Wednesday, December 2, 2009
As my Facebook friends probably know, I'm an awful liberal a-hole who is quite firm in his beliefs on evolution. As one put it, you (meaning me) believe anyone who denies the fact of evolution is an idiot. And I'm resolute in that belief. It pains me that Kentucky has a Creation "Museum", and that many churches, including the most influential church in our community use ignorance and lies to deny evolution.
I'm currently reading The Greatest Show on Earth, in which Richard Dawkins lays out the facts of evolution in a way that makes the case even clearer in my head than it was before I read it.
If you read the slideshow linked above from Bob Russell at Southeast Christian Church, you'll see that Bob disagrees with Evolution because it doesn't agree with his religious text. No matter that it was written centuries ago by people with minimal understanding of science. If Bob stopped there, perhaps I could give him a pass. I'd find it sad though, because I don't think science that disagrees with a literal interpretation of the Bible is an attack on religion.
But then Bob decides he has to sweeten his case with lies, which seems decidedly unholy to me.
Lie #1: Evolution is rejected by many reputable scientists.
I guess this depends on what Bob considers reputable, but any scientist who denies evolution would NOT be considered reputable by his peers, especially one who works in the field. The petitions collected by those who wish to create this false impression have been shown to be of dubious value and the number of signatures on them minimal compared to the scientists who understand and support the facts of evolution. Evolution is supported by good science. Intelligent design and creationism are not.
Lie #2: Scientists admit that evolution lacks evidence of transitional forms.
This crap is a bit of misdirection that proves creationists are ignorant of evolution. First, the fossil record is incomplete not because of some mass conspiracy, but because fossils are formed under very unique circumstances. We don't have every life form that existed because the earth didn't have the good sense to embalm every life form from the beginning of time to preserve it for history. Just as the dead possum on the road disappears over a matter of days, so have billions of lifeforms over the years. Very few get preserved. We have "gaps" because the hundreds or thousands of "transitional" forms from A to B are lost to the ages. But these gaps don't mean we can't peace together the growth over time and solidify the evidence for evolution by observation and what we know about the fossil and geological record over time.
Imagine each life form from the beginning of time had a snapshot taken of it and placed in a photo album that represented the species. As the species makes small changes, a new picture would be added to the photo album. When the species "evolved" into something that was classified as different (which wouldn't be as radical as the chimp to man leap made here), a new album would be started and pictures would be added for that life form. And when a member of that life form changed, another album would be added and so on. Over time, you'd have a set of photo albums that link to each other like a very haphazard family tree. You'd see thousands of photos of creatures that are very similar going in all directions. And as you move from album to album and get further away from the forms you first started looking at, the pictures would change and eventually you'd have another form that looked much different than where you started. In many instances, you could go backward from one animal to another and then back up again in the evolutionary chain and you'd see how a chimp and a human could be linked years prior via a common ancestor. The fact is that evolution is subtle, and that it is based on what survives to reproduce. We don't see a half ape/men, or a crocoduck walking around because it isn't how they evolved. Just because two species are related through evolution doesn't mean that you would find a magical picture within my albums that would mark a clear transition.
Lie #3: Common sense looks at design and realizes there has to be a designer.
Actually, Bob, this is a bit like saying because you see the Virgin Mary in a potato chip, it's a sign from God. We see design because we want to see it. It doesn't prove a creator or a designer. And common sense would say that if something had to be designed or created, then the thing that designed or created it would also need a designer or creator. It's an endless loop, and one that creationists hate to address.
Evolution is common sense. It fits. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean you can label it nonsense.
Lie #4: Evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Great explanation of this here.
Truth #1: Evolution doesn't explain origins nor eliminates (sic) the need for a creator.
Evolution wasn't meant to explain the origins of life on earth. So using this logic, I guess we can say that Bob Russell doesn't believe in gravity since IT doesn't explain origins. As for the need for a creator.... well, you can't have a creator without the creator being created, can you?
Lie #5: Evolution disregards the spiritual significance of man.
I still don't understand this one, but I keep getting it thrown in my own face. Evolution is a scientific fact. It doesn't keep one from leading any sort of life they want to. If you choose to find life meaningless, that's on you, not evolution.
