Saturday, December 24, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Santorum said his statements are not contradictory, nor has his position changed.But this is a nice outline:
Rick Santorum on Intelligent Design
"Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."
- 2002 Washington Times op-ed article
"I'm not comfortable with intelligent design being taught in the science classroom."
- Interview in August on National Public Radio
"I do not believe it should be required teaching."
- Interview yesterday with The Inquirer
"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did."
- from Inquirer interview
Addendum: someone else has noticed this.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
The National Centre for Science Education's post is short and sweet.
Dembski's response is petulant and evasive with the usual blah, blah, Mt Rushmore, blah, Darwinists don't want to be put to the test, blah, blah... a bit of a joke really. PT has a go at that one. So does Pharyngula.
The Discovery Institute dropped the activist bomb almost immediately. You don't have to win the JREF prize to see that one coming.
So what the fuck does activist judge mean other than "I lost the case?"
Slate got their article by Wm Saletan up pretty fast as well. Saletan has had a checkered past with some of his ID articles, but the majority of them were worth the read. This one is in the upper middle of the pack. The ending note is dead on tho'. The fear of modern culture displaced onto scientific findings is one that will continue to motivate the DI and the other fundie/creationist folks.
Also, Canadian Cynic has a word or two to go with it.
I wish this meant that I could stop smearing my monitor with this crap. But it won't ID will get shitcanned, but in the long run, mediaevalist thinking will regroup and mount another last-ditch (a hail mary, if you will) attempt.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Dispatches from the Culture War has a pretty good summary of the decision.
It looks for all to see as if everybody could cut right through the obfuscation and peel it back like the belly of a frog in grade 9 bio. ID is Creationism. Once again, the latest Culture War to End all Wars has been won by the good guys.
Until the next one.
From Pharyngula we get this little tidbit from the decision:
Gorgeous. Which will lead me to the inevitable question: What exactly is an activist judge? What does that phrase mean?
To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.
The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board's decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
You miss out a lot of oddball stuff being Canadian.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The level of public discourse in the US has hit what I can only hope is its nadir. What makes the whole exercise in yank-watching so torturous is seeing the very people who exhibit the worst sort of behaviour and the lowest morality calling for an end to boor culture and a return to high morality and getting to set the terms of the debate by defining all these things. It's like letting W. define torture: since we don't torture, everything we do do is by definition not torture. QED.
There's just no reaching bottom with some people.
Bad behaviour comes little lower than the (ir)religious right. And amongst them, this grinning hommunculus sinks among the lowest. Check him out here, here, and here.
What more can you say?
George W. Bush
Wiretapping. You need more said than that.
Georgey-Porgey, I've got news for you. If the terrorist hate you for your freedoms, they've got a bit less to hate you for every day you're in power. A bit less everyday.
Correction: Meant to say Robertson not Buchannan. My bad
I've never understood the American obsession of hating most viscerally the one organization that seems to actually care about the constitution and it's content, the one group vigorously defending freedoms in the US. I mean does that sound hate-worthy? I also don't understand those donkey dong-rinsers who say that our Constitution was the biggest mistake that Trudeau ever made. Seriously, don't you want a line written down that says: "I don't care how many of you there are. This far and no further." Given the police state that the UK is turning into because they can't be bothered to write anything down, I feel safer knowing that my frost-back ass is covered. (on the subject of the UK, Orwell lacked imagination)
Still the ACLU is the favourite whipping boy of the Repulican right and it's hypocritical cheering squad. So today, through Fuck Christmas, I found a page of points where the ACLU has been defending the religious freedoms of all stripes, esp. Xtians.
I just thought it would be my Kwanzaa gift to Fox News to put it up here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The roundtable discussion on science featured famed scientist, lecturer and paleontology expert Kent Hovind. His contribution was outstanding as always.
On the other side, what really made it all work for me was Ali G accusing Hovind of leaving a floater in dressing rooms. Finally someone treats his arguments the way they need to be addressed.
Can I say "make a monkey out of him" at this juncture?
