Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Government Strong Defender of Privacy

Anyone who questions the federal government's commitment to privacy just isn't paying attention. Just look at the way the administration is fending off Congressional requests for information regarding communications between FEMA and the White House regarding Katrina. And that extends clear to the local level. The Waco Tribune-Herald found that as of the second week of January, FEMA was paying for 119 people to stay in 47 hotel rooms in Waco, but when reporters called all of the hotels and motels in the area, all said they did not currently have any evacuees as guests. Most said they hadn't had any since right after the storm.

Susan Solomon, a FEMA spokesperson, refused to name the hotels receiving payments, saying the information could not be released for privacy reasons. See? She also said that perhaps hotel staff were simply trying to protect evacuees' privacy by saying none were at their properties. The reporters also questioned the various charities that have been helping evacuees, and no one knew of anyone who was still in a hotel. Probably just another effort to protect the evacuees' privacy. Congressman Chet Edward's office was likewise unable to get any information from FEMA about evacuees staying in local hotels.

In the old days a hotel would consider that a guest had left without checking out if the bed had not been slept in for a day or two. Today that is just a fairy tale: "Someone's [not] been sleeping in my bed and she's still there!" exclaimed Baby bear.

Friday, January 27, 2006


CWD Risk to Humans Greater Than Thought

The infectious proteins that cause chronic wasting disease in cervids such as deer and elk have been isolated in the muscle of deer suffering from the condition, U.S. researchers reported Thursday. Previously federal health officials have assured hunters that they would be OK as long as they did not touch or eat an animal's brain, spinal cord, or other nervous tissue. Now that the proteins have been isolated from the haunch and leg meat ("venison"), the portions favored for eating, hunters are warned to not eat any portion of such animals, even in sausage.

The disease, generally termed transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (translation: things that that you can catch that turn your brain spongy), in deer and elk is known as chronic wasting disease, in sheep, scrapie and in cows, mad cow disease. There is no generally accepted term for the disease in humans, although hunters who consume deer or elk with the wasting disease sometimes develop sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, which may or may not be the same thing. If so, it is likely that the popular term will be mad cow, since there is already stuff that sounds like wasting disease and head scrapie in humans. Epidemiologists are now looking for signs of brain wasting among hunters, which you would think should be easy to find. Contraire, it is complicated by the fact that scientists are uncertain of the symptoms, although they seem to include an unusually intense desire to harm animals.

Research into human mad cow disease was given a huge impetous when it was contracted by the popular Boston lawyer Denny Crane. It is not known how humans contract mad cow disease, but the infectious protein appears to be somewhat different according to what type of animal has it. In deer and elk it is known as a misfolded prion, to distinguish it from the normal prion that is around. In sheep it is a misfolded wedgeon, and in humans a misfolded klingon.

Researchers are exploring the disease by inserting the properly folded protein genes of other animals, including humans, in fertilized mouse eggs. This has created mice that possess human, deer and elk folders, respectively. Later the brains of these mice are injected with venison from deer in the final stages of wasting disease. The first procedure apparently made the mice susceptible to misfolding, as every one of them contracted wasting disease (there is no separate term for the mouse version yet, but you still should under no circumstances eat them). To see if the disease can be spread by eating, the investigators next hope to feed the mice feces and urine from infected deer, which is how they think the deer spread it around. So far it has proved difficult to get the mice to eat it, even when spread on cheese. It is also tricky to get the deer to go on the cheese.

In our December 14 post we discussed the ethical questions arising from injecting mice with human stem cells. It is not known whether any of those mice have also been injected in these later experiments, or have become avid hunters.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


New Vaccine a License to Have Sex

The trouble with science is that it just keeps discovering things that are harmful. They have now developed a vaccine that is 100% effective against human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that is the primary cause of cervical cancer. They say it should be given to all girls at the age of 12. While cervical cancer kills 3,700 women a year in the U.S. alone, what about all the teenage sex the fear of it prevents?

Fortunately the Family Research Council is leading opposition to the vaccine. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group.... Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex." . Tony Perkins, president of FRC, says it is not anti-vaccine, but that Hillary Clinton is against condom labels that truthfully point out that they are not effective against HPV. This is relevant because "only the practice of abstinence...can prevent ALL those 'serious ramifications'....

