Saturday, August 04, 2007

Designer Universe?

by Steven Weinberg
Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Austin
Winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics.

In an e-mail message from the American Association for the Advancement of Science I learned that the aim of this conference is to have a constructive dialogue between science and religion. I am all in favor of a dialogue between science and religion, but not a constructive dialogue. One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.

The full article is here ...

If physics is a little out of your range, you might want to skip it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Speaking of Professor Behe

Richard Dawkins reviews Behe's latest book, "The Edge of Evolution":

I had expected to be as irritated by Michael Behe's second book as by his first. I had not expected to feel sorry for him. The first — "Darwin's Black Box" (1996), which purported to make the scientific case for "intelligent design" — was enlivened by a spark of conviction, however misguided. The second is the book of a man who has given up. Trapped along a false path of his own rather unintelligent design, Behe has left himself no escape. Poster boy of creationists everywhere, he has cut himself adrift from the world of real science. And real science, in the shape of his own department of biological sciences at Lehigh University, has publicly disowned him, via a remarkable disclaimer on its Web site: "While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally and should not be regarded as scientific." As the Chicago geneticist Jerry Coyne wrote recently, in a devastating review of Behe's work in The New Republic, it would be hard to find a precedent.

For a while, Behe built a nice little career on being a maverick. His colleagues might have disowned him, but they didn't receive flattering invitations to speak all over the country and to write for The New York Times. Behe's name, and not theirs, crackled triumphantly around the memosphere. But things went wrong, especially at the famous 2005 trial where Judge John E. Jones III immortally summed up as "breathtaking inanity" the effort to introduce intelligent design into the school curriculum in Dover, Pa. After his humiliation in court, Behe — the star witness for the creationist side — might have wished to re-establish his scientific credentials and start over. Unfortunately, he had dug himself in too deep. He had to soldier on. "The Edge of Evolution" is the messy result, and it doesn't make for attractive reading.

More of it here ...

Islamic creationist group launches glitzy, global blitz

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - On a recent afternoon inside Istanbul's busiest subway station, a young man beckoned commuters into a subterranean "fossil exhibit" full of skulls and insects dating back millions of years.

But this was no mainstream scientific display. One colorful poster advertised the "myth" of the evolution of the horse. Another, displaying a flying pterodactyl, denounced the evolution of birds as "fake."

The display is one of many traveling shows put on by the Foundation for Scientific Research*, an Islamic creationist group that has become a household name in Turkey. Now, the groups says it is distributing its books – published in 59 languages including Arabic, Chinese, Swahili, and Polish – to 80 countries.

"Turkey is now the headquarters of creationism in the Islamic World. This is no longer only Turkey's problem, it is now the problem of the whole civilized world," says Haluk Ertan, a professor of molecular biology at Istanbul University. He's one of a handful of Turkish scientists who have been working to counter creationism's spread in the country.

Get the rest here ...

And our wacko, off-the-wall, illiterate, uneducated, dogmatic fundamentalists are better than their wacko, off-the-wall, illiterate, uneducated, dogmatic fundamentalists because ... ?

If Haluk Ertan is a professor of micro biology, I wouldn't be expecting too many scientific breakthroughs from him or his students. If the final answer to all the hard questions is "its God's will", there won't be any.

* The Foundation for Scientific research may be a household name in Turkey, but I couldn't get any Google hits on it. (There are other Foundations for Scientific Research, but none in Islamic countries that I could find.) And based on the Google hits I got on 'ole Haluk, I don't think he's a world recognized mover and shaker in micro biology. Perhaps he's of the caliber of Professor Michael Behe at Lehigh University, who's academic stand for Creationism has prompted the university to post the following on thie web site:

"The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of "intelligent design." While we respect Prof. Behe's right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific."

On "Locking the Barn Door After the Horse Has Been Stolen"

Good News, America: 14 Senators Don't Have BB's
Ed Frank / Americans for Prosperity

Yesterday Americans for Prosperity joined U.S. Senators Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina and Tom Coburn (R) of Oklahoma, along with our friends at several other pro-taxpayer groups, for a Capitol Hill news conference spotlighting the shortcomings of the ethics, lobbying and earmark reform legislation Congress is considering this week.