Semi-related: ScienceDaily has an article on running and its effect on the evolution of human beings. Worth a quick read.
Personally I'm waiting for Dr Hovind to come back to the Ali G show and update us on this aspect of evolution. If he can get past the Homo part of Homo Sapiens, that is.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The faux War on Christmas is boiling over in the US and is one of the stupidest things I've heard of in my life.
The idea the Bill O'Reilly is allowed to smudge up the screen of my TV with his bloviating and bullshit is reprehensible, but that he's allowed to market this crap of his own invention is insulting.
The whole War on Christmas meme is based on a real war on respect and decorum and it's always the right wingers who seem to be behind it.
So I want to know from Mr O'Reilly is this: why to you hate Hannukah? Why do you want to destroy it?
You've been on record saying that non-Christians are not offended by Merry Christmas, but xtians are offended by Happy Holidays. How thin skinned are you people down there? (I'd like to say more about that, but the Daily Show as always got the best takedown in first).
So I want to know: Are you offended by Happy Hannukah? Does it bother you? Why do only you get to ram your religion down others' throats but recoil like a beaten puppy when someone points out that you're being rude.
I thought about calling this post "Go play hide and go fuck yourself."
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I'm a fan of the Are We Alone? and Skeptical Sunday podcasts that Seth Shostak does for the SETI institute.
When I discovered his article telling ID creationists to stop, stop I say, using SETI as a smoke screen for their pseudo-science, I loved it.
Particularly salient are his points on experience and recognizing design by comparing to design.
Do check out the SETI podcasts in iTunes. There's a lot of good stuff in it.
Friday, December 02, 2005
And it finally happened.
General Peter Pace basically told Donald Rumsfeld to sit down, shut the fuck up and listen 'cause he might learn something.
If that wasn't enough that the topic was the obligation that American soldiers have to intervene and stop abuse if they see it.
It's especially nice to see something like that happen when the Iraqis are reporting that abuse is worse now than under Saddam.
WashingtonMonthly has the article.
Extra Update: Crooks and Liars has the video.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Okay it's not a heated debate; more of a divergence of opinions. But it places the Halq on the same side as The Blue Site over the debate. And oddly it places me on the same side as a reality-dismissing paranoid on the issue.
Now, keep in mind, I studied history and see the BC/AD thing as a bit of an artifact, but one that I don't really see the need to get rid of. I've never had any use for BCE/CE. For a couple of reasons. More on that in a minute.
The Blue Sites point is the usual rant that any attempt to neutralize exclusive language or use some construction that is a bit more inclusive is an attack on Christianity. (apparently this is brought about as a reaction to this list at the Language Monitor) The post then sort of devolves into the usual What-About-Our-Religion and the 10-Commandments-is-the-source-of-it-all the FoundingFatherswereallgoodevangelicalChristianswhowantedustobeagoodChristiannation and nomorepoliticalcorrectness kind of a rant that more or less. The sort of thing that makes my eyes glaze over.
Pooflingers makes the point that "Neutrality when possible is a valuable commodity." and folks shouldn't get all afire over little things like this. CE is meant to be inclusive, to allow other to not have Christianity shoved at them. Another very good point made is that this insistence on overt and public acknowlegment of Christian heritage could be very easily seen as an attack on Jewish and other groups.
Makes you wonder when Bill O'Reilly is going to bang on about the war on Hanukkah, doesn't it?
Halq makes the point that re-naming AD to CE will open the door for Christians to demand renaming the days of the week to remove references to pagan gods.
I guess I side with Halq and (gulp) Blue State. My preference is to stick with BC/AD and the pagan gods.
First, these sorts of thing are artifacts of history and I have a lot of respect for history. So much of language and culture is debris that floats to the surface and to me that's fascinating stuff.
Second, I'm just more used to it.
