Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Festivus!


Happy Festivus everyone! That's right, it's today. Now, in keeping with the time honored tradition, let the airing of the grievances begin. I will start:

John, for saving my life by spraying me down with a fire extinguisher. I would thank you except for the minute detail of there not being a fire. Watch your back...

Mitch, for not getting an elk because you turned into a giant pussy when it got cold. You are an embarrassment to foresters everywhere.

The media, for reporting on science in a manner that does more damage than good and labeling everyone you interview as an "expert" in their field no matter how much of an r-tard they might be.

Jenny McCarthy, for being one of the aforementioned r-tards.

Barrack, Seriously, you can give up the fake christianity thing now. You won.

ERV, Pharyngula, SBM, and Respectful Insolence, for feeding my ADHD by allowing me a new subject with just the click of a mouse.

Jesus, for hating gay people. If you don't, shame on you for not conveying that to your earthly followers.

Pirates, for not being cool pirates like Johnny Depp. The FSM is watching.

God, You are not real and yet you have almost as much power over the world as the ipod does. Amazing but unfair.

Evil Monkey, Leave Chris alone. He's a nice kid.

Add your own grievances in the comments if you like.


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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Solstice Eve!



You know that feeling you get when you just accidentally put your heel into the squash while simultaneously filling a fermenting bucket from the sink and adjusting the oven temperature with your toe and then you realize that the transfer spigot on your bucket was open? No? Apparently you've never spent a drunken Solstice Eve with the Bowe's. Seriously, the photo evidence is all there below the fold. All this with no Yuri Gagarins (equal parts vodka and citrus/tang flavored Ripit energy drink). We're thinking of you John.

This is our new family tradition. We will spend Solstice eve preparing for our Winter Solstice Party. We bake cookies (stars, suns, moons, trees, darwin fish, flying spaghetti monsters), make food for the party (squash soup and beer bread this year), decorate, and finish up the gifts we've been making. The party this year is going to be a soup buffet, a bonfire, spiced wine, cider, and whatever other drinks we concoct. I've been brewing mead for a while but right now it tastes a bit more like perfume than honey-wine. We have decided that solstice gifts should be home-made or nature related and instead of under the Yule tree they'll be hidden, just as the FSM would wish. We've been decorating a bit too. I collected cedar and balsam bows that we are placing in baskets with lights and cones. They look really cool.

Our Solstice celebration will be nearly identical to many people's christmas celebration but somehow it feels very nice to be celebrating the return of the sun instead of the birth of jesus. We wanted to do something unique for Solstice but it turns out that pretty much every Solstice tradition was already stolen by christians. That's OK, we've come up with our own. We'll still celebrate christmas with the rest of our family but this allows us to have something special that is more in line with our beliefs. Besides, this is not a time to be spiteful.This is a time to reflect on all the good in our lives and the people around us. So, thanks to all of my friends and family for doing your best to accept and understand my views. I love you all.

Oh, it appears that the day of Solstice has arrived as I was writing this. Happy solstice everyone!





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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Egnor is Wrong = Egnor is Wrong, and "Why I Just Might Need to Fire my Doctor."

Dr. Michael Egnor (that's MD lest the title confuse), a neurosurgeon and ID proponent often refers to evolution as nothing more than a tautology. In all honesty, I didn't even know what that meant until looking it up and even then I wasn't so clear. So, here is one interpretation by MarkCC at Good Math, Bad Math. It's an interesting read if you're curious about tautologies in logic. Read right on down to the bottom and be sure to catch the rant at the end about the death of the author's father before reading below the fold here.

I've been struggling with the idea of firing my doctor and the content at the bottom of that article spells out my reasoning quite well. He doesn't accept evolution. I don't have any personal anecdote like the death of a loved one to harden my resolve but I don't really want to wait for that. I'm just not sure that I'm comfortable with a doctor that doesn't understand the implications of evolution in medicine. It could cause real damage, to me, to my wife, and to my future children.

Now, my doctor may not be quite as off the wall as the one in that story. In fact, I suspect he probably subscribes to some weak form of intelligent design (as though there is a strong form). I would bet that he just refuses to give up on his belief in the magic man in the sky and ID allows him to retain the god hypothesis while accepting that evolution is real. He's really a pretty good doctor. I would bet that he is more than ready to explain the evolution of bacteria and antibiotic resistance. Just to be sure though, I think we will have this conversation at my next check up. And if he can't give me reasonable answers, well, he's fired.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Marriage (măr'ĭj): The Legal Union Of A Man And As Many Women As He Can Afford.



Yep, more on same-sex marriage, or gay marriage, or gayrriage. We all know by now that the fundies think the institution of marriage is sacred and has been defined as one man and one woman for thousands of years (at least Mike Huckabee thinks this). I call Bullshit. Lisa Miller does too, in a Newsweek cover story. She quite accurately points out that polygamy (technically polygyny I think) was rather common in the bible.

Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists.
Also noted are some of the more ridiculous rules layed out in the bible. Some of my favorites (not necessarily mentioned in Lisa's story): stoning one's non-virgin wife, proper blood sacrifice rituals, and the fact that rabbit meat and shellfish are abominations and should not be eaten. Curiously, though man on man lovin' is expressly forbidden, nothing much is really mentioned about women. Apparently god digs that too. Daily Kos picked up on an especially entertaining comment defining marriage using biblical standards found below the fold.

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36).


Now, how about we get over this "traditional definition of marriage" bullshit. Remember, there was a time not so long ago that the definition of marriage included a man and his servile wife of the same race (color). Does that seem appropriate? Our children will look back at these discussions and be embarassed in the same way that we are embarassed about the rampant racism of our recent history (not that we've conquered that yet either).

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

John Stewart Takes Huckabee to Task on Gay Marriage.






I appreciate that Mike Huckabee is willing to show up on the Daily Show. I'm not really sure what he thought he would gain considering the audience though. I'm sickened and embarrassed by Prop 8 and by the level of homophobia in the United States these days but I think I may have a fix for the problem.

Why don't we just remove the entire concept of marriage from government. We will change the little piece of paper that says two people are joined together as one into a civil union for everyone. Everyone. Not just homosexuals. Then everyone can be equal. We will all receive the same tax breaks, get the same health care coverage, enjoy the same divorce process, and complain equally about the sex not being so good since the wedding. The question of whether or not the union is "defined" as a marriage can be decided by your church. If your church wants to remain homophobic, and I'm guessing it does, it can grant the right of marriage to heterosexuals only. The right wing fundamentalists can continue to live in the dark ages and the rest of us can get on with our lives. I'm willing to change my marriage to a civil union. It's just a word...like Jesus.


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Monday, December 8, 2008

Geography, Apparently Not My Thing.

