How normal is Kearny?

Maybe it’s a bad, bad idea for a community to have an open-access electronic bulletin board, because it sure is a great tool for exposing the ugly underbelly of the group. Kearny, NJ has had its moment of fame, with the story of the history teacher babbling nonsense to his class, and
Jim Lippard has found some troubling stuff on the Kearny bulletin board. Paul LaClair, the father of the young man who recorded his teacher’s rambling BS, posted a
review and complaint about the community’s failure to support good teaching, and what’s bothersome are the replies. A few are supportive, but some are still defending the history teacher’s poor instruction, and worse, there are some comments that verge on being death threats.

It’s depressing to read if you have any optimism about people at all: the stupidity on display is shocking. Maybe we just have to hope that Kearny, NJ is some kind of magic dumb-magnet that sucks in mobs of the mindless, leaving the rest of the country much smarter. I fear, though, that it might actually be representative.

It’s not enough to be just an anti-creationist

I am not going to praise John Derbyshire; some people seem to be impressed because he has penned a dismissal of the ID creationists, but jebus, that ought to be the absolute rock bottom minimum we should expect from rationalists. That he can clear a hurdle set one inch above the ground does not impress me in the slightest.

Furthermore, he couldn’t spit it out without saying something stupid.

As it turned out, Judge Jones is a conservative in the right way, the best way: he respects the law, and the plain rules of evidence.

Think about that. Respect for law and evidence is not a property exclusive or intrinsic to conservatives. Does he think liberals believe in violating the law and ignoring the evidence (don’t bother to answer; he probably does.) I’m not dazzled by a wingnut who manages to see the obvious but is still burdened with the usual far right nonsense.

(via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub)

My New Year’s Dream

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions—they’re always so narrow and boring. I’d rather advance some bigger goals.

When I was a young fellow, and my father was teaching me how to swing a bat, he’d tell me I shouldn’t aim to hit the ball, I should try to swing through it. When he was teaching me how to play football, he’d tell me I shouldn’t aim for the lineman’s chest, I should set the goal of running straight through the guy and a hundred yards downfield. (Of course, there were other words of wisdom from my father, like “you’re a born nerd, boy, and I don’t know why we’re wastin’ time with the sports”). The point still stands, though: if you’re trying to go from here to there, don’t set your sights on there—make your goal an unreachable point far, far beyond there. Never settle for a small piece, always go for everything…and be glad of whatever you can get.

In that spirit, then, here’s what I’d dream of seeing in the next year.

[Read more…]

A measure of respect for a tyrant

Read the account of Saddam Hussein’s last moments—it’s a strange thing. Hussein was an evil man, but still, he carried himself at the end with strength and courage and a good amount of anger. The whole scene sounds like it was tawdry and crude; the US continues to reinforce its growing reputation for cheap barbarity. And the unseemly guards, with their chanting and sneering at a man about to die…that’s who is going to run that country after we leave? I have no confidence.

I don’t think our country did itself any favors with this act, and Hussein went out of this world a bit more impressively than he had lived in it.

She’s gone and done it now

The daughter has put up a post with her thoughts on abortion—I swear I have not given her any instruction or even talked about the subject with her, but somehow she has developed roughly the same opinion on it that I have…which means, of course, that the kooks will whine at her. I can’t even imagine what her former peers at high school will say, but it might be explosively fun. There’s a little bit of Mell in that girl.

(Speaking of Mell, you all know that this is the last day of one of my favorite webcomics, Narbonicon, right?)

Irony Alert! Kirk Cameron explains his new board game

It’s hard to believe, but there is more information on the absurd board game designed by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort.

Cameron said, “We are very excited about this game because it presents both sides of the creation evolution argument, and in doing so, shows that the contemporary theory of evolution is perhaps the greatest hoax of modern times.”

Uh, sure they’re going to show “both sides”: you can get an idea of what they think is the evolution side by the illustrations. There is a frog with bull horns (a bullfrog! Get it? Ha ha.), and a couple of other chimeras whipped up in Photoshop, and unless they’re using them to illustrate what evolution does not predict and what would constitute evidence against evolution—which I doubt—these are examples of utterly bogus creationist arguments, and do not bode well for the intellectual content of the game. Which promised to be pretty much nonexistent, given the identities of the authors.

I wonder if there’s a banana in the game?