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Seth Cooper "cooper76" RSS Feed (Seattle, WA)

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Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision
Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision
by John G. West
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.25
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35 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Account of ID and a Thorough Critique of an Erroneous Court Ruling, March 23, 2006
"Traipsing into Evolution" provides an important and strong critique of the opinion handed down by U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III in the much-followed case of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School Board (M.D.Penn. 2005). Kitzmiller involved the first ever U.S. court case to deal directly with the theory of intelligent design. The case arose when a small Pennsylvania school board voted to have students read a disclaimer statement mentioning the theory of intelligent design before science class. (Students were permitted to leave the room during that time.) Judge Jones issued an unusually long district court opinion in which he went WAY beyond the controversy between the particular parties to the lawsuit and unfairly caricatured and blasted the theory of intelligent design, as well as many leading theorists and propoents of intelligent design.This short book serves an important function in analyzing Judge Jones's opinion.

The result is a strong rebuke of much of that opinion. "Traipsing into Evolution" provides a short background on the history behind the theory of intelligent design. It then demonstrates how Judge Jones's opinion seriously misrepresents the propositional content and empirical arguments for the theory of intelligent design. The book thoroughly dismantles Judge Jones's constitutional analysis of the theory of intelligent design. Judge Jones's opinion engages in an almost pathological resorts to guilt by association and misrepresentation of nuanced scientific arguments advanced by design theorists. Judge Jones's opinion frequently employs a double-standard whereby private, personal beliefs of certain design proponents are assailed while private, personal beliefs of neo-Darwinists are irrelevant. The opinion frequently purports to discredit intelligent design by trying to link it with creationism. Significant differences between the two are ignored in order to conjoin them. Scientific theories and ideas are supposed to involve evidence and empirical data. But Judge Jones's opinion almost takes for granted serious scientific ideas and new and emerging scientific theories can be dismissed by selective resorts to the personal beliefs of particular individuals.

"Traipsing into Evolution" is also unique in that it includes and summarizes many of the strongest arguments for the theory of intelligent design that were presented to the District Court through amicus curiae briefs or through direct testimony and depositions. Most all of the best arguments for the theory of intelligent design are completely ignored in Judge Jones's opinion. An important appendix by biochemist and professor Dr. Michael Behe is included in this book, offering a thorough rebuttal to the manner in which his expert scientific testimony at the trial was misconstrued (sometimes egregiously) in Judge Jones's opinion.

It is worth noting, as the authors of the book point out, that leading design proponents and institutions supporting the theory of intelligent design did NOT support the particular school district policy that was the subject of the lawsuit. They nonetheless wanted to defend the theory of intelligent design from government-sanctioned censorship. Stunningly, after Judge Jones denied a motion to intervene by the textbook publisher implicated in this case, the opinion of the court nonetheless blasts the theory of intelligent design in toto and to smear the names of countless individuals who were never parties before the lawsuit. This despite the fact that the briefs by amicus curiae offered the court many avenues by which to resolve the dispute existing between the individual parties while avoiding. Unfortunately, Judge Jones's opinion is an exercise in judicial activism, bizzarely purporting to resolve the emerging debate between the theory of intelligent design and the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution.

This book contains many legal arguments and case cites, but it is written in such a manner easily accessible to general audiences. The Kitzmiller case was never appealed, and so it constitutes perhaps the lowest level of legal precedent in the federal courts. Nonetheless, it is a case that has been much discussed and will continue to be discussed in the years ahead. "Traipsing into Evolution" provides readers with a much-needed corrective. ***Finally, Amazon readers are urged to ignore reviews by persons who clearly demonstrate their never having actually read the book they are so recklessly criticizing.***

The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11
The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11
by John Yoo
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.66
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21 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Essential in Understanding the Constitution, War Powers & Foreign Affairs, November 8, 2005
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Professor John Yoo, an accomplished constitutional scholar, has written a outstanding volume exploring the U.S. Constitution's allocation of powers in matters of war and international affairs. This overview of our Constitution's framework for understanding the roles and relations of the three branches of government in based upon clear reasoning and close attention to history and practice.

