Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is the Constitution of the United States of America a Living Document?

Title: Is the Constitution of the United States of America a Living Document?: An Analysis.

Abstract: The US Constitution is not alive. However, the Constitution of the United States of America is a living document because is it is in force in the United States. Its life, however, is threatened by the very proponents of the living document theory.

Introduction: A debate rages between loose and strict constitutional constructionist over whether or not the Constitution of the United States of America is a Living Document. This study explores that question.

Methods and Materials: Webster’s Dictionary was consulted for word definitions as it is the traditional American dictionary. This was used to define ‘living’, ‘live’, and ‘alive’. The university of Leicester was consulted on the biological characteristics of living things. Using these sources to determine what characteristics the COTUS must exhibit in order to be considered alive, a wide range of chimerical scientists and studies were consulted to determine if previous studies on COTUS show any indication that the document is, in fact, a living document. All results were then confirmed with constitutional expert Nicholas Cage.

Results: Webster’s Dictionary states that ‘living’ is an inflected form of ‘live’. The relevant entries for ‘live’ were as follows: “1) to remain in human memory or record lives in us all”>, or 2) to be alive : have the life of an animal or plant.” The entry for ‘alive’ states: 1) having life : not dead or inanimate or 2) still in existence, force, or operation : Active”.

From the University of Leicester website, the characteristics which most biologists believe is common to all living things are:

  • Living things obtain nutrition and use energy.
  • Living things move and grow.
  • Living things reproduce.
  • Living things respire.
  • Living things excrete.
  • Living things are sensitive to their environment.

Hall and Oats’ (1971) study of COTUS determined that all extant original copies of the document did not require nutrition. In the study, a large Ruth’s Chris steak was place in front of the document, free of charge, but no consumption or attempted consumption followed. They further determined that when light was shined upon the document, photosynthesis did not take place.

A further study by the Doobie Brothers (1972) found that COTUS failed to respond to music, leading them to conclude that the document did not, in fact, “listen to the music”. Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, also a Pentagon consultant on missile defence systems, believed at one point that the COTUS acted defensively against “China Groove”. The ACLU weighted in, stating that the COTUS should not be subjected to further tests, citing concern that “Jesus is just Alright” should not be played to the document due to the separation of church and state which is not actually in the document. This study is widely cited as the conclusive proof that COTUS does not move, since who can resist grooving to “What a Fool Believes”? COTUS may not move, but does it, in fact, grow? Mac Fleetwood looked into the issue, finding that although COTUS experiences minimal expansion and contraction due to changes in temperature and humidity, the manuscript itself is not believed to have grown any larger in the last two centuries.

The question of reproduction is a more complicated matter. Donald Henley’s 1980 book is widely held as the most comprehensive survey of COTUS reproduction, getting to the heart of the matter better than any competing study. Although Henley found that there existed an increasing number of similar documents which could be the offspring of COTUS, extensive historical research found that such documents were not in contact with COTUS at the time of their creation. Such documents are believe to be mere copies produced independently from COTUS. Henley further concluded that COTUS showed no ability to reproduce either sexually or asexually, even when easy access to glossy codices was provided.

COTUS shows no evidence of respiration. Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds found that the document lacked a respiratory system and that levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide remained constant in COTUS’ glass case.

Concerning COTUS and excretion, the historical record shows that while George III, upon reading the document, exclaimed that it was “full of $*&#”, most scholars now believe that he was only employing an idiomatic phrase and should not be taken literally. No evidence of excrement has been found over the years.

COTUS is sensitive to its environment. NASA studied the effects of the environment on COTUS in order to determine the ideal conditions in which to preserve the document. Although poor conditions will cause the vellum to deteriorate (COTUS is printed on sheepskin, not hemp as the potheads would have you believe), COTUS itself in unable to respond to the environment and therefore does not meet the necessary qualification for life.

In conclusion, COTUS exhibits none of the characteristics common to living organisms. The document, however, could be said to be living due to the fact that it lives in human memory and remains in force in the United States of America.

