April 28, 2006

Days of Silence and Humility "Truth"

from - smijer

Wednesday was the day of the Fundamentalist "Day of Truth", a response to the student-led April 13th "Day of Silence".

Here is a nice article on it.

In short, for those of you who are too long out of school, it is during the pre-adolescent and adolescent years that anti-gay harassment is at its apex. As a small-sized, socially inept straight, I discovered just how hateful kids can be toward one just labelled "fag". It's no wonder that the friends I had in school who actually were gay never let any one know it. The Day of Silence is an effort to counter that bigotry. Participation by concerned teens, straight, gay, and other helps raise awareness of the anti-gay aggression prevalent in the schools and of the humanity of its victims.

The Day of Truth - well, that's an obnoxiously self-righteous attempt to distract attention from the hurt being caused in our schools and to focus it instead on "fighting the homosexual agenda". Kind of a slap in the face if you ask me.

Posted by smijer at 07:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

Roundup / opinion on Sudan

from - smijer

Monday, we saw a baby step toward doing something about the Sudanese genocide in Darfur. Four individuals were targeted for sanctions by a unanimous vote in the U.N. A baby step indeed, but at least someone is starting to pay attention. If the Sudanese stop the genocide and do things like this, instead, then they are likely to attract a lot more U.S. attention. (related - also related)


Meanwhile, the Sudanese Government has ramped up military action against rebels and people who live near them in the Darfur region.

Murmers of cooperation between Khartoum & the U.N. are looking less optimistic.

Now, to editorialize.

Over a year ago, the estimated death toll from the Sudanese genocide was, at minimum, 63,000 men, women, and children. That's about 16 of the World Trade Center attacks over roughly a two year period. Other estimates double that figure. Neither Le Monde, nor the New York Times has headlined, "We are all Darfuris." No worldwide coalition has been joined to remove the Sudanese government which aids, abets, and - quite frankly is the responsible party for this genocide.

Why?

When America lost 4000 of her own to violence from Al Qaeda, we stepped up, and the world stepped up with us. When it was our turn to help put an end to killing on a much larger scale, we opted instead to invade Iraq, where the murderous regime had long ago settled its score with Iraqi rebels and the blood had long dried - while letting the Sudanese genocide continue. Where are our hearts? Our eyes? Our minds?

It is a shame that bin Laden and Iran have to cozy up to the Sudanese government in order to raise even the least bit of American interest - and then, who knows if that will even spur our interest? Maybe Hollywood can help.


* Worth noting: I do not think a war in Sudan is the best first resort. I think the best first resort is to write up war crimes charges, then send in special ops to bring out the responsible parties for trial in the Hague or elsewhere. If this, along with more pressure to allow UN peacekeepers and watchdog groups doesn't bring about a change in direction there - then, maybe, as a last resort - war.

Posted by smijer at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen

from - Buck

George Bush discusses global warming.

Posted by Buck at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2006

Riddle Me This

from - smijer

George Bush asks a question that really shouldn't be so hard to answer. It's a two part answer: 1) People are willing to pay it, and 2) the world is on fire.

Posted by smijer at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2006

Didn't Thomas More Write Something Like This?

from - smijer

Essay on the future of ride sharing. Don't get me wrong - I like the idea & I hope it will/can be implemented by smart people like the author and such. It could get a decent start with existing technology - however, issues of personal security, liability, etc., would need to be worked out as it moved larger scale.

Posted by smijer at 07:04 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2006

Based on my observations of human nature...

from - smijer

...and based on my observations of how those who wear the bumper sticker proudly on their SUVs have reacted to the political climate of the last four years, ... I conclude that the saying is wrong. It should read, "if you do stand for something, you'll fall for anything".

I don't mean this in a bad way, but it is a little to easy to "fall for" things that go along with what you "believe in".

Posted by smijer at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2006

The Dog Across the Street

from - smijer

My neighbors have an Akita puppy now. She sometimes comes to our yard and begs attention - the dog, that is - not the neighbor. Frankly I'm in love with her:

maxine2.jpg

maxine1.JPG

She kind of reminds me of somebody, you know?

