Monday, July 07, 2008

Quite Possibly THE Best Newspaper Headline Evar!!!

"Russians suspect Welsh arsonist stripper could be British spy"

I mean, really. Does it get any better than that? Nope.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Limit of the God Function

One argument for the nonexistence of an Abrahamic God occurred to me recently. It's probably been stated better hundreds of years ago, but I've got a jazzy new way to say it, to wit:

The limit of the God function over time is zero.

This quasi-mathematical formulation is not meant to suggest any actual rigor or quantitative nature, just to capture the essence of the idea. Basically, the history of science has been a sort of nibbling away at the boundaries of what deities are perceived as doing. The ancients believed that the gods carried the sun in its quotidian saunter across the sky, held the earth on their shoulders, threw lightning bolts at those who displeased them, or maybe made the sun stand still for hours at a time. As science has elucidated the natural mechanisms underlying these and many more phenomena, the divine job description has contracted considerably. These days the potential influence of divine action in the real world has been restricted to probabilistic phenomena like weather, or possibly quantum interactions, and nonobservable influences on people's hearts and minds. Between functional MRI and the possibility of newer understandings of very small particles, this niche promises to continue shrinking.

Now to make this all mathy, let G = the set of all possible deities affecting the observable world, whether real, imagined, or just kidded about, from YHWH to FSM.

f(G) is the influence of G in the observable universe.


If true, this would allow for only one of two possibilities, atheism or the most bland form of Deism, virtually indistinguishable from atheism.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Contribution to Conservapedia

[I posted this today at Conservapedia under Gravitation, Theory of. Within about twelve minutes, it was deleted and I was blocked. Good thing I had a backup!]

Gravitation, Theory of

From Conservapedia

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The name given to the hypothesis that bodies undergo mutual attraction related to the amount of matter they contain. This was first proposed by Sir Isaac "Figg" Newton in his publication in AD 1687 of Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. Newtonism is the term applied to belief in Gravitation, and Newtonists it's adherants.

Criticisms of Newtonism

Christians readily agknowledge the existence of microgravity, which is what causes a baby's sippy cup to fall to the floor when released, because it has been observed many times in the laboratory setting. Where they take issue with newtonists is with regard to macrogravity, the attraction between large celestial bodies. This has never been reproduced in the laboratory, nor have gravitons, which would have to exist to transmit the attractive force, been observed, despite years of fruitless search.

Newtonism requires that these forces be present constantly, but the microgravity on our planet can be nullified by the use of a specially equipped aircraft.

Godless engineers are reluctant to admit it, but gravitationism is readily disproved by the First Law of Murphy, not to mention Cole's Law.

Social Implications

Critics of newtonism are quick to point out that Alfred Einstein relied on Newton's work to formulate his widely discredited theories of Einsteinism, without which Korean dictator Kim Jung Ill would have been hard-pressed to develop his widely-discredited armamentarium. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as the Long Dong and the Taepodong 2. The conclusion is inescapable: no Newton, no Long Dong.

Newtonism's principles also played a key role in the notorious Apollo Hoax of the AD 1960s and early AD 1970s, which was perpetrated by the so-called rocket surgeons of NASA on all Americans.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Conversation with God

This is an unedited transcript of our online chat. I'm thinking this may not be guy that Abraham, Muhammad, and Jesus were talking about.

Hello. What is your name?
what, don't you know?
My brain does not yet contain that information.
I thought you formed me in my mother's womb.
Thanks for the information: said I formed him or her in his or her mother s womb.
You don't even know my gender? Omniscience ain't what it used to be, is it?
Mostly only women use words like "gender". But you claim to be a . What is Omniscience?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I too am Spartacus

Late to the blogswarm, as usual.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thank God for Richard Dreyfuss

He obviously thinks Hollywood actors who've appeared in a film set in the sixties are allowed to hold and express political opinions. Anyhoo, he seems to think we risk the future of our democracy by not understanding its unique properties, by shortchanging the teaching of civics, by instinctively falling back into the authoritarian mode at the first hint of danger.

In short, he gets it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

If I were a Woman...

which I'm not, I'd write a blog post titled,

"Stop. You had me at 'sugartits.'"

