Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why do we hate the English?

First we get them into our dumb war.

Now we give them ID, Intelligent Design. The dear givers of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Doctor Who, Monty Python, and toffee. We are talking about a country of less than 7% church goers. What's up?

In the Guardian, we learn of dozens of schools are now using packs, sent to them, with creationist teachings of ID. DVD's, manuals, and other tools for promoting the Creatist agenda. These packs are coming out of the UK group Truth in Science. And like the Clean Air Act, Patriot Act, and No Child Left Behind in Ameroca, this group is a living example of irony.

These materials have already been declared by government officials, like Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis, chairman of the parliamentary science and technology select committee.

"I am flabbergasted that any head of science would give credence to this creationist theory and be prepared to put it alongside Darwinism," he said. "Treating it as an alternative centralist theory alongside Darwinism in science lessons is deeply worrying."

But it is being used in these schools just the same.

The DVD's in the pack come from us in the states. Specifically the Discovery Institute in Seattle, another ironically named organization, as it has yet to discover anything of merit (except ways to try and worm bad science into schools).

Go to TalkDesign, for more informnation in the pseudoscience of ID.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So I have to take the BO, but they can't take scotch breath.

Eh, I already feel bad about the cheap shot.

I can across this story via One Good Move.

From the Middle East Online site, Should Muslims be allowed to impose Islam on Americans?

One of my favorite cities, Minneapolis, is having trouble with it's cabbies. Apparently, on the airport run, the majority of taxi drivers are Muslim (Yeah, their is a tired joke in there.). This has lead to a demand...

Apparently, the cab drivers have provided the Metropolitan Airports Commission with a Fatwa dated June 06, 2006, from the Fatwa department of the local chapter of the Muslim American Society [MAS]. The fatwa proclaims that "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, "because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam."

So they refuse to carry passengers who have alcohol on them.

Now, it is worth noting other Muslims in MN have called the argument merit less, and that it was not intended to deny others the right to...blaspheme, I guess. It is a matter of nor trading or consuming the stuff. So they are on shaky ground in their own religion.

But with groups like MAS, looking to force their views on the rest of the country, it is going to put Muslims in an even more awkward place.

As Dr. Muqtedar Khan said in the article,

The alcohol issue is not really the problem. It is just a tip of the ice berg. It raises a fundamental and critical issue, can Muslims who live in free and democratic societies, simultaneously demand freedom and tolerance for Islam while denying others the same. Can we and should we demand freedom to practice Islam and then turn around and use these same freedoms to impose anachronistic understandings of Islam on others.

What next? Will Muslim doctors working in ER refuse to administer to patients brought in from an accident site or with a heart attack because they have alcohol on their breath? Will Muslim doctors refuse to serve an HIV positive patient because he or she is gay? Will Muslim fire fighters refuse to save people who are caught in a fire in a place that sells alcohol? Will Muslim cops refuse to protect women who do not wear Hijab [head scarf]? Will Muslim teachers refuse to educate children because their mothers do not wear the veil? All of the above would entail supporting sin according to popular Muslim beliefs.

If the cab episode in Minnesota becomes a norm, and MAS could make it so. It claims that it is the biggest Muslim grass roots organization in America; can America then trust Muslims in any job where it is important to treat all people, Muslim and non-Muslim, sinner and Imam equally? Since 98% of Americans are non-Muslims, I am sure they routinely commit acts which according to Islam are sins, such as worshipping Jesus. Will Muslims stop doing business with them?

Can Muslims live with those who do not share their beliefs?

This is an important debate, especially for Muslim immigrants, who come to America with their religious baggage. Are we here to give our families a better life or are we here to convert America into an Afghanistan under the Taliban? Do we want to use American freedoms to learn about Islam and practice it in an intimidation free environment, or use it to spread the disease of religious intolerance? Will Muslim presence in America strengthen it or subvert it?

And that is the problem. As it is we have to deal with Christian pharmacist who refuse to serve customers. Not to mention the Christian schools churning out people with a poor understanding of the sciences, a determination to fill the legal field with "right" thinkers (and then the courts), and...did I mention the poor understanding of science, that distrust of the scientific method? Good.

This country may have had many "Christian" involved in its founding, but that is a far cry from being a Christian nation. We are not and should not be obligied to one hold book, or another, one quaint philosophy, or another. And that goes for Islam as well. This country should respect peoples beleifs. That means let them pray and live their lives. But when it means I can't go about my life freely, have to walk home from the airport, can't get medical aid, and I COULD GO ON... That is plainly wrong.

