Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Today was the last day of the term for my Wednesday class.  I am always sad to see the end of our six-week terms.  Mostly because in the past, there has been a two-month –long hiatus, and in the mean-time my families get busy with other stuff and don’t come back.

(For those of you who don’t know, I teach two Kung Fu classes for special needs kids.  I told my SiFu a while ago that this was one of my goals, so he found some classes for me to teach.)

This time, there is only one month between terms, and they handed out registration forms right in the class.  All of the parents swore they would be back.  I’ve heard that before.  In all this time, I’ve only had one family return…but hopefully we will keep the terms going back-to-back in the future and get better retention.

I’ve got to tell you about one of the kids, though.  I’ll call him Sport.  He walked in the very first day, chest puffed out, head up, looking around the room as he crossed it with a confident stride. 

“I’m going to like this class.  I’m going to be really good at it.  I can tell.  This is going to be great.”

Sport started and ended every one of the six classes we had with that attitude.  Shouting “Look at me, I’m doing this really good!”  When I have them do a stretch, and tell them where they should feel it, Sport always declares “I feel it!  I’m feeling the stretch!”  So excited.

Sport has serious problems with balance, and his muscles are as tight as a tow strap trying to pull a Hummer up a hill out of a foot of clay mud.

His greatest asset is his attitude, which never seems to tire or disappear.  He shows up on time, every week, striding confidently into the room, squinting through his glasses with the one eye that isn’t covered with an eye patch, 1000-kilowat grin on his face, and a story about whatever great exploit he accomplished today.

Today I presented him with his certificate of achievement and a little medal on a red-white-and-blue ribbon.  He put it around his neck, grabbed his dad by the hand and said “I’m going to wear this to bed tonight.” As he walked out the door.

I wonder if he’ll come back, I wonder if I was able to help him at all in the six short weeks I had with him.

Whatever the outcome for me, I imagine Sport will have few problems ahead in life despite his difficulties.  I have a feeling that even if he doesn’t walk back through that door, I’m going to be hearing about him again.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 9:57:56 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #

I'm helping Mom sew!  Push the peddle - make noise.  Push the peddle - make noise.  It's fun and all, but I wonder why mom does it so much?

[mom's note:  Jay puts his paw on top of my foot and "helps" me push down when I want to sew.  He might or might not make a good hunting dog, but maybe we should think of tailor as an alternative occupation?]

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 9:24:38 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

In the entry about the King James Version of the Bible, they refer to King James, who commissioned the translation of the Bible as a "confirmed bachelor".

Heh.  That's so much more convenient than saying he was gay, isn't it?

I mean, if gay people have been here throughout history, and have contributed to important things in our society (and the conservative fundies like their King James version), we'd have to give them some sort of legitamate social standing, right?

Silly conservatives.

Oh yeah, and James WAS married.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 7:11:15 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #

PZ Myer’s daughter, Skatje has a very good entry up about the Pledge of Allegiance.  I personally wouldn’t think that the Pledge is that important an issue, except that it’s yet another erosion in the separation of Church and State.  If it weren't being used to push a MORE religionist presance in the schools, I wouldn't really care.

Anyway, she makes many good points, and she’s become quite the young commentator on things religious and political.  I think I’d better blogroll her, as she is fun and encouraging to read as Frecklescassie.

Here’s my favorite thing in the entry she made, though it IS rather a footnote, it was the one thing I didn’t know before I read the piece:

"This is mostly irrelevant, but it made me giggle. The way the pledge was recited pre-WW2 was with heart over hand and then on the words “to the Flag,” the hand was extended with palm outwords. I think you might be able to guess why they changed this after the war."

There's a picture.  It's pretty funny.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 6:51:25 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wow.  A preventative measure for prion diseases?  Unbelievably cool.

(via A Blog Around the Clock)

 

In prion diseases, which are called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, prion proteins unfold and cause plaques in animal and human brains. Transmission of prion diseases has impacted the availability and cost of blood donations, especially in Europe.

In the Lancet study, the researchers took the blood of scrapie-infected hamsters and removed the white blood cells using a device called a leukofilter. The leukoreduced blood was then passed through another filter containing the new resin particles engineered to capture the prion proteins. A group of disease-free hamsters was inoculated with the blood that passed through the leukofilter only. A second group was inoculated with the blood that passed through both the leukofilter and the prion-capture filter.

The researchers found that while leukoreduction itself removed a good deal of the bad proteins – approximately 72 percent – none of the nearly 100 hamsters inoculated with the leukoreduced, resin-filtered blood were infected with scrapie by the end of the 550-day test. Fifteen of 99 hamsters receiving leukoreduced blood not passed through the resin filter were infected with scrapie.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:46:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

OK, I'll admit, the title of this one might give it away for you English majors, or anyone who paid attention in High School English.

http://jonswift.blogspot.com/index.html

Still, pretty fun.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 9:27:05 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Or your children will suffer.  Read this, and tell me that "Christians" are the ones who are persecuted.

