Friday, September 30, 2005

There are some morons who argue that all mutations are harmful, never beneficial, so we can't have had species evolve through series of beneficial mutations:

The only mechanism in neoDarwinism for introducing novelty of form is genetic mutation. Yet advantageous or beneficial spontaneous genetic mutation remains no more than a hypothetical necessity to the neo-Darwinist theory.

No one has ever observed a spontaneous inheritable genetic mutation that resulted in a changed physical characteristic, aside, that is, from a small group of well-known and usually fatal genetic defects. Because noone has ever observed such an event, noone really knows whether they occur at all and, if so, how often. Because deleterious mutations are known to occur, Darwinists appeal to the statistics of large numbers. If deleterious mutations can occur, then given enough time beneficial mutations must occur.

Yeah, right.
Tom DeLay was indicted by a grand jury, not a Democratic attorney.

But in any case, anyone who's bothered to actually look at Ronnie Earle's record as the District Attorney know that he's not prone to partisan witch hunts, having prosecuted four times as many members of his own party as he has Republicans.

And we already know that DeLay lies about his indictment as it suits him.

But that doesn't stop him from trying to frame his indictment as a Democratic plot:

Tom DeLay: "This indictment of me is a conspiracy by the Democrats!"
Wolf Blitzer: "What's your evidence for that?"
Tom DeLay: "I can't tell you that now."

The DeLay delay--the postponement of the evidence for your wild claims until they've already been disseminated and accepted as fact.
New Car Aimed at Drivers With Parking Woes:

TOKYO - For drivers who find backing out of tight parking spots a hassle, Nissan has an answer: An egg-shaped car whose body pivots 360 degrees so that its rear end becomes the front.

The Pivo, shown Friday at a Tokyo Nissan showroom, is still an experimental model and probably won't go on sale publicly for several years. It is a three-seater electric car that looks like a big egg on wheels. Its body revolves in a complete circle while its wheels stay put.

Such moves are possible because Pivo's steering, wheels and other parts are controlled electronically by wireless, or electronic signals, not mechanical links between the cabin and the vehicle's chassis.

"This is a cute car for people who have problems parking," said Nissan Motor Co. chief designer Masato Inoue.

Pivo, also planned for display at the Tokyo auto show opening next month, highlights other technologies, including a system that allows the driver to control devices inside the car simply by raising his or her fingers off the steering wheel.

That's done through a camera embedded in the steering wheel that senses heat. Lifting one finger might turn on the radio. Two fingers might set car navigation equipment.

The technology works much like voice-recognition capabilities already available in some advanced cars, but Tokyo-based Nissan says some people prefer finger-pointing to talking to yourself.

Pivo also allows the driver to see blind spots via cameras attached to the outside of the car.

Inoue says it's possible to design a gasoline-engine vehicles that spins in the same way if electronic controls are approved for traffic safety. But they're unlikely to have the round look of Pivo because a conventional engine requires more room than an electric motor.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Is Homosexuality Caused by Son-Father Estrangement?

Hint: No.
Kenneth Miller recognizes that if we had a designer, it can't have been too intelligent:

If we can account for the evolution of complex structures by incremental advances, this might seem to leave us with no way to distinguish design from evolution. Evolution, then, might have produced such structures. But did it? In fact, there is a way to tell. Evolution, unlike design, works by the modification of pre-existing structures. Intelligent design, by definition, works fresh, on a clean sheet of paper, and should produce organisms that have been explicitly (and perfectly) designed for the tasks they perform.

Evolution, on the other hand, does not produce perfection. The fact that every intermediate stage in the development of an organ must confer a selective advantage means that the simplest and most elegant design for an organ cannot always be produced by evolution. In fact, the hallmark of evolution is the modification of pre-existing structures. An evolved organism, in short, should show the tell-tale signs of this modification. A designed organism should not. Which is it?

The eye, that supposed paragon of intelligent design, is a perfect place to start. We have already sung the virtues of this organ, and described some of its extraordinary capabilities. But one thing that we have not considered is the neural wiring of its light-sensing units, the photoreceptor cells in the retina. These cells pass impulses to a series of interconnecting cells that eventually pass information to the cells of the optic nerve, which leads to the brain. Given the basics of this wiring, how would you orient the retina with respect to the direction of light? Quite naturally, you (and any other designer) would choose the orientation that produces the highest degree of visual quality. No one, for example, would suggest that the neural wiring connections should be placed on the side that faces the light, rather than on the side away from it. Incredibly, this is exactly how the human retina is constructed.

