The good news for the nation: if we get any stupider about science, we'll forget how to cook crystal meth.
How extreme is he?
"Abortion-rights advocates on the left are focusing on Alito's vote to uphold the legal requirement that an adult woman must notify her husband prior to getting an abortion."
Pretty much says it all right there.
His views on church-state seperation are equally 13th century.
So, what happens next? The senate Democrats will line up to oppose Alito (as they should), the Senate Republicans will line up to endorse him, and the result will end up in a fillibuster - after which, Frist et al., will try to go for the nuclear option (reducing the vote total needed to stop a fillibuster).
At the end this is the 'culture clash' that the GOP craves - will re-energize the GOP? Temporarily, but they could still lose the battle, and worse, it could spill over into the next primary season and affect some of the races negatively for them. If that happens another split of the GOP on a supreme court nominee might permanently fracture the party.
Telepathy is relatively uncommon, and Legion of Doom has achieved just twice by my reckoning - the Shadowmen when they actually went out and aquired the original Legion of Doom in it's entirety, and I won my second cup by trading for the Lemieux-Jagr-Kovalev trio to give me my own version.
So who has the strongest telepathy?
1. The Knights Templar - Bertuzzi and Naslund. Note, they wouldn't qualify for Legion status by aquiring Morrison. Why? Because Morrison (despite playing on a line with the aforementioned pair) isn't an elite player in his own right.
2. Personal Vendetta - Forsberg and Gagne.
3. The Severed Heads - Spezza and Heatley (and if Alfreddson were to end up on the 'Heads, we'd be in 'Legion' territory)
There is also one other GM with a significant pairing, though I think it falls short of telepathy;
The Edge - Fedorov and Sykora.
Note - The Ramapithicines don't have any telepathy, but they do have some team dominance in Dallas with Turco, Hedberg, Morrow and Zubov all filling roles.
Who might be telepathic?
The Highlanders: if they swap St Louis or another portsider for Glenn Murray. A Murray/Thornton pairing could be quite frightening.
The Wolves/Great Whites: If either managed to aquire both parts of the Zetterberg/Datsyuk equation they would qualify. I don't see it happening though.
Note: It is exceedingly tough to create telepathy with players from Colorado because the best players are FPs, and on different teams. Tampa Bay has some creative options, but Lecavalier, St Louis and Richards are all spread around with little likelihood of them being traded because of their obvious intrinsic value.
Did I miss any league telepaths? Are there Legions of Doom in the past I should note?
1. Severed Heads - 19. Go figure he picks his own team, right? Last year I picked the Personal Vendetta.
2. Great Whites - 18: Building a team the old fashioned way, from the goaltender forward, and through the draft. Team donut lacks an imposing centre presence, so as Brodeur and the Big M go, so will go the Fish.
3. Personal Vendetta - 17.5: I don't think he has any idea what it feels like the day after the draft to run everyone's teams backwards through the draft predictions and come up with something other than his own name. He's the draft Terminator. It just doesn't stop. Key is the telepathy he has with Forsberg and Gagne. If they Gretzky-Kurri on us, it's all over.
3. Knights Templar - 17.5: Tied for third in my predictions with the Personal Vendetta. Yeah I had to read that twice to myself too. Must upgrade on D, and get value from Roenick or the lack of depth could be fatal. Otherwise, the core group of scoring forwards; Hejduk, Richards, Naslund, and Bertuzzi, is excellent and will bouy the team. If Tuomo Ruutu takes another step forward he could join that core group and make the Knights truly scarey.
5. The Highlanders - 16.5: He has the horses in Thornton, McCabe, Crosby, St Louis, Jovo-Cop, etc. to pace with the leaders, but can he get them to pull in the same direction? Nabokov is part of the answer, or a whole 'nother question.
6. Barbarians - 16: Has stopped the bleeding the franchise had been going through, and is building a solid foundation around his frustrating megastar, Kovalchuk. Datsyuk, Guerin, Tkachuk and Theodore form an imposing nucleus to compliment the purest goalscorer in the game. Not all is good. The D is in worse than rough shape and needs to be overhauled, and Tkachuk needs to get his act together for them to move up as threats. Of course Theodore or Kovalchuk might go atomic and accomplish the same task.
6. The Bladerunners - 16: A strong top two at each centre and rightwing, but question marks everywhere else. Vokoun could be the difference. Finding a #1 defenseman or three is a must.
8. The Edge - 15.5: His left wing could be ridiculous. Ovechkin looks like the grand slam of FP selections alreay, Nash has already won a Richard trophy and he's just a P3, and Elias had 90 points his last full season. Currently, they are dinged up a left, but if they get on track no other team has a set of three that comes close. The team also has its characteristically strong defense, and is complimented by a solid if unthreatening set of right wingers. The problem is that at centre there is no room for error, Fedorov has to be a top flight producer, and in goal Manny Legace has to play well in more than just spurts. Trading for a pivot to slot in ahead of Fedorov and Jokinen would make them a contender.
9. The Wolves - 15: The right wing is among the best in the league, with Iginla a potential trump card. Kipprusoff must start moving in the right direction, and give us something more than flashes of the Sub-Zero-Man hero identity of the playoffs. If he starts to freeze teams up, the Wolves might have a backstopper to rival anyone. The D is steep but not deep, after Niedermayer and Blake and it could use another mobile puckmover. That said, who cares about defense depth when the left wing is a total horror show and needs radical surgery?
10. The Shadowmen - (14.5) I wrote the review for the Shadowmen team prior to the trade where he aquires Rafalski and Poti from the Dogs. S'what I get for trying to take a snapshot of the league, by the time I finish Bob's team he's already changed it. So I have upped my estimation of the Shadowmen to 10th place. The team has issues, but whatever team I comment on is already different by the time the thought has formed.
11. The Ramapithicines - 14.5: Turco, a handful of above average defensemen, and Palffy are just enough to keep the cavedwellers from facing extinction. The centre is so bad it is rapidly approaching the event horizon from which no light at all can escape. On life support.
12. The Dogs - 14: Serious problems at every position. Lacks FP strength. No solid core of offensive players. No help on the farm. Dale Purinton is official team mascot.
The Severed Heads
L: Kariya, LeClair, Kozlov, Huselius, Bourque-P1, Ladd-P1
Kariya gives the Heads a genuine 1st liner, but his injury history makes him a risky bet for more than a ppg. LeClair took a pay cut to play with Mario, and he is clearly on the downside of a solid career, but still capable of 60 points given his powerplay role and linemates. Slava Kozlov is now a stealth winger who needs to get his game back on track with new linemates. Huselius has already replaced Kozlov on the active roster, and his high skill level may be muzzled in Florida, but his talent is so huge he could break out anyway. Bourque is a thickly built but undersized winger with a terrific skill set, but is recovering from off-season knee surgery and is at least a year away. Ladd will spend another year in the minors working on his offense. The lanky winger has an NHL frame that he needs to fill out before he’ll take-off.
C: Spezza-P4, Lindros, Yashin, Kozlov, Parise-P2, Schremp-P1
Spezza may well be the leagues best playmaker not named Forsberg. His telepathic link to winger Heatley completes the offensive package and his points so far prove his value as a top centre. Lindros looks much more comfortable in TO than elsewhere and his game shows it. He’s back to a ppg+ and racking up enough PIM to continue in the TG role. Injuries will always be a concern for him. Yashin has taken charge of the Isles and so far appears to be relishing the role. A return to ppg status for him is not out of the question now that he is the undisputed leader of the team. Kozlov never lived up to his hype, but can still produce a solid 60+ season and warrant spot duty in the event anyone goes down. Parise has electrifying skills but the smallish frame is a concern. He could charge for the ROY but realistically is still a year away from regular duty. Schremp was returned to the minors where he continues to rip it up. A permanent promotion may not be forthcoming this season, but by next he should be a long term Oiler. Has ‘Jimmy Carson’ stamped on his game.
R: Jagr, Heatley, Recchi, McCarty, Carter-P1, Grigorenko-P2, Horton-P2
Jagr looks happy with the new look NHL – so much so he may well add a 6th scoring title, and his first Richard trophy to the already impressive collection of hardware he owns. Heatley has recovered fully from the horrors of the last two years, and his instinctive bond with Spezza is a delight to watch. The one-touch rockets he launches make the Sittler comparison apt. Recchi would be the #1 winger for half the league, and playing on the Heads third line means he gives them unrivalled scoring depth at that position. McCarty is the ultimate grinder and would only earn a role in the event of injury – and even then a trade would be more likely. Grigorenko is a long term project as he the once highly touted scoring winger has been slow to recover fully from a hideous car accident. He’s got the wheels and guns to play, so it is probably just a matter of time for him. Jeff Carter has the size speed and hands to be a regular, but as a rookie looks lost on the NHL ice. He may well require a year or two of seasoning against men to be fully ready to assume a scoring role. Horton appears to be solidly on the Neely/Tocchet path. Horton has already seized the lead in goalscoring for the Panthers, and is establishing himself on the top line. It will take a monster showing to displace Recchi, so the Heads can be patient.