It is sad to see a group like this acting out...with their fatwa. It is important to be aware, and for their fellow Muslims to be sure they don't sit quiet and let these folks speak for them. As the good doctor says, they are as threatened as the rest of us.

And if this starts the discussion on the silly Christian laws (like no alcohol sales on Sundays), then let us get this started.

Atheist, shhhh.

From Pandagon

Some are concerned by what they can't get away with amidst possible atheist.

Including "reference to sinners, apostates or blasphemers, or to the promise of salvation offered in evangelical churches".

He is upset that suggesting you are a sinner and blasphemer, going to hell, unless you embrace his beliefs, is not a popular conversation topic. Funny. I wonder why?

Likewise, I imagine, a dinner group consisting of Muslims, Jews, and Hindi would also not love this dinner conversation. But they either don't count, or exist in his world view. Read the article and responses.

Gingrich gets...

scarier. For a guy that has gone after orphans in his time, he really had to search long and hard for a way to creep fans of the First Amendment. Makes me think back to Judge Bork. How could he go lower than when he did Nixon's dirty work in the 70's? (ANSWER: Attack the power of the court, and suggest and push for the crippling of the Supreme Court.)

In New Hampshire, getting an early start on the presidential bid. While in Manchester, he suggested that a "'different set of rules' may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message."

He went on to bring up "We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city..." Nice of him to bring the fear to the party.

Now this gets back to other larger issues, including Net Neutrality. Look it up.

Free Speech is in the way. It is inconvenient for people to have web sites and blogs, to espouse unpopular ideas, to...disagree. And, in truth, it is necessary, on rare occasions, to install limits. But this is the troubling thing. The War on Terror. How does that end? As Jonathan Alter, on MSNBC's Countdown, pointed out, when Roosevelt curtailed various rights (the internment was just plain wrong) in WWII, and Lincoln curtailed Habeas Corpus during the Civil War, the defeat of the Axis forces, the defeat of the Confederate Army led to the resumption of full rights. How does this end?

Terrorism? Bush isn't going to end it. Islamic extremist? Nope. And they know it. The Patriot Act is not a short term law, it is meant to irrevocably rewrite this nation, a power grab long yearned for in many corners. And if they want to cut away further from Bill of Rights, it will mean more than a short year or two inconvenienced. This will mean redefining what we feel America and the Republic are at their core.

It is time for the people to start remembering the value of saying NO. Republicans? Try it out. You used to be so good at it.

Gingrich's idea? NO!
Gingrich for president? NO!
Not bothering with securing the country in useful and fruitful ways? NO!!!
Voting Republican? ...I lost the Republicans, didn't I?

BEYOND BELIEF...a little late.

Check out Beyond Belief 2006. Put together by the Science Network in association with the Crick-Jacobs Center, you have a collection of scientists and philosophers, worth giving a listen to.

At the site you can see video from the conference, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Ann Druyan.

Check it out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Join the chhhaaain...

Thanks to Pharyngula

Acephalous is attempting to measure the rate of propagation of links across the net. He's asking everyone to link to his post, and he's going to be monitoring its movement through Technorati, and will report the results at the MLA meetings.

So join the chain. If you have yourself a blog, link to, and let's see far this will spread. HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! Ahem.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The GOP, Conservatism, and the Good Old Days

Now to start I want to be clear in saying I am not talking about all Republicans or conservatives. I know plenty and they are nice people. But I am talking about the key players in politics. The ones who pick candidates to take to the big leagues, the ones who choose where to send the heaps of cash to, the ones who decide this is the way the while of the party should be going. I hope any Republicans passing through will give this a read and think about how they feel about their party. And then, what are they going to do about it.

Starting with this year's turning point, when the majority realized the House was drifting from their influence and the Senate started to budge, Republicans needed to make choices. Steele, in a blue state tried to blend into the blue background. In California, the Governator ran to the left and progressive programs. Worked for one, didn't for the other.

In places like Tennessee, a different tact was taken. Walk about the edge of "race baiting", as seen in the troubling attack as on Harold Ford Jr., and let the audience do the mental leg work. RNC leadership was okay with the ad. They considered it a valid argument, and simultaneously backed away from any responsibility. It was a tricky tightrope to traipse. But they seemed to do it proudly.

