Friday, December 19, 2008

Cute Cat Craziness!

It's funny how cats won't spend 30 seconds on a cat toy you buy them, but give them a discarded box, and they amuse themselves for hours on end! (Or the cat equivalent of hours on end.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's the Word?! Tinklenberg!

(I was going to link the title of this to the Michelle Bachmann Blog Carnival, but the site seems to be down for maintenance. I'll try again a bit later, so come back if you need more information.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How Many Texas Cheerleaders Can You Cram Into an Elevator?

During a cheerleading camp at UT Austin this week, a gaggle of high school cheerleaders decided to see how many cheerleaders can fit into an elevator.

If you want the elevator to remain functional, the answer is "fewer than 26," since that was the magic number that broke the elevator and caused it to become stuck with the door closed.

Fortunately, with 26 teen cheerleaders, you will have at least 20 cell phones, and within half an hour, they were rescued.

(click on the title for more details.)

The temperatures in Austin have been as high as 104 or 105 lately, so no wonder they are doing silly things -- or rather sillier than normal things.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bush Jokes at G8: Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter

George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

worst. president. ever.

read more | digg story

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another Internet Tradition or "John McCain is aware of the internet"

I do hope you are aware of all internet traditions.

For now I shall give this a rest, okay?

UPDATE: I corrected the spelling of "McCain" -- oops


George Carlin, RIP

Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man -- living in the sky -- who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever 'til the end of time!
But He loves you.
He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He's all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can't handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, you talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!

-- George Carlin Politically Incorrect, May 29, 1997

Saturday, June 21, 2008

OMFSM! Look who Visited my Blog!

I guess they HAVE figured out the internets! (see post immediately below this one.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Has the McCain Campaign Finally Figured Out the Internets?

From the John McCain's Facebook Supporters page today:

"John McCain added the Pork Invaders application." Pork Invaders seems to be a game featuring various little pink piggies worth 10 - 30 points. I assume that the piggies are scarfed up by evil liberal Democrats. Or are the Democrats supposed to be the little pink piggies? Sorry, but I'm not going to "Add the app" to find out. And aren't we long past the heyday of "Space Invaders" anyway?

The other "cool" McCain application is "Campaign Cribs: Straight Talk Express" Um, I suppose this was inspired by the MTV series, but it comes off as "look how young and hip we are," especially since the heyday of MTV Cribs was more than 5 years ago, right?

It is also interesting that while Obama has over 1,000,000 FB Supporters, McCain has a little more than 140,000.

I am Aware of all Internet Traditions

Thursday, June 19, 2008

R U Aware of All Internet Traditions?

Demolition of ESB @ UT Austin

Click on the pictures below to get a really good view!

The Experimental Sciences Building at UT Austin is being demolished this summer. Apparently tearing it down and rebuilding it was more cost and time effective than the extensive renovation it would need. It's sad in a way because there were the names of various scientists inscribed just below the roofline of the building interspersed with beautiful carvings & medallions (one carving is right above this paragraph.) There were also a couple of beautiful meeting rooms -- one with gorgeous wood paneling (and I'm not a bit wood paneling fan) and a display of wood from all over the world.

As this progresses, I'll post a few more pictures. They have a water cannon spewing water to keep the dust down. The rebar on the building is awesome, too -- a big hunk of the roof (with red tiles still attached) about 20' long was hanging from the top story by a number of rebar cables, and I thought, "That building doesn't want to come down easily, does it." Sigh.

Click on the title for an 8 minute time elapsed video of the demolition (I just fast forwarded through most of it -- it's a good view of the building from before they started the exterior work until this week.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pfleger: Bully in the Pulpit

There was another sermon given at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ the same day as Father Pfleger's. Why hasn't FauxNews put snippets of the sermon given by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite on their endless loop? Perhaps it doesn't reinforce their propaganda?

