Archive for November, 2004


A couple photos

We took Owen to the zoo over the weekend. Here we are, watching dolphins.

Owen and me at the zoo

Here’s Owen sleeping on Kiara’s shoulder:

Owen sleeping on Kiara's shoulder another picture of Owen sleeping on Kiara's shoulder


International Square Earth Society

The fun continues.

It is a well-established Biblical fact that the Earth is flat and immobile. Every good Biblical literalist knows the Scriptural passages which demonstrate that the Earth does not move and that its surface is not curved … But far too many lazy Biblical literalists today ignore the plain fact that the Bible also tells us that the flat Earth does not have curved edges.


Wiki spammers

Someone just spammed a wiki that I run at work. Luckily the wiki generates an RSS feed, so I caught it almost right away. And luckily it’s a wiki, so rolling back to an earlier version is a snap. And luckily it was only one page … this time. It looks like I have to be more aggressive about blocking this sort of thing. I’m kinda surprised it took so long.


Someone at HCL gets it.

Two very cool things from the Hennepin County Library:

This library system has been doing such cool things on their web site. The first time I saw that I had 24/7 access to a reference librarian, I about wet myself.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t that excited, but there’s no question that someone there has a vision for how the Web can fit into a library’s mission — and can find the funds to support that vision.


They’d Probably Kick My Ass

On my walk home from work, I sometimes pass law enforcement students doing training exercises. At least that’s what I assume is going on. A group of students may be gathered around an SUV while their instructor explains the finer points of putting out a car fire; or a squad car may be pulling over one of the students on the road. Whenever I see one of these activities, I wonder how they’d react to some crazy guy appearing out of nowhere, screaming and waving his arms, crying “pull me over! I did it! I did it!” or “Run, Fred, run! I’ve got you covered!” or “Leave him the hell alone, pig! He didn’t do anything!” Would they break character? All sorts of scenarios play out in my head. None of them end up being very pleasant for me. So I just continue innocently, grinning like a madman.


Evolution and textbook disclaimers

These science textbook disclaimers from my new heroes at Swarthmore say it all.

science textbook disclaimer

The religious right’s long-term plan to take over school boards is really paying off. I am dismayed — no, outraged — that creationism being raised to the same level as evolution in science classrooms across the country, under the guise of a new name (“intelligent design”) and couched in scientific terminology.

Let’s review what “theory” means, shall we? From last month’s National Geographic (emphasis added):

Continental drift is a theory. The existence, structure, and dynamics of atoms? Atomic theory. Even electricity is a theoretical construct, involving electrons, which are tiny units of charged mass that no one has ever seen. Each of these theories is an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. That’s what scientists mean when they talk about a theory: not a dreamy and unreliable speculation, but an explanatory statement that fits the evidence. They embrace such an explanation confidently but provisionally … taking it as their best available view of reality, at least until some severely conflicting data or some better explanation might come along

That’s just it. Evolution is science’s best explanation for how life came to be and continues to be. It is accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists, except for a fringe, vocal few who are by and large motivated by something other than teaching science.

“Evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a theory that can’t be questioned”. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? We want our children to engage in a healthy exchange of ideas, to examine evidence and explore possible explanations. I sometimes ask myself, “why not ‘teach the controversy’?”

Because there isn’t one worth mentioning.

I do not by any means endorse oversimplifying the curriculum or protecting students from uncomfortable controversy. But there simply isn’t one here. Scientists have come to a consensus in embracing evolution, and that is what we must teach. Not creationism, from which we have moved on, religious feelings notwithstanding. Make no mistake: intelligent design is creationism advocated in terms more palatable than the Bible-based efforts of days gone by to give the impression of credibility. A sound science curriculum must and does teach critical inquiry. The creationist movement plays upon this notion to inject itself directly into the classroom, bypassing critical scrutiny by the scientific community.

And dammit, it’s working.


Blogroll updates

Tonight I finally got around to automatically updating the blogroll here with my Bloglines feeds, periodically pulling down the OPML file and rebuilding the list so the most recently updated float to the top. Matt added an RSS feed just in time. :)

I considered using to do this, but I want to include sites other than weblogs, and I’ve been Bloglines as an aggregator for some weeks now. It’s not great, but it has some intriguing services. I miss the desktop apps, but I sure don’t miss keeping the subscriptions in sync.


Religious voter.

On Speaking of Faith recently, guest Cheryl Sanders said something that excited me so much I screamed. It’s one of those things that should be obvious but that I don’t hear nearly enough:

Just like the love of God obligates us to love our neighbor, the justice of God obligates us to be concerned about justice and involved in the opposition to injustice as we encounter it.

For the last couple weeks, especially after Bush’s re-election, I’ve been wondering how to respond here. Someone found the words.


Countdown to May 19.

The first Episode III trailer is out.

Hell yeah.


Quick Links

A real hodgepodge.

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