Anyway, it's been a while since this blog communed with the Friday Ark, but I hope that doesn't mean you all have forgotten to visit the virtual zoo. TGIF (said with even more passion than usual).

Posted by smijer at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2006

A fun bet

from - smijer

I was watching some clips from The God Movie, which Alice and I had recently been discussing in her comments, and I came across this amazing web-site, called the Rapture Letters. It's right out of a Tim LaHaye novel.

Here's how it works. People who have "lost" friends or loved ones (like me), who have just worn themselves out "witnessing" to us without ever seeing us budge, are invited to give this web-site our e-mail address. After the Rapture, when we will be torn between admitting our loved ones who have been called away were right or wrong, and falling for the "theories of some scientists and world leaders [which] will have
so much credibility that most of the world will believe them. ...[And which will] sound like the truth!", we will receive an e-mailed letter from our celestial dwelling loved ones. Actually, we will receive one every Friday for a while (presumably until the U.N. Secretary General/Antichrist shuts down the server - or the hosting bill goes unpaid for too long). The letter will be a final exhortation from beyond the grave firmament for us to get saved. Having recently witnessed our faithful spouse floating bodily out of their clothing, through the window, and into the sky to meet Jesus, we will be especially receptive to this message.

'Course there is a hitch. Yes, it's true. See, if I get the letter, I have no doubt that I will not have recently seen my faithful spouse floating naked through the window. In fact, I expect that when I turn around to tell her the news about the rapture, she'll be reacting to one 'G' of gravitional force in exactly the same way she always has - by sticking to the outermost solid surface there is between her and the center of the earth hard enough to require about 9.8 m/s/s * her mass in kilograms Newtons of exertion on her part or the part of another person or machine to unstick her.

And, if I get the letter, and my just-mentioned suspicions about the state of my wifes affairs is correct, then that just ruins everything for RaptureLetters.com.

It seems odd to me that someone out there is so convinced of the reality and imminence of the Rapture to set up a web-site like that - or even to submit someone's e-mail address to it. But, you know what - I am equally convinced of the unreality of the rapture. And, to demonstrate my confidence in the skeptical view, I am willing to put my money where my mouth is - so to speak.

If you are like me, you may have already asked yourself, "well, if the rapture occurs, who is going to send the e-mail? Are they going to lean down and click the button as they begin to float out the window?" No. they have a much more clever scheme cooked up. The web-site explains it succinctly:

How is this accomplished, you might ask. It's a dead man switch that will automatically send the emails when it is not reset.

Fun! So, if Scott doesn't reset the switch one Friday morning, because he was raptured - or because he got held over too late at the previous night's deliverance service - we get the e-mail. Now, Scott seems pretty bright - I think he would consider that contigency and probably would have a back-up plan in case he could not reset the switch one Friday for reasons more prosaic than the rapture. Maybe a friend, relative, or a deacon from his church will click in his place. So, chances are that the letters won't go out at all. Eventually, Scott will realize that he can no longer effectively maintain the web-site and be available for Friday morning resets. At that point, he will likely end the program that runs sends the letters and post a statement of regret for having to end the program. Or, he may pass it on to someone else with a little too much time on their hands.

But maybe - just maybe - for whatever reason - there will come a time while the web-site is still active, that the switch will go without being reset. Maybe it will be that the confederate whose turn it was to reset it will forget it was their week. Maybe it will be that someone will click the button and walk away from the computer, not noticing that their connection to the host machine was out. And we infidels will get to see our e-mail announcing the recent Rapture.

It's clear that Scott thinks the possibility that the rapture will occur while the web-site is operational is much, much stronger than the possibility that the e-mails will go out due to insufficient vigilance on the part of still-earthbound believers. And, maybe there are those among my believing readers, friends, or loved ones who agree with him. I personally have 100% confidence that, if I receive the e-mail, it will be for a reason other than the rapture. So, to those of y'all who are closer to Scott's view than mine - why don't you bet me?

Put my name & e-mail address in the box (if you don't have it, use the contact form to message me & I will provide it to you - and ask for yours in return if I don't already have it). Put your name in the "from" line, and click the box. If I receive the e-mail and you and your co-religionists are still around, I will forward it to you and you will be obligated to attend a Unitarian Universalist church for 4 weeks in a row. If you and a large number of your co-religionists have gone missing, then I'll pray the sinners' prayer and join the Tribulation Force. That would be a much bigger change for me than 4 consecutive weeks at the UU church would be for you, but I figure that's fair based on how I book the odds. I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is - are you?