While we need to stay vigilent to protect our 12 year olds from sex, we should not be too concerned, as this vaccine is not approved by the FDA yet. This is just the situation with Plan B, the morning after pill, all over again. There the FDA refused to approve the pill because, while the company studies showed that while teens 14 and up said the pill wouldn't encourage them to have sex, there were no 12 year olds in the study. As this blog pointed out in the November 17 post, that was probably impractical. "How much would they have to pay you to hang around playgrounds asking 12 or 13 year old girls whether they would be more likely to engage in sex if the pill was available?"

Monday, January 23, 2006


The Henry Gabriel Cisneros Affair

Ending his 10 year $22 million investigation, the independent counsel has filed his final report on just how much money Henry told the FBI he gave his mistress. You may remember that Hen was the popular mayor of San Antonio in the 80s, and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Clinton from 1992 to 1997. It was in the FBI vetting process for that office that Hen screwed up, understating his mistress gratuities. Not that Hen didn't fess up once the cat was out of the bag, and four years into the investigation (1999) he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI, and was pardoned by President Clinton. That was the end of that, except of course that the independent counsel had to keep going and going and going, after all those other loose ends. We will get back to that.

Some avid readers of this blog complain about our policy of never expressing an opinion or drawing any conclusions from the rich loam of foibles reported. So as a special exception to our just the facts ma'am policy, here are some suggestions.

Rule 1. Do not keep a mistress. [but if you do]
Rule 2. Do not let your wife find out. [but if she does]
Rule 3. Do not let it become public knowledge so as to embarrass your wife. [but even if it does]
Rule 4. Do not give your mistress money. (This is the hard one). [but if you do]
Rule 5. Do not let your wife find out about the money. [but even if she does]
Rule 6. Do not give your mistress a lot of money. [but if you do]
Rule 7. See Rule 5.

Even if you blow rule 4, don't whistle past rule 6. Remember, you are a charming rogue, not a lobbyist, and if your wife finds out, hell hath no fury like a woman shorn.

OK, back to the independent counsel investigation. You know what they say: "Its not the crime, its the cover up." Like with all rules, there is an exception to the "don't let your wife find out" rule. While you should take all reasonable precautions, you don't want to fudge with the FBI, for obvious reasons. But even so, you ask, what took 10 years? Since some of the fun funding was by the redirection of his speaking fees, there arose an income tax question, which the IC of course had to investigate. Then the IRS pooh-poohed it, so the IC had to investigate the IRS. Then the Justice Department told him to stick to one tax year, so the IC had to investigate the Justice Department. So you progress from play money to obstruction of justice by the entire government, and it takes a while. And finally there was the legal battle over what part of the report to release to the public. That last thing really should be investigated too, but Congress let the independent counsel law expire.

As to why the FBI should ask exactly how much he gave his mistress, I think it must have been a trick question.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Feds Hope for Increased Interest in Privacy Rights

You probably misunderstand where the government stands on this privacy thing. Government is politics, and the President leads through the popularity of his issues. A major concern is that there is no real grass roots support for privacy rights. So Mr. Bush has obviously asked the Justice Department to prod the populace a little, arouse them so to speak. The first effort was under the Patriot Act, that business about listening to your phone calls. Ashcroft is smart, and knew that was just going to lead to a bunch of dead ends, unless, of course, the local pizza parlor is harboring terrorists. But the cover story was too good. People appreciate going after terrorists, and you can always pursue your affair on a public phone. So the prod met with a big public yawn.

It is hoped that this pornography thing will get better results. To understand the cover story you need a little background. In 1998 Congress moved to protect our teenagers from smutty stuff with the Child Online Protection Act. That has criminal penalties if your web site has anything deemed (at that time, by Ashcroft) harmful to minors. But the Supreme Court stopped enforcement and told the trial court to see if maybe Internet filtering technology might take care of the hang-up. To argue that, the government felt it should first find out if anyone was really looking at online porn. Obviously, if there is a lot of looking, some must be by dirty minded teenagers, and so the filtering doesn't work. This is just a summary, of course, and we can't use any bad words here, so don't worry about each little step in the logic.

