Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Unintelligent Design

For thousands of years native Hawaiians believed that volcanic eruptions were a sign that the goddess Pele was angry, the Norse people believed lightning was sent by a ticked off Thor and folks in myriad cultures around the globe figured that murdering a virgin would ensure a good harvest for the tribe. Their thinking was based on a simple question: "You got a better explanation, pal?"

Now comes the "intelligent design" crowd, who contend the absence of a rational, scientific explanation for everything in nature is evidence an intelligent being or spirit created and guides all life.

More artfully put than in ancient times, their argument still comes down to, "You got a better explanation, pal?" and makes about as much sense as eating the heart of your enemy to gain his courage.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Breasts, Prostates, and Money

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

This fiscal year, Congress budgeted about $485 million to research the cause and cure of prostate cancer, which is expected to kill 30,400 men.

Congress also allocated $850 million to research the cause and cure of breast cancer, of which an estimated 40,410 women will die.

That doesn't mean less money should be spent on breast cancer studies. But it does mean a whole lot more should be spent on prostate research.

Insuring Failure After Katrina

My home sits on the edge of a flood plain that hasn’t flooded in more than 40 years. My mortgage lender requires me to pay about $700 a year to insure my dwelling against flood damage. I don’t like having to fork over that money each year, but looking at it logically, I see the point.

New Orleans is located below sea level, below river level, and below lake level. It regularly suffers the ravages of tropical storms and hurricanes. Yet the majority of homes and business in the Big Easy never purchased flood insurance. In some Katrina-ravaged areas along the Gulf Coast, fewer than 10 percent of property owners thought it important. With different numbers attached, the same was true of property owners wiped out by the Midwest floods of 1993 and 2001.

Now, as then, thousands of angry people who volunteered to live in a flood zone but declined insurance are screaming for the government to bail them out, figuratively as well as literally.