Posted by smijer at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

McClellan calls it quits

from - Buck

Well, I guess we don't have Scott to kick around anymore.

Bush says

"I thought he handled his assignment with class, integrity," the president said. "It's going to be hard to replace Scott, but nevertheless he made the decision and I accepted it. One of these days, he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days."

Ahhhh yes. The rocking chair and remembering the good old days.

Pay no attention to the carnage left in your wake George. You never have.

Posted by Buck at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Remembering

from - Buck

April 19th is a day that will always live in infamy in my mind.

This day marks the dual tragedies of Waco, Texas and Oklahoma City.

I was no more appalled by the actions of Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City than I was appalled by the action of the government of the United States in Waco, Texas. Violence begets violence and one of these days that is going to stop surprising us.

But probably not in my lifetime.

Posted by Buck at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

One More Good Move

from - smijer

One Good Move is among the best A-list blogs in existence. Usually it is kind of short on in depth political commentary and analysis, and long on video clips from the Daily Show, but I'm not sure that's always a bad thing. If I had time to write it, and cook the links, I would talk about the great Richard Feynman video clips up there in recent days. I hope I do get a chance to. But all I have time for now is to link to this post where a You Tube video presentation is shared. Don't watch it if you are offended by dirty words - it has some. Personally, I am much more offended by violence against children, but I didn't turn off the video when images of that were shown - it isn't the images that offend me, but the reality behind them. I haven't figured out a good way to turn reality off. Any way, I found the video very compelling for some reason. I don't know what artistic category it falls into - but I do know it was like watching the Twilight Zone. Check it out, unless you just can't stand dirty words.

Posted by smijer at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

Fa... Egg Roll

from - smijer

This does not quite convince me that the ticketing change was actually intended specifically to exclude kids from non-traditional families from the White House egg roll. If it was, then shame on them. If it wasn't - well, there are people out there who would cheer for such a thing. So, shame on them.

God forbid that the public find out that families of same-sex parents are ... wait for it... just like the rest of us. Their kids like egg rolls, and their parents like to take them to them. Can't let that secret out.

Anyway...

Posted by smijer at 02:13 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2006

Evidence of God's Benevolence

from - smijer

And, it is about time.

Posted by smijer at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2006

Cheers & Jeers does Tax Tips

from - smijer

From one of my favorite analysts.

Presidential Election Campaign Fund checkoff box: If you check this box, $3 of your taxes will be earmarked for a special fund to pay for presidential campaigns. Notice that the government does not permit you to earmark the money for poor people, or sick people, or national defense. No, the government permits you to earmark money only for the purpose of enabling politicians to produce TV commercials designed to appeal to voters who have the IQ of a Vienna sausage.

Posted by smijer at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Weekend Schedule

from - smijer

What: Dead Innocent: The Ed Johnson Story
Where: Chattanooga State Allied Arts Building
When: Friday and Saturday, 8:00 p.m., Sunday 4:00 p.m.
How much: $10.00 - all proceeds will go to the Ed Johnson Scholarship Fund - that's besides the $350 reward I get for turning him in to the sheriff.

Posted by smijer at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2006

One more reason to hate Scott McClelland

from - RSA

It's easy to say, "This exchange is typical for the Bush administration," for any given outrage. I point this one out because it's strikes a particular chord with me:

Q But given the ongoing confusion for many --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't -- I don't know that I agree with that, Peter.

Q Well, I mean, there are some members of Congress who are still hearing from their constituents that they're confused about this and some --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think there are still some members of Congress that are trying to politicize this issue.

Some of my work involves understanding why software is hard to use. What is universally unhelpful on hearing about users' problems is saying, "No, you're mistaken, people aren't having problems---it's just our competitors saying unkind things about us." How transparently dishonest.

Posted by RSA at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2006

Tractor Trailers of Mass Destruction

from - smijer

Reckon Colin's momma is proud of him?

