Tom Ritter’s claim

I chuckled at Ritter, the creationist suing a Pennsylvania school district, but now I’ve actually seen formal legal complaint, and I’m not giggling anymore. It’s more like the kind of roaring guffaw that would make Brian Blessed sound like a feeble titterer.

I don’t think he had any legal counsel in drafting that. At least he took the time to retype it from the original draft, which was probably done in purple crayon on a Big Chief tablet. Does he even have standing in this case?

That’s not a lawsuit anyone needs to worry about, except perhaps for Tom Ritter, who will at best be publicly embarrassed and at worst might have to pay some court costs.

That’s just what they don’t need

Africa is suffering through the global AIDS pandemic — tens of millions are infected with HIV. It’s good that wealthier nations are sending resources to the continent, but do they really need a quack homeopath and chiropractor to travel to Tanzania to treat AIDS with homeopathy?

Wait…there are areas of North Africa where the water shortages are chronic and acute. Maybe she’d be more useful if she went there with her magic vials.

Someone explain this to me

The Vatican claims to want to talk with atheists, so they’re having a conference. How nice.

The Vatican announced a new initiative aimed at promoting dialogue between theists and atheists to be launched with a two-day event this March in Paris.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture will sponsor a series of seminars on the theme of “Religion, Light and Common Reason,” at various locations in the city, including Paris-Sorbonne University.

The odd thing is that I don’t know of any atheists who’ve been invited, nor has the Vatican made any mention of who will be there. So who is this for? Are they going to actually bring in some of the argumentative atheists who have deep differences with religion, or will they just stock the place with atheist-butteries and nice atheists who love the church?

And what will they do there?

The events will conclude with a party for youth in the courtyard of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, followed by prayer and meditation inside the cathedral.

Oh, right. Two days in Paris and we’re going to hang out in a medieval church and pray. If they want to have a dialogue, they should split the events between religious la-de-da, organized by the Catholics, and secular indulgences in the fleshpots of the city, organized by local atheists. Then we’ll see which worldview wins.

But this isn’t about learning anything about how us atheists think. It’s about converting us, and is fundamentally inimical to atheism. It’s definitely not about “promoting dialogue”.

The pope has made turning back the tide of Western secularism one of the major campaigns of his papacy. The Vatican last year established the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization to focus especially on promoting Christianity in Europe.

Good luck with turning back secularism by burying yourselves in an old stone relic and mumbling at Jesus, fellas!

Episode CLXIII: Group hug!

I had my own little prediction about what would happen in the recent split: I expected the HATE thread would start off with a surge and burn out early, while the LOVE thread would end up with the most comments by endurance. Boy, was I wrong. The two threads were neck-and-neck in commenting frequency through most of their lifespans, until last night when the LOVE thread petered out while the HATE thread got all fired up. Final scores: HATE, 702 comments; LOVE, 434 comments.

It just goes to show that if love and hate go to war, hate will kick love’s butt.

But still, we need to bring everyone back together, because I’m not going to maintain two everlasting threads all the time. Group hug, everyone! Lovers and haters all together now! We need ’em both, lovers to bring the lube and haters to bring the spice.

(Current totals: 11,777 entries with 1,260,605 comments.)

Evolve a car

Looking for a nice demonstration of genetic algorithms? Here’s a simulation that takes randomized connected collections of polygons and wheels and scores them for their ability to traverse a rugged 2D landscape. I tried it last night, and it gave me an assortment of very bad vehicles: for example, a lot of them were just polygonal lumps that fell flat and sat there, while some had an odd wheel here and there, but also pointy bits that acted as brakes, or wheels that pointed upward at the sky and did nothing at all. So I just left it running and went to bed.

This morning, I’ve got strange vehicles running races on my computer screen. Unsurprising, but still kind of cool.

An odd fact

I’ve tried to catch the news on broadcast and cable TV, off and on, lately, and it always ends up being far more off than on, despite certain dramatic events going on in the world. American news is dead, it seems. What I’ve done instead is tune in to Al Jazeera on the internet, which is doing a phenomenally good job of covering Egypt.

To my cable company: you’d make me very happy if you had an option to switch Al Jazeera English for the awful Fox News you offer now. And as long as you’re doing that, can we switch out CNN for the BBC?

Holy crap, Texas, how can you stand your governor?

Governor Rick Perry has been talking about education.

Well, there is a lot of fat to cut from our public schools, especially those in our biggest urban areas like Houston and Dallas. I am concerned that some the highly diverse Magnet public schools in this city are becoming hotbeds for liberalism. Do we really need free school bus service, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, ESL, special needs and enrichment programs like music, art or math Olympiad? I think we should get back to the basics of the three Rs, reading writing and arithmetic. I mean when is the last time a 6th grade science fair project yielded a cure for a disease?

There are strange, wild, guttural sounds spilling from my lips right now; I dare not transcribe them here lest innocents repeat them, summoning vindictive elder gods to rend their sanity. I’m a trained professional in coping with madness, others may not be.

In this same talk, he also babbles about making private Christian schools more affordable. Kill public education, promote religion instead. That’s his position.

When’s the insurrection? Or at least the repeal? Don’t Texans have any self-respect?

I have been snared by Poe’s law! All I can say in defense is that I was only caught because it’s a hair’s breadth from reality.