D: Hamrlik, Briseboise, Souray, Sydor, Backman, Slegr, Kasparaitis, Johnson, Eminger-P1
A solid top four on the Heads defense, but not exactly world beating. Hamrlik is a weak #1, but still competent enough to warrant being a top 2 defender. ‘Breeze-by’ can still work the powerplay only now he can do so with some awesome talent around him. I expect career highs. Souray may not have the kind of year he did last time he played, but he has matured into a steady rearguard in the 40 point mold. Sydor is still a good pp point-man, but he no longer scares people with his speed. Backman is blossoming into all-round force ala Van Ryn in Florida, and could move up the depth chart accordingly. Slegr is still a decent mercenary for the powerplay, but injuries seem to catch up to him with regularity now. Kasparaitis is a goon pick worthy of most teams bottom 4. Johnson was selected only to prevent him from becoming a prospect and will be gone at the first WD. Eminger is already showing dressable numbers and if he keeps it up may earn a permanent promotion.
G: Hasek, Raycroft
If Hasek is even a fraction of his old self, the Heads could have the leagues best goaltender. With the defense in front of him that Ottawa can field, his numbers could well be award worthy – if he stays healthy. He’s still a ‘win-the-game-card’, albeit a wildcard, until he retires. Raycroft has a sound defense corps in front of him and a responsible group of forwards who aren’t afraid to back-check. He’s still on the unproven side, but was capable of #1 numbers as a rookie, so the ceiling may well have yet to be reached.
L: Bochenski, Schaeffer, Hartnell, Daze, Fedoruk-P1, Jokinen, J-P1
Bochenski is already regarded as one of the worst picks of the draft. His high-flying pre-season was not an indication of his readiness for full-time NHL duty. Schaeffer has come-back from a prolonged mentorship in Europe to show off some excellent skills, but given he’s never been a dressable forward previously he’s a bit of a risk to play regularly without serious concerns. Hartnell leapfrogs both of them to take the #1 spot by default. A good blend of nastiness and skill, this could be his breakout season. So far, he’s more on the Tocchet track than the Brad May, and that is worth cheering. Daze is once again hurt, but the 6’5” skill forward is nevertheless a solid winger when healthy. When that will be is anyone’s guess. Fedoruk is a banger with some skill, but he’s an NHL checker now, and unlikely to progress further. Jussi Jokinen though has all the tools to emerge as a legit scoring forward, including NHL wheels. Given the weakness at this position, he might well earn a promotion.
C: Sundin, Allison, Richards, Morrison, Koivu-P1, Stumpel-P1, Weiss-P1
The rating would be higher had Sundin not eaten a puck with his face. With him out, Allison shoulders the load more than capably. Mike Richards has taken off in Philly, and has been everything he was advertised, including the hyperbole of his being the next Doug Gilmour. Morrison is a slick playmaker who has maxed out in the 70’s. Given the quality of his linemates there is unlikely to be any improvement on his career best. Koivu the younger is a strapping power pivot who has to put his hands to better use. He could be a comer. Weiss and Stumpel are moving in opposite directions in the sunshine state. Stumpel is in his end days, whereas Weiss is slowly building up to a top-line role.
R: Barnaby, Cheechoo, Bergeron, Carter, Nilsson-P1, Bure-P1
Barnaby is still an agitating pest capable of 25 goals, but this shouldn’t qualify him for the top line. Cheechoo might develop into a solid power winger who scores 30, but that’s if everything breaks his way. Bergeron jumps to the top of the pack with his impressive speed and skills making him the clear scoring threat of the bunch. Anson Carter may also bump someone down the list, but he maxes out around the 65 point mark in a good year. Nilsson has Billion Dollar skills, and a 50 cent head. If a coach can reach him in time he could be the next Naslund. More likely he’ll be another Nylander. Val Bure has taken his Hollywood wife and packed it in, with no more all-star games in his future. He might re-emerge as a threat in LA, but don’t bet on it.
D: Zdlicky, Morris, Sopel, Mclaren, Markov A., Foote, Corvo, Delmore
The ‘Z’ man has arrived as a top end QB, but one without a track record other than his first season. Can he keep it up? Yes. Morris has never hit the peak that was expected and has settled into a role as a ‘tweener’ defenseman, with a ceiling of 45 pts. Sopel and his rockstar haircut get new life on the Island where his booming point shot will be better appreciated. Andrei Markov is on the verge of becoming a Zubov level defender, but has to improve his offensive performance to earn the comparison. Foote is a stable defensive defender who maxes out around the high 20s. Corvo and Delmore are WD feeder.
G: Luongo, Thibault, Toivonen-P1
Luongo is still the heir apparent to Patrick Roy, and his numbers will only improve as the D in front of him gels. Thibault is a pure back-up based on the amount of high speed rubber that will be directed his way – it could be a long season for him. Toivonen has terrific potential but is likely trade bait given Luongo’s long term status.
L: Samsonov, Tanguay, Oliwa, Brashear, Picard-P1
Samsonov needs to stay healthy and prove he is a ppg winger to earn his keep as franchise player after two disappointing years in a row. Tanguay could well supplant Samsonov as the team’s top portsider, but his concussion history is worrisome. Oliwa and Brashear will round out the wing with lots of fisticuffs and the occasional goal. Neither is a threat to score 20 goals though. Picard has offensive flash, but will need another year to round out his game in the minors.
C: Ribeiro, Handzus, Bonk, Arnason, Zigomanis-P1
Ribeiro may well be a ppg centre with new look in the NHL, but he’s still lacks blazing speed, is undersized, and I suspect will under-point as a top line pivot. Handzus is line change away from being Joel Otto. He should be on a bench. Bonk has demonstrated sound offensive instincts and a solid wrist shot, but is slow and could be doomed to third line status for his team, essentially ending the dream of him living up to his high draft status. Arnason is an energy line checker who is unlikely to get free reign in Chicago. He could surprise, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Zigomanis lacks both foot-speed and hockey sense and will be a career AHL player.
R: Sullivan, Ekman, McEachearn, Hunter, Hemsky-P3
Sullivan will have to over-perform as the top line winger to warrant the role. He’s capable of ppg stats, but usually only in bursts. Ekman is a 4th liner miscast in his role for the team, he belongs on the Waiver Wire. McEachearn has solid stats when healthy, but right now he isn’t. Hunter could emerge as the teams 2nd line gunner, but his all-round game doesn’t lend itself to high scoring totals. Still he is physical and has a strong shot, so he could surprise. Hemsky is running out of time in his quest to reach stardom. This may be his last kick at the cat, but if he gets his act together there is lots of room on this wing to promote him.
D: Gonchar, Tarnstrom, Poti, Rafalski, Bergeron, Klee, Hutchinson, Rathje, Barker-P1, Tyutin-P1, Purinton-P1
Gonchar is still an elite pp quarterback and will get his game on track to be an All-star again. Tarnstrom is an offensive specialist who may be made redundant by Gonchar’s presence, still it’s a solid 1-2 punch. Poti and Rafalski round out the top 4, and give the Dogs their strongest position. Bergeron is starting to develop along the lines of small rearguards like Rafalski and Liles, he could hit for 40 if the planets move into position. The rest are either WD cuts, or way over age. Barker looks like Rob Blake, but will need another year to round out his considerable game. Tyutin also looks like a solid performer for the long haul, and is already drawing heavy minutes for the Rangers in all situations. Purinton is a one dimensional goon more likely to be suspended then dressable.
G: Belfour, Kolzig, Biron-P1, Fleury-P2
Belfour is pushing 40, which is never a good sign for goaltenders, but in his case may not be an issue. What is an issue is whether his creaky back will keep him in the games till the end of the year. If so, he’ll be a solid if unspectacular starter. Kolzig will get bombed too many games to be worth the trouble of starting. He could well lose as many points as he gets. Biron is still waiting to be anointed as the Sabres full-time starter, and the wait for him to seize the role is getting desperate. Fleury has perplexed mgt thoroughly, and it remains to be seen if he’ll feature in their long run plans at all now that Biron is on board.
L: Sedin D., Sturm, Malone, Dupuis, Torres-P3
Not a first liner in the bunch, and all of the starters would be weak as second liners. Daniel Sedin has taken his time to emerge as a solid scoring threat, and the jury is still out whether he will ever develop the instincts necessary to take his game to the next level. Sturm is a speedy stealth winger, but he hasn’t put up monster numbers ever in the past, and we are past the point where it can reasonably be expected to happen in the future – he reminds me a lot of Niklas Sundstrom. Malone has a power-forward frame, but is still raw in his development. One day he could well become an excellent bang n’ crash winger, but not this year. Dupuis plays in Minnesota, ‘nuff said. Torres has been slow to mature, but his sniping ability and speed can’t be ignored. He could end up as one of the top guys if the people ahead continue to falter.
