than nothing. The bad news, of course, is the presence of pro-evolution persons (a little less than 22% of the population) who nonetheless support teaching creationism alongside science. There is no sense in this position. Do we teach both the Copernican and Ptolemaic models of astronomy, in the interest of balanced presentation of the issue? To paraphrase Paul Krugman, educators should strive not towards balance, but towards objectivity. Once objectivity is lost, and everything’s a controversy, the whole point of education is lost. If a student writes in a test that Adolf Hitler judged the witch trials in Sacramento in 300 B.C.E., should a teacher have to respect that student’s “opinion” and not mark them wrong? Now suppose that the student wrote “the entire universe was formed in six days 5,000 years ago and everything was the way it is now”. Why should the teacher’s response be any different?

Ah, the Wonders of Science

YoungwashingtonA physical anthropologist with way too much time on his hands has created a rendering of George Washington at 19, which led Washington Post writer Libby Copeland to declare that “despite what he looks like on the dollar bill, it turns out George Washington may have been kind of hot.” It also led Ms. Copeland’s husband to worry that he was losing out to a 300-year-old dead guy. Anyway, here’s the rendering.

Growth vs. Happiness

In light of recent bad news on the worker front, Kevin Drum asks the ultimate question:

Question 1: what’s the point of a strong economy if it produces higher poverty rates, declining private sector healthcare coverage, and stagnant incomes?

This is exactly what annoys me about Republican complaints about European countries. Sure, conservatives say, they have an excellent social safety net, but they also have higher unemployment and slower economic growth. But they also provide enough unemployment insurance that not having a job doesn’t hurt as much as it does in the U.S. And, to take the contrapositive of Kevin’s question, if poverty is next to nonexistent, health care is guaranteed, and there’s a minimum income, does it matter if the economy’s not stellar? Just another reason to move to Sweden.

Hillary vs. Condi: Identity Politics Smackdown

Taegan Goddard links to a Rasmussen poll showing that Hillary would defeat Condi in the 2008 presidential race, 44% to 38%. I was initially skeptical of this. Condi would draw a lot of support from the black community, and I had thought that Rasmussen didn’t weigh their polls to account for race. Turns out that they do. Hmm…maybe Hillary isn’t such a bad idea after all.