"Father Pfleger, as America now knows, preached a very different message on race, one I greatly resent.We in the United Church of Christ are trying to have what we call “A Sacred Conversation on Race” and I did not find Pfleger’s sermon to represent what we in the UCC are trying to do in having a sacred conversation."

read more | digg story

Monday, May 26, 2008

November 2008 Presidential Ballot

A nightmare I had this weekend after hearing that Barr is the Libertarian presidential candidate and reading comments from supporters of Clinton who said they would write in her name in the fall if she doesn't earn the Democratic nomination:

Candidate         Party

McCain:        Republican

Obama:         Democratic

Barr:               Libertarian

Clinton:          Independent

Even if there were only three of the above in the race (McCain, Barr, Clinton) or (McCain, Barr, Obama), it might be possible that none of the candidates would get the 270 electoral votes needed, and the election would then end up in the House.

It's going to be an interesting summer (and fall.)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Texas Board Denies Online Creationism "Master of Science"

Following up on a similar "no" vote, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has turned down a request by the Institute of Creation Research to offer an online Master of Science Degree. (The vote yesterday was done by just a subcommittee of the board, and today's vote was by the entire board. We were pretty sure that the whole Board would vote against the proposal, but you never know what weird things can happen overnight.)

This struggle is never ending, though -- this year, high school biology books are up for review, and a majority of TX SBOE members favor the new creationism/creation science/intelligent design flavor, "Teach the Controversy," which means, "Teach our particular interpretation of the bible, and never mind that we are skipping some important steps that every other hypothesis has to go through on its way to being taught as a theory in schools: Research, Peer Review, Scientific Consensus, etc."

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Texas higher education board rejects creation science degree

This is a follow up to something I just posted.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board rejected the Institute for Creation Research's proposal to offer a master's degree in science education, claiming that the degree would not prepare teachers to teach evolution. The ruling raises the question if current degree programs prepare teachers to give fair treatment to creation science.

I especially found this interesting:

The decision to turn down the proposal, subject to final action by the full board Thursday, came despite arguments from institute officials and faculty that teaching creationism to students would not hurt their future effectiveness as science teachers."

Yeah, right, being indoctrinated in pseudoscience won't hurt your effectiveness as a science teacher.

According to the article, the ICR also threatened legal action on free speech grounds. If the ICR wants to offer a graduate degree in Texas, and have it certified and/or accredited, all they need to do is label it accurately. I've put some suggestions in the post below this one.

read more | digg story

Another Setback for Creationism in Texas?

Details to follow, but I just got an email from someone who was at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Academic Excellence & Research, etc. Committee meeting today, and they have voted to accept the recommendation of Commissioner Paredes to deny certification for a Masters of Science Education program to be offered by the Institution for Creation Research.

The full board votes tomorrow, so unless they get "teh dumb" overnight, this is a setback for the ICR.

If they want certification in Texas, they might want to consider calling it a "Masters of Theology" or "Masters of Creationism", since it certainly isn't science.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sexpelled: No Intercourse Allowed

This is one of those occasions when parody is the best response.

read more | digg story

April 1 @ RLM

Our admin. associate, Colleen, made me take down the broken door signs this week after two math professors were flummoxed by them -- they wanted to come in to tell her that their sections of Number Theory in the fall would be taught via Moore Method, and they walked up to the door, looked at the signs, looked confused, walked away, saw students leaving the office, walked back to the door, stared at the door, and finally entered the office. Click on the title above to see the picture she took of our office doors.

Colleen wasn't too upset about the rest of the April 1 antics. (Actually, she was laughing about them most of the morning.) I stuck a mini sticky note that said "gotcha" at the bottom of her optical mouse; taped down the switch hook on the telephone so that when she picked the phone up it would still ring, joined all her paper clips together, etc. For the computer the faculty use, I moved the dock, opened up a couple of applications, took a screen shot, closed the applications, replaced the wallpaper with the screen shot, and hid the dock; however, after thinking about it for a bit, we decided that we should put the faculty computer back to normal, since we didn't think he could deal with it. (He's brilliant, but not that technologically savvy -- we can usually introduce him to one new change per year -- for example, when our note taking system migrated from a mainframe application to a web based one -- we would have been in trouble if they were to have also switched the registration system to the web at the same time.)

I am taking suggestions for next year in the comments section -- you really have to plan ahead a bit for these things.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Chris Comer was Expelled

Ahh, shortly before 7 a.m. CDT, the real Expelled site was updated. Currently, a short video with Chris Comer's story is featured.

Why wasn't this real travesty of decency and justice mentioned in the movie Expelled?

Monday, April 14, 2008

John A. Wheeler, R.I.P.