Go to this link. You will have five minutes to submit answers and come back with a score. I really suck so make beating me your goal and you'll feel good about yourself all day long. I got 51. I think I sat there for the entire last minute unable to answer any more. Post your score in the comments if you'd like to help me feel dumb.


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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

Damn you PZ for getting all the good stuff first. I don't care. I'm stealing it anyway:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die


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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Peter Schiff or Ben Stein?

Peter Schiff any day in my book. I know hindsight is 20-20 but I am getting a chuckle out of this video. Ben and the rest of the "Faux News" financial analysts get to eat their words. Anyone still think the Dow is going to hit 16,000 in 2008? I didn't think so. Hmm...I guess Grandpa was right. He predicted this recession years ago.



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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Only Homeopathic Remedy I Will Ever Recommend.


Homeopathic "medicine" is based on three principals and one unavoidable fact.

1. The Law of Similars. Or, like cures like. 2. The Law of the Infinitesimal Dose. Or, the more diluted a homeopathic solution is, the more potent. 3. Illness is specific to the individual.

The unavoidable fact, of course, is that homeopathy is complete and utter bullshit that does not, can not, and will not work.

This last fact is precisely why I find the idea of a homeopathic remedy perfect for one and only one disease, religion.

The trick is this. We don't treat religion as the disease. We consider religion the homeopathic remedy. Stay with me, I think this could work.

First, "The Law of Similars." We take a societal problem like hatred of gays. Next, we find the religion that hates gays the most and send them in to do the fixing. At this point, it's not sounding like a very good idea. But don't give up yet. Just remember the very important fact that follows the 3 laws.

Next enters "The Law of the Infinitesimal Dose." This is where we take that particular religion and water it down with more reasonable ideas. Slowly chip away at the old religious dogma. Dilute it with sanity. Slowly it becomes more and more powerful (diluted). The proof that this sort of dilution works can be found in Scandanavia, where most people are "christian" but don't follow christian dogma and have the happiest most peaceful societies on earth

Finally, "The Illness is Specific to the Individual." Remember, the "illness" is not religion in this case. The societal problem is. And realistically, societal problems, especially those related to religion are often specific to the individual society.

Admittedly, this is not a perfect fit but it is a useful starting point for a discussion about the cure for religion. I have come to the conclusion that we will never "cure" religion. The best we can hope for is a healthy watering down. I'm also ok with that. As long as religion serves to uplift, comfort, and bring together the members of a society, it can be a good thing. Did I just say that? Yeah, but remember, I'm not talking about religion as it stands in the US today. Think Sweden. Anyway, the only way this is going to happen is if all religion is watered down to the level of say, Santa at christmas time. Nobody thinks he's real, but he makes everyone feel a little better about themselves, a little more giving, and a little less hateful.

The impetus for this post was a three minute video sent to me by Ted.com on the Charter for Compassion. The video has been posted at Pharyngula and has really generated a lot of discussion (currently at 335 comments). Unfortunately, too much of it was very hateful. I despise the bad that comes from organized religion, but I'm learning to recognize the good. And if there is some way to dilute the bad and keep the good I'll feel a little better about the fact that religion is here to stay.

I think that's really what the Charter for Compassion is all about. Recognize that all societies accept and embrace the golden rule. Convince them that it should override any other rule, especially those created by invisible friends in the sky. Spread it around bit by bit. Baby steps.

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Axolotls, Gay Animals, and Geckos, Oh My!


Tangled Bank #118 is a great read. Check it out over at Submitted to a Candid World. Whether you read the message to the prez-elect or just follow a few links and learn something, you won't be bored. Be sure to check out the Axolotls, the smallest gecko, and learn a little something about homosexuality in animals (spoiler: it's not as "unnatural" as people tend to think). I won't steal all the links. Go check it out yourself. It's a wonderful way to waste a morning.

Ain't he cute?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hobbitsssesss.



Or, more accurately, Homo floresiensis. In case you haven't heard, we've found Bilbo. Yes, Bilbo. I know, the hobbit you know more about is probably Frodo. But Bilbo is "The Hobbit." Frodo didn't even exist until the sequel. Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with the Nova episode that I just watched on Homo floresiensis. I didn't catch every detail because I was trying to cook dinner and read a paper on Chara as a nutrient sink in shallow lakes. I didn't finish the paper but I'll get there.

I'm still not sure how convinced I am that H. floresiensis is a new species but even the possibility is exciting. Even more thought provoking is the possibility that somewhere, somehow, a remnant population of hobbits may be scurrying around making stone tools and slaying dragons, er, deer. Imagine the implications.

What would we do if we found a species intelligent enough to make clothing, tools, and weapons? Would we have to consider them human? Would we have debates about whether hobbits should receive full human rights or just half? Would they join our society as equals? Would interspecies marriage be allowed or would Prop 8b shut it down? Would the republicans refuse hobbits the right to vote or would they try the Bilbo for president angle?

I can only imagine that we'd have one hell of a worldwide wakeup call.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Child Abuse Blog

This woman is sick. You can say that religion doesn't "cause" this type of behavior, but I don't know how you can believe that it doesn't encourage it. She's raising a four year old to believe that she is inherently evil.

She is a wretched little girl, who knows she is a wretched sinner who needs only a good saviour to help her. Glory belongs to God!
She makes my brain hurt. Let's follow it up with something humorous. Lil O'Reilly is below the fold. Enjoy and have a nice weekend. I'm off to kill things.

.

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Robert F. Kennedy = Bad Science

Apparently Barack Obama is seriously considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to run the EPA. That's very disappointing to me. One of the main reasons that I voted for Obama was that I felt he would embrace science and reason. It was obvious that Palin/McCain were more interested in ridiculing science than advancing it. RFK has been a champion of the environmental cause but not a champion of science. He's taken the bullshit from the anti-vaccine crowd and spread it around using his fame instead of using sound science. See below the fold or the link above for an example of his idiocy. If you're going to make him head of the EPA, why not put Jenny McCarthy in charge of the CDC? I'm concerned, so I sent a message to the Obama transition team. It's a safe bet that Jenny and Rob's minions will too. So, if you are at all concerned about the state of science in this country it wouldn't hurt to add your voice to the fray.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wassup?

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Nope, no more.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Jane, You Ignorant Slut.


Sarah actually. Look, even Jesus thinks your an idiot, and science has done him very few favors. I hate just stealing juicy material from PZ but he has like 10,000 loyal atheist servants searching the intertubez day and night to dig this shit up and I have only me. Palin has made some comments that are driving me crazy. It's really nothing new, but watching the video and seeing her facial expressions somehow makes me hate her more.