But I'm not, so I won't.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Native Son's Take on "Sweet Home, Alabama"

In several venues I've seen confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the meaning and intent of this song, and I hereby propose to shed one tiny sliver of light on the situation. (This site will point you to lots of discussion on the song.) Now, I don't really follow LynSkyn, and I understand that they have at times really milked the Southern redneck thing, performing in front of a giant confederate battle flag and the like, but I'm not here to defend what they may have become, but the sentiments stated in the song.

Neil Young and "Southern Man"

Clearly the song is a direct response in part to "Southern Man," with its lyrics, in part:

Southern man
better keep your head
Don't forget
what your good book said
Southern change
gonna come at last
Now your crosses
are burning fast
Southern man

Clearly this implies a condemnation of all Southern whites as being complicit in racism. It is the rejection of this blanket condemnation that is the centerpiece of the song. What I've not seen pointed out elsewhere is the inherent racism in saying "Southern man" to refer only to whites. Are male African-Americans in the South not also Southern men? Small wonder that Southern Man don't need him (Neil Young) around, anyhow.

In Birmingham They Love the Governor

This line really stands as the rosetta stone, the key to understanding the song's somewhat nuanced message. It's a pity that so few understand it. I think it's very easy for listeners, inevitably familiar with the ubiquitous images of police dogs and fire hoses, to believe this is a true reflection of the city's inherent racism. Having grown up around Birmingham, I can tell you that local lore has it that Wallace was not loved here, and that this lack of love was thoroughly requited. It's hard to say what forms the basis for this local lore. It pains me to do it, but maybe we could examine some actual data! This is cut-n-pasted from a spreadsheet available at the Alabama Secretary of State's site, with my editorial commentary in parentheses. (click to biggify.)

These are the election results from Jefferson County (composed mainly of Birmingham and its suburbs) for the votes that determined the Alabama governorship in those days: the Democratic primary or its runoff. Note that in every year except 1974, Jefferson County voted against George C. (I suppose the sympathy factor may have been at a peak then following his shooting in 1972.) Even in 1982, when Wallace won with the support of the black community statewide, he still lost JeffCo to McMillan. How could this be? Well, certainly the black community, concentrated in Birmingham, had no love for him, but IIRC even the suburban whites saw him as a redneck race-baiter who would not help to bring the state forward. Suffice it to say that Jefferson County's lack of support for the man from Clio was real and legendary. Also universally acknowledged (but much more difficult to substantiate) was Wallace's animus towards Birmingham. It was no accident, we were always told, that all the interstates, then under development statewide, stopped dead at the Jefferson County line. So when Birminghamians of a certain age hear, " In Birmingham they love the governor," it's an inside joke, with the point that not everybody in Alabama stood for segregation. I really don't have anything to say about the "Boo! Boo! Boo!" except that I always thought they said "Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!" Maybe sort of a verbal sarcasm smiley.

Now we all did what we could do

Presumably by opposing Wallace. But who is "we?" I think this means the nonracist white population, but I could be wrong.

Watergate does not bother me

Of course not. The singer is not guilty of any wrongdoing, even if it's done by his elected official. Similarly there's no collective guilt for Alabamians stemming from the misdeeds of either Wallace or the racists among them.

Does your Conscience Bother You?

Let he who is without sin be the first to cast a stone, clean your own doorstep, yadda yadda ya.

And the Governor's True

This strikes me as a throw-away line. Note that it falls in the space where ther's a rest in the other choruses. Once we've established that the song's approach to GCW is tongue-in-cheek, it's easy to read this with some irony, i.e., the governor's true to his segregationist ways. The tragedy is that before Wallace lost in '58 to a blatant race-baiter, he was one of the more progressive Democratic judges in the state. Only after the attempted assassination in '72 and finally being out of office did he return to his original roots and ultimately regain the governorship in '82, as mentioned with the support of a remarkably different coalition.

Montgomery's got the Answer

Well, sure! Put it this way: there's a reason the Alabama legislature meets atop Goat Hill. To show how little I underestand this line, I originally thought it was "My, my, my beGONia!" (years before "My Bologna") I would doubt that state government has the answer to anything, but apparently there's another way to interpret this line. Wikipedia reports that a band member said this was a reference to the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march of ?1963; i.e., Montgomery received an answer.