What are the consequences of wiring the retina backwards? First, there is a degradation of visual quality due to the scattering of light as it passes through layers of cellular wiring. To be sure, this scattering has been minimized because the nerve cells are nearly transparent, but it cannot be eliminated, because of the basic flaw in design. This design flaw is compounded by the fact that the nerve cells require a rich blood supply, so that a network of blood vessels also sits directly in front of the light-sensitive layer, another feature that no engineer would stand for. Second, the nerve impulses produced by photoreceptor cells must be carried to the brain, and this means that at some point the neural wiring must pass directly through the wall of the retina. The result? A "blind spot" in the retina, a region where thousands of impulse-carrying cells have pushed the sensory cells aside, and consequently nothing can be seen. Each human retina has a blind spot roughly 1 mm in diameter, a blind spot that would not exist if only the eye were designed with its sensory wiring behind the photoreceptors instead of in front of them.

Do these design problems exist because it is impossible to construct an eye that is wired properly, so that the light-sensitive cells face the incoming image? Not at all. Many organisms have eyes in which the neural wiring is neatly tucked away below the photoreceptor layer. The squid and the octopus, for example, have a lens-and-retina eye quite similar to the vertebrate one, but these mollusk eyes are wired right-side-out, with no light-scattering nerve cells or blood vessels above the photoreceptors and no blind spot.


The living world is filled with examples of organs and structures that clearly have their roots in the opportunistic modification of a preexisting structure rather than the clean elegance of design. Steven Jay Gould, in his famous essay "The Panda's Thumb," makes exactly this point. The giant panda has a distinct and dexterous "thumb" which, like our own thumb, is opposable. These animals nimbly strip the leaves off bamboo shots by pulling the shoots between thumb and their five other fingers. Five? No, the panda doesn't have six fingers, because it's thumb isn't a true digit at all. In fact, it grips the shoot of bamboo between its palm and a bone in the wrist which, in giant pandas, has been enlarged to form a stubby protuberance.

A true designer would have been capable of remodeling a complete digit, like the thumb of a primate, to hold the panda's food. Evolution, on the other hand, settled for much less: a bamboo-gripping pseudo-digit that conferred just enough of an advantage to be favored by natural selection. As Gould himself notes, a single mutation increasing the rate of growth of this wristbone could explain the formation of the Panda's "thumb." Natural selection itself explains how this simple modification was advantageous. It is a clear case of the way in which evolution produces organisms that are well-adapted, but not necessarily well-designed.

A true designer could begin with a clean sheet of paper, and produce a design that did not depend, as evolution must, on re-using old mechanisms, old parts, and even old patterns of development. The use of old developmental patterns is particularly striking in human embryonic development. The early embryos of reptiles and birds, which produce eggs containing massive amounts of yolk, follow a particularly specialized pattern of development. This pattern enables them to produce the three vertebrate body layers in a disc of cells that sits astride a hugh sphere of nutritive yolk. They eventually surround that yolk with a "yolk sac," a layer of cells that supplies the embryo with nutrition from the stored yolk.

Placental mammals produce tiny eggs, so there would be no need to follow a developmental pattern that surrounds the non-existent mass of yolk. Nevertheless, as Scott F. Gilbert, the author of an influential book on developmental biology notes:

"What is surprising is that the gastrulation movements of reptilian and avian embryos, which evolved as an adaptation to yolky eggs, are retained even in the absence of large amounts of yolk in the mammalian embryo. The inner cell mass can be envisioned as sitting atop an imaginary ball of yolk, following instructions that seem more appropriate to its ancestors."

Indeed, human embryos even go so far as to form an empty yolk sac, surrounding that non-existent stored food. The human yolk sac develops from the same tissues as the yolk sacs of reptiles and birds, performs many of the same functions (except, of course, for using the non-existent yolk), and gives rise to the same adult tissues. That it why it has been known as a "yolk sac" for more than a century. The cells of the sac channel nutrients to the embryo (much as they do in birds and reptiles), and play a role in the formation of the circulatory, reproductive, and digestive systems. These functions do not explain, however, why the cells that perform them should take the form of a sac.

