Sunday, December 31, 2006

...and the world is still glad to be rid of him.

At about 3am GMT Saddam Hussein was executed, hanged by the neck until
dead.
It was an act of revenge, justice and politics that lowers the bar of
civilization for us all. It lowers from the moral high ground anyone
involved. Killing and revenge is a poor way to distinguish yourself from
those who kill and take out revenge.
Saddam Hussein was killed for 148 Shi'ite deaths, making him a martyr
for the Sunni cause now. On the eve of Eid. This cannot end well, if it
ends at all. He was never tried for the much touted gassing of the
Khurds in northern Iraq. Popular wisdom holds that it's because American
involvement and partial culpability would come to light. There is now
no-one to hold to account and no impetus to actually investigate further.
Look, he was a horrible, indescribably horrible little man who deserved
death and we will not miss him one bit. You can't defend his record.
But, capital punishment is counter-productive at its core. We (as the
West) had the chance to storm and occupy the moral high ground (that
phrase again), to show ourselves better, to demonstrate a better way. We
pissed it away.
Opinions from the Blogosphere
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/12/30/mikes-blog-roundup-48/
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2112555.ece
http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/68509847/what_has_been_accomplished.php

<http://feeds.feedburner.com/%7Er/scienceblogs/pharyngula/%7E3/68509847/what_has_been_accomplished.php>

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stupid Gaijin Test

I'm happy to report that I didn't score as a Stupid Gaijin on this test
<http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-1/630/Are+you+a+stupid+gaijin?>.
Hat Tip to: TokyoMango <http://tokyomango.blogspot.com/>

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

You know how I know you're gay...

You drink soy
<http://www.crooksandliars.com/2006/12/12/soy-beans-make-you-gay/>milk.
This one of those things that's been reported (Here
<http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53327>) and
blogged at the first link and at Pharyngula
<http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/satans_perfect_food_tofu.php>.
I don't know why they're acting so surprised. I mean just look at Japan;
christ they're all screamers over there. Last time I watched Seven
Samurai it was all poofy guys in skirtish things mincing about.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm not sure I'm looking to suck the soul from your bones...

But given these results, it might be an idea.

How evil are you?

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hmmm....might be onto something here

Through Pharyngula

The link
<http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2006/12/better-place-selected-essays-on-desire.html>brings
you through to some non-theistic moral principles that might nail shut a
particularly odious fundamentalist notion: that there is no morality
without god.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."


__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

http://mail.yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

This May Be the Best List of Stuff That Creationists Hate I've Ever Seen

http://www.skepticreport.com/creationism/thingscreationistshate.htm
That's pretty much my spiel on this.

However if you need something offensive
<http://www.christonthecrapper.com/sacrilege/theh/>.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I was a bit curious

You are 100% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's nice to know that the whackadoodles are going global.

http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/11/not_in_kansas_anymore.php
Honestly, I despair.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sorry, who was that Hovind guy again and what happened to him?

Doesn't it seem like everybody's enjoying this?
http://www.geocities.com/rangerhiq/index.html

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

__________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com

As Guy Fawkes Night approaches

Guy Fawkes may only be famous in North America as the bloke that Hugo
Weaving patterned himself after in /V for Vendetta/, but there's a whole
series of traditions that are associated with him in the UK.
First of all there's the near constant fireworks for nearly 2 weeks.
Then there's realizing that there are only 2 displays are actually
publicly funded. The rest are just guys firing them off in their
backyards. Or at other people. Or on the bus.
So tonight taking the little furry one out for his last evening pee
before bed meant that we walked across the street in a pea soup of
smoke-fog that smelt slightly of sulfur and other crap with bits of
wadding floating in it.
And all of it to keep alive the memory of how wonderfully tortured to
death this one guy was 300 years ago. It's a wonderful way of saying
"No, we don't want Catholics to think they're humans in this country,
let alone about participating in public life." To this day the Royal
Family (not The Royle Family) are forbidden to either be Catholic or
marry a Catholic.
So here we are smoked in and the dog looking like a PTSD'd WW1 vet
watching /Saving Private Ryan/ --/ The Harrowing Bits /cut when he goes
out for a whizz. And before somebusybody decides that he's gotta check
and find out that Guy Fawkes wasn't tortured to death or how long ago it
was, I just can't be bothered to look it up with the ringing in my ears.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."


As Megaphone Mark Slackmeyer once said: Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/11/hovinds_trial_is_all_done_but.php

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Haggard. You remember him with Richard Dawkins.

You know: "You're so arrogant with your learning. You should read the
Bible, chuck away your brain and be more like me. Everything would be so
much better if people just followed me. Cause I'm humble."
Oh right him.
http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_5115903,00.html
Yeah. You know he hates them gays.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

No reason not to plug this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQ8_bIji7gQ

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dr Dino continues to amuse

The ongoing adventures of our favourite Flintston-ologist.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

And how will we protect the children?

The problem with this
(link): do you want to live in a world where kids can see people with tattoos
and think it's okay. That way lies madness. Soon they'll be drinking,
doing drugs and then jazz music.
Won't someone think of the children?

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scariest Americans (of the moment)

A list of the Scariest Americans:
Not for the faint of heart.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Just read this post and prayer from Pharyngula

http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/39673964/hovind_saga_continues.php

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

And they're off...

My parents left the UK for Canada today.
I'm still a bit miffed at the amount of time you have to spend at
Heathrow just because an unworkable plan got hatched in some uninhabited
heads. So we join a 250 metre line up and look for water bottles and
hand cream to throw away.
The flat is a bit emptier now and the dog is getting sulkier as he
starts to realize that they're not coming back.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Hovind notes from through Pharyngula

Lovely.
The Pensacola News Journal has another story about Dr Flintstone.
(http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061020/NEWS01/610200327)
Damn he's funny.

/Hovind believes he and his employees work for God, are paid by God
and therefore aren't subject to taxation.
But Horton said whether Hovind works for God is irrelevant and the
Bible does not exempt anyone from paying taxes.
"We know the Scriptures do not promote (tax evasion)," she said.
"It's against Scripture teaching."
Horton first heard of Hovind's beliefs about taxes in the mid 1990s.
/

Pharyngula seems to be capable of digesting this sort of thing:
http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/05/pensacola_christians_are_makin.php
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/03/godless_bloggers_vs_pensacola.php
and, of course
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/10/pensacola_hilarity.php

Can't wait to see this unfurl.
//
//

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another one

Do check out another blog on Dr Dino -- the Panda's Thumb
<http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/10/workers_testify.html>.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Oh it's on. Don't you worry, it's on.

You know it's just getting good again.
I've kinda disappeared into my own butt between the niece, parents'
visit and so on...
And then the good news
<http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061018/NEWS01/610180337/1006>gets
broken by the Old Pensacola News Journal. 'Dr' Dino, our favourite
Flintstoneologist is getting his trial rolling along. And I was just
forgetting to say 'suborned of false muster' 3 times a day.
Don't forget to read the comments. Some whack-a-doodles have a few
things to say there.
It's also not a bad time to keep an eye on the blogosphere. Dispatches
from the Culture Wars
<http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/10/hovind_trial_begins.php> has
a quick blurb. More will come from other soon.
Oh, and save your brain <http://darwin-online.org.uk/>. Darwin's on the web.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Now there's no hope that they'll do anything about him.

In the wake of the Korean nuclear test, just let me say this: there is
no chance that the US will go into Korea. As I maintained before the
Second Gulf War, US soldiers will not be put in the way of this kind of
retaliation.
Kim Jong-il is safe.
We're not.

-
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where were these teachers when I was in high school?


Let's face it. Cairine Wilson didn't have that many teachers worth
hitting on anyway, but still. And yes, I know that I'm missing the point
of the article. Don't tell me that.

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=52044

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Okay, just knock this crap off.