Now if this was it that would be one thing. A dark and nasty moment, but one could try to move on, and just note it. But since then GOP has seemed to embraced this sentiment. Is it out of desperation? Is it a shift in internal power? I can't say. But in the last week the power players are shifting in DC and those seeking to nest there.

This week the Senate welcomed back an old friend. Trent Lott. Remember him? He is back in power as the Minority Whip in the Senate, the number 2 post. What's worse a doctor/senator who blithely makes shady medical prognosis from the Senate floor for political gain or someone too proudly steeped in the worse the old South has to offer. It is hard for me to say.

And now, heading into '08. We have Gov. Mitt Romney of MA hiring AlexCastellanos, a GOP ad man. Famous for his ads against Gore in '00 and for Jesse Helms in SC, implying good whites were losing jobs to the minorities. in 1996, Bob Dole refused to run some of his ads, saying they went too far. One Jeb Bush used during his first run may have cost him that election.

He is an old party favorite, and he will be back with more ads.

But it goes beyond party leadership.

Look at Glenn Beck, on CNN Headline News, but they love to bring him on to CNN proper to give "everyman" insight. This week, on his show, he brought on the newly elected representative of Minnesota, Keith Ellison. He happens to be Muslim. So that should explain why Beck chose him out of all the numerous incoming freshman class. He had some questions. Why should he be trusted? Will be betray America? Charming stuff, of course, couched in claims that he didn't believe it, but that it concerns some. Apparently not the populace of his MN 5th district, but still.

Here's his starting question"

"OK. No offense, and I know Muslims. I like Muslims. I've been to mosques. I really don't believe that Islam is a religion of evil. I -- you know, I think it's being hijacked, quite frankly.

With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, "Let's cut and run." And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies."

And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.

Soooo. He does not think he's a terrorist. Buuut, he gut tells him he needs proof. And that is what "a lot of Americans" think. Sadly, it probably true, Muslims are almost as hated in the US as atheist. Quite a feat.

Now Beck is good a couching his nasty remarks. Saying it isn't his opinion, or is wrong. But then he proceeds with it and keeps coming back to it. It is his M.O. for doing a show. "X is a horrible thing...Not that I think this...But a lot of people do." His says so many nasty unfounded thing, but unlike the Weiner, he ducks for cover. It allows him to throw out these, abominable, ideas, without any responsiblity (It would seem to actually make him worse than the Weiner). And this is the face of conservatism, beside Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and others. That's a nasty bunch.

Especially if you consider there effect. Liberals/Democrats/Progressives/Immigrants/Scientists/etc. want to destroy America. That is the message sent out. What happens when this message is delivered and blindly and fervently embraced?

You get Chad Castagana, a Free Republic member, who idolized the likes of Coulter, Ingraham, and Malkin. What did he do in their honor? Sent out white powder and threats to create anthrax scares. Against who? The media, like Olbermann at MSNBC. Politicians, like Pelosi and Schumer. Entertainers, like Jon Stewart and David Letterman. Why? They opposed America and its safety. And worse some opposed his idols.

You spread hate and venom, hate and venom spread. Seems obvious. America is stuck reaping what these types sow. Yet time and again these people are brought up to the forefront by the GOP to rile up the base, and strike and wound their enemies. Amazing how literal this effect is in the end. They are actually creating terrorist. And not just in Iraq and Afghanistan anymore.

This is out Republican party, defiantly race baiting, questioning the patriotism of non-Christians (to start), and spewing such hate that they inspire terrorism

Is all of this what they have to offer America now? No wonder they lost big. It is something to remember in 2 years.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Julia Sweeney is so sweet.

Thanks to Pharyngula for spreading the word.

The ever humorous and witty Julia Sweeney (of SNL fame) has a new CD Letting Go of God out. As much as I love a good comedy CD, this has the added benefit in being the latest of her works (books, stage, and CD) discussing her move from Catholic schoolgirl to mature caring atheist. She her humorous turn at delving into science, new age pseudoscience, and Santa Claus in these CD clips at her site.

She's ready to make you laugh and think.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Nation wishes to suggest 10 reasons that Wal-Mart pundits are wrong.

From The Nation,

Ten Reasons Why the Wal-Mart Pundits Are Wrong

The Nation brings up 10 arguments often used to defend and justify certain actions by Wal-Mart executives, and in their name by friends in hugh places, and attacks the merits of the reasoning and facts on the ground.