Now, you may rightly point out that only a small minority of Christian doctors refuse to give their patients proper medical care based on their beliefs.  But how can you tell which ones are the "good ones"?  One hint might be, that if they have the word "Christian" in the name of their clinic, they probably have a whole list of treatments they won't give you, or reasons why you might not be good enough to get treatment from them.  No way to tell for sure, of course, but there are lots of doctors out there.  Better safe than sorry.

The doctor points out that his is a private business, and if there is nothing life-threatening, he has a right to turn away anyone he wants to.  True enough, but when I decide that I'm not going to go to any doctors that advertize their "Chrstianity" because of his behavior, that's my right too...right?  I'm just exercising my right as a private individual to spend my money where I want to.

Oh.  No, I'm "persecuting" them aren't I?  One set of rules for them, a different set for everyone else.  Same old same old. 

And where in the Bible does it say you can't get tattoos and piercings?

(via Pharyngula.)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 2:33:58 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  | #

Ever go to a kid’s hockey game?  Not the little kids who can barely stand up on their skates, but the kids who know the skills, and know the game, but don’t have the maturity for a lot of discipline yet?

If you know hockey, you know that everyone  has a job to do.  Some people are there to keep the puck from getting to the net, and some are there to catch and send passes to move the puck forward, and some are there to skate up the middle and score.

Sometimes you have a strategic job to do, the coach will say “watch that guy, and stay on him”.

Anyway, if everyone does their job, the team works like a charm.  But there’s always those kids.  You know the ones I mean…the puck chasers.  They aren’t worried about where they are supposed to be, or what they’re supposed to be doing.  They chase the puck.  Where it goes, they go, their mind is on following the puck, not on doing their job.  Rather positioning themselves where they know they’re supposed to be, and doing their job, they are always in just the wrong spot to be of use to anyone but themselves.

I think Hillary Clinton is a puck chaser.

Barak Obama?  I’d like to see him get a little more time off the bench first.  I like him, but on the other hand, he's gotten Sue to read a political book.  So it MIGHT be that he is the Anti-Christ after all.

I’m thinking about taking a real close look at Edwards and Richardson.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 6:56:50 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [15] | #
Monday, February 26, 2007

I saw this in the comments section  of a Pharyngula post, and it made me laugh out loud.

"If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

                                             --James Randi

Monday, February 26, 2007 12:42:07 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

I was wondering if some of the people who have been reading for a while could do me a favor?

I'd like to create a "favorites" catagory here.  And I'd like to put the ten or so most "anomalousdata-ish" posts in there.

So I was wondering if anyone would possibly like to give me some input as to what those posts might happen to be?

If it's not too much trouble.

If you don't want to comment, you can always e-mail me.

Monday, February 26, 2007 10:00:57 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

Remember a while back when an entry by Karen prompted me to ask why The Smithsonian Museums were feeling the need to whore themselves out with semi-exclusive contracts to private companies?

Well, this might be part of the answer. (via PZ Myers over at Pharyngula)

If you liked that one, here’s another from the Washington Post.

I seriously doubt that even the most besotted staffers could manage to drink a budget like the Smithsonian’s into submission, but  it seems likely that if he’s lavishing such expenses on his wife and underlings, he is playing fast and loose in other ways with the money entrusted to him.

Even his own kind are balking at turning a blind eye to his excesses (quote from the WP article):

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who had requested the inspector general's review when he was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee last year, expressed outrage at the audit committee's response.

"I am shocked at what the Smithsonian is spending its money on when it comes to food, flowers, alcohol and other items," Grassley said in a letter last week to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who chairs the Board of Regents. Grassley criticized "what appears to be an 'anything goes' culture by the Smithsonian secretary and his staff, which views that his champagne lifestyle should be subsidized by the taxpayer."

 

While $90,00 may seem like a LOT in personal expenses, and while looting the budget for the Smithsonian Institute might seem merely selfish and thoughtless, there appears to be a darker political agenda to the actions of our intrepid candidate for “besht boshhh in the whole worrrrrlll…”

This headline from the NYT on May 28th of 2005 might shed some light on some of the more damaging reasons Bush might have appointed Mr. Small to the office he so thoroughly enjoys.

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:13:13 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  |  | #
Sunday, February 25, 2007

So here is an entry by a doctor in Texas, who innocently posted some random musings about how he doubts Darwin, and next thing he knows, he’s in an argument with Ben and I about evolution and its place in science class.  He makes appeals to the fact that he has a life outside of his blogging, so it is hard for him to keep up with the conversation.  Fair enough.  Everyone knows that all I do is sit on my ass an eat bon-bons, right?  But anyway, on to the matter at hand.

Read the whole thing, but what I am going to comment on is his final point:

Debates go on within science class about various aspects of the natural world. Debates also occur in philosophy class about the nature of man, the nature of god, etc. But what happens when a student asks the same question in each class and is given a different answer?

This is what the current Great Debate is about. When the science class and the philosophy class disagree, who decides which is right? It would be helpful if the two classes could talk to each other to see whether the differences can be reconciled. Personally, I feel this is what the Intelligent Design movement is attempting to do. But as long as we insist upon keeping the two disciplines separate, claiming that any mixing would contaminate the other, then we'll simply keep fighting until someone gives up or until one side conquers by force, never really knowing if we were right.

