Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Hot Air has a little photoshop fun with Congressman Murtha and others. You might need to download the recommended software to view the images.

Here's our favorite. It subtly catches the essence of both Reps. Murtha and Kennedy in a single artful composition:

Inspiration and Influence

For what it's worth the American Film Institute lists the 100 most inspirational films of all time. I say "for what it's worth" because any list that ranks Chariots of Fire dead last in terms of inspiration is deeply flawed.

You'll have to go to the link to see the ranking but, no, there are no Jackie Chan or Steven Seagal movies on the list.

Meanwhile, Forbes has a list of the 100 most influential celebrities. If these are the people exerting the greatest influence over our culture, well, a lot of questions have just been answered. Here's the top ten:

1. Tom Cruise

2. Rolling Stones

3. Oprah Winfrey

4. U2

5. Tiger Woods

6. Steven Spielberg

7. Howard Stern

8. 50 Cent

9. Cast of The Sopranos

10. Dan Brown

Lord help us all.

Thanks to First Things for the tip.

Supreme Common Sense

Common sense appears to have afflicted the new Supreme Court, at least if the majority's reasoning in the recently decided Hudson v. Michigan is any indicator.

Cases wherein missteps by police have caused courts to let obviously dangerous people go free have always seemed to be exceedingly foolish. If the police overstep their bounds then the police should be disciplined, but to set a criminal free or to throw out incriminating evidence because the police may have violated procedural rules essentially punishes the public for the fault of the enforcement officers.

A majority on the Court now agrees:

The Constitution does not require the government to forfeit evidence gathered through illegal "no knock" searches, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, in a far-reaching ruling that could encourage police with search warrants to conduct more aggressive raids.

At issue in yesterday's case, Hudson v. Michigan , No. 04-1360, was the "knock and announce" rule, which has deep roots in Anglo American law. In 1995, the court made it part of what defines a "reasonable search" under the Fourth Amendment, without saying how it should be enforced. Before yesterday's decision, police executing a search warrant in most jurisdictions had to worry that they might lose a case if they did not first knock on the door, announce themselves and wait a reasonable time for a response before forcing their way in.

Now, unless state law says otherwise, the most they would face is administrative discipline or a lawsuit for damages.

Scalia's opinion focused on the guilty defendants who go free when otherwise valid evidence is thrown out of court. He concluded that that "social cost" is too high in relation to whatever additional privacy protection residents get from the "knock and announce" rule.

Today's police are more professional than those of 45 years ago, he observed, and there is "increasing evidence that police forces across the United States take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously."

In this environment, Scalia argued, lawsuits and administrative proceedings are enough to ensure that police comply with the "knock and announce" rule.

The decision suggests that reasonable people now hold sway on the Court and augurs well for the future. Scalia was joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Alito, and Thomas.

Fossil Birds

I know this is just a news story and news stories are notorious for being misleading, but I have to ask why these newly-discovered fossils are called "missing links" in bird evolution.

The article says this fossilized species is similar to loons, grebes, and diving ducks which are all modern birds. The fossil is classified in the family Ornithurae which are modern birds. In other words, this happens to be the oldest known specimen of modern birds. That only makes it an evolutionary link if one assumes that all modern birds descended from the oldest known specimen, an assumption which is little more than a speculation based upon a hope.

Moreover, Gansus yumenensis is said to be an evolutionary link not with some other kind of creature but with other birds, ancient birds. It may well be, of course, but to call it a missing link suggests that it has some sort of dinosaur-to-bird evolutionary significance which it clearly does not have.

In other words, the discovery of these fossils doesn't seem to be at all what the news reports imply, but that's not news either.