Discussion: COTUS itself is not alive. It does not adapt to environmental or cultural changes. It can, however, be externally altered through the amendment process as detailed in the document. Although it is a ‘living’ document to the extent that it is still in force and in human memory, it is not a ‘living’ document as the loose constructionists would like it to be. In fact, the more the legitimate amendment process is bypassed by judicial activism, the more an extra-constitutional law rules the Unites States and the less the actual COTUS is in force and, therefore, fades from human memory. The advancement of the ‘living document’ theory is thus killing the document.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Myth of the Flat Earth

Emperor Frederick Barbarossa
The orb topped with a cross in his hand symbolizes the world (spherical) ruled by the cross.
Of all the erroneous ideas in modern popular history, perhaps none annoys me more than the notion that mediaeval man thought that the world was flat. This persistent falsehood is almost always perpetuated in one of two ways: in reference to Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World or to the ignorance of the ‘Dark Ages’, particularly in allusion to mediaeval Christians.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes that “Columbus reported to his king and queen that the world was round, and he went down in history as the man who first made this discovery”. I hope Pythagoras and Aristotle weren’t reading MSNBC’s website that day. And then there is poor Eratosthenes. He knew that the sun was directly overhead at noon on the summer solstice at Syene, in Egypt. Assuming that the sun was so far away that its rays could be considered to be parallel, he used geometry and trigonometry to calculate the circumference of the earth based on a stick placed in the ground at Alexandria in c. 240 BC. He was within 2% and 20% of the actual measurement. Although a few isolated pagan philosophers and early Christians still doubted the round earth theory, the evidence points to the predominate belief in Western Civilization in a round earth since Classical Greece. It’s hard to argue with Bede, Thomas Aquinas, and Dante on the mediaeval weltanschauung. The myth may make the Columbus story more exciting – the adventurer and explorer convinces the crown that he can do the impossible, despite fears that he would sail off the end of the earth – but does it really make sense? This would be like the United States and Russia competing to go to a Moon that most people didn’t believe existed. Would NASA really have gotten the funding?

A mediaeval world map

So when was this falsehood born? Jeffrey Burton Russell at UCSB has tracked the invention to two individuals in 1830s France: the French anti-religious scholar Antoine-Jean Letronne and the American writer Washington Irving. My guess would be on the Frenchie, as he studied both geography and patristics, promoting the medieval flat earth view in On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers. Depicting the mediaeval view as such would well fit his secular polemic. Irving popularized the idea that Columbus faced a hostile crowd of inquisitors and sinister theologians who ridiculed his plans to reach the east by sailing westward. Columbus was opposed not by silly, superstitious clerics who thought the world flat, but by wise men who knew the earth was rather larger than he estimated it to be. That he stumbled upon a unknown continent and did not perish crossing both the Atlantic and the Pacific is pure Serendipity.

The distortion probably survived in the case of Columbus because it made the story so much better to tell to schoolchildren. In a way, we rather like the idea of falling off the end of the earth. On a hike following High School, my friend Alex and I concluded that the world was none other than a giant pyramid standing on its tip and rotating like a top. Not that we believed this, mind you, but it does offer a more entertaining cosmology than a bunch of spheres. (The solar system is rather like a slow game of billiards…perhaps the Creator is off playing hungry hippos in another section of the universe?)

There is, however, another reason the myth survives. It was a useful attack on religious faith in the conflict between science and religion (when are we going to get an exit strategy on that war?), particularly in the debate over Darwinism. It became the standard attack by proponents of ‘science’ on proponents of ‘religion’: ‘these are the same ignorant fools who thought that the earth was flat’. Of course the ultimate irony of such attacks is that they display the ignorance of the attacker, not of the intended victim. And so should they. As Edward Grant observed, “If revolutionary rational thoughts were expressed in the Age of Reason, they were only made possible because of the long medieval tradition that established the use of reason as one of the most important of human activities”. I suppose the only solution is a more well-rounded history education.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Habemus Papam Saeculi!

Roberts, a strict constructionist, is described by friends as "one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Devout but light-hearted, a devoted husband, and the doting father of two adopted children." Leiberman has already stated that he may be acceptable. One thing is for certain: he will test the 'extraordinary circumstances' clause for the Gang of 14. How long can the moderates punt this one down the field? They may have to take a stand! If Roberts stays true to his stated principles, it may deal a serious blow to judicial activism for the immediate future.