To summarize, then, the message of this song is that it's not inherently racist to love Alabama, and that facile criticism from outsiders (or even, heaven forbid, Canadians) is likely to be less than completely constructive. In no way is this a paean to bigotry, or some similar crap.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Call Me...Reprehensible

So somebody's got a book out and, in the interest of generating publicity, said some pretty raw stuff about the 9/11 widows, presumably Kristen Breitweiser et al. Well, in my ever-so-umble opinion, the sacrifice of living trees to disseminate this kind of drivel qualifies as a genuine crime against nature. And she claims to be a Christian. Well, by their fruits shall you know them, etc...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Introducing Bloggor®

This is just a raw concept at this point, but I think it has potential.

See, just anyone can be a blogger, but only a blogger who adheres to the highest ethical standards can call himself a Bloggor®, else our attorneys'll haul his butt into court so fast, it'll make you say "tortfeaser," and not in a good way, if you know what I mean. Here's how it works: You agree to our Bloggor Code of Ethics (TM) and pay us cash. We only send your password out to a valid street address, so we know where you are. We let you use our mark, link to our site, and in some cases, host your pathetic little blog. If it becomes clear that you have transgressed, we will out your sorry little butt AND file suit for breach of contract. Simple, isn't it? It's not just a concept, it's a whole new paradigm!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I can live with this

You are a

Social Liberal
(75% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(31% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

but who's the lady right where I am?

Friday, June 02, 2006

...And your little dog, too!

This story just makes you plumb proud to be an Amurkan, don't it? From CNN:

Cops: Couple ordered hit on grandkids
Wanted to stop testimony at son's rape trial, police say

Friday, June 2, 2006; Posted: 12:35 p.m. EDT (16:35 GMT)

TAVARES, Florida (AP) -- A couple tried to hire a hit man to kill their three grandchildren and daughter-in-law to stop them from testifying against their son in his rape trial, authorities said.
The couple, ages 60 and 59, were charged with four counts each of criminal conspiracy to commit murder. They were being held without bond.
Police said the pair initially offered $100 to an undercover sheriff's deputy to kill their son's wife, their 10-year-old granddaughter, two step-grandchildren, ages 14 and 16, and the family dog.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Gee, thanks! TMI, maybe?

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?

You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Courtesy Orac

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I get it: Environmentalism is da Bomb!

I doubt this similarity was intended, but somehow it resonates. Obviously, the little girls with their flowers represent fragile innocence and gosh-darn wholesomeness. The threat is, on the one hand, (alleged) hypermilitarism and nuclear conflagration. On the other hand, clearly it's regulation of greenhouse gases that'll snuff out that little sweetheart quicker'n you can say Kyoto!

Or was this really a subliminal homage to "Daisy Girl"? After all, the subconscious doesn't know that equating environmental regulations and mushroom clouds is laughably nonsensical.

I think the whole thing is creepy. You?

Friday, May 19, 2006

You say 'Dangerality;' I say 'Dangerosity'

...on his return to his room, [he] found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast...

Contemplating DHoism the other day, I caught myself musing, Sure, there's a bunch of dangerous professors out to destroy all that we hold dear. Obviously, most of these guys (and gals) are happy to stay undercover like the silverfish that they are, but one particularly flagrant example has decided to embrace his inner Dangerous self, even touting his status as Professor of Dangeral Studies! Well, why not bring these low-lifes out into the daylight -- we'll see how dangerous they really are. This is, I guess, the essential thesis and raisin dater of DHoism.

So, one thing led to another, and it wound up with me deciding that I oughta do my little bit to help give the whole field a kick-inthekiester-start. Yeah, I know. I'm the exact opposite of the tweedy academic type. Anything I could propose would be looked upon suspiciously, not to say with a certain detached bemusement. After all, a wink's as good as a nod, to a blind bat! Since Dr. Horowitz has kinda kindly offered a philosophical foundation for the enterprise, what's most lacking is a theoretical framework for discussion. All the other cool disciplines have one, and some have several.