Third, I don't know that I see how inclusive or neutral CE. Using AD does point out that our calendar is one of those artifacts of an earlier, more religious time. But CE (for Common Era) leaves me wondering why a time 2005 and 11/12 years ago just happens to be the time when there started an era we could all agree was common? What happened then that made us all in it together? Hmmm. Indeed, it's likely to be a slightly more passive-agressive attack than plain old AD because of that. (Sure we all had calendars, but now we have a starting point for a new era of good that we can all be brought in on. Jesus? Year 1? Hunh, look at that. Hadn't noticed. Doesn't mean anything, really)
So somehow I've ended up agreeing with Blue State on the AD thing.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
You may find it interesting to try yourself.
I find all of this interesting since reading How the Mind Works by Stephen Pinker as well as several books on management and such.
The thing that's most interesting is the universality of it. All people recognize the same emotions the same way (despite what a lot of people will tell you)
Thursday, November 10, 2005
You go out of your way to build bridges with people of different views and beliefs and have quite a few religious friends. You believe in the essential goodness of people , which means you’re always looking for common ground even if that entails compromises. You would defend Salman Rushdie’s right to criticise Islam but you’re sorry he attacked it so viciously, just as you feel uncomfortable with some of the more outspoken and unkind views of religion in the pages of this magazine.
You prefer the inclusive approach of writers like Zadie Smith or the radical Christian values of Edward Said. Don’t fall into the same trap as super–naïve Lib Dem MP Jenny Tonge who declared it was okay for clerics like Yusuf al–Qaradawi to justify their monstrous prejudices as a legitimate interpretation of the Koran: a perfect example of how the will to understand can mean the sacrifice of fundamental principles. Sometimes, you just have to hold out for what you know is right even if it hurts someone’s feelings.
What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
A great post over at Pharyngula points makes that clear near the end.
I've been watching the quality of public debate in the US decline since the Reagan years; I'm not old enough to remember Nixon. Some of the selections in the post highlight that everyone is trying to claim reason and right for themselves without realizing that with reason comes the acceptance that right has a chance of not being on your side.
I wonder sometimes what this portends for us. In some ways the tone of political debate is declining, but I thinks there's still more room for middleground here. I hope.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Perhaps a physics course or two would help.
You fit in with:
Your ideals mostly resemble that of a Humanist. Although you do not have a lot of faith, you are devoted to making this world better, in the short time that you have to live. Humanists do not generally believe in an afterlife, and therefore, are committed to making the world a better place for themselves and future generations.
Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands
Try the Visited Countries Project for yourself.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Friend DEG suggested one to me a while ago.
He said, "Did I ever tell you about my idea for the most offensive art installation in history?"
"It's called 'Jesus fucking Christ.'"
"That's a verb, isn't it."
So there you have it. An image to keep you going, brought to you by the guy who gave local band The Inflatable Jesus Love Dolls the name for their song 'Big Penis Truck.'
But the question is: should we be allowed to suggest it? In a day and time when people worry about a political correctness that never was there is a strong, strong fence around criticism of religion and patriotism. We can't probe belief, investigate it nor ridicule it. Anything can be defended by the words "Well, that's what I believe." The very people who are against any form of relativism are all for sliding behind a brick wall protection of belief. They wouldn't want to see light shone into dark sections of there world view.
So my answer is yes, like burning a flag or swear words or any number of things I don't like and don't want to hear, it's not only allowed but, from time to time, required to be absolutely offensive.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Recently we've watched a couple that are worth sharing with people.
If you don't know it's about Ray Charles, then I am not going to contribute. Much like Rain Man, that extremely ordinary buddy movie with the outstanding performance by Hoffman, Ray follows the very familiar story arc: Poverty - Trauma - Beginnings of Talent - Early years - Drugs - Drugs and Success go hand in hand - Eventual Triumph/Early Death. Ray is flatly directed and has a pretty standard style, but Jamie Foxx is well beyond outstanding as Charles.
A word of advice, when you watch the DVD learn from our mistake. Watch the theatrical version. Although the extended version has some interesting recuts of scenes, the producers didn't actually produce a second version of the film, instead they leveraged the technology buy giving the DVD two different chapter orders. Watching the extended version makes your player sound like the death throes of the motor. Unless your player has an extrememly short seek time, there's no end to the annoying breaks as you skip from the theatrical chapter point to the extended scene and back. Coupled with the unfinished colouring and editing of the extra scenes this makes an unsatisfying version of the movie.