I had a recent discussion with a coworker and came to the conclusion that almost the entire reason that I've become associated with the left is that the fuckwits on the right have made it their business to misinterpret, misunderstand, misuse, and misrepresent science. Palin and McCain ridicule fruitfly research, population genetics, and the infamous "overhead projector" at every opportunity. I'm starting to believe that they really are this stupid. Many if not most genetic discoveries are made because we fund studies on fruit flies. Grizzly bear population studies are directly related to other mammal populations (like umm, humans), and I've already responded to the idiotic remarks about the projector. See the video below the fold or go check it out at Pharyngula. Oh, and unless you're Mitch, sorry about the last post.

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Suckers.


Especially you Mitch. I know, this is horribly immature but I take stupid office games very seriously. If you'd like to get me back for wasting your time, please go here.

If you have no idea what's going on please see the Wikipedia entry for Rickrolling.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

10 Myths About Autism.

ABC might be my new favorite network. Hmm, I don't think I had an old favorite network. Either way, ABC wins today. It was kind of them to hold off their airing of the "On Call Autism" series until after I finished reading Dr. Offit's book but really guys, you didn't have to. I'm sure it will be a bit over dramatized but the "10 Myths About Autism" article seems to be right on track. They dive right into the issues surrounding causes, such as vaccinations and "refrigerator mothers." They also point out that autism can not be cured. More below the fold.

It's very refreshing to see a network tackling this issue instead of publicizing the controversy. A five minute debate between a CDC scientist and Dr. Jay Gordon or Jenny McCarthy is really not fair to the viewer. It gives the unfair impression that the two are equally qualified to answer questions about the subject. Dr. Gordon a fringe antivaccination doctor and Jenny is, well, Jenny. My hopes are that this series will talk to real researchers that have actually conducted the epidemiological studies necessary to determine the role of vaccines and some folks that can debunk the useless and dangerous medical practices that have been forced on undeserving children.

The five part series starts November 3rd and continues through the 7th. I'll be watching as much of it as I can. Hopefully some of the parents out there with questions about autism and doubts about Jenny McCarthy will be paying attention too. If you have no doubts about Jenny, you'll just be screaming "Conspiracy!" anyway, so don't bother. It should be good stuff.

OK, lunch is over. Gotta go.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Introducing: Pandora

If you haven't heard of Pandora Radio, you've got to check it out. It's supersweet. It's also very simple. Just go to the website, set up an account, enter the name of a band you like, listen to what comes up and rate it. Eventually you'll have your very own perfect radio stations catered to your own likes/dislikes. I've discovered all kinds of music that I hadn't heard of. If you want to see what I've been listening to, scroll to the bottom of this page to "Pandora's box" and click on Bobo's Tunes.

Pandora rules.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

You Don't Have to Buy it for Me Now.


I read Paul Offit's, "Autism's False Prophets" over the weekend. Reading is something that's very manageable while at the in-laws house. Which is great, because I've really been wanting to read this book. Here's my review:

I knew that the so-called "vaccine debate" was very heated and very polarizing. I didn't realize quite how bad the situation was until lately. Just check out the Amazon reviews if you need proof. So far, everyone rated it either a 5 or a 1. I've been reading the Science-Based Medicine Blog lately and noticed that some of the anti vaccination comments were really off the wall. I also stumbled upon this book there. I've taken an interest in this particular subject, not because of any connection with autistic children (the closest association I can claim is that a student of my school was autistic and I can remember his name) but because it seems to be just one more example of science not getting to the public. I'm finding myself more and more interested in this subject and how exactly we can approach a fix. So, I read the book.

It's a great book. Dr. Offit is articulate, well mannered, and a wonderful voice of reason in a very dangerous debate that shouldn't even be taking place. The book explores the background of the vaccine debate from the first questions about MMR, to Thimerosal, to quack therapies and why we should all pay attention. Because of my interest in communicating science to the general public, I found his discussions of the inability of scientists and their data to trump parents and their emotionally charged accusations the most interesting, if a bit disheartening. This is the real problem in this battle. The science is very clear. The science says, "Autism is NOT caused by vaccination!" The problem, is that only scientists care about the science. How can you compete with Jenny McCarthy going on Oprah and discussing her very personal situation with her own child by pulling out a statistical analysis? It doesn't matter that we're right. It's very much like the (non-existent) evolution debate or climate change denialism. We don't win those arguments with science. Science is only one part of changing the minds of the populace. The real question is, "How do we get the public on our side?" It took Al Gore to get people to accept climate change. Al gore. What the fuck does Al Gore have to do with climatology? Nothing. Anyway, that's where the book falls short. It doesn't address the real problem. Not that it could. I don't know how we convince people to go to the proper authority (CDC) for information instead of the popular authority (Jenny McCarthy).

I don't think the book will change the minds of any parents that are already anti-vaccine. If someone is in that boat, they're very likely beyond the point of reason. I do hope it will help wake up the people that have been sitting on the sidelines, watching this debacle unfold. The world needs to stand up to people like Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, and John Kerry. The world needs to say, "Hey dipshit! YOU ARE NOT A SCIENTIST! YOU CAN'T EVEN SPELL EPIDEMIOLOGY! STOP PRETENDING TO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT!" I'm a biologist and I don't pretend to know the answers about autism and vaccines. I just know who to listen to. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh about climate change. Or to Jerry Falwell about the science behind evolution. I do know that I WILL listen to the very under-funded, under-paid, under-appreciated, epidemiologists at the CDC as far as the autism-vaccine controversy is concerned.

In closing, if you're interested in further (and much better) reviews of this book, go here. If you're interested in the autism-vaccine debate and it's history, read the book. It's well worth your time. The Family Guy will wait (besides, you can watch it online with no commercials later).


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Used To Like John McCain.

This election has really changed that. Last night's debate didn't help either. I'm upset at the level of dishonesty in his campaign and his apparent lack of interest in science. Americans are fast falling behind in math and science and John McCain has yet again chosen to ridicule Barack Obama for supporting science education with earmarks. Come on, if you want to pick on earmarks, find a better target. Hopefully this will result in some press for the Adler Planetarium and they'll get some much needed donations to help pay for the projector that was NEVER FUNDED. Hmm, forgot to mention that didn't you John? The claims about ACORN and voter fraud are equally disgusting. This is not voter fraud. This is a case of fraud against ACORN. If you want details go here.

Look up all the juicy details on the debate at fact check, the only source I trust.

Sorry John. We can't be friends anymore.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Fall of McCarthyism!