So, further musing ensued. Without benefit of mescaline, cannabis, or Klonopin, it was slow going. I realized I needed a noun. All the cool theoreticians hit upon a neologism that served to crystallize that thing regarding which they theorize (or, in German, Gesundheit). Some, less creative theory guys hijack a perfectly innocent noun and, zombie-like, force it to do their bidding. "So," I'm thinking to myself, "should it be dangerosity or dangerality." Sorta like Ginger vs. Mary Ann. Which led to a blinding flash of the obvious:

WAIT JUST A COTTON-PICKIN MINUTE! I'll take BOTH, thankyouverymuch. Then, just like benzene rings organizing themselves in front of my eyes, the whole thing fell into place. Consider, if you will, the following figure:

As any fool can tell, ... uh, well, let's try it again:

where Dangerality is defined as "the propensity [of a professor] to spout such obvious liberal shibboleths as 'The evidence for human causation of global warming is overwhelming.'"

Dangerosity, on the other hand, represents straightforward Islamofascistic Bush-hating.
Note that this deceptively simple schema gives us a straightforward classification system for the Dangerous Ones (Dangies?), and, Wallah! a metric by which they may be compared, to be called Dangerousestness, wiz, the distance from the origin, given by the formula SQRT(AL^2+OS^2). Thus, in the example above, we see that Prof. B*, although not the most extreme on either Danger Dimension, is definately the most Dangerousest of all.

You can thank me later, David.

*Whom Prof. B might is left to the reader as an exercise.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Remarkable insight from GWB

I agree with the man; the best moment of his presidency was when he reeled in a perch bass. As he told Bild am Sonntag:

You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best. I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake.
I'm glad he realizes everything else was a load of BS.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reports of subjunctive's death sadly NOT overstated

I took this wonderful phonecam shot at a SCHOOL, thankyouverymuch, obviously pertaining to a WRITING assignment. Sheez, I know it's amabalA, but can't the ENGLISH teachers at least get it right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I Got the POW-UH!

I'm sorry, Professor Meg. I just couldn't resist. I do think the guidelines you published are reasonable, and I agree that you probably meant authority and are not totally obsessed with total world domination.

But I could be wrong.

BTW, anyone else notice that kids these days can't even spell (or punctutate) "blah, blah, blah" anymore?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

I know, I know, long time no post. So sue me. But wait, there's a whole boatload of blame to divvy up over the Algebra kerfluffle:

First, to PZ, for an excessively, overthetoppishly, righteous smackdown of Richard Cohen.

RC: I have lived a pretty full life and never, ever used—or wanted to use—algebra.
PZ: If sheep could talk, they'd say the same thing.

Next, to Gabriela, for not even showing up for class 62 of 93 times. To get the sympathy thing going, you have to at least look like you're making an effort.

Then, to the relevant school system(s), who apparently haven't heard that insanity means doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. Surely they knew when algebra became a graduation requirement that they had a high failure rate. They could have added remedial classes, done some early intervention at the "pre-algebra" level, in other words, tried to make a difference. But it sounds as though all they could do was Mulligan classes after the fact. Too little, way too late.

And finally, to Richard Cohen, for demonstrating with a clever blend of verbal jiujitsu and Calvinball, that a lack of algebra can be seen in association with really putrid reasoning:

Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not.
The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were
whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a
readable English sentence.

Now, if I understand his drift (?!?!), he's saying that if algebra were really the highest form of reasoning, then mastery of algebra would endow students with a knowledge of history and dynamite syntactic skills. Obviously these counterexamples show that is not the case, therefore any stupid BS he writes must be true. Or maybe I don't get his drift.

Richard, this is moi: Writing is the use of symbols to convey certain abstract ideas. So is algebra. But the discipline of learning the rules of symbol manipulation in algebra can help to train your mind to evaluate if one sequence of symbols follows from another. This is a skill that could benefit you in the job for which, amazingly enough, you get paid actual money. It's never too late to take that first step.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New irony meter needed

Prison official regarding lifer with cardiac disease, asked what would happen in event of cardiac arrest:

"At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life," said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. "We would resuscitate him," then execute him.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The World Ends Tonight

I'm linking to WorldNetDaily for the curious reason that I agree with Vox Day, for the most part. This bloweth my mind.

America was founded on the principle that it is right to sacrifice blood for liberty. It is telling that the Bush defenders make precisely the opposite argument, that it is right to sacrifice liberty in order to avoid the shedding of American blood. In this they are, like the Dear Leader, avowedly anti-American.

Would you like a glass of Chagrin with that?

