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Hell Freezes Over

I find it interesting that so many creationists have set out to prove that evolution is not scientific but rather a religious theory based on an opposing set of ideas to their own. The reasoning goes that since evolution is based on faith, and it is taught in schools, creationism (or rather the christian-god-designed-everything theory) should also be taught in schools. Read more »

Point and Laugh

Peta is funny:

A protest against the manner in which chickens are slaughtered for fast-food chain KFC drew additional customers rather than drive them away from the local outlet in this northern Utah city.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest against KFC drew 10 sympathetic people, including someone dressed in a chicken costume, on Monday. But at one point, around lunchtime, more than 30 people stood in line to order chicken to eat.


So I'm getting into my car after a long class at massage school reviewing every anatomy class I've taken for the last six months and I notice this card on the ground next to my door. Thinking that it had likely fallen from the myriad papers in the backseat when I had thrown my backsack in, I picked up the card and examined it. What was on the card was fascinating, or rather amusing enough, that I decided to take it home with me. The top of the card said "I.Q. Test" and encouraged the reader to add a set of numbers together. Turning the card over to check your answer the card informs you that the answer is 3100 and that most people say "4000". Okay I said 4000 also, a cheap novelty, but still nothing close to an actual I.Q. Test. Luckily there was another "I.Q. Test" (I'm really beginning to wonder at this point what exactly "I.Q." stood for on this card since it clearly was unrelated to any meaningful intelligence quotient).

The text of the card followed like this:

Here is another intelligence test. Answer yes or no OUT LOUD:
1/ Is there a God?


2/ Does God care about right and wrong?

See #1.

3/ Are god's standards the same as ours?

Not applicaple see #1.

4/ Will God punish sin?

Define sin... no wait just see #1.

5/ Is there a hell?

No... wait actually I've been told that the hebrew word for hell is Gehinnom (the old testament was in hebrew originally), and that this refers to an actual place in Israel. A garbage dump outside the gates of jerusalem. From wikipedia:

Originally it referred to a garbage dump in a deep narrow valley right outside the walls of Jerusalem (in modern-day Israel) where fires were kept burning to consume the refuse and keep down the stench. It is also the location where bodies of executed criminals, or individuals denied a proper burial, would be dumped...

In the Book of Matthew, 23:33, Jesus observes,

"Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”
Jesus used the word gehenna, not hell, and his audience understood quite well that gehenna meant a place of condemnation, where Jews had previously cast aside the worship of the true God to defile themselves by committing abominations. Human garbage, sinners, would be consumed and destroyed forever.

So maybe Jesus meant some fiery tormentuous supernatural place that was not the valley of hinnom of which he referred. But given that it does refer to an actual geographical place on this planet I'm going to say yes there is a hell/gehinnom. Read more »

Serenity flys again in 3 days

And no I'm not referring to the movie. From sci-fi wire:

SCI FI Channel announced that it will air reruns of Fox's canceled SF series Firefly, including three episodes that never aired on Fox. SCI FI will air all 14 hours of the show, from creator Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), starting July 22, in the 7 p.m. ET/PT Friday timeslot. It will be followed by new episodes of Stargate SG-1 at 8, Stargate Atlantis at 9 and Battlestar Galactica at 10.

The Dangers of the Moral Highground

Imagine you were in the CIA or some other sensitive position and wanted to leak a great story to the press (get the word out etc.). Obviously it would be very important that no one figured out that you did it. So do you call up the reporter who gave into pressure from the feds and revealed their informant, or do you talk to the reporter who spent 4 months in prison to protect the identity of her sources?

From Read more »

More Flag Nonsense

I found this discription of how to dispose of a tattered American Flag at the website of a New York State Senator:

The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning in private or as part of a ceremony conducted by a veterans organization.

Here's another one: Read more »

Ten Things I hate about Feminism

I'm using feminism in this post to refer to the political movement as advocated and promoted by the National Organization of Women as well as others. I realize there are dozens of varieties of feminism and feminist theory, some sillier than others.

10. The popular belief that as a woman I must either agree with the underlying ideology promoted by feminists or that if I disagree, I am automatically a conservative.

The far more amusing assumption occurs when I do not state my gender in my criticisms of feminism. Obviously I must be a man, and probably one that’s had a few issue with family law/alimony in the past.

9. The modern feminists' tendency to attach themselves to the earlier and far more noteworthy women's rights movement.

If feminism were exclusively about the rights of women I wouldn't have a problem with this. The problem is that it's not. Check out the National Organization for Women's issues page if you do not believe me.