So to see if anyone was looking the government pried all the records of user searches out of Google et al. and has this statistics professor from Berkeley (that should tell you something) pouring over it "to gain crucial insight into information on the Internet." I wouldn't know, but I have heard that there is, in fact, nasty pictures out there. Google argued that such a search might "chill" guys who were over 17 from looking, which is OK under the Act, but that didn't wash. So now the government has billions of search destinations identified, but for now is not checking who did the search. However, that would seem to be necessary to see if those blackguards were over 17 or not.

So there you have it. The government calculates that there should be a significant surge of objections from guys who are not interested themselves, but will certainly defend the rights of others to see constitutionally protected sex stuff. This should get some steam behind the movement.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Chocolate Milk Mayor T Shirt Available

Be the first in your neighborhood to order this T-shirt or a bumper sticker. C. Ray Nagin, NO Hizzoner, said in his Martin Luther King day speech "I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day, you can't have New Orleans no other way. This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."

Later he explained that he wasn't being divisive: "How do you make chocolate? You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about," Apparently the chocolate milk mayor offended some folks, and he allowed as how he should be more sensitive. He actually should have requested anonyminity, as he apparently was not authorized to speak for God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Disclosure Rules To Reduce Executive Indictments

The SEC is adopting new rules that will require greater disclosure of the compensation of senior executives. The announcement made it clear that there is no intention to limit the amount CEOs can take, but just to let the shareholders know about the little extras such as stock options, personal use of the corporate jet, and agreements to pay for the CEO's newspapers for life. Options are already disclosed, of course, but currently the corporation says they are worthless.

A lot of people dispute the Chuckles Curve (see "The Economics of Executive Compensation", December 18), argue that CEO compensation is excessive, and doubt this added disclosure will do anything to further the war against obscenity. One commented "you can't embarrass someone making $40 million a year". They note that average worker pay has been nearly flat at $27,000 from 1990 to 2004, adjusted for inflation, while average CEO pay has risen from $2.82 million to $11.8 million. Other experts think that there might be some limiting effect from something they call "outrage restraint". The problem of course is figuring out exactly when this sets in.

I think both views entirely miss the point, and that enhanced disclosure will matter a great deal. A number of years ago it was common to see the corporate logo on the tail of corporate jets. Do you see any today? No-sir-re-Bob. One year some reporters listed all the logos at the airport during the super bowl and bingo, the logos were all removed before the next bowl. If the value of personal use of the jet has to go in the proxy, you can expect most companies to install a third seat so the value can be reported at tourist rates, and to schedule most personal use leaving Thursday after 5 and returning by Tuesday to get the weekend special. Executives do care about their image.

But that will not be the biggest change. Recently a number of executives have been indicted for looting their company illegally. The difference between looting it legally and looting it illegally involves opaque legal concepts of course, but it really comes down to whether the board approved it while awake and in their right minds, and weren't duped. The new rules will really help, because if you are skimming $100 million or so and it is fully disclosed in the proxy, the ineffectual squeals of the stockholders should alert the board to the point where they really can't preserve deniability or dupability. Do you have any idea what avoiding those criminal trials will save the taxpayer?

Monday, January 16, 2006


Second End Run Works - Myers (Not the General or Harry) to Head ICE

Julie is no Brownie, and Congress can just quit carping about the experience thing. Those unfair comparisons ignore Ms. Myers superior connections. President Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process with the recess appointment of the lawyer, 36, as the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE is part of Homeland Security, where her husband (fiancé at the time of nomination) John Wood is Chernoff's chief of staff. Chernoff, the Homeland Security chief, praised her appointment, so it must have been OK with John too. That, and the fact that she is the niece of General Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in her previous post was Bush's special assistant for personnel, certainly sets her apart from Brownie, who was, after all, only the college roommate of his predecessor at FEMA, and had no White House experience.