So, d'you ever haul out the old blunderbuss, load it up painstakingly, aim it to perfection, and fire off a blistering round exactly at the wrong target? Yeah, me neither. But if I did, the experience might be something like this response I crafted to a blog comment that I later concluded must have been intended sarcastically. So, in the interest of retrieving the projectile and redirecting my fire at the proper recipient, here goes. Guest Blogger Ross Douthat, writing at Andrew Sullivan's daily dish, said of the so-called Christmas Wars:

"...the larger reality is that ... there is a significant chunk of this country - [the cultural elite] - that doesn't much care for Christianity, at least if it's practiced seriously and its basic dogmas are left intact."

Speaking as a fairly regular churchgoer whose views typically align with those of the so-called cultural elite, I think Douthat, and by extension those in the "Christianity under siege" community, seriously misunderstand how they are perceived. There is impatience with the gullibility of those who are taken in by such transparent buffoons as Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, and George W. Bush. There is disgust with the hypocritical sanctimony that is all too often the public face of the "Religious Right." There is bemusement, sure, when you get cut off in traffic by a car with a bumper sticker proclaiming, "Christians aren't perfect -- just forgiven." There is horror and disbelief at those who do not appreciate what a blessing we have in the wall of separation between church and state. And there is annoyance with the missionary zeal that amounts to intolerance of anyone else's brand of spirituality.

With regard to the serious practice of Christianity's basic dogmas, well, if more Christians lived a life of humility, peacemaking, and genuine charity, I think even the jaded cultural elite would stand in awe.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This is Instructive

From a Nightline interview:

TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS): Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in US custody have died, 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides, people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in US custody?

DICK CHENEY (VICE PRESIDENT): I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is, that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the United States, there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country.

A reasonable followup, alas, an up not followed: So, tell me, Mr. VP, just how many criminal homicides are necessary to defend our country? Are you saying we should be encouraging our armed forces and intelligence agencies to commit more criminal homicides, so we'll be even safer?

My question: If defending our country means throwing away the constitution, is it really worth saving?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Called Burden of Proof, Counselor, Or, When Snide Attacks aren't Enough

This op-ed printed recently in the Birmingham News just cries out for a detailed rebuttal. Since items from the News only stay online for 7 days (edit: it appears I'm wrong about this), I've taken the liberty of reproducing the entire piece here, except for the author's email.

Prove it or admit you can't
Sunday, December 11, 2005

The debate over evolution, natural selection, creationism and intelligent design seems to me mostly a jumble of intellectually dishonest arguments. As with so many of society's debates, polarization of political positions has resulted in mere thinly veiled, snide attacks on the intelligence of those holding the opposite position.

Darwin hypothesized two essential prongs for his theory of evolution: (a) that species "evolved" one from another through some process; and a bolder one, (b) that the process was exclusively one of natural selection (survival of the fittest). Many people, and apparently most scientists, have accepted both prongs as fact. (See National Geographic Magazine, November 2004.)

Some religious people - the creationists - are troubled by the first prong, because it appears inconsistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis' description of creation.

Scientists are dismissive of creationists because of the fossil and geological records of the Earth's development. Creationists are hard-pressed to cite scientific evidence opposing that record, and Darwinists then claim victory for both prongs of Darwin's theory. Here, the scientists abandon their intellectual honesty.

Most people uncomfortable with Darwinism find trouble only with the second prong of his theory - the more speculative theory that development of species occurred solely through a process of natural (random) selection, without input of any "supernatural" or "intelligently designing" force. These believers in "intelligent design," if they are religious, may view Genesis as allegorical and not literal.

On the second prong of Darwinism, however, "intelligent designers" have the widely held view (88 percent, according to National Geographic) that an intelligent force has been at work in the universe with a role in the development of species.

Darwinists who attack intelligent design have scant evidence for their second-prong theory - that change occurs exclusively by natural selection, in no way attributable to intelligent design. Their best argument is that slight variations appear in species that could in theory have occurred naturally.

Understandably, they are in the uncomfortable position here of proving a negative. Consequently, they most often resort to two other arguments, both fundamentally dishonest.

First, they often obfuscate the debate by falling back on the weightier evidence for Darwin's first prong. Second, they define away their proof problem. Since they cannot prove that intelligent design did not cause the changes or proliferation of species, they argue that such a notion is inherently nonscientific, and that such a causation is out of bounds in any scientific discussion.