No, not that McCarthyism, this McCarthyism. That picture is scary. I think she wants to eat my liver with some Vicia faba and a nice homeopathic wine (Klarbrunn perhaps?). I'm not sure if that's funny but will let it ride. The Scienceblogs Book Club is discussing a new book: Autisms False Prophets, by Paul Offit. There's also a great review here. I haven't read it but it's on my list. Unfortunately, it's a long list and I have precious little time to read. However, if you have questions regarding autism and would like to know what the medical community really thinks about the claims being made by Jenny McCarthy and the like, it may be worth your time.

More reading about the vaccine controversy is available here. As always, consider your source.

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The Right to Die.


Lately PZ has been pissing me off with his uncritical acceptance of any anti-McCain/Palin propaganda (see here and here) so I haven't been reading Pharyngula as regularly. Today he seems a little more back on track with this post linking to excellent article by Dan Savage. He just lost his mother. Because of the christian dogma tied into our current legal system, she was forced to choose between three painful deaths. She had no other options.

I'm often asked why I have a problem with religion. This is a prime example. I won't leave religion alone because it won't leave me alone. If the catholic church is so against physician assisted suicide then DON'T DO IT! Leave the rest of us alone and allow us to die in the way that we choose. Initiative 1000 would give Washington State residents a choice. It doesn't require anyone to take part. It doesn't have any loop holes that would allow someone else to choose for you. It is simply allowing the freedom to choose, in what is supposed to be a free country.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Let's Keep Pork on the Table...for now.


I watched the presidential debate the other night. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't very impressed by either side. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm generally biased toward the democrats. I support those that are most aligned with reason and seem to use facts to back up their decisions the most. This by no stretch of the imagination means that I think the democrats always use reason as a basis for decisions, just more often than republicans. More below the fold.

As I said, I really wasn't that impressed by either side. However, I was especially unimpressed with one key point made by John McCain. This involved his favorite soapbox item, pork. Now, I can only assume that numerous campaign strategists looked through the never ending list of pork supported by Barack Obama and narrowed it down to the most ridiculous, unreasonable, bullshit, left-wing, communist, pile of wasted tax payer's money they could find so that John would really knock him out with a zinger. That amazing waste of tax dollars was said to be a 3 million dollar overhead projector. This is not your 3rd grade teacher's overhead projector. No one will write all over this thing with dry erase markers. It's a state of the art Zeiss planetarium projector for the Adler Planetarium. They host over 400,000 students and guests every year. They educate young children about science in America! What a complete waste of money. Check it out here.

Whoa, did you really think you could hide that one Obama? No, no he did not. In fact, it's listed on his website among all of the other budget requests he's made for FY08 here.

After looking at that list, I'm really not sure how opposed to pork I am. I see a lot of very worthwhile projects on that list. Many of them are projects that I'd support in a stand alone bill or on a referendum. If we get rid of pork, how will these projects get funding? Will they be stand alone bills? I don't really see how that's possible. Will the money go to states and then be divied up? I don't have an answer to the "earmark problem" but for now, I'm willing to leave pork on the table.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

OMG UR Fat!

That's right, YOU! You are fat. Not that I really needed to say it. If you're an american and you're reading this, there is at least a 64% chance that I'm right. The other 36% of you probably think you are so I'm just supporting your negative self image. I think I'm allowed to say it too. I think that I, as a fat guy, can call you fat and get away with it. Either way, I just did. So get over it.

Now the question is, What are we going to do about it? There is a plethora of diet advice available from your doctor, in magazines, on the web, in your office, probably even in your own head. My advice is to try the latest, 3 minutes a day, high carb, low fat, high protein, Snickers and Pepsi, lot's of grapefruit juice, bowel cleansing, buy my product bullshit that's in the back of your current issue of the Enquirer. Or, just eat healthier and exercise. I can't help you figure out how to get yourself to actually exercise, but I did find some very simple, easy to follow advice for healthy eating. Are your ready for this?

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That's it? That's it. Dr. Harriet Hall, the skepdoc writes a review of "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" by Michael Pollan. Check out the review here. Then, go buy the book. Read the book. Wrap the used book in newspaper. Send me the book so I can read it too. It's a win-win for everyone.

There is more great eating advice in the review and I'm sure in the book as well. Check out one or both. And as soon as I figure out the trick to exercising regularly, I'll let you know. Until then, we're still fat, and we're still sitting here looking at a computer screen getting even fatter. Go do some push-ups! Now!


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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Abort Palin

This was going to be a post about the shift left. Specifically, abortion. But I just can't help myself. With the debate coming up, I just have to rant a bit about Palin. I felt a small morsel of sympathy at first when I saw the Saturday Night Live skits (here and here). To do my best to maintain my "fair and balanced" outlook on life, I took a gander over at the CBS website. You know, just to see what Katie Couric's interview really looked like. I'm used to SNL blowing these sorts of things out of proportion. And what did I find?

OMG me think me Hed Asplode!!!!! (Sorry, ERV has me using LOL Speak when I get excited while typing. I'm not sure if there's a name for the disorder or not.) Anyway, if you haven't watched or at least read the interview, please take the time. After watching this interview, I am truly embarrassed for John McCain. I felt like the dad of the kid winning the talent show sitting next to the dad who's kid had no business being there. I have serious disagreements with the guy but I can respect his opinions and I think he really has worked hard to be some sort of independent republican. I don't think he's an idiot. I don't think he's Bush's lapdog. I do, however, think that he has made the greatest mistake of his career in choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate. I won't even go into the religious aspect of this. Too many blogs have already hit that nail on the head.

But holy shit people! I have lots of friends and relatives with more foreign policy experience than her. Hell, I have more! I've at least been stationed overseas. She honestly feels that being the gov in Alaska has given her some sort of foreign relations experience. This is not just another SNL joke. Watch the real interview. A lot of people have been critical of Katie for "attacking" her with extremely difficult questions. I don't really think that "What news pubs do you read?" and "Do you support a mortgage freeze?" are difficult questions. In fact, I would bet that anyone reading this can come up with some sort of general answers to those questions. She didn't answer much of anything. I know that politicians never like to give black or white answers (largely because there are very few black or white issues) but her answers were downright ridiculous. She's obviously been cramming very hard for the big day, but I think she's destined to fail. Not because I believe in destiny. Just because I think that no amount of cramming is going to get her up to speed.

Remember, we may not just be talking about the little helper for the prez that dick cheney has been. John McCain could very possibly die in office and this lost little school girl could be in charge. Do you want her to be the voice of the United States? I'll watch on Thursday but if Palin's performance is anything like the Couric interview I'll simply be waiting for the end of the talent show so I can get up without making eye contact with this guy next to me and go congratulate my son. Not that I consider Obama my son. This analogy may be totally worthless. I'm on my fifth beer. I'm going to stop now.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sam Harris on Palin.

