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Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Humdrum Life?

Every now and again I find my cat, Edmund, wandering about my tiny little apartment. For 15, 20 sometimes 30 minutes he does what I call the "great circle" path over an dover again. This isn't his normal frantic scurrying between the patio doors and the bathroom window when something outside has his him all axcited. It's a slow, deliberate yet not deliberate wander that takes him along all the major thoroughfares of my bachelor apartment. Were it not for the inherent gracefulness of a cat, I would call it plodding.

It makes me think of the tigers I have seen at the Toronto Zoo. When you get to their enclosure, you can see one of them pass by you every couple of minutes as they walk along this path that has been worn into the circumference of their home. As it passes by, again and again, it sort of seems as if the tiger has just said to itself “Fuck it. I've got nothing better to do.” It seems so pathetic and devoid of hope that it makes me so sad I don't want to stick around and watch a magnificent animal I would normally be fascinated with.

When I see Edmund walking about like that, I hope that he isn't as despondent as that tiger at the zoo.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Incompetence of Intelligent Design

Casey Luskin, a well known supporter of Intelligent Design has a blog post up at Evolution Views & News complaining about an op-ed piece by Richard Dawkins in the L.A. Times where, according to Luskin, Dawkins misrepresents Intelligent Design.

The part that Luskin seems to take offense at is this paragraph in Dawkins's editorial:

Intelligent design “theorists” (a misnomer, for they have no theory) often use the alien scenario to distance themselves from old-style creationists: “For all we know, the designer might be an alien from outer space.” This attempt to fend off accusations of unconstitutionally importing religion into science classes is lame and disingenuous. All the leading intelligent design spokesmen are devout, and, when talking to the faithful, they drop the science-fiction fig leaf and expose themselves as the fundamentalist creationists they truly are.

In addition to the disingenousness that Dawkins mentions there is also the implied dishonesty of ID supporters because the aliens gambit has been a common ploy used to “prove” that ID is not religious and thus should be taught in science classes.

Luskin tries valiantly to refute this accusation of dishonesty by throwing out a bunch of quotes from Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe and William Dembski showing that the Designer most definitely is the Christian God, all to try and prove that ID is not so dishonest as to use something as absurd as space aliens.

Luskin googled for the phrase “For all we know, the designer might be an alien from outer space” (taken from Dawkin's op-ed) in order to see if any ID supporters were actually using that aliens argument and he says that the only result Google returned was for that very same Dawkins op-ed. Any person who has ever used an Internet search engine knows that if you search for a phrase, especially one that specific, you're not going to get much more than the original web page from whence it came rather than any supporting information about the topic they were interested in finding more about.

Luskin would have been better off googling for “aliens intelligent design” if he really wanted to see how often aliens are given as the designer behind ID. That search gave me almost 2 million hits. In addition to a lack of googling skills Luskin also seems to lack long-term memory skills in that he couldn't remember one of his own articles where he says:

An extensive look at the actual writings and arguments of those in the ID research community reveals that intelligent design is not an appeal to the supernatural, nor is it trying to "prove" the existence of God. The consensus of ID proponents is intelligent design theory does not allow one to identify the designer as natural or supernatural, because to do so would go beyond the limits of scientific inquiry.

In that article, not only does Luskin try his hardest to disassociate ID from Creationism but he also quotes Behe twice saying that the designer might very well be space aliens.

In the end, however, Luskin's incompetence at googling properly and his inability remember what he himself has written in the past only ends up highlighting the basic dishonesty of the Intelligent Design movement. For years they've been trying to get ID into high school science curricula in the United States, but as shown in the Dover trial the textbook they were pushing was just a rebranded creationist textbook. In his rant, Luskin does nothing but show that ID is, truly, nothing but Creationism in drag.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Municipal Accupuncture

OK, there are a lot of overly credulous people out there — people who believe in pseudo-sciences like homeopathy, astrology or the kooky idea that vaccines cause autism. Occasionally we do get an incident that of the recent death by religious stupidity where an 11-year old girl died of diabetic ketoacidosis because her parents decided to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor. And that's hardly the first time something like that has happened.

Fortunately, children dying because of the pseudo-scientific or religious stupidities of their parents are few and the following is much more common. This one is just stupid enough to be silly. Or maybe silly enough to be stupid — I'm not quite sure.

In Portland, Oregon, Adam Kuby wants to do acupuncture on the city Not it's inhabitants, the literal city. Kuby feels that certain parts of the city correspond to parts of the body and that sticking giant needs in those locations will somehow restore the city's “chi” to its proper pattern of flow:

In March 2008 I was the “Artist-in-Residence” in Portland’s new South Waterfront neighborhood at the base of the aerial tram, where I brainstormed and work-shopped this idea with help from acupuncturists, acupuncture students, city planners, ecologists, artists, writers, public art professionals and the general public. Together we envisioned Portland as a metaphorical body, explored how energy flows through the city and debated which parts of the city would correspond to the different acupuncture organs and meridian systems.

What utter crackpottery! But at least he's not trying to cure his child's disease with it. (I hope.)

Meme TV

  1. Bold the shows you've watched every episode of
  2. Italic the shows you've seen at least one episode of
  3. Post your answers

50. Quantum Leap
49. Prison Break
48. Veronica Mars
47. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
46. Sex & The City

45. Farscape
44. Cracker
43. Star Trek
42. Only Fools and Horses
41. Band of Brothers

40. Life on Mars
39. Monty Python's Flying Circus
38. Curb Your Enthusiasm
37. Star Trek: The Next Generation
36. Father Ted

35. Alias
34. Frasier
33. CSI: Las Vegas
32. Babylon 5
31. Deadwood

30. Dexter
29. ER
28. Fawlty Towers
27. Six Feet Under
26. Red Dwarf

25. Futurama
24. Twin Peaks
23. The Office UK
22. The Shield
21. Angel

20. Blackadder
19. Scrubs
18. Arrested Development
17. South Park
16. Doctor Who

15. Heroes
14. Firefly
13. Battlestar Galactica
12. Family Guy
11. Seinfeld

10. Spaced
09. The X-Files
08. The Wire
07. Friends
06. 24

05. Lost (season 4 only just started at home so i haven't yet got to watch it...misses being stateside for it)
04. The West Wing
03. The Sopranos
02. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
01. The Simpsons

Original list is here, and idea from MrZ80