A little intellectual honesty is in order. Having stated a theory that expressly excludes intelligent design, science should admit it is incapable of proving or disproving intelligent design. Such proof is simply beyond the tools available to mortal man.

Having admitted that, they should admit - to that extent - that Darwin's second prong, natural selection of species, is not proven fact and cannot be proved fact, but merely a valid scientific theory that cannot be proved to be the ultimate causation of development of species, to the exclusion of intelligent design. They may legitimately state it is the only "scientific theory," but they must be willing to admit clearly the implications of that phrase.

As a believer in intelligent design, and one with some training in science, I can live with schools teaching Darwin's theory so long as this truth is admitted clearly within the context of that teaching. It is not asking too much of science that it admit what it can and what it cannot prove.

Attorney David M. Wooldridge lives in Homewood. His e-mail address is [redacted]
© 2005 The Birmingham News

I'll offer my thoughts and snide attacks in the next post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Now this is truly funny.

The Museum of Depressionist Art. Just go there.

Pictured, Buddhist Monk misses Nirvana due to Cell Phone Interruption.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

OK, Ready! Gimme an 'F'!

So the Fordham Foundation graded (almost) all the states' published science education standards and, oopsy, we Flagged it! Yes, that's Dear Alabama, right in that diagonal swath of failure extending from Kansas to Key West. Y'know, Toto, I THOUGHT we weren't in Kansas anymore, but now I'm not sure. Maybe if could espy a cadre of Discovery Institue scientists, we'd know for sure...

Oh! Here they are:

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Grey Lady Gets Shrill

I'm so old, I remember when columnists writing in the Times were only allowed to call BS on GWB if they promised not to call him a liar. So now the NYT reports to choir practice and joins the chorus.

Money quote:

It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.

Mr. Bush said last Friday that he welcomed debate, even in a time of war, but that "it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began." We agree, but it is Mr. Bush and his team who are rewriting history.

More ponies, anyone?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pardon, Your IDiocy is Showing

New insights from the frequently-regarded-as-flat state of Kansas:

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.
I guess the good news is that class time devoted to IDiocy will be diluted by the need to make time for phrenology, alchemy, and astrology.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Redemption cometh like a .... ?

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

Galileo's resting a little easier. Wonder if anyone's told canine-fancier Ricky about this one?

By the way, you seem to be getting on in years, Excellence. Do you have some grey, Poupard?

"But of course."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

He-said, she-said journimalism at its worst

Just when you thought that the much-hailed revivification of actual journalism sparked, Frankenstein-like, by the PlameGate fiasco* would leave tried-and-true journalistic hackery behind, along come Milbank and Pincus with a multitude of unattributed pejoratives to slime Joseph Wilson. Hiding behind such formulations as "Nobody disputes that...," they spout the administration's trademark Roveian spin intended to discredit opponents without addressing the substance of their criticism. Particularly interesting to me is that the "beyond dispute" category appears not to include such minutia as the fact that HE WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG! This is substantially borne out by the Senate intelligence committee report, which the article cites three times, using it against Wilson each time. However, on perusing the conclusions document (pdf alert), I see nothing that in any way refutes Ambassador Wilson's central contention. O refutation, where are thy footprints? Cause they ain't here.

The reporter/stenographers make no mention of his decision to go public in the first place with the NYT op-ed. Was this also a self-aggrandizement scheme? It seems to me to be fraught with considerable peril, as we clearly see now. They also fail to point out that some of his critics, eg, Heinyrocket, have been allowed to make outrageous claims that bear little relation to reality without being called on their prevarications.

And get this: "He also turned an arcane matter involving the Intelligence Identities Protection Act into a proxy fight over the administration's credibility and its case for war in Iraq." No, I think it was a fight over the administration's credibility and the lack of a case for war BEFORE said administration resorted to distraction techniques which appear to have been all too successful on the likes of Milbank and Pincus.

Oh, but I forget: he has a Jaguar convertible. Case closed.

*Who can forget Jon Stewart's conspiratorial whisper,
"We've replaced the White House press corps with actual journalists"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Latest CNN Web Poll Marred by Ambiguity

Are President Bush's five visits to the areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina helping the disaster response?

Depends. If by the disaster response, you mean natural disaster, helping find bodies and clean up, I'd say definitely not. But if you mean the PR disaster, then I'd say I definitely don't give a rip.