Sam Harris has an excellent opinion piece in Newsweek. The more I learn about this woman, the more afraid I become. Why is it so great that Sarah Palin is an "ordinary person" or as you may have heard, a "hockey mom"? How does this in some way qualify her for what is arguably the second most important job in the world?

The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.
You go Sam! Check out the link for more.

P.S. Sarah is even more lame than the Swiss.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tragic Elk Death by Barbaric Northern Tradition.

That's right bitches. I'm a hunter. I hunt with bows, rifles, shotguns, and sometimes (not very successfully) sling shots. My most recent hunting adventure is taking place right now. Last night I shot my first Elk. It was a 30 yard uphill walking shot. Not bad if I may say so myself. So, what kind of ethical discussion should we have regarding hunting? None. I don't try to defend the ethics of hunting. I kill things because I like to kill things. I do so using fair chase hunting techniques and I use as much of the animal as I can but I don't really call it ethical. Neither is stealing toilet paper from the college when I'm too cheap to buy it but guess what? Yeah, shit happens. Now, for your enjoyment, below the fold are a few hunting trip photos from the first few days of our trip.

Photos!






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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The End is Near!


It's official, the world is ending today. And, as predicted, the Swiss are to blame. Those sneaky devils. They flipped the switch today at the LHC. So far they're just zipping one beam through the system to make sure it all works. It appears that it does with some minor problems. The next step is to is to turn on two beams going in opposite directions. This will result in collisions with enough force to do things physicists could only dream about until now (and the beginning of the end;)). Actually, I really hope that their dreams are a little more interesting than high energy collisions. I'll be keeping an eye on the progress. PZ is keeping track and has a few more links for more in depth coverage if you're interested. If you're not, you should be. This is, afterall, the stuff that stuff is made of.

CNN link

There is nothing more.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Science Will Kill Us All...in 2012.

How do I know? Because, I read it on the intertoobz here. Even worse, the Swiss, those deceitful bastards are the most likely ones to initiate the demise of all existence. Neutral my ass. If the Swiss were a neutral country they would sit out of the olympics. Judging by their medal count, maybe they should have. Man I hate the Swiss.*
*See footnote below the fold.

*If you are Swiss and are offended by this post, I apologize. Unless your name is Matt. I take that back, I don't apologize. After all, you're Swiss. You're not going to do anything about it.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama: Science Debate 2008

Some of you may remember me sending out an e-mail asking you to sign a petition for Science Debate 2008. Although neither candidate agreed to an actual science debate, Obama has at least answered the top 14 science questions that were submitted. So far he seems very supportive. He's also provided more detail than I'm used to from him. He approves of stem cell research and has promised to remove the idiotic bush bans on embryo use. He seems supportive of basic research funding but I'm not sure where said funding is going to come from. I'm a bit skeptical but there is no doubt that he'll be more supportive of scientific endeavors in general than pretty much any republican candidate. John McCain has promised to answer the questions but hasn't gotten around to it yet. We're waiting John...

more?

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Slow Steady Shift...Left. (part one)

This is going to be a multiple part post. I'll try to remember to link back to the others in each one. I'll also label each one as "shifting left" so you should be able to search for them. K, here goes.

I think I've been on a steady political shift from right to left on most fronts for an awfully long time. I remember quite clearly that in high school I considered myself a very devout christian. As expected, I supported most right-winged views. I was a death penalty supporter. I looked down on people that lived on welfare. I would very likely have physically assaulted someone that burned a flag in front of me. I felt no pity for criminals. I didn't feel like a moron when I made comments about "bleeding heart liberals." I actually believed, because of what I had been taught by my elders, that teachers, professors, and intellectuals in general happened to be mostly liberal simply because they were somehow brainwashed into believing those things. I'm going to make this a multi-part post. I think I'll separate it into beliefs that have changed from then to now but that's not really what's happened. What's happened would be more accurately described as a change in my thinking process. More below the fold.

So, for part one, I guess I'll write about the change in my thinking process. Let me try to explain the way in which I viewed the world before science became such a big part of my life and why. I, like everyone else, was raised with a number of beliefs that weren't really verified in any way. You just believed things because that's how you were taught things were. Let me start with a childhood example. The Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take your tooth out from under your pillow in exchange for money. As you will agree, there is no reasonable explanation for the Tooth Fairy. Well, money does appear under your pillow if you leave a tooth there. That is evidence at some level. OK, now a little more grown up example. I could throw out examples like jesus being the son of god, or prayer being an effective medicine but I'm going to start with something a bit more basic, a wives' tale.

Here's a common wive's tale that we've all heard and many of you likely believe. If you go outside in the cold, especially with a wet head, you'll get pneumonia. I've chosen this example because I heard it as a child and I still hear it now. Educated adults, people that have graduated high school, some that have graduated college, still believe that being outside in the cold somehow increases our chances of contracting pneumonia (or influenza, or strep-throat, or the common cold). Why?

Here's where the thought process comes in. Many people, myself included until I discovered the tools of science, believe things without skepticism until something smacks them in the face and says, "Hey! Asshole! This is not true! Now wake the fuck up and look around a bit alright mate!? (Yes, sometimes that something is a foul-mouthed Aussie). But seriously, lots of folks (they tend to call themselves conservatives) just hold on to a belief until something proves it wrong. Often this is a fine way to think. You can't question everything in life. You just have to trust the people around you. Parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and leaders are usually people that have shown themselves to be trustworthy. Therefore, we trust the beliefs that they pass on to us. Like I said, often this is just fine. If your mother says, "Don't eat this, it's poison," it's not a bad idea to listen. If she's right, you'll live. If she's wrong, you'll still live. Super. Right?

What about when your mom says the stars all revolve around the earth? It's not physically harmful. But it is damaging. Don't believe me? Try adding to that a belief that humans are 6,000 years old, Noah's flood made the Grand Canyon, and dinosaurs never existed. Now, take that bag full of bullshit and pass a science test with it. Maybe you think that's not all that damaging either. How about a belief that women are not as intelligent as men? It's still around and it's bullshit, just like it always was. That belief persisted because people just believed what their elders taught them even when evidence to the contrary was thrown in their faces.

So here's the real problem with this type of conservative thought process. We lie to ourselves. Instead of confronting a belief when the tools are available to test it, people tend to just stick with it because it's comfortable. If you are too comfortable with your ideas, you're not going to be willing to change them. This seems to result in a dishonest form of intellectual inquiry. Instead of asking honest questions about the world and then looking for evidence, we start with an idea and look for confirmation. This is what fuels the imaginary evolution vs. creation debate. There is no debate, not among scientists. The people that don't understand evolution aren't even trying. All they look for is some little hole in the theory that will allow them to confirm their pre-existing belief in creation.