8. The stupid obscure nonsense that many feminist academics pass off as useful information.

I once heard an entire lecture about how artificial intelligence research had failed to create human level intelligence because of its use of gender-biased language. (i.e. mankind instead of humankind etc.) The professor presenting the lecture was in no way involved with A.I. research. She was a women's studies professor.

7. The very existence of women's studies courses in universities nationwide that promote a purely leftist political ideology and often have little to do with any objective scholarship regarding women.

If a Republican cannot pass your course, I doubt your course has much actual scholarship backing it up. Read more »

Zimbabwe\'s Un-natural Disaster

More dangerous than a speeding tornado...

More destructive than a chaotic blaze...

Is it an earthquake? A typhoon? A Tsunami? Read more »

6+ hours of Freakonomics

Yesterday I voyaged home from western Lousiana to Austin, Texas. On the 6 hour drive home we listened to the audio-book version of Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner.

I found the first half of the book to be interesting and insightful, the remainder, however was dreadfully disappointing. The full title of the book was "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything." My first thought upon reading the title was that I hoped the "Rogue" part came from a marketting department and not from the economist himself or we would not be dealing with a "rogue" economist so much as a pompous one.

Obviously the subtitle's claim was more than a little exaggerated. Though I certainly wasn't expecting the book to cover the "hidden side" of absolutely everything. I was hoping to at least discover some principles that could be applied near-universally, thus revealing a little something about everything.

The only such ideas that could have meaningfully approached such universality were basically that all human behavior was effectively incentive based (if this were not the case economics would have been an awfully short-lived science), and that conventional wisdom tended to be wrong. At least in this corner of the blogosphere it is conventional wisdom that conventional wisdom tends to be wrong.

Nevertheless the real jewels of the book seemed to be overlooked by both of the authors who seemed to be skittish of unintentionally creating a "unifying theme." There were two specific values I saw, and these may be more of a reflection of my own limited experience with economics than "jewels" in their own right. The first was being able to use broad economic and strategic reasoning applied to specific situations, and ending up with actual real world applications -and I don't mean monentary policies based on theoretical work either. I mean like being able to ferret out teachers who fill in correct answers for students on standardized tests, or figuring out if Sumo Wrestlers ever throw matches. The other "jewel" in the book was seeing economic reasoning used to form hypotheses, support the hypotheses, and then testing the hypotheses with hard data. It was so scientific it seemed as if we had wandered into some other academic field. Read more »

American Idol Finale

I guess its about time to wrap up my American Idol posts, since the show is now over. The winner as predicted by many, Simon Cowell icluded, was Carrie Underwood. Bo and Carrie were given several songs to sing last Tuesday night, and reminiscent of season one all of the "original" songs sounded remarkably better with a female singer. You try to get a southern rocker to sound good singing slow adult contemporary quasi/country songs and it doesn't work out especially well. Not that I suspect there is any conspiracy behind it, or particular favoritism. It seems to me as if Carrie and Bo comparitively were apples to oranges, that is not easily compared. I would have preferred to hear an original song that Bo could have reasonably released as a single had he won, as well as the one that carrie did. Neither of the songs they had to sing would have worked as a single off of a rock album. I suspect the show's producers did not put much thought into it though.

The show itself was pretty good, and the results show was better, at least the last half hour of it. The results show was basically an hour and a half of filler, and 30 minutes of goodstuff. The goodstuff was having all of the top 12 contestants sing songs with current artists. Bo got to sing with Lynard Skynard. Carrie sang with Rascal Flats, which had to be the best duo of the night. Anwar and Anthony sang with Kenny G, who obviously didn't sing. They sang my least favorite song ever, "I believe I can fly," and it wasn't any better than the last time Anwar did it. Thank goodness for fast-forward. Constantine, Jessica, and Nadia sang with Kenny Wayne Sheppard. They tried to sing "Walk this way." It emphasized how poorly the three of them could "rock," especially when thrown together. Scott Savol and Nikko Smith sang "On Broadway" with George Benson. It was actually pretty good. Though I didn't care for the super jazzed-up version of the song. Vonzell sang a duet with Billy Preston. It was a nice reminder of why vonzell was in the top 3, showing her as both a powerful singer, and having great charisma on stage. Mikalah and Linsey Cardinale sang with Babyface. It was really just Babyface singing with Lindsey and Mikahlah occasionally finishing his sentences and backing him up. Read more »

American Idol Final 3

Now that my midterm is finally over, (WOOOHOOO!!!!) I thought I should probably go ahead and put up my post on the final 3 especially since its already time for a new episode. Sorry about that, but it really has been a crazy week. Luckily there is only two entries left before the whole sha-bang is over.