Bush's end run on Congress was turnabout as fair play, since Congress tried to outfox him by adding to the position a statutory requirement of 5 years management experience. It is highly unusual to require any relevant experience for senior government positions, and so that was probably just a knee jerk reaction to Katrina and/or the threats of terrorism. Keeping terrorists out, or watching them if they get in, is a primary responsibility of ICE. Whatever. Ms. Myers is a lawyer and has tried criminal cases and has held various federal positions over the last four years. At Commerce she was responsible for export controls, so you would think if you can keep it from going out you can keep it from coming in.

Besides, Bush should be able to appoint people he knows, whether from his dad's old administration, baseball, the Texas legislature, or the Women of the White House. You'd rather she be on the Supreme Court?

Special note: Betsy Myers (no relation) was the first director of the White House Womens' Office.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


FEMA Hotel Bill Obligation Clarified

This will be the fourth exposition of the Katrina hotel bill situation. Since the hotel rooms generally now have internet access, most of the residents of the 28,000 rooms the taxpayers are providing now rely of this site for the latest freebee extension. On December 13 we reported how Judge Woody and the New York class action lawyer Howey Goodnick have been helping FEMA with the hotel bill rules. Here is the latest ruling. If you have not received your rental assistance, or been rejected, by January 30, you can stay until February 27, or for two weeks after you do receive the same, whichever is later. That is, if you NEVER receive rental assistance or get rejected, you can stay FOREVER. Remember that. That is, unless you are in the New Orleans area, in which case you get 2 extra days, to March 1. That is necessary to get you to the end of the eight day Mardi Gras celebration. You will remember that the judge earlier acted from "the very real fear" that the folks would be without shelter on Christmas. That of course is nothing compared to the fear of being out in the street during Mardi Gras. If you do receive rental assistance or get rejected before January 30, you are off the dole, well, only that part about the hotel, on February 13. That is, if you call FEMA to get your authorization code, a requirement announced last week. If you don't call by January 30 you could be out February 7, that is, unless Howey can get you a waiver or an extension of the move out date for those that don't call. There is a free phone in your hotel room, so you should call. It is not clear in the order whether you have to keep calling when the line is busy, or can just leave a message. Your call is important to them.

According to the NYT, Howey said the new order should clarify FEMA's earlier promise to keep paying for hotel rooms until the resident received or were denied rental assistance. Got that? Keep checking back here for further clarifications. And remember, as explained in the December 22 entry, your rental assistance doesn't begin until you move into an apartment, and just because you sign a lease doesn't mean you have to move in. Note that "whichever is later" part, above.

According to Howey's law firm's web site, "Nearly (sic?) 20 attorneys from Schulte Roth & Zabel have contributed more than 3,000 pro bono hours" on the class action lawsuit against FEMA. “More than two months after Katrina, thousands of Americans are still being victimized, this time by bureaucratic inaction, indifference and incompetence,” said Howard O. Godnick, litigation partner at SRZ. “It is an outrage that these victims must sue a federal agency to secure services they are so clearly entitled to.”

FEMA issued a statement after the January 12 court order, in part as follows: "We are pleased that the Court has agreed to our authorization code plan.... Today's Court Order reaffirms the program FEMA already has in place for those hurricane evacuees still in hotels and motels nationwide.... The Court also agrees with FEMA's plans to have hurricane evacuees contact FEMA no later than January 30, 2006 to receive an authorization code that will allow FEMA to continue to pay for hotel rooms beyond Feb. 7. A new date was added to the FEMA hotel/motel program by the Court Order, and it is reflected in the attached timeline of important dates."

Looks like everybody is a winner again.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Teach the Controversy - Darwin, ID, FSM

Adherents to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster maintain that the SPM created the universe and everything in it, and have formally requested that the Kansas school board teach their theory. The founder, Bobby Henderson, who describes himself as a person of negligible education (physics), wrote that SPM was based on scientific theory, and that "We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.", and that this theory is no less worthy to be taught than Intelligent Design.

The web site of the movement provides evidence for its view and claims to have over 10 million members. The letter to the school board includes a promise to sue if the appeal is rejected. Responses from the board, reprinted on the site, appear favorable.