(Click on the title for the NYT obit.)

The auditorium classroom across from my office in RLM at UT is named after John Wheeler (he joined the faculty here in the late 1970s.) He coined the term "black hole", and science fiction would be a lot less interesting without his concepts such as the "many worlds" theory.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Expelled Exposed

Expelled Exposed, has the truth about the so-called "Expellees" of the movie, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." Please click on the title to visit their site.

I'd like to point out that (from what I've heard), "Expelled" does not discuss the science educators and administrators (such as Chris Comer of Texas) who have been reprimanded or fired for supporting science. Kenneth Miller alluded to several other cases when he spoke at UT recently -- I'll try to find some information about them to put in another post.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dr. Kenneth Miller @ UT Austin: "God, Darwin, and Design: Lessons from the Dover Monkey Trial"

Kenneth Miller, one of the witnesses for the plaintiffs in the Dover ID trial, gave an engaging SRO talk at UT Austin tonight. The webcast is already up, if you click on the title above. You'll need to download the Envivo plugin (and you need to have the most recent media player for your system) to view the webcast.

As the room filled up, I contrasted this event with the recent stealth screenings of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed -- where the Expelled audience was carefully vetted and screened to keep out undesirables, the "God, Darwin, and Design" talk was widely advertised and extra room was made for the overflow. (The room held 400 - 500, and they directed people to the classroom next door where they set up the webcast for viewing.) All were welcome, and the webcast had an international audience -- groups were set up all over for viewing, including Monterrey, Mexico and the UK.

The target audience for this talk (actually a series of outreach talks sponsored by UT's Environmental Sciences Institute) is K - 12 educators, and this comes at an opportune time for Texas since out SBOE is doing biology text reviews this year. During the Q & A period at the end, I asked if anyone had invited the TX SBOE, which got a laugh -- Miller said that he understood people could be fired for forwarding emails about talks on evolution. (I had actually meant to send the information about the talk on to my SBOE representative, Ken Mercer, and suggest that he attend, but I didn't get around to it.) Later I did see Chris Comer in the audience (the former Science Director for our state who actually was fired after she forwarded an "FYI" email announcing a talk by Barbara Forrest, another Dover ID witness.)

The contrasts with the ID crowd (if it can be said they have enough for a crowd) continued with Miller's points about how science deals with a new claim (1. research, 2. peer review, conferences, publishing, thrashing it out, which leads to 3. scientific consensus and then finally 4. the claims are included in classrooms and textbooks.) and what the IDers are demanding (going directly from the new claim to the classroom and textbooks without all the intervening steps that scientists take.)

Miller talked a bit about his experiences in the Dover trial -- I'll gloss over that, except for the fact that former PA Sentator Rick Santorum had nominated Judge Jones to his position (how did I not know that?!) The IDers must have felt that the fix was in when they drew Judge Jones.

He also gave some examples of evolutionary theory pwning ID/creationism/irreducible complexity. I've heard him talk about these in more detail in this video from a talk he gave at Case Western: It's 2 hours long, but he presents some very powerful evolutionary explanations and predictions. (bacterial flagellum, fused human chromosome #2, the dishonest presentation of the fish-to-amphibian fossil record in the ID/creationist book "Of Panda's and People", etc.

Tonight's talk was a little over an hour and fifteen minutes, but Miller is a very funny, engaging speaker. "Didn't these guys learn anything from the Nixon administration?!" (referring to the documents presented by the "Of Pandas and People" text creators to the Dover plaintiffs which were the nail in the coffin on the idea that ID is creationism and hence is religious teaching, not science.)

His view of Expelled is that the IDers need an explanation of why their ideas haven't caught on in the scientific community, and about the last straw they have is to conflate "Darwinism" to Nazism and other social ills. He said that we have to confront those errors with the facts every time we hear them. He also talked about reviewing Behe's new book -- twice -- and reports that Behe accepts the common ancestry of all beings, including humans, which is sure to be a disappointment to many IDers.