Posted by smijer at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2006

More Gospel of Judas

from - smijer

The English translation is up as .pdf, courtesy of National Geographic. I expect that, as with all popular discussions of ancient religious texts and the societies that used them, there will be loads of confusion and misinformation about Judas itself, the other nan-canonical gospels, the canonical ones, and the early church. This very low signal to noise ratio means that the casual observer will stand a chance of having less accurate views after the public discussion than before. Witness the video exchange posted here. I have spent several years sifting through as much discussion on early Christian writings, the Bible, and related issues as I could - doing my best to sift the wheat from the BS. I hope that my tiny contribution to the discussion of the Gospel of Judas will break the trend, and provide more clarity than confusion. None of this is original, but I cannot source each statement individually - it's memory work from a large body of reading. Some of this will already be familiar to you, some may not be.

First - the Gospel of Judas is a gnostic text. The news headlines make much of the fact that this Gospel portrays Judas as a friend and helper to Jesus - his betrayal as a favor done at Jesus' request. Honestly, this is not such big news. The gnostic sect of Christianity from which this text emerged believed in variations on the theme that Christ's divinity was purely spirit, that a fleshly body he may once have carried was impure. The idea that he may have wished for assistance in ridding himself of "the man that clothes me" (to quote the newly found Gospel) would not have seemed unusual at all to Gnostic Christians of the 2nd century. Also, this account lends little credence to the notion that things really happened this way. It doesn't even lend much credence to the notion that Judas Iscariot was a real person, rather than a literary or traditional figure. This book was most likely written after 130 CE/AD and carries much less significance for piecing together the actual history of events surrounding the life of Jesus than earlier writings do. What it does tell us is a little more about the state of Gnostic Christianity in the 2nd century - a time not far removed from the beginnings of the Christian religion. Scholars already know quite a bit about the Gnostic sect, but the public is only dimly aware of its existence, by and large. The "church" - that is to say the "orthodox" church of the 2nd century - that other sect of Christians were already denouncing gnosticism as heresy. 2,000 years later, most people aware of Gnosticism at all regard it as a fringe group and a heresy against the "known facts". This is only partly true. On the one hand as I will discuss below, "orthodox" Christians (meaning, that group which later became Catholic and protestant Christianity) do have legitimate arguments to make that their gospels and other writings are older, and closer to the beliefs of the original Christian church than what we now know of the gnostics'. However - a) this may or may not have been true at the time, and b) the gnostics were very widespread and influential - they were not a "fringe" group, but a collection of very main-stream believers of that time.

This brings us to the second question - which is more faithful to the *first* Christian's views - gnostic beliefs or orthodox ones? Offhand, my guess - and I think the best guess of most people who are educated on the issue is a qualified verdict in favor of the orthodox tradition. The earliest Christian writings still preserved are among the epistles of Paul. The epistles of Paul are, of course, carried in the canonical Bible, and in some cases carry polemics against certain beliefs that gnostics might later have adopted. Furthermore, Paul carries the first documented mention of orthodox beliefs on soteriology - the means of Christ's salvation. On the other hand, many aspects of Paul's writing are at the root of ongoing controversy over what kind of picture Paul had of Christ - as a physical person, with a physical death and resurrection, or as a being of pure spirit. The latter is the defining characteristic of gnosticisim - that the divine must be spirit. The former, the defining characteristic of second century orthodoxy - that Christ was both fully human and fully divine, a doctrine that continues to carry much weight in the modern Christian church. The fact that Paul discusses the life of Jesus none at all makes it difficult to rule out - and easy to entertain the possibility - that Paul was influenced by beliefs that later came to prominence within the Gnostic sects.

It is only within the canonical Gospels that the defining characteristics of orthodox-not-gnostic doctrine are first established. They were written no earlier than 60 CE/AD. Among the canonical Gospels, the synoptics - Mark, Matthew, and Luke - are the earliest. If they are to be viewed as defining a doctrine of history, rather than a literary myth, then they clearly show that a form of orthodoxy contrary to gnostic notions existed at this time - earlier than any definitively Gnostic text has been found to exist. This is not enough to show definitively that the traditions that preceded the synoptics were more consistent with orthodoxy than gnosticism in the doctrines that distinguish the two, but it is a hint that orthodoxy may have the stronger claim to priority.