Unfortunately, this won't be enough to overturn Kelo vs. City of
New London, as the departed Justice O'Conner wrote the principal - not principled - dissent in that dreadful decision to allow the seizure of private homes for private profits.

There is also some question over how he might rule over you-know-what. During his confirmation to the
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the apply-named Sen. Dick Durbin - yes, the same compared Club G'itmo to Soviet Gulags and Nazi death camps - questioned Roberts on Roe. "I'll be bound to follow the Supreme Court precedent regardless of what type of constructionist I might be," Roberts responded. Although his may indicate that he regards the 'right' to an abortion as a constitutional issue already settled by the court, I would be hesitant to agree. What I believe it actually shows is a respect for the law and for the judicial process. A judge on the Court of Appeals, for which he was applying, should not overturn what SCOTUS has already settled. This is precisely the characteristic we should demand in a justice - willingness to subordinate personal legal opinions to the laws as set out in the Constitution and as passed by the legislative bodies. Of course as one of the black-robed Nine, he may be required to revisit that decision, which would be above and beyond what he has stated before. Given the tenuous legal reasoning behind Roe, it's a safe bet that any strict constructionist worth his salt might alter the big case.

The lay investiture of Roberts wil bestow on him the judicial authority passed down through Apostolic Succession from Chief Justice St. John Marshall. Well see how he speaks ex cathedra.

"We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final." - Justice Robert H. Jackson

post scriptum: The humour in this post was intended at the quasi-divinely appointed authority invested in supreme court justices, not at how Mr. Roberts will perform as a justice. The fact that Roberts is a practicing Catholic will itself constitute 'extraordinary circumstances'. The libs won't say this, masking their bigotry towards any form of traditional Christianity behind phrases like 'his deeply-held beliefs' and so forth.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wedding Website Launch!

The Ryan and Morag Wedding website launches today. We had a few unsuccessful attempts during the last few weeks when a few tiles broke loose, but everything appears to be in working order now. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Beinn Climbed

(Click to zoom)
Bagged another two Munros on Saturday. We had hoped to do three, but a late start combined with poor visibility limited us to Beinn Narnain (Hill of the notches) and Beinn Ime (Hill of butter). Morag was upset when I asked her if she loved me and if I could spend a Saturday with the blokes, but she seems to have had a good time with Leigh in Glasgow so it all worked out just fine.

We didn't start climbing until half past twelve. Luckily it stays light out until after 9:00, or else we would have had difficulty getting down to the cars before dark. As you can see from the map above, we left one car at Arrochar (who would have thought that six grown men could fit into a Ford Fiesta!) and collected the other one at Inveruglas. The ascent of Beinn Narnain met with little difficulty. We met a lady along the way who had lost her dog in the mist, but we didn't find the poor creature. Embarrassingly, we were passed on the final leg of the trail up by a nearly naked man running up the mountain, who seems to have run the remaining 800 feet up and back down before we had climbed 400 feet. By this time, the mist had engulfed us. It was only with the help of the GPS and our maps that we managed to find the ridge leading to Beinn Ime.

The taller mountain (1011 metres, compared to 926), a few of us had some difficulty climbing it. Thankfully, my trekking poles greatly helped to carry my extra stone or two up the hill. The descent was actually more of a challenge, as we had to navigate the northeast face down through some fairly steep crags. Once was pasted the crags, the mountainside turned to marsh. I really need a pair of gortex or waterproof boots. Luckily, wool socks are not as bad as cotton once your feet get soaked. The marshy hillside then gave way to a proper bog in the stunning glen near Lag Uaine, eliminated any remaining dry patch on our clothing. I sank in to my knee at one point, and it was impossible to determine where the ground actually was through the grass and water. At last we reached a road, where we all rung out our socks and started the final hike to Unveruglas.

It was 9:00 when we reached Douglas' car, so we decided to get some chow. The nearest place open was a church-restaurant conversion, the Ben Lomond in Tarbet, with medieval decor. We all enjoyed a cold drink, and warm meal - haggis, for the most part-, and some good cheer. Chris dropped me off in Linlithgow at 1:30.