Another couple of funny anecdotes -- when he was on the Colbert Report, the only contact he had with Colbert was right before the show when Colbert said to him as he walked by, "Are you Miller? I'm gonna get you -- you're going DOWN!" Also, during the cold war, Miller was at a conference (either in E. Germany or someplace with some E. German scientists) -- I swear, the beginning of this anecdote was the only time my mind wandered -- and when one of the Germans left to go to the rest room, Miller turned to the other scientists and said, "Um, you know, that guy really isn't very smart," and the other Germans said, "Oh, him? His not a SCIENTIST -- he's Stasi!" (apparently, that's the only way the E. Germans would let their scientists hang with our scientists.)

And of course, because Miller is a theist -- Catholic to be exact -- he discussed how one can be a believer and accept evolutionary theory, and how accepting evolution does not necessarily lead to atheism. True enough, although in the case of this writer, accepting evolutionary theory did make it possible for me to be a non-believer, and it would be dishonest of me to say that this aspect of my education didn't have an effect on my beliefs. Of course, every aspect of my education eventually led me to non-belief, so I don't think the IDers should just pick on biology!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Expelled Contest

Expelled! The Movie is sponsoring a contest to see who has been the most persecuted by those evil evolutionists:

Ever sat in class and had your professor straight up challenge your intelligence for suggesting even the possibility of an intelligent design in the universe?
Tired of being labeled merely for questioning aspects of the Darwinian theory of evolution? Ever been scoffed at or ridiculed in front of your peers?
Well, here’s your opportunity to tell your story on our Website AND possibly be in the movie, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”! Tell the world some of the outrageous things your professors say about your questions.
You and your story just might be chosen by our producers to be in the film, “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”! Let your voice be heard!
*Only submissions that meet our above requirements will be published.

I'm not sure the designers of this contest realize that this runs both ways, since I've heard plenty of anecdotes of teachers and other students inappropriately bringing their religion into the classroom. For example, when my husband was in the Salt Lake City public school system, things got so bad that his parents sent him and his brother to a Catholic school so they could get away from the religious proseltyzing. His brother came home crying one day because his best friend said he could no longer play with him since they (my husband's family) weren't LDS.

So, if you have such an example, I'd encourage you to click on the above link and share your story with the Expelled crew. I already saw an entry by a student whose English teacher informed him that "God created the universe" when he submitted a paper on the Big Bang.

Does anyone know if Expelled features Chris Comer, the former Texas director of Science Education who was asked to resign after forwarding an announcement of a lecture given by Barbara Forrest about her experience as a witness in the Dover, PA "Intelligent Design" trial? (Gee, you'd think that the TX SBOE would be more than a little bit curious about this subject, since they would love to introduce ID in our classrooms here, but apparently they aren't.) Also, this is just a rhetorical question, since I'm almost certain they didn't mention it.


I checked the link this morning, and the contest is now over -- long before the stated closing date in the official rules (although I'm sure they had a provision that they could close the contest at any time.) You can still read the entries and see some video clips.

Friday, March 21, 2008

OMFSM! The Expelling of PZ from Expelled Hits the NYT

For the life of me, I can't understand why the producers of the movie criticized PZ for his view of the movie because he hadn't seen it, but then when he tries to see it, they kick him out?

What are they afraid of?

If their evidence is so strong, you would think they'd want to get it out there pronto!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PZ Gets Expelled and Wins teh Internets!

It's probably bad form to blog by just linking to someone else's blog, but this incident is just awesome! And it is related directly to my post just previous to this one.

"If you can't let your opposition see your argument, it must be a piss-poor argument."

(SRI's comment when I read him PZ's post.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rock Star Biologist -- University Tour 2008, or How I Got to Meet Richard Dawkins

So Richard Dawkins came to UT Austin to talk this evening. The student group sponsoring the event was the Atheist Longhorns, led by the indomitable Sandra Sythe who booked the venue, negotiated with our Student Organizations Office, spent many hours tabling on our West Mall, and communicated with the Center For Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation (the organizations which funded the University Tour.)

The Center for Inquiry hosted a small reception (40ish) for Dawkins before the talk. We chatted briefly -- I told him that our physical anthropology professor assigned The Selfish Gene within a year or so of publication, and he asked where I'd gone to college. A couple of other people came over, and the conversation turned to politics, and one guy said, "You know, almost no one in this room could hold public office in Texas."

