Archive for the ‘salamanders’ Category

Newt Gingrich and Red Efts

March 9, 2007

Newt Gingrich is squirming. He has to be as he tries to weasel his way out of hypocrisy. Yesterday in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Newt said “the honest answer is yes” when questioned about having an extra-marital affair during the time he was pursuing impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton regarding his denial of such an affair under oath. Now I know some will immediately say the crime of Clinton leading to the impeachment mess was perjury, that Clinton’s lying about his relationship with Monica while under oath, was a felonious act and that what Gingrich did was not a felony, etc, etc. In fact, Gingrich himself is trying to weasel out of by saying “I drew a line in my mind that said, ‘Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept…perjury in your highest officials.” Gingrich says that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite.

Gingrich did not risk embarrassment; he was trying to find a way to embarrass the president and the Democratic Party. There are many of us who don’t spend a lot of time in the courtroom, and while we understand the difference between perjury and lying, in our mind they are the same. Just because one is not “under oath” does not make the telling of a lie, or living a lie, any less offensive, and any less a “sin” in the eyes of fair minded folks or of the one who wrote the commandment. Perjury just leads to a greater (usually) punishment and more publicity.

Rates for extra-marital affairs range from 14 to 55% of married women and 22 to 60% of married men. Probably 95% of those people would lie under oath about the affairs if they thought they could get away with it. Part of the reason might be that they are embarrassed, or they really know the affair was wrong and don’t want to hurt their spouse, but a big reason might also be out of respect for the other party.

I am NOT excusing those who cheat on their spouses, and I am NOT excusing the former president for having an affair or for being messy or for lying about it. But with so many married people doing it, and then add all the unmarried people who have sexual relations outside of marriage, and you have included a majority of the people in the country. Like it or not, this means that what the president did was not that unusual, by standards of behavior in the United States, and it also was not that big a deal, by the standards of national security and presidential business, and certainly not worth the time and energy our congressional leaders of the time spent investigating it.

The question is: Is Newt coming clean (or trying to) as a run up to a presidential bid in 2008? The conservatives are trying to find a candidate they feel comfortable supporting. Good luck!

Newts and Efts

Much more interesting is the life history of the Red Spotted Newt, a common relative of salamanders that is very common in Alabama. Newts have a complicated life cycle, hatching as aquatic larvae living in grassy pools of water and breathing through gills, metamorphing in to terrestrial “efts” that are air breathing juveniles.

They may remain as efts for up to seven years, or they may never mature, but most morph again into adults that live on land but return to the water at some point to reproduce and lay eggs.

Picture credit: http://www.uga.edu/srelherp/salamanders/notvir.htm

Here is an adult Red Spotted Newt.

Picture credit http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/newt.html

To confuse matters a little, some aquatic larvae never leave the water, and bypass the eft stage and remain gilled adults. Go figure. I had red efts in a terrarium as a college student, part of a project where we observed them shedding and eating their own skin for a herpetology class I was taking. I would bet that these critters are in the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge habitat. I might go on a hunt, and will let you know what I find. We won’t take any critters from the refuge of course. We will only take pictures.

What do yall like best, the political stuff or the science stuff? Let me know.

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>Newt Gingrich and Red Efts

March 9, 2007

>Newt Gingrich is squirming. He has to be as he tries to weasel his way out of hypocrisy. Yesterday in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Newt said “the honest answer is yes” when questioned about having an extra-marital affair during the time he was pursuing impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton regarding his denial of such an affair under oath. Now I know some will immediately say the crime of Clinton leading to the impeachment mess was perjury, that Clinton’s lying about his relationship with Monica while under oath, was a felonious act and that what Gingrich did was not a felony, etc, etc. In fact, Gingrich himself is trying to weasel out of by saying “I drew a line in my mind that said, ‘Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept…perjury in your highest officials.” Gingrich says that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite.

Gingrich did not risk embarrassment; he was trying to find a way to embarrass the president and the Democratic Party. There are many of us who don’t spend a lot of time in the courtroom, and while we understand the difference between perjury and lying, in our mind they are the same. Just because one is not “under oath” does not make the telling of a lie, or living a lie, any less offensive, and any less a “sin” in the eyes of fair minded folks or of the one who wrote the commandment. Perjury just leads to a greater (usually) punishment and more publicity.

Rates for extra-marital affairs range from 14 to 55% of married women and 22 to 60% of married men. Probably 95% of those people would lie under oath about the affairs if they thought they could get away with it. Part of the reason might be that they are embarrassed, or they really know the affair was wrong and don’t want to hurt their spouse, but a big reason might also be out of respect for the other party.

I am NOT excusing those who cheat on their spouses, and I am NOT excusing the former president for having an affair or for being messy or for lying about it. But with so many married people doing it, and then add all the unmarried people who have sexual relations outside of marriage, and you have included a majority of the people in the country. Like it or not, this means that what the president did was not that unusual, by standards of behavior in the United States, and it also was not that big a deal, by the standards of national security and presidential business, and certainly not worth the time and energy our congressional leaders of the time spent investigating it.

The question is: Is Newt coming clean (or trying to) as a run up to a presidential bid in 2008? The conservatives are trying to find a candidate they feel comfortable supporting. Good luck!

Newts and Efts

Much more interesting is the life history of the Red Spotted Newt, a common relative of salamanders that is very common in Alabama. Newts have a complicated life cycle, hatching as aquatic larvae living in grassy pools of water and breathing through gills, metamorphing in to terrestrial “efts” that are air breathing juveniles.

They may remain as efts for up to seven years, or they may never mature, but most morph again into adults that live on land but return to the water at some point to reproduce and lay eggs.

Picture credit: http://www.uga.edu/srelherp/salamanders/notvir.htm

Here is an adult Red Spotted Newt.

Picture credit http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/conn.river/newt.html

To confuse matters a little, some aquatic larvae never leave the water, and bypass the eft stage and remain gilled adults. Go figure. I had red efts in a terrarium as a college student, part of a project where we observed them shedding and eating their own skin for a herpetology class I was taking. I would bet that these critters are in the Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge habitat. I might go on a hunt, and will let you know what I find. We won’t take any critters from the refuge of course. We will only take pictures.

What do yall like best, the political stuff or the science stuff? Let me know.