Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Bush Girls Gone Wild!

I did not realize that Yale was a community college. If Jenna and Barbara are products of Yale, the university's accreditation merits review. I mean... Wow. The apple really doesn't fall from the tree. Their posture and smiles were so saccharine that I wished they would just get off stage and return to their stupid party girl lives.

Both Bush daughters would be perfectly at home on a Girls Gone Wild video. Word has it that there are several video tapes floating around of naked and half-naked druken Yale escapades.

You can find more fun pictures and anecdotes of their escapades at http://www.thefirsttwins.com.

Bush/Cheney: DWI Birds of a Feather

In case anyone has forgotten, both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney having DWI's on their records.



Although this is very well known, some conservative web sites argue that a DWI is nothing special and that they're quite common. Funny, I think the lack of judgement that lead to these DWI arrests is quite notable.

Both Cheney and Bush were arrested well before the drunk driving crackdown of the 80s. Back in the 60s and 70s, you had to be "butt-fucking drunk" to get arrested.

Monday, August 30, 2004

City on a Holiday

With all of the hoopola regarding the Republican convention, it appears that New Yorkers are taking a holiday. My strolls through mid-town Manhattan were an utterly spartan experience.

The street closings are massive and pervasive. Streets that remain open feature traffic officers and cones. It's so controlled as to purge the experience of the fun. In many respects, it is a quiet conservative city this week. It is not New York.

Desire is for Eskimos

As I found myself increasingly obsessed with issues of national politics, these waves of political protagonism were disrupted by exceedingly local issues. Today, I engaged in a heated exchange with a superintendent of our school district. The topic of discussion - desire versus policy.

My eldest child is very close to the age cut-off for enrollment at the local elementary school. Given her academic tendencies, I felt that it was my duty as a parent to investigate our options for kindergarten.

This thinking led to the innocent inquiry, "What steps can we take for the consideration of my child in your kindergarten program?". That seemingly benign question revealed much about our local school district.

Through rampant and unchecked construction with a total neglect for infrastructure, our district has grown to be the largest in the state. This growth has led to remarkable changes in the demographics of our area. It has also established the school district as a force to be reckoned with.

My simple inquiry resulted in a hostile "policy" response. I was told that the school board "desires" strict conformity to the age guidelines. Desires? Unless there is a law or ordinance otherwise, the desires of the school board do not carry a lot of weight with me.

Yet, here I was being berated by an administrator who views the taxpayer in a different role.

In some respects, I was happy to be communicating with them at all. The receptionist was quite artful in her attempts to subvert my contact with this very "busy" official.

I responded to this administrator in the most tactful manner possible. In doing so, I also expressed my objection to desire and culture in the absence of process and policy. I am not one to accept no for an answer.

I loathe parents who carry a distorted view of their child's abilities. That said, I also respect the commitment to do what is best for a child as appropriate. My desire for my child's success is more powerful than any bureaucrat.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Doing the Abortion Math

Like many Catholic churches during this election season, our local franchise has put abortion on the table as a voter issue. Outside of the church, forty-one crosses have been erected. Each cross represents 1 million (not a typo) abortions since 1973. Being an engineer, I was somewhat blown away by the statistic.

How can that number make any sense? I decided to do a little research on the Internet. Every anti-abortion web site posted estimates of that magnitude. They cited all kinds of facts and figures including the CDC to "back up" their estimates. Most of these web sites list something on the order of 1.3 million abortions per year. Wow, that feels like a serious number. Especially considering that abortions would "ramp-up" from 1973 and that there was a notably smaller population back then. It's an annual statistic with shock value.

Further, I recently got into an argument with an anti-abortionist whose position was that Social Security insolvency was the direct result of the incredible number of abortions being performed. There's alot of passion behind these numbers and folks on the "No Choice" side quote between 38 million and 42 million.

It was time to put on my thinking hat and give some thought to the numbers. First, let's hit the U.S. Census web site. There we find really handy downloadable data for this information.

For 2003: (from www.census.gov)
Total estimated population = 290,809,777
Total births = 4,026,538

With the purported 1.3 million abortions, that would indicate (1.3/(1.3 + 4.0) * 100) that 25% of women decide to get an abortion instead of giving birth to the child. That's 1 out of 4! Of four pregnant women you know, one is going to have an abortion. The number starts to feel like nonsense.

Let's go a step further. Take the population and split it by gender. We don't have a precise gender split for 2003; we'll have to make do with adjusted 2000 numbers.

For 2000: (from www.census.gov)
Total population = 281,421,906
Total Male = 138,053,563
Total Female = 143,368,343

Estimated 2003 Female = 148,150,925
(290,809,777 * 143,368,343 / 281,421,906)

Assuming a 50/50 split for/against abortion and you're left with 74 million women who would even consider having one. You can split that number again to get a rough cut of the women who are of age that can actually conceive a child. This leaves you with approximately 37 million who could be potential "customers" for an abortion. By their statistics, 3.5% of this population opts to get an abortion. Huh, wait a minute. A 25% reduction in births is affected by this tiny group?

As I slice and dice through the numbers, it becomes increasingly evident that even armchair analysis yields foul-smelling fruit. Why are quoted numbers so high? You begin to read the fine print -- unfortunately, this fine print isn't everywhere. I did manage to find more than one site that admitted that the estimates included the use of chemical contraception, "the pill" in the totals. Given the relatively few web sites that include this disclaimer it hardly seems to matter. Apparently, menstruation is murder!

It's when these organization's cite the CDC that I raised an eyebrow. Planned Parenthood, the McDonald's of family planning, claims to only perform approximately 100,000 abortions/year. Others are performed via referral. I had to check out the CDC agency web site for a reality check.

You can click here to view actual statistics from the CDC's Abortion Surveillance. Low and behold, the CDC identifies 861,789 legally induced abortions in 1999. Anti-abortion web sites state 1.328 million (estimated) for the same year.

For the record, this is 35% exaggeration of the actual number of abortions performed. That's a significant distortion of the reality.

The anti-abortion organizations that mis-cite the CDC in their literature are purposefully trying to mislead citizens to further their cause. It's not even close to 1 in 4 pregnancies. The actual statistics point to a total rate that is less than 1 in 6. Total number of abortions since 1973 is less than 25 million. Now, I just have to convince the church to remove 16 crosses.

Those interested in following the abortion leader board on the CDC web site will note that New York City is #1 in the procedure followed by Texas! Go Texas. You're #2 to New York in something!


I'll be in New York this week for obvious reasons. Let's hope for
peaceful and effective protesting with over the top law enforcement
response. It'll be a great time.

Our First Lady of Nicotine

In a Time magazine interview, Laura Bush carries the party line on stem cell research, gay marriage, and what she calls "false hope".

Click here for the article

Although the article states that the first lady is a "former smoker". White House staff are well aware of the First Lady's need for the nicotine. On numerous occassions, she's enjoyed a cigarette off camera.

International Help from Where?

As the quagmire of Iraq continues, I cannot accept John Kerry's call for "International Involvement". Who does Mr. Kerry expect to participate in the disaster we affectionately call the "Liberation of the Iraqi People"?

It's simple empty campaigneering. What nation will join us? Do we expect France and Germany to commit troops? Spain was already there and withdrawn. We are on a very short list of nations that could even participate in this scale of military action.

In the absence of additional military force, we must either conscript our young people or withdraw from Iraq. Anything else is unacceptable.