Yoo deftly analyzes the respective roles of the Executive and Legislative branches in making and declaring war, arguing that the Constitution provides for a great deal of flexibility and latitude in dealings with foreign nations. He aptly deals with the debate over whether international treaties are generally self-executing or require implementing legislation, making a persuasive argument for the latter position as most consistent with the text and structure of the Constitution. Yoo also provides a sensible and coherent constitutional approach to understanding and distinguishing between treaties and congressional-executive agreements. These topics and others are treated in a careful and methodical manner, as Yoo generally argues from the viewpoint that the Constitution should be read in light of the original understanding of its ratifiers. He (wisely) advocates a conceptual framework for understanding our Constitution's approach to foreign affairs that is relevant and resembles actual historical and contemporary practice. (This is something that many scholars and theorists fail to do.)

Throughout the book, Yoo demonstrates a mastery of both the constitutional case law in this interesting area and the legal scholarship that precedes his own work.

The book is written in a clear and lucid manner, providing repetition on important points while avoiding any sense of repetitiveness. It is accessible to both those who are familiar with constitutional history and constitutional law concerning the separation of powers as well as those with some historical and legal background in those areas.

This review can only scratch the surface in terms of the content of this work. Yoo's book is a first-rate intellectual achievement. And it will likely become a standard, authoritative reference for citizens and scholars (and especially originalists) in the years to come.

Hot Fuss
Hot Fuss
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! One of the Best Albums from 2004, April 24, 2005
This review is from: Hot Fuss (Audio CD)
The Killers have a great sound going and "Hot Fuss" is an excellent album of music. This modern rock band has a unique sound, but one can also hear the influence of The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, Blur and others. I like the blend of guitar, bass and synths that The Killers bring to the table, plus the vocals work well with their lyrics. Beyond possessing a good sound, the tracks are themselves well-written and finely crafted. Many of the the tunes are extremely catchy. Honestly, there isn't a single track on "Hot Fuss" that I do NOT like.

"Somebody Told Me" and "Mr. Brightside" are popluar radio hits--and for very good reason. But "Believe Me Natalie" has good melody to it and is enjoyable. "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," the opening track, has some edge to it. "All These Things That I've Done" is also a standout song.

This album is definitely worth it. I look forward to hearing more from this band.

Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World
Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World
by Hugh Hewitt
Edition: Hardcover
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY BLOG !!!, January 26, 2005
This is an excellent new book by law professor, radio talk show host and Hugh Hewitt. Folks who have no idea what blogs are will be provided with an excellent intro to blogs-what they are, who runs them, why they're important. Bloggers and devotees of the blogosphere will gain a better grasp of the significance of the media revolution that blogs have ushered in.

Hewitt revisits recent episodes in the young history of blogs-Trent Lott's stupid comments at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, ex-NY Times editor in chief Howell Raines' role in the Jayson Blair scandal/saga, the Swift Boat Vets' exposure of John Kerry's bogus "Christmas in Cambodia", and Rathergate-the fake memos CBS so boldly proclaimed out of political bias. All of these episodes were carried by blogs, as Old Media/Legacy Media/MSM would have let these go, but for the diligence of bloggers.

Hewitt's succinct history of the blogosphere drives home its significance in creating a media reformation. In the same way the Protestant Reformation took place in light of newly-created printing press technology, today's New Media is made possible by the easy access to information and publishing provided by blogs on the internet. The result: information is now directly accessible to people faster and in proportions never imagined--and Old Media authorities will have to accept a new, diminished role in delivering news.

This book is the first big book on blogs by a top blogger, and with the recent release of the Whitewash Report over Rathergate, Hewitt's timing could not be better. (Let the Whitewash Report serve as proof that the blogosphere should never rest on its laurels or expect other outlets to carry water for it.) So go get it.

24 Hour Party People
24 Hour Party People
DVD ~ Steve Coogan
Offered by RareFlix-N-Classix
Price: $44.95
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool, Edgy, Independent Film, January 25, 2005
This review is from: 24 Hour Party People (DVD)
This movie manages to be funny, quirky and sad--all at the same time. It combines the story of Joy Division's Ian Curtis and Happy Monday's Shaun Ryder--apparently with much revisionist history along the way. The interesting combination proves to make for an entertaining and interesting film.

I was laughing from the very beginning, with the movie's re-enactment of the infamous Sex Pistols gig in Manchester. Long have I heard tales of this show and it was treat to see it in the film.

