Friday, October 30, 2009

Population is SO over

To those who believe we can magically feed any number of people, I'll just say

"Hope clouds observation."

The fact that must be faced squarely is that the indigenous populations of the advanced nations are not growing much if at all, while those in the third world are exploding, along with many first generation immigrant populations in America and Europe.

If you look at a chart of population growth over the last few centuries, you'll see that the human population remained stable for centuries, then exploded after around 1900, with the advent of modern medicine; but in the advanced world the advance of women's rights and effective contraception kept the lid on population explosion. Not so in the countries where women have few if no rights--especially those dominated by religions that make women second-class citezens or simply chattel.

Environmentalists considered overpopulation to be a key issue until the 1970s, when they joined with religious conservatives in opposing any limits to population. That's when most environmentalists became enemies of the environment, and of our planet's future, and of future generations, sacrificing them to short-sighted sentimentality.

How these people think the human population can keep expanding infinitely is beyond me. It just shows how little science education the average liberal arts college graduate gets.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who are district attorneys protecting?

Prosecutorial misconduct is like a mugging that goes on for 10 years. When the Innocence Project was started by a Northwestern U. professor and his student reporters, every district attorney's office fought them tooth and nail to prevent convicts from getting DNA tests--even when the convict was willing to pay for it. And despite the hard-core obstructionism by one out of five of these prosecutors, the Innocence Project has gotten 244 prisoners off death row and long sentences. No one knows how many more have been railroaded by DAs and cops looking for convictions uber alles--the Innocence Project can only work for a few, and those are limited to the ones for whom DNA evidence is available, mostly.

I'm all for the death penalty if a heinous murderer's guilt is unambiguous. But it has to be rock solid--even eye witnesses have proven to be remarkably fallible. And innumerable DAs and cops have proven to be more interested in convictions than in justice.

I bring this up now because the Cook County (Chicago) DA's office has finally done something different about an Innocence Project case.

It's going after the student reporters.

The NYTimes reports it here:

Making DA and county sheriff offices elective is inherently corrupting, and nonsense like this illustrates how low they can go.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Clash of civilizations?

The American right has been demonizing Islam for years. But there is an element of truth in their rants. The latest came from the New York Times' newish conservative columnist Ross Douthat. Here's my response:

Normally as a centrist Democrat and a devout--so to speak--empiricist, I oppose nearly everything Douthat says.

But I've traveled a fair amount in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia, and I've witnessed the truth of what he says here.

Muslims say "Islam" means submission, and that that means "submission to Allah." And in my wife's and my travels the many Muslims we've encountered personally have lived up to that modest ideal.

But this religion's theological establishment is another matter. Every Mosque in Indonesia--even when it's in majority-Christian or majority-Hindu regions--blares out its calls to prayer and other exhortations hourly from early in the morning to late at night, and does so using PA systems Metallica could use for stadium concerts. The Hindus and Christians subjected to this racket grind their teeth, and they've told us so in no uncertain terms.

An additional irony is that not one Indonesian out of a thousand can understand what's being hollered out through those giant loudspeakers. It's not only in Arabic, a language virtually unrelated to Bahasa Indonesia, but it's an archaic Arabic few Arabs understand either. The interpretation is left up to the local imams, many trained and financed by the rigid fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Islam, paid for with our petrodollars funneled through Saudi Arabia.

And it's having effect. More and more Indonesian Muslims are being moved rightward, with women taking the veil, so to speak, and even small children being forced to wear stifling, swaddling garments in the hot, humid tropical climate of Indonesia.

We just got back from Bali, and one thing that struck us was a new mosque built on a hillock overlooking a revered Hindu temple set by a lake in Bali's mountains. The symbolism was obvious and inescapable--the mosque was next to the temple grounds and it hung over the Hindu temple complex. The large botanical gardens nearby, where Balinese in love like to go and, if they're daring, even hold hands, is dominated by the calls to prayer blaring out from the adjacent mosque. And Bali is at least 90% Hindu--though Javanase Muslims are pouring across the channel, buying land, building Mosques, and Islamifying more and more of the island. Bali's Hindu majority is complaining to the authorities in Jakarta urgently--to no avail so far.
And this is just a microcosm of the way Islamic officialdom imposes its "new world order" everywhere it can.

