Airport Porn?

USA Today is reporting that Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport will next month begin trials of backscatter x-ray screening. And how are the TSA ensuring that “naked” pictures of passengers wont appear online?

At airports, they will be programmed to shade or blur travelers’ bodies and medical devices. Screeners will view the images in remote rooms and delete them instantly.

Yeah, that will work.

(The above picture, by the way, is of Susan Hallowell, director of the TSA’s security laboratory, who said “It does basically make you look fat and naked – but you see all this stuff”.)


Wizened baby animal alert

I like this photo for some reason – seven-day-old stump-tailed or bear macaque (Macaca arctoides). Follow the link for pictures of adults and details of this endangered species.

Credit: AP-Photo.

Conservatism and Evolution

As part of the Panda’s Thumb series debunking Jonathan Wells’ latest dreck (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design), Tim Sandefur, himself a self-avowed conservative libertarian Republican, argues that Wells’ work offers “no helpful contribution” to any debate about the compatibility of conservatism and evolution. Tim ends his piece:

The bottom line is this: the genuine conservatism of people like Russell Kirk and Richard Weaver really is fundamentally at odds with evolution, not because of anything having to do with the free market or evolution’s alleged links with racism and whathaveyou–all of which are superficial issues relative to what conservatism is about. Evolution undermines the conservative ambition for an eternal order where each person knows his or her place in the “beautiful pattern”. On the other hand, many, if not most, of those who call themselves “conservatives” are actually libertarians–believers in individual liberty, free markets, small government, and so forth–who do not believe that we should live within a “beautiful pattern” of outwardly-enforced order. For these people, evolution presents no serious threat. Morality, aid to others, political freedom, and the rest can all be perfectly well defended from a Darwinian perspective, and Arnhart has done a very good job of doing so. Wells’ book offers no helpful contribution to this debate.

Read the complete article here.

Something to look forward to

With the ASU football season winding down, it is time to turn to other things. So why not rugby? The Irish team are favorites for the coming Six Nations Championship, after winning the Triple Crown last year, and a series of victories over South Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islanders which left them the #5 ranked team in the world (bizarrely behind two teams that they beat fairly handily).

The first home game will be played in Croke Park, the fourth largest stadium in Europe. This is fairly significant as the Gaelic Athletic Association (governing body for Gaelic Football and owners of the stadium) had long prevented “foreign games” such as rugby and soccer from played in their stadium.

Fixtures are:

  • Feb 4: v Wales
  • Feb 11: v France (last years winners)
  • Feb 24: v England
  • Mar 10: v Scotland
  • Mar 17: v Italy

Good stuff to look forward to next year! Any other rugby fans out there?


I’ve managed to finish my grading. Yipee! What this means is that the semester is finally beginning to wind down. Sure, there will be some grading left to do, but it will be relatively less onerous. Three classes left to teach, a handful of graduate student papers, and some short pieces from my undergraduates. Then Fall graduation and convocation … and then the winter break (a.k.a. time for writing all those book reviews and suchlike that were put off this semester).

Scribble, scribble

No posting today (or perhaps even tomorrow) as I’m tucked away in my lair grading. In any case, Mike Dunford made the only point I was going to make.