 

I believe that Religion will often give different answers than science because science and Religion have different rules (the good doctor uses the word philosophy, but I think that is not the word to use.)

Whatever Intelligent Design is attempting to do, there is little that it CAN do without breaking both the rules of science and the rules of Religion.  Long-time readers will recall that I originally gave Intelligent Design a fair consideration, much as the good doctor is doing, not because I doubted that Evolution and Natural Selection could make the changes shown in the fossil record from a single ancestor, but because I am a Deist.

So I liked the thought that maybe there were elements to design that could be discovered in our world and nature that could indicate a creator.

But further reading was very disappointing.  Instead of the idea that the world functioned according to consistent and functional rules, the purveyors of Intelligent Design go on and on about how the “randomness” of creation could not give rise to the kinds of changes seen in the fossil record.

What had at first appeared  to be an attempt to explore the Deistic rhetorical device of “creation implies a creator” or of God being the “first cause” that started the universe spinning and expanding, turned out to be a misappropriation used to force the God of Creation back into the Bible.

The God of intelligent Design did not create a universe of perfection and majesty.  The Creator described by Intelligent Design threw together a hodge-podge of wacky elements that don’t work without his constant interference and adjustment.

While the Intelligent Design people may begin the discussion like Deists, they inevitably end it like Medieval Priests, skulking and bowing before a capricious God who doesn’t know what he wants, muddling about in creation continuously, throwing in an eye here, and foot there and giving appendixes and taking them away at a whim without rhyme or reason.

Like the God of the Bible that started out ordering genocides and eradicating  the whole world in a flood (only to show regret later), but then changed in the New Testament to a God that wanted us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek; the God of Intelligent design gets his hands in and mucks about changing this, changing that, intervening and interfering in his work like a mechanic that can’t leave well enough alone.

The God of Intelligent Design is not the one that created the world and said “It is good”.  There is no seventh day for the God of Intelligent Design.

The God of Intelligent Design does not do things for reasons that humans can understand.  His ways are mysterious and unpredictable.  What we know of how the world functions is meaningless because he can just reach in and change things at a moment’s notice.  Add another eye, turn a fin into a leg here, or subtract a tail there for no other reason than that he wants it that way.

If there is, indeed, a way to get religion and science to talk to each other, Intelligent Design is not the way.  It understands too little of science, nothing at all of philosophy, and bows and scrapes too much to the absurdities of Religion, while at the same time contradicting them.

Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:36:46 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [7] |  | #
Friday, February 23, 2007

Conservipedia

The "unbiased" conservative alternative to Wikipedia!  (unbiased AND conservative.  I wonder if they have an entry explaining the unbiased conservative definition of "oxymoron?")

And they are already bragging about how they have defeated immunizations.  Lovely.

God hates public health.  What next?  A Conservapedia entry about how they managed to sabotage drinking water floridation?

So, what do you all think?  Spoof, or No Spoof?

(I'm suspicious because of how closely they mimicked Wikipedia's "look" and format, plus, they seem to have pandered to exactly the most extreme Conservative stereotypes.  And the irony meter is even higher than usual what with the "unbiased conservative alternative" angle.  I mean really, announcing yourself to be "unbiased", while making your description of your bias the primary marketing focus ("conservative")of your whole site?  Really.  Just how dumb do they think we think they are?)

:-)

(via Pharyngula)

Friday, February 23, 2007 12:15:09 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  | #
Thursday, February 22, 2007

Via Pharyngula, I get a link to this letter-to-the editor of a New Zealand newspaper:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/category/story.cfm?c_id=301&objectid=10424908

Its from an Anglican priest arguing against nameing New Zealand a "Christian Nation".  Why?  Because he's an American ex-pat who says he left America because of the intolerance and bigotry of the religious right, and it's influence on the government.

It is a very measured and cogent letter.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 9:11:34 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  | #
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

In Britain their king is for life – In America our president will always be one of the people at the end of four years.  In that country, the king is hereditary and may be an idiot, a knave, or a tyrant by nature, or ignorant from the neglect of his education, yet cannot be removed, for “he can do no wrong.” In America, as the president is to be one of the people at the end of his short term, so will he and his fellow citizens remember, that he was originally one of the people; and that he is created by their breath – Further, he cannot be an idiot, probably not a knave or a tyrant, for those whom nature makes so, discover it before the age of thirty-five, until which period he cannot be elected.

                                                                                                             --Tench Coxe arguing for the adoption of

                                                                                                                the Constitution

                                                                                                                 “An American Citizen” part I

 

Um….Ooops?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 10:23:29 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [8] | #
Sunday, February 18, 2007

I'm sure everyone has heard of the strange case of how two young bloggers got hired by John Edwards to blog for his campaign, and the right-wing smear machine kicked into high gear.

In the case of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwen, the right-wing blow-hard cry that saying the Pope and other religious leaders obstruct gay rights is “anti-catholic”.  Hey!  You can’t say something that is true but unflattering of the Pope!  That’s anti-Catholic!  Plus, these women use bad language and are independant Freethinkers.  The religious right couldn't have that.  So they round up their posse to send out rape threats and death threats to two young women to show their Godly support of The Church.