There is no reason, from the standpoint of intelligent design, for the human embryo to produce an empty yolk sac. Evolution, of course, can supply the answer. If placental mammals are descended from egg-laying animals, like reptiles, then the empty yolk sac can be understood as a evolutionary remnant. The yolk sac is produced by a process of development that could not be re-designed simply because mammalian eggs had lost their yolk. It suggests that mammals evolved from animals that once had eggs with large amounts of yolk. Does the historic fossil record support that contention? Absolutely. The very first recognizable mammals in the fossil history of life on Earth are known by a telling name: they are the "reptile-like mammals."


The concept of intelligent design is particularly clear on one point: organisms have been designed to meet the distinct needs of their lifestyles and environments, not to reflect an evolutionary history. Is this distinction between evolution and design testable? I think it is, and the test is a simple one. Intelligent design dictates that the genetic system of a living organism should be constructed to suit its present needs, and should not contain superfluous genes or gene sequences that obviously correspond to structures or substances for which the organism has no need. In short, the master genetic plan should correspond precisely to the organism for which it codes.

No living bird has teeth, and that fact, of course, is behind the old saying that a rare object is "as scarce as hen's teeth." Why don't birds have teeth? A proponent of intelligent design must answer that they have not been designed to have teeth, quite probably because the designer equipped them with alternatives (hard beaks and food-grinding gizzards) that are superior for lightweight flying organisms.

Is this in fact the case? In 1980 Edward Kollar and his colleague C. Fisher decided to test whether or not chicken cells still have the capacity to become teeth. Intelligent design would predict that they cannot, because teeth were never designed into the organism.

Kollar & Fisher's experiment was simple. They took mouse tissue that normally lies just beneath the epithelial cells that develop into teeth, and put it in contact with chick epithelial cells. What happened? The chick cells, apparently influenced by the mouse tissue, dutifully began to develop into teeth. The produced impact-resistant enamel on their surfaces, and developed into clear, recognizable teeth (Figure 5). The experimenters took great care to exclude the possibility that mouse tissue had produced the teeth, first by making sure that no mouse epithelium was included in the experiments, and second by confirming that the cells in the tooth-producing tissue were indeed chick cells. Their experiments have since been confirmed by two independent groups of investigators.

No plan of intelligent design can account for the presence of tooth-producing genes in chicken cells. Indeed, it would be remarkably un-intelligent to endow birds with such useless capabilities. Evolution, on the other hand, has a perfectly good explanation for these capabilities. Birds are descended from organisms that once had teeth, and therefore they may retain these genes, even if other genetic changes normally turn their expression off. In short, birds have a genetic mark of their own history that no designed organism should ever possess. Designed organisms, after all, do not have evolutionary histories.


In today's world, it is possible to test evolution and intelligent design as never before. Rather than depending upon the indirect evidence of structure and physiology, we can go right to the source to the genetic code itself. If the human organism is, indeed, the product of careful, intelligent design, a detailed analysis of human DNA should reveal that design. Remember the quotation from Of Pandas and People: "We cannot build a palace by tinkering with a tool shed and adding bits of marble piecemeal here and there. We have to begin by devising a plan for the palace that coordinates all the parts into an integrated whole." We can test intelligent design simply by examining the genome to see if it matches the prediction of a coordinated, integrated plan.

If, on the other hand, the human genome is the product of an evolutionary history, that DNA should be a patchwork riddled with duplicated and discarded genes, and loaded with hints and traces of our evolutionary past. This, too, can be tested by directly examining the coded sequences of human DNA.

Although a complete sequence for all human DNA is at least a decade away, we already know more than enough of that sequence to begin to address the question of design. Let's take, as a representative example, a piece of chromosome # 11 known as the b -globin cluster. About 60,000 DNA "bases" are in the cluster, each base effectively representing 1 letter of a code that contains the instructions for assembling part of a protein. b -globin is an important part of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein that gives blood its red color. There are 5 different kinds of b -globin, and the cluster contains a gene for each one .