The 40-Year Old Virgin
Aah, a comedy that is funny. My beard has made it down past my knees since the last one.
Oh and it's crude, base, offensive, cringe-inducing....did I mention funny?
My folks went and saw the movie a week before the mrs and I did. Shall we just say that my mother didn't enjoy? Hell, my father was bugged out.
All the way through, friend DEG and I laughed and cringed, although I was a bit more aware of the potential offense the mrs might take. Still, on the whole she laughed and liked it.
If you're one of the last few who haven't seen it, I recommend but with this caveat: there are jokes about fucking a horse. You're warned.
The Constant Gardener
A great suspense movie, with a genuinely intelligent plot (pay attention, I'm not there to hold your hand from the credits) and good performances. Ralph Feinnes can portray an inner universe of incredible vastness with just a twitch of the corner of his eye. A performance that could only be called quintessentially English. The camera work favours that grainy, documentary feel that's more common nowadays, and some odd angles worked out for what they mean, not how easy it is to find the principle in the shot. This gives it a more arty feel that the usual suspense/spy fare.
Just a quick thumbnail of what I thought.
And of course:
A bit over a week ago, friend DEG calls and offers a ticket to an advanced screening. So I took the requisite .084 of a second to decide and met him on Thursday.
Walking out neither one of us could say anything but, Wow. Actually, friend DEG was also able to say, Spanked Revenge of the Sith. (I still don't think Sith was that bad; of course it's just that we're getting used to Star Wars being so bad)
Serenity was well plotted and well paced. It was gripping. Although there were some concessions to popular sentiment like a battle in the upper atmosphere so there could be engine sounds and a strangely 2-dimensional, naval interpretation of interplanetary travel, the characterizations (a Joss Whedon trademark) and story didn't pander.
And the 'space western' motif seemed to click for a change. I was often a bit unsure of it in the TV series.
Anyway, Serenity is a complete must see. One of the better movies this year.
I discovered Skepticality when I was looking for anything skeptical or science news related when I downloaded iTunes 4.9. Given the range of guests, Monkey News and overall charm of the podcast, I was turned to a regular listener in a single show.
Checking out the updates, I found the message from co-host Swoopy giving a tear-filled explanation of Derek's collapse into a coma.
Drop by them and leave a message of good will and support. Every bit helps.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Found it here Evolutionblog or the original at http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/9/8/183216/1039
Friday, September 02, 2005
Also: New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don't want to swim.
To hear some folk weighing in on the disaster in New Orleans, you'd think they brought it on themselves. With all the whoring and flashing and drinking and Godlessness. To wit:
Now New Orleans is under water, bathing in sewage and devastation rather than providing downtown fountains for homosexual capers aplenty.
All of this has prompted Repent America to conclude that the biblical God had a heavy hand in the Katrina swing along. It’s an "‘act of God,’" they claim to media. United States-based, Repent America goes to the streets to preach repentance of sin, conversion to Christ as personal Savior, and thereby living the holy lifestyle according to the biblical message.As far as Repent America is concerned, divine judgment has come upon a metropolis that was bent on making its environs open to hell’s demons. Therefore, God intervened. There will be no "Southern Decadence" skipping the light fantastic. Over and out. Done. Gone. Under water.
So to get a few hedonistic homos, God, in his wisdom and mercy, sank a whole city of his devoted followers.
Of course, there are competing points of view on his divine mercy. For example:
At least one New Orleans-area resident believes God created the storm as punishment because of the recent role the United States played in expelling Jews from Gaza. On Sunday evening, Bridgett Magee of Slidell, La., told the Christian website Jerusalem Newswire that she saw the hurricane “as a direct ‘coming back on us’ [for] what we did to Israel: a home for a home.”So, now He's pissed about something that happened over in Israel, but instead of hammering Jerusalem or some group of unbelievers or somebody directly involved in the pullout, he swamps a whole bunch of his devotees (and that group of hedonistic homos in the middle).
