Archives November 2005

Not Such A Good Deal

As of this writing, the Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt stands at eight trillion, ninety-five billion, nine hundred forty-four million, eight hundred ninety-two thousand, three hundred seventy-one dollars and forty-eight cents. That’s a stack of $100 bills 549 miles high ([1]). The Hubble Space Telescope orbits about 375 miles above Earth.

In fiscal 2005, the US government made $2.053 trillion, and spent $352 billion paying interest on the debt. This is just the minimum payment to keep the debt from growing even more.

In other words, for every dollar that the US government receives in taxes, 17 cents gets taken off the top right off the bat to pay interest on the debt. For every one of your tax dollars, the government can only spend 83 cents on defense, homeland security, urban development, law enforcement, Medicare/Medicaid, research, and everything else the government does.

We Americans love a good bargain. I don’t think paying $1.20 for a dollar’s worth of defense is a good deal.

The God Who Wasn’t There

If you haven’t seen The God Who Wasn’t There yet, you should. The DVD just arrived on my doorstep over Thanksgiving.

As the title implies, it’s a documentary that explores the notion that Jesus Christ never existed, and that religion — particularly extremist Christianity — is doing this country and the world more harm than good.

(Spoilers ahead.)

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Intelligent Design, Restated

The central tenet of Intelligent Design is usually stated as “certain features of living organisms are too complex to be the result of natural processes, therefore they were designed.”

But as Michael Behe explained at length on the stand in the Dover Panda Trial, what he objects to (at least, when he’s on the stand) is the notion that these features could have been formed by natural selection. He also made it clear that as far as he’s concerned, the designer is God.

So really, the central tenet of ID should be restated as, “certain features of living organisms are too complex to be the result of natural selection, therefore they are the result of a powerful, intelligent, probably supernatural, entity.”

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PZ Makes the Big Time

The front-page article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages is about PZ Myers. It answers the burning question that I’ve been wondering about for ages: what does “PZ” stand for?

Oh, and it also says what a pharyngula is.

Category RSS Feeds

Good news for those of you who only like some parts of my self-indulgent bloviating: I’ve updated the so that a category view (such as this one, for the “Fun” category) also includes a link to the RSS feed for that category. So if you only want to read stuff in one or two categories, you can stick those in your RSS aggregator.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a way to create an RSS feed that combines two or more categories. So if you want to read both Religion and Politics, you’ll need to add two feeds. Sorry.

Just in passing, if you like the look of this site, it uses the Tucker theme for WordPress, and can be downloaded .

Guns for Tots

Here’s an idea: let’s give everyone a gun on their thirteenth birthday. After all, if we don’t exercise our second amendment rights, we’ll lose them, right?
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Letter to Pleasant Valley Baptist Pastor

This past weekend, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church hosted , of which I attended the first session.

Here’s the email message I sent to Harold Phillips, the church’s senior pastor:
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It’s the Kent Hovind Show!

Cyde Weys, Kent Hovind, and me
Kent Hovind was in Maryland for the first (and probably last) time in years. I’ve heard his spiel, of course, but I’d never seen his show live, so naturally I had to go.

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Aluminum Foil Hats May Be Government Conspiracy, Study Shows

A group of researchers at MIT has investigated the ability of aluminum foil helmets to block radio transmissions, and noticed something startling: some frequencies are actually amplified by the foil chapeau.

Go read it and look at the pictures.

(Hat tip to Dick C. in t.o for the pointer.)

Behe Disproves Irreducible Complexity

Ed at Dispatches from the Culture Wars has an article ponting out how Behe’s one and only published research article on ID shows that IC isn’t all that improbable at all.

I read that testimony, but somehow never connected the dots as Ed did.