C: Lang, Nedved, Arnott, Horcoff, Stefan-P3, Kopitar-P1, Wheeler-P1, Brule-P1
Lang is legit as a starting pivot, but there have always been questions about how explosive he’ll be. Most likely is a steady ppg over the course of the year. Nedved is now staring at the downside of his offensive years as he no longer possesses the extra gear to escape checkers. His wrist shot still sings though, but he’s now best suited to be a third liner. Arnott is capable of 50+ points, but relying on him for PIM is now a fantasy. Stefan has never lived up to expectations is going to wear a ‘bust’ tag barring a sudden exchange of DNA with Kovalchuk. Kopitar is a longer term project, but one worth the investment based on his obvious skills and youth. Wheeler is a huge (6’5”) and still growing monster, but it remains to be seen what his hockey skills will translate into in the big league. He could be the next Lindros, or (more likely) the next Holik. Brule is the player who could end up being another Michael Peca, or better. He’s got scoring skills, grit and loads of hockey smarts. He’s already hurt, but it won’t be long before he returns to the NHL and gets to demonstrate how close he is to earning a promotion – says here that it is very close.
R: Iginla, Murray, Satan, Vyborny, Kobasew-P1
Iggy is the man, but these slow starts are killers. He could turn it on at any point to threaten for the Richard, and is worth the wait. Murray gives the Wolves a first line calibre winger for the 2nd line, and he’s a threat to post 40+. Satan looks re-energized playing on the Island (which says just how bad playing in Buffalo must be), and he should return to the 30+ goal mark, giving the Wolves two #1s and a #2 for their top three spots on the Starboard. Vyborny is an injury replacement at best, while Kobasew is a talented winger in the Cory Stillman mold capable of serious damage but not likely to ever lead a team in scoring. He’s still a year away from active duty.
D: Niedermayer, Blake, Fischer, Salo, Kuba, Skoula, Hill, Hulse, Suter-P2, Colaiacovo-P2
Niedermayer and Blake make for an excellent top pair, one of the best in the league. However the rest of the D corps are largely interchangeable parts, any of which could be flogged at the WD without much care. Suter and Colaicovo give the Wolves a pair of D-men who should warrant promotions as soon as this season, but almost certainly next. Suter in particular has the skill-set to be a pp quarterback and his game already has enough edge to it that he can be considered reliable in his own end.
G: Kiprusoff, Esche
Either goalie could be the #1, but both have small question marks. Kipper has never played a full season in top form, but he certainly looks to be capable of it. Esche hasn’t ever played a full year as the undisputed #1 for his team either, but he also looks to be ready to assume the workload. All in all as safe a goaltending duo as there is in our league.
The Knights Templar
L: Naslund, Whitney, Simon, Knuble, Sejna-P2, Upshall-P1, Olesz-P1
Naslund is now firmly entrenched as one the leagues elite scorers. Whitney is a mercenary winger capable of close to ppg stats and indifferent defense. He has injury risk associated with him as well. Simon is a heavyweight with 25 goal hands. He could surpass Whitney on the depth chart if he gets on a roll. Knuble is line dependent, but could have a career year which would still max him out as a 2nd line winger. Sejna has missed the bus on establishing an NHL career, and will join a host of other solid college players who couldn’t crack the big leagues. Upshall is being groomed to become an energy line forward, so don’t expect offense from him. Olesz is a potential scoring forward with high skill, but he has to grow into his toolbox first. Long term potential is good.
C: Richards, Savard, Roenick, Rucchin, O’Sullivan-P1
Richards should be a solid bet for ppg or better – though speculation he’ll post century plus totals this year are overblown. Savard is a high skill pivot made of glass. He’ll be awesome right up to the point he gets hurt. Roenick is playing out the string now in LA. No longer fearsome with his speed, he’ll have to rely on his all-round offensive skills to contribute meaningfully, but injuries are robbing him of time. Rucchin is a 4th line grinder, and shouldn’t see duty barring injury to players ahead of him. O’Sullivan is a solid prospect, but playing for the Wild will mean the GM has to be patient to realize his potential.
R: Hejduk, Bertuzzi, Selanne, Sim, Ruutu-P3
Hejduk is now one of the elite goalscorers. Bertuzzi has recovered from his enforced absence and is returning to the ultimate warrior status he had before the Moore incident. Could easily supplant Hejduk as the top starboard gunner, especially if he goons it up. Selanne is done. The wheels aren’t elite anymore and he has degraded to being a stealth winger most useful on the powerplay. Sad really. Sim will be back in the AHL before Christmas, but with Tuomo Ruutu about to return from injury that’s ok. Ruutu has all the tools to become an elite winger/centre, including a booming shot and fierce physical play.
D: Schneider, Redden, Berard-P3, Dempsey, Lydman, Malakhov, Havelid, Dandenault, Weber-P1
Schneider, Redden and Berard make for an average top 3. Cyclops is the weakest link of the trio, but so far he’s been good enough to earn his keep. Dempsey, Lydman and the rest are various forms of filler, and any or all of them could be gone after the next WD. Weber is a brutal hitting rearguard but doesn’t seem to have the offense in his game to bring it to the FUNHL level. Still, he’s a serious prospect.
G: Giguere, Denis, Aebischer-P4
Jiggy has a year of mediocrity to overcome, but should be a solid starter. Denis has talent to burn, but has yet to put together a full year that warrants being dressed. Aebischer could easily supplant either netminder for full-time duty.
L: Gagne, Shanahan, Straka, Robitaille, Calder-P1
Gagne is an elite sniper but only as long as he stays healthy – something he has increasingly had a problem doing. Shanahan is still a brutish winger capable of 30+, and gives the PV an elite #2. Straka is one the most injury prone wingers in history, but he is capable of ppg numbers if he can stay off of the IR. Robitaille is padding his HOF stats and will be in tough to reach the 25 goal mark. Calder is a grinder with upside, but so far hasn’t shown the talent of a 20 goal scorer. All in all a terrific set of wingers but there are a lot of risks here.
C: Forsberg, Modano, Briere, Cassels, White-P1, Reinprecht-P1
Forsberg is still among the best pivots in the league – but his health woes are becoming equally legendary. Modano was as solid a ppg player the league has ever seen, posting 7 straight campaigns over 70 points, until his last that is. So far, he has recovered most of his scoring touch, and makes for an excellent #2. Briere has started the year like a house on fire, but the diminutive gunner will face increased attention that may blunt his stats moving forward. Cassels is still an above average play-maker, but he is winding down a career that was best when he lined up with Geoff Sanderson. White and Reinprecht are both overage prospects with little upside except as injury fill-ins – which is essentially why they were picked – both will likely be given walking papers next year.
R: Alfreddson, Mogilny, Cole, Parrish, Cammalleri-P2, Michalek-P1
Alfreddson gives the PV a top end gunner for the 1st line. Mogilny is a solid selection for the 2nd line, and Cole or Parrish are both decent enough for the 3rd line role. A solid quartet overall but nothing overwhelming. Cammalleri has the talent to eventually climb the depth chart, but this doesn’t look like the year he will do so. Michalek is excellent along the boards, and sets up his line mates well, but may lack an NHL calibre shot.
D: Lidstrom, Timmonen, Niinimaa, Spacek, Hannan, Desjardins, Cairns, Hatcher, Girard-P1, Phaneuf-P1
Lidstrom remains among the best rearguards in the league, and should rebound from a soft season where he registed below 60 points for the first time in half a decade. Timmonen is a pp specialist who should continue to provide steady points. Niinimaa is all but spent as an offensive force, and there are rumours he could return to Europe where the wear and tear on him would be far less. Spacek is a decent enough defender playing on a weak team. Any points he gets are a bonus. Hannan may well develop into a solid #1, but I don’t see it happening this year. Desjardins is playing out the string, no longer capable of rushing the puck up ice or running a powerplay. Cairns is ticketed for the AHL where his lack of foot-speed won’t be such a deterrent to his ice-time. Hatcher is a thumper in the old-school sense, but unless he shows his fearsome shutdown abilities soon a +/- role will vanish and leave him with only meagre goon points as his benefit to the team. Girard is a potential starter should he kick start his career from the idle it has been languishing in. He was supposed to be much better by now. Phaneuf has a chance at being a future all-star, but his shot is still wild, and he’s most noteworthy for the furious abuse he’s been dishing out as a rookie.
G: Khabiboulin, Joseph, Weekes
Khabiboulin will see a lot of shots in Chicago, but this is his chance to show he’s worth the big money the Chi-Hawks through at him. So far, he’s been decent. Joseph is playing out the string hoping for playoff minutes with the Coyotes. He’ll tutor LeNeveu, but shouldn’t be expected to play the 60+ games he would have in the past. Weekes is a long shot to play regularly for the Rangers, and an even longer shot to make the PV.
L: Kovalchuk, Tkachuk, Nagy, Roberts, Pyatt-P3
Kovalchuk is the world’s purest sniper at the moment, capable of 60 goals if the stars align themselves properly. Tkachuk showed up to camp out of shape (by 30lbs), and then promptly got hurt as he tried to play himself back into game-shape. He should rebound to close to a ppg once he returns, but his lack of effort in the off-season is worrisome. Nagy is emerging as a genuine threat on the portside. He could easily reach the ppg mark for a full season if he avoids injury. However, he is slightly built and has suffered setbacks the last two years running. Roberts is an aging warrior who has already seen the inside of an ambulance this year. He’ll be in tough to make a regular contribution. Pyatt is on the Brad May track and doesn’t appear to have the skill set to get himself out of it.