There is plenty of great acting in this movie--particular from Steve Coogan as an arrogant Tony Wilson. Plus, I enjoyed the performances of the actors playing Ian Curtis, Martin Hannett and Rob Gretton, respectively.

It might have been fun to see and hear more of New Order in the moveie, but there are plenty of stories to be told concerning the Manchester, England music scene and the folks who made the film probably had enough difficulty fitting in as much as they did.

Do be sure to check out the commentary track by the real Tony Wilson. It's a real kick, and very insightful.

Lest I forget to mention, there is some FANTASTIC music in this movie.

Keep in mind this movie isn't for the little kids!

Final Straw
Final Straw
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Say It's Good, December 1, 2004
This review is from: Final Straw (Audio CD)
I've never bought or even heard anything from Snow Patrol prior this album, Final Straw. But I like what I hear. This modern rock band has a good sound, with the albums tracks comprised of some good melodies and lyrics.

Hearing their tune "Run" on alternative radio is part of what prompted me to purchase the CD in the first place. It's a very cool tune, which is one of those songs that is quiet and somber and then gets loud and then becomes quiet and somber once again. "Chocolate" is a very catchy tune, and an enjoyable to listen to. I consider it to be one of the highlights of the album. "Spitting Games" has been a hit song for Snow Patrol as well, which I seem to have heard on the radio quite a bit. However, I think the two tracks I mentioned prior to it are better songs.

The opening track on the album, "How to Be Dead" is solid. "Wow" is a song that rocks. I like the guitars and the lyrics. "Grazed Knees" is a nice, slower track. "Tiny Little Fractures" is yet another catchy song.

All things considered, this is an album worth getting. I'm glad I bought it.

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
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Price: $10.61
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Stellar Album for U2, November 24, 2004
U2 shows why they are still one of the best bands in the world with this new album. They've written some wonderful songs and have a great sound.

"Vertigo" is the first single, of course. And its the first track on the album. A solid single. Perhaps not as good as "Beautiful Day" but a strong track nonetheless (and far better than, say, "Discotheque.") "Miracle Drug," "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," "City of Blinding Lights," "A Man and a Woman," "Crumbs from Your Table" and "Original of the Species" are all stellar tunes. (And none of the tracks are bad or not likeable, for that matter.)

Given this band's history and success, comparisons with previous albums are inevitable. Is this one quite as good as Joshua Tree, Achtung Baby or All That You Can't Leave Behind? Probably not. But is this new album a great album that stands on its own two feet? Absolutely. Have U2 made a good album that can be considered among their very best? Definitely. Does this album make for great listening and is it recommendable? You bet!

Consumers Guide to a Brave New World
Consumers Guide to a Brave New World
by Wesley J. Smith
Edition: Hardcover
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Intro to Cloning, Issues in Biotech & Bioethics!, November 23, 2004
Wesley Smith is a leading voice in the public debate surrounding the hottest issues in bioethics and biotechnology. His latest book, "Consumer's Guide to a Brave New World," is essential reading for those who wish to better understand many of these important issues and what is at stake.

Smith makes abundantly clear the ethical dangers involved with embryonic stem cell research (ESC) and human cloning. The creation of human life in laboratories purely for the purpose of destroying it and harvesting it as raw material is a frightening prospect. And Smith makes a strong case for the banning of human cloning.

All the while, he is careful to draw a distinction between research involving ESCs and research involving adult stem cells (ASC). The latter procedure is NOT controversial and to this point has proven the most promising in terms of positive medical breakthroughs. In fact, Smith goes on at length in describing all the many wonderful benefits that we can expect and should actively seek through biotechnology.

Biotechnology is very exciting and quite promising. Government funding for biotech is entirely appropriate and should continue. Private R&D should likewise be promoted. But, like in any industry, there must be at least SOME ethical guidelines that should be adhered to if we value the equality of all human beings. When the genetic makeup of humanity is itself altered--like through the creation of clones or human-beast chimaeras--the equality of all human beings is eroded.

What Smith warns against is scientific research completely unhinged from ANY sort of ethical bounds or considerations. He speaks out against a new eugenics that would allow human life to be treated as a resource for harvesting, as if it were a scene right out of "The Matrix."

