Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance
- Name: Kristine
- Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday
Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe in training, on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Hilary Clinton's Campaign Staff Taken Hostage
UPDATED: The Star Tribune is reporting that all the hostages have been freed.
SECOND UPDATE: The perpetrator, Lee Eisenberg, has surrendered to police. He was only sporting a few road flares with duct tape. His aim was to draw attention to the state of mental health treatment in this country. Which is ironic, considering John West's talk tomorrow in which he will lambast "the treatment of crime as a mental illness." (I attended West's talk at the University of Minnesota campus tonight; hopefully, I will post video soon of the talk and him ducking my question.)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Ev-y-dense - I Haz It
In the meantime, it's coming up on the anniversary of Billy Dembski's fart-a-mation (now sans fart noises), and sure enough, he's pulled off another goombah faux pas to add to the legacy of intelligent design.
This time, he was caught stealing a video produced by Harvard and passing it off as ID evidence by adding captions and a voice-over reinterpreting the animation. When the plagiarism was discovered, Dembski tried to say, "Oh, hai, I just founds it on teh internet, do it b'long to anywun?" But Harvard didn't buy it and skewered Dembski with a "cease and desist" letter. ERV has the story.Now Dembski has come out with a "New ID Briefing Packet for Educators," but one of his own commenters noticed something wrong with the (as it turns out) completely bogus "phonetic" spelling in the phony definition:
"On the front cover of the newly available packet, the topmost image is a faux dictionary entry for “intelligent design.” Problem is, the phonetic spelling of both words is incorrect. The second syllable of “intelligent” is “tel” not “te.” The ampersand is not part of the international phonetic alphabet. The third syllable should be “li” and in the fourth syllable the vowel sound is a schwa (I don’t trust the browser to correctly reproduce the schwa symbol). Likewise, the first vowel sound in “design” is also a schwa and the second is a long i (a lower case i with a line over it).
"Not a very intelligent design for a publication intended for educators."
LOL! I'll say.
And by sheer coinkydink, I "happened" to "find" this on the internet. Anybody care if I change it around a bit?
UPDATED: The plot thickens. Dembski throws a hissy-fit because another writer gets a sneak-peak at his new article - legally. *Eye-roll*
Shimmies to ERV.
SECOND UPDATE: Dembski didn't alter the original. He really did "find it" lying around the internet. Well, that's still makes it pretty stupid that he used it, but I've got some owning up to do. So I'm very sorry, William Dembski, to have doub - uh, to have believed in you? Well, you know what I mean. At any rate, I was wrong about the Dembster. This time. So, I have to eat my dat (long story). ;-)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Win Ben Stein's Funneh
Just an idea.
Lots'o'Thoughts analyzes the many errors in Ben Stein's upcoming film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed":
The text reads:
"ESPITE [sp] A STELLAR RESEARCH RECORD, Iowa state university professor Guillermo Gonzalez is being forced out of his job for the expression - outside the classroom - of an inconvenient personal belief"
"No intelligence allowed" is a nice tagline for a film that can't even spell the word "despite." However, there are many, many things wrong with this.First of all, Gonzalez was never "forced out" of anything at all, whatsoever. Rather, he was denied tenure when he first applied at the University of Iowa.
Second, Gonzalez did not have the "stellar research record" the Discovery Institute and Ben Stein seem to think he did. At least not in a pattern that warrants a grant of tenure.
I agree about the spelling - but not about the solution. They just need to remove the preceding "E."
The Austringer also nets a big, inconvenient fact:
The paranoia-fest that is Ben Stein’s new movie project, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”, has opened the doors to the public to contribute tales of “Darwinist” censorship of “intelligent design”.
Now, they apparently are screening entries, but one has popped up that got past their own flappers.
Expelled from Uncommon Descent recounts “ReligionProf”’s expulsion from William Dembski and Denyse O’Leary’s weblog:
Today I was expelled from the Uncommon Descent blog. All I was trying to do was talk about intelligent design in an intelligent way. I’m a Christian and a religion professor. Can you believe the sort of censorship this site is engaging in?
Shimmies to Wesley Elsberry and Lots'o'Thoughts.
UPDATED: Ben Stein gives bad financial advice on Fox News, and now the You Tube video of the same exchange has comments disabled so that people can't point out how wrong Ben Stein was (stocks tanked, Euro went gangbusters). Yeah, that's real freedom of speech, all right, Ben. Facts, expelled! I guess all you unbelievers just shouldn't buy financial stocks the next time Ben Stein tells you to, because we are living in a material world.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Reviews and Research by Yours Truly
You need to sign in to look at them. Most of my stuff is not online. (Damn lawyers!)