C: Datsyuk, Koivu, Drury, Conroy
Undersized as a quartet, they still have excellent scoring punch. Datsyuk in particular has taken off as a true #1 capable of ppg+ stats. Koivu is now too fragile to count on for a full season, but in the games he does play he usually gets something. An excellent #2. Conroy has had a blazing start to his season, but we know it’s a mirage for the long term. He’ll settle in nicely as a #3 with upside. Drury is the perfect injury replacement from the 4th line. He won’t trouble any of the three pivots ahead of him, but he’s a solid plug-n-play if needed.
R: Guerin, Walker, Williams, Getzlaf, Fehr-P1
Rating: Guerin is a legit ppg threat with PIM upside if needed, but he is getting a bit long in the tooth to expect 40 goals from him. Walker is also a good blend of scoring and PIM, but his ceiling is well established around 60 points. Williams is the wrong Williams to be excited about. He may turn out to be an above average checker or even a decent third liner, but don’t hold your breath for more. Getzlaf will be groomed to take on power-winger duties, but isn’t ready for prime-time yet. Fehr has all the skills to be an offensive threat, but is still growing into his bean-pole frame – he’s a younger version of Joe Nieuwendyk if he puts it all together.
D: Leopold, Kubina, Visnovsky, Vishnevski, Bouwmeester, McGillis, Kaberle F., Regehr, Whitney-P3, Grebeshekov-P2, Zizka-P2, Koltsov-P2
Leopold has upside, but has never cracked 40 points to make him legit as a top-end defender. Kubina is slowly devolving into a defensive defenseman. Visnovsky has wicked pp skills, and could take over as the top blue-liner. Bouwmeester is still probably a year or more away from being the impact defender expected, but he’ll contribute this year nonetheless. McGillis and Regehr are filler. Kaberle the elder could also end up as the top defenseman, if only by default. Whitney has a solid future, but Grebeshekov, Zizka and Kolstov are all in the minors without obvious reason to call them up.
G: Theodore, Roloson, Gerber-P2
Theodore is one of the elite, but he has a tendency to follow an awesome year with a mediocre one – making this likely to be an awesome year. Roloson is an excellent back-up as he is unlikely to challenge for the top spot, but can fill in whenever necessary. Gerber is a project, and one that may well have been derailed by the emergence of Cam Ward in Carolina.
Overall Rating: 16
L: Ovechkin, Elias, Nash-P3, Amonte, Shelley
Ovechkin is the second coming of Selanne, big, fast, overwhelming shot, and an aptitude for contact the Finnish Flash never possessed. He’s the real deal. Elias has been assured a job by the Devils, but his Hep A makes his ongoing status as an FP doubtful. Nash is the classic power-forward; a bulldozer frame, wingspan, wheels, and deadly accurate shot. A future powerplay monster when he returns to health. Amonte is a good stop-gap till Elias/Nash recover enough to play, and Shelley is a bomb-thrower who will only see duty if the injury gods continue to plague the Edge.
C: Fedorov, Jokinen, Peca, Primeau, Halpern-P1
Fedorov has been bit by the injury bug, but should otherwise be a solid #1 and ppg threat when healthy. Jokinen is a classic #2 pivot who should max out under a ppg but still net at least 30 goals. Peca or Primeau make for a decent third liner, as both have some upside (and either could sub in as a TG), but neither will break out for more than 25 goals. Halpern was derided as a prospect because of his career performance as a checking pivot. Despite some early scoring spurts, he has returned to the role of being the teams designated shadow.
R: Sykora, Lehtinen, Dumont, Domi, Perry-P1, Stewart-P1
Sykora, Lehtinen and Dumont give the Edge a trio of second line calibre wingers to fill the top three spots. Domi has wicked goon potential, but will be tough to crack the lineup ahead of him. Perry is a slow footed scoring machine with unbelievable hand skills – he’s not ready yet, but he is a keeper. Stewart has mammoth strength, and great wheels, but is still learning to hone his overall game. One day he’ll be a tremendous force barrelling in off the wing, but not yet.
D: Leetch, Boyle, Aucoin, Priessing, Tanabe, Brewer, Hamhuis, Martin-P2, Jackman-P3, Staios-P1
Leetch, Boyle and Aucoin form an above average top 3 unit, with Leetch being the most likely to approach a ppg from the back end. Tanabe and Brewer are excellent depth defenders with strong offensive upsides. Priessing is an unknown quantity as far as his points range, but he has a decent chance to land on the SJ powerplay. Hamhuis is a project who may well bear fruit this year. Martin is the longer term cornerstone of the teams D corps, his vision, passing skills and wheels will make him a long term threat, and short term #4-5. Jackman has the tools to be a #1, but most overcome injury and the loss of his long-time partner MacInnis. Staios is an overage AHL defenseman pressed into duty only because of a lack of depth. Will struggle to keep his prospect status for more than a year.
G: Lehtonen-P2, Legace
Lehtonen is already down with an injury in his rookie campaign, but has the resume of a future all-star in the making should he return to health. That said, he’ll see a lot of rubber given the quality of defensemen in front of him. Legace has the benefit of a better D corps in front of him, but is undersized and tends to wear out under a heavy workload. Could be a long year for Edge goalies.
L: Smyth, Hecht, Blake, Kvasha
Smyth is solid but never spectacular – he maxes out his talent the closer he gets to 70 pts, and he seems to suffer a 20 game injury every year – he’d be better as a #2. Hecht might emerge as a decent #2, but I still see him as a #4 with upside. Blake and Kvasha are physically opposite but points wise likely indistinguishable. Both are #3 wingers at best, and easy WD cuts.
C: Thornton, Crosby-P2, Weight, Nylander, Sedin.H
Thornton has the potential to win a scoring title or two, and with a role as TG, he could win it in the FUNHL sooner than in the NHL. Thornton is simply dominant when healthy. Crosby is taking the reigns in Pit as a rookie, and will be close to a ppg if he can avoid injury. He’s an ascendant superstar. Weight has been less than advertised so far, but in the 3 spot he just needs to be average and stay healthy to contribute – and his presence deeper on the depth chart gives the kilted goat-handlers reason for celebration.
R: St Louis, O’Neil, Zherdev-P3, Yzerman, Kastistsyn-P2
St Louis is all-world speedster with soft hands. He’s an offensive grenade primed to go off in the NHLs new free flowing game and should be an above average #1 winger. O’Neil will have a great pivot to set him up no matter who he lines with. Revitalized in Toronto, his totals should climb back towards 30+ goals and solid second line duty. Zherdev is emerging still, and has some bad habits to break, but will contribute to a decent set of wingers. Yzerman is a $5 cab ride from accepting the GM post in Detroit. Kastistsyn has big skill, but needs at least another year in the minors to hone his game.
D: Jovanovski, McCabe, Tverdovsky, Klesla, Pitkanen-P3, Sutton, Zyuzin, Campoli, Kronwall-P2
Jovo-cop may not scare people as an FP, but he is a solid #1. McCabe is currently hotter than Christine Aguilera in her ‘Dirty’ video, and could well end up outscoring the more prolific Jovo-cop. Tverdovsky is a reclamation project and a solid #3 unless he gets another concussion. Klesla is slowly turning into Pavel Kubina. Not bad, just not good. Pitkanen is developing his game along the Kim Johnsson line, but he may be a year or more away from taking over the Philly powerplay. Sutton, Zyuzin and Campoli are all WD cuts. Kronwall would likely have made the roster this year based on his AHL performance, but injuries have sidelined him indefinitely. All in all they possess a wicked top 3 and decent depth afterwards.
G: Nabokov, Graham, Dipietro-P2, Niitymaki-P1
Nabokov is a mid-grade #1, while Graham has the potential to take over if it all goes amiss. Dipietro should have been a regular starter by now, but he has lots of time to develop. Niitymaki may well leapfrog Dipietro for the future #1 spot, but neither is ready to go now.
L: Morrow, Bondra, Rucinsky-P3, Bouchard-P2, Brown-P1
Morrow is a nice blend of PIM and points who scrapes by to qualify as a #1. Bondra has lost the otherworldly speed he used to possess and is now a stationary sniper for the pp. Rucinsky could rebound big-time if he stays on Jagr’s line in NY – more likely, he’ll end up in the 40 pt range. Bouchard has great skill and could be playable, but barely. Dustin Brown isn’t ready yet, but given his tool-box he won’t be denied for long, concussions or no.
C: Zhmanov, Rolston, Bell, Legwand, Vasicek-P3, Kraft-P2
The cavemen pivots are, in a word, UGLY. Zhamnov is already hurt, sparing me the need to comment further about his propensity for long term injury – and he is the Ramapithicine’s BEST centre-man. Rolston plays in Minnesota, ‘nuff said. Bell is on the slow track for power-forward status – but that has been a VERY slow track. Maybe he’ll ‘get it’ this year, but I don’t see it. Legwand has speed to burn, but is running out of chances to be anything more than a less tough version of Scott Walker. Vasicek holds promise, but Staal’s emergence may have derailed his ice-time in offensive situations (still, he’s rolling for me in my NHL 2004 franchise squad). Kraft is a total bust. Surely we can say that now.