Eventually, the young women resign from the Edwards campaign.

We’re getting dangerously close to mob rule rather than rule of law, here people.

So I’ll leave you with a little quote from Black Sabbath.  Just call it a little consolation for the fact that bands like Black Sabbath were seen as the CAUSE of the destruction of civilization, rather than prophetic foretellers of it: and  that their  “Christian” accusers are the ones carrying the torches and pitchforks.

 

Close the city and tell the people that something's coming to call
Death and darkness are rushing forward to take a bite from the wall, oh

You've nothing to say
They're breaking away
If you listen to fools...
The Mob Rules
The Mob Rules

Kill the spirit and you'll be blinded, the end is always the same
Play with fire, you burn your fingers and lose your hold of the flame, oh

It's over, it's done
the end is begun
If you listen to fools...
The Mob Rules

You've nothing to say
Oh, They're breaking away
If you listen to fools...

Break the circle and stop the movement, the wheel is thrown to the ground
Just remember it might start rolling and take you right back around

You're all fools!
The Mob Rules!

--Black Sabbath “The Mob Rules”

Sunday, February 18, 2007 9:43:23 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  |  |  | #
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ben (EclecticsAnonymous) has an entry in the Skeptic's Circle.  He's down at the bottom under the title "A Skeptic's Lot".

Conrats, Ben.  Well done, for a Godzillofascist.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 7:05:13 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #

Holy Shit!  Follow this link and watch this clip: http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/02/protest_1.html

I had no idea that CNN stands for “Convert Non-believers Now!”

I have no commentary to add to what's out there, except to mention that the last shred of the hollow pretense of the "MSM" being liberal has gone out the window with this report.  How do you have a panel on athiesm with not one single athiest on the panel, and with a banner in the background that comes right out and blames athiests for "inspiring hatred" against themselves?

Here's a link to another couple of videos where they try to make up for it by having Richard Dawkins and another panel that includes an attractive and articulate athiest:  http://onegoodmove.org/1gm/1gmarchive/2007/02/atheism_1.html

Better, but still the banner behind "Are athiests morally compromised?"  FOX news must be so proud that their "smear by questionmark" tactic has become so popular.

(thanks Ben for e-mailing me the links to the videos)

Thursday, February 15, 2007 9:26:34 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I recently heard on Karen’s blog about a story where Oliver North supposedly was barred from taking footage of the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian.  I wanted to check out the truth of this, so I went to the first place I usually, look:  Snopes Urban Legends Reference Page.  I have a hard time believeing Oliver North about anything, and of course his involvement in the Iran-Contra thing makes me completely unsympathetic to him.  Still, if what he says is true in this case, it's a rather important thing to know, so I thought I'd look into it.

They didn’t have anything about the Smithsonian/Enola Gay story, but they DID have a few interesting Urban Legends about Oliver North.

 

1)      He was said to have predicted that Osama Bin Laden was the most evil man in the world, and that we (the U.S.) should assassinate him while we had the chance.  One variation of the Urban Legend asserts that Al Gore spoke against that plan, to the detriment of our entire country.  It’s false, of course.  The Snopes entry about this is fascinating.  It is amazing how all the politically paranoid conspiracy theories (of both the right and left) all sound alike.  Snopes actually has Oliver North’s statement of record denying the assertion that he had made the claims about Osama Bin Laden.

2)      He criticized John Kerry for his defensiveness about his war record (which, at least Kerry had one, and at least his men who served on his swift boat could stand proudly by his side and vouch for him.  That puts him miles ahead of Bush.) and for taking the final Purple Heart that allowed him an honorable discharge and thus to go home.  I’m not saying anything against North’s record, where he claims he declined the Purple Hearts that would have allowed him to leave.  That was his choice, and it was honorable, just as Kerry’s decision to go when he could probably have gotten out of going was honorable.

3)      He is also connected with the proliferation of an urban legend where a dead animal is being shipped for burial, but is mistakenly replaced with a similar animal when the workers think that they are responsible for the death of the animal.  Apparently, he uses the story in his lectures.

 

Along the lines of “Al Gore kept us from assassinating Osama Bin Laden”, I found an Urban legend that says that Bill Clinton intervened and convinced Israel to free Mohammad Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers.  Needless to say, this was false as well.

As for North’s tiff with the Smithsonian, it appears to be a he/said/she/said sort of thing, with North saying that the Smithsonian’s decision was final, and the Smithsonian person saying that they needed to talk more to figure out how it can be done, and the rejection was for the specific plan.

This sort of thing raises the question of why does the Smithsonian feel like it needs to sell itself out for money?  We should answer that question and fix the base problem.  Either the Smithsonian needs more funding, or they need to be audited and have better oversight for their spending.  Or maybe both.

An operation like the Smithsonian is going to be a huge sink-hole of cash, and there’s nothing to be done about that.  It’s a huge operation and the maintenance alone has to be astronomical…much less funding ongoing projects, research and acquisitions.

 You’re not going to find a better place to take your kids and get them all revved up about the country and its history and the coolness of learning stuff.  If you want the Smithsonian museums to be glittering showcases of America, then you have to fund them generously, and there should be enough money for it.  If there isn’t we should find out why, and for certain access to our heritage should not be sold off to the highest bidder.