Why are there so many different forms of the b -globin gene? Here both evolution and intelligent design could supply an answer. Two of the genes are expressed in adults, and the other three are expressed during embryonic and fetal development. Evolution maintains that the multiple copies have arisen by gene duplication, a random process in which mistakes of DNA replication resulted in extra copies of a single ancestral gene. Once the original b -globin gene had been duplicated a number of times, so the explanation goes, slight variations within each sequence could produce the 5 different forms of the globin gene.

Why would different forms of b -globin be useful? The embryo, which is engaged in a tug-of-war for oxygen with its mother, must have hemoglobin that binds oxygen more tightly than the mother's adult hemoglobin. The 3 versions of the gene that are expressed during embryonic development enable hemoglobin to do exactly that. These slight variations enable embryonic blood to draw oxygen out of the maternal circulation across the placenta into its own circulation. Hence, gene duplication provided a chance for special forms of the b -globin gene to evolve that are expressed in fetal development.

Intelligent design proposes much the same mechanism, except that the production of extra copies and their modification to suit the embryo were a matter of intentional design, not chance and natural selection. Intelligent design maintains that the DNA sequences of each of the 5 genes of the cluster are matters of engineering, not random gene duplications fine-tuned by natural selection. So which is it? Are the 5 genes of this complex the elegant products of design, or a series of mistakes of which evolution took advantage?

The cluster itself, or more specifically a sixth b -globin gene, provides the answer. This gene is easy to recognize as part of the globin family because it has a DNA sequence nearly identical to that of the other five genes. Oddly, however, this gene is never expressed, it never produces a protein, and it plays no role in producing hemoglobin. Biologists call such regions "pseudogenes," reflecting the fact that however much they may resemble working genes, in fact they are not.

How can we be sure the sixth gene really is a pseudogene? Molecular biologists know that the expression of a gene like b -globin is a two-step process. First, the DNA sequence has to be copied into an intermediate known as RNA. That RNA sequence is then used to direct the assembly of a polypeptide, in this case, a b -globin. There is no evidence that the first step ever takes place for the pseudogene. No RNA matching its sequence has ever been found. Why? Because it lacks the DNA control sequences that precede the other 5 genes and signal the cell where to start producing RNA This means that the pseudogene is "silent." Furthermore, even if it were comehow copied into RNA, it still could not direct the assembly of a polypeptide. The pseudogene contains 6 distinct defects, any one of which would prevent it from producing a functional polypeptide. In short, this sixth gene is a mess, a nonfunctional stretch of useless DNA.

From a design point of view, pseudogenes are indeed mistakes. So why are they there? Intelligent design cannot explain the presence of a nonfunctional pseudogene, unless it is willing to allow that the designer made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles. Evolution, however, can explain them easily. Pseudogenes are nothing more than chance experiments in gene duplication that have failed, and they persist in the genome as evolutionary remnants of the past history of the b -globin genes.

The b -globin story is not an isolated one. Hundreds of pseudogenes have been discovered in the 1 or 2% of human DNA that has been explored to date, and more are added every month. In fact, the human genome is littered with pseudogenes, gene fragments, "orphaned" genes, "junk" DNA, and so many repeated copies of pointless DNA sequences that it cannot be attributed to anything that resembles intelligent design.

If the DNA of a human being or any other organism resembled a carefully constructed computer program, with neatly arranged and logically structured modules each written to fulfill a specific function, the evidence of intelligent design would be overwhelming. In fact, the genome resembles nothing so much as a hodgepodge of borrowed, copied, mutated, and discarded sequences and commands that has been cobbled together by millions of years of trial and error against the relentless test of survival. It works, and it works brilliantly; not because of intelligent design, but because of the great blind power of natural selection to innovate, to test, and to discard what fails in favor of what succeeds. The organisms that remain alive today, ourselves included, are evolution's great successes.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Science fiction may take reality cheque (they're Australian, all right?):

The race is on to build the first "space elevator' - long dismissed as science fiction - to carry people and materials into orbit along a cable thousands of kilometres long.

In a significant step, US aviation regulators have given permission for the opening trials of a prototype, while a competition to begin next month follows the $US10 million ($13 million) X Prize, which led to the first privately developed craft leaving the Earth's atmosphere, briefly, last year.