R: Palffy, Zednik, Afinogenov, Dvorak, Lupul-P2
Palffy is a points machine when healthy and a solid #1. Zednik is already hurt, but a safe bet for 25 goals when he isn’t. Afinogenov started out nuclear, but has yet to put a dressable season together - it’s official, he really isn’t the second coming of Pavel Bure. Dvorak is 4th line material at best, and a WD casualty in any case. Lupul has goalscorers hands, and should be a future contributor.
D: Chara, Zubov, Ozolinsh, Stuart, Van Ryn, Numminen, Boumedienne, Markov, Phillips-P2, McCarthy-P2
A better top 5 probably doesn’t exist out there. Chara is still a monster, Zubov still a pp god, Ozolinsh is still inconsistent, but getting the points, Stuart is still emerging as a true #1 (though the wait is probably killing him), and Van Ryn could be the heir apparent in Florida, Bouwmeester or no. The rest are filler, with Phillips having some potential as a +/- guy, and McCarthy spending another year on the farm honing his offense.
G: Turco, Hedberg
How much will Turco miss Derian Hatcher and Richard Matvichuk? We’ll see I guess. Till then, he’s still a solid #1, higher than all but one or two other choices, with a pronounced downside if Dallas’ D turns cheese grater.
Total rating: 14.5
The Great Whites
L: Lemieux, Zetterberg-P4, Frolov-P3, Erat, Semin-P2, Miettenen-P1
Lemieux is God till his hip acts up again. Zetterberg is a solid #2 with upside. Frolov is emerging as an in-close specialist (wrap-arounds, garbage goals, etc), but could develop the snipers touch as he progresses – a safe #3. Erat is a waste of hockey tape and will be in Europe before long.
C: Langkow-P3, Marleau, Gomez, Nieuwendyk
Langkow could be the best of the bunch, but until he proves it with points, he’s just as likely to be the worst. Marleau has been an emerging threat to roll at a ppg for so long we have become breathless waiting for him – but the fact is he may well have a ceiling of around 60-65 pts he can’t cross without much better line-mates. Gomez is schizo, he could be the rookie who set the table for Mogilny on the way to a 70+pt season, or he could be the soft, confused skill forward whose refusal to play defense gets him traded. Nieuwendyk is padding his stats for his HOF argument – nothing more.
R: Havlat, Kovalev, Ryder, Daigle, Gaborik-P4, Svatos-P1, Balej-P1
Either Havlat or Kovalev would make a soft #1, but both are above average #2’s. Gaborik is in the same boat, giving the Whites three decent but not overwhelming gunners for the right side. Ryder was a nice stop gap till Gaborik re-emerged, but has likely reached his peak already. Svatos and Balej are both longer term projects in the Rucinsky mold, though Svatos has clearly emerged as being ready for active duty.
D: Pronger, Liles, Johnsson, Kalinin, Ohlund, Boynton, Jackman, Pothier
Pronger will get back to being the best-all-round-D-man in the league sooner or later. Liles is a nice bonus as the pp specialist in offense heavy Colorado. Johnsson is an equal treat in Philly. Kalinin and Ohlund are both more defensive than offensive, but can chip in. Boynton will need to get his feet wet now that he has signed. Jackman has been sucking pp assists like crazy, but that won’t last long. Pothier….uh, who?
G: Brodeur, Osgood
Brodeur hasn’t been the shutdown monster he has in years past, but he is still a good sight better than almost anyone else. Osgood is pure filler, and will never dress.
Yeah, it’s better late than never, but here goes;
L: Prospal, Stillman, Fedotenko, Modin, Vanek-P1
Prospal had his best year ever in TBay, but a ppg is a bit much to expect. Stillman equally had his best season in TBay, but he is now in Carolina, and a drop to more modest totals should be expected. Fedotenko is filler. Modin has the gun to score 40, and the wheels that will only let him net 25. Vanek is a future all-star, but he may end up travelling the path of another highly touted sniper with questionable work ethic, Pavel Brendl. All in all I count 3 solid #2s and a solid prospect.
C: Sakic, Lecavalier, Turgeon, Staal-P2, Hudler-P2, Malkin-P1
Sakic is God till Nietzsche returns to denounce his existence. Lecavalier has emerged as a solid #1 in his own right and future FP. Turgeon hasn’t scored 15+ goals in 5 years, but he could this season (to put himself over the 500g mark for his career). Staal is having a great first qtr, but I worry about him keeping the pace up for a whole season. Hudler is on the farm for another season which should be worrisome – he should have been ready by now. Malkin is the future, but a zero at present value.
R: Hossa, Demitra, Avery, Doan
Hossa is a monster, but his team is in a huge funk right now. No worries, he’ll be back. Demitra is a solid #1, but he comes with huge injury risk. Avery is a pure goon, but if he can keep from being suspended he’ll be acceptable. Doan should have been a regular bet for 30 goals and 30 assists by now, but he is officially off the Tocchet path and now on the Brad May track.
D: Kaberle, Zhitnik, Boucher, Mara, Modry, Exelby, Erhoff, Khavanov, Kraijcek-P2
Kaberle is a solid #1, but the rest would struggle to dress for most of the FUNHL. Zhitnik has potential as the Isles only weapon who can log big minutes. Boucher is lost in Dallas, and needs a change of scenery. Mara could be a thumper, could be a weapon, but isn’t either really. Modry, Exelby, Erhoff and Khavanov are all filler – no better way to put it. The GM should burn an Ox in thanks should any of these last four d-men have a multiple point week. Kraijcek has the tools to be a future #1 but is coming along slowly and isn’t ready yet.
G: Vokoun, Cloutier, Garon-P1, Miller-P1
Vokoun should maintain positive numbers most nights, but shouldn’t frighten anyone. Cloutier is a solid backup who may dress if Vokoun tanks it. Garon is now a long term bust as a 1st rnd pick by the Canadiens way, way back. Miller time is coming, but first Buffalo has to figure out which goalie ahead of him to move (Biron or Norronen).
"From what I've seen, Nikolai Zherdev will never be a franchise player, but merely a component on a very good team. He did a lot of floating and did not show the hair on fire, Metallica energy that Nash provides nearly every shift."
(AR: Emphasis mine)
From the CBS Evening News, at 6:30PM:
With Rove and Libby now seeming likely, who is the 'Mr. X' of the saga?
CBS’ JOHN ROBERTS: Lawyers familiar with the case think Wednesday is when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will make known his decision, and that there will be indictments. Supporters say Rove and the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, are in legal jeopardy. But they insisted today the two are secondary players, that it was an unidentified Mr. X who actually gave the name of CIA agent V alerie Plame to reporters. Fitzgerald knows who Mr. X is, they say, and if he isn’t indicted, there’s no way Rove or Libby should be. But charges may not focus on the leak at all. Obstruction of justice or perjury are real possibilities. Did Rove or Libby change statements made under oath? Did they deliberately leave critical facts out of their testimony or did they honestly forget? Some Republicans urged Rove to step down if indicted. Not a happy prospect for president Bush.
Here are my odds based on my best guesses;
BushJr: (wouldn't that be hilarious) negligible.
Condi Rice: 1% She was on the plane when the info got handed out, and the Globe had speculation that she informed Rove, but there is otherwise nothing to tie her to the mess.
Rich (The Plant) Gannon: 2% The Oswald of the conspiracy, he's the perfect patsy.
Ahmad Chalabi: 4% Weak, but possible.
Robert Novak: 5% Sang like a canary, so he's probably not it.
Other journalist: 5% Best bet of the longer shots.
Judy Miller: 8% Worst. Journalist. Ever.
John Bolton: 25% Would kick puppies for a nickle.
Dick Cheney:50% Unindicted co-conspirator? Fits. Libby's his boy and everyone knows it. Libby wouldn't have peeped about Plame without consulting with Darth Cheney first, and yet Scooter has been outed as one of the sources inside the administration. Rove, nobody has a problem seeing him throwing a kidney punch at Plame and Wilson over Wilson's objection to the Yellowcake story, but Libby? Not without permission first he wouldn't, and the only people Scooter takes orders from are Bush and Cheney - and not necessarily in that order.
"...and if he (Mr X.) isn’t indicted, there’s no way Rove or Libby should be."
Seems like sour grapes from Libby's and Rove's lawyers to me.
My best bet is;
Libby for blabbing Plame's identity to the press (Miller, etc.), and perjury (lying about it)
Rove for perjury, and maybe also for revealing Plame's identity, though my bet right now is that Libby gets the full brunt of that charge.
Cheney gets a pass. Why? Because he is allowed to talk to Libby about Plame (he is Libby's source), and because Libby had clearance. While everyone 'knows' that Cheney put Libby up to the leak itself, I have no doubt that he'll throw Libby under the bus to save his own skin.
But if Rove and Libby are all they get, that's good enough for me.
