Clemson 73, West Virginia 78.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Via Gristmill, I found this cool site that allows you to see what any point on Earth is going to look like when sea levels rise due to global warming. Below is Charleston with a 1 meter sea level rise, which is near the high end of IPCC predictions for the year 2095:
And here's Folly Beach, where I used to live:
It doesn't look good. Fortunately, sea levels may not rise this much. One meter is the upper bound; at the low end it could be as little as a tenth as much. Unfortunately, they won't stop rising by 2095. Sea levels could rise as much as several meters over the next few centuries if nothing is done to turn warming around. If you want to see what that looks like, change the number in the top left corner to 7 and be amazed.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/28/2007 04:15:00 PM
The Tigers took on and beat Air Force last night to advance to the NIT championship game against West Virginia. It wasn't a pretty win, but Clemson pulled it out.
Of course most people's attention this time of year is focused solely on the NCAA tournament, but this is what you get when you're a Tiger fan. Clemson has an almost unparalleled ability to choke, to start out with a good season full of promise and then to screw things up and fall just short of good. It's the same with basketball as it is with football. Clemson jumped off to a 17-0 start, looking for all the world like a serious contender... until they went 2-9 over the next 11 games. But they picked up a couple of ACC wins to end the season, keeping them in contention for an invite to the Big Dance. All they really had to do was beat Florida State in the opening round of the ACC tournament, a team which they had beaten twice in the regular season. Of course they choked. They lost by one point, thanks to a last second foul of all things.
Now we'll see if they can redeem themselves with an NIT championship. Although given the Tigers' history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I'd feel pretty good if I were a West Virginia fan.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/28/2007 01:39:00 PM
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Thumbelina, a five year old dwarf miniature horse, slides underneath the pasture fencing at Goose Creek Farms in St. Louis, MO on Fri. October 3, 2006. At 17.5 inches, she is the smallest living horse in the world, and holds the record for the smallest horse in history
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/22/2007 01:38:00 PM
Friday, March 16, 2007
A man accused of drunk-driving and crashing his truck into a lamp post told police a unicorn had been at the wheel when it careered off the road, local media reported Wednesday. [...]
His March 7 crash in Billings was witnessed by two police officers, said prosecutor Ingrid Rosenquist, but Holliday still insisted a unicorn was driving when he slammed into the street lighting, shortly after jumping a red light
I bet he gets off.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/16/2007 10:25:00 AM
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Way back in the heady days of September 2006, I mentioned that nascent presidential candidate Mitt Romney's status as a Mormon isn't going to go over well with the religious right, especially in South Carolina where they've kind of doubled-down on the whole wacky religion thing. Lots of conservatives have tried to downplay the religious bigotry inherent in "the base" and pretend as if Romney's religion is no big deal to the tolerant, open-minded Republican primary voters. Except of course for that little incident where a party leader accosted him about his religion.
Now there's another example in Monday's Greenville News. For balance, of course, the News feels the need to lead off with an example of that famed Republican tolerance:
Bob Leach, a Republican legislator from Greenville, got right to the point with Mitt Romney on one of the presidential candidate's early stops in South Carolina late last year.
"Who was Jesus Christ?" he asked Romney, a devout Mormon.
"My personal Lord and Savior," Leach recalled Romney saying.Leach, a Baptist and House Republican Caucus chaplain, was so taken with the response that he soon endorsed Romney.
Leach is so tolerant, he didn't really need to know anything about Romney other than the fact that he accepts Jesus as his lord and savior. Just so long as he isn't, you know, like a Jew or something.
But not everyone is as ecumenical as Bob Leach:
But Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, didn't sway fellow Republican Rep. Gloria Haskins of Greenville, who attended Bob Jones University.
"Mormonism is a cult, and you can't paint it any other way," she said recently. Haskins is supporting the candidacy of Arizona Sen. John McCain.
So says the graduate from BJU. Here's another:
The Rev. David Kay, associate pastor, said it [the how-to-convert-a-Mormon seminar] wasn't triggered by Romney's visits, but by his own increasing awareness of growing Mormon missionary work. Mormonism, he believes, is a cult rather than a Christian religion.
Kay describes Mormonism's martyred founder, Joseph Smith, as "just a nut case" and said "anybody who would believe the teachings of Joseph Smith is misled."