Smith also provides insight behind the radical ideology driving many cloning advocates (scientism, elitism, transhumanism, etc.) Very important is Smith's discussion of the PR campaign waged by Big Biotech, which seeks large infusions of cash from governments by making lofty promises about the sorts of immediate medical breakthroughs that can come from cloning and ESC research. Such promises play upon those who find themselves or their loved ones in desperate situations, offering imminent miracle cures, when serious medical progress remains years or decades away.

This book is very readable, highly engaging, and strongly recommended!

(This reviewer works for the Discovery Institute, which the author has an affiliation with. Yet, I had zero input or involvement on the book and these views are my own.)

Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror
Breakdown: The Failure of American Intelligence to Defeat Global Terror
by Bill Gertz
Edition: Paperback
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Informative & Important, November 19, 2004
This is an important book about some major problems with our nation's intelligence community and intelligence infrastructure. Author Bill Gertz takes no prisoners and certainly points fingers in this book. He is abundantly clear in his assertions that intelligence failures failed to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that had our intelligence folks been doing their job that those horrendous attacks would have been prevented.

One chapter is devoted to Osama Bin Laden and what U.S. intelligence forces knew about him and what they did and what they didn't do about him before 9/11. Other chapters deal with the FBI, the CIA and the DIA, respectively. Gertz also delves briefly into the history behind the problems with our intelligence agencies. He levels a great deal of criticism at the Church and Pike Committees, which ravaged our nation's intelligence in the 1970's. In addition, Gertz lays much blame at the foot of the Clinton Administration and looks more favorably upon the current Bush Administration. Nonetheless, he still criticizes many Republicans for failing to provide proper performance-based oversight over the intelligence agencies, since he concludes they felt it their duty to protect those agencies from further attacks.

Gertz's charges that the CIA was overcautious in the years leading up to 9/11 and was averse to doing counterintelligence, that the FBI had all but ceased its counterintelligence activities, that worries about lawyers had come to dominate national security, that our intelligence agencies were under-funded, that agencies did a poor job communicating with one another. He also claims that the bureaucracies in these agencies were too frequently concerned with political correctness, protecting their image in the media, and guarding their turf.

Interestingly, in the prologue of the paperback edition, Gertz states that both the Joint Select Committee and the 9/11 Commission were not given adequate time to investigate and prepare their reports. The 9/11 Commission Report had not yet been issued when the paperback edition of this book was published, so he does not provide any analysis or critique of the Report. (Interestingly, Gertz puts much stock in Czech accounts that 9/11 terrorist Muhammad Atta met with Iraqi officials in Prague, whereas the 9/11 Commission does not consider such accounts particularly reliable.)

Granted, this reviewer is not an expert on national security, and does not have the knowledge to provide in-depth critiques of all the author's assertions and conclusions. But this book does contain some very interesting and extremely startling information about our nation's intelligence apparatus. And according to Gertz, if we are going to truly be protected, some serious changes must take place.

At the time of this review, Breakdown's paperback edition is still more than a year old. Thus, it is not the most current publication. But if you are an American citizen who is concerned about our national security and have invested the time in reading the Joint Select Committee's Report and/or the 9/11 Report, then this is certainly one you will want to read.

Give Up
Give Up
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Price: $13.94
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One * fantastic * CD!, November 16, 2004
This review is from: Give Up (Audio CD)
This Postal Service album is chock-full of good electro-pop songs. Don't get me wrong--I'm not talking about some sort of recent Top 40 nonsense. This is still modern, alternative music we're talking about. Yet, the tunes have something of a throwback quality to them, as the songs are reminiscent of some of the fun '80s tunes from OMD or Human League. Only thing is, this album sounds much better, current and relevant than a lot of that older stuff. This might be due, in part, to the fact that some of those older songs were a little more tacky or robotic. Here, the vocals sound human and the synths aren't silly. Also, the lyrics are a kick, and there are very nice melodies are present in the songs.

The first half of the album is probably my favorite. "Such Great Heights" was pretty popular on my local radio station. ALso, I think the seventh track, "We Will Become Silhouettes" got a lot of play and is likewise a very good song. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," "Sleeping In," "Nothing Better," and "Clark Gable" are all excellent tunes.

So be absolutely certain to get this album!

(And people who like this will probably also enjoy Death Cab For Cutie's stuff.)

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