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side':

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

If this is true (and I have my doubts) it wouldn't really be much of a surprise:

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
    -Steven Weinberg, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics

Attytood exclusive: Bush wastes roughly $170,000 in jet fuel as he urges nation to conserve

Yeah... it's like they say.

Reminiscent of this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Worse than Russia:

Last night, here in DC, I spoke with Stelios Kouloglou, a journalist with Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation in Greece. His program on the public television station has won several awards for investigative journalism and remains extremely popular in his country.

On the one year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, April of 2004, his station broadcast a documentary he produced entitled, “25 Lies to Sell the War,” a title which needs no explanation to anyone who is not fully encapsulated in denial.

“I found out through a leak that the US embassy in Greece was applying political pressure to our government in order for them to pressure my television station for running my documentary,” he told me at his hotel.

“It became clear, after your election in '04 when Bush stayed in office, that his administration became much more aggressive,” he explained. “The US embassy began asking for our program to be discontinued. They were telling this not just to our program spokesperson, but directly to our government! Their protest took a much more official character, and they did not even attempt to conceal this.”

Being a journalist for 25 years and having covered the war in Yugoslavia as well as having worked in Moscow during Perestroika, he said this type of overt political pressure to be a first for him.

“I've never experienced political pressure like this, not even in Russia when I was being critical of Gorbachev, nor in Yugoslavia when I was being extremely critical of Milosevic,” he added.

Most scientists say 'alternative' to evolution isn't a theory at all.

I really don't see what's so hard for people to grasp about this, but there it is anyways.

Asked to provide examples of nonobvious, testable predictions made by intelligent design, John West, an associate director of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based intelligent-design think tank, offered one. In 1998, he said, an ID theorist, reckoning that an intelligent designer would not fill animals' genomes with DNA that had no use, predicted that much of the "junk" DNA in animals' genomes — long seen as the detritus of evolutionary processes — will someday be found to have a function.

West said it is up to Darwinists to prove intelligent design wrong.

He offers no evidence that his hypothesis is correct, of course, save for the blind belief that "someday" he'll be proven right. And then there's the idea that he does not have to prove a damn thing, that it is up to scientists to prove him wrong--never mind that they have done so, again and again and again. Does he know a damn thing about the scientific method? Well, let's check his credentials for debunking the core tenet of biology for the past century:

Dr. John West is a Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he is Associate Director of Discovery's Center for Science & Culture. His current research examines the impact of Darwinian science on public policy and culture during the past century. His other areas of expertise include constitutional law, American government and institutions, and religion and politics.

Dr. West is also an Associate Professor of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University, and he has taught political science and history courses at California State University, San Bernardino and Azusa Pacific University. From 1986-1989, Dr. West served as Managing Editor of Public Research, Syndicated, which distributed essays on public affairs to more than 700 daily and weekly newspapers.

Dr. West has written or edited numerous books, including The Politics of Revelation & Reason: Religion and Civic Life in the New Nation, The Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics, The Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, Supplement I, The New Federalist Papers, The Theology of Welfare, The C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia, and Celebrating Middle Earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization. He also has contributed articles to a wide range of scholarly and popular outlets, including National Review Online,, The Encyclopedia of the American Presidency, Wake Forest Law Review, Policy Review, The Washington Times, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Detroit News, and The San Diego Union.

Dr. West holds a Ph.D in Government from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington. He is a recipient of several academic fellowships, including a Haynes Foundation Dissertation Grant, an Earhart Foundation Fellowship, a Richard Weaver Fellowship, and a Chevron Journalism/Economics Scholarship. Dr. West is a member of the American Political Science Association, Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society), and Phi Beta Kappa.

He's a political science major. He's as qualified to debunk evolution as I am to teach ancient Egyptian--possibly less so.

Further in the article I read this, though, which I found interesting:

Richard Lenski, a biologist at Michigan State University, has been following 12 cultures of the bacterium Escherichia coli since 1988, comprising more than 25,000 generations. All 12 cultures were genetically identical at the start. For years he gave each the same daily stress: six hours of food (glucose) and 18 hours of starvation. All 12 strains adapted to this by becoming faster consumers of glucose and developing bigger cell size than their 1988 "parents."

When Lenski and his colleagues examined each strain's genes, they found that the strains had not acquired the same mutations. Instead, there was some variety in the changes that had allowed each culture to survive. And when the 12 strains were then subjected to a different stress — a new food source — they did not fare equally well. In some, the changes from the first round of adaptation stood in the way of adaptation to the new conditions. The 12 strains had started to diverge, taking the first steps that might eventually make them different species.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Japan: Always on the cutting edge of technology
Bush's Words on Iraq Echo LBJ in 1967


Why did the chicken cross the road?

And Batman and Batgirl get into a catfight over Robin.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Batman can make anything funny.


Space travel.




Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Can you get away with that on TV?


You can't make this stuff up, Wolf: President Bush naming his Homeland Security advisor to investigate what went wrong with the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Frances Townsend is the one who most recently oversaw the reorganization of the nation's intelligence services following the WMD debacle. Given the outcome of that effort, she'll probably conclude 'there was no hurricane, so what's all the fuss about?'


Sunday, September 18, 2005

An addendum to my post a while back listing some strange animals:

The opabinia regalis was a creature some 500 million years ago that was so strange-looking that the paleontologists who were shown the reconstructed image back in 1972 thought it was a joke. It had five eyes, a flexible proboscis one third the length of its body with grasping spines at its tip.

The hallucigenia sparsa is so bizarre that scientists still aren't sure which end houses the 'head'.

The anomalocaris canadensis grew up to six feet in length, and had forelimbs that more resembled the tails of a modern shrimp.

The leanchoilia superlata had tripartite forelimbs with long, whip-like extensions--possibly sensory organs, since it didn't appear to have any eyes.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Alan Moore's comic series Top 10 involves police officers in the city of Neopolis, where everyone has super-powers.

When I say everyone has super-powers, I mean everyone--including the mice. This, of course, necessitates having super-powered cats to get rid of them:

But everyone knows what happens when you get too many super-powered beings together: cosmic entities start involving themselves in the fray.

Which, as everyone knows, inevitably means that time and continuity are changed until the whole thing never happened:

Some people are saying that Bush cares more about saving his plummeting poll numbers than saving people in New Orleans. And why would they think that?

Couldn't be any of that... it must just be that they hate America.

It's not racist to hate people if they're actually inferior!

Fleming senior wears racist T-shirt to school:

The undershirt the white student wore had a confederate flag on the front with the words "Keep it flying." On the back, a cartoon depicted a group of hooded Klansmen standing outside a church, waving to two others who had just pulled away in a car reading "Just married."

Two black men in nooses were being dragged behind.


"I'm not racist or anything," he said. "It's just, some people I hate, some people I don't get along with. And black people just happen to be the ones because they think they're better than everyone else."


"I'm a redneck," he said. "But no, I'm not racist."

And in that same vein, we have an ex-columnist for the Daily Tar Heel (the UNC college newspaper) taking umbrage at being called on her racism:

I’m slightly put off by the profanity and hatred that has been thrown my way, and I’m extremely resentful for being called racist.

Why would anybody call her racist, you may ask? After all, the people she offended were "people I truly respect and who have taught me valuable lessons".

But what offended them? Why, this:

I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport.

I don’t care if they’re being inconvenienced. I don’t care if it seems as though their rights are being violated.

I care about my life. I care about the lives of my family and friends.

And I care about the lives of the Arabs and Arab Americans I’m privileged to know and study with.

They’re some of the brightest, kindest people I’ve ever met.

Tragically, they’re also members of an ethnicity that is responsible for almost every act of terror committed against the West in the recent past.

See? How could anyone call her racist--she thinks the Arabs she knows are some of the brightest, kindest people she's ever met. Why, I bet some of her best friends are Arabs! She's got nothing personal against them, really, it's only because they had the gall to be the same ethnicity as people who've committed crimes that they have to be humiliated and violated. That'll be sure to make other Arabs stop their completely incomprehensible hatred of us. After all, we love them and want to make sure they get laid:

When asked if she had a boyfriend, Ann Coulter once said that any time she had a need for physical intimacy, she would simply walk through an airport’s security checkpoint.

I want Arabs to get sexed up like nothing else.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

"I think I may need a bathroom break"

Just... go. Go now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

So in CS 348 today somebody was talking about how no-one seems to object to archaeologists digging up mummies even though we'd raise hell if someone did it to us. Later the point was raised that the Egyptians believed that they needed their body preserved to enter the afterlife, so dissecting it could have all sorts of implications.

At which time I pointed out that then all we'd need to do would be to have the Mormons posthumously baptize them. Then--voila!--back in heaven they go!

This got me to thinking about a team of Mormon tomb-robbers who break into the pyramids in order to baptize King Tut. Hilarity ensues.

I think the idea has merit.
Quarters for gay soldiers

GAY soldiers and their partners will be given Army married quarters in Aldershot, but the move is causing controversy among politicians.


“This is a Christian country and Christian teaching is very clear on these matters and I am extremely concerned that young people today are being bombarded with literature which suggests that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship, which it is not,” he said.

Specifically, sir, you are an Anglican country, which means your church was created so that Henry VIII could get an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine. So yeah, your version of Christianity's views on marriage are very clear: if it's in your way or to your disliking, it doesn't count!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

We're Being Singled Out, Say Muslims

The [Australian] Federal Government's proposed tough anti-terrorism laws are causing mounting concerns among Muslims that they will be unfairly targeted for detention without charge, tagged with tracking devices and even interned.

To which people like Michelle Malkin say so what?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

And they wonder why we say they live in their own world.
Ya win some, ya lose some....

Friday, September 9, 2005

For all those idiots who challenge evolution by asking 'Why isn't it happening now?'

Thursday, September 8, 2005

I managed to successfully staple together my math homework despite not having a stapler available.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

How to speak Republican [Edited]

"Personal responsibility" = Blaming the victim

[Update] This apparent disdain for the victims of Hurricane Katrina earned Santorum the title of Worst Person in the World

Monday, September 5, 2005

Food will never be the same again

Thai Artist Bakes Edible 'Body Parts'

Britain spy files reveal Nazi exploding sweets

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Some on the Right like to say that Medicare and Medicaid encourage people to be poor so they can receive free handouts. They like to say that unemployment insurance encourages people to be lazy and not to search for jobs. They babble about personal responsibility and come up with the most ludicrous claims to prevent the government from helping people who are--usually through no fault of their own--hard-pressed for food and money.

But this beats them all:

The state Homeland Security Department had requested--and continues to request--that the American Red Cross not come back into New Orleans following the hurricane. Our presence would keep people from evacuating and encourage others to come into the city.


Friday, September 2, 2005

An article from educators reminding us why the "teach the controversy" argument for I.D. is moronic: because One side can be wrong:

When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly half way between. It is possible for one side simply to be wrong.

A reminder of the beliefs the people who wrote the Bible had about the world, demonstrating once again why believing in the literal truth of the Bible not only puts you at odds with all measurable sciences, but also generally forces you to be (perhaps unwittingly) hypocritical about it:

So where does the literalist stand? He is in the impossible position of trying to make the Bible the norm and source of his beliefs, on the one hand, and yet to keep the Bible seeming believable by the standards of modern knowledge on the other. He cannot bring himself to deny what modern instruments have shown to be the truth of cosmology, so he cannot believe the world looks as described in scripture, but neither can he bring himself to admit that the Bible is mistaken. So, in order to defend the literal truth of the Bible (the proposition that it describes things the way they are, whether things on earth or things in heaven), he must resort to non-literal reinterpretation of the cosmic-descriptive passages of the Bible. It is an odd form of “literalism”!

And someone questions the intentions the "designer" of the universe might have had:

Some physicists have argued that certain constants of nature have values that seem to have been mysteriously fine-tuned to just the values that allow for the possibility of life, in a way that could only be explained by the intervention of a designer with some special concern for life. I am not impressed with these supposed instances of fine-tuning.


recent developments in cosmology offer the possibility of an explanation of why the measured values of the cosmological constant and other physical constants are favorable for the appearance of intelligent life. According to the 'chaotic inflation' theories of André Linde and others, the expanding cloud of billions of galaxies that we call the big bang may be just one fragment of a much larger universe in which big bangs go off all the time, each one with different values for the fundamental constants.

