1. says

    Don’t forget to play “Alice’s Restaurant Massacre” Thursday!

    Thanksgiving Day
    by Charles Wagner

    Sometimes you just have to wonder when the individual paths of mortals come together in such a way as to make one believe that it had all been laid out in some kind of elaborate scheme that was designed to make things right in an often senseless world.
    It was November 23, 1998, graduation day at the Marine Corps recruit depot at Parris Island, South Carolina. Like most every Thursday, the members of Platoon 1104, 1st Battalion, “D” company were to cease being sub-human life forms and were about to become Marines. The ceremonies would be over by 1800 hours and six of them from the New York area would pile into a car and begin the long trip home. With any luck, they’d be home by Thanksgiving eve, to be with their families.
    But these were not just any sons any more, they were Marines. They had endured the 13 weeks of relentless pain and suffering that had molded them into the fiercest, meanest most aggressive fighting men that ever lived. They were ready, willing and able to kick some serious butt, should the need arise.
    Mavis Jackson lived a little ways off I-95, just south of the North Carolina border on a tiny farm that she and Walter had bought with her mother’s insurance . During the summer of ’93, Walter was killed when his plow overturned on a hill. Little Walter was only one year old at the time. Mavis tried to keep up the farming, but even in the best of circumstances, it only allowed a meager existence for her and the boy.
    In ’96, Mavis opened a little lunch room on the side of her house and cooked food for the local field hands. Some days, no one at all would come, and Mavis would sadly put the food away for another day. It was Thursday, November 23, 1998, and Mavis Jackson was down by the side of the road putting up a little sign that she had painted on white cardboard- “Thanksgiving Dinner, All You Can Eat! $5.99”
    Shortly before 7:00 p.m. a car drove by. It slowed down a little way down the road and then turned around and came back, parking in front of Mavis’ house. Out of the car piled six hungry Marines. Now Mavis had prepared one turkey and one ham and some sweet potatoes and collard greens and had baked a pecan pie. Hopefully, it would be sufficient for these boys. After only a little while, it became obvious that she had offered more than she could deliver. The turkey and ham were completely demolished and so were the vegetables and potatoes. Yet these boys still demanded more. Mavis went back to her kitchen in search of more food. Her heart began to sink lower and lower as she emptied her pantry to satisfy the hungry Marines.
    By 9:00 o’clock, it appeared that the rampage was finally subsiding. They sat around talking for another half hour while Mavis sat quietly in the front room, contemplating the situation. If nothing else, Mavis Jackson was a woman of her word. She had made a terrible blunder, and now she would pay the price. Perhaps God was punishing her for some unknown transgression. But she had promised “all you can eat” and she had no intention of asking for any extra compensation. As the first Marine approached her, she quietly said to him “that’ll by $5.99 sir, just like the sign says.” He paid with a ten dollar bill and she gave him back his change- four dollars and a penny. It took a little doing to negotiate the exchange of money, since she didn’t have much change, but the boys managed to collect it among themselves and pay her the grand total of $35.94. The boys left and she heard the car pull away down the road. Mavis pulled the shade down and turned off the porch light. The world had dealt her a cruel blow. But she had no one to blame but herself. She thought about little Walter and her beloved husband and she wept. She had planned on going to the midnight service at church, as she had every past Thanksgiving. But tonight she just didn’t think she could. But she must go on. Despair is not becoming of a Christian woman, she thought and she stepped over to the table and began to clear away the dishes. She picked up the first dish, and there under the plate was a hundred dollar bill. She didn’t know what to make of it. And then she found another…and another…and another…and another…and another. And there in the middle of the table, handwritten on a piece of paper, a note. And it said….

    Happy Thanksgiving, U.S.M.C

    And Mavis Jackson put on her hat and went to church and the preacher was speaking these words: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

  2. says

    I bet the missing carnivalers were in line for a PS3 last week. ;)

    In my own little corner all I’ve got is a comment on the myth of gay penguins.

    Succinct version: Gay, straight and bisexual are human labels. They don’t belong stapled onto other species.

  3. thwaite says

    For those teaching evolution to non-specialists, here’s a 1-page discussion and useful references: The Intelligent Design controversy: lessons from psychology and education (.pdf file)

    Excerpt: Research in education and psychology confirms that a majority of college students fail to understand evolutionary theory, but also finds no support for a relationship between understanding evolutionary theory and accepting it as true [1,2].

    I noticed it posted at the cognitive science blog “Mixing Memory”, with only a single comment so far.

  4. MG says

    Checked out that Christian Today link. It’s funny, I don’t FEEL like I have to maintain my atheism by blind faith now. Where have I heard this reasoning before…… oh yeah, I used it on my sister when I was 6. I can see their thought process on this one. “We’ve been getting alot of flack about this faith/lack of evidence thing, any ideas on how to turn it around on those darn non-belivers? In the back, John, oh so we just tell them that its atheism relying on faith instead…. well that is a good idea.”