Ah yes. All the Sturm and Drang of the foiled terror plot. The more you
read the more you think that there's no there there. When my folks
arrived over here they barely brought any carryon luggage because they
know they can't carry it back. You are free, however, to abandon your
carryons in the UK. Look for a big pile of abandoned video cameras in
Hyde Park stacked up like empties after a student's lease-breaking party.
The first person to really underscore the fact that this has to come to
an end was Wonkette
(http://www.wonkette.com/politics/dancing-with-the-stars/can-we-please-bring-our-damned-coffee-on-the-plane-again-idiots-201784.php)

So why does Wonkette have a mad-on for these new security procedures.
Well, because they are the bullshit response to a bullshit threat:
There's a pretty good rundown of why there's no there there.
http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Sources_August_Terror_Plot_Fiction_Underscoring_0918.html
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/page2.html
<http://www.wonkette.com/politics/dancing-with-the-stars/can-we-please-bring-our-damned-coffee-on-the-plane-again-idiots-201784.php>
http://www.shoutwire.com/viewstory/24880/Former_British_Ambassador_Says_Terror_Alert_Is_Propaganda

--
-----
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Monday, September 25, 2006

Finally Motivated to Write In to Filmspotting

Sam and Adam
Long time listener, etc, etc.
I've been listening since the early days and this is one of my favourite
podcasts. I enjoy the reviews, the arguments, the hits, the misses...
The problem is that I'm usually a couple of weeks behind on listening to
the podcasts. So I may be a bit dated but since I only listened this
afternoon, here goes:

You're way off the mark on your Top Five Truly Moving Pictures list.
Forrest Gump? It still astounds me so many years on that a shallow
one-note performance - the cinematic equivalent of chopsticks - could
still be hailed as being so rich and layered. "It's not chopsticks! It's
a symphony," I keep hearing. How does this happen?

Ultimately, you missed some of the most powerful and tear provoking
movies in cinema...

5) Truly, Madly, Deeply. Juliet Stevenson loses her husband, Alan
Rickman, and is still seeking counselling to deal with the grief. Her
palpable anguish in the opening scene is real beyond any Hollywood
crying you've ever seen. When Rickman returns and eventually begins to
grate on her, bringing other ghosts home, watching footie all night, she
begins to spend more time out for a walk. She begins to get more
involved with Michael Mahony and move on with her life...The final scene
where it becomes clear that Rickman had intentionally pushed his
grieving wife away so she could live happily can and does bring a tear
to the eye. This is a movie that successfully strides back and forth
between tear-jerker and light comedy and never makes you think that it
was confused.

4) Immortal Beloved: Gary Oldman as Beethoven. Could've been bad. But it
turned out to be surprisingly powerful. And if you have a shred of
empathy you will feel the pain and anguish of Ludwig's loss. Seen it a
lot, will see it a lot. Sadly overlooked by most people.

3) The English Patient: One of the best books of the 20th century became
one of the most moving films. Helmed by Anthony Minghella, this film has
a longing and a sadness in every scene that builds to the final terrible
climax. The scene of Ralph Fiennes carrying Kristen Scott Thomas's body
from the desert cave tears up everyone who has tear ducts.

2) Quill: How can you describe this 2004 Japanese movie? It the story of
a yellow Labrador who is trained to be a guide dog. No cute kids, no
celebrity voice-overs, no anthropomorphizing. Just the story of a dog
who becomes a guide dog, lives 12 years and dies of old age. And if you
don't cry 5 times in the film, you wouldn't notice if I changed your
Visine for onion juice.

Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka): Older film from Studio Ghibli
(Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi, Tonari no Totoro). This is a very
serious offering of two kids orphaned in the tail end of the Second
World War. It's cute and funny at times, but also powerful with a
downbeat ending that will have your neighbours listening to your sniffles.

That's my belated two-bits. Really looking forward to the next podcast.
See you two weeks after it.

--
From:
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Wandsworth, London

"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

badscience » Dreary Pro-Homeopathy Piece and Letter

So, Ive been away for the last week or so.
I've started the new job and have been running around with that. And then the big news happened.
No not my folks coming over to visit. That's actually up in the air because my neice was admitted to the hospital.
With a 4cm brain tumour.
Between the brainstem and cerebellum.
The story was long and convuluted. This is just the Readers' Digest version.
To prepare for my grandfather's internment and to begin cleaning and preparing the house for sale (which doesn't make my grandmother happy at all), my parents travelled down to Amherst again.
During the stay there, my neice complained of double vision, nausea and other problems. She was lethargic and harder to get up in the mornings than most teenagers.
When they got back up to Bourget, my sister booked an appointment for the opthamologist. Who took one look in Bailie's eyes and called the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (make note of the acronym CHEO. You'll hear it a lot. It's pronounced Chee-oh, Like Chiyonofuji.) Eye Clinic, who refused here and sent her in for X-rays and MRIs and other medical alphabet soups.
And they found the tumour.
A couple of days later she was in neurosurgery for 14 hours to have it removed. Let's just say that's dangerous. I really don't think I could describe the tension the family was under.
Cut to the middle.
The tumour was completely removed and wasn't attached to the brain, meaning there's no substantial neurological damage. There are the usual issues associated with brain salad surgery: motor function difficulties, blurry vision, moodiness (more than other 13-year old girls -- I'm almost 14!!!)
She will need extensive physio therapy to relearn walking and fine motor skills and may end up with a lazy eye out of the deal. But she'll live and be intact, both of which are important.
By the way, the treatment available at CHEO is first class. They gave this their A game and we are grateful.
In celebration of this triumph of conventional medicine, I have found a most interesting set of articles.
They guy who writes the Bad Science column in the Guardian is going to town on his own paper in this post badscience » Dreary Pro-Homeopathy Piece and Letter on his blog.
It's a response to the recent change of regulation allowing homeopathic medicines (is there a font that is ironic I could put that in?) to print their claims on the label. This was followed by the release of a study showing that most complementary medicine is bunk...yeah, I know, which one was that again. They all say the same thing....
An osteopath was narked by this and got out the typewriter to vent her spleen with this article, which is basically the same as this rambling, fallacy-ridden bit of sandwhich schmutz by, guess who, the same clown-college teacher.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An interesting weekends worth of information.

I got back to work today from the weekend. Someone asked me a rather
typical question. "Did you have a good weekend?"
I thought about it and answered, "Do you like wallpapering?"
"No," my interlocuter had no reason to even ponder the answer.
"Ah, I didn't have much of a weekend then."
The few minutes I wasn't covered in wallpaper paste were productive in a
sense. I noticed a large number of religion and education related posts
and news articles out there.
The American Family Association (or NAMBLA) noticed that higher levels
of education can de-fundamentalize the kids.
(http://www.afajournal.org/2006/august/0806colleges.html) Not sure what
the conclusion they drew was. Maybe the kids just need Real Science.
Atheist Revolution commented on the recent stories showing that
fundamentalist Christian schools do a much worse job at education the
kids.
(http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/2006/08/study-finds-worst-performance-in.html)
And I thought I pointed out the obvious.
Muslim schools devoted to the Koran and nothing else (is that even a
school?) came up in the New York Times.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/16/nyregion/16koran.html?ex=1313380800&en=37facdab5e7a786d&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss)
Atheist Revolution also noticed the general trend in the US of moving
away from thinking at all
(http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/2006/08/no-thinking-allowed.html)
though a lot of us from outside the US would say it's a pretty
longstanding trend.
The Institute for Humanist Studies gets a lick in at the US for it's
strength of religion and crime rate, based on the study of a few months
back.
(http://www.humaniststudies.org/enews/index.html?id=219&article=7).
Let's face it, the connection between strong religiosity and social
problems is becoming clearer and clearer. Still, I'm a bit hesitant to
accept the conclusions based on one study. I think it's a fruitful line
of inquiry in any case.
And that's a little link-a-palooza about the intersection of religion
and culture this weekend.

--
Posted by
The Eternal Gaijin (email)
London, UK

Words are incapable of describing what I am about to tell you.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Having started work I can tell you that...

Being employed is much better than being unemployed.
Work is off to a good start.
Additional note: I made contact with CB, an old colleague from Tokyo who
is another Canadian in Britain (CiB). From what he's said, he didn't
land on his feet, but has pulled himself back up to them and is now
doing pretty well. Glad to hear it.
And the Register has an interesting article about the possibility of
actually mixing up a liquid explosive on an airplane, which is extremely
informative. Totally debunks the need for all the crap that's been going
down at Heathrow all week.
(http://www.theregister.com/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/)

--
Posted by
The Eternal Gaijin (email)
London, UK

Words are incapable of describing what I am about to tell you.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Evolution and Medicine

Evolution and Medicine
Over at Respectful Insolence, Orac has run a lot of posts about the intersection of evolution and medicine, and covered the need in depth.
Along the same lines, this article outlines the need for evolutionary biology to be more prominently featured in medical school.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Cincinnati Post - Kevin Eigelbach: Lighten up on the scare letters

The Cincinnati Post - Kevin Eigelbach: Lighten up on the scare letters
Ken Ham is freaking out and starting more of his (and the Religious Right's) War on Christianity crap based on a sticker found in a Bible somewhere that said it should be approached critically.
Nice take on the evolution warning sticker.
Sorry this backfired on you Ken, but do you know where I can order some of those stickers?

