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A comparison

March 31, 2005 Leave a comment

Animal rights group protest:

CALGARY (CP) – A woman dressed in a tiger suit squeezed into a cage littered with dirt and rotting food Thursday to protest the licence renewal for a private Alberta zoo criticized for how it treats its animals.

Christian right protest.

Pastor David Bayly spent two weeks in Pinellas Park, Florida outside the gates of Woodside Hospice. He went there with a pastor friend, and the friend was arrested for trying to give Schiavo water.

There’s really not enough creativity on the Christian right. Animal rights groups have wonderfully creative protests, such as this guy being crucified in a pig mask. Fundamentalists, what, go on a hunger strike?

Since Terri Schiavo passed away today, the fundamentalists have lost their best chance for topping the animal rights lunatics. Really though, they weren’t even trying. Did we see headwear covered in blood with a gavel attached? Masses of feeding tubes dumped outside the hospice or court house? No, and those are just what I can think of. I wouldn’t have thought of crucifying myself while wearing a pig mask. While sending the state police to kidnap someone in a vegetative state would certainly show dedication, it’s not that interesting. I want creativity!

Categories: Silliness

Quackery discussed?

March 31, 2005 Leave a comment

Apparently Montana State University-Great Falls offers a course called “Exploring Complementary and Alternative Medicine” as an elective in their Health Sciences department. There’s one assignment (on “energy medicine”) from the class in the printer here. It’s close to being objectional, but not too bad. It mentions “quantum physics and subatomic particles” for no real reason, a hallmark of this stuff. It also asks if “[the traditional scientific method] is a paradigm that we wish to continue to embrace…” In fairness, it does then ask if alternative health practitioners rely too heavily on subjective comments from their clients. However, it also states:

Reiki and Therapeutic Touch are becoming widely accepted, and it may come to pass, that as physicists move even further into the world of subatomic particles, what is thought of today as quackery, may someday be part of mainstream treatment.

Of course, that’s sort of silly. There’s no reason to think physics will vindicate alternative medicine and Therapeutic Touch is hardly widely accepted.

I’m all for classes that educate people on how alternative medicine is quackery, but this seems close to going the other way.

Categories: Skepticism

Indeed

March 30, 2005 Leave a comment

In my ongoing attempts to elevate the level of discourse in this country, I present this.

Hey, he is holding it right over some lady with a sign equating O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson with Michael Schiavo.

While I’m in the mood for cheap shots, John Cole has one.

Categories: Silliness

NEWSFLASH!

March 30, 2005 Leave a comment

Hilary Swank Fined for Fruit Import

So important it’s one of Yahoo’s top stories at the moment.

Sheesh.

Categories: Silliness, The media

I'm disappointed

March 29, 2005 4 comments

On Sunday the Chronicle had a front page article dealing with global warming’s effects on whitebark pines. In short, their habitat is warming, allowing mountain pine beetles to survive more easily and attack the pines. This is having an impact on a major source of food for grizzly bears and could lead to more confrontations with humans.

Seems like a solid enough article, but it deals with global warming. So far, though, we have no letters attacking the paper for saying global warming is real! It’s only been two days, granted, but if I don’t see any tomorrow I’m going to be very disappointed. This was front and center and it didn’t get the anti-environmentalists riled up? That’s just no fun.

UPDATE: Day 3, no letters. I’ve seriously overestimated the anti-global warming brigade.

UPDATE 2: Day 4, nothing.

Categories: Environment

Fun with numbers

March 28, 2005 2 comments

Hey, you know how all those wimpy leftist economies are trounced by the powerhouse right wing economies?

Yeah, not so much.

Every year since 1995, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal put out an Index of Economic Freedom, ranking countries on their fealty to the precepts of free markets and free trade….

A more interesting test than Heritage’s would be to see how countries’ scores in a base year correlated with subsequent growth. Investments are planned and career choices made on the basis of expectations for the future, and expectations are formed mainly by conditions in the present and recent past. And it’s rare that political, economic, and social structures change radically over a few years. So assuming the index means anything at all, it should have some bearing on future performance.

Let’s see how scores in 1996 correlate with economic growth in the following years. And we’ll take a closer look at a version the Heritage/WSJ measure, the change in freedom and its correlation with growth.

And what did he find?

…For the statistically inclined, the correlation is -.02, which means that the association is actually in the opposite direction – more “freedom” means less growth – but the correlation is meaninglessly small.