  5. says

    Where Does God Come From? a poem
    the fundamental problem
    with the fundies like
    the dingbat followers
    of a dingbat guru is:

    they have firmly made
    up their minds from
    childhood stories and
    memories that God is.

    like enchanting stories
    of Savitri, Ramana and Yama,
    Lord Krishna and his women,
    Lord Shiva and Parvati, his beloved.

    like Jesus, Joseph and Mary
    and her immaculate conception.
    and Jesus, God and the holy ghost
    living somewhere in the heaven.

    so no matter what Dawkins says,
    Hawkins says or Myers says,
    their brains are open to none,
    or perhaps they’ve no brains.

    ~white wings

  6. says

    Guru’s Universe, a poem


    “Rather, ghostly vibrations wink in and out of the universe thousands of times per second, and what lies beyond the boundary of the five senses holds enormous mysteries.
    Enough mysteries, in fact, to be consistent with God.”

    ~Deepak Chopra

    The God Delusion? Part 3

    the guru sees the ghostly
    vibrations winking in
    and winking out of the
    universe as he sees souls and
    the ghostly god of death, Yama.

    air, water, earth, aether, fire
    were the five elements God used –
    as per guru and his vedas –
    to make man and the universe

    and he breathed into man a
    piece of himself – the soul –
    and lo! stood there before him
    a naked man and a naked women.

    enough mysteries,
    in fact so many mysteries
    to be consistent with God,
    all found in bible and vedas.

    but not as many as before when
    man’s mind was like the guru’s –
    mystery of fire in the god of fire,
    mystery of air in the god of air,

    mystery of rains in the god of rains,
    mystery of water in the god of waters.
    now mystery of DNA perplexes the guru
    as the mystery of his own irrational brain.

    the guru invokes God for everything
    he is incapable of to understand,
    scientists invoke logic to understand
    what some pee-wee brains can’t understand.

    ~white wings–3.htm

  7. quork says

    so no matter what Dawkins says,
    Hawkins says or Myers says,
    their brains are open to none,
    or perhaps they’ve no brains.

    Ambiguous antecedent.

  8. AdamK says

    I’m never sure if anything I say on a blog will be of interest to anyone, but I think this is something that might be somewhat relevant to the Pharyngula crowd…

    I had a job interview last week, and for the first time in my life I had to turn down the offer on principle. The details can be found at my myspace blog here, but the short version is that it was a science teaching job at a yeshiva, and I declined when I was told that reproduction, evolution, and the age of the Earth were all to be left unmentioned in class. I need a job, but I’m damn sure not going to take one that requires me to lie to children about reality.

    I suppose I should have expected it, but I guess I went in with rose-colored glasses having been raised Jewish, and I thought they would be more likely than a fundie Christian institution to at least attempt to reconcile Scripture with reality. Then again, my experience was with a Reform temple, so I probably shouldn’t have assumed the more “balanced” view of my Hebrew school teachers (a day to God is millions of years to us, Adam and Eve evolved but were given their souls by the creator, etc.) would be embraced by the Orthodox.

    As an aside, I taught at a Catholic high school a couple years ago and was not forbidden from teaching evolution – I even managed to inject a paleontology elective course of my own design for seniors – although some of the students were, shall we say, difficult to convince.

  9. quork says

    In the Christian Science Monitor:

    Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history
    By Dinesh D’Souza

    In the name of creating their version of a religion-free utopia, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong produced the kind of mass slaughter that no Inquisitor could possibly match. Collectively these atheist tyrants murdered more than 100 million people.

    One finds the same inanities in Mr. Dawkins’s work. Don’t be fooled by this rhetorical legerdemain. Dawkins and Harris cannot explain why, if Nazism was directly descended from medieval Christianity, medieval Christianity did not produce a Hitler.

    Dinesh D’Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His new book, “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” will be published in January.

    I’ll bet the scholarship behind his upcoming book will be just as solid.

  10. Rienk says

    Maybe we should hook up D’Souza with Coulter. They’d make a perfect couple — except that Dinesh does not sound Aryan and Coulter is a racist shrew. Just think of the nice little right wing fascist kids they’ll have.

  11. says

    AdamK: Small consolation, I know, but I understand the Lubavitchers go one step further – to the point of engaging in a little religious syncretism with the fundamentalist Christians. (I heard a L. rabbi mention Denton and so on when I asked him about his views on evolution in a sociology of religion class.)

    Open thread contribution: what do the biologists think of the “Global varation in copy number in the human genome” paper in Nature this week?