LiveScience.com - U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution

LiveScience.com - U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution

Dennis Miller (before his road to Damascus conversion) put it very well when he said little says more about American anti-intellectualism than the fact that calling someone a bit of an Einstein is an insult. He also pointed out that on one of the 3Rs actually starts with the letter r.
So is that why these results are scary? (Come on, the US finished behind Latvia and Cyprus. How the hell does that happen?
Or does it have to do with the ongoing PR campaign being waged by the Religious Right and IDC folks?
Maybe is the growing backlash against any form of public education.
Whatever factor or combination thereof, it's taking its toll. The US is slipping from it's heights. China is ascendent, bio-medical research has started its flight to other countries, science is moving elsewhere and India has started to make progress.
W. seems to think that he can maintain and increase American power with his shows of force and the unilaterialism that he's been known for, but in the end he just seems to be the steward of the decline. As intellectually substantial as a french crueller, he's a man who's just in completely the wrong job.
As a side note, I wish they would start including Canada in these things. It won't due to lump us in with the States. The book Fire and Ice showed full well the divergence in responses between Canucks and the Yanks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

NCSE Resource on Brian Alters

NCSE Resource
Follow the link for a good rundown on Brian Alters, the prof whose study was rejected for not providing sufficient evidence of evolution.
Lotta links out to other articles.

NCSE Resource on Brian Alters

NCSE Resource
Follow the link for a good rundown on Brian Alters, the prof whose study was rejected for not providing sufficient evidence of evolution.
Lotta links out to other articles.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pooflingers Anonymous: The Hovind Files: Lying for Jesus

Pooflingers Anonymous: The Hovind Files: Lying for Jesus
The Pooflinger gave a hell of an effort and nearly gave himself aneurysm trying to get through Dr Flintsone's video series. A bit of linkage to his series.

NCSE Resource on Kent Hovind

NCSE Resource
A nice rebuttal to Dr Dino and his spiel.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Guest Post: I Remember Hovey

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Guest Post: I Remember Hovey
Another great article outlining the delicious insanity of the world of Kent Hovind, degree mill PhD, paranoid conspiracy nut, religious zealot and tax evader.
'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pharyngula: Christian Calculus?

Pharyngula: Christian Calculus?
A while back I went for an interview to do IT support for a Catholic college. Part of the application asked me my religion. Although it never came up in the interview I prepped an answer to any question about religion: Until I see a papal bull on DNS technologies, I don't see how it's a consideration.
And now, through PZ Myers at Pharyngula, we see that there are problems getting fully Christian calculus delivered to the masses.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

London Masturbating Marathon 2006 - Wank-A-Thon for Charity

London Masturbating Marathon 2006 - Wank-A-Thon for Charity
Harkening back to the Daily Show and it's segment on the guy who hated a-thon's and had to stay in his apartment, friend KP sent me a link to the upcoming London Wank-a-thon. Given how inhibited the English are it really surprises me that this is happening.
Now, I'm not against masturbation, certainly not given my teen years (you can blush, but you know it's true for you too), but what the hell is this?
On the other hand, it's well planned for:
The Wank-A-Thon will take place in Clerkenwell this summer and will see hundreds of men and women doing it for themselves and for charity. They will be sponsored for how many minutes they can masturbate for and how many orgasms they achieve. Couples are welcome, as are more shy and retiring types who can masturbate in the privacy of a special booth. There will also be men only areas, women only areas and a comfort zone where contestants can spend time relaxing between sessions.
You can sign up at the link from the article.

Monday, August 07, 2006

David Byrne Journal: 8.2.06: American Madrassas

David Byrne Journal: 8.2.06: American Madrassas
David Byrne has a review of a movie called Jesus Camp which puts together the worst elements of Christianity and fundamentalism in a nice little re-education camp format and ships kids in for the summer.
Frankly the whole idea gives me the wigguns but apparently nobody is asking me what to do about the States these days.
But it does bring to mind the fundamental (ha-ha) hypocrisy of the ultra-religious: your fundamentalism is scary; ours is a reflection of solid values. Your martyrs are deranged whack-a-doodles; ours are on the side of god.
The inability to see that each reflects the other is amazing and reflects a cognitive dissonance of astounding depth. Fundamentalists from both sides are looking in a mirror. The rest of us realize they are the funhouse mirror image of ourselves.
In the meantime London is running out of water. This is hard to understand when you come from a country with half the fresh water in the world. How on earth does London, after New York the financial capital of the world, possible run out of water?
Florida has destroyed history education. I just can'tget over that in any way, shape or form. I read so much history and I despair when I hear of this sort of thing.
On the upside, my new job will start in a week, so I can finally get out of the house.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

[Fwd: Mel Gibson Reveals His Anti-Semitism Once Again]

In tonight's Evening Standard there was an article on Mel Gibson's DWI
arrest. When he was being cuffed he asked the officer if he was Jewish
and then launched into a Elders of Zion kind of anti-semitic rant. Good
one, Mel. That'll fix that South Park episode that made you look crazy!

From Atheist Revolution
Link

The primary criticism received by Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the
Christ" was that it was anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, the film and Gibson
himself were embraced by Christians. Now it appears that Gibson has
revealed his true feelings about Jews even more clearly. During a recent
DUI arrest Gibson became belligerent and made unmistakably anti-Semitic statements
to the police arresting him. It doesn't sound like Jewish leaders are buying his post-incident apology either. I can't help wondering if this incident will make Gibson more or
less popular among his many Christian fans.

--
Posted by
The Eternal Gaijin (email)
London, UK

Words are incapable of describing what I am about to tell you.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Moving again it seems

My wife received notice today that at the start of next year (2007) she
will be sent to Osaka, Japan for 3 years.
永年外人と呼ぶだけど。。。
Time to get the Japanese back in shape...wonder if I can get my old job
back.

--
Posted by
The Eternal Gaijin (email)
London, UK

Words are incapable of describing what I am about to tell you.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Hovind Not Allowed to Travel

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Hovind Not Allowed to Travel

Dispatches from the Culture Wars (a place I skulk a lot through RSS) has an update on Kent Hovind's glee inducing troubles. (Through Pensacola News)

Now he had to surrender his passport. I've previously mused about what Hovind's passport says, citizenship wise. As a citizen of god, how does he have a US passport in the first place.

Moves in mysterious ways, as they say.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

'End Times' Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon - Los Angeles Times

There are some real whack-a-doodles out there and they are becoming a larger part of the vocal segment of the US population. And that's a problem for the rest of us.
'End Times' Religious Groups Want Apocalypse Soon - Los Angeles Times

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Park owner pleads not guilty to tax fraud | Local News | PensacolaNewsJournal.com

Park owner pleads not guilty to tax fraud | Local News | PensacolaNewsJournal.com

Guess who I'm thinking of? Dr Dino himself, the Flintstone paleontologist.
Why is it that when ever I read anything about this guy I inevitably run into some other twit just as bad. I'm thinking of his fellow anti-evilutionist, Dr Jason Gastrich. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you see a fair amount of commentary with only a few defenders of either one of them.
From the linkage provided it turns out that Jason Gastrich is a carbon copy of Flintstone-philiac.
Speaking of Hovind, in a post somewhat about him, he tried to plea "suborned of false muster." I like the section of the Pensacola news article where the reporter, failing to find it referenced in a legal dictionary, has to parse the plea word by word to figure out what the frak he's banging on about.
Here's what dictionary.law.com says about pleas:
plea
n. 1) in criminal law, the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are "not guilty," "guilty," "no contest" (admitting the facts, but unwilling to plead "guilty," thus resulting in the equivalent of a "guilty" verdict but without admitting the crime), or "not guilty by reason of insanity" (at the time of the criminal act). However, the accused may make a "dilatory plea" challenging the jurisdiction of the court or claiming that he/she is the wrong defendant, requiring a special hearing. He/she may admit the acts but have excuses to be considered (a "plea in abatement"), which may affect the judge's sentence. Pleas are entered orally at arraignment (first court appearance) or a continued (postponed) arraignment. If after a preliminary hearing the judge determines the defendant must face trial for a felony, he/she will have to enter a plea again before a judge of the trial court. 2) any written answer or other response filed by a defendant to a complaint or petition in a civil lawsuit.
See also: arraignment plead preliminary hearing
Dude, seriiously, you don't get to make up shit like that in a court of law. You only get to make up your own facts when you're addressing other Xian fundies.

Lovely man.

Link to a site about Jason Gastrich
Biblical Inerrancy featuring Jason Gastrich
Law Dictionary containing no reference to Suborned of False Muster

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pooflingers Anonymous: News

http://pooflingers.blogspot.com/2006/07/news.html
You know a lot of the blogosphere is really really happy that "Dr Dino"
is finally getting what is coming to him.
I've got a little schadefraude coming through. Make way! It's taking up
two lanes on the highway.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Freethought Today, March 2006

Freethought Today, March 2006
Believe it or not there is a bill in Wisconsin that would basically ban Intelligent Design Creationism from the science classrooms in the state. The act maintains that to be in the science curriculum the content must be 1) testable 2) is limited to natural 3) consistent with National Academy of Sciences definitions.
Beauty.
Money Quote:

Prof. Alan Attie, who teaches biochemistry, said the bill puts Wisconsin on the map in opposing creationism.

As he put it to Judith Davidoff of The Capital Times: "We can be the un-Kansas."

Beauty.

Hat tip: The Uncredible Hallq

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This is how I feel most days.

Thanks to the Japundit podcast for introducing me to the song and
whoever put together the video for YouTube. (Jim's Big Ego - Stress)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzmFHpyyY7Q


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Foxy lady

Our neighbourhood in south London is fairly quiet, fairly safe. It's an
uneventful end of the city that has little happening in it but for a few
days a year when Wimbledon tennis blows through the neighbourhood two
train stops away. We're in the middle of that maelstrom, though it's
only really that busy near the station and along Wimbledon Park Road
where the shuttle buses run.
I'm actually not really going to say much about Wimbledon, the
neighbourhood, the park or the tennis courts/games. I've been up doing a
little shopping but that's about it. But animals are a big thing around
this part of London and they occupy my thoughts a lot.
The local Wandsworth brewery, Young's, recently folded up production,
but it did something special until recently: it locally delivered the
beer by horse-drawn carriage. Now that's something you don't see
everyday, anymore. On the horsey front, periodic police patrols wander
by on horse. I've been walking the dog down by King George's Park and
almost bumped into a horse's ass. The dog has never been aroiund horses
and he took it in much better stride than I thought he would. I kinda
thought he would want to chase or herd them or something, but he's been
remarkably calm.
We also have the problem of foxes. Foxes are the racoons of London.
Somewhere around 22-2230h we start to see foxes wandering the streets.
They get into the garbage, bother cats and dogs and generally do, foxy
things.
Late last week walking Ken up for his last whizz of the day he stopped
and snuffled under the fence of the the tennis courts. Pull as I might,
when he decides the parking brake is on only lifting all four up off the
ground will get him moving. After a minute or so I got curious what was
on the other side of the the fence (steak? greener grass?) and did a
chin-up over the fence. Sure enough, what did I see? One of the biggest
grey foxes in the area. He was only a bit smaller than my dog, maybe
pushing 14-15 kg.
Ken has always had a slight foxy look to him. More so when he was a
puppy; he's grown to look like an transitional between a fox and a wolf.
His face is still foxy but his ears are wolfier. But people still comment.
There's a skinnier one around here that keeps looking Ken up and down
when we see each other. He sees the resemblance and realizes that at 18
kilos, Ken's a chubby fox and must know the best foraging/scrounging
grounds.

--
Posted by
The Eternal Gaijin (email)
London, UK

Words are incapable of describing what I am about to tell you.

Monday, July 03, 2006

God is for Suckers! » Blog Archive » Atheist

God is for Suckers! » Blog Archive » Atheist
This is a good video that I found at God is for Suckers!.
You have to check it out.
It's a great refutation of almost everything the US religious right has to say about us these days.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

[Fwd: [Fwd: Satan Plays Political Favorites]]

It's a small, crap comment that still got lost somehow so I'm reposting.

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/06/satan_plays_political_favorite.php

Somedays you have to wonder what the hell some people are thinking.
Satan is too busy dogging my job hunt in the UK to bother with a
politician's campaign.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A great lesson in the English

It's not a stretch to distinguish the English from the British. In a
sense there's no /British/ culture, rather British is a conflation of
several distinctive nationalities and several cultures with in each;
English is not Scottish is not Irish, in other words. Similarly, there's
a difference between Yorshire and Anglian, Essex and Liverpudlian.
We had some carpet laid down yesterday. One small bedroom needed new
carpet. My wife had prepaid the company for carpet, underlay and gripper
rails. The two man team showed up in the morning. One of the guys was a
miserable ghit. Barely spoke and looked at the dog like he was carrying
the plague (no particular plague, pick one).
Guess which part of the order they didn't install. The gripper rails.
And they tossed the old carpet and underlay over the rail to the
concourse below our flat (without looking). When I asked them not to,
they gave that English answer: It's got nuffin to do wiff me.
And the older guy, the miserble ghit, was a racist bastard...the second
he had a moment he started nigger nigger this, nigger nigger that, line
up the darkies and ...
Do yourself a favour over here, get a handle on DIY. Try not to use the
locals, unless they're Polish nationals.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

7 Things You Can’t Say in Canada

7 Things You Can’t Say in Canada
Reader's Digest says these things.
I have to agree with the Atwood comment. Blah!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

[Fwd: Nova Scotia's big retailers duck Sunday shopping ban]

There's always a way around laws and some kind of loophole to exploit.
Although there's a certain quaintness to places with no Sunday shopping,
but having been to NS just recently I have to admit that you can a) be
very accustomed to being able to shop when you need b) find it very
frustrating to not be able to get necessities (I don't know tire
puncture sealant) when the need arises.
So a minor hooray for Sobey's for working out the way around it.

http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/06/18/sunday-shopping.html?ref=rss

On board the Queen Mary 2 I had the chance...

One of the great chances we had on the QM2 was to participate in a
series of Oxford extension lectures. (Got a certificate!)
I attended the lectures on evolution by Dr Robert Barton of Durham
University.
Barton is definitely in the Dawkins camp, supporting the idea of gene
level selection. As he put it the logic is impeccable. I got the chance
to speak with him about his thoughts on species level selection (a la
Gould); in his opinion Gould managed several mental gymnastics to
rationalize certain thoughts. I had noticed that Gould's writings had
reflected a belief that natural selection could account for the most
wonderful adaptations and structures but somehow not the brain.
Barton's lectures covered natural selection in general, sexual
selection, evolution and culture and were informative for the informed
layman (me).
In our short conversation Barton admitted to me that the prospect of
doing evolution lectures on a ship half full of Americans made him a bit
nervous, what with all the ID and creationism and fundamentalism coming
out of the US. There were ultimately no problems from the audience. I'm
not sure exactly why, whether there were no creationists in the audience
or everyone just decided to keep decorum.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Cup is on

It's quite the thing to watch the World Cup (unlike the World Series
this involves more than 2 countries).
One of the more amusing things is a series of Budweiser ads showing
American commentators either preparing or watching footie and making the
most profoundly ignorant comments.
I have no idea if they've been posted on You Tube or somewhere else yet,
but if they have been check them out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

[Fwd: Jon Stewart Hammers Bill Bennett]

Through Dispatches from the Culture War.
Saw this last night. Only about a day behind.
Stewart's triumph here was reversing the slippery slope metaphor to
include the next step is banning inter-racial marriage. Very well done.
I still have yet to see a slippery slope thin edge of the wedge argument
that I thought much of.

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2006/06/jon_stewart_hammers_bill_benne.php

Past breaking now, but still news.

Hooray, the insurgency is over. Peace breaks out in Iraq.

http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/06/08/zarqawi-killed.html?ref=rss

Jordanian-born militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted
insurgent in Iraq, has been killed in a U.S. air raid north of
Baghdad, Iraq's prime minister said Thursday.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Okay, I'm not always grumbling about this place.

Today I thought I'd repudiate some of my previouse statements. But then
I realized I wasn't using the word properly.
Still:

1. Weather: Today it's absolutely beautiful. Direct from wholesale
ordering.
2. TV: Tony Robinson and Terry Jones's documentary series are on a
lot. All the Futuramas that Canadian TV never plays (all but 4 in
other words) are on. Lots of Buffy and Angel. Sky TV is pretty cool.
3. Cars: Volkswagon Polo? Nissan Micra? Vauxhall Nova? Vauxhall
anything? I don't really know cars but these things are an
intruiging mystery.
4. Argos: Consumer's Distributing lives! The catalogue is great. You
still write down your number on the little slips and pick your
order. It's great! It's a nostalgia trip. /Cheap/ laser printers
too. (Cheap for the UK)
5. Beer: Brits love beer. Canadians do too, but we don't love variety
in our beer the way Brits do. They have some great beers here just
sitting around in the corner store.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Grumbles and gripes

Some things that I've noticed since being here. Numbered, but not ordered.

1. Neighbours: There are some great people in the UK, but everyone
that you've ever seen in a BritFlick saying "That's got nuffin' to
do wiff me." as they see you lying bleeding in the ditch lives on
this street and the next two over.
2. Weather: Why do they hire meteorologists here? I mean
seriously...look out the window. You're in London. What do you
think it's doing? It's raining. Meteorologist is Greek for
"underemployed."
3. Drought: Only England could possibly create the Rain Sodden
Drought. It's rained just shy of every day since we got here and
the drought continues. Where the hell does the water go?
4. Street signs: are all mounted at my knees. What am I, a hobbitt?
5. Smoking in bars: This just has to stop. Have you every been around
a smoker and they say something like: I really need a smoke. Let's
go to a bar. Of course you haven't. People go out to bars to be
with friends and to drink. If there's no smoking bars, non-smokers
will stay longer and drink more. Lose the smoking in the pub; I'm
trying to have a beer here.
6. There is no number 6.
7. Job applications: It's comforting that I get to write down my
religion so often. I know there are anti-discrimination laws of
some sort here. They only need my denomination for pre-screening
I'm sure. And my age as well. Oh, and my race. That's also
important to have on my application.
8. TV: Eh, it's okay. Takes forever to get set up.
9. Internet: Just about every broadband connection is ADSL and they
don't tend to tell you that they're going take weeks and weeks to
get it. Ordered on the 15 May. Still waiting 3 Jun. Nice, eh?
10. Housing quality. Oh, there's just no end of stuff to say. I do
like the fact that you can't tell the difference between a rich
neighbourhood and a slum by looking at the houses. Or the amount
of litter on the streets.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Uncommon Descent» [off topic] From a Dear Friend of Mine

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1141
I mentioned this in my previous post.
Check out link then check out the Questionable Authority's take on
things at
http://thequestionableauthority.blogspot.com/2006/05/davescott-and-new-depths-of-slime.html

Monday, May 29, 2006

Robertson says he leg-pressed 2,000 pounds - Yahoo! News

Robertson says he leg-pressed 2,000 pounds - Yahoo! News
Is this a joke or did something go really weird while I've been out of touch.
Does a 70+year old man really think people are so gullible that they wouldn't see through this?
Given the recent joy from Uncommon Descent jumping all over the ACLU/Marines Praying urban myth, my sinking feeling is that there is no shortage of people who will by it.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Settling into the UK

So here we are 2 weeks into the UK and I still haven't been up into
London central yet.
I've been busy stripping wallpaper. Which is fine. I mean let's face it:
London is nothing if not home decorating.
We've kept ourselves busy day to day by going to B&Q (the local Rona
equivalent), cleaning, patching cracks in the walls and hopefully
getting the flat to look like what we want.
So the days, well they don't drag on but they certainly do take their time.
The other thing I've been doing is dabbling in self-employment.
I've started doing network and pc support for a local internet cafe. I
managed to hit the timing exactly right when his previous tech went
moved and became unavailable. My wife noted that they had problems with
their computers and approached the staff. The next day I was in speaking
to the manager and the day after that I was starting to service their
computers. It's amazing what you can get 40 pounds an hour doing...
And culture shock. It's not full blown but it's a whole other post in
itself.

It happened

For the last week, I haven't had net or phone access, nor even television.
You'd be amazed how different your life can become without TV and how
little you miss it. Phones, maybe a little more you miss them.
But net access. You miss email. You just can't get comfortable without it.
I say this because it took me until tonight to find out that my
grandfather died last Sunday morning.
And I feel the same I did before I knew. It's better this way; I know
he's happier now. I miss him.

Made it to the UK

Around 0900h on 5 May 06, the Queen Mary 2 berthed in Southhampton, UK
bringing my wife, dog and I to the next stage in our lives.
Leaving Ottawa on the 27th of April my father trucked us down to
Syracuse where we picked up a rental car at the airport and stayed the
night at the Comfort Inn at the Syracuse Airport. From there we drove
down to Manhattan to stay the night in the Holiday Inn Wall Street.
Now you may think that's an odd choice of hotels. This may be true
enough but keep in mind out tag-along mammal. Finding pet friendly
hotels is a bit troublesome when you are searching from a different
country, so you grab the first ones that leap up to be seen.
After a 6 night Atlantic crossing we arrived in Southhampton, got a car
to Southfields. And then the work began:
There's a lot of cleaning to be done in the flat, redecorating of rooms,
painting and papering, not to mention a job to be found...
And that's the next while. Makes me wonder when I'll be able to actually
post this.

Friday, April 28, 2006

On our way...

To start with a cliche: you won't believe the week I've just had.
Unless you've ever moved.
My wife and I are on our way to New York to board the Queen Mary 2 on
Saturday.
We're overnighting in Syracuse and will be driving to NYC tomorrow.
So far the trip is uneventful.
One thing that is noticable is the types of cars that Americans
drive.There are almost no compact cars on the road in northern New York
state. And very few foreign (i.e. Japanese) cars. The majority of
vehicles are domestic (i.e. American) which surprises me because I've
driven American cars, and I'm surprised people would do it a second time.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

EducationGuardian.co.uk | Schools | We believe in ET, not ID

EducationGuardian.co.uk | Schools | We believe in ET, not ID
Seth Shostak is a name that I wouldn't really know if it wasn't for iTunes and the SETI podcast. His liking of painful puns and intelligent but folksy way of dealing with scientific issues appeals to me. (No math.)
It will always make me happy to say that Shostak is slamming the ID movement.
Unlike many Europeans, who find this whole debate faintly farcical, I am not amused. Teaching ID in biology class muddles science with metaphysics. In a country that rides high on technical proficiency, that's serious business.
Support the man.

Friday, April 14, 2006

British scientists reject 'intelligent design' theory

British scientists reject 'intelligent design' theory
Hooray, good news in the papers...
Let's hope the American malaise doesn't spread to the UK.
Christ I'll be there in 3 weeks.

Unscientific biases

Unscientific biases
The Ottawa Citizen is often hit and miss about their coverage of a lot of issues. I thought they were getting a bit better with their coverage of several science related stories recently.
Then along came this article I found at the online site dated 8 Apr 06.
The opening starts out okay.
Canadian agency that funds university research made international headlines this week because it challenged a professor's assumption that evolution theory is incontrovertible.

Good start. I mean we all seem to agree with this and thankfully they haven't decided to argue the facts. But what the hell is this supposed to mean?
But the agency wasn't being backward, it was defending objective scholarship.

Hunh? Isn't reality objective?
Brian Alters, a professor of education at McGill University, had applied for a $40,000 grant to study "Detrimental effects of popularizing anti-evolution's intelligent design theory on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators, and policymakers." The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council rejected his application. Mr. Alters says that doesn't bother him: He knows SSHRC can't fund all applicants, and the council has given him funding for other projects.
We all agree with the second part. Money is always tight, no matter how much is available. It's the classic guns and butter dilemma. But it's really the first part that stumps me. What would the positive effects be of teaching poor critical thinking and giving up when the questions get difficult?

What bothers him is one of the reasons the council gave for its refusal: that there was no "adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct." Mr. Alters was flabbergasted. "We don't have to justify gravity theory, plate tectonics, the earth going around the sun, germ theory. We award PhDs in evolutionary biology."

He's right: Evolution theory and intelligent-design theory are not two competing branches of biology. The first is biology; the second is metaphysics. Within the academic world the two theories are not equivalent in their scientific merit, which is why even the Vatican doesn't argue that Intelligent Design should be taught in biology classes.

I'll call this part a hit. Biology: evolution. Metaphysics: ID. We're back on track.

But Mr. Alters is researching education in the wider world, where many laypeople do question the theory of evolution. It isn't unreasonable for a multidisciplinary grant committee, representing Canadian society, to ask Mr. Alters to explain why his social-science research project needs to take a position on why and how organisms evolve. Mr. Alters is doing that, and more -- he's assuming it is "detrimental" for people to believe in intelligent design.

Whoa. Derailed. Of course he's assuming it's detrimental.
Would you start with the neutral position that Moon Hoax believers do believe what they say so it can't be assumed that it's detrimental to the study of history to believe in it. What if someone wanted to say that the French never made it to North America? Would you have to state that you didn't assume they were unlettered in history? Don't start with the position that the Potato Famine had a negative effect on the Irish population? It could go either way.
Okay, unfocussed half thought out rant over.
But why would they want you to assume that there was an upside to learning not-biology as biology?
His outrage that anyone would dare question evolutionary theory smacks, frankly, of an ideological bias. "The occurrence of evolution is a scientific fact," he says. That it is, but scientists must re-examine their theories and even their facts. Science isn't sacred, and if anyone ought to understand that, it's an academic trying to distinguish fact from belief. Einstein has been proven wrong, or incomplete, on some things. That isn't to say evolutionary theory is wrong, but it must be always open to discussion, elaboration and, yes, maybe re-examination.

Okay, that's true enough. But to continue the Einstien analogy, there are a lot of people out there trying to deny relativity lock stock and barrell. Would that have a negative effect on physics to believe in it?
Is it objective to assume, at the beginning of a research project and without evidence, that the beliefs of others are causing them harm? As the SSHRC committee put it, the proposal didn't substantiate the premise that intelligent design has detrimental effects on students and others.

Umm, sure. Is it objective to assume that believing in astrology harms your ability to objectively interpret astronomical data? Some stuff is just given.

Mr. Alters says that those very effects are what he wants to research, and he can't prove his premise until he's done the work. But it's easy to see why the committee had doubts about Mr. Alters' neutrality when he adds, "Intelligent design is a pseudo-science. Of course it has a detrimental effect on people." If Mr. Alters wants to study the effects of intelligent-design theory on education, he should. But his findings will lack scholarly credibility if they are based on an a priori assumption that people who accept intelligent design are damaged goods.

To borrow from Bill Maher, you don't have to give equal time to two sides of the argument if one side is full of complete crap.

Sometimes you're studying the pervasiveness or degree of a phenomenon.

Why the Gospel of Judas makes sense. By Christopher Hitchens

Why the Gospel of Judas makes sense. By Christopher Hitchens
I don't always agree with Christopher Hitchens, but apparently he agrees with me about the Judas Gospel

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics
There are a lot of people who only have a pop-science knowledge of evilution (can't resist), and I happen to be one of them. I read a lot of Gould and Dawkins (and feel qualified to comment whether or not they're actually at odds), and follow a lot of the issues in the States surrounding the 'controversy.'
It's so good to see a post like this one smacking down an argument that needs it.

Thoughts from Kansas: Lying liars

Thoughts from Kansas: Lying liars
Wow, there's just no stopping those folks in the States. There are defenders of these peoples?

Via Thoughts From Kansas

Farewell to Nova Scotia.

Up early today.
We had to go up to the hospital to talk to my grandfather's doctor, Dr
F., before he spoke to Grampy about what decisions to take in the event
of his condition, mobility and prospects taking a downturn, but we were
a bit late. My grandfather is already DNR; having died once already, he
only wants one last shot at it. In the event of him needing full-time
care, needing to leave my grandmother and the others at the home, he
just wants to be made comfortable. Treatment should be withheld, pain
managed and family called.
Somewhere in the stress of all this, Mum mentally edited out the middle
step of treat, evaluate, release, repeat until release isn't an option,
discuss and carry out wishes; she got to treat then wishes. Our
conversations managed to take a load off her mind. Still, the idea of
making him comfortable as he waits to die feels like killing him.
I'm my typically conflicted self. I believe in dignity and quality of
life as self-evident; I don't want to loose my grandfather however. A
storied war vet with a presence in our family like his is a hard thing
to let go of. He may be the last Military Medal holder left in Nova
Scotia. That makes him at the pointy end of a passing generation.
And he's sick.
And he belives in quality of life as well.
And I don't want to not be able to call him and ask him about his card
games.
He likes hearing from my sister and I. He enjoys our phone calls.
He hates most everything about what his life has become.
He feels useless. He doesn't know what he's good for.
He's sick. He can barely breathe.
We love him. We have to let him go. Within a couple of months we will.
We trucked to his room and sat with him for a while. I told small
stories of my wife not wanting to try a French restaurant in Tokyo for 2
years before she relented to my needling. Then we ended up there once
every month or two for supper.
I got him apple juice.
We made our good byes with Grampy around noon and visited my grandmother
briefly. I'll see her again.
Around 1300h we departed for Halifax Airport (I'll have to check if it's
actually international or not. We seem to have a fair number of
international airports that only fly to Moncton) in our Altima with the
dickey front left tire.

Nova Scotia Day 4

There are days when you have to make decisions. Some of them are affect
other people. Some of them are about other people. Some of them you make
around other people about them.
Today, a bit of all of them happened in one. My Mum, speaking to the
doctor treating my grandfather worried that he wouldn't be able to do
this sort of thing much longer.This sort of stress and recovery is just
too hard on a 90-year old, no matter how stubborn or robust he was in
his youth. The doctor knows the stress that he's been having adjusting
to his weakened state. He knows how independent my grandfather was, is
and wishes he still were. He knows that the move from a retirement home
to a nursing home would kill him, as my father says, as sure as a bullet.
Based on his assessment, the doctor felt that when he could no longer be
cared for at the retirement home and would have to make the move to the
next level of care, he would need to speak to my grandfather about
options. Options would mean continuing or discontinuing treatment. And
that means living or dying.
My mother was necessarily distraught over the idea of having to make
choices like that. She agreed with the doctor because we all know that
Grampy hasn't really wanted to live for a while now, and has said so on
several occasions; old soldier that he is, he can't surrender.
So we talked about it for a while. Somewhere in the conversation, I felt
a pang of guilt over spurring her to speak to Grampy about his wishes
yesterday. She wanted to, but was looking for a reason to avoid it and I
wouldn't give her one. Today we were discussing his death in more
concrete detail. I just wished briefly that the two conversations hadn't
been so close.
We spoke to the good folks at the retirement home and the manager
assured us that as long as he could weight bear, we wouldn't need to
consider endings. That may have bought him two months.
Mum resolved to speak to the doctor again.
In the evening my grandmother insisted that we have supper with her at
the home, which didn't please us much as senior portions and senior
level blandness would surely leave us wanting. In the end, you can't
really turn down aged family members flat. Two bags of microwave popcorn
back at the motel took the edge off.
There are days when you have to make decisions.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

The Ottawa Citizen had an article on the Gospel when I got up on Friday.
The Halifax Chronicle Herald ran a similar article.
I didn't really read it too hard, but the basics were:

* A manuscript that had bounced around for about 30 years was
subjected to analysis, scrutiny and translation.
* It was a Coptic script written early Gnostic text
* It was dated to the 4th century
* Judas was depicted as heroic and following Jesus' directions. He
didn't betray; he obeyed.

The thing with it is that I don't really know what new, philosophically
or theologically, this brings to the table. First of all, Judas' role in
the crucifixion is well known, but the idea that it's vital and
indispensible has also been teased out of the canon and hashed over
pretty well. That an all powerful being's earthly incarnation would have
seen it coming is pretty obvious.
That Judas might have been dispatched isn't canon to my memory, but it's
hardly new either. Most famously it was dramatized in The Last
Temptation of Christ, which has a great exchange between Willem Dafoe
and Harvey Keitel on the subject.
Now, as a historical document it's riveting.We finally have a copy of
something that we'd only had references to previously. We have another
piece of the puzzle concerning the early history of Christianity.

Nova Scotia Day 3

So here we are at the end of another day.
I took a few notes at Duncan's Pub on Victoria Street, but still haven't
gotten them out of my daypack. (Try the Seafood Chowder if you're in town)
My grandfather is doing better, but still can't really stand on his own.
We're not sure if he ever will.
Bringing my grandmother up to see Grampy, we had to make sure that she
sat looking at his left side. Yesterday she spent all her time
commenitng on the razor cut on the right side of his chin. It seemed
that she couldn't focus on anything else when she was up yesterday. At
one point we started to giggle to ourselves about it.
Today, we had to avoid it. We actually wanted her to focus on the fact
that Grampy is sick.
Later in the day, Mum had to discuss the inevitable with him:
arrangements. Over supper we'd discussed it. And I'm glad she gritted
her teeth and asked him about his wishes. On some level, it's got to be
a worry for him as well, that his wishes might not be respected.
I still can't see improvement, in any real sense. And that makes these
visits all the more important.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Creekside: Uh oh, Toto, NaPo's gone to Kansas

Creekside: Uh oh, Toto, NaPo's gone to Kansas
Last link of the day.
I mentioned the 9 scientists who signed the Dissent from Darwin petition in a post on the SSHRC debacle yesterday (or the day before).
Creekside takes down the National Post article in the link above.
Search the Ottawa Citizen archieve for the article I found.
No matter how thin you slice it it's still crap.