"But during cross-examination, he (Steve Fuller, an ID proponent) said intelligent design — the idea that the complexity of life requires a designer — is "too young" to have developed rigorous testable formulas and sits on the fringe of science.He suggested that perhaps scientists should have an "affirmative action" plan to help emerging ideas compete against the "dominant paradigms" of mainstream science."
AR: The response to this was on point;
"Fuller is of course correct to point out that there have been scientific revolutions in the past that have overturned much of what we thought we knew about the world. But those revolutions were the result of scientists actually doing science - building theories and models, testing them against the data, publishing the results for their peers to see and arguing over the results to reach a consensus - not by hiring PR firms and lobbying legislatures and school boards. As always, the ID folks want to skip over all that pesky scientific stuff and jump right to the conclusion.
And the really funny thing is that this witness was called by the other side. This is beginning to edge into the surreal.
AR: 'Surreal' doesn't begin to describe it. 'Offensive' does a better job, but I think 'totally bugf*ck crazy' is perhaps best. Here is how Panda's Thumb (love these guys!) saw it:
On Monday, the defense brought in Steve Fuller, to give the postmodernist version of why “intelligent design” should be taught in the classrooms of Dover, Pennsylvania.
Did you hear the one about the mafioso who studied French deconstructionist philosophy? He goes around making people offers that they can’t understand.
AR: In other words we have the perfect marriage between leftwing moonbat po-mo theorizing (there is no truth, everything is relative, blah blah blah) and rightwing theocrat fantasies of power and persecution (Why can't our stuff be science too? How come we need this thing you call evidence? I see a conspiracy of religious materialism!)
I guess the spectrum of intelligent discourse really does wrap around to form a circle where the extreme far-left and extreme far-right find they have much in common.
Turns out that whenever they agree, it's because they are both insane.
In the House of Commons, Mr. Martin — responding to suggestions from the Opposition that the government's position was softening — again insisted Canada won't negotiate with the United States on the NAFTA decision."We will not negotiate a win," he said. "NAFTA will be respected."
Martin has made exactly the correct response, both diplomatically and politically to the obstinance of the US in obeying recongized trade and international law on softwood lumber.
Martin's clever political move was to suggest that if NAFTA isn't obeyed Canada would seek to trade it's energy surpluses with other nations like, say...China. A move that certainly got the attention of the US, which has been content to dicker over this rather than swallow their pride and obey the rules they agreed to.
The first of his diplomatic moves was to correctly ignore the requests of the US for a 'negotiated settlement' - i.e. the 'we'll agree you are right, but don't want to pay you what we clearly owe' move we've been getting from our esteemed US representative to Canada. Kudos for recognizing that we have the upper hand, and that we should not place ourselves into negotiations on something that should be every right already belong to us (the aprox. $4.5B in revenues illegally collected by the US on Canadian imports).
The second solid diplomacy move was Martin's insistence that the ball is firmly in the US court to play, and that if they are serious about resolving the dispute they need to face up to their responsibilities and give a hard indication that they will obey the law moving forward.
Not coincidentally the US is just about due to ratify the illegal tax they have placed on our lumber - so Martin's diplomatic message is really an unequivocal - 'You say you want to obey NAFTA, well, put up or shut up and drop the tax moving forward - then we can talk'.
The US is clearly caught between a rock (the rule of law, and the fact they lost on every round of the dispute in NAFTA's own dispute mechanisms) and a hard place (the US lumber industry which funnells money into GOP coffers to enshrine exactly this kind of protectionism).
Are they feeling the squeeze? Definitely. Rice wouldn't be here if they weren't.
Is Martin winning? Yes he is, and with no small amount of elan either.
It is thus offensive and disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is saying is based in Scripture. We should do all that we can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
"The Aristarchus plateau has long been of interest to geologists because of its volcanic vents, collapsed lava tubes called rilles, ejected volcanic material and recent impact craters. The Aristarchus crater, 26 miles wide and two miles deep, could be as young as 100 million years old and has a sharp rim and other fresh features that reveal the varied geology of the area, said Mark Robinson, a planetary geologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
The crater slices into the side of the plateau, exposing its interior layers and features.
The telescope's images showed a diversity of materials in the crater, including basalt, olivine, anorthosite and ilmenite. Researchers said ilmenite, a glassy mineral made up of titanium, iron and oxygen, was particularly interesting because it could be an oxygen source for visitors. Oxygen can be extracted by heating or chemical processes. High concentrations of ilmenite were found at the Aristarchus site, scientists said."
The possibility of a permanent presence of humanity on the Moon just got an awful lot more possible. O2 available on the moon creates the possibility of not just a permanent moon base, but also using the moon as a launching pad (one that doesn't have the problems of our gravity well, which makes the delta v calculations of weight etc. so onerous) to reach Mars, the solar system, and the stars.
"The positive correlation between pro-theistic factors and juvenile mortality is remarkable, especially regarding absolute belief, and even prayer (Figure 4). Life spans tend to decrease as rates of religiosity rise (Figure 5), especially as a function of absolute belief. Denmark is the only exception. Unlike questionable small-scale epidemiological studies by Harris et al. and Koenig and Larson, higher rates of religious affiliation, attendance, and prayer do not result in lower juvenile-adult mortality rates on a cross-national basis.<6>"
(AR: emphasis mine)
Decrease religion, increase life-span - wow, doesn't get more combustible than that does it?
What is it about religiosity that makes lives shorter? Less respect for medical science? Faith healing?
"Although the late twentieth century STD epidemic has been curtailed in all prosperous democracies (Aral and Holmes; Panchaud et al.), rates of adolescent gonorrhea infection remain six to three hundred times higher in the U.S. than in less theistic, pro-evolution secular developed democracies"
More religion equals more likelihood of STDs. So if it burns when you pee you can say 'Thanks' to the Catholic Church that told you condoms were evil.
"Claims that secular cultures aggravate abortion rates (John Paul II) are therefore contradicted by the quantitative data. Early adolescent pregnancy and birth have dropped in the developed democracies (Abma et al.; Singh and Darroch), but rates are two to dozens of times higher in the U.S. where the decline has been more modest"
More religion leads to more abortions, and more teen pregnancies. Ignorance is bliss, indeed.
"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator and acceptance of evolution, plus the lack of a significant religious revival in any developed democracy where evolution is popular, cast doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science. Such an amalgamation may not be practical. By removing the need for a creator evolutionary science made belief optional. When deciding between supernatural and natural causes is a matter of opinion large numbers are likely to opt for the latter. Western nations are likely to return to the levels of popular religiosity common prior to the 1900s only in the improbable event that naturalistic evolution is scientifically overturned in favor of some form of creationist natural theology that scientifically verifies the existence of a creator. Conversely, evolution will probably not enjoy strong majority support in the U.S. until religiosity declines markedly."
(AR, emphasis mine).
In other words, the rest of the developed world has a serious advantage over the US. They are shackled by their religiosity, and giving the rest of us a huge advantage in terms of education and social policy - and until they eschew the invisible for the tangible, they will continue to hand that advantage to us.
A cosmopolitan, polyglot country that gets more things right than wrong.
"Some time, not too long ago, while no one was watching, Canada became the world's most successful country. Canada works. In fact, it works better than any place else.
Partly by intent, mostly by luck, we find ourselves at the forefront of a social revolution.
While hand-wringing commentators have been lamenting our lack of a national identity — and trying to construct one, as if such a thing were possible — millions of new arrivals have landed at our docks and our airports, transforming us.
We are fashioning the world's first truly cosmopolitan society. After laying a solid foundation of liberal democracy — based on the best of the British and French traditions in governance and law — we have imported millions of new arrivals, first from eastern and southern Europe, then from eastern and southern Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.
The result is nothing less than a miracle. Certain cities in Canada have reached escape velocity. They are becoming the first places where no one race is dominant, where women can live in real equality with men, where it's okay to be gay, where people pick up after their dogs. This has never happened anywhere before. Not like this."
Ibbitson calls this the 'Polite Revolution' - and I admit to liking the sobriquet quite a bit.
Living in Vancouver (one of the cities he talks about that has reached 'escape velocity') I see the world he talks about everyday. It's like Bladerunner with a liberal dose of Prozac - the people are a non-homogenous ethnic blend, the new is built on top of the old, it's always dark and always raining, and even androids are people too.
Take a bow Canucks - we rule.
Probably blasphemy to the cause of Pastafarianism, but I find the case for Cthullu more compelling than for the 'Flying Spaghetti Monster'. Is it possible the two are one and the same? Could they be sister religions?
If so, I wonder if anyone warned Cthullu about it. He might take the worshippers of FSM as being run of the mill humans fit for slaughter at the hands of the Ancient ones.
(Side note to the Highlanders GM - you know way back when in the day when you had that bad little freak-out over my 'Slithis' poster? Consider if I had had this one instead....)
This time MIT students (after a go at it from the geeks at Mythbusters) tried to recreate the famed Archimedean death ray - and failed.
Since this is science rather than religion, this series of disconfirming results is genuinely troubling for the historic account which claimed the 'death ray' lit Roman vessels on fire from a great distance.
Damn scientists. Next they'll be telling me there is no such thing as 'Greek Fire' or that Archimedes wasn't actually in his bathtub when he screamed 'Eureka' after discovering the Archimedean principle of volume.