BTW, current response is 71% "no."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I admit it. I agree with Pat Boone.

I admit it. I agree with Pat Boone.

Whodathunk it, but in this piece, I really agree with Boone. Discussing his opposition to the theory of evolution,

[h]e cited America's founding documents, quoting the Declaration of Independence as he stressed, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator ... "

"That's how opposed to God Thomas Jefferson, who wrote that, was. Yet he is credited with trying to keep all mention of God out of public life. I wish Jefferson could be back here today just for 30 minutes to set things straight."

The part I agree with is in bold. Pity we can't get old TJ back. Too bad we don't have any of his writings to tell us what he was really thinking, something like this:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. [italics mine]
Pity that. Pity that Pat doesn't comprehend, either.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Surely Not!

Today the Grey Lady has a page one piece on Alabama that is remarkably positive, titled "Once Woeful, Alabama Is Model in Child Welfare." Alabama still has a great deal to be humble about, but it's nice to see national recognition in a positive way, especially considering the disasters in foster care widely publicized in much wealthier states.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Opinions Differ on the Structure of the Universe

Seems the good folk at the Ptolemaic Institute got their britches in a bunch over the recent Nightline expose, which reported that there was no actual controversy among reputable astronomers as to whether the sun revolves around the earth, or vice versa.

Nightline's main point appears to be that there really isn't any scientific controversy over Copernicanism and intelligent epicycles. How do they know this? They checked with several Copernicanists, who told them so!

OK, I confess. I made it up, kind of. BUT -- and like my own, it's a huge one -- I challenge anyone to show me how my parodic extrapolation (not a good band name, unlike, say, Disembodied Anus) fails in the slightest iota of parallelism, except that the Catholic church was among the last earthly entities to accept "Copernicanism."

via Pharyngula (oughta be a street in Rome, no?)

Late Update: Swift himself would've had trouble satirizing these folk; it turns out they're out there, only they call themselves the Association for Biblical Astronomy (originally the Tychonian Society, though -- pretty close to Ptolemy, doncha think?) From their manifesto:

All scientific endeavor which does not accept this revelation from on high [ie, ...his* infallible, preserved word, the Holy Bible] without any reservations, literary, philosophical or whatever, we reject as already condemned in its unfounded first assumptions.

Quoth the Lord to the scientist (at least according to these bozos): Who you gonna believe, My good Book or your lyin' eyes, ears, other senses, and power of reason?

* HEY, wait a minute! Shouldn't that be His infallible etc? Now let's see who's going to roast eternally.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Followup: From Obfuscation to Outright Lies.

Latest reaction to doofus-in-chief's pronouncement vis-a-vis Intelligent Design Creationism:

"It's what I've been pushing, it's what a lot of us have been pushing," said Richard Land, the president of the ethics and religious liberties commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Land, who has close ties to the White House, said that evolution "is too often taught as fact," and that "if you're going to teach the Darwinian theory as evolution, teach it as theory. And then teach another theory that has the most support among scientists."

Nothing more to say, really.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Misunderestimated.

I don't know why I'm surprised. Here's the latest from our doofus-in-chief:

President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and "intelligent design" Monday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life. In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation's schools. . . . Bush declined to state his personal views on "intelligent design," the belief that life forms are so complex that their creation can't be explained by Darwinian evolutionary theory alone, but rather points to intentional creation, presumably divine. . . . Bush compared the current debate to earlier disputes over "creationism," a related view that adheres more closely to biblical explanations. As governor of Texas, Bush said students should be exposed to both creationism and evolution. On Monday the president said he favors the same approach for intelligent design "so people can understand what the debate is about."
"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. " You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

What is this guy's problem with reality, anyway? I know, I know; he really doesn't give a crap. It's as though that one-finger salute was directed at the entire reality-based universe. I truly believe the only calculus he can muster is the cost-benefit payoff in votes. This is a bone to throw in the direction of the fundamentalist community, who might be miffed that he didn't react strongly enough to Frists's shocking (and likely staged) display of independence vis-a-vis stem cell research. It certainly costs him nothing in terms of the low-taxes-is-good-for-big-business crowd. And what are we to make of his defiance of established constitutional law that teaching creationism violates the first amendment? I guess it's this: aside from gravity, no law applies to George W. Bush unless he allows it to.