In any such picture, in which the universe contains many parts with different values for what we call the constants of nature, there would be no difficulty in understanding why these constants take values favorable to intelligent life. There would be a vast number of big bangs in which the constants of nature take values unfavorable for life, and many fewer where life is possible. You don't have to invoke a benevolent designer to explain why we are in one of the parts of the universe where life is possible: in all the other parts of the universe there is no one to raise the question. If any theory of this general type turns out to be correct, then to conclude that the constants of nature have been fine-tuned by a benevolent designer would be like saying, 'Isn't it wonderful that God put us here on earth, where there's water and air and the surface gravity and temperature are so comfortable, rather than some horrid place, like Mercury or Pluto?' Where else in the solar system other than on earth could we have evolved?

Something I would add, too:

  • Humans have an appendix, whose only (current) apparent function is to be infected.

  • Humans also have a tailbone, which seems to again be vestigial.

  • Spotted Hyenas give birth through their clitoris, resulting in up to 10% of females dying during their first delivery.

  • Whiptail lizards have no males in their species.

  • Marsupial females have two vaginas, and males therefore a forked penis.

  • The hooded seal has an inflatable pouch on its nose.

  • The moloch drinks by collecting rainwater in grooves on its back, which run to the mouth.

  • The naked mole rat does not have a chemical responsible for sending pain signals to its nervous system--so if it is cut, scraped, or burned, it feels no pain. And also... well, just look at it!

  • The giraffe needs so much blood pressure for the blood to reach the brain, that when it lowers its head to drink the blood flow has to be cut down.

  • The bombardier beetle has a defensive mechanism of spraying boiling chemicals into its assailant's face.

  • The smilodon, or sabre-toothed tiger, had teeth so large it had to be able to open its mouth 90 degrees.

  • The jerboa does not ever drink, relying instead on liquid obtained from its food.

  • The adult mayflies have no digestive system.

  • The Bladder Grasshopper has 12 'ears'.

  • The platypus. 'Nuff said.

The creationists may take a look at these bizarre animals and come to the conclusion that they couldn't possibly have evolved through random, chance mutations. I take a look at them and wonder what the hell kind of creator comes up with this kind of stuff? Is that the kind of deity we want in charge of our universe?
This just in: it's not only the gays and abortionists who are responsible for New Orleans, but "the witchcraft workers [and] false religion[s]" too.
A Sodomongic Gamoragaganza:

I thought an unfortunate confluence of atmospheric events caused hurricanes, but apparently it's common knowledge by many people, Mr. Marcavage and Rev. Pat Robertson included, that butt bouncing and bumping causes the heavens to unload their wet wrath on both the land and the seas.

I was a little offended by this, thinking that once again another nut job, with far too much time on his hands, delusions of grandeur, and poor fashion sense was scoring media face-time off the pain and suffering of the poor.

But then I pondered deeply the power that me and my brethren held deep in our... well you know where.. and decided in a flash to embrace stone age logic. For if several hundred thousand humpin' homos can level a city, what might a few hundred do to a hate spewing organization?


I think a few couples, or triples, or quintuples (I'm really open-minded about these things) undulating on the mauve shag carpeting of RA's office / rumpus room would be more than enough to summon a sizable storm inside and spew hail and ice over membership rolls, floppy disks and the odd stack of Jack Chick tracts.

I think we should get on this right away.
Apparently, gays aren't entirely to blame for Katrina.

God's mad at the abortionists, too.
Official defends keeping wolves as pets:

An Italian minister who revealed he is keeping wolves as pets told authorities Wednesday to feel free to come and investigate as he always needed "fresh meat."

Clever Whale Uses Fish to Catch Seagulls:

First, the young whale spit regurgitated fish onto the surface of the water, then sank below the water and waited.

If a hungry gull landed on the water, the whale would surge up to the surface, sometimes catching a free meal of his own.


The capacity to come up with the gull-baiting strategy and then share the technique with others — known as cultural learning in the scientific world — was once believed to be one of those abilities that separated humans from other animals.

But biologists have since proven certain animals, including dolphins and chimps, do this.


Thursday, September 1, 2005

"So! Not only is the hedgehog drugged and dead... we also disguised it as a tampon!"
U.S. won't let Canada help Katrina victims

Guantanamo Inmates on New Hunger Strike

Hi, I need some very sophisticated coffee.

I'm sorry, I don't touch coffee, I just touch the air.

You're doing tai chi, aren't you?

...No, I'm just a wanker, that's all.

Uh... wow.