Yeah, Smith's teachings are pretty nutty. They're almost as nutty as believing that Adam and Eve frolicked with dinosaurs, that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, that a one-world government run by the UN will trigger the end times, that all kangaroos are descended from a pair that hopped to Australian from the Middle East after getting off of a boat they had been on for a year, and other things that no rational person could ever, ever believe.
But Romney's religion isn't the religious right's only hang-up. That terrible evil known as divorce also has them up in arms:
They're not reluctant to weigh in, as frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani learned last week when a top Southern Baptist Convention official said the thrice-married former New York City mayor's tangled personal life may be too much for evangelicals to accept, The Associated Press reported from Nashville.
I really think that a guy who's been married three times isn't that big of a deal considering some recent revelations about the lifestyles of prominent evangelicals. Sometimes I wonder if they shouldn't just get it over with and choose leaders who are openly gay pedophile gambling drug addicts. It would would probably be less embarrassing that way.
Anyway, the whole point here is that of course Romney's Mormonism is a huge issue among the religious right, and anyone who thinks that it'll go away by focusing on Romeny's conservative credentials, or the fact that he's never been divorced (very important when formulating foreign policy you know), is deluding themselves. Romney will lose the primary, and part of it will be due to the fact that we do not live in a religiously tolerant society.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/14/2007 04:30:00 PM
Monday, March 12, 2007
There's a great article in American Scientist about plug-in hybrids. These are cars that work just like hybrid cars do today (i.e. they use a gas engine to charge batteries, and then use the batteries to run an electric motor during those times when the gas engine is most inefficient), but you can also plug them in and charge the batteries directly. That way you can run the car completely on electricity if you so desire, but in those situations where you can't pause for several hours to recharge, you can just use gasoline.
In particular, they are far and away a better option than hydrogen, which I have previously groused about here, here, and here. The American Scientist piece explains the obvious and straightforward benefit of electricity over hydrogen:
Indeed, one of the great advantages of plug-ins (and purely electric cars) is that they can directly use solar- and wind-generated electricity for transportation, a process that is three to four times more efficient than converting such renewable energy to hydrogen for vehicular use.
As I've said many times, hydrogen is not a source of energy, it is a particular means of storing and delivering energy. It just so happens to be a terrible means of storing and delivering energy, because it requires a lot of waste and creates all sorts of technical difficulties. As such, I simply can't see any future for it.
The real future of the automobile will be the electric car, with plug-in hybrids as the transitional species. Anyway, the entire article is well worth the read, so hop to it.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/12/2007 08:01:00 PM
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I guess I'll have to pile on. Over on Panda's Thumb, Burt Humburg wrote an excellent take-down of the latest nonsense to come out of Dr. Michael Egnor, a neurosurgeon who has managed to spout some unbelievably dumb things about evolution. Naturally, this makes him the Discovery Institute's new darling, not because he's said anything original or profound (he's just recycled old ID talking points, some of which are so bad that the other ID guys won't go near them), but because he's a brain surgeon and therefore must know what he's talking about. More on that in a bit.
Something that PZ wrote awhile back has kind of stuck with me, and that is that the biggest problem with creationists isn't that they're dumb or ignorant. Many of them are certainly not dumb (Egnor surely is not), and ignorance itself is not necessarily a problem. We all start off in a state of ignorance after all, and one thing that you learn when studying a given subject in depth is that no matter how much you know, it's only a tiny smidgen of all that there is to know. So we all carry some degree of ignorance. The important thing is that you're aware of it and that you adopt the requisite level of humility so that you can keep learning more.
And therein lies the problem with creationists: It's neither ignorance nor stupidity, it's arrogance. They think they already know everything, so therefore they can refute a large and complex body of scientific thought without bothering to familiarize themselves with the basics, much less mastering the details. The most jaw-dropping example of this I think I've ever seen is here, at the blog that William Dembski set up for high school kids, where some poster who is incapable of understanding technical scientific writing (which is forgivable) has been so infected with the arrogance of the ID movement that he actually believes that a section he quotes from an essay that appeared on Panda's Thumb was made up out of thin air (which is not forgivable), and then goes on to ask where those "so-called facts" came from when the citations are right there within the text he quoted (which is pathetic to the point of comedy). This is how the ID movement rots young minds. The level of arrogance is so extreme that a high school student is eager to believe that a senior pharmacologist must be making something up simply because he, the high schooler, can't understand the material. Arrogance of this kind breeds ignorance, which leads itself to more arrogance still. It is a defining characteristic not only of ID/creationism, but of anti-intellectualism in general.