Now, how has my thought process changed? Since that is supposed to be the point of this rambling, incoherent, pile of a post. Here's where science really comes in. The scientific process requires that to the extent possible one should approach every single problem without bias. Obviously, this is not possible in an absolute sense. However, simply being aware of your bias can really change how you are able to think about a problem. Try it some time. It becomes more and more difficult the more things are ingrained into your life. Ask yourself this question: How does phosphorus affect the trophic state of a lake? If you have no idea what that means, you probably start with very little bias when you begin looking for an answer. I try to approach every question that's important to me in this way. Now, the scientific process comes in again. This is where it gets a little more difficult. The only evidence you're allowed to use is statistically significant evidence. This includes established facts and known processes. What it doesn't include is hunches, feelings, anecdotal evidence, and "faith." Sorry, that's just the way it works. Faith is the belief in something in spite of the evidence, and that's just not allowed in science.

Here is a question that's a little more difficult to approach without bias. Is abortion always immoral? My next post in this series is going to explore this question a little more deeply. I'd love to have some comments. So, if you're reading this, try to approach this question anew. Try to answer it openly and honestly and base your decision on something a little more thoughtful than "the bible says so."

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's The Rumpus Laura Ingalls?

After two days in the Twin Cities I've had more than my share of traffic, Greek food, and culture. Last night, Gaelic Storm. Tonight, Little House on the Prairie.

Anyone who hasn't seen Gaelic Storm is really missing out. Their music is a really impressive blend of Irish folk, pop, and various instruments from around the world (can you say didgeridoo?). We attended "Music at the Zoo" last night at the Minnesota Zoo and it was amazing. I saw these guys a few years ago in Grand Forks and really liked their music. My wife has been wanting to go ever since she first heard them and last night was our chance. They have improved their show, which was already great, by leaps and bounds. These guys really engage the audience.

Little House on the Prairie was good, maybe even very good. But it was not great. It could definitely have been better than it was. The show was too short. Too many details were glossed over. And everyone was just too damned chipper to be struggling homesteaders in the prairie. I was also annoyed by the meaningless customary standing ovation at the end. I'm probably beating up on the show too much. It really was enjoyable. I just expected more from a show that sold out in the first couple of days received such great reviews. A Midsummer Night's Dream blew it away. Overall, out of 10, I give it a 7. My wife, who's obsession with Little House was the driving force that resulted in our attendance, gives it an 8.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Water on Mars! And in the Zah Gheeng Marsh.




Sorry I've been away for so long. I've been trudging through the Zah Gheeng Marsh sampling some shallow lakes for fish, plants, water chemistry, and other biologyish things. We had some grueling days and a few hang-ups (like a lost GPS ten miles from nowhere) but overall it was a very productive week. It's a different world out there. Here are a few pics but for the most part we were far too busy to take many photos.

With some luck I'll get a grant to continue this research for a few years. I intend to document the progress here. Oh, and Phoenix found water on Mars. I'm a little late in writing about it but it's a pretty important discovery. Life as we understand it isn't possible without water. If we are to find life on Mars, our chances are that much better with water.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Latest KBSU Letter.

John wrote a response to the letter from Steve Solien and it was finally published in the Pioneer. Unfortunately, we both sent letters at around the same time and didn't really discuss them beforehand. They are nearly identical in some respects. He chose to finish his letter with the Einstein quote I wanted to use but chose not to:

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.” — Einstein

I'm still waiting for more of a reaction from KBSU than "We don't have to listen to you." Come on folks. Where is the intellectual honesty? How about representing your school a little more respectably?

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Friday, June 27, 2008

KBSU. The Saga Continues.

After the not-so-dramatic conclusion of the on air discussion about "Does God Exist?" with the not-so-informed crazy old man, Adam Steele, a letter to the editor was published in the Bemidji Pioneer by Steve Solien attacking John Kamman's original letter. Mr. Solien's letter is no longer available for free on the Pioneer website, but in short it accused John of blasphemy (a truly victimless crime), claimed that he reacted with condescending and demeaning conduct, and rambled on incoherently for a bit finishing with an Einstein quote. Read the whole letter below the fold if you like. I had to go back and read John's original letter myself because I didn't remember it being quite so "demeaning and condescending." It wasn't. I felt it necessary to respond, so I sent in my own letter. After a few short weeks it was finally published. Check it out here. I had a really tough time deciding which Einstein quote was most appropriate to respond with. I also had a tough time remaining civil, but I'm getting better I think :).

After reading John Kamman’s letter questioning if God exists and if it’s appropriate for public funding, I felt the need to respond. I first was angry to hear another attempt to blaspheme my God. I was also struck at how a non-believer’s conduct is so different from a believer! A believer does not react with condescending, demeaning conduct toward a non-believer. It has something to do with treating others as we like to be treated! It has something to do with love, grace, compassion, of which believers attempt to portray in their life’s decisions and example.Americans’ right to believe in what he does did not come cheap, neither did mine. However, why must he challenge and dismiss my right because I do not agree with him?
I am pleased to see that KBSU is offering this varied program on their media station. In addition, as a taxpayer who helps support higher education and all the beliefs taught by the institution (whether I agree or not), I applaud BSU for their diversity. Furthermore, with some science background myself, I would like to appeal to him that science and religion can reinforce each other, not contradict. Even though Mr. Kamman comes off as a highly intelligent individual, science and faith don’t have to be antagonists. From a scientific perspective, to look at the universe with such a narrow mind, he has to agree that we are not alone. There are things larger and more different than we are, just look around.
Even if there was a bang, there was a beginning, an unexplainable energy or power. Secondly, even though evolution may suggest a relationship with apes, DNA evidence shows a closer relationship with other mammals as well, not just one evolving primate.
In any event, I applaud BSU for allowing John Clayton and “Does God Exist” programming and certainly have reservations about Mr. Kammans’ point of view, but remember, God gave us all a choice, to believe or not. In your case, Mr. Kamman, leave the TV on or turn it off. If you leave it on, I hope the scientist in you will try to open your mind to another point of view. One of the greatest minds ever made the statement that “Science without religion is absurd” — Albert Einstein.
Steve J. Solien.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sh*t, P*ss, F*ck, C*nt, C*cksucker, M*therfucker, and T*ts

George Carlin died on Sunday. As an outspoken opponent of organized religion and one hell of a comedian, he will be missed. I really didn't want to edit the "Seven Dirty Words" in the title of this post but search engines are a bitch. In memory of George here are his thoughts on religion:

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Awesome New Evolutionary Research.

Biologist Richard Lenski has something brewing. Actually, trillions of somethings. Since 1989 he has been keeping 12 lines of bacteria reproducing in isolation. That's 40,000 plus generations. What can happen in 40,000 generations? Why, evolution of course. So, has it worked?