Proprietary access isn’t in the interest of the country, or the subjects like history and culture or science where the archives are an important tool for accessing information for disseminating views of history.

The same information can be illustrative in many different ways.  Allowing people with only one emphasis, or one viewpoint to have semi-exclusive use of that information is potentially damaging (just look what Conservative Libertarians do to Thomas Paine given half a chance.  They totally leave out all his social programs that he wanted, and the taxes he wanted for civil works programs, and just harp on his criticism of taxes, and leave out the part where he was against taxes that went to pay for wars, and to support a parasitic upper class.)

On the other hand, not having the Smithsonian be able to continue and expand its mission is also dangerous.  I think it’s pretty clear that if those for whom it is important don’t step up to the plate, and take care of things, then there will be little choice but to look elsewhere.

I certainly think that added oversight might be the best first step, as long as it is a balanced group made up of people who actually want the Smithsonian to succeed, which with this administration, I have my doubts.  They can recommend cuts or reapportionment, and additional funding.

Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 9:26:29 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

It seems we had a bit of a server crash last night, just before our regular back-up.  Rocky was able to send me the RSS feed copies of yesterdays entries, which I re-posted, but I'm afrid that the comments made yesterday are lost.  If anyone would like to re-post their comments, I'd appreciate it.

Sorry for the inconvenience. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:33:33 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

 

Last night, Grasshopper and I went to see the Minnestoa Youth Symphony Orchestras perform.  The orchestras all did very well, but we were waiting for the final one, where one of my Kung Fu "brothers" (recently promoted black belt) was playing the viola.

They played Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring".

It is one of my favorite pieces, and I love it, but I have never heard it performed live.  Know why?  Because it takes a big set of brass-plated titanium balls to perform this piece live.  No other youth orchestra has ever attempted it before in Minnesota.

For those of you who may not know, when the "Rite" was first performed in Paris in 1913, it's intensity and avante guard nature caused riots.  Stravinsky left the auditorium in tears.  His masterwork appeared to be a disaster.  26 years later, it was featured in Walt Disney's fantasia.

Stravinsky was just three decades ahead of his time.

The kids did spectacularly with it.  It was just a marvelous performance.  In the middle, the conductor was conducting so furiously, that his baton snapped in half, and part of it went sailing into the middle of the orchestra.

The experiance was so intense that Grasshopper turned to me in the middle and begged to leave.  And yet we couldn't bring oursevles to actually walk out.

My heart pounds just thinking about it.

Good thing I had the 9-year-old along.  I might have been tempted to start a riot.  :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:30:59 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

*sigh*  I seem to be involved in another flame war:  Go and check this nut-job out.  :-) (hi Ben)

(ooops, sorry Mark, I'm not really used to the idea of people I don't personally know reading my blog).

Warning:  Requires some knowledge of Edgar Allen Poe, Godzilla movies, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and the trolling habits of fundamentalist wackos to fully appreciate. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 11:28:28 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Sunday, February 11, 2007

   In honor of Evolution Sunday, when men and women of faith are invited to contemplate the fact that science and faith need not clash (although religion must often make adjustments), I bring to you the words of Mr. Thomas Paine.  This is just a small excerpt of what is a seminal and important foundational writing.  If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to do so.  You won’t regret it.

 

     It is a fraud of the Christian system to call the sciences human inventions; it is only the application of them that is human.  Every science has for its basis a system of principles as fixed and unalterable as those by which the universe is regulated and governed.  Man cannot make principles; he can only discover them:

     For example.  Every person who looks at an almanac sees an account when an eclipse will take place, and he sees also that it never fails to take place according to the account there given.  This shews that man is acquainted with the laws by which the heavenly bodies move.  But it would be something worse than ignorance, were any church to say, that those laws are an human invention.

      It would also be ignorance, or something worse, to say, that the scientific principles, by the aid of which man is enabled to calculate and fore-know when an eclipse will take place, are a human invention.  Man cannot invent anything that is eternal and immutable; and the scientific principles that he employs for this purpose must, and are, of necessity, as eternal and immutable as the laws by which the heavenly bodies move, or they could not be used as they are, to ascertain the time when, and the manner how, an eclipse will take place.

     The scientific principles that man employs to obtain the fore-knowledge of an eclipse, or of  any thing else relating to the motion of heavenly bodies, are contained chiefly in that part of science that is called Trigonometry, or the properties of the triangle, which, when applied to the study of heavenly bodies, is called astronomy; when applied to direct the course of a ship on the ocean, it is called navigation; when applied to the construction of figures drawn by a rule and compass, it is called geometry; when applied to the construction of plans of edifices,  it is called architecture; when applied to the measurement of any portion of the surface of the earth, it is called land surveying.  In fine, it is the soul of science.  It is an eternal truth: it contains the mathematical demonstration of which man speaks, and the extent of its uses are unknown.

     It may be said, that man can make or draw a triangle, and therefore a triangle is an human invention.