Sen. Coburn had the line of the day, and perhaps one of the best lines ever, when he pointed out that many Senators don't have the, um, political courage to vote against a lackluster reform bill:

"They have reproductive organs the size of B-Bs that won't allow them to do the right thing."

Well, as Sen. Coburn predicted, the Senate just passed the ethics reform bill by an overwhelming margin, 83-14. The American people may be pleased to know that at least 14 members of the upper chamber are (reportedly) equipped with something more substantial than BB's.

Penance for Tom DeLay's K-Street? Embarrassed by a Don Young's Bridge to Nowhere? Not on your life!

Another seat at the public trough

West Virginia Democrat is Scrutinized
Mollohan Has Close Ties to Groups Handling His District's Appropriations

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 15, 2006; Page A01

Starting in the 1990s, Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.) chose an unusual way to funnel federal funds into his poverty-ridden district. He set up a network of nonprofit organizations to administer the millions of dollars he directed to such public endeavors as high-tech research and historic preservation.

Over the same period, Mollohan's personal fortunes soared. From 2000 to 2004, his assets grew from no more than $565,000 to at least $6.3 million. The partners in his rapidly expanding real estate empire included the head of one of these nonprofit groups and the owner of a local company for which he arranged substantial federal aid.

Your tax dollars at work here ...

No excuses .... not even the excuse "he's Republican, what would you expect?"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Faith Defined

and the Nicene Creed.

God Answers Prayers Of Paralyzed Little Boy

'No,' Says God

December 9, 1998 | Issue 34•19

SAN FRANCISCO–For as long as he can remember, 7-year-old Timmy Yu has had one precious dream: From the bottom of his heart, he has hoped against hope that God would someday hear his prayer to walk again. Though many thought Timmy's heavenly plea would never be answered, his dream finally came true Monday, when the Lord personally responded to the wheelchair-bound boy's prayer with a resounding no.

From the Onion ...


  • Bush: End of an Error
  • That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
  • Let's Fix Democracy in this Country First
  • If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
  • Bush. Like a Rock. Only Dumber.
  • If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
  • Of Course It Hurts: You're Getting Screwed by an Elephant!
  • Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
  • George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
  • Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blow Jobs Anymore
  • America: One Nation, Under Surveillance
  • They call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
  • Whose God Do You Kill For?
  • Jail to the Chief
  • No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq ?
  • Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full of Crap
  • Bad President! No Banana.
  • We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
  • We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
  • Is It Vietnam Yet?
  • Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
  • Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?
  • You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
  • Dub'ya, Your Dad Should'a Pulled Out, too!
  • When Bush Took Office, Gas Was $1.46
  • Pray For Impeachment
  • The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
  • What Part of "Bush Lied" Don't You Understand?
  • One Nation Under Clod
  • 2004: Embarrassed, 2005: Horrified, 2006: Terrified (addendum: 2007: Stupefied)
  • Bush Never Exhaled
  • At Least Nixon Resigned

Doing what we can to stimulate the war

GAO: Pentagon Improperly Sold F-14 Parts

By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press Writer
(08-01) 12:53 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) --

The Pentagon sold more than a thousand aircraft parts that could be used on F-14 fighter jets — a plane flown only by Iran — after announcing it had halted sales of such surplus, government investigators say.

Jesus wept ...

Maybe government IS the problem. The Bush government certainly IS a problem.

UH .... my guess is they were for it before they were against it. Or were they against it before they were for it? I get so confused.

Slowly, the Dawn

Go figure. After six years of total, blind support of President George Bush, many Republicans in Congress are finally looking for ways to change the course of our mission in Iraq. According to the A.P., their goal "is to end the U.S.-led daily patrols in the streets of Baghdad and restrict troops to fighting al-Qaida terrorists and training Iraq security forces."

Cool plan. It does raise one wee question, though -

When did Republicans stop being bothered about micro-managing the war?

More here ...

It raises other questions, too.

Like what about "flip-flopping?" It was such an evil characteristic just a short time ago.