I love the great outdoors.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Discover the greatest American

The Discovery Channel has concluded it's poll, the 100 Greatest Americans of all time. And who is the most admired American off all time? It is none other than Ronaldus Magnus. Reagan ended the dominance of modern libralism that began with FDR, ushering in the new age of political conservatism and restoring Americans' belief in themselves. Thanks to all who went out there and won one for the Gipper.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Saturn or Stupider?

I hope this is the last time I have the privilege of a G8 summit hosted locally. I can’t get into Edinburgh this week to look for work thanks to the thousands of long-haired, unwashed, maggot-infested anarchists, communists, hippies, and other unsavoury characters clashing with police. At least the “Make poverty history” crowd managed to have a relatively respectable demonstration last Saturday.

One thing the G8 has provided is a plethora of humorous material on climate change. I don’t think any piece sums up the current state of the movement quite as well as this one: ‘Earth may have its own rings like Saturn’. A group of ‘scientists’ are suggesting that we create an artificial ring around the Earth to shade the tropics and thus help cool the planet. Only drawback is it would create a glow in the night sky as great as a full Moon and cost between $6 and $200 trillion for a particle ring or a bargain $500 billion for small spacecrafts. Did they ever think about creatures that rely on the full moon for mating habits or the effect of cooling the equatorial regions would have on the ocean and air currents? Are these honestly the people getting research grants?

Also out of Live Science, ‘Global Warming Might Create Lopsided Planet’. Remember how a few months ago Antarctic ice sheets were disappearing? Well that was so February! This is July, dude, and the ice is going to expand down under!

A great quote from that article is “overall warming, which most but not all scientists believe is underway”. Wait, I thought “The debate is over” according to Arnold Schwarzenegger this week. “We know the science. We see the threat posed by changes in our climate. And we know the time for action is now.” Isn’t this the man that owns a fleet of Hummers and commutes cross-state on a weekly basis, now promising an 80 percent reduction by 2050? I like how he requires lower-emissions vehicles to be sold in California beginning in 2009, about the time he leaves office. Fantastic guarantees he will never live to see fail in the future and sacrifices he will not personally practice today: welcome to politics, Mr. Governator.

Last weekend, Morag and I watched a program on BBC Scotland on climate change to coincide with the G8 summit. It featured three ‘experts’ on climate change and a group of teenagers. The first ‘expert’, the most radical one, set up the debate by giving the standard climate change apocalypticism. The next two debated nuclear energy versus massive small-scale, renewable energy coupled with drastic increases in energy efficiency. One did mention, albeit in passing, that there were a few scientists who disagreed with anthropogenic climate change, but there was absolutely no representation of this view whatsoever during the program. Instead, Mr. Blair’s assertion that climate change was the most important issue of the 21st century was repeated. Why is it that with the number of distinguished climatologists who disagree with or are sceptical of the so-called ‘consensus view’, they can’t even get a public hearing? Why just a few weeks earlier either the BBC or Channel 4 had given extensive time to the moon-landing disbelievers!

As for the notion of a ‘consensus view’, it is the disingenuous construct by green political action groups, backed up with bad research. It has entered the public dialogue despite the debunking of the research behind it. (see Dr Peiser of John Moores University’s discrediting of Dr Naomi Oreskes’s assertion that 75 per cent of 1,000 papers explicitly or implicitly backed the ‘consensus’ view with no dissentions). I think that fellow global warming sceptic Michael Crichton sums the ‘consensus’ up best here. Also see: Why Politicized Science is Dangerous (Excerpted from State of Fear).

Science, like religion, is not a democracy. The truth is not reached when a majority of scientists consent to a given proposition. We hear ad nauseam of a scientist’s dispute with outside authority such as the Galileo affair, but what is less often mentioned is that many of science’s great innovations have been made by a lone researcher standing up to scientific consensus. Not that I am suggesting that it is the case that the ‘consensus’ view is as much of a ‘consensus’ as proponents are selling to the public. What is happening in this case is that climate change proponents are attempting to avoid debate by stating that the matter is settled because they know they cannot convince the public and politicians to enact the radical changes they believe necessary based on a sober analysis of the scientific data available.

