Archives August 2005

The Annotated Republican Oath

Courtesy of the GOP:

Republican Oath

I’m a Republican Because…

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

Unless, of course, the freedom in question involves marijuana. And dying with dignity is right out. Also, terrorism trumps people’s dignity and freedom. And don’t get us started on abortion.

Also, “honor” may extend only to the sporting of a magnetic ribbon on an SUV.
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Codeword: Restoration

On a hunch, I popped over to and searched for bills with “Restoration Act” in the title. You’ve probably heard of the Constitution Restoration Act, which aims to restore the original intent of the US constitution by helping usher in a theocracy, but there were several others as well.
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Morons on Parade

Pat Robertson has apologized for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Earlier, he had said that his comment had been taken out of context, and that “take him out” didn’t necessarily mean “assassinate.” However, he also said

“If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.”

I don’t see how that can mean anything other than “assassinate.” I guess his apology means that even he realizes the “out of context” defense won’t work in this case.
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Site Facelift

I hope you like the new look. The default WordPress theme is fine, but I wanted something that could be resized, so I hammered the default/Kubrick theme into something I liked.

The theme can be downloaded . Please let me know if you like it.

Pascal’s T-Shirt

PZ Meyeyers provides the most succinct refutation of Pascal’s Wager that I’ve seen:

Suppose I had a million dollars. Then I would be rich! Therefore, I have a million dollars.

I suppose a better parallel would run something like:

If I think I’m rich, and I really am rich, then I get lots of good stuff.
If I think I’m rich, but I’m really not, I can’t spend my money anyway, so I haven’t really lost anything.
If I don’t think I’m rich, but I really am, then the IRS will demand a lot more money from me than I think I have, which will make me sad.
If I don’t think I’m rich, and I’m really not, I haven’t gained or lost anything.

However, PZ’s version fits on a T-shirt or bumper sticker, and is a lot snappier.

Stop Presses! ID Actually Explains Something!

In Uncommon Descent, Bill Dembski criticizes Steven Pinker’s evolutionary explanation of goosebumps as “fluffing up long-gone fur”, then attempts to give an ID explanation:

What about the intelligent design of goose bumps? I’m perfectly happy to consider them a quirk that results from evolution working in tandem with design. But let’s say we had to come up with a design explanation of them. Here goes: goose bumps kick in when we’re frightened or cold or otherwise experience strong emotions. But is it that we are consciously having such experiences or is it the goose bumps that assist in bringing to consciousness such experiences. Goose bumps are, after all, not under conscious control — they are governed by the sympathetic nervous system. Perhaps goose bumps are designed as a way of bringing to consciousness various stresses that need attention.

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Drunken Walks 2: Neutral Drift Boogaloo

In our last episode, our heroes saw that just by taking lots of steps in random directions, you could wind up arbitrarily far from where you started. This time, we’ll take a look at what it means for population genetics and evolution.

As we’ve all learned, evolution is “allele frequency change in a population over generations”. And the way we all visualize this, I think, is to think of a population in which one member has a slight advantage over the others, such as sharper teeth, better resistance to poison, slightly more efficient camouflage, etc. As generations pass, a greater and greater percentage of the population has this advantageous trait, until eventually it’s the norm. Either that, or detrimental traits get removed from the gene pool.

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Kent Hovind Gets Taken Again

Oh, this is just too precious.

The April 2005 issue of Scientific American included an editorial entitled “Okay, We Give Up” and subtitled, “We feel so ashamed”. The editors said they were contrite for ignoring creationism and ID, simply because there’s no evidence for either one.

That’s what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn’t get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody’s ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.

This was clearly an April Fools joke. Perhaps not the funniest ever, but still pretty blatant. But Kent Hovind fell for it anyway.

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Frequently Unanswered Questions about Intelligent Design

I’ve started putting together a list of questions about Intelligent Design that ID proponents have yet to answer, as far as I know.

Some of these questions are fairly basic, such as “what is the scientific theory of Intelligent Design?”, “Who is the designer?”, and “What is the lesson plan for teaching ID?” If IDists can’t give sensible answers to questions like these, what the hell are they doing pushing it in public schools?

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Rant O’ the Day

Kung Fu Monkey explains why George Bush’s endorsement of Intelligent Design is a crock, and why it matters. A lot.

Includes the best characterisation of ID ever:

Intelligent Design, or as it’s more commonly known: “Creationism Trying to Look Serious By, Say, Squinting — Like Denise Richards Playing the Nuclear Weapons Expert In That Bond Movie“.

I’m jealous. I wish I had that kind of flamage-fu.