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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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 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!


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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


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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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Leila Hussein Gunned Down.

Remember Leila? No? Neither does CNN. Neither does most of the world. She was the mother of the young lady who was murdered by her father for speaking to a British Soldier. The father is still not facing any charges.

After leaving her husband for murdering their daughter in the name of his imaginary friend, she was gunned down. She was attempting to leave Iraq with the help of a women's rights group. The guardian at least bothered to cover the story here. Where is the outcry from the muslim world? We're waiting. Here's your chance. Don't hold your breath folks.

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John Kamman has a new album out. It's called Chenopodium. Get it? I didn't either. Anyway, it's good and it's free. So, go check out his website here and give it a listen. If you think you would buy it, feel free to donate.

If not, at least remember to buy him a Yuri Gagarin next time you see him.

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Back From the BWCAW.

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I was away in the Boundary Waters. Eventually I'll post about the trip with some pics. If you're lucky, I may even post the video of Odin destroying the water lilies.

For now, here is an interesting blog I ran across on Dann's SWCD website called the Minnesota Big Bog Blog. I'm not sure who the author is but there is some great info about the negative effects of peat mining and some rather depressing comments from the public officials involved. Unfortunately this includes Frank Moe and Brita Sailer, people that I would have assumed to be on the side of the environmental groups. I'm not really sure how accurate the statements are but if anyone does, feel free to comment. Frank?

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