Now back to Dr. Egnor. Egnor is just like the above high school kid but without the excuse of being young and foolish. He doesn't really know what he's talking about, but he doesn't feel he needs to. After all, when you already have all the answers, what's the point in understanding that which you deign to critique? Heck, ignorance should be worn like a badge of honor. All the better to disdain those hoity-toity experts who've spent their lives studying a subject that you won't debase yourself to learn anything about.
In spite of Dr. Humburg's quality refutation of Egnor's ignorant statements, there's something that I think has been missed. And that is what Egnor has told us about what he, and by extension the Discovery Institute which has seen fit to make him one of their spokespersons (an honor bestowed only upon those meeting the highest standards, such as Ann Coulter), have told us about just how seriously he deserves to be taken. Below is the meat and potatoes of Egnor's argument:
Doctors don't study evolution. Doctors never study it in medical school, and they never use evolutionary biology in their practice. There are no courses in medical school on evolution. There are no 'professors of evolution' in medical schools. There are no departments of evolutionary biology in medical schools.
As Burt shows, the above claims are untrue. In fact, most of them are untrue even for the medical school at which Egnor teaches! But while they are untrue in a general sense, they are probably perfectly true for Egnor himself, who -- as is so often the case with these guys -- can understand the world only through the lens of his own personal experience. I'll amend the above quote, slightly, to reflect what Egnor is actually telling us:
I don't study evolution. I never studied it in medical school, and I never use evolutionary biology in my practice. I never took courses in medical school on evolution. I studied under no 'professors of evolution' in medical school. I have no familiarity with departments of evolutionary biology.
Egnor just pulled the rug out from under himself. He freely admits that he knows nothing about evolution, and he's proud of it. And now he wants us to think that doctors in general are similarly ignorant. The DI has welcomed Egnor as a new commentator for their Media Complaints Division blog, but strangely enough, they didn't quite get the message that doctors are not qualified to comment on evolution. Doctors such as Egnor, according to Egnor, are never taught anything about the subject. They don't use the subject. They don't know anything about those who do. They're awash in a sea of ignorance.
By Egnor's own reasoning, he should be ignored. And on that narrow point, at least, I think he's right.
Update: I have a post up at the Panda's Thumb concerning a survey that Egnor and the Discovery Institute twisted beyond all reason. If you haven't read it already, go there and do so.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/11/2007 12:27:00 PM
Friday, March 09, 2007
It's not as good as the voodoo guy who tried to jinx Bush with dead animal blood, but at least they're trying:
Priests to Purify Site After Bush Visit
Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday. [...]
Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites -- which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles -- would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.
Bush just gets no respect. No respect I tells ya.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/09/2007 12:16:00 PM
We have all been commanded by Satan's representative on Earth, PZ Myers, to write him a poem for his 50th birthday. Here's the best I can do on short notice:
There once was a man from Morris,
Who led the atheist chorus.
He was easily charmed,
By things with eight arms,
So his writing would never bore us.
Happy birthday you old curmudgeon.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/09/2007 09:55:00 AM
Monday, March 05, 2007
I had to think long and hard before posting this. At any given moment, I probably have 10-15 pages open in my browser. Some are things that I check often, like email, but others are just random news items and various junk that I figure I'll get around to reading eventually, so I leave them open so as not to lose them. Occasionally I go through and cull the pages that I know I'll never read or write about in order to reduce the clutter, but then there are always those pages that I just can't decide what to do with. This page sat open for about a week and half:
A Shreveport surgeon was released on bond Thursday after being accused of trying to solicit sex in a Shreveport park.
Dr. Milton Moore Slocum, of the 500 block of Waterford Drive just southeast of the city limits, was booked Tuesday night into the Caddo Correctional Center.
The sheriff's office has accused him of trying to solicit someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl over the Internet.
So far, no big deal in terms of newsworthiness. But here's the part that caught my eye:
Slocum was recently in the news for serving as a panelist during the local Darwin Day celebration at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Slocum, a self-described "old-Earth creationist," said he interprets the Bible to mean God created the Earth over millions of years.