Last week was awesome. Vonzell, though I was sorry to see her go was very clearly the weakest competitor. Meanwhile Bo really came out to shine. He started the night singing "Don't let the sun come down on me." The song was picked by Clive Davis who was sitting on the judges panel and will be producing the album of the eventual winner. The rendition was impressive, better than Elton's I think. Next he sang a song of his own choice. If you didn't see the entire rest of the season it was worthwhile to watch just for this one performance. Bo choose to sing his own rendition of "Within a Dream" by Badlands in acapella, so no music or backups whatsover. It was really amazing. It highlighted how exceptional his voice is, not to mention how infinitely recordable he is. Bo is pretty much guranteed an album at this point regardless of whether or not he wins, and Clive Davis told him as much on the show. Bo's final song, chosen by Paula Abdul, was "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones. Simon's critique of it amouted to complaining that it was a fluff song. But of course it was. It was still a fun performance and Bo singing Rolling Stones was really cool. Besides if "on the radio" (Simon's choice for Vonzell) isn't a fluff song I don't know what is. Read more »

American Idol Final 4

This past week on American Idol the theme was songs from nashville and songs from Philadelphia. It was an interesting combination, and to no one's surprise Anthony got voted off. Though he is actually starting to sound like he might actually belong in the top 12. Nevertheless it was nice to see the best contestants move on for a change.

Carrie started the night with "Sin Wagon," and to my surprise she seems to have figured out how to emote when she performs at some point in the last week. Suddenly she's doing more than staring in the camera. She looked and sounded great with both of her songs tonight. Simon did not seem to like her second performance of "if you do not know me by now," but I was in awe that she actually looked as if she meant the words coming out of her mouth.

So finally we have a quasi-country night, and Bo picks a fairly boring song for the "nashville" part of the show. The name of the song escapes me. I simply found it disappointing. I was hoping he would blow us away with another song like the "tied to the whipping post" song he did in the semi-finals. His second performance was much better, but the lyrics made my spidey-objectivist sense tingle. The song was about how the love of money corrupted things, as did money itself. I had to remind myself that the show was not about politics and for Bo it was likely just a fun song to sing, not a statement. Read more »

The Opiate of the Masses

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." -Karl Marx

Admittedly I have not been fond of religion since I attempted to tackle the twisted logic of the story of Job when I was in high school, and subsequently parted ways with my protestant, pentacostal upbringing. (If someone had told me that the story came out of an oral tradition and was not meant to be taken literally it might have helped). Nevertheless in recent years I've become much more tolerant of it. Both because I think tolerance is a good thing, and because I like being able to relate to 90 + percent of the people around me.

I have been a member, for almost a year now, of a very very liberal church. A church liberal enough to have no problem with an atheist bisexual such as myself being a member. This has gotten me to thinking about religion quite a bit. Furthermore, I happened to join the strategic planning committee at my church whose task is three fold; figure out who we are, what we want, and where we are going for the next 3 to 5 years.

The process of surveying, and studying the results of the information gathered from our congregation led me to a few startling discoveries. I say "startling" but in fact most of you will probably consider them common sense.

1. People tend to go to church to be around people they agree with. I do not mean that most people in a religious group expect everyone to agree with them, or shy away from disagreement. What I mean is that most people who choose to be involved in a religious community want to "fit in" on some level. If enough people in your community disagree with your views about the world, religion, or perhaps even your political views, you will probably start to feel out of place. You might go start looking for a church where you "fit in" better. Read more »

American Idol Final 5

It was thursday before I even remembered I had tivo-ed American Idol and probably ought to watch it. Add to that that I have procrastinated on putting up the recap until Sunday, and I'm beginning to think that I may be getting tired of the show. For some reason the show this year just hasn't had quite the same appeal for me as it has in years past. During each of the past 3 seasons there was at least one person who, if they were voted off, would have made me not want to watch the show anymore. Each year that person made it at least to the top two.

This year I do not even have a particular favorite. Even Bo who I have rooted for the most, does not strike me as having the strong personal style of a Fantasia, or Clay, that made them so great to watch each week. But maybe its all in my head :dizzy: .

Scott got voted off this past week, and after that dance with my father song from the week before, I would say it was much deserved. Nevertheless he was much improved in his performance when he sang "On Broadway." He still was not, and in my opinion has never been up to caliber of most of the other contestants on the show. Read more »