Wal-Mart's low prices save American consumers $263 billion a year.

If Wal-Mart increases wages, it will have to increase prices. (A classic among opponents of the minimum wage.)

Wal-Mart's health benefits are about as generous as those of comparable employers.

Wal-Mart has helped poor and middle class consumers--in fact, more than anybody else.

Wal-Mart coming into a community expands the tax base and boosts overall community development.

See what the analysis of these arguments suggests. Then consider where you stand, and what you think.

Some articles for thinking and debate.

Here are some interesting articles to provoke thought and debate. They are all brought together on's Article Archives.

Religions don't deserve special treatment.

The rise of the 'New Atheists'.

Teach sex and evolution or close, Quebec evangelical schools told.

As well, for people who haven't heard yet, Cambridge University has placed the complete works of Charles Darwin on the Internet. Swift, the Weekly Newsletter of the JREF, has more.

Don't worry, it's the good type of lying.

The President is pretty blasé about his bouts of dissembling. He isn't to concerned about his occasional fable. He is in no way vexed by his own fibbing. He doesn't mind LYING to your face. Not to put to fine a point on it.

Our President George Walker Bush:
"I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign..."
- Or the truth of his actions. why discuss your set plans, not exactly a state secret. But thanks your party thinks you cost them the Senate by that sage strategy (or is it a tactic?).
"And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer."
- Or, I lied so I wouldn't have to tell you the truth. And besides, you were preventing me from lying about a whole parcel of other things.

He sure seemed pretty casual about the whole issue, as shown on Crooks and Liars.

And, again, this choice was costly to Republicans, who had to hold the line for the president, and suffer for it. Made grand statements of praise, knowing many candidates would have to nod along, and knowing he was telling a lie that would soon be seen through.

Add to this his casualness about talking about his comments about Democrats ushering terrorist victories, leading to death in America, etc. Just politics and campaigning. No biggie. All is forgiven, right?

And of course this disinterested admittance to reality continues through other sources, such as Rush Limbaugh. He is tired of "carrying water" for the Republicans. Poor man he is liberated now, free even. Yeah, forced to do these vile things. COME ON! You knew it was all a lie and you joined in. Free will. Ever hear of it Rush? You picked the side you liked, with the money and perks you wanted. You got the perks, and now you claim buyer's remorse? Please. Thanks for helping the Democrats win MO Rush. Keep up the good work and I'm sure you'll put Hillary Clinton in the White House.

Post-Election Recovery

Well, it has taken me a while to adjust to the outcome of election night...and it was mostly in favor of the things I was supporting.

The House and Senate, the whole of the legislative branch of the Federal government (Civics’ students please take notes) has gone from the control of 1 party (also dominating the other 2 branches), to another party (the Democrats). Good. It should mean oversight, an end to blank checks for the executive, and end to just signing off on ill conceived ideas spitballed from the White House.

But part of me is saddened to see victory through an influx of many conservative (many rather conservatives). I am, of course, talking about social conservatism.

The fight for progressive values and positions was put off, in deference to focus on victory through default. Sure they talked about a horrible war and corruption, but it was about how bad tings were due to Republican greed. Few were willing stand on the idea of being progressive, obviously not even talking of the outright conservatives. At Pharyngula PZ Meyer bemoaned the state of things.

But, in the end, Democrats are supposed to be a big tent party. Many differing positions, which we can debate and argue over, hoping to find an answer to meet everyone’s needs, or win the others over (obviously, this is the preferred event). And as things are, things looks good. Howard Dean's 50 State Plan deserves accolades, as was given at Crooks and Liars. No more of this focus on NY, NJ, MA, CA, MN, and handful of other races. The whole country needs to be fought for, and Dean has ended the presumptive scenarios.

And as well, the South Dakota abortion ban was blocked. In Arizona, the people stood up for civil unions (I could go on for a stretch at how poorly and widely written these laws are. It is the War on Common Law Marriages.). Stem Cell research support passed. And, as well, the fiery topics helped democrats, or, at least, didn’t convince people to vote republicans. That was a blow to the Karl Rove strategy. At Pharyngula, they link to a Science article, about the hit to (ID) Intelligent Design support.