This guy who was caught soliciting sex from an underage girl is a creationist. Not just any creationist, but a creationist with an M.D. who felt strongly enough about his beliefs that he showed up to a Darwin Day event to argue them in front of a panel. In other words, he was the kind of person that creationists strongly look up to and count on to be their standard bearers.
Now before anyone gets the wrong idea, the point here is not that creationism somehow causes pedophilia. The point is that creationists have a nauseating habit of loudly proclaiming their moral superiority. They roundly accuse evolutionists of being responsible for the breakdown of society's moral fiber. And as a corollary, they say that creationism is supposed to cause people to lead more virtuous lives, so therefore it needs to be taught in public schools. There is of course never any evidence given for these assertions, they are simply taken a priori. It just makes sense to the creationists that having more "godly" beliefs makes you virtuous. They can't conceive of things being otherwise.
However, what we see in real life is that being a creationist is no guarantee of good behavior. The innumerable ethical breaches that creationists commit on a routine basis are one thing, but crimes that prey on the most vulnerable members of society cannot be dismissed as mere "lapses". If creationism can't even dissuade this kind of behavior, why should we to expect it to have any positive effect on morality?
Now I don't want to overgeneralize, which is exactly why I was hesitant to post this in the first place. Slocum hasn't even had his day in court, and it's possible that he was wrongly accused. Or it may be that he's just a bad apple and is for some reason immune to the wonderful virtues of creationist belief. Or maybe he would have been even worse without his religious beliefs, which is pretty hard to believe, but not impossible. Certainly we can say with confidence that the vast majority of creationists would never commit such behavior. But the same is true with the vast majority of any given group.
What the creationists need to do is account for why there are so many examples of bad behavior among their ranks. (Admittedly, recent examples such as Kent Hovind or Ted Haggard are nowhere near as bad as this.) My own explanation is that the creationist cause has little to do with advancing morality and everything to do with advancing the cultural and political influence that right-wing Christians have over society. Otherwise we would see more emphasis on the importance of leading a moral life and less about maintaining proper theological beliefs.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/05/2007 01:37:00 PM
No, not MC Hammer. I'm talking about someone who's even more clownish and pathetic. Before he left Congress in disgrace, Tom DeLay earned himself the nickname "The Hammer" because he was such an asshole. It appears now that he's trying to stage a comeback of sorts:
No Retreat, and a Plan to Get Even
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is joining the activist world with a plan to return conservatives to dominance. DeLay calls his new group the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, and it has one mission: recruiting and electing conservatives in all 50 states. He plans to begin building it during an April book tour to promote No Retreat, No Surrender, his blueprint for victory. Ironically, DeLay was inspired by Democrats who followed their loss to President Bush in 2000 with what he calls a liberal shadow party that ousted the gop last year and is aimed at installing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the White House.
DeLay is pimping his new book titled, No Retreat, No Surrender, a subject he's very familiar with since he resigned from Congress and then stupidly remained on the ballot which allowed the Democrats to take his seat.
I'd say his chances of a successful comeback are roughly the same as those of Vanilla Ice. Then again, this is Republican Party we're talking about.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/05/2007 12:06:00 PM
Friday, March 02, 2007
You know who really hates our troops? The troops, that's who. A recent poll published in the Military Times (part of the liberal MSM no doubt) shows us how our treasonous our soldiers truly are:
For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president’s handling of the war than approve of it. Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war, ac cording to the 2006 Military Times Poll.
When the military was feeling most optimistic about the war — in 2004 — 83 percent of poll respondents thought success in Iraq was likely. This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent.
It is obvious that the 50% of our troops are giving aid and comfort to the enemy by suggesting that our mission in Iraq may not be a success. Just think of the effect on the troops' morale when they hear what their traitorous selves are saying. And on top of it, 2/3rds are questioning our Commander in Chief during a time of war. All of those troops should be brought up on treason charges immediately. Only then will our military be strong enough to win the war on terror.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/02/2007 04:43:00 PM
Name that bird!
I found this gorgeous bird the other day when I was out watching prairie varmints. It's probably a common bird around here, but I've never seen one before. If anyone can identify it I'd be greatly appreciated. For whatever reason, I can't find a good guide online.
Don't forget to visit the Friday Ark.
Posted by Steve Reuland at 3/02/2007 09:12:00 AM