[snip] “The Vatican has never really come to terms with evolution,” writes Paul Varnell in the Chicago Free Press (September 8). “To say genitals were ‘intended’ for procreation ignores the fact that genitals, like the rest of our bodies, evolved as they did because they were more efficient means of reproduction than other means. Nothing about their development in the random mutation and natural selection process of evolution requires or implies any ‘intention’–or precludes their use for other purposes. The mouth evolved as an efficient way to eat, but people also use it to talk, sing, whistle and suck venom from snakebites.”

[snip] “The truth is that the current administration is not the most disastrous in our history,” writes Robert McElvaine, professor of history at Millsaps College, on the online History News Network (September 20). “George W. Bush’s record on running up debt to burden our children is only the worst since Ronald Reagan. His record on government surveillance of citizens is only the worst since Richard Nixon. His record on foreign-military policy has gotten us into only our worst foreign mess since Lyndon Johnson sank us into Vietnam. His economic record on job creation is only the worst since Herbert Hoover. His record of tax favoritism for the rich is only the worst since Calvin Coolidge. His record of trampling on civil liberties is only the worst since Woodrow Wilson or perhaps John Adams.”

[snip] Literary detector. According to a recent issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics, it’s easy for a doctor or nurse to find out whether parents can read and understand medical information: ask how many books are in the home. A Miami survey of English- and Spanish-speaking caregivers found that “having more than 10 adults’ books or more than 10 children’s books in the home positively predicted adequate caregiver literacy skills.”

[snip] With friends like these, who needs enemies? From the Harper’s “Index” (September): “Ratio of the minimum number of beheadings by the Saudi government last year to those by Saudi terrorists so far this year: 50:1.”

[snip] By the numbers. According to jobwatch.org, the Bush administration expected 4,284,000 jobs to be created nationwide between June 2003 and August 2004. Jobs actually created during that time: 1,616,000.

[snip] Revolution for the hell of it? Archon Fung, a public policy professor at Harvard University, comments on the third act of school reform in the Christian Science Monitor (September 21): “It’s easy to be enthusiastic about creating something new [the small schools envisioned in Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 plan], but I think what the charter experiment has taught us is that it’s a lot harder to run highly effective schools than one might think at the beginning, and there’s a lot of stored-up know-how and practice at the existing schools. Why are reformers so interested in revolutionary solutions to school reform when nobody can say with confidence that any particular revolutionary solution is better than any other?”

[snip] “It’s like we were pulling from one side of the fence to shore up the other,” says Maynard Crossland, the recently ousted director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, in the Illinois Times (September 9-15). He’s referring to the process by which his agency’s staff was cut by more than a quarter while the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library kept its budget intact.