We can't help but wonder if this is just a minor schism, as we see so often in churches of broad appeal. The SPM does bear a striking resemblance to an alien.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Felidae DNA Reveals House Cat U.S. Design

The fossil record of the cat family has long been difficult to classify, since without the fur there is little difference except size. In fact, until recently the main classification was by size: Little Cat, Big Cat, and B-B-B-Big Cat. Now each of the 37 species of cat has been assigned to its own branch of the family tree, based on studies of mitochondrial DNA.

These studies have also given greater insight into the evolution and migration of cats as the sea levels changed over time. Cats only migrate when the sea level falls and leaves dry land. You know how they are about water. It turns out that the youngest lineage, which includes the house cat, originated in the United States, and crossed over to Asia on the Bering land bridge. The seas rose for a while and the cats stayed put, and then fell again, opening the Bering bridge again. It is well know that humans migrated to the U.S. (and Alaska, which was not yet part of the U.S.) across the Bering bridge at that time. The researchers were surprised to find that the house cat came back across the bridge with them. There is some dispute about this finding, as anyone who has ever traveled with a cat can appreciate.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Unexpected Floods Sink Federal Insurance

FEMA, who manages the Federal flood insurance program, has had trouble selling flood coverage. The competition is wicked. Other insurance companies are not the problem, as they refuse to sell flood insurance in areas that regularly get flooded. Which is, of course, why we need the federal program in order to encourage building in these areas. Before we get to the competitive situation, let's cover some other basics that influence the insurance market. Yes, this blogger's breadth of knowledge is amazing, but you pick up a lot if you pay attention.

First, not all areas flood much. Those are the high ones and the ones that are not near the water. Most people who live there would not pay extra for flood insurance, but it never comes up because the commercial insurers just throw it in. Then there are the areas that could flood, but the risk is about the same as getting nailed by other stuff like fire, tornados, and so on. Commercial insurers price that in also. Third, there are areas where any idiot can figure out there is no way to charge enough premium to cover the likely flood losses, so this is where we need Congress. It turns out the banks are just as bad as insurance companies about their grubby profits, so if you want to build a house out on the sand, the bank is afraid you won't pay the mortgage if you get washed away, and so, no insurance, no loan. And that leads to a very unfair and unbalanced neighborhood. The only homes you end up with are those of millionaires for whom the cost is pocket change, and those of folks who don't have pocket change and build them themselves out of what they can find on the beach. And each group feels the other spoils the neighborhood. So to keep the peace and make great views available to the rest of us, we have the federal flood insurance program.

It is a great program. In an effort to attract the "might flood" class along with the "probably flood" and the "when flood" classes, FEMA sells this stuff at well below market rates (prices that would cover losses). The acting director (everyone at FEMA is "acting") of the flood program, David I. Maurstad, agrees. "Does the program provide a benefit the federal government ought to provide to the country? I come down on the side of a very definite yes." Davy (no relation to Davy Jones) says coastal development is inevitable as the tides, and are going to be developed with or without federal insurance. Will said it best: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune...."

Unfortunately, most who bought the coverage were in the "when flood" class. The failure of the others to go for the deal from Congress and FEMA can be attributed to the stiff competition from ... Congress and FEMA. Last month Congress gave $150,000 to some owners that skipped the insurance, and others who could not qualify for the $200,000 loans (at 2.6 percent) had to make do with the $27,100 grants. Turns out that one of the basic ideas behind the flood insurance program was to get some premium payments from people the taxpayers were going to pay anyway. Somebody can't keep a secret. The program when last seen was sinking under $23 billion in claims with no funds left, so the flooded folks won't be the only ones bailing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


SBA Struggling to Open Gateway to FEMA Grants

The Small Business Administration is working with FEMA to provide Katrina relief, which, according to agency chief Barreto, has responded "quicker to this event than any in our history". It has shouldered a huge burden, for in addition to its small business mission (3,000 loans approved, 7,000 rejected, 27,000 pending), it must reject loan applications from home-owners before they can get free money from FEMA. FEMA referrals resulted in more than 250,000 loan applications to the SBA, of which 175,000 remain to be "processed". However, the agency has managed to reject 81% of those that have, qualifying those folks for FEMA grants. From the standpoint of the applicants, this 81% must be considered success rate, rather than a failure rate as some critics have suggested.

