Empower the meatless!

Watch this short film of Terry Bisson’s well-known short story, They are made out of meat. I like the idea, but it was a little off-putting that they used actors made out of meat to play the main characters.

There is no shortage of non-meat actors, you know, and there are some CGI functions that might want to protest the usurpation of roles that really ought to go to minorities. Here some excellent, juicy non-meat roles come up, and they hand them over to the meaty majority.

(via The Valve)

Death to the tornado

Yarrgh, but I hate that thing—that animated collection of whirling poop-flecks that the History Channel has inflicted on us with that ad on the right. It’s supposed to only show up every 12 hours, and it’s supposed to be disabled on browsers where it causes conflicts (like Safari, where it disables every link it spins over and also shuts down my key commands), but it just keeps coming.

We’re stuck with it for a while—commitments were made—but they’re not supposed to ever put up anything that intrusive again.

Creationists, you’re going to hell—you’re pagan!

Uh-oh. Those Catholic creationists had better watch out: the Vatican thinks they’re pagans.

Believing that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a “destructive myth” had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a “kind of paganism” because it harked back to the days of “nature gods” who were responsible for natural events.

Yes, I can see how the major monotheistic religions might take offense at the “God of the Gaps” and Designer gods—they are attempts to shift the deity from the cosmic and the abstract to the mundane and the petty, and also to put those gods in the realm of the testable.

I can’t say that I agree entirely with Consolmagno, though.

“Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism—it’s turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.”

No, we don’t need religion for that. Atheists can have a conscience, too, and we are aware that there are human limits to what we should do. Too often, religion is used as a justification for doing the inhuman to heretics and unbelievers…and to pagans. It’s a piss-poor substitute for morality, unless you think propping up the obscenely rich or damning people for what they do with their genitals is “morality” (and isn’t that also an awfully petty concern for their majestic deity?).

No, not at my University of Oregon!

Noooooo! I’m a proud graduate of the University of Oregon, and I think Eugene is a wonderful place…and now I learn that damned dumb creationists were drooling stupidly in the student union. Three creationists lectured on their nonsense there.

There was Tom Alderman.

There is “a mountain of evidence that the universe was designed,” he said.

“Design has been proven to an extreme probability,” he said.

No, there is no evidence for design, let alone “proof” of design—even the fact that he is talking about proof shows that he knows nothing about how science works.

At least he nakedly revels in the religious foundation of Intelligent Design creationism.

“I’m confident that Genesis is true,” he said. “God’s deity and power are revealed in the cosmos.”

Alderman said that the Big Bang must have had a cause that is timeless and immaterial.

“It sounds like the God from the Bible,” he said.

Alderman’s qualification to pontificate on this subject is that he’s a lawyer. A Republican lawyer. Surprised?

Then there’s Geoffrey Simmons.

Simmons said many animals, such as giraffes and blue whales, have no fossils on record or any record of species from which they could have evolved. Simmons said intelligent design supports the theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest, but neither of those theories proves evolution.

“Billions of years isn’t enough time,” Simmons said. “Nobody has shown that a dog can become a cat.”

Evolution of whales? No fossil giraffes? Jebus, do I even need to mention that this bs about dogs evolving into cats is insane? This guy is totally out to lunch.

His qualifications? He’s an MD (Sorry, Orac.) If I ever visit Eugene again, I’m going to try and stay very healthy.

Next up, Jim Long. A professor at UO! Fortunately, he doesn’t say anything nearly as stupid as the other two guys, but man, he ought to be embarrassed by the company he is keeping; could he at least have had the integrity to point out that his fellow speakers were making up nonsense?

Long said that he does not include evolution in his curriculum; instead, he teaches that a creator designed the cell with impressive power and subtlety.

He’s an emeritus professor of chemistry who seems to be teaching a bit of general and organic chemistry. I doubt that he has much opportunity to teach that baloney about cells—cells and evolution wouldn’t be in his purview.

There are only a few comments on the article at the Daily Emerald site, but at least they’re all pointing out that these speakers were full of it.

Wilkins takes apart the pathetic trio piece by piece, and I’m informed that the honor of the UO is saved by the fact that Eugenie Scott will be giving two lectures there next week, and Bruce Alberts will be lecturing on the teaching of evolution the week after that.

The “I.D.” Code

The following missive was slipped over my transom in the dead of night. It reveals a dark secret, a clandestine society that has been working for years to hide their origins and true purpose. It begins with a murder and wends its way through a series of codes that are, as it turns out, reducible and simple, to reach a shocking conclusion.

I know who the author is, but I’m not telling. I will say that it is not Dan Brown (fortunately!).

[Read more…]

Cohen misses the point

You know I’m no fan of Richard Cohen. He’s not the person I’d go to for some sharp insight or even for the ability to recognize humor, so it should be no surprise that he failed to see the humor in Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Comedy is a matter of taste, so that Cohen didn’t find it funny is no big deal…but this comment shows off Cohen’s typical obliviousness and tin ear.

In Washington he was playing to a different crowd, and he failed dismally in the funny person’s most solemn obligation: to use absurdity or contrast or hyperbole to elucidate — to make people see things a little bit differently. He had a chance to tell the president and much of important (and self-important) Washington things it would have been good for them to hear.

Huh? What would have been good for them to hear? I heard pointed comments about the war, the economy, Bush’s unpopularity, privacy and civil rights, and most importantly, the spinelessness of the Washington media. In fact, that’s exactly what Colbert did: he used absurdity and contrast and hyperbole (which Cohen did not find funny, but so what?) to point out a great many hard truths. Even if he wasn’t funny to some people, he used his opportunity to tell these guys some important things. He met his “most solemn obligation.”

Oddly enough, Cohen did not say what he thinks would have been good for the audience to hear. Which fork to use for the salad? A joke about airline food? A riff on the uselessness of algebra?

Needs pygmies

Various science-deniers at the ID websites were unhappy with me because I said belief in ID was an indicator of incompetence, and that I wouldn’t vote to to support tenure and promotion for one of their guys. I think they ought to adopt Florentino Floro as a cause.

“They should not have dismissed me for what I believed,” Florentino Floro, a trial judge in the capital’s Malabon northern suburb, told reporters after filing his appeal.

Floro was sacked last month and fined 40,000 pesos ($780) after a three-year investigation found he was incompetent, had shown bias in a case he was trying and had criticized court procedure, a ruling showed.

The poor man! Martyred for merely believing in something!

A Philippine judge who claimed he could see into the future and admitted consulting imaginary mystic dwarfs has asked for his job back after being fired by the country’s Supreme Court.

In case you were wondering, the dwarfs were named Armand, Luis and Angel.

He’d still have his job if they’d been named Jesus or Mohammed or JHWH.

(via Exploding Aardvark)