LB: Well, no, it doesn't have to be, it's the theories in it as taught by grade 10 biology textbooks that are problematic to the philosophy at hand.
AR: Science isn’t problematic to philosophy – philosophy has as part of its concern revealing ‘truth’ – it can easily accommodate itself to new information. The only thing science is problematic for is head-in-the-sand theology.
LB: Liberal protestantism has a lot going for it, as a faith, not the least of which is the belief in a personal saviour and redemption, and the core belief that God is accessible to anyone. To take the key font of that away (anyone can open the bible and discover salvation therein) by saying the correct interpretation of the bible is only available at the dictum of a select committee... well you'd be undermining a lot of progress. Progress which made your viewpoint possible.
AR: Actually, my ‘viewpoint’ pre-exists liberal protestantism thank you very much. Atheism (as well as scientific naturalism) were present in Ancient Greece, and surely present in societies prior to that as well (anywhere there was a religion there would have been dissenters to the dictatorship of the invisible). All religions are like racism, you aren’t born with it, you have to be taught it. As such, all babies are atheists until someone decides to ‘educate’ them into a particular faith.
LB: No, the correct answer is as you've suggested: literalists must catch up on their reading.
AR: I was making a reductio ad absurdum – obviously religious literalists spend time reading their documents and scriptures carefully and I think it pedantic that you would suggest that they have simply bailed out before they reach the Gospels.
LB: Another solution may well be to reorganize the bible, so the important parts actually are at the beginning. Any read of the bible which starts off with Christ using metaphors will generate much more intelligent readers than one where the first thing God says is "let there be light" and there suddenly is.
AR: Yeah, like that will happen.
LB: Your interpretation of "his children" is specious. But you know that. We're God's creation, not his literal children. I don't fancy those raised only on the whim of God make for very nice people.
AR: I was merely trying to point out that evolution is not incompatible with the morality you glean from scripture. Not sure why you would insist on a less than literal reading of 'God's children' since it seems plausible to me that we might consider him an ancestor rather than an invisible superbeing responsible for; the creation of the universe, handing out stone tablets, burning bushes, and inoperable cancer.
LB: Finally, what you aren't appreciating is that it is not science but the method in which science is being wielded as a weapon to undermine people's philosophy's that is offensive.
AR: You’ll notice that I don’t accuse the religious of being stupid. I do accuse them of being; disengenuous, philisophically sloppy, and overall very confused, but I won’t add insult to their already glaring injury. The ID debates taking place in courtrooms in PA and KS are not the result of science seeking to stamp out literalism. They are precisely the result of the religious trying to get their theology taught as if it were science. So let’s be clear about who is actually being offensive and wielding their belief system as a weapon.
LB: Perhaps the issue of daily prayer in public schools is a situation that has equal parallels. Prayer itself is innoffensive, and common to most people and a useful tool (even if only the metaphorical prayers of hope employed by Atheists.) But prayer can be used as a tool of faith to destroy others... in which case it's nasty and dangerous, and not useful at all for constructive purposes.That's what science is being used for in this case. Saying "it's neutral and not problematic" is overlooking the fact that in this situation what it is being used to achieve is not neutral and is problematic.
AR: Incorrect. The truth is that we evolved from other species of apes over an incredibly long period of time. That is simply a neutral fact. If it contradicts a particular faith it is not because science has singled them out for abuse, but rather because that faith is defective when compared to the evidence of the real world. Now that may well be problematic – but it is so only for those of that faith. Those faiths that find themselves in conflict with the facts must either ‘adapt or die’ – an evolutionary concept to be sure, but one that suits the situation perfectly.
I understand the 'few bad apples' theory, but contrast the persistent abuses perpetrated by US soliders (with approval from superiors) with how Canadian politicans reacted to the death of Sidane Arone in Somalia at the hands of our infantry men.
A kid was murdered by our own bad apples, and our government;
- disbanded and dispersed the unit
- held a public inquiry into Arone's death
- punished the soliders responsible, and the commanders of the soldiers responsible
In all, we insisted on accountability and responsibility up the line. Nobody got to pass the buck.
Yet nothing remotely like this is taking place in the US where it is all denials, buck passing or scapegoating.
AR: ‘Origin of Species’ isn’t exactly a riveting potboiler.
So, everyone who orthodoxly attempts to read the bible absorbs one key point: In the beginning there was God, who created the earth and all there is in six days, etc. Key lesson: we are special creations, albeit imperfect, and must live up to what our creator expects of us; after all, we're created in his image. As far as personal philosophies go, I think this is a grand starting place.
It's also disastrously undermined by
AR: I don’t dispute your characterization of the world views in collision – I think they certainly are, but I also recognize two areas you touch on where I think the problems are deepest; when you mention ‘orthodox readers’ or biblical literalists, and that the animus to Darwin is motivated by the investment in a literal Genesis reading as key to the values expressed in it.
Two solutions present themselves, both of which are painful but necessary;
- Abandon biblical literalism – it is a discipline that is circular, archaic, and ultimately patently false. I suspect that this will happen. The bible as written is simply too askew from basic facts (Helio-centrism for example) to be held as absolutely factually true. Most churches have already long ago developed sophisticated theologies, clerical experts, interpreters, committees, mixed with other historical and authoritarian sources to interpret the words in the bible ‘correctly’, and they for the most part, treat science as the means of exploring God’s world, rather than as a threat to their world view. All that biblical literalism does is force it’s adherents into a purely defensive intellectual stance – and the end result is ‘Creationism’ and the updated post-modern transvestite version of it ‘Intelligent Design’. Now as theological exercises go, they are first rate. As philosophy they are third rate, and as science they are complete failures. Since they seek to have their ideas canonized as of the same quality as ‘science’, rather than confining their ideas to being of the realm of theology, or perhaps worse, as philosophy, it is absolutely vital that they be opposed.
- Biblical literalists should understand that the values of Genesis as you recount them are actually upheld by
“we are special creations, albeit imperfect, and must live up to what our creator expects of us; after all, we're created in his image.”
Genetics (interesting root word, eh?) tells us that no two human beings are exactly alike – not even identical twins. Nor are we perfect – which anyone who suffers from sore knees, diabetes, or appendicitis will confirm.
An equally comparable situation: Islamic fundamentalists unleashed in Red America. The local moral code just has no way of dealing with it other than lashing out and back in horror and fear; and that is exadctly what they do.
AR: I think you are being far too harsh on Red America. Americans ‘on the ground’ haven’t been the ones to demonstrate problems with fundamentalist Islam. Muslims in the
There is, therefore, to the holder of these beleifs, no difference between the scientific method used by atheism and the atheism itself. Both are equally destructive. It's like asking which death is worse: One at the hands of muslim fundamentalists, or one in an explosion caused by muslim fundamentalists? Remember, the explosion is ethically neutral. That's a pretty stupid distinction, isn't it? Well, that's the distinction you're asking the Christians to make.
AR: My thesis though is exactly your point – they either, can’t or won’t make the distinction between what they propose, and science and philosophy – indeed I believe their stated purpose is to get religious ideas taught as science. If they can’t make the distinction more is the pity, but I notice the Amish seem to be doing just fine and they live in a quasi-pastoral dream world of hook and eye clothing and V-8 Hemi trucks. Not coincidentally, I don’t want the Amish way of life taught as science either.
I don't know enough about Soviet atheism, but it seems rather spurious of you to say atheism abjures the scientific method, when you then proceed to hammer Christianity as wrong and atheism as right with scientific method as your very methodical and precise tool. It's kind of like saying, "I don't need to break your knees with a hammer, I could use a baseball bat. The hammer is in fact, a very useful tool for other purposes."
AR: Soviet atheism looks remarkably like Mongolian, Australian and Canadian atheism, with the chief distinctions being cartographical. What I was saying was that being atheist (lack of belief in Gods) is a philosophical position, whereas science is a practice. Atheism, as powerful a force for good in the universe as it is, is not going to discover a new method for extracting energy from aluminum, or place men on Mars, and being a scientist is by no means the same thing as being an atheist.
As for scientists, evolution and God, again, I emphasize that this crisis of
AR: Gimme a break. You can’t be seriously suggesting that the real problem of people who subscribe to biblical literalism is that these self-professed passionate enthusiasts of the bible have, as a group, gotten behind in their reading?!?!
AR: Which is why good scientists aren’t guided by expected results, but instead by hypothesis. A good scientist understands that a negative result – even if disappointing, is still valuable science. It’s in theology that you start with the answers and then argue to prove them.
Finally, you should be aware that the scientific method, no matter who is wielding it, has a very real flaw: "Start with the answer you want to find, and you will eventually ask the right question." It doesn't matter who is wielding it, if they already know what answer they want to find, they will.
Rambling, incoherent, jargon filled, and ultimately self-contradictory would be the kindest things one can say about his testimony.
1 Noam Chomsky
Still #1 after all these years.