My review of While I Was Gone by Sue Miller.
Review of Cassanova In Love by Andrew Miller (no relation).
The best book I ever reviewed was the exquisite The Underpainter by Ann Urquhart. Reviewing The Evolution of Jane by Cathleen Schine was perhaps what piqued my interest in the Galapagos, aside from The Voyage of the Beagle by Darwin himself.
Prospect Park, An Historical Survey, done for Hess, Roise and Company back when I was in historic preservation. I also assisted on a a survey of historic properties in the Lake Minnetonka area, and gathered archaeological data on the excavation of the Mill Ruins (neither of them posted online), years before I was to volunteer there.
Everyone should Google him or herself every once in a while.
The Etymology of a Mighty Wind
Liberman, A. (1996). Gone with the wind: more thoughts on medieval farting. Scandinavian Studies, 68(1).
Even if Pambarskelfir did not originally mean `farter', this is how the scribe of Morkinskinna and his source seem to have understood it, a circumstance more important than the etymology and early history of pomb. But possibly they understood the nickname correctly. A big fart was associated with great strength. Witches in folktales farted to raise a storm. [I did not know that!] Conversely, the inability to break wind with a loud noise marked one off as a weakling. Porr was so frightened while sitting in a giant's glove, on his way to Utgarda-Lokis's that, according to Odinn's taunt (Harbardzliod 26/8), he dared hniosa ne fisa `neither sneeze nor fart.' The most offensive word is fisa `make a weak fart'; consequently, it was much better to be a fretr `farter' and even a meinfretr `poisonous farter, stinker' than a fiss. German Pimpf `little (inexpenrienced) boy' is someone who cannot produce a good manly Pumpf `fart.' Its English cognate pimp designates a provider of prostitutes (which is a later meaning) and a boy who does menial jobs at a logging camp, carries water and washes dishes; a helper in a mine, etc. The Germanic root *pimp / *pamp / *pump means `swell' and, like pomb, refers to a distended belly: cf. the English verb pamper `stuff with food' overfeed,' hence `overindulge' (Liberman 1992: 71-80). Einarr might once have broken wind while drawing the bow and acquired his nickname Pambarskelfir, `superfarter' as it were, a nickname of which anyone could have been proud. He hardly became a Pambarskelfir a few days before his death, and if, as some scholars think, his bow had been called pomb, this circumstance would have been known to the saga writers.
Too funny. It should be noted that Prof. Liberman starts off his article with a plea for "an exchange of opinions on published materials [that would make] even otherwise unreadable journals worth opening, while SS, a good and solid periodical, would enhance its value by promoting informal dialogue."
(P.S. Note to an absolute fucking moron out there: the Elvis Museum "I've found my calling" post was a joke. As in ha ha. Bye, now.)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Galapagos Diary: Day Three - Isabella
One of my companions in my panga, at left.
Labels: Galapagos Diary
Friday, November 16, 2007
For He's a Fundy Good Fellow
SEATTLE — Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host and bestselling author, has joined the Discovery Institute in the role of senior fellow. The position cements a longstanding friendship and recognizes a commonality of values and projects across a spectrum of issues.
“Michael Medved is an intellectual entrepreneur, a political and cultural polymath with great insights, judgment and wit. We are delighted to have this new relationship with him,” said Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman.
The DI's self-serving courting of the religious right is coupled with its ongoing, inexplicable denial of global warming, its utopianist praise of the Iraq war, and its dubious flirtation with HIV denialism. Even a regular commenter at Uncommon Descent objected to the inclusion of Medved:
I must admit, I find this news scary. This website already seems to have married itself to the global warming issue. If the discovery institute marries itself to Americanism, and to American conservativism, all reasonable issues, it will dilute the primary message of the institute. I ask that you please avoid having the Discovery Institute become the American Conservative Institute. If it does, I fear that the cause of Intelligent Design will suffer.
Another one quips:
I think ID needs more Christians, like BA77 and Denyse O’Leary, not Sasquatch believers.
Well, at least there's finally some debate along with all the bannings at Uncommon Descent!
(Shimmies to Pandas Thumb)
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The "Elvis Is Alive" Museum
I just thought I would share that with you.
And, brandy coke in hand, I surfed the net and saw that one of those crazy cats at AtBC shared this with the gang: A report that the "Elvis Is Alive" Museum is closing! Get there soon!