Absolutely. The cultures have increased in size, managed to improve their reproductive rates by 75%, and most intriguing, developed the ability to consume citrate. Since e. coli can't eat citrate this is, by some interpretations, a new species. Check out the whole story at The Loom, then add it to your favorites. ;)

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

OK, OK, I'll vote republican.

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Mooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.

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Compilation from Fail Blog below the fold.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Did the Templeton Foundation Do Something Right?

Well, I'm not so sure I'm buying it, but I'm willing to window shop for a while. Apparently the Templeton Foundation, normally associated with the religious right, has decided to reach out to Scientists and Skeptics. They are asking a big question: Does science make belief in god obsolete? If you'd like to read the eSkeptic article, it's here. The essays are available here. I'll warn you though, they are full of fluff.

Christopher Hitchens is predictable but also wrote, predictably, my favorite essay.

Religion, remember, is theism not deism. Faith
cannot rest itself on the argument that there
might or might not be a prime mover. Faith must
believe in answered prayers, divinely ordained
morality, heavenly warrant for circumcision, the
occurrence of miracles or what you will.

He does use the obvious tactic of attacking religion, rather than the concept of god which was the original question. However, every single one of the theses that answered, "No," defended a god that is completely undescribed by any existing religion while many still associated themselves with some particular sect of christianity. Ken Miller, that slippery little devil, describes himself as a christian, yet accepts all that science has to offer. That certainly doesn't fit my definition of christian, Deist maybe. A professor of medicine thinks god is a dandy idea. Medicine, although related to science, is not scientific in many forms. Just like mechanics that use physics everyday are not physicists. Remember, I have a great doctor that doesn't even accept evolution.

Basically there is some sort of implied consensus that science doesn't make a belief in god obsolete as long as we're very careful to define that god as something that is: outside of nature or follows the laws of nature, is unable to intervene, is more of an idea that makes us feel good, and requires no evidence. So, basically as harmless and useless as the Easter Bunny. OK, I can live with that.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Watch Your Cornholes!

Naturopaths are now being allowed to call themselves doctors in Minnesota. Now you can get your chi balanced, flush your colon, and even have worthless needles stuck into you while sipping green tea in the office of a real official doctor. Medical school? Who the hell needs medical school when they have legislation on their side. You may want to check the qualifications of your next "doctor" before you let them shove anything up there. They just may have absolutely no clue about how science, and therefore medicine, works. Minnesota, you used to be so smart. You had so much going for you. Now you have really embarrassed me. I think you should apologize. Links below the fold.

Here is the Star Trib article.

Check here for some info from PalMD at the denialism blog.

ERV and Pharyngula also have related posts.

There is no such thing as alternative medicine. If it works, it's medicine. If it doesn't it's not.

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More Religious Reasoning from Obama

This is a little old (2006) but if he sticks with this line of thought he's got my vote. Video below the fold.

There is some discussion over at Pharyngula but I'm happy to discuss it here too.


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Monday, June 9, 2008

The Boundary Waters.

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Short version: awesome trip, coffee is a diuretic and makes you poop, giardia needs 10 minutes of boiling to die (oops), John brang some stuff, Rabi didn't taught us nothing, Matt ties knots, Josh SMASH, Kayla got hungry, Shane cooked, Odin is not really a swimmer. More complete version below the fold.


This post will likely be updated as people send me or remind me of things that are missing so check back later for updates.

As stated earlier the trip was awesome. I forgot how much I loved the BWCA until I spent a few days there. Seven alcohol free days in the wilderness with the same group of 6 people could get on one's nerves but I think overall we all had a great time and would certainly repeat the trip.

Before the actual boundary waters trip we started with a lovely Friday night/Saturday morning of merry making. Not the best idea I've ever had. I'm not sure if we had any Yuri Gagarins (two shots of Vodka, two shots of citrus Rip it) but I know the Tequila came out. We also managed to install an eight-track player in John's Jeep. He was as giddy as a school girl. After that, we had a lovely day of shopping and packing with hangovers. After a few hours of planning seven days worth of lactose free meals while standing in a Walmart aisle Rabi, John, Odin, Kayla, and I went up to Red Lake to get a head start on the body odor accumulation. Fun dogs, a quick paddling test with Odin, and a good night's sleep in a thunderstorm and we were off for the Boundary waters. Oh, not quite. John and Kayla had some half finished paddles to work on. Four hours of sanding later, we were off.

In an effort to be less wasteful, we crammed into one vehicle. This left Kayla, Odin, and myself in the back of Matt's truck from Kelliher to Ely. I could have managed without that one. We camped at a Superior National Forest campground at Fall Lake. It's the first time I've seen a toilet requiring a pin number.

Dinner: Vegan Spaghetti Ingredients: one package wheat spaghetti sun-dried tomatoes and peppers, lots of garlic, oregano, and basil, seasoning salt, 1/2 cup of olive oil. Try using just enough water to cover the pasta, then add the tomatoes and peppers to boil for the last few minutes. Don't drain it. Add a little Parmesan and carb up.

Day one: The trip began at entry point 30 and was miserably cold and rainy. We even went back to Ely to buy some neoprene gloves. It was a good thing too because even with the gloves I lost the feeling in my hands. The wind was terrible but we found a decent camp site and the weather brightened a bit by evening. We even pulled out some instruments and Kayla and I played both of the songs that we know. Luckily John and Rabi were with to fill in. We hauled a backpacking guitar, a mandolin, and John's now infamous "Tornado"(a little blow piano).

Dinner: Carne Asada Burritos Ingredients: 2 lbs Thinly sliced sirloin tip, one onion, 1/2 cup lime juice, one cup water (or beer), 1 packet fajita seasoning (or 1 TBSP Tony Chachere's, 2 cloves garlic, 1 TSP Black pepper, 2 Jalapenos finely chopped)

Marinate ingredients together for a day or more, grill meat, saute onions separately, serve on tortillas with guacamole, salsa, cheese, etc.

Day two: We started with a couple people going back to get Josh. We initially forgot him in the car. Joking. He had to come a day later. We then moved on through lakes 2, 3, and into 4 before we were able to find a site. The site we found was nice. In fact, we didn't have a bad site the entire trip. After some fruitless fishing (Josh did catch a tree on an island and snap his rod in two) we (verb) some (noun) for dinner.

Dinner: Was this cous cous night? Ingredients: couscous cooked in chicken broth instead of water, cashews, craisins, saute'd onions, canned chicken (southwest flavor I think).