And this is where you end up with mixing divine will and natural disasters -- untenable theology. Divine will is so unclear here that there is no interpreting it. There is certainly no predicting it. Sorting out what God wants is a monumental and ultimately self-defeating task.
After Pat Robertson's shooting off of the mouth, the net was abuzz with Top 10 great quotes from him. And what do we get to see? Hate-filled diatribes, vitriol, narrow-mindedness and worse qualities all wrapped up in a sugar coating of the smug sanctimoniousness of shallow Christianity. One that stuck out to me was his conversation with Falwell, agreeing that the ACLU, Liberals and tolerance of homosexuality were to blame for 9/11. They made it happen.
The connection between the religious and the gloating is becoming all too strong, all to common.
A lot of this has been banging around in my head since the tsunami. That was when my own grandmother talked about God wanting to clear the world of non-Christians. She says a lot of things that I know she wouldn't have 5 years ago. Some of it is down to the her health issues; some is small town devotion. Still how distasteful is it? How uncomfortable in your own family?
In times of great pain and suffering borne by our fellow human beings, people swoop in with this kind of weak theology like vultures on a flattened gopher. The question they don't seem to ask is why God should choose a natural disaster or terrorist attack to express his will or anger. It's not an asked question because there is only danger in ascribing divine will to these events.
Ask for a moment how powerful a god must be to create such events. Then ask, why not powerful enough to strike down the ones he's aiming at. How merciful a god who kills ten he's against by killing 1000 others. Powerful enough to create a hurricaine; not powerful enough to just kill those he despises. Able to shift tectonic plates; not able to hit a few people with lightning. Can't he pick and choose his targets?
We know from the story of Job that god will fuck his most favoured into the dirt in a craven desperation to get approval and attention from Satan.
In a tantrum worthy of a three year old, he'll grind you under his heel because he wants to stomp your neighbour, or because he wants to prove to someone that he's big and strong.
He can't hit what he's aiming at, doesnt care what he's aiming at, and may deliberately aim the wrong way just to prove he's a bad-ass.
And we should put our trust in him.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Watching the histrionics of late and seeing the veil being pulled over educational eyes in Kansas and elsewhere is too important to remain completely silent. As a friend of mine recently said, the rational have to start saying that it's not okay to believe everything. Some opinions are actually worth more than others. Some beliefs are not valid. To paraphrase Stephen Pinker, cargo planes built by science fly; ones built by cargo cults don't.
Most of the attempts to sneak religion back into the classroom are based on the idea of teaching the controversy.
The debate between Intelligent Design Creationism and Evolution is a non-starter. The actual debate between the upstart theory and the then-orthodoxy was over before any living person was born. Orthodoxy ceded its place to the upstart. Since that time, evolution has only become more refined and more supported by endless discoveries in every field.
So the fight is over.
Evolution as a theory is supported by all branches of science and supports them in return. Like a tapestry, if you don't like the evolution pattern in the corner yoiu can pull a few threads to change, but you distort the astrophysics picture in the corner. And that gets noticed.
IDC supporters, don't really want the controversy taught, despite their rhetoric. They want god in the classroom at any cost; their god, not yours. Bending the evidence or presenting well refuted arguments is not an obstacle.
It's hard to imagine that they want to see teachers and students really contrasting the two perspectives. The students will notice that the alternative theory in biology class doesn't have the hallmarks of science that they found about in chemistry class.
Teacher: "Today we'll learn about the controversy surrounding science and Intelligent Design. The controversy is this, how long will people allow special interests to clog up Education Board meetings like so much human cholesterol?"
For those interested in seeing a real controversy taught, add the following words to the curicculum: "Of course, based on the evidence the designer is Allah."
If there is a place for IDC, it's in Social Studies or Comparative Religion classes, not in the science classroom, for the same reason that Sociology isn't taught in Accounting class.
Bible based astronomy and geology don't have value. Neither does biblical biology.