2 Umberto Eco
Increasingly I find his fiction all but unreadable. 'Name of the Rose' was beyond dense but also a breathtaking endorsement of the Enlightenment, 'Foucault's Pendulum' was almost totally impenetrable - but I struggled through it, and 'Island of the Day Before' still languishes on my shelf only half read, but his essays still hold impressive punch.
3 Richard Dawkins
Dawkins is THE MAN. If it were up to me, he'd be #1. Best work is...hard to choose just one...ok...'Blind Watchmaker', no...wait....'Selfish Gene'...uh....'Unweaving the Rainbow'....hmmm...but then again I REALLY liked 'The Devil's Chaplain', ok, that's my pick, 'Devil's Chaplain'.
4 Václav Havel
A poet before he became the first president of post-Soviet controlled Czech Republic. I revere him for his fight against totalitarianism, but otherwise have never engaged his writings directly.
5 Christopher Hitchens
Ex-Trotskyite turned Liberal, turned Liberal Hawk, turned professional drunken lout and pundit. He'll spend the rest of his career trying to remove the stain of supporting Bush's war in Iraq from his resume and the merlot spots from his tie.
6 Paul Krugman
A writer for the NYT who I barely ever read. Thanks to NYT's move to place him behind a subscription wall, I never will again.
7 Jürgen Habermas
Communication and Political theorist best described as a neo-Marxist. A philosopher so in love with his own overly-complex thoughts only Europeans who once worshipped Michel Foucault could love him. I have two of his works in my library, and neither is coherent past the introduction without a steady intrvenous drip of caffeine and hallucinogens.
8 Amartya Sen
Indian economist whose work on social theory, famine and 'Arrow's Impossibility Theorem' emminettly qualify him. My exposure is through two essays in 'Critical Review' - neither of which were especially memorable.
9 Jared Diamond
After Dawkins, my favourite guy in this list (Yes, he's ahead of Chomsky). Read 'Guns, Germs and Steel'. Don't argue, just do it.
10 Salman Rushdie
Like Eco, I find Rushdie's novels far less interesting than his essays. Favourite is easily 'East/West', and of that collection his review of Terry Gilliam's flick 'Brazil' is a must read.
11 Naomi Klein
The No Logo-Girl is ranked #11? I guess. She seems more than a tad lightweight for a list of this kind. The Harriet Miers pick.
12 Shirin Ebadi
Persian lawyer and human rights activist. Confession time; I read the name and went 'who'?
13 Hernando de Soto
Chicago school trained (ie. Straussian) neo-con who was Fujimora's advisor while the latter ran Peru into the ground. Wouldn't make my list except as part of the 'who would I never put on my list' list. 1st of two Straussians to make the list (the other being Wolfowitz).
14 Bjørn Lomborg
Author of the 'Skeptical Environmentalist'. While he brings some sanity to the discussion of enviromental issues, I also find him too apologetic of global warming to my liking.
15 Abdolkarim Soroush
Islamic philosopher critical of the Iranian clergy. No, I'd never heard of him either.
16 Thomas Friedman
'The World is Flat' author can only make sense of things when presentable as an easily digested cliche'. Facile writer who has gotten away with mediocrity too long. Latest thought crime is defending Judith (the White House Plant at the NYT) Miller's alleged acts of journalism.
17 Pope Benedict XVI
Steadily moving the Catholic Church back to the dark ages.
18 Eric Hobsbawm
Un-apolgeticly pro-communist British professor. Nothing new here.
19 Paul Wolfowitz
One of the neo-con 'Vulcans' straight out of the American Enterprise think tank, and currently head of the World Bank. From his presence on the list this high up I conclude he has an excellent PR firm working for him.
20 Camille Paglia
Iconoclast US philosopher, she deserves to be much higher on the list. Eerily able to take the pulse of US culture, unafraid to make mistakes and recant them, my favourite critic of postmodern relativism in academia, and champion of gay rights while maintaining her Catholicism. Someone I'd adore to have over for dinner.
Moderator: We're here today to debate the hot new topic, evolution versus Intelligent Des---(Scientist pulls out baseball bat.)
Moderator: Hey, what are you doing?(Scientist breaks Intelligent Design advocate's kneecap.)
Intelligent Design advocate: YEAAARRRRGGGHHHH! YOU BROKE MY KNEECAP!
Scientist: Perhaps it only appears that I broke your kneecap. Certainly, all the evidence points to the hypothesis I broke your kneecap. For example, your kneecap is broken; it appears to be a fresh wound; and I am holding a baseball bat, which is spattered with your blood. However, a mere preponderance of evidence doesn't mean anything. Perhaps your kneecap was designed that way. Certainly, there are some features of the current situation that are inexplicable according to the "naturalistic" explanation you have just advanced, such as the exact contours of the excruciating pain that you are experiencing right now.
Intelligent Design advocate: AAAAH! THE PAIN!
Scientist: Frankly, I personally find it completely implausible that the random actions of a scientist such as myself could cause pain of this particular kind. I have no precise explanation for why I find this hypothesis implausible --- it just is. Your knee must have been designed that way!
Intelligent Design advocate: YOU BASTARD! YOU KNOW YOU DID IT!
Scientist: I surely do not. How can we know anything for certain? Frankly, I think we should expose people to all points of view. Furthermore, you should really re-examine whether your hypothesis is scientific at all: the breaking of your kneecap happened in the past, so we can't rewind and run it over again, like a laboratory experiment. Even if we could, it wouldn't prove that I broke your kneecap the previous time. Plus, let's not even get into the fact that the entire universe might have just popped into existence right before I said this sentence, with all the evidence of my alleged kneecap-breaking already pre-formed.
Intelligent Design advocate: That's a load of bullshit sophistry! Get me a doctor and a lawyer, not necessarily in that order, and we'll see how that plays in court!
Scientist (turning to audience): And so we see, ladies and gentlemen, when push comes to shove, advocates of Intelligent Design do not actually believe any of the arguments that they profess to believe. When it comes to matters that hit home, they prefer evidence, the scientific method, testable hypotheses, and naturalistic explanations. In fact, they strongly privilege naturalistic explanations over supernatural hocus-pocus or metaphysical wankery. It is only within the reality-distortion field of their ideological crusade that they give credence to the flimsy, ridiculous arguments which we so commonly see on display. I must confess, it kind of felt good, for once, to be the one spouting free-form bullshit; it's so terribly easy and relaxing, compared to marshaling rigorous arguments backed up by empirical evidence. But I fear that if I were to continue, then it would be habit-forming, and bad for my soul. Therefore, I bid you adieu.
- Marvin Olasky and John Perry - 'Monkey Business, the True Story of the Scopes Trial'
Here we see directly the mistakes made by the Christian right with regards to evolution. They conflate the agnosticism inherent in the scientific method with philosophical atheism, and pretend that there is no difference between them.
Evolution and science are NOT equatable with atheism. Evolution is a scientific theory ( like the theory of gravity - it is extremely well tested and supported by all the available evidence) for how species change, profligate and occasionally die off over time. Science requires methodological naturalism - that is, it requires that when looking for explanations we confine our search to the natural world and not invoke supernatural forces whenever we run into trouble. If this were not the case, science would never produce results, it would stall out whenever a scientist simply through up their hands and declared 'and then, a miracle happens'.
Atheism in contrast to science is a philosophy, one with only one basic tenet - that there are no supernatural beings. Atheism takes the agnosticim of methodological naturalism a step further - rather than simply ignore potential supernatural causes, atheism is a position that there aren't any supernatural causes at all.
Atheism is certainly consistent with both Science in general and evolution in particular, but they are not intrinsically linked to atheism in any way. Soviet scientists were also often atheists, but as a result of Communist party interference 'Lysenkoism' was considered to be the prefered explanation for species modification over Darwin's theory of 'natural selection' - their atheism may have been consistent with science, but it didn't prevent them from doing science very badly.
Many scientists (and I mean REAL scientists, not uncredited poseurs like Michael Behe or Phillip Johnson) find no difficulty in maintaining their faith while also performing good science based on methodological naturalism. For these people, God is not something disproved by evolution - they have no problem in reconciling the results of science with their faith in a transcendent supreme being. Nor should they. Science will show how the natural world works. That its job. It has no ulterior motive, it is concerned only with what can be repeatedly tested to be true - and it explicitly avoids subjects of transcendent belief which are beyond its powers to test or assess. On matters best suited to religion science is resolutely mute and refuses to take a stand.
What Olansky, Perry, Behe and Johnson seek to do is to return to a 'God of the gaps' theology - an attempt to shore up their faith by tearing down science (and replacing it with 'faith directed science', a paradox if there ever was one) under the mistaken impression that doing so will in some way expose the 'moral decay' of atheism and lead everyone back from science into the arms of the Church.
I respectfully submit that they not only miss their mark (because atheism isn't equatable with moral decay), but they also do great harm to the intellectual foundations (such as there are) for their faith - because like it or not, evolution is fact and the evidence supports it fully - and in a conflict between truth backed by evidence and faith backed by belief, the truth will win every time.
Placing ones faith in opposition to the truth, is no different then stepping in front of a speeding car while uttering a hopeful prayer that God will slow it down.
The car will slow down - but only after it has used the inertia of your body mass as a brake.