Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Darwinian Dilemna

They are nothing if not persistant. For centuries these Christians have been trying to reconcile history as told in the bible with the historical record as told by fossils. This has forced the literal readers into an adversarial relationship with "science" in general, often teamed up with political power when mutual benefit could be exploited. This conflict arises and recedes as the tide of conservative, anti-modern sentiment flows through time.Galileo was told to ignore what he knew about Copernicus when the Church felt threatened ( see Galileo by Bertohld Brecht), we all know about the Scopes trial and now here they come again, a full frontal assault not just on evolution but on science and intellectualism, portrayed as a secular ,humanist, leftist cult. This attack by the Taliban wing of the Christian Right is sophisticated, multi-pronged and could have profound effects for our society.

The story on PBS last night should alarm anybody worried about the separation of church and state. It highlighted the struggle in public school science classes all around the nation, something I am personally involved with here in rural Montana. A coordinated, well funded network of foundations, media and churches nationwide have again targeted the teaching of Darwin's theory, claiming (falsely) that their is "contoversy" within the scientific community as to it's validity and that a "theory of intelligent design" deserves to be taught alongside evolution. The kids interviewed on the program had been convinced ,through incessent prosleytizing and propa anda that evolution theory was no more than guesswork and their teachers were so intimidated by the local "cultural enforcers" they were afraid to object. Here where I live the "morality police" attempted to hijack the local school board but were rebuffed for now. These are the same students who the National Geographic study found could not identify Europe on a map. The ones who in a recent Knight Foundation study felt newspapers should get "government approval" before publishing. (38% in a survey of 112,003 students). Since a plurality of Americans believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago ,we can't be surprised their children also refuse to learn.

If these clowns didnt control the executive branch, the legislature ,a growing number of the judiciary and large portions of the press it would be easy to just laugh them off. Then again, they may just be the living proof that Darwin was wrong! Or that the process of natural selection is now such a mess that we are seeing survival of the dumbest. Women seem to be attracted to George Bush.

More resources can be found at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (I will do links when I figure it out) and at National Center for Science Education

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Dry or Wet

I think it is now time to weigh in on the debate started a century ago by Halford and Skues concerning the legitimacy of using nymphs for the catching of trout.In my humble opinion, Halford had it right, a single nymph, fished upstream to visible trout is indeed a sporting venture. All this flailing of multiple nymphs under indicators is simply dredging, easily taught to a mature chimpanzee, and is harming an already scarce and threatened resourse.

Just watch the parade go by on any western stream, im thinking especially of the Beaverhead or Missourri, and you will see bobbers of every hue and configuration, known to some of us purist Big Hole guides as idiot balls, stared at intently by an increasingly production oriented populace of "anglers". What is the game about? It's about nothing, of course, and certainly not about numbers. Learn to present a dry. You will still catch "enough" fish.

What would Jefferson Do?

It may be this project of creating democracies is a bit more involved than some had hoped. The article at Newappealtoreason as well as news of the currentparlimentary stalemate demonstrate the complexity, ambiguity and indeterminate nature of the process of self determination.In our case we were "one nation,under God", a distinct advantage but there in the gulf region with their unfortunate historical, religious and tribal contradictions they will need more than the intercession of Allah. Throw in the oil ,a superpower and a couple of super suckups (coalition of the willing) and this is a long way from Williamsburg.

Still the liberal hawks, allied now with their not-so-liberal bedfellows clamour for a concise moral position, free of nuance or shading. You are either with them or against them.Everything changed on 9/11. In the space of a few horrible minutes on that fateful day the glass went from being half empty to half full. Through victimhood we acquired (re-acquired?) that righteousness which allowed/ allows us to stand as a beacon to the uncivilized rabble. The slate is wiped clean with its unfortunate realpolitic, Nicaragua, the Taliban, the Shah, the sanctions et al. all obliterated in the white light of our new crusade.

The problem ,of course, one our friends on the left with their anti-tyranny clarity hesitate to acknowledge, is that"once the running of the state involves a permanent and massive shortage of historical Knowledge, that state can no longer be led strategically". When the weak state one has so carefully maintained (as in the case of Iraq) suddenly deteriorates into a "failed" state, do you really expect or deserve congratulations when you have to go in and clean up the mess? Should this discussion include such things as oil reserves, permanent bases, over a hundred thousand left dead and dismembered, the cost, in terms of social production, to both their and our society?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Reductionism redux

Greetings ichtosphere, at this site I will host musings on the political/flyfishing interface from a proletarian point of view. Decidedly socialist but willing to listen, Im hoping for an elevated dialoque without the posing,perhaps a sprikling of radical polemics acknowledged unashamedly as such and discourse on current events. So lets have a go, as we say in Butte,Mt.

Whats got me riled is a little piece by The Norm (for those un-initiated, Norm Geras at normblog) published in Dissent magazine in which he takes"the left" to task for it's anti-war stance, in essence claiming "everything changed" after 9/11 . Hardly an original position, see Hitchens or any one of a number of liberal hawks, but the gist of it is "the left" needs to recognize evil wherever (and whatever) it is and that the business of removing tyrants must be supported, pure and simple. My problem with this analysis, and it is this analysis more than Norm that I want to discuss, is that we never really get a definition of who this "left" is to whom the admonishment is directed and that charges of "reductionism,"aimed at those for whom imperialism remains a valued critique of advanced capitalism are never substantiated.

I sent some criticism his way but I fear my tone was a tad abrupt and I was informed he would not engage me. My bad, I could have been more civil, but these attacks from the left on the left leave me irate, the self flaggelation and pathological need to tear down at a time when just the opposite is needed drives me to distraction, I feel like just watching T.V. but resist.

So I proceed to investigate others linked to his site, socialists, neo-cons, soldiers and others.I want to understand. Does anti-tyrant necessarily mean pro-war? Do they really support the Bush administation prosecution of the war? Ends justifies the Means ontological conundrums or just realpolitic strategery? Who is doing the reducing here if "the left", from fringe pro-Baathists to graying suburban peacenicks are lumped into the same gooey glob, if support for Iraqi human rights is in no way seperated from"shock and awe" ,plutonium tipped cluster bombs, a looted national museum or tortured prisoners. Those of us marching through the DC mall in February 03 had many concerns and a plethora of ideological positions yet we shared a unanimous distaste for tyrannical dictators and a vision for a better world. We also shared, if for a brief time and space, something called solidarity.