Bill Beeny, the 81-year-old proprietor of The Elvis is Alive Museum, said he has placed his Elvis memorabilia on eBay in hopes someone else will take up the cause. It includes photographs, books, FBI files, replicas of the Cadillac he drove and the casket and gravestone from his purported 1977 funeral, even a painted Elvis head.
Beeny [Isn't that a great name, folks?], a self-described "western Kentucky hillbilly" Baptist minister who wound up in Missouri 50 years ago, is selling the contents of his roadside attraction, a transformed laundromat 55 miles west of St. Louis that he opened in 1990, to satisfy something else that drives him.
"I have a burden to help people," said Beeny, wearing the penciled dark mustache, long sideburns and slicked black hair of an Elvis aficionado. "Someone else can run, will run, the museum. No one in the whole country is doing the job I intend to do."
I may have found my calling!
UPDATED: Beeny battles on. (Includes photo. No, we know what Elvis looks like!)
He says he's "open to the idea that Elvis is still alive." Because it's good, you see, to be open-minded, and all. *Fart*
Thursday, November 08, 2007
So-Called "Museums" and "Libraries"
(Okay, let's get the Alzheimer jokes and the giggling over with.)
Most thefts from libraries and archives (and presidential libraries really are archives rather than libraries) are the result of an inside job, unfortunately. Lax security, understaffing, and poor recordkeeping procedures are usually the culprits, as they seem to be in this case. And certainly, bad cataloging practices can plague any library (as it does the Goddard Space Flight Center library, which misshelved the original film footage of the moon landing).
However, much as I wanted to avoid puerile snickering, I could not help but remember this comment on the AOL News website from “olsen1000” (11:28:02 AM Nov 08 2007):
The concept of presidential libraries probably originated in the days when there were men of education and culture running the country. Reagan? Bushes? What are they going to put in their libraries? Comic books? Or, in the case of GWB, the straw he snorted coke with?
Be damn reasonable for Christ's sake. Reagan's head was empty for a large part of his presidency, and so is his library.
(“Look on Ebay,” sneers another commenter, “OJ has them!” crows another, along with the requisite “Liberals hate freedom” and a debate on Reagan's legacy as President - and the inevitable Alzheimer jokes.)
I must say I find the concept of the presidential library a silly holdover from a time when there were few public or academic libraries or historical societies. I would rather that we invest in those. (And yes, I say the same about the Clinton Library and any other devoted to a Democrat.)
But I leave you with that thought and move on to the article in the current Museum News on Ken Ham’s Creation Museum.
The institution’s status as a museum is, by itself, likely to aid its cause. A national study published by AAM (American Association of Museums) in 2001 found that “Almost 9 our of 10 Americans (87%) find museums to be one of the most trustworthy or a trustworthy source of information among a wide range of choices.” (I shall try to provide a link to this study.) Books were a distant second at 61 percent, and a majority found print and broadcast media and the Internet not to be trustworthy. Schools were viewed as the most important educational source for children, but museums and libraries were next in line. The International Council of Museums (ICOM), for example, identifies a museum simply as “A non-profit-making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment." The museum profession has not formally addressed the issue of what a museum exhibits.
“What would we do if someone built a museum syaing the Holocaust didn't happen?' asked Gene Kritsky (professor of biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph), ‘that slavery was a right of the early colonists?’”
…The Creation museum is not alone in its mission: The website www.creationism.org lists 12 other “creation centers and museum” in the United States (as well as one in Alberta, Canada), and the 2007 Official Museum Directory adds four more.
I definitely see Ken Ham’s “museum” and the creation of others like it as a grab for credibility and legitimacy in building this parody of a legitimate institution (which is an ongoing attempt to build a parallel Christian society, with “universities” like Regent and Liberty, and Christianized “degree programs"). However, credibility and legitimacy have to be earned—through time, through contribution to the profession via legitimate and demonstrable research, through publishing in refereed journals. (Of course there are a slew of creationist “journals” lauding "research.”) I doubt that Ham is an AAM member; I doubt he even knows what that organization is.
And of course, any museum must sustain its staff, and building, and its collection through valid processes, such as cataloging and conservation. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum has had a good year, with 400,000 visitors so far. But only time will tell its true success – and (being that they seems to always have so little of it, between a 6,000 year old earth and an immanent Rapture) time has never been on the side of the creationists.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Creationism: The Denigration of Democracy
First, speaking of Kitzmiller vs. Dover School District, in which intelligent design was ruled a religious intrusion into the Dover-area public schools, he voiced my own thoughts:
As I said in the beginning as a sort of joke, the battle is won. But the battle is won intellectually by any reasonable standard, and has been won for years. Furthermore, if the pursuit of truth through reason brings happiness, as I believe it does [and as I believe it does], why then with all this going for it, is atheism so unsuccessful compared to religious belief?