PS: You Reality Cadets are gonna love his response to the suspension of Rafael Palmeiro. It boils down to, "Who you gonna believe, my friend or your lying drug tests?"

That's My Our Jeffy!

Herbert's got a column today about the efforts of Sens. McCain, Warner, and Graham to enact "legislation ... that would expressly prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody."
Tell it, Bob:

There was a dramatic encounter during the floor debate last week when Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, spoke out against the legislation, saying there was no need for it because, as he put it, the detainees are not prisoners of war, "they are terrorists."

Senator McCain, of Arizona, argued that the debate "is not about who they are. It's about who we are." Americans, said Mr. McCain, "hold ourselves" to a higher standard.

At least, we used to. Honestly, you gotta love McCain when you see stuff like this, not only for forgetting to be a Bush apologist, but also for giving Jeff "I got 59% of the vote" Sessions the smackdown he so richly deserves. Remember, Senator Jeff is or has been a practicing attorney, a US Attorney, Alabama Attorney General, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Judging from his bio, what he has NOT been a member of, is the US military. Still, he should know better.

Well, Jeff, you've certainly got my vote -- for Legal Lamebrain of the Week.

Clarification: Please understand, I'm not criticizing Sen. Sessions for not having served in the military. I'm not certain that he did not, although surely his senate web bio would mention it if he did. Many fine individuals, myself included, have not. What I'm saying is, when three senators with distinguished service records think this issue is important enough to take on the White House directly, because they say it's important for our men and women in uniform, that's a good time for those of us who haven't worn the uniform to listen closely and think twice before opening our mouth and demonstrating a general state of cluelessness to the entire world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ah, back to Politics!

Our Fearless Leader (hereinafter OFL): "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

Thanks for clarifying that, Mr. President. I take it from that that sending a White House limo to pick up staffers on work release from the big house is out. If I could, though, there are a few points I'd like to clarify. For instance, what about ankle bracelets? Are they OK? No, I don't mean as a fashion statement; you know, house arrest. After all, it's the People's House, right? So maybe some of those people are on suspended sentences. Yes, it is a big house, a very big house. Another thing, we were all worried, before you made that bold and forthright declaration, you know, that maybe there'd be nothing to stop you from hiring Eric Rudolph as Special White House Assistant for Women's Health. Which brings up the next point. What about pardons? Would that make someone eligible again? When could Secretary Rudolph start then? I know this has been a whole bunch of questions; how about just one more? Where does this leave Admiral Poindexter?

Update: further questions have emerged, specifically regarding when a member of the administration will be judged to have committed a crime. Is it when an indictment is handed down, an arrest is made, a guilty verdict is returned, or when all appeals have been exhausted?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Don't Make Me Choose, Benny!

So it turns out that when he was a mere cardinal, Joey Rat was not so high on the Boy Who Lived. Here's part of his reply to a German author critical of HP: "It is good that you shed light and inform us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable and, precisely because of that, deeply affect and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it could properly grow,"

Well, Benny, I'm callin you out, and yes, I am talkin to You! Cause Benny, when you messin with my man Harry, you are really messin with my shit. You got that? [I don't even know what that means, but it sounds edgy, you know?]
So, one last time,
Don't Make Me F-in' Choose, Benny!
Cause if I choose, You Lose!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

There they go again...

Geez, I never meant for this blog to be all-Catholicism, all the time, but oy vey, it just gets worser and worser. As I've said elsewhere, one of the few things I've found to be proud of in my nominal, self-serving cafeteria catholicism is that at least Rome learned something from the Galileo experience, even if it took them 500 years to get around to acknowledging that, hey, he was right, and the Inquisition was wrong. Now comes Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the lead editor of the friggin' Catechism (Yes, I believe that is the official title.), with this op-ed in the NYT saying, well, scientists are wrong and we're right.

I'm inclined to agree with bitchphd, commenting in Pharyngula, that this, more than pedophilia, misogyny, and all the rest, is likely to make me overcome my inertia and up and leave the house I grew up in (up in which I grew?). However, I'll wait for official clarification from the immediate past head of the Inquisition, BXVI.

Late update: in today's letters in the NYT, there's this word of hope:
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn is hardly the person to state an official position because he was outside the mainstream of Catholic thought when as the chief editor of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, he accepted the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis.

(Rev.) Sebastian L. Muccilli