Day three: Sticking around in the same camp site for two days was sounding like a good idea, so we spent a day trying to fish for a little dinner. We managed to get a couple hammer handles and held on to them until day four. It was a beautiful day. We even jumped in the water a couple times. John decided that everyone should try to stay in for five minutes but changed his mind after one. Odin went in too, not quite so willingly as I would have preferred though. The poor dog is just not a swimmer.

Dinner: Bear Creek Chili Ingredients: Bear Creek Chili

Day four: After a delicious breakfast of Krusteaz blueberry (lactose free) pancakes, a short paddle followed by a short portage landed us in Bridge Lake. This campsite was probably the worst one that we stayed at and it was great except for the half a dozen trees that had blown down. We were expecting thunderstorms at this point, so we were a little nervous. John slept under the half fallen tree with our bear bag hanging from it with no worries though. It started out as a nice hot day but was raining by mid afternoon and kept on until day five. At some point Josh and I decided to fish a little but fishing turned into exploration of the river heading north. We made it almost to the portage into Delta Lake but the rain started coming down so we headed back to camp, fishless and cold.

Dinner: Fish, finally. Ingredients: Poorly cleaned Northern Pike, crackers, oil, spices

Day five: We spent the beginning of the day just sort of soaking up the rain while we cooked pancakes for about 4 hours over the fire but it cleared up early and we were able to take a little trip with the whole crew to Delta Lake. It's a long paddle through hobbit (or some other mythical creature) country and through a short but rather dicey portage into a very secluded lake. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that we were the first and last visitors this spring. It was well worth the trip. I caught our first Smallmouth Bass, we had a nice hot lunch in the rain and then we made the trek back to camp. My favorite moment of the trip was on that secluded lake with a sort of surreal misty drizzle coming down on us as we paddled back to the portage. It was absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't recommend it during the buggy time of year though.

Dinner: Rice, bean, and chicken quesadillas. Ingredients: generic red beans and rice, canned chicken, onions, veggie cheese, and some flower tortillas. Use a little less water than called for in the beans and rice, slap it on a tortilla with chicken, onions and cheese. Toast it over the fire and enjoy.

Day 6: Early morning with a breakfast of 10 grain cereal and no brown sugar (oops) was followed with a quick paddle to a pretty challenging 170 rod (.53 miles) portage landed us on Rifle Lake for our final campsite. This place is great. The other direction has a 65 rod portage so there is very little traffic. We saw one other group. The fishing was the best of all the lakes. I caught about 50 Bluegills. It was a gorgeous day. We did some swimming, set up a slackline, and tried to eat the remainder of the food. Kayla did her part but some of us were slacking, so we didn't quite polish it off. I gave a little lesson in fish cleaning. Note the photo of the two fish fillets. Guess which one is John's. Patience grasshopper.

Dinner: Fish, lots and lots of fish.

Day 7: Being our last day in the wilderness, I just had to have some me time. I woke up at about 5:30 and went out to enjoy the sunrise. It was behind me, so I didn't actually see the sun except for momentary glimpses through the trees as day came. The colors in spring are altogether as amazing as fall if you really look. I don't think I've ever noticed that until Rabi mentioned it. Thanks Rabi. The bright greens of the fresh tamaracks and cedars against a dark spruce/balsam background was simply breathtaking. It was a glorious and sorrowful morning. I would never have left given the choice.

After sunrise I did a little solo fishing. This is quite manageable in a canoe as long as the wind isn't blowing...at all. It's really quite an enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it. I caught a couple very nice Smallmouth Bass and sent them back home immediately. It was probably the best fishing of the trip.

Breakfast was followed with a group photo and a rapid retreat. For some reason, the Boundary Waters is best left in a hurry. Maybe it helps you forget what you're leaving behind. Kayla carried the canoe through a portage for the first time. 30 rods and no rests. Not bad chica. We stopped for burgers, beer, coffee, and even ice cream. These little comforts helped us remember that we don't hate everything about civilization after all.

Thanks Rabi, Josh, John, Matt, Kayla, and Odin for one of my favorite trips ever. I sincerely hope that we can do it again. Cheers!

Shane



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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Church is in Session.

If you're not at church this morning and instead are at home thinking for yourself, take a little time to think about these two videos. Thank you McCain for making my decision so easy. Oh, and you may want to actually try READING the constitution before you make idiotic comments about it's christian content. Way to alienate anyone that's not a christian! Obama sounds more sensible about the separation of church and state than any presidential candidate that I remember. Of course, I'm a young pup that didn't always care.

I guess so far I'm a democrat this year.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wisdom at "The Office."

Courtesy of Matt. Video below the fold. It's really only the last 10 seconds or so that's of interest. What a great show.

Michael and Secular Humanism. Sorry, embed won't seem to work.

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Violent Acres

This is a great blog that I've only recently started reading. She doesn't allow comments, so I'd be breaking my own rules if I put her on the blog roll but she is very entertaining. And I absolutely love what she has to say about gift giving. She doesn't exactly pull any punches. Here you go: Violent Acres

Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooore.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oh, Look. They Get It.

Except, they don't.

The “We Get It!” Campaign is a national effort to gather one million signatures on a simple statement by which Christians can show that they are united behind Biblical perspectives on the environment and the poor.

What in the hell are "biblical perspectives on the environment?" I think I hear my old friend Ben chiming in here. "I think the man upstairs has a lot more control over these things than you think." Really? Where the f&#k was the man upstairs during the tsunami of 2004? How much control does he have? Are you actually willing to place the future of the planet in the hands of an invisible man in the sky, specifically the one described in the bible? I'm not.

But maybe they have some really good evidence that 99% of the scientific community knows less about science than a bunch of religious kooks. Let's have a look-see.

A recent Barna study of evangelicals found that only 33% consider global warming to be a major challenge.

OK, sure. Yeah. As long as the folks that practice glossolalia, brainwash their children, don't believe in dinosaurs, and commonly claim that the Earth is only 6,000 years old don't think it's a problem, I'm not gonna worry. Right, but I'm sure they have a large group of scientists in their corner too. Yep, 400 or so. WOW. 400 real life scientists? Wherever did you find so many?

But wait Shane, you're missing the most important part. These people are climate change deniers because they care about the poor. Oh, so if I don't buy their load of BS, I must hate poor people. Just so we're clear. This is a large group of folks from the religious right that would willingly force poor unwed mothers to carry an unwanted pregnancy, then refuse to help her pay for it, then blame her when the child grows up to be a criminal and they throw him/her in jail for life or just throw them in the old e-chair (remember, the doobles that voted in our current president) and they are suddenly concerned about the poor? Give me a break. They care about the poor about as much as I care about how many times a day Poseidon jerks off.

Sadly, I'm sure they'll get there 1 million signatures.

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