Running the numbers on the report’s measure, the improvement in the index vs. GDP expressed in 1995 U.S. dollars, produces somewhat better correlations (.33, to be precise). But that’s still very far from impressive;…

(via MaxSpeak)

UPDATE: I misread the second chart. It looks like this is pretty much meaningless.

Categories: Economy

You are inhabited by dead aliens!

March 28, 2005 5 comments

Continuing my streak of posts dealing with religion, I learned something new about Scientology today. I thought it was pretty much just a silly self actualization-type cult claiming to be based in science. Stupid, but not that interesting. Apparently, I was wrong. Skeptico quotes this summary:

the alien galactic ruler Xenu who was in charge of Earth and 75 other planets in this part of the galaxy some 75 million years ago and how he cured overpopulation by paralysing the people of the other planets, flying them to Earth in DC-8 space planes, arranging them round a volcano to murder them with H bombs. Not done with that these souls of these murdered people were gathered up and boxed, taken to cinemas and shown films for several days. The end result being that the souls clustered together and now inhabit people in their thousands. And of course they must be removed at huge expense.

That’s apparently from a Scientologist leaflet, based on L. Ron Hubbard’s OT III document. The page of OT III (which is very closely guarded by the Scientology folk) that site has is bizarre.

Categories: Religion

Joe Lieberman is an ass

March 28, 2005 3 comments

I caught this flipping channels yesterday. Joe Lieberman opines on faith in America on Meet The Press:

The fact is that in the first American document, the Declaration of Independence, the founders of our country said that they were forming the new government to secure the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that they saw as the endowment of our creator. So this government, this country was not neutral about God right at the outset. One, accepting that there is a creator, so our existence here is not accidental. And secondly, that as a result of the creation, we have an inherent unity. We are all equal. We have equal opportunity for those rights. We are a country based on a vision, a belief in creationism. And part of that is not only the humans, who were created on the sixth day, but the but the natural Earth.

I’ve not been much of a Lieberman basher, but that is quite the statement. We’re united by the complete denial of scientific evidence and rationality? That’s a bit scary.

UPDATE: Transcript is here.

Categories: Religion

Pining for the fjords!

March 27, 2005 3 comments

Randy has a Monty Python quiz, which he aced. I, on the other hand, only got 6 out of 10. George Harrison was in Life of Brian? I’m not old enough to catch that one.

Categories: Silliness

Easter activities

March 27, 2005 2 comments

Today is Easter and I spent this afternoon in the Museum of the Rockies. Much better than going to one of those silly church things.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that their new cosmology is pretty cool. Much more colorful than the book I’m reading. There was a letter in the Chronicle the other day about it:

Can we find meaning for life? Where do we fit in? What is the relationship between faith and science? Is there a God?

Do you hear these religious questions in philosophy class? Comparative religion? At church? How about the last place you’d expect to find religion — the “Cosmic Questions: Our Place in Space and Time” exhibit at the Museum of the Rockies.
In the “Cosmic Kitchen,” children are brainwashed with the evolutionary religious conviction that life is but the natural result of the origin of the universe. Elsewhere, Biblical creation is presented as but one among an illegitimate assortment of ancestral, culturally invented, origin myths.

I didn’t see where Genesis was discussed and really, that “Cosmic Kitchen” exhibit has a guy creating the universe as someone would cook some sort of meal. Sounds sorta like God. The entire exhibit states several times that we have no idea what comes before the Big Bang.

Scientists (outrageously outside their field of expertise) pontificate, “I believe in god — nature is god,” “faith is an emotion,” “we are not the purpose of the universe, but just one tiny element among many,” “Creation is the Big Bang,” “Stars are the caldron of creation,” “The universe has a life of its own,” “In the Bible God created, but science tells us how.”

That last one is kinda funny, it was from a guy, a priest, I think, with a giant cross beside his head. The quote is closer to “I always say ‘the Bible tells us who created the universe, but science tells us how.'” The exhibit is simply a few scientists giving their personal opinions on some “deeper” questions. It’s hardly anything sinister. Besides, there wasn’t an atheist on there, so maybe I should be pissed! Except, I’m not an idiot.

The rest of the letter is some sort of tirade about how this is government funded and a violation of the First Amendment and that they have way more money than Answers in Genesis. I’m not exactly sure what that has to do with anything.

One more thing: whoever came up with the “Jesus Got ‘R Done” t-shirts at Hastings should really be locked away so he or she can’t infect the rest of us with that kind of stupidity anymore.

Categories: Science
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