I have posted this because I think misinformation is a sin, and one of the most evil forces working today. We owe it to ourselves to try to understand the world around us and embrace sound ideas and science, not bury our head in the sands.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The problem is that gifted kids grow into gifted adults. And once you get a "real job", the quick mind and desire to challenge yourself and others becomes a liability. If you didn't do some real soul searching before entering the job market, you might find yourself doubting your abilities, feeling like you're actually the dumbass in a sea of people who know how to do it much better than you. Subconsciously, you learn what Dilbert said years ago, "Intelligence has much less practical application than you'd think."
This all comes to mind as my wife and I made the difficult decision to try and transfer my daughter from her nice new school with all of her friends to another one that offers the programs we feel she needs. I look at my daughter and I see a cuter and smarter version of me when I was little. She has an incredibly active mind and talents that far surpass mine. As I look at pictures she has drawn for us, poems and stories she has written on her own, and watch her mind work, I see someone with more giftiosity (I just coined that word, please use it daily!) than I ever had. I want a school that treasures those skills and works to develop them. And I want my daughter to have at least as good an education as I had.
I realized a few years ago that what I ultimately want for my daughter is for her to find something she loves doing and that she realizes the development of her own special gifts is more important than taking every single advanced class and trying to be a jack of all trades, interested in none.
So to my gifted daughter I say, "You can truly be anything you want to be. Just make sure you understand what you want, and work on who you want to be. I love you and all I want for you is to be happy and fulfilled in life. "
That's not too much to ask, right?
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I love boxing. No matter who is fighting, I will always turn on the sweet science when I find it on cable. Even if the boxers are two blind guys with only one leg, I'll watch it. 99% of the time I have no clue who the fighters are. I don't understand all of the ridiculous variations in rules. I don't care about reach, height, or weight. I simply pick a boxer and cheer, based on an arbitrary score assigned to each boxer using these factors:
- The fighter with least obnoxious entrance. Points are deducted for entering wearing a mask, using props and entering to any rap song. Fighters who enter with their own rapper are immediately out.
- The fighter with the least ridiculous nickname. Extra points for not having one. I can't root for a guy who gives himself a name like Alberto "The Trouser Snake" Martinez.
- The fighter with the least decorated trunks. Points are taken off for wearing assless fringed chaps with the boxer's name in LEDs.
- The fighter who looks like he'll bleed the most. Any guy who finishes a fight looking like Carrie at the prom gets my respect.
- Any fighter who can complete a sentence. Bonus points if he can do it without saying "Know what I'm sayin'?"
In boxing, you can also watch a challenger beat the champion to death for 12 rounds and when it goes to a decision, especially in the champion's hometown, the champ will have been judged to have won all 12 rounds.
And then there is Don King, who answers the question "What would happen if Billy Mays, Jessie Jackson, and a Troll doll had a baby?" This perpetual motor mouth is always fun to see at a fight, if only to see how each network tries to avoid ever showing him on camera. Watch him when he puts his arm around a fighter. I bet you never see the moment when he steals the guy's wallet.
In recent years, boxing's viewership has declined while viewership in Ultimate Fighting, Kickboxing, Mixed Martial Arts, Cage Fighting and Extreme Fighting. Having not had my share of bloodsport in awhile, I decided to turn one on, hoping to see some action. Instead, I felt like I needed a testosterone shot.
Don't get me wrong, I understand these guys are bad ass and could kill me with one glance, but in watching these fights, I'm not reminded of two gladiators squaring off in a ring, but of two overly tattooed twelve year olds fighting after school. It's all there. The tentative kicking, the charging and knocking people on their ass, and the pinning and holding until someone cries uncle. None of it is as inspiring as a great upper cut. Instead it just seems sad and a bit.... less than macho.
Tonight I've tried it again, watching an endless series of interchangeable muscle bound guys and girls punch, kick, wrestle, and bounce off a hexagon shaped dog run. The rules make no sense to me. Apparently getting a guy in a position that Larry Craig would envy and not allowing him to move counts as a knock out. The fights last about 10 minutes, with about 9 minutes of that being pinning, holding, and thumb wrestling. The announcers wouldn't make the cut at ESPN's Tractor Pull Channel, and the ring interviewer, Stephen Quadros looks like Glenn Campbell's mugshot after a meth binge.
In short, I've come to the conclusion that Mixed Martial Arts is, like professional wrestling and soccer, not really a sport and I need something to up my testosterone quotient to make up for watching it again. Oh look, an episode of Grey's Anatomy on my DVR!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Maddie is now in Jefferson County Public Schools. We decided to put her in Farmer Elementary which opened the year Maddie started Kindergarten. We put her in there with a rose colored vision that as parents in a new school, we'd be able to help shape the direction and vision for the school. We'd be able to help create a school that served Maddie's needs and those of her classmates. We'd be able to.....