A few things we've been wondering about (Republicans) lately

Only a click away ...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More from the Family Values folks

Minister In Skirt Charged With Indecent Exposure

Police Say Man Urinated In Front Of Kids, Offered Oral Sex To Cops

POSTED: 9:04 am EDT August 1, 2007 -

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- A Baptist minister has been charged in Tennessee with indecent exposure and driving under the influence.

Police said 58-year-old Tommy Tester of Bristol, Va., was wearing a skirt when he was arrested last week after allegedly relieving himself in front of children at a car wash.

A report also accuses Tester of offering police officers oral sex and says an open bottle of vodka and empty oxycodone prescription bottle was found in his car when Tester was arrested Friday.

Authorities identified Tester as the minister of Gospel Baptist Church in Bristol and an employee of Christian radio station WZAP-AM, also in Bristol. WZAP issued a statement asking for prayers and saying Tester has been suspended during an investigation.

Here ...

Wonkette admits they have been unable to determine Testers specific job title with the Giuliani campaign.

Words of Wisdom

Chief Joseph - Nez Perces

In a short time a group of commissioners arrived to begin organization of the new Indian agency in the valley. One of them mentioned the advantages of schools for Joseph's people. Joseph replied that the Nez Perces did not want the white man's schools.

"Why do you not want schools?"

"They will teach us to have churches," Joseph answered.

"Do you not want churches?"

"No, we do not want churches."

"Why do you not want churches?"

"They will teach us to quarrel about God," Joseph said. "We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that."

- Dee Brown
"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Christ, not another one!!!

Stevens' aide Trevor McCabe investigated in Alaska scandal
July 31, 2007

By Dennis Zaki - Alaska Report

Roll Call is reporting that Alaska senator Ted Stevens' business partner and former aide, Trevor McCabe is also being investigated in a widening corruption scandal.

So far the investigations have has snagged two Republican lawmakers, an ex-president of the state Senate, multiple state legislators, and oil company services executives.

By John Stanton, Roll Call Staff -

FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided the Girdwood, Alaska, home of GOP Sen. Ted Stevens on Monday as part of a growing corruption probe that also has focused on GOP Rep. Don Young (Alaska).

The rest of it ...

Just another Republican scandal. I wonder if they found, oh ... say ... $90,000 in a freezer? Or are Republicans just not as clever as Democrats in their attempts to deceive? Maybe the case. More of them seem to be getting caught.

Is it because they're:
a.) arrogant and think they're above the law or
b.) less bright than the average jackass and therefore get caught more often or
c.) there are just simply more of them who are corrupt, making it a "law-of-averages" kinda thing or
d.) all of the above

I vote for d.) - all of the above.

But who cares. I have Republican Scandal fatigue.

Bill got off f&%$ing a consenting adult. These guys get off f&%$ing the people they're suppose to be representing. Bill was morally bankrupt and unfit for high office. These guys ... they represent "family values"! Go figah!

Gangsters at Large

Who Ordered the Execution of NFL/Army Hero Pat Tillman?

Who done it? - Wonkette

It’s almost too depressing to mention again, but let’s recap the Pat Tillman revelations from Army medical examiners and internal Pentagon reports released last week and find out what happens when famous football stars turned Army Heroes become anti-war critics:

Interesting recap ...

Who else would they throw under a bus?

... and just who are "they"?

... and who's next?

On being fair and balanced

Old-Fashioned Southern Democrat Generously Gave Away His Bribes

Sad Mr. Moneybags - Wonkette

Jim Black was the leader of the North Carolina house of representatives. Already convicted in federal court of various bribery giving/taking crimes, now he’s facing similar charges in the state courts. But unlike bigshot Washington bribe-takers like Duke Cunningham, folksy Jim Smith didn’t buy any fancy yachts with his dirty money.

On Wonkette ...

Group to deliver Bibles with newspapers

By MATT CURRY, Associated Press Writer Tue Jul 31, 4:52 PM ET

FORT WORTH, Texas - Everything from detergent to computer discs is packaged with the Sunday newspaper. So why not Bibles?

A Christian ministry wants to deliver custom-designed New Testaments to newspaper subscribers around the country as part of an effort to find innovative ways to spread a Christian message. But even in the Bible Belt, not everyone thinks that's a good idea.