At AMERICAblog, John considers what [Tuesday]'s victory meant. In Colorado a person who openly supports gay rights came close to unseating a very conservative incumbent, the evangelical heartland HQ. And while conservatives came in for the democrats, they have in all along. Harry Reid of NV is a conservative member and leader, and about to become our Senate Majority Leader. And Pelosi of CA, a liberal member of the party is about to become the Speaker of the House, 3rd in line for the presidency Hmm, this is now the closest a woman has come to that seat of power. That will be a milestone next year at the State of the Union.).

And again. OVERSIGHT. Finally!!!

As well, legislative scheduling is back in responsible hands, decision on who goes to the president to be in the judiciary, to ambassadorships, and to the cabinet.

If it doesn't make me confidently smile yet. At long last...I can take a breath.

And it reminds me why this Washington Post front page is warming.

In Memoriam

Ed Bradley, famed for years of investigations and interviews across the globe, died today.

A sad loss to journalism, TV, and the world.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Night of Long Analogies

The polls are starting to close.

So start the pundits and talking heads with their chit chat, jibber jabber, and spin. Oh, and the analogies...oh, the horror.

It has been a long day already. The vaunted e-voting machines broke down, shorted out, and destroyed a small toewn in New Jersey. And the news readers have been having fun. People denied the vote? Smile. Voters around the block, but the polls are closing? Smile and tell a joke. Dirty tricks against Democratic candidates? Make a deny and joke of it and Norah O'Donnell will have a nice long laugh and not question you. Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

But this distry tricks business bugs me. All morning it was denied. Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarlborough came out to say it was all a myth. An evil Democratic myth that is dredged up every 2 years. Is their actual evidence? Is there a reason it is brought up at all these elections? Why ask?

It is like the story old story of the "Young Sheperd and the Wolf".

Once their was a village, which hired a sheperd to watch the communities sheep and lamb.

The young man was hired. And on the first night he saw movement along the tree line. A wolf! He called out for help. "WOLF! WOLF!" And the wolf charged out and towards him.

The village hired a new sheperd to watch the flock. On the first night he to saw the wolf approaching.He called out for help. "WOLF! WOLF!" And the wolf charged out and towards him.

The village hired another sheperd. Then another. Then another.

Finally the village had enough and had a town meeting. The argued and fought over the trouble. "These boys. They cry wolf and then run off. Why are they so lazy and truent?" "Yes, why do they make promise and then lie and disappear?" They were all at a lost.

The moral. Just because a problem is pointed out, and pointed out again later, and so on and so forth, doesn't equate to it being a fake problem. Or, sometimes people cry wolf because one is eating your flock.

Something I meant to tell you...

Hmm...What was it? Oh, yeah...


Are you still there?


You still there? You already voted? Oh, sorry. Have a cookie.

Monday, November 06, 2006

RDF, now it stands for more than Robotechnology fun.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science has opened. The site is up at Take some time to visit

Here is the mySpace site,

Also be sure to visit the Official Richard Dawkins Website at It will let you know where he will be going on his latest book tour. Plus, many links on science and reason. The site also has a growing archive of photos, articles, videos, and audios (There are plenty of good download to listen to when working out.)

Here's the link to the Introduction Video (and you'll notice a number of other vids of/on Dawkins for your edification):

While I am at it, I should plug Dr. Dawkins new book, The God Delusion, A book worth a read through to understand the concerns many have with theism and faith.

Starting of a new day...

It's almost Nov. 7th! That means Election Day, USA...well midterm elections. Still this year, in this lifetime, that means either 2 more years of the same wartime strategies (or is that tactics, or is that strategies or is that tactics...), the same lack of legislative oversight, the same pork barrel politics, or...changes of course, a no longer legally blind Congress, and a whole host of new pork barrel fun.

I know the through and through cynics will say nothing will change, but even a grumbly mumbly Jaded Skeptic knows we need true oversight, and, heck, even slight changes in whose at the pork barrel will give us something to talk about.

So, if you absentee voted, good for you! If not, get up and get out tomorrow to your precinct and get those votes in for the candidate(s) of your choosing. Read up and get to it with those referred laws, referendums, amendments, etc. There are plenty of disturbing agendas afoot. It seems to be hardly the time to choose apathy.

Come what may tomorrow, it is a new day. And so will be the next day. Some fools campaign to subvert science. Others want to rewrite history. And still others, they want to make the world in their own image. Sitting back, watching Comedy Central and the latest batch of vids on YouTube, won't mean a tinker's damn if the real world is left to the loons (No, not you, the other ones.).

So go forth you Fools Errant! There's a world that needs saving! And pick up some milk while you’re out.