Well, mostly we seem to just write checks.
Perhaps I'm spoiled by a misremembered past in Oldham County Schools. For those who don't remember, in 1975, Jefferson County Schools instituted forced busing. That happened to be the year that my parents moved here. Because of busing, we moved to Oldham County Schools, where my mother is fond of pointing out the science textbooks still said, "Someday man will land on the moon." The 4th grade spelling book my brother had was full of words he'd had in 2nd grade in Maryland. But soon the schools were so good that 120% of their students were getting full ride scholarships to Harvard. Or something like that. I just know I got a great education that enabled me to get a full tuition scholarship to Boston University. And despite being in the company of students who went to some of the best private and public schools in the country, I never felt inferior to them or less prepared for college than they were.
Not that there is a similar situation in Jefferson County Public Schools, but it is clear from the test scores and school report cards that there is a huge disparity in the best and worst schools in the county.
Some reasons are obvious. Lower income children have issues to contend with that higher income children do not. Disinterested parents. Parents who want to help but have to work just to keep food on the table. Disinterested peers and peer pressure that reinforce the thought that trying to get an education is stupid and/or pointless.
But honestly, what the hell is the excuse for those of us who make a decent living? Why do so many of us assume that sending $5 to the PTA or showing up in our child's classroom a couple of times a year is doing our part?
The Jefferson County School System is OUR school system. All residents pay taxes in some form or fashion to support the schools. As such, we should be working for and demanding that the schools work for us and for our children. We shouldn't simply do what so many of us want to do about any issue that seems larger than ourselves, and simply complain about it to our friends and neighbors.
If there is something that bothers you about your child's education, what have YOU done about it? Have you shown up at school? Have you talked to the teacher and principal? If it is an issue that you can't get resolved or affects other children in other schools, have you taken the time to contact your board member, or show to School Board meetings to voice your opinion?
Jefferson County isn't a backward county in a backwoods section of the state. We have lots of money and educated people here in Lousiville. We can and should do better for our city, our county, and most importantly, our children. And it can't be done if we just sit on our butts and complain in blog posts.
So who is with me?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The above is called context. It's something that is important for understanding anything. And it is something that often is forgotten when it comes to any sort of overblown rhetoric like the kind Sarah Palin has been spewing in the week of David Letterman's jokes about her.
Some more context. Alex Rodriquez is a baseball player who has been linked to celebrities in the past, including Madonna and now Kate Hudson. His personal life has been tabloid fodder both in New York (where he plays for the team that Ms. Palin was watching, the Yankees) and beyond.
A little more context. Sarah Palin had a child who was pregnant out of wedlock. During Sarah Palin's campaign, the famous promoter of abstinence and anti-abortion candidate made sure that her pregnant daughter and her apparently unwilling boyfriend were placed front and center at many events. Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol had recently appeared on the cover of People Magazine talking about having a baby and abstinence.
And just a little more context. While the slutty stewardess comment is possibly a cheap sexist joke, it does instantly bring to mind the tightly buttoned up, but sexy look that Palin's aiming for. If you think Letterman's wrong, take a look at this disturbing site I found and tell me Palin's outfits don't have a certain resemblence.
Of course, the problem here is that two tossed off jokes were twisted into much more by a woman who thrives on attention. Sarah Palin took the joke and turned it into an attack on Letterman, essentially calling him a pedophile and condoning rape, something nobody but the emotionally disturbed could get out of the joke. Of course, we could argue that Palin is slow to outrage given the numerous instances that similar jokes were made and Palin said nothing. Perhaps she figured now the timing was right for her to exploit her children a little further to keep her name in the news.
The saddest thing here is that we seem to have set a higher standard for the discourse of our late night comedians than we have our politicians and political commentators. Maybe instead of asking for apologies from the people who spend every night trying to make us laugh, we should start demanding them from people like Sarah Palin, Michael Moore, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, James Carville, Sean Hannity, and the numerous talk shows, news programs, and other media outlets who have turned discussion of real issues and concerns into a series of shouting points aimed at the lowest common denominator.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
What I found was your typical "staged" reality show in which the drama appears to be mostly faked or provoked, and self absorbed semi-attractive people try to be profound.
I have to ask myself why we encourage or feel the need to watch any couple who chooses to put their minor children in front of the cameras to air their own personal dirty laundry for fame and profit? And what entertainment value does anyone get out of it? Do people identify with their fake exploits? Do they enjoy their pain?