Last night, Sam Harris suggested that we dump the word atheist altogether, and maybe he’s right. Once you see the light, so to speak, it is [as] embarrassing to declare oneself an atheist as it would be to constantly advertise one’s lack of belief in fairies. On the other hand there is the idea of advertising our ideas, and “branding,” and so on–“God forgive me” for saying that word… And we’re not really talking about fairies, we’re talking about Al Qaeda, and a Catholic Church discouraging the use of condoms in Africa. Sam spoke of racism, and said that there was no group named anti-racist, but when racism was at its most severe, there was—there were the Abolitionists. And I can imagine that it was somewhat embarrassing to declare oneself an Abolitionist, that is, “Of course I’m against slavery,” one would say in civilized society…
But here, at 25:44, he voices exactly what I have been thinking lately, and it's creepy how spot-on he is.
I would like to say a few things that are perhaps worth saying:
Obviously, religion provides something which atheism doesn’t…and for the people I met in Pennsylvania and Tennessee, who I got to know very well and whom I’m very fond of, religious people, young Christians, I like them a lot—and for the older ones, many of them, it provides friendship and connection, it provides a place where you can meet people who would otherwise spurn you quite often. It provides a “purpose to life,” “beauty,” “meaning.” If a church works well, a member can get help when he or she is sick or hungry, and eventually the church will bury you and honor you. The church “takes care” of people. And how does atheism compete with that?
I don’t think it can. [emphasis mine] I don’t believe that atheism can ever succeed in isolation, but only as a result of a much larger political change.
One small example: If a person is terrified of going to the doctor because if they do, they may go bankrupt, but on the other hand if they don’t, they may die, what other recourse do you have than God?
It’s quite clear that the better a country takes care of its citizens, the less religion there is. (And I come from a country where the national health system, when I was a child, worked beautifully. That was a level of fear that one just didn’t have in one’s life.) And I don’t believe that atheism can succeed in a country as primitive as this one now is. [emphasis mine]
A country where politicians deride their own profession, sneering at politics as if the political process was the problem, not the solution;
who deride the idea that government should help, protect, and raise up its weaker citizens;
where the current government has turned over the delivery of basic needs to religion, and made them a matter of charity;
a country where the corporate structure almost forces the employee to ignore morality and then celebrates those who are most rapacious. [Hence our being buried with mountains of "Bring Jesus to the workplace" trendiness.]
Without gigantic social change, the church will have to remain the only place where ordinary people can go to find community, and equality, albeit under the eye of a very stern God, the only place where they can advocate for helping their weaker neighbors without feeling like, “God forbid,” socialists, or liberals.
Well said! Further, I believe that this was the goal of the right wing all along, to bring this country to this point, a point at which we, like Russia being unable to rescue sailors from the sunken Kirsk, cannot rescue buried miners but can only "pray" for them (whatever that does, since they're still buried). This has been the goal all along of the Republican wonks, to turn this nation into the Christian Soviet Union, and who now publish astonished critiques of the current situation as if they themselves were not to blame.
If atheism, if reason, is to flourish, it will only do so when people feel protected by a rational system in which they have involvement, and which is run on principles of compassion, not profit. I think we have all been scammed into accepting as a matter of principle something that is in fact a matter of greed and profit, and that perhaps, incidentally, creates all of the conditions—fear, sickness, hunger, insecurity, and so on—that enables religious power to grow.
All this shit about being against “big government”!
It’s all part of the same scam, as far as I’m concerned, which is the denigration of democracy. [emphasis mine]
And that, my friends, is what I stated a year ago. Those who rewrite the past control the future - and creationism is about doing both. It seems that people like to be told what to do. Well, not me.
As Chapman says toward the end of his speech, we need politicians who are skeptics, who make decisions based upon reason, not faith. I agree - the last thing we need is another President who is a "person of faith"! In addition, "atheism should be the next cause of feminism, for a feminist to still believes in God is like a freed slave who's still living on the plantation." I did not say that, and I wish I had.