Where it becomes truly interesting is that, after the synoptics, there followed closely on their heels the Gospels of John and Thomas, at roughly the same time - around 100 CE/AD. John is a canonical, and in it's modern form is very clearly orthodox in tone. Thomas was a gnostic text. It is to gnosticism what the synoptics are to orthodoxy - the first text clearly committed to the distinctive doctrines of that sect. (To bring us back to the subject of Judas for a moment, we know with certainty that the Gospel of Judas was originally composed no more than 80 years after the date I suggest for John and Thomas, because of a detailed reference made to it in a letter from St. Iraneus.) Going back to John - as I mentioned, in its modern form, it is clearly committed to orthodoxy. But this may not have been the case in its earliest forms! This is too much to go into in this short post, but I recommend this paper on the topic. Suffice it to say that while the synoptic, canonical Gospels give priority to orthodoxy, there is ample evidence that the doctrinal seeds of gnosticism existed practically simultaneously, and probably within the same group of believers that produced them. In other words, before gnosticism became heretical, by the time of Iraneus, it's notions were common enough that they probably influenced some of what we read in our orthodox canon.

It is important to realize that much of what we find in the Gospel of Judas, and certainly in other 2nd through 4th century gnostic writings represents later developments of gnosticism, but we should not lose sight of the fact that orthodoxy cannot claim exclusive priority - and that the traditions which gnosticism grew out of, some of which were later discarded by the orthodox church, were among the same set of traditions which led to orthodoxy. In other words, neither set of doctrines is "original" to the Christian community, but each represents an innovation which followed after the first Christians accepted the new religion. As a consequence, both are important for trying to understand what the first Christians really believed, but neither provides an easy, concise answer either to what they believed, or what "really happened". It's going to take some work.

And that's all I have time for today, but I will return to this subject when and if I can.

Posted by smijer at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2006

Innocents abroad

from - RSA

Just back from a trip to northern Italy, where I gave a couple of talks at a conference. I couldn't resist taking a few personal days to tour around; my wife and I flew into Milan and drove to Trieste, stopping in Venice in between. Here are a few of the highlights, from the viewpoint of a tourist's camera.

This picture shows some of the decorations on the top of the cathedral in Milan (il Duomo). The front was entirely covered for renovation, unfortunately, but it was possible to go up on the roof and wander around. Mark Twain wrote, "They say that the Cathedral of Milan is second only to St. Peter's at Rome. I cannot understand how it can be second to anything made by human hands."

milano-duomo.jpg

This is a typical snap of the Basilica on the Piazza San Marco. It had just rained in the late afternoon, but the sun was coming out. (It would rain again, heavily, into the evening.) The little kid in red in the center of the picture is typical of kids on the square: he's ignoring one of the grandest spectacles in the world, wondering how to catch one of those pigeons.

venezia-basilica.jpg

This is a late afternoon shot of the Canal Grande in Trieste. It's one way to enter a walking district where we spent some time in the cafes and shops. The Adriatic Sea is directly behind.

trieste-canal.jpg

I wish we could have spent more time in Italy, though even a week was long enough to require readjustment of my taste buds in the way of coffee and red wine.

Posted by RSA at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

Want to read a terrorist's blog?

from - smijer

Only if you speak Portuguese, though. Unfortunately, I do not - Fernando Gabeira - in fairness, he is an ex-terrorist. Further, he was the kidnapping-American-ambassadors type of terrorist, rather than the flying airplanes into sky-scrapers type of terrorist. Now, he is a Brazilian politician.

I watched a movie, based on a book he wrote about his organization's activities, entitled Four Days in September. From a review on this page:

The year is 1969. Brazil is under a brutal military dictatorship. Political prisoners are being held and tortured. In order to get the junta to free some of their comrades, a group of ragtag "revolutionaries" kidnap the U.S. Ambassabor and threaten his life unless their demands are met.

Well-written and tense, the film ably demonstrates the flaws of people trying to fight fire with fire: "an eye for and eye". Alan Arkin is wonderful as the ambassador. His character gives incisive psychological sketches of his kidnappers: fervent and brooding; yearning and lost.