Two last points while I am on the subject. Proving my assertion a couple of weeks ago that anthropogenic climate change is the eschatology of the environmentalist religion, UK Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett made two illuminating statements this week:

"I think what matters more than the exact theology is where people end up," she said. "What we hope for is quite an ambitious action plan on steps that the international community can take and also agreement to try and take forward discussion and dialogue about the future." [emphasis mine]

“The environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, hinted at a compromise by responding to Mr Bush's remarks about uncertainties in the science. ‘The UK is in no doubt about the strength of scientific evidence on climate change. But the theology is less important than action.’” [emphasis mine]

Tell me again who is blurring the ‘separation of church and state’?

Best of all, ‘Clearing smoke may trigger global warming rise’. “Global warming looks set to be much worse than previously forecast, according to new research. Ironically, the crucial evidence is how little warming there has been so far.” The article details how some industrial emissions such as smoke and dust have been counteracting CO2 warming, and that as we clean those emissions, the world will dramatically increase in temperature. “It is so far outside the range covered by our experience and scientific understanding that we cannot with any confidence predict the consequences for the Earth” states Meinrat Andreae of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. A alternative title for this article could be ‘Global climate catastrophe looms despite lack of evidence.’ The problem with it is that they let the cat out of the bag by admitting how little warming has actually taken place. In fact, if you take it to the next level, you can see the thinking that went into the hypothesis in the first place: Massive global warming is a real catastrophe. Global warming doesn’t seem to be occurring as much as it should. What could be preventing the global warming that we know is happening from actually happening?

Oh, and I almost forgot: despite the anti-Bush and anti-American rhetoric surrounding the G8 summit concerning climate change, it seems that most European countries are behind schedule and do not foresee fulfilling their Kyoto promises. In fact, if the USA were participating, it would only be tied for fourth with Ireland as most behind Kyoto CO2 emission reductions in Europe.

Stay tuned for how I believe the CO2 problem will solve itself.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

African Dictators Preservation Society

“Hello and welcome to the African Dictators Preservation Society. Please select one of the following options:

If you are an African dictator in need of funding for arms, expensive foreign luxury items, or western money to consolidate your despotic rule, press one.

If you are one of the very few well educated Africans capable of actually making a difference in your home country but who has instead immigrated to the West to improve your lifestyle and are now puzzled at how nothing is changing back home without you, press two.

If you attended one of our aid concerts and were offended by Fiddy Cent’s rendition of ‘Smack a ho for the homeland’, press three.

If you are a celebrity involved with the recent protests and need help finding Africa on a map, press four.

If you plan to attend the concerts but are concerned whether or not you should applaud bad music by big-hearted has-beens, press five.

If you live under an African dictatorship and are upset at western democracies for giving money to your authoritarian regime in order to help consolidate their dominance over your people and their earnings, press six.

If you reside in a responsible African nation who has paid back your loans at or below inflation rates and are bitter that more aid is being given to irresponsible regimes when it could actually be put to good work in your country, press seven.

If you are an African interested in improving the quality of life on your continent, seek out a local missionary. Manage to work out a visa to study or work in the United States or the United Kingdom. While there, avoid the culture of victimization your will encounter in the press and at the universities. Study Smith, Locke, Hayek and the Founding Fathers. Read the National Review. Pay attention to the modernization of Japan. Believe that the future of your continent depends not upon the generosity of others, but upon the willingness and determination of yourself. Discover the cultural traits that enabled the West to succeed, such as the rule of law, democracy, freedom, and liberty, and help to spread those traits back home. Participate in the global economy. Ignore this latest manifestation of the white man’s burden; only you can make poverty history. Please press 1776.

If you are a blueneck outraged at the suggestion that Africans can and must do this themselves, please note that a majority of Kenyans believe previous aid has done little to help them permanently, that massive aid is unnecessary and that the problem is their own corrupt governments (BBC One broadcast, 4 July 2005). Thank you, and have a nice day."

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