Sure, Christians have church bells, and I've heard plenty. But they aren't a fraction of the acoustic dominance the mosques establish wherever they can get away with it.

America hasn't had much problems with Islam within our country because we've gotten the most educated Muslim immigrants, and they're a majority almost nowhere here in communities, except possibly for Detroit--where I hear the Mosque PA systems are doing their very loud thing now.

Islam has plenty of moderates--probably a large majority of their religious community. But they don't control the mosques, by and large, and many don't dare speak up, since Islamists control the moderates through threats, intimidation, and, across the Arab world...murder. Not to mention places like the Netherlands and Denmark and England and Spain, which have all witnessed these things as well. The Islamists stridently insist--very much like Christian fundamentalists--that only they are true Muslims, and you have to knuckle under to their 7th century worldview if you want to be a good Muslim.

And the intimidation has worked, and not just in the mideast and Indonesia. When the Danish cartoons came out, only one large American newspaper dared publish them (the Philadelphia Inquirer). Every other one, including the New York Times, chickened out. And the cartoons were incredibly mild by Western standards.

I don't want to see us pitting ourselves against Islam per se--but we have to stop submitting to it in ways large and small. Visit Bali--a wonderful place to visit, by the way--and you'll see what I mean.

We have to somehow start supporting Muslim moderates. Of course if and when we do the Islamists will call anyone who agrees with us Western stooges. So it will be a very, very tough propaganda war. And of course Bush did so much during his reign to make this job as difficult as possible.

It will take the most astute statesmanship to change the minds of Muslims, a majority of whom, even the moderates, believe the West is out to get them.

But we can't just sit there, silenced by our own liberal convictions (and even American right wingers are liberals by Islamist stndards). They're playing for keeps, and it's time we acknowledge that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Water supply issues mask a deeper problem

The NYTimes yesterday published an editorial calling for reform of water supply/ pollution legislation and vigorous enforcement of existing laws. I wrote this response:

Everything the NYTimes editorial board recommends in this article is true, I believe. Yet this editorial has a fundamental problem. It doesn't examine the cause of our overuse of our water supplies.

That cause is overpopulation--the issue the American left abandoned decades ago, for fear of being called racist--and because neither liberals nor conservatives, for the most part, have the integrity to face our real problems, because they'd rather not face the solutions required.

Look at an article in this very issue of the Times, titled \"Experts Worry as Population and Hunger Grow,\" stating that currently world population is slated to grow to 9.1B people in 40 years, which in turn will require increasing \"food production 50% in 2030 and 70% in 2050\"--with a communsurate increase in water supplies. And while the perceived overpopulation growth is in the third world, America uses vastly more natural resources than the equivalent number of third world people and land.

The world population was only 1 billion in 1900. Then it took off. Glassy eyed optimists claim that we can feed more people. OK. How many more? Do you honestly think the Earth has infinite growth possibilities for water and food supplies? We're going to tap out everything, technology notwithstanding, sooner or later. And then what? As that article states, today over a billion people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition.

And students of war predict that future wars may be fought over water more than anything else--especially where the water moves across national boundaries. We led the charge by destroying Mexico's once-fertile Colorado delta farmlands when we built Hoover Dam--and now that land has been poisoned by salt water intrusion into the water table.

In this country, overpumping is destroying our porous aquifers, as is happening worldwide. Those are underground rock formations that store water. When we overpump these formations the rock settles and it can't store water any more. Then it just runs off into the ocean, and the wells run dry.

So--want to solve our water problems? Start by not letting anyone else into this country, then expel anyone who isn't here with our permission, then follow Communist China's lead by mandating one-child families, then provide free contraception and abortion to anyone, no questions asked.

Sound too harsh? Wait 'till you see what Mother Nature's preparing to do to us if we don't solve our problems ourselves. They'll make the draconian solutions I've proposed look like pattycake in the garden.