     But the triangle, when drawn, is no other than the image of the principle:  it is a delineation to the eye, and from thence to the mind, of a principle that would otherwise be imperceptible.  The triangle does not make the principle, any more than a candle taken into a room that was dark, makes the chairs and tables that were before invisible.  All the properties of a triangle exist independently of the figure, and existed before any triangle was drawn or thought of by man.  Man had no more to do in the formation of those properties, or principles, than he had to do in making the laws by which the heavenly bodies move; and therefore one must have the same divine origin as the other.

     In the same manner as it may be said, that man can make a triangle, so also may it be said, that he may make the mechanical instrument, called a lever.  But the principle by which the lever acts is a thing distinct  from the instrument, and would exist if the instrument did not; it attaches itself to the instrument after it is made; the instrument therefore can act no otherwise than it does act; neither can all the effort of human invention make it act otherwise.  That which, in all such cases, man calls the effect, is no other than the principle itself rendered perceptible to the senses.

     Since then man cannot make principles, from whence did he gain a knowledge of them, so as to be able to apply them, not only to things on earth, but to ascertain the motion of bodies so immensely distant from him as all the heavenly bodies are?  From whence, I ask, could he gain that knowledge, but from the study of the true theology?

     It is the structure of the universe that has taught this knowledge to man.  That structure is an ever existing exhibition of every principle upon which every part of mathematical science is founded.  The offspring of this science is mechanics; for mechanics is no other than the principles of science applied practically.  The man who proportions the several parts of a mill, uses the same scientific principles, as if he had the power of constructing a universe: but he cannot give to matter that invisible agency, by which all the component parts of the immense machinery of the universe have influence upon each other, and act in motional unison together without any apparent contact, and to which man has given the name of attraction, gravitation, and repulsion, he supplies the place of that agency by the humble imitation of teeth and cogs.  All the parts of man’s microcosm must visibly touch.  But could he gain knowledge of that agency, so as to be able to apply it in practice, we might then say, that another canonical book of the word of God had been discovered.

[here I cut four paragraphs of more description of mechanical principles.]

     The Almighty lecturer, by displaying the principles of science in the structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation.  It is as if he had said to the inhabitants of this globe that we call ours, “I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts.  He can now provide for his own comfort, AND LEARN FROM MY MUNIFICENCE TO ALL TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER. (emphasis in the original)

 

                                                                                    --Thomas Paine

                                                                                        “The Age of Reason”

 

Sunday, February 11, 2007 6:58:20 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Friday, February 09, 2007

There's this guy (icanplainlysee) I've run into on a couple of blogs.  We don't agree about anything, and he's pretty vocal about his beliefs, but able to have a reletively civil discussion.  We've traded some gentlepersonaly fisticuffs about all sorts of things, but say "Hey" when we see each other and generally try to be polite.

We were arguing about birthcontrol over at Frecklescassie's blog and some kid breaks in with this:

 

ELOphan Says:

Aw, isn’t it sweet that Teresa and ican’tseeshit gather here for their tea party. How precious! Do you also get your opinions off each other’s zippers? Glad to hear you support the right wing gas bags. NCMEC just kicked O’Really to the curb! HAHAHA! Face it, the sheeple are fed up with your ilk and your phony moral step ladders. The fact that you won’t answer a few simple questions, while demanding answers from someone else, proves the level of paranoid hypocracy your pied pipers have marched you to. Perhaps it’s their zipper you get your talking points from. Hurry! Better run! Chase down the falafel and oxycontin carts for your superior officers! They must be running low on something! Don’t like what I’ve said? Tough! Suck it up punk! Go find something else that’s none of your damned business and spin it into some imaginary threat against your slave-based EMPIRE.

 

Have we really gotten to the point where people who are nominally polite to each other are mistaken for being in agreement just because they are civil?

That's sad.  But also a little funny.

[Update:  I think, after all this time, I actually might have found a "liberal" who is part of the much-vaunted "hate America first crowd".  I thought they were a conservative invention, but it turns out, unlike the unicorn, they are not the product of entierly depraved minds.  I would prefer to find out that unicorns are real...at least they purify water.]

 

  1. ELOphan
    Posted February 10, 2007 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Teresa - I’m not sure if you’d think a 38 year old woman is “young”, but I have done extensive reading of our nation’s history. Believe me, I knew the fairy tale was over years ago. I was fortunate enough to have a dad, and a high school history teacher, who weren’t afraid to speak the truth that this country only got where it is today either by oppression or at the end of various weapons and bully tactics. It was supposed to the the mirrored opposite of what they fled, but it seems we traded one anarchy for another, except this one has no single payer health system, and state sponsored college is out of the question too.

    In so far as our founding fathers, I did expect them to abolish all the things they hit the shores here bitching about, not let them continue. In the absence of stopping these things, I certainly would expect them to feel deep regret, not look for pats on the back. But back then there were new fortunes to be made, new land to be stolen, and new “heathens” to put in their place. We soon employed the same strong arm measures we felt we had to flee. We snatched the olive branch we were extended from the hand that offered it to us, and promptly began to use it to beat our path of domination in the new world. I refuse to be a hypocrite and condone the founding father’s crimes, while at the same time deploring the crimes of the chimp at 1600 Penn.Ave.

    Furthermore, I never said you ever attacked Cassie. Perhaps you should take your own advice and read what’s been written. As I’ve tried to explain before, my only bone of contention with you is your willingness to forgive the violent birth of this nation with the rationale of they did the best they could. We know why people like Hank think it’s fine, because it promotes the new EMPIRE. Most Liberals are embarrassed by their actions and offer no apologies for them. I don’t believe in this “don’t speak ill of the dead” bullcrapery. I was absolutely beside myself with anger when after Gerald Ford finally kicked the bucket and all of his apologists were out in full force, saying how his full and unconditional pardon of a crook helped “heal” a nation. My ass! But for the actions of Gerald Ford and the GOP, we could very well be having impeachment trials right now. My point is, is that when we start overlooking monstrosoties merely because someone is dead, we tend to give blind pass to the horrors right under our nose.

    Finally, thanks for providing your blog addy. I certainly intend to read it over someday. In so far as civility goes, you continue to stroke Hank’s ego by excusing his attacks on someone as young as you must know Cassie is by being civil and not saying a word, and I’ll continue to defend her honor by being less polite.

[Update II:  This is my reply:

Elophan,

I would love to have you visit my blog, although I’d appreciate it if you can refrain from making unwarrented and demeaning sexual implications about me in the future.

It’s kind of a liberal chick thing. We don’t appreciate it very much.

If you don’t think it would be too much like stroking my ego to do so, of course.

Also, I DID defend Cassie once, but rapidly found that she is perfectly capable of defending herself (or haven’t you noticed?), so I thought that I would allow her the honor of doing so.

As for “tag-teaming” her, I have not, and those were your words. tag teaming. It sounds to me like you were trying to imply that I was ganging up on her with Hank…

…but maybe there is some new meaning to the words “tag team” that I have missed?

Friday, February 09, 2007 10:56:48 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [8] | #

via Ben at EclecticsAnonymous, I get this link to an op/ed piece in the Washington Post.

Eric Fair may be haunted by the memories of what he did, against his better judgement, and against his concience.  He rightly holds that simply following orders is not an excuse.

But, excuse or not...the uncomfortable fact remains that he WAS following orders.  That ultimately come back to us, the citizens in whose name those orders were issued.

Eric has to pay the price for what we allowed, what we let our government get away with, and what we continue to let them get away with.

(Thanks to Ben for that link as well.)

Friday, February 09, 2007 5:27:53 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

In a conversation with my Schwan’s representative today, I discovered that I know yet another military person who was against the war in Iraq, and yet went to proudly serve his country when he was called.

The Schwan’s guy is a grandfather who went to Iraq  in 2003.  He has a special skill somewhere in the area of chemical/biological/nuclear weapons.

He is proud of his service, and he should be.  Our military personnel display the ultimate in selflessness and trust when they agree to waive a large portion of their rights in order to serve.  He seems to  feel that since we are there,  we should make the best of what we have the opportunity to accomplish, and wants us to get out of there as soon as we can without leaving it worse than we found it.

Like Karen’s friend, “Jassim” he thinks we should come up with a special operation to insure the “unfortunate” deaths of the known insurgent leaders,.

Further, he feels we should take advantage of the lull in leadership for the insurgency to strengthen the  interim  government, and begin the strategic re-deployment and withdrawal of troops.

He opposes the “surge” concept.

This is by no means a slam-dunk evaluation.  Just one more everyday guy who did his part and has his opinion.

Personally, I’m against assassinations of political figures…but then again, they are insurgent leaders, aren’t they?  It’s not like any of them are recognized leaders of sovereign nations, and it is war.

Anyone with a little more international policy acumen (or just an opposing argument) want to weigh in?

Friday, February 09, 2007 1:01:08 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Thursday, February 08, 2007

In a brilliant twist in his ongoing performance art piece that has kept the nation riveted for the past several years, Dadaist genius George “W” Bush has shown that he grasps the essential message of writer George Orwell, and will not rest until he brings the full meaning of the work 1984 to fruition in the minds of the American public.

His current work “The American Presidency” has been one of the most brilliant and far-reaching works of performance art ever created.  Dealing with (among other things) the tenuous nature of language, the capricious nature of public opinion and illustrating the futility of human rights and endeavor in the face of relentless technological advances such as automated security and surveillance, Bush has taken his homage to Orwell up a notch, pushing the boundaries to the absurdly overt.

After years of claiming that there is a “controversy” regarding anthropogenic causes for global climate change, he now insists that he has always maintained that there is a scientific consensus on the matter.

Truly, he is an original and a national treasure.

(Via Pharyngula)

Thursday, February 08, 2007 11:55:11 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] | #
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Wednesday, February 07, 2007 10:56:15 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

I am twice deadly now!  I passed the final portion of my second degree black belt qualification.

I'm a 2nd degree black belt.

Sweet.

Oh!  and I've joined the 21st century and got a cell phone.  A present from Rocky on our anniversary.

Alright, I'm going to go do some more painting on Grasshoppers bedroom walls.  Almost done.  I'm painting two of his walls camoflage, which is a pita...but that's what he wants.