I admit to enjoying three "reality" shows, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Biggest Loser, and Big Brother.
I enjoy the first two because they are mostly kind and warm the heart. As for the last one...... I find it entertaining because it seems almost immune to the producers attempts to make things happen and is populated by such vapid people that it is fun to hate them all.
From what little I saw of Kate and Jon, I see two immature people who, like Octomom, think punching out several kids entitles them to some award. Kate and Jon, want to really find out what reality is like? Try raising that family without funding from a cable network, corporate sponsorship, and being semi-famous.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I understand that CBS wants to show us all of the excitement, but when it comes to stations of local interest, they should be able to provide a dedicated feed to the local station, especially one in a market that provides them with the highest viewership of any city.
So if you want to complain to CBS, call them at (212) 975 3247 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know your displeasure. The Louisville Cardinals deserve better.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Honestly, when I ordered my battery charger last week, I thought it would come quickly. Amazon has a hub here in Kentucky and I figured it would take a few days. I was wrong. See something wrong with this?
Date Time Location Event Details
March 18, 2009 02:00:00 PM LOUISVILLE KY Arrival Scan
March 18, 2009 02:25:00 AM --- Departure Scan
March 17, 2009 09:20:00 PM --- Arrival Scan
March 17, 2009 06:30:00 PM INDIANAPOLIS IN Arrival Scan
March 15, 2009 08:24:32 AM Lexington KY US Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit
That's right, apparently my battery charger is a Colts fan.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today's news brought word of the skiing injury of Natasha Richardson. Rupert Murdoch's crappy news sources are reporting her brain dead. TMZ is saying she's alive. And I'm saying it's pretty sad that people are posting this kind of crap without confirmation.
From the stories, it sounds like there is something more to it than a skiing injury. The reports all seem to indicate that whatever her injury was appeared very minor. I wonder if she didn't have something preexisting that kicked in. I hope that she pulls through for her kid's sake.
The Mrs. and me are pretty tired of looking for lice and eggs in the daughter's hair. I think we've managed to get most of them, and the second round of Rid is coming in a few days. It seems like with all the advances in science we could find a better way to rid our kids of these little guys without pulling, yanking, tweezing, and chemical bombing them. Maybe we could simply foreclose on them and get them to move out.
I had a cool day at work. I am close to having my presentation done, and I've been moved into a little different role doing some data analysis, which actually got my brain firing and had me truly excited at work for a long time.
I have ordered a superduper battery charger from Amazon.com. I used their free shipping option to save a bit of green. My status was updated as "shipment has left seller facility and is in transit" on March 15th in the AM. THis was in Lexington, Kentucky. The estimated arrival time is March 21st. Now I realize I didn't pay for shipping, but I could have WALKED a battery charger from Lexington to Louisville in 7 days.
High School Guns
Two students at Valley High School were arrested for bringing guns to school. Call me old fashioned, but I miss the good old days when kids got in trouble for bringing a Walkman to school, not an AK 47.
Finally, the Louisville Arena
Someone needs to explain to me why the city thought that the riverfront was a great place for an arena, especially a location that is located at the foot of two major entrances to Louisville. Every morning seems to have a new backup at the site, as trucks, street sweepers, and workers block the road temporarily. I'm guessing that before the building is finished a serious car accident or pedestrian strike will occur at the location of the arena. One can only imagine what hell traffic will be when the site finally opens for games and events.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Lean Cuisine Pasta Romano With Bacon
At lunch time, I tried a new Lean Cuisine meal that sounded really good: Pasta Romano with Bacon. Unfortunately, it tasted like Ray Romano's Jockey Shorts. I'm not sure the flavor was horrid, but when I fired up the microwave, the meal didn't give off the aroma of tomato, bacon, and cheese, but instead the odd chemical smell of a new Korean import car. The entree was a sludge of tomato sauce with some lousy bowtie pasta, a few tomato chunks and some unidentified pieces of meat that could have been bacon or could have been those random chunks of chicken parts they throw in dried Lipton soup mix.
Nice Convenience -- Louisville Water Company Charges You To Pay Your Bill
To cheer myself up, I decided to pay my water bill, which topped triple digits for the first time in 10 years of paying one. And why not, given the fact that the water company charges you once when you drink it in, and then again when you pee it out. I've not been a huge fan of the water company since they seem not to give a damn about the way that our brand new neighborhood drains (which is slightly reminiscent of one of those tilt-table wooden mazes with the silver marble in it). Anyway, I called to pay my insane water bill and was told, "Sir, do you realize that starting in May, you will be assessed a $2.50 convenience fee for paying your bill with a Credit Card?"