Dawkins asked what he meant by that, and we tried to explain the Texas Constitution. Dawkins and I both reached for our brain extensions (PDAs, etc.) to look it up on the web -- "aha" we laughed -- "a race!" -- Dawkins won because I have to use a guest ID and have to log on frequently (and every time I walk two blocks on this campus apparently -- can't wait for June and the advent of 802.1x) and he had it pulled up about the time I got logged on.

He then wanted to write it down, and I was the first one with paper (my little black moleskine book) -- Dawkins read it off his PDA, and some other guy wrote it down.

We'll come back to this in a bit, but a few minutes latter, a woman came over and said that Richard had told her that I'd gone to UCCS -- and she was on the faculty there! We talked a bit about how the school has changed, and the only professor I remember (except for Dave Nichols, r.i.p.), Fred Coolidge, is still there. (I never had a class with him, but he went to a couple of parties @ my friends Van & Eileen's house.)

Back to the subject -- the first thing Dawkins put up on view at the lecture (once he got started -- some technical glitches held things up for at least half an hour) was the following:

Texas' Bill of Rights Section 4:
"RELIGIOUS TESTS: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments

and then he put up the rest of it:

, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being."

which really got a hoot out of the audience -- and that was the quote he'd written down on my moleskine paper!

The auditorium held over 1,000, and it was SRO -- I have a feeling they probably had to turn some people away. Most of the questions were o.k. -- I was a bit disappointed that out of the 8 or so people who asked questions there weren't any overt theists. There was one woman who started out referencing Zeitgeist, The Movie (don't get me started on that piece of shabby scholarship), which confused Dawkins (and most of the rest of the audience) into thinking that she was into astrology.

Couple of thoughts on the content of the talk -- he's not shrill about religion, unless you think that someone disagreeing with any of your theological beliefs is, by nature of merely disagreeing, shrill. Scott doesn't share my passion for cat macros, but I don't think he's shrill for it. There's just something different about religion, isn't there.

Dawkins said that if we only got one thing out of the talk, it was that natural selection and evolution are not random. Do I care to expound on this point? Nah, not right now -- perhaps later.

One neat thing he did was to put up a mock up of a special edition of a Journal addressing the extinction of dinosaurs. The first abstract was what you'd expect from a scientific journal -- "The existence of the iridium layer in XYZ may indicate that the dinosaur extinction is due to an asteroid strike." (sloppily transcribed by me, but you know what a scientific abstract should look like.)

This was followed with the "intelligent design" or "faith based" abstracts: "It has been personally revealed to Professor Higgins that asteroids caused the dinosaur extinctions." "Professor Hughes has a deeply felt notion that asteroids caused the dinosaur extinctions." "Professor Helix has issued a fatwa against those who don't believe that asteroids caused the extinctions."

All in all, for the most part, he gave a nice display of how to gently use consciousness raising to get your point across to a world hostile to scientific thought. (I thought the Marcus Brigstocke clip on religion was a bit over the top, even thought I laugh every time I watch it.)

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Dawkins mentioned PZ Myers of Pharyngula Phame (found on when he discussed the deceptive practices of the Expelled! movie crew.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Smart Phones? iPhone? iPod Touch? Goodbye Hipster PDA!

I've been lusting after an iPhone for a while now, and had some money socked away for it but I just couldn't justify the extra $ per month for a data plan. One weekend I had the brilliant idea that I could save a lot of money by cutting down or eliminating espresso drinks -- that resolution lasted until exactly 10:00 a.m. Monday.

When I was initially researching iPhones, smart phones, PDAs, etc., there were a couple of features I didn't care for on the iPod Touch. This weekend, I realized that I couldn't remember what my objections were, so I decided to get one and use it for a while. Certainly any inconveniences, problems, or gripes would appear within a short time, and if I decided I couldn't live with them, I would give the Touch to Scott, and get something better suited to my needs.

There were a couple of things about the iPod/iTouches that wouldn't work well with my University & College. One was that they don't support 802.1x authentication, which is what is used here; however, that problem should be taken care of with the updates coming in June. I was able to use the "guest" wifi access today at work, but I had to get special permission (easy to do) to use that and not the restricted access -- and I'll have to log in again after 11 hours.

The other problem was that our College uses Meeting Maker™, so I couldn't easily sync my calendar -- there are ways around that but they're a bit kludgy and involve syncing Meeting Maