Monday, September 22, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Watching it happen...

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Call for creationism in science
Creationism should be discussed in school science lessons, rather than excluded, says the director of education at the Royal Society.

Sure it should. "Hey, kids. Before we cover the dominant theory in biology today let's cover some of the failed ideas of the past and present. Open your books to page ID."
Rather than dismissing creationism as a "misconception", he says it should be seen as a cultural "world view".
Teachers should take the time to explain why creationism had no scientific basis, Prof Reiss said.
He stressed that the topic should not be taught as science.

Hmm. That sounds reasonable enough. It is a misconception, but one that can be corrected.
And what is it that a teacher should do if not teach these concepts? The problem they face is growing as:

"An increasing percentage of children in the UK come from families that do not accept the scientific version of the history of the universe and the evolution of species.

"What are we to do with those children? My experience after having tried to teach biology for 20 years is if one simply gives the impression that such children are wrong, then they are not likely to learn much about the science that one really wants them to learn.

Get in there and teach 'em. Show 'em what we know and how we know it. And:

He also added a clarification on his position regarding creationism in schools.

"Some of my comments about the teaching of creationism have been misinterpreted as suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes. Creationism has no scientific basis.

Definitive and reasonable. How will the world respond?

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | 'Creationism' biologist quits job

Lovely, people. Lovely.
BBC NEWS | UK | Education | 'Creationism' biologist quits job
"He is to return, full time, to his position as professor of science education at the Institute of Education."

The Royal Society reiterated that its position was that creationism had no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum.

"However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific."

So: he's gotta go. But, anyway, what he said. Lovely, people.
Other Reactions:

Secular Philosophy
Pharyngula: Royal Society statement regarding Professor Michael Reiss
Shame on the BBC - The Panda's Thumb

Friday, September 19, 2008

Doooood...

Hey, the Dude abides.

Dispatches on Colbert on McCain on POW

This is me deciding to "Me, too" Ed Brayton here:
Dispatches from the Culture Wars: I Love Stephen Colbert
With this from The Big Lebowski:

Right. Walter, what the fuck does any of this have to do with Vietnam?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't read this.

Read this:
ari_rahikkala: A recapitulation of criticism against the theory of childhood
The theory of childhood, also known as child origin, is a damnable, loathsome and indefensible lie.

HT to Bronze Dog

OMFSM, Hovind-friendly evidence of evolution found.

He's always saying about dog-cat mixes that they would constitute proof of evolution.
Hey, Kent, how about a bird-cat mix?
Cue moving of goalposts.
Winged cats discovered in western China - Boing Boing

In all seriousness though. Winged cats are fucking weird.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, yeah. Faith Schools. That's a Great Idea.

At the risk of drifting into a sub-Lewis Black routine I'll just say that we ought to give this a bit of second thought before we let this shit continue.
Faith schools breed terror, says psychologist | Science | guardian.co.uk
The study – which he presented at the British Association Festival of Science in Liverpool - was done on extremist Islamist terrorists in India, but that didn't stop him speculating about the effects faith schools in the UK might be having.

"It seems to me issues like faith schools are terribly dangerous. The whole idea of setting up these divisions that are based on faith and recognising that is the starting point for people beginning to think of themselves as separate and distinct."

Look, there may be an argument for privatising education. I don't fucking think so but there may be one. But this shit is a hell of an argument against it. Maybe the best.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Burning Chrome

I downloaded Chrome on day one and have been using it in conjunction with Firefox for the last couple of days. I have to say that I rather like it.

First of all, the interface is very uncluttered. I like uncluttered. I've been hiding toolbars in Firefox and IE for a while now so having no real toolbars is a refreshing change. There is a bookmarks toolbar that can be displayed or hidden.

 image

The rendering engine works well and pretty quickly. For all the hoo-ha about speed of browsers you hear bandied about back and forth between Firefox (yeah), IE7 (meh), or Safari (blah). Although Safari does render text better than the other two.

Set up is easy as Chrome imports everything from IE or Firefox, including saved username and password data in addition to your bookmarks. Transitioning is easy as you can just use your websites like before. Go to your newspapers or forums and your in without fuss.

I even sort of like the 3 options tabs: Basics, Minor Tweaks and Under the Hood. It's mildly informative and mildly juvenile.

image

There are downsides. The two biggest are this: rich media content and extensions.

Extensions first. There aren't any. I guess you can use your Google homepage widgets, but for someone who's got his Delicious extensions and Scribefire and what not else already set up the way he likes it Chrome will remain a novelty install and not a default browser.

Rich media content. The way that Chrome opens each tab in it's own process rather than threading means that the memory is managed superbly. Compare that the memory leaking memory hog that my beloved Firefox is. But something has gone wrong in the implementation. The way content on YouTube or Quicktime files is displayed tends to freeze the entire browser.

While Firefox may take up most of a gig of memory if you leave it open all day, it handles 3 tabs of YouTube, a Daily Show clip and Bill Maher's New Rules in QT format with aplomb. Chrome gets an intestinal blockage and, as my grandmother used to say, doesn't know whether to shit or go blind. This is particularly ironic given that the stated purpose of throwing Chrome out there is to improve the display and experience of rich content and online applications.

Chrome is not the future of web browsing, nor is it an unqualified improvement on current browsers. But it is a tentative step in a slightly different direction. It will be good to see what happens in release 2, but for now it's just another browser.

One of the more pernicious of Blair's leavings.

Tony Blair, a PM of mixed blessings and curses, has managed to leave a series of footprints that mess the garden of British society and will take a lot of reseeding to fix.
One of the worst is faith schools. As an occasional (yet permanent) British resident I signed the petition that the RDF promoted last year. And we were told to go Cheney ourselves.
'Faith schools may be Blair's most damaging legacy' by Polly Toynbee, Guardian - RichardDawkins.net
Children start their new schools this week for the 12th year under Labour. Who could have predicted that more pupils than ever will be going to religious schools this term, as the churches boasted gleefully? Pews empty but faith schools multiply.
Here you have it. Without a convincing argument religion takes on the characteristics of a childhood disease.
This leaves a stale stink like Blue Stratos in a second hand IROC.
And that is how to do a series of unconnected metaphors.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday Kobe Scenes

From a little trip into Kobe yesterday afternoon.

 

Figurine Advertising Herbal Medicine

In front of herbal medicine shop in Nanking Machi

Memorial Park

The sign for the Kobe Earthquake Monument at Merican Pier.

Pier Ruins

The preserved pier at Merican Park, just as it was after the 1995 earthquake.

P1000045 

Small temple on the walk out of the Merican Park area. Little known fact, unless you read the signs. The park is a customs area, and everyone walking in or out can be subject to search and seizure.  Very odd.

Merican Park.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

God vs The Doctor

The things that people want you to do.
One of the most pernicious trends of our time has been the creeping Christianization of medical services and access to medical services. It's started creeping up into Canada and the UK.
So here's just another article that goes from the ridiculous to the ridiculous.
Americans choose God over doctors for saving lives | Otago Daily Times Online
When it comes to saving lives, God trumps doctors for many Americans.

An eye-opening survey reveals widespread belief that divine intervention can revive dying patients. And, researchers said, doctors "need to be prepared to deal with families who are waiting for a miracle."
...
When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20% of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.

It's hard to say much to the common person if nearly 1/5 DOCTORS is willing to wait for God.
"You can't say, 'That's nonsense.' You have to respect that" and try to show them X-rays, CAT scans and other medical evidence indicating death is imminent, he said.
Yes, actually you can. Watch: That's nonsense. I don't respect it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Churches behaving oddly

You can always count on religion for a bit of a laugh, or at least a facepalm.
Plan to exhume cardinal is 'homophobic' - Home News, UK - The Independent
The Catholic Church is under growing pressure to abandon the "homophobic" exhumation and reburial of the body of one its most famous cardinals, in defiance of his wish to lie for eternity next to the man he loved.

Gay rights campaigners have accused the Vatican – which has ordered the disinterment in the first step towards beatification – of attempting to cover up the sexuality of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who died in 1890.

When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite - Colfax
A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.
...
Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.


Cathedral to open chain of wine bars - Weird and Odd News | newslite.tv

Hypocricy. Hypocracy. Hypo...Two faced bastards

Watch the pundits do that 180 turn:

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."
Addendum: More at Dispatches from the Culture War.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sarah Palin, John McCain and the Preznit Race

A lot of bits have been spilt on untilled LCD screens covering McCain's choice of vice-presidential running mate. Most of it has been centred around babies or her experience, or whether she really has the potential to woo Hilary voters and PUMA-types.

There's been talk of how poor the vetting process seems to have been around her.

Apparently there's been talk of whether she should leave the ticket or not.

Okay, first of all, I don't think she's a great choice. She's a social conservative who seems to have the same sorts of big government authoritarian tendencies we've come to know and loathe over the last eight years in particular. I don't care much about her (grand)son or her daughter. Really. Couldn't give a flying obscene sexual reference. I am bothered by her apparent callous indifference to knowledge and science. She's red meat to the far lefties and a strong facepalm headshudder to the sinθ lefties, like me.

I don't think this supports either McCain's maverick image, as imaginary as it may be. Nor do I see it supporting John Kerry's McCain as prisoner of the right wing quote.

It does have a lot to do with the competence. McCain's team has started including more and more people and hangers on who have been responsible for his downfalls in the past or represent the basest form of party machinations. And yet the long-term power fatigue has started creep in here as a certain amount of incompetent arrogance has tainted a lot of the campaign. Has any other campaign in recent (or long term) memory had to distance the campaign message from the candidate message?

Taking on Obama he's hit him on experience. Yet McCain has no more executive experience than Obama. Palin does. Of course, we can look at the quality of her experience and she fails pretty heavily there against the other two.

McCain hit Obama on elitism charges over arugula, a charge that makes most of the Italian-American population of New Jersey elitist as well. The irony of a son and grandson of admirals married to a beer heiress calling the son of a goat herder elitist was actually lost on everyone.

Hitting Obama on not traveling to Iraq seems to have stung the Dem, but Palin's travel seems more limited than G.W. Bush's. I imagine a conversation when she returned from a pre-passport trip to Canada.

I: So, tell me about Canada.

SP: It's the little differences that make it strange. Like, they have moose, but they call them les moose. And they have Eskimos but they call them Inuit.

I: What do they call a plains state?

SP: I don't know. I didn't go to Saskatchewan.

How did McCain end up with a running mate that so effectively undercut his message? In a word, indifference.

It has more in common with a taunt than a choice.

It's been fun watching the right wing pundits reverse nearly every single little thing they've had to say for the last year about gender or experience. They turned on a dime and I got nine cents change. She's got foreign policy experience. Alaska is next to Russia. Hey, fuknutz, there are a dozen states with borders on Canada. 

It has more in common with a fuck you.

The right wing, the evangelicals, they can all go hang. At some point they'll all come out and say how great she is through gritted teeth. And they'll like it. They'll eat the cognitive dissonance and spout 180 degrees from yesterday and say it was always their position.

McCain is casually saying that if he plays dress up with an illegally imported chihuahua with a French passport, you'll still vote for me cause the other guy is black.

Pictures that Changed Canada

I don't know they actually changed the country, but they did help us change what we thought of ourselves.
This is a good slide show from the old Globe 'n' Mail. Keep an eye out for Stanfield, the best prime minister we never had. Also he makes comfortable underwear. I'm sure that's him.

globeandmail.com : In Pictures

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How the hell? Redux

Well, that should cover the American Pledge issue.
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

How the hell?

How could anyone even consider voting for someone this uninformed?
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Standing up to Big Brother on behalf of the Little Guy

In Northern England, a councillor is standing up to encroaching Big Brother like surveillance by protesting new 'spy' CCTV cameras.
Councillor's spy camera anger - Lancashire Evening Post
A councillor is threatening to block Big-Brother-style CCTV cameras from spying on his house – by letting his trees grow.

Okay it's not a crowbar to the thing but it's still a good start. I mean who's big idea was it to install these wired up invasions of privacy.
Coun Richardson backed the cameras when they were set up almost 18 months ago – but is now fuming as one has been erected close to his front door.

He said: "I didn't expect one to go up where it has gone up. There are people watching me coming and going outside my house."

Oh. Slammed your cock in the door on that one.

Today' s Japanese Word

猛列 - mouretsu - severe
Example 猛列な雨 - mouretsu na ame - severe rain.
I wonder why this would be relevant.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What, you liked the fucking polio? Part III. Revenge of the virus.

Measles is back, and it's because your kids aren't vaccinated: Scientific American Blog
If you didn't vaccinate your kids, you too could find yourself partly responsible for the resurgence of a disease thought eliminated in 2000.

Measles—a highly contagious disease-causing virus—is making a comeback in the U.S., thanks to parents fears over vaccines. Fifteen children under 20, including four babies, have been hospitalized and 131 sickened by the red splotches since the beginning of this year in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

I don't have anything to say here that I haven't said before. It's okay if you're so stupid that you want yourself diseased out of the gene pool, but vaccinate your kids and give them a chance to grow up healthy. 'kay, fucknutz? Kthanxbai.

Oddly enough the victims said he could keep the money.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | London | Cash-in-buttocks man in M25 ban
A man who stole cash and belongings from train passengers has been banned from entering London for two years.

Peter Abbott, 46, repeatedly boarded trains to take items from overhead racks, Southwark Crown Court was told.

'Nuff said.

Wait for the guy who says that it could have a chilling effect on religious schools. Now as an experiment, just try to say that as if it were a bad thing. Give it a try.