Fun fun fun.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007 10:07:36 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [10] |  | #
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
What's the big deal, really?
Tuesday, February 06, 2007 10:20:09 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [7] | #
Monday, February 05, 2007

Ben at EclecticsAnonymous informs me that Evolution Sunday is coming up.

I don't advocate parishoner's pressuring pastors to address a particular subject from the pulpit, and certainly not political issues.  But this is an important social issue that affects our society, and it affects people of faith.  With the attacks on science education around the country, we know that they will come for the science books again, and everyone's children will be the poorer for it.

If you would like to mention it to your pastor/rabbi/imam (as Ben says) I'm sure they would like to know they have this opportunity if they would like.

Many scientists who are people of faith have come out and publicly said that there is no reason for science and faith to be incompatable.

Religious leaders who feel the same now have an opportunity to join them publicly and conspicuously and stand for the search for truth over willfull ignorance.

Here is the website with the pertinant information.

Monday, February 05, 2007 7:32:16 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #

"But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes?  Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born -- a world furnished to our hand that cost us nothing?  Is it we that light up the sun; that pour down the rain; and fill the earth with abundance?  Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on.  Are these things, and the blessings they indicate in future, nothing to us?  Can our gross feelings be exceited by no other subjects than tragedy and suicide?  Or is the gloomy pride of man become so intolerable, that nothing can flatter it but a sacrifice of the Creator?"

                                                                          -- Thomas Paine The Age of Reason

Monday, February 05, 2007 6:57:58 AM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Thursday, February 01, 2007

Just out of curiosity, does anyone here watch anything that involves Rosie O'donell?  Where are people (rightist wing-nuts) getting all their information about what she says and when she says it?

Does anyone outside of the right-wing watch her at all?

If you don't watch anything with Rosie O'donnel, when was the last time you remember seeing her say anything?

The last time I saw her was in a clip on the Colbert Report making a bigoted ass of herself.

In fact, the most exposure I get to her is being accused of parroting her when I comment on righty blogs.

Since I'm usually espousing some priciple I got from reading Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine, or George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, I figure she must be a LOT smarter than I ever gave her credit for.  (Although my favorite had nothing to do with Rosie it was in an e-mail list I used to belong to.  I paraphrased a quote from Abraham Lincoln and someone called me a commie.  I produced the whole quote (which was on my bookmarked page) and asked him who said it.  He replied tht it must have been Carl Marks or Chairman Mao.  I told him it was Abraham Lincoln, and he called me a liar.  Wing Nuts are so much fun.)

Anyway, do you see Rosie?  If so, where, and if so, what do you think of her?  Do you consider yourself to be left or right?  What views of hers do you like, and which you you dislike?  Any that you hate?

[Update: Here is a link to the Rosie website Jamie recommended.

[Update:  This is from the Wikipedia entry on Rosie O'donell:

Clay Aiken / Kelly Ripa Controversy

On November 20, 2006, O'Donnell raised controversy when she commented on Live with Regis and Kelly co-host Kelly Ripa's actions during a taping of her own show. Ripa and guest co-host Clay Aiken bantered causing Aiken to jokingly put his hand over Ripa's mouth, as if to stop her from talking, while she was conducting an interview. Seeing that Ripa didn't appreciate his joke, Aiken said, "Oh, I'm in trouble." Ripa responded, "No, I just don't know where that hand's been, honey." Ripa's comment caused O'Donnell to call Ripa a homophobe, saying "Now listen, to me that was a homophobic remark. If that was a straight man, if that was a cute man, if that was a guy that she didn't question his sexuality, she would have said a different thing". Within minutes, Ripa was on the phone, responding to O'Donnell's comments and defending her reactions to the mouth-covering incident by saying she was concerned as it was in fact "cold and flu season" and Aiken had been shaking hands with audience members before the show. According to Barbara Walters, both O'Donnell and Ripa have spoken and moved on from the incident. Aiken, who has declined to publicly discuss his sexuality, did not comment.

"Ching-chong" controversy

On December 5, 2006, O'Donnell raised controversy when she mocked spoken Chinese. The comment was made in reference to the publicity a November 29, 2006 appearance on The View by Danny DeVito had garnered. O'Donnell implied that she was amazed the controversy had become such a prevailing topic,[13] suggesting that it was being talked about as far away as China. "You know, you can imagine in China it's like, 'Ching-chong, ching-chong. Danny DeVito. Ching-chong, ching-chong-chong. Drunk. The View. Ching-chong.'"[14]

The remarks sparked considerable media backlash, with some labeling O'Donnell as a hypocrite, given her stance against any kind of homophobic taunting or jokes. [15] O'Donnell later said, "To anyone who was offended at my Chinese, Asian, pseudo-Japanese, sounded a little Yiddish accent that I was doing, you know, it was never [my] intent to mock, and I'm sorry for those who felt hurt or were teased on the playground." She followed up the statement by warning those offended that she may do it again, saying, "But I'm also gonna give you a fair warning that there's a good chance I'll do something like that again, probably in the next week — not on purpose. Only 'cause it's how my brain works.""[16][17]

Thursday, February 01, 2007 10:45:36 PM (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [11] | #
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