FEMA does not dispute the SBA contention that most of the people really don't want loans (they seem to prefer grants) but says it cannot give out money to people that have enough money to take out loans. This works out, however, because the SBA says it cannot risk taxpayer money by lending to poor people. "We are just dealing with the demographics in the area" said Herbert Mitchell, who runs the agency's disaster assistance program. The SBA has expanded its staff for the area from 800 people to 4,200 people, so help is on the way.

As for all the criticism, Raul E. Cisneros, the agency director of communications, said: "Unfortunately, the current political environment in Washington, D.C., is not lacking for individuals who are anxious to throw stones." The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce issued a statement that "politically motivated attacks leveraged against Administrator Barreto undermine the hard work of a dedicated public servant."


NO School Officials Doing " A Heck of a Job"

Prior to Katrina, the New Orleans school system was considered to be one of the worst in the country, nearly bankrupt and fraught with corruption, bad management, and poor academic results. Officials now report that over 99% of the problems have been eliminated. Further, notwithstanding the reduction in school employees from over 7,000 to 61, the administration has managed to open one public school already. And further again, since many of the school buildings suffered little or no damage, the administration has generously allowed citizens to band together on their own to open charter schools where the public schools used to be. Most of the teachers and administrators of the new charter schools are the same ones that were previously with the public schools, and many are working without pay.

Meanwhile, the top school officials have not been idle. Mayor Nagin has formed an education committee which is cautioning against having too many charter schools. The committee's web site notes that it "is not focusing on a short-term solution to the issues that the Orleans Parish school system currently faces. We are focusing on developing a plan for the long term". At a higher level, the state has taken over 102 of the 117 schools that underperformed state standards before the storm (no current performance statistics are available because there is no current performance). According to the NYT the state is expected to announce some plan for these schools sometime in the next 6 months.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Did Aliens Design Sis Moles?

Anyone who remembers the three Sis Moles singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah along with Uncle Remus has to have doubts about this being a product of pure chance, i.e., evolution. Could the Sis Mole (and every other plant and animal, of course, but there is something especially miraculous about a singing mole) have been designed by visiting aliens? This blog never expresses an opinion on sensitive matters, but I recently dug up some challenging arguments pro and con. Let's do the con first, as it requires some historical theological digging. Remember, this blog always seeks to expand your horizons.

It is not generally known that around the beginning of the eighteenth century there was a serious dispute between Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Not that stink about who invented calculus. This was serious. Their studies of gravity and the planets in their courses had led to disparate views as to just how God was running the show. They agreed that HE created the system and set it in motion, but Isaac had intimated in his Opticks that God kept a hand in, tinkering from time to time to make sure it worked. This shocked Willy, to whom the tinkering suggestion implied that God lacked the foresight to make the system perfect, such that it would run on forever by itself. Isaac argued that to hypothesize that God set something up that would run on forever without HIM was to make HIM irrelevant. Willy didn't like the implication that God could make a mistake, or change HIS mind.

You will already have seen that this was just a 300 hundred year old version of the current dispute about evolution. No one should have a problem with the idea that God set up the whole thing; the question is whether he tinkers, or designs, as things go along. Admittedly, the terminology is a little different. Back then you didn't go around suggesting that aliens, or time travelers for that matter, designed things. The alien thing would certainly get you hung and cut down alive for some additional gruesome goings on. Time travel? Back then, Stephen Hawking wouldn't stand a chance. You know what happened to witches.

You can also see that, in this more enlightened age, this is both an argument for and against the alien theory. On the one hand, an alien could make a mistake that would require tinkering, but on the other hand, an alien wouldn't be around later to tinker, or would he? Some people think cats are aliens, but Sis Moles don't get on with them. Anyway, you can see that this is a very confusing situation, accounting for the various views we see today. Polls tell us that only 40% of Americans believe in evolution.

Which leads us to look at the design mistake issue from a different angle. The National Science Foundation surveys also reveal that one-fifth of Americans think the sun goes around the earth. Sorry Nick, but things sink in slow. Also, only about half the folks know that humans didn't live at the same time as the dinosaurs. So however good the designer was with Sis Moles, the intelligence designed into humans might be taken as evidence that you shouldn't try to do everything in six days.

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