Study, in a First, Explains Evolution's Molecular Advance - New York Times

Study, in a First, Explains Evolution's Molecular Advance - New York Times
Dear New York Times.
Why would you take an article about anything scientific and quote Behe in it?

Hat tip to Canadian Cynic

Another Comment on Prof. Alters and the SSHRC

The Lancelet: Professor denied federal research funds for assuming evolution to be scientific fact!
Maybe I'm being lazy by linking to another post on the SSHRC decision, but the more we kick up a stink about how this went down the better. Maybe. But it's late, so here we go.

Nova Scotia Day 2

We overslept this morning. And then the phone rang.
My grandfather was unresponsive when they tried to wake him. The
preliminary thought was he might have had a massive stroke during the
night. If we were say anything to him, we'd want to get over to the
hospital soonest. There were periods where he wasn't breathing for a few
minutes at a time.
We rushed over.
My mother held his hand and he made a noise, gutteral and
sub-linguistic, but it was an acknowledgement. There was still presence
there.
with advice from the doctor, he was moved to a private room. The doctor,
who has an obviously forgettable name, felt that 2-3 days was all he had.
We sat with him for a while, then I grabbed a cellphone and walked
outside. I called my father (still looking after the wife back in
O-town) and let him know what was going on. I just don't see how a
90-year old man can go to the hospital and nearly die 6 days out of 10
for a month and have anyone expect it to go on.
Then I called my sister and let her know the updates. Her husband is
away in Saskatchewan, so she doesn't think she can travel, what with the
neice and all.
I went back in and spoke with the nurse for a few minutes.
We sat with Grampy for a while longer when he rolled over. Ten minutes
later he sat up.
When the nurse asked "How do you feel?"
"With both hands."
He spent the next 10 minutes cycling through his favourite lines, quips
and wisecracks as he crawled toward lucidity.
Don't think I mean he's back up to full strength. He stopped breathing
for while periodically.
At one point Mum and I looked at each other when it happened. We didn't
know what to make of it. "Then he asked, 'How long?'"
'Til?
"How long until I die?"
There are no answers to a question like that.

The Lancelet: More on the SSHRC fiasco

The Lancelet: More on the SSHRC fiasco
It's not news anymore but I still think it's worth laughing at the SSHRC a bit more.
Nod and hat tip to the Lancelet

The Flight to Nova Scotia

CanJet seems to be a reasonable way to travel. As a cut rate airline
it's decent. Let's face it Air Canada doesn't offer any more services
but will charge full service price.
My grandfather is ill again, or still, depending on how you view these
things. Lately, he's been in hospital more than out. He's one of these
old school guys who just doesn't seem to give up the fight, no matter
how much he may want to nowadays. At 90, it's really not that hard to
let go and decide to move on.
Or is it?
I don't know. I can think about it, but who knows anything until we're
there ourselves.
It's a sad time in the family as his health declines. My mother,
travelling with me, is quite distraught. She's not sure what to do. As
my wife and I prepare to leave Canada, this is one of the things I have
to do.
It's still tough to make the visit.
We land easily enough and a rented Altima gets us to Amherst.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Skeptic: eSkeptic for Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Skeptic: eSkeptic for Thursday, February 16th, 2006
SETI and Intelligent Design are not comparable. Continuing the theme that's already started up, I bumped into another article telling ID to go get bent when it want's to bask in the respectability of actual sciences.
Hat Tip to Nightlight for leading me to this one.

And the NCSE drops a comment

And then the NCSE drops their opinion which is also good to hear.
Name and shame, people.

More comments on Alter's and the SSHRC debacle

Canadian Cynic: Canada, Intelligent Design and unintentional irony.

And then Canadian Cynic drops his hat into the fray.
His follow up post calls for Halliwell's resignation.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The hard copy says...

Page A8. That's where Brian Alters and the Evo-ID debate moves to after being front page news yesterday. Making up for it is the fact that new transition fossil hit front page. Yeah. ID gets another Reebok in the grapes.
Under the headline 'Intelligent Design' debate crosses the border, the Ottawa Citizen actually sided with reason while exploring the background of the situation. ID is gaining some ground in Canada, that's undeniable.
The Social Sciences and Humanitites Research Council rejected Alters' proposal for a study on the topic as his proposal hinged on the 'assumption that evolution is unassailable.'
"If I was talking about gravity in an application," says Mr Alters, "I wouldn't have to justify the law of gravity. Evolution is not an assumption - it is a scientific fact."
Which is pretty much what we're on about.
The article gives some background on the development of the debate, including the 9 uni professors who recently signed a petition doubting Darwin, which has a whiff of Discovery Institute crap on it.
I did find interesting that Janet Halliwell, v-p of the SSHRC,
has described the wording of the letter as 'misleading,' and said that the research council did not intend to cast doubt on the survival-of-the-fittest theories
which makes me laugh beacuse the next thing she told CanWest News Service was that
there is a growing belief among scientists that some phenomena in the natural world "may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution."

Larry Felt, a sociology prof at Memorial, rehashed the same points for the article. Frankly I didn't find it better than anything else out there. His only valuable quote was to say the council didn't want to
just yield predictable results that "dump on the religious right."
He described Mr. Alter's planned study as being framed in "good guy versus bad guy" language that rejected intelligent design out of hand.
Now, I don't particularly have a problem with that. I approach religion the same way I approach golf. I really don't get the point, see that some people do enjoy it and really wish they'd keep it to themselves. Don't buy me Bibles or golf clubs; don't pray for me or tell me how many under par you shot.
I'll give Alters the parting shot:
Mr Alters insists that "popularizing pseudo-science is detrimental" by definition. "I shouldn't have to make the case."
Hoo and indeed ray.

Prayer Study on Slate

William Saletan, somebody who has been pretty hit and miss on his coverage of the Dover trial, has this article summarizing takes on the study of prayer and heart patients.
He ends with 17 possible answers to why patients prayed for were slightly worse off.

1. God doesn't exist.

2. God doesn't intervene.

3. God is highly selective.

4. God ignores form letters.

5. God requires a personal reference.

6. God is unmoved by the size of your lobbying team.

7. God ignores third parties.

8. God takes His time.

9. God has a backlog.

10. God ignores you if you don't pray hard enough.

11. God ignores you if you're wicked.

12. God helps those who help themselves.

13. God does not hear the prayer of a Christian.

14. God chooses His own outcome measures.

15. God doesn't participate in studies.

16. God hates being told what to do.

17. God is malevolent.

Good list. I favour reason 1 though if you assume a god, the others make sense (in an assumed Christian God kind of way)

Evolution and fossils in the Citizen again

McGill challenges denial of funding for evolution research
Spectacular Arctic fossil shows how creatures first came ashore
Two, count 'em two, stories in the Citizen today. Normally, I'd worry about what they might say, but both of them assume the veracity of evolution.
If you recall yesterday, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council turned down an application for $40,000 in grant money to look at the effects of popularizing pseudo-science (ID in particular) on the acceptance of evolution in Canadian society. Among the reasons cited was the fact that the proposal didn't convincingly prove that evolution was correct and Intelligent Design was not.
McGill University in Montreal has decided to chalenge the decision, and I say more power to them for it.
The council reacted as such:

Eva Schacherl, a spokeswoman for the council, said Wednesday the multidisciplinary committee was not convinced the proposal's scholarly approach was sound or that it would provide objective results on the question.

And Alters responded to that:

Alters acknowledged those reasons were contained in his rejection but he was amazed he was expected to prove established scientific fact.

"Evolution is not an assumption - it's a fact of science," he said in an interview. "If someone was writing a proposal to investigate how people think about gravity, the researcher would not have to justify gravitation theory in the proposal."

...

"It's rather strange and it's also rather strange that one would think I need to make a justification that advancing a pseudo-science is detrimental to people. It's automatically assumed that popularizing a pseudo-science would be detrimental."