I'll say, it was one of the most interesting movies I've seen in quite a while. I have little else to say about it.

Posted by smijer at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)

April 07, 2006

Missing Links, with your Eye Boogers

from - smijer

A few links to fill in where knowledge has been sketchy before:
Tiktaalik roseae is mostly fish. As PZ points out, it fills a pretty critical gap - satisfying scientists, and creates two more - satisfying creationists.

Another sort of missing link. The long lost text of the Gospel of Judas has surfaced, and been handily translated by National Geographic. Unfortunately, Early Christian Writings has not yet included a link to the translation. There is info on what was already known of the Gospel before its discovery, though.

A leaking link to an unsurprising source. The President has the power (wisely or not) to authorize the revelation of classified info. His promise to fire the leaker wasn't binding, so it's only a matter of whether he will keep his word. I find it unlikely that he will. So, anyway - we find that the President sees himself as having unhindered authority to both collect secrets about U.S. Citizens (through warrantless wiretapping) and to discharge secrets about U.S. Citizens to the press (through authorized leaks), in order to attack political enemies. Anyone else concerned about this?

Here's to filling in the gaps.

Posted by smijer at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2006

A matter of belief

from - Buck

Just got this one in my email box. Thought it would be nice to share.

....What You Need To Believe To Be A Republican :-D

1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

15. Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.)

16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with more Republicans in '06 and '08.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican

I sure that there is an email out there showing what you need to believe in order to be a Democrat. I'll probably be getting it real soon.

Posted by Buck at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2006

Is this for real?

from - Buck

When I first heard that a Dr. Eric R. Pianka had proposed that the only way to save the Earth was to eliminate 90% of the human population I just assumed the guy was some poor nut who just happened to be a doctor.

Pianka began his speech by explaining that the general public is not yet ready to hear what he was about to tell us.

I wonder who and what Pianka thinks the “general public” is?

One of Pianka's earliest points was a condemnation of anthropocentrism, or the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe. He told a story about how a neighbor asked him what good the lizards are that he studies. He answered, “What good are you?”

Now I can wax philosophical with the best of them but if given a choice between a lizard and Charles Manson I would still give the edge to Charlie.

Pianka hammered his point home by exclaiming, “We're no better than bacteria!”

I was reminded of the ancient joke where The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Indians and the Lone Ranger says, “Tonto, it looks like we are in a heap of trouble” and Tonto says, “what do you mean “we” paleface?”

We does not always include me.

“And the fossil fuels are running out,” he said, “so I think we may have to cut back to two billion, which would be about one-third as many people.” So the oil crisis alone may require eliminating two-third's of the world's population.

You know Doc. I guess we could consider eliminating only the 300 million that consume 25% of the product and save a few lives.

After noting that the audience did not represent the general population, a questioner asked, "What kind of reception have you received as you have presented these ideas to other audiences that are not representative of us?" Pianka replied, "I speak to the converted!"

Sounds more like religion than science to me. Maybe if Pianka can convince the 9 out of 10 that need to die that they will be happier in a place where 70 virgins turn tricks on streets of gold he can conjure up a larger following.

He spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy. He said, "Smarter people have fewer kids." He said those who don't have a conscience about the Earth will inherit the Earth, "...because those who care make fewer babies and those that didn't care made more babies." He said we will evolve as uncaring people

Uh…it sounds to me like you already represent the pinnacle of your evolution.

Meanwhile, I still can't get out of my mind the pleasant spring day in Texas when a few hundred scientists of the Texas Academy of Science gave a standing ovation for a speaker who they heard advocate for the slow and torturous death of over five billion human beings.

Please, somebody chime in and assure me that this is all some kind of inside joke that the “general public” cannot fully appreciate.

Posted by Buck at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2006

What's that? Crickets?

from - smijer

Sorry - I been busy, and perhaps more importantly, empty-headed lately.

Posted by smijer at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 03, 2006

Make your own music

from - Buck

It can be a lot of fun!

Like everything else, I stole this from somewhere else.

Hope ya'll had a good weekend because this has definitely turned into a stormy Monday here in North Georgia.

Posted by Buck at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)