More on that here ...

I wonder what they would say about other points of view being similarly distributed in their home towns?

True then, applicable now

During World War I, German General Erich Ludendorff famously observed, "the English fight like lions."

"Yes," a staff officer famously replied, "but they are led by donkeys*."

History does repeat itself.

* The staff officer was NOT referring to contemporary American political party symbolism. He was referring to the caliber of those in command (such as a commander-in-chief, for instance.)

Keeping track

World clock

Remember Bush and the Ownership Society?

U.S. Foreclosure Filings Surge

Monday July 30, 5:06 pm ET
By Alex Veiga, AP Business Writer

U.S. Foreclosures Rise 58 Percent in First Half of 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The number of U.S. homes facing foreclosure surged 58 percent in the first six months of the year, the latest sign of mounting problems in the mortgage industry, a data firm said Monday.

In all, 573,397 properties across the nation reported some sort of foreclosure activity in the first half of this year, including receiving notices of default, auction sale notices or being repossessed by lenders, Irvine-based RealtyTrac Inc. said.

That was 58 percent higher than the 363,672 properties in the first six months of 2006 and 32 percent higher than the 433,504 in the last six months of 2006.

"We could easily surpass 2 million foreclosure filings by the end of the year, which would represent a year-over-year increase of over 65 percent," said RealtyTrac CEO James J. Saccacio.

Follow up with the rest here ...

By the way, the economy is doing great! How much of that wonderful consumer spending cash was based on debt? The market is turning and people now own more on their homes than their homes are worth. It was all an illusion but the "feel good" news on the right said the economy was doing great ... in spite of the math of reality.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hillary Voodoo doll outselling Bush voodoo doll

from The Politico

Another Faith Based Initiative?

That's true, at least, on, where The Hillary Clinton Voodoo Kit: Stick It to Her, Before She Sticks It to You! is ranked 147,081 to the mere 267,701 ranking of The George W. Bush Voodoo Kit: Stick It to Him Like Hes Been Sticking It to You!

This is, no doubt, because this election is about the future, not the past.

(I'm not sure I understand it, either ... but I thought it was funny.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism in the Modern World

On Jesus' General

The theme of "compassionate conservatism" was important in the original presidential campaign of George W. Bush. That such a theme was even considered necessary should be instructive. Something had to be deeply wrong with conservatism if anyone imagined that the public needed to be told that it was possible to be conservative and compassionate at the same time, or that conservatism was being transformed into an ideology more compassionate than in the past.

Deeds are more important than words, so rather than pretend that conservatism can be made compassionate by a mere rhetorical flourish, we should instead ask how the Bush administration has acquitted itself over the past years. It's hard to see anything remotely "compassionate" in a single policy, proposal, signing statement, or any other action taken by the Bush administration. Indeed, there are so many actions that seem to be the opposite of compassionate that it would be difficult to single any one out as truly emblematic of the Bush administration's true character.

The rest of the thought is here ...

Projects Update

Amerind - Window / Gallery-Library

The Amerind Foundation has asked me to prepare a screen saver product that they can sell in their gift shop based on the images I did for the "Treasures of the Amerind" book. As a second project (and another gift shop product offering) I'm doing a series of pictures of the architectural details of the Merrit Starkweather buildings that make up the Amerind facilities. The buildings were designed and constructed during a period from 1930 to 1958 and include the main house (William Shirly Fulton's family home in Dragoon, Arizona), the museum, and the library as well as a number of surrounding out buildings.

We also plan to offer high quality matted prints of a number of the images from the book and from the series of architectural details in the gift shop. I need to make some time to cut the mats and shrink wrap. Given our move, I doubt that I'll be doing much before September in that regard.

Interestingly enough, one of the images I used for Wikipedia attracted the attention of a company in California that manufacturers a veterinary joint lubricant for horses. Their advertising agency in Kentucky dropped me a note asking if they could use the photo in an advertising brochure. Of course, in order to use the image on Wikipedia, I released the copyright to public domain so there's no money in it for me ... just the bragging rights. they asked if i had "model releases" for the people in the picture. I don't THINK so! ... there are at least 38 people in the image as well as pieces and parts of any number of other people!