And meanwhile, the theory of evolution messes with Texas:
In Texas, where the cotton industry is plagued by a moth in which an immunity to pesticides has evolved, a frustrated entomologist commented, "It's amazing that cotton growers are having to deal with these pests in the very states whose legislatures are so hostile to the theory of evolution. Because it is evolution they are struggling against in their fields every season." Meanwhile, the bigger message--depressingly reminiscent of our imperial predecessors--is that science in the United States is already in trouble. Irving Weissman, a stem-cell researcher, told the Boston Globe, "You are going to start picking up Nature and Science and all the great [research] journals, and you are going to read about how South Koreans and Chinese and Singaporeans are making advances that the rest of us can't even study." [emphasis mine]
The teaching of evolution in our schools is a public health issue. It is an academic freedom issue. It is essential to our republic - assuming, of course, we can keep it.
UPDATED: I suppose I could say that the bizarro chatter at Uncommon Descent (as parodied by AtBC) is a figment of my imagination, and none of it is real - but you just can't make this stuff up!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Therefore I offered my own conflicting thoughts about Hitchens and his support for the Iraq War. Undoubtedly some people are going to be shocked and appalled that I do not oppose every war for any reason at all - I think that's unrealistic, and naive.
Let's have some fun.
I came across this site while trying to find His Creepiness, Father George Rutler, that elusive priest with the robes and the officious accent, who used to be on EWTN. I never forgot him; and I could not remember his name; all I remember was his pinched voice and haughty demeanor, and that costume! You don't see that on EWTN anymore. (Now, due to the Catholic church's desperate drive to stave off the forces of the evangelical movement that's bleeding it of members, EWTN is all happy, good-looking young priests who pose laughing in front of the Dome of the Rock.)
Father George Rutler versus Christopher Hitchens! And check out this blog; check out the comments (around the internet, not so much on this site). I didn't grow up Catholic, so I was completely unprepared for the near-orgasmic response of these bloggers (kids?) who gush, "Oh, Father, you're so awesome...you really gave it to Hitchens...you're incredible...blah, blah." Yuck! Do Catholics worship priests? What are they, rock stars?
FATHER RUTLER: I have met saints. You cannot explain the existence of saints without God. I was nine years chaplain with Mother Teresa [inaudible]. You have called her a whore, a demagogue. She’s in heaven that you don’t believe in, but she’s praying for you. [Didn't we just find out about Mother Theresa's doubts about God?] If you do not believe in heaven, that’s why you drink. [emphasis mine]
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Excuse me?
FATHER RUTLER: That’s why you drink. God has offered us happiness, all of us. And you will either die a Catholic or a madman, and I’ll tell you the difference. [emphasis mine]
And secondly, I’m an officer with this club. And this conversation has been beneath the dignity of this club. . . .
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, it is now. . . . It is now.
FATHER RUTLER: And I’d just say that…
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Fine host you turned out to be.
FATHER RUTLER: …this club, we’ve had very open discussion. But we’ve never heard such vulgarity and bigotry.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Till now.
FATHER RUTLER: And I am, I don’t want to see this in this club again. And I think I represent the officers of this noble…
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Your claim to know what a [saint] is or what heaven is is as absurd as your [inaudible] arrogance, your unkindness and your lack of hospitality. . . . You should be ashamed. . . . And you are supposed to represent a church of charity and kindness?
Ooh! Torch 'em, Hitchie! This is the man who flipped off the audience on Bill Maher. And now he's being mean to the man who heard the confessions of firefighters dying on September 11!
(Heard the confessions. Holy crap, I need to repeat that. Heard the confessions! Confessions? From firefighters on 9/11? Holy fuck, firefighters have "sins" to "confess" after saving people's lives on 9/11? Like what? That one stole a piece of cheese from another's lunch box? That they may have had some mean thoughts about the totally fucked bastards who rammed planes into the World Trade Center towers? And believers wonder why religion sets off atheists! "Heard the confessions," good grief.)
My goodness, Hitchens is not out to convinced society that atheists are all nice, family-oriented (though he has a wife and kid), suburban, mainstream Americans. Hitchens is not the man to make that argument, and I am not the woman to make it, either.
I have disagreed with Hitchens' stance on the war but I love a good scrapper, I must admit. Certainly, I prefer him to a man who has no need of physical intimacy with any woman (or man/boy, although one never knows these days). Hitchens is the Earnest Hemingway of atheism. And yes, I met him - very charming he is, with a self-depreciating sense of humor (you know - humor?), even after having tied a few on. Yeah, I'd love to see Father Rutler after a few drinks.
Hitchie can handle it! ;-)