I'll post something about the results when in.
Interestingly enough this is a slightly different article than the one that appeared in the paper itself today.
The reactions are a little more muted in the online version. I'll post something about that article later today.
Still, the front page did have a good article about the Tiktaalik (did I spell that right? I really should just cut and paste) and it's importance as a transition fossil between water-dwelling and land-dwelling creatures.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Northstate Science: Archaeology and Creationism

Northstate Science: Archaeology and Creationism
This Blogger Bar extension for Firefox is pretty great, but I seem to be having trouble with the computer tonight. So I'll do this post over again.
I've been running into post and articles recently where actual experts in fields loved by the Creationist (sorry, I forgot the tuxedo...ID) crowd have been telling the IDers to get out of their sandbox.
A while back SETI astronomer Seth Shostak wrote an article for Space.com (previously posted on) telling the ID crowd and get bent. He didn't see the connection between Intelligent Design and SETI.
Now, new to me, I've found a good post telling these guys to stop trying to paddle in the archaeological pool. It's always nice to hear someone saying that.
Give it a read.

Pharyngula: Sorry, Canada. We didn't know it was that contagious.

Pharyngula: Sorry, Canada. We didn't know it was that contagious.

PZ Myers (Pee Zed, to flaunt my Frostback side) picked up on the story of Brian Alters as well.
On behalf of Canada, I'll say it's not your fault, PZ, so no apology needed.
On the other hand, there are a lot of whack-a-doodles on your side of 49 who need to cough up a couple of mea culpas.
There was a reference to this week's Nature covering this as well, but the story is premium content and I don't have a subscription. If you do, let us know what it says.

Professor denied federal research funds for assuming evolution to be scientific fact

Professor denied federal research funds for assuming evolution to be scientific fact
Yesterday I think I mentioned that what happens with our American cousins affects us all. Today's front page of the Ottawa Citizen confirmed that for me. Staring me in the face was the above headline. (Weblink to the online version of the story)
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council decided that McGill professor Brian Alters couldn't get a $40k grant
The planned project, submitted last year to the research council, is titled: "Detrimental effects of popularizing anti-evolution's intelligent design theory on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers."
Why you may ask did they deny the grant?
In denying his request, the research council's peer-review committee recently sent Mr. Alters a letter explaining he'd failed to "substantiate the premise" of his study.
It said he hadn't provided "adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent-design theory, was correct."
There comes a point when you have to wonder if they make people prove the atom in every proposal related to physics. (Upcoming Sarcasm Alert) "I'm sorry to report that your proposal has been declined. You failed to adequately justify the assumption in your proposal concerning the existence of gravity."
Evolution is an assumption in the same way that gravity and the atom are. In the words of Gould, withholding assent makes one look foolish at this point.
The text of the letter was in a pull out quote which is reproduced at the end of the online article.

'Assumption' Sinks Grant Application

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's letter to McGill professor Brian Alters:

"The committee found that the candidates were qualified. However, it judged the proposal did not adequately substantiate the premise that the popularizing of Intelligent Design Theory had detrimental effects on Canadian students, teachers, parents and policymakers. Nor did the committee consider that there was adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of Evolution, and not Intelligent Design theory, was correct. It was not convinced, therefore, that research based on these assumptions would yield objective results. In addition, the committee found that the research plans were insufficiently elaborated to allow for an informed evaluation of their merit. In view of its reservations the committee recommended that no award be made."

Interestingly the "evolution assumption" is buried in the middle. (Hoping that primacy and recency would make people overlook what may be the most telling comment?)
Frankly, this is a worrying development in the Canadian scene. I'll see about follow up later.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Why Won't God Heal Amputees?

Why Won't God Heal Amputees?
This is about the 3rd time I've bumped into links to this site.
Fags, shrimp, amputees: What is it about God hating things these days?
Unlike God hates fags (no link, I won't pollute the TFT screen with that shit), this site actually asks and pretty much wraps up the main question that can be asked about God and prayer. And it asks it in a pretty indisputable way.
A worthy site to check out for a profound question.

Evolution self-censorship

In the Arkansas Times there's an article about teachers self-censoring to avoid the dreaded "e-word". I originally found it about a week back through the NCSE website listing Jason Wiles as the author of work on the topic.
And then I screwed up the posting. (A prouder person would probably say that Blogger screwed up, but I'm not that proud and I think it was me...) Probably as big a screw up was the fact that I wrote the post around a whole squodge of stuff I was doing at work and just sort of tacked a segue into Stephen Harper on the end. I'm not even sure it made sense to me. Anyway, cut to the end, I went to edit the post and lost it.
Since that time, the article has come to the front with Aetiology, The Education Wonks, and others. (none had much to say about the connection to Stephen Harper)
There is a real threat here, though. While it is the States, what happens to our American cousins affects us all. And it's not like we're immune here, as evidenced by Pharyngula's comments on Canadian nut-job and general reality-denier David P. Wozney. (Linky goodness to the details at Archy from Pee Zed's website).
Ignorance provides fertile ground to grow itself.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

WorldNetDaily: Why intelligent design will change everything

WorldNetDaily: Why intelligent design will change everything

Over at Dispatches from the Culture War, there was an invitation to fisk a really, really bad article from the WorldNutDaily. I'm not a scientist, and I'm not going to go through it thoroughly but I did have some fun with what little knowledge I have and some really, choice bits.
In the opening paragraph, Lynn Barton states:
Like a fierce game of whack-a-mole, wherever I.D.'s politically incorrect head pops up, its opponents rush to smack it back down.
I have to agree with this, but I'm not looking at it in the same light as her. I just want to know why everytime a commentator or movement wears the 'politically incorrect' label proudly, it usually means they're politically motivated and politically uninformed.
Barton goes on to talk about how
intelligent design theory is going to become a major force for good in the battle to rescue our collapsing culture – because the way we think about origins affects the way we think about nearly everything.
So that's how we're supposed to accept that ID flows from the evidence! Now, how can we tie this to gay marriage? Oh I'm sure there's a way.

For example, conservatives and Christians are having a difficult time making the case against homosexual marriage. Thousands of years of exclusively heterosexual marriage mean nothing to those with a Darwinist worldview. Why, they are far more evolved than those benighted cultures in the misty past. To them, tradition is oppressive; destroying it is progress. Why shouldn't people be able to "love" whomever they want? How will it hurt your marriage?
The truth is that homosexual marriage is wrong because it violates God's design and purpose for us, with inevitably negative consequences.

Yes, there it is. I knew I left my agenda here somewhere.
If only that would flow from a bad analogy somehow:
In Darwin's time this was easier to imagine, because it was thought that cells were mere blobs of protoplasm. It fit in nicely with his idea that life could have first appeared as a simple cell. There's just one problem. We now know that there is no such thing as a "simple" cell. Recent advances in microbiology have demonstrated that the cell is literally a miniature factory town, with its own chemical library containing blueprints that are copied and transported to molecular assembly lines that manufacture everything the cell needs. Nancy Pearcey compares it to "… a large and complex model train layout, with tracks crisscrossing everywhere, its switches and signals perfectly timed so that no trains collide and the cargo reaches its destination precisely when needed."

Check.
How about quoting someone whose work is pretty easy to discredit? Let's say by Good Math:
Microbiologist Michael Behe has coined the term "irreducible complexity" to describe this. That is, the cell consists of coordinated, interlocking parts that must all be in place simultaneously, or it won't function at all. You can't improve the cell through one random mutation at a time because if you change any one aspect, the whole thing will crash. For evolutionary change to occur, every single piece of its Rube Goldberg-like factory would have to mutate at exactly the same time, and each single mutation would have to be beneficial, or the cell would just die.
Excellent. Last minute save on that one.
And for a final bit can we see if there's a way to work in Hitler, while conveniently missing out his religious motivations?
Eugenics helped Hitler convince an entire country to follow him in his attempt to wipe out the "inferior" Jews, not to mention the toll in blood it took to stop him.
Check.
Well, that's the usual stuff taken care of. We have arguement from incredulity, authority and ignorance. We've got a little discredited or thoroughly debunked stuff in the middle, a Hitler reference and some gay-bashing. Throw in a bit of fear mongering, an accusation of "Darwinists" never engaging the substance of your argument, avoid theirs like the plague and I'd say the makings of a pretty vapid article are set.
Pop Quiz. Ask yourself if this is the sort of person who would homeschool their kids then scroll down to the bio line.