Now I'm not one to pick on CSRs. I've done the job myself and it can be brutal. So I said, "I know you have nothing to do with this, but can you tell me what the heck I actually pay for in my water bill if now I have to also pay for the privilege of sending you money? "
The woman started explaining what each fee on my bill went toward, thinking I actually wanted to know what each line item of my bill was going toward. I interrupted her, "Sorry, that was a rhetorical question." (Silence. I pictured the puzzled look on the other end.)
"Sir, you can sign up for an automatic bank withdraw to pay your bill by going online."
"So for free I can have the privilege of having the Water Company take money from me when they want?"
(Honestly, does ANYBODY enjoy having money automatically pulled from your checking account without verifying the transaction first?)
"I'm trying to understand why you're charging me $2.50 extra to pay you."
"That's the convenience fee that our third party vendor charges for using a credit card."
"Well, that doesn't seem very convenient to me."
"Well sir, it does cost us money do process your card."
"Yes, and it costs Wal-Mart money to process my card, and Target, and Subway, and they all figure out a way to NOT charge me for it, even for a $5 Footlong. I think they consider it a cost of doing business."
"Is there anything else I can help you with?"
Why do they ask that question when they know you're pissed? You know damned well that they're giving you the finger on the other end and wanting to hang up.
My car is leaking a fluid of unknown origin that I need to get looked at. At this point, I think it may be incontinent. I'd love to have a new car, but right now, I don't think I could afford a 87 Hyundai Excel. It bums me out. That's the car I brought my daughter home in.
Finally, I ran up to Wal-Mart to get something for dinner and some more OJ. As I was picking up some Tropicana OJ, I remembered something that first caught my attention when I went to open the last container of my second favorite beverage. The normal flat circle lids have now been replaced with a semi-spherical orange shape, complete with a little bump where the navel would be. As a typical male, I couldn't help but realize the new lid looks like a little orange boob. I'm not sure if it is subliminal advertising or not, but I know I'm drinking a lot more OJ. And wondering what Dean's Milk might come up with.
Ten observations and thoughts for the police and suspects on Fox Television's long running show, COPS.
I've been a news junkie for most of my life, but these days I find it very difficult.
- Unemployment reaching double digits.
- Bonuses for executives who failed
- Mass shootings
- Child abuse
- Economy tanking
Not that the news has ever been happy news, but these days the gloom and doom has become too much for even this lifelong pessimist to listen to.
Yesterday was another day spent trying to ensure that our little lice outbreak ends. Combing, killing, washing, drying, spraying, pulling my own hair out.
I watched the first few minutes of Deep End of the Ocean yesterday and was reminded of my own reaction when we thought Maddie had disappeared from our house. The screaming that seemed so over the top in the movie was actually understated. It's a scary experience no parent should have to go through. Even for a brief period of time.
Dinner was Moby Dick fish. Moby Dick always looks like they haven't remodeled since the 1970's. Menu pictures that are as faded as any chinese take out joint, the faded blue paint and wall hangings bought at Garden Ridge add to the "we're not quite yet a viable chain" feel of the joint. The fish was pretty good though, and filling.
That's all I got for right now.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Today we were supposed to have a Girl Scout Cookie booth at our local Wal-Mart in Fern Creek. I have shopped at Wal-Mart for ages, and used to love taking a trip in there for cheap stuff. Now I find it to be one of the most mind numbing and soul sucking experiences one can have. Thankfully, other members of my daughter's troop managed to knock out all their sales before we had to do it. Since it was a rainy, nasty, day and friend of the community Wal-Mart won't let Girl Scouts sell inside of their doors, it was quite the blessing. Maddie was upset though because she had fun selling the cookies.
We came home and I decided to play a round of Call Of Duty: World at War. Hardcore gamers considered it too short and too easy. After the 8,985th bullet to the head during the round, I felt my blood pressure reaching stroke level, and switched over to the relaxing PS3 game Flower. I agree with Karen that it's not as relaxing as I thought, but it has a certain beauty to it.
When we left Wal-Mart (after my 58th shopping trip there in the past week) we saw that another Girl Scout, a teenager, had taken our place. She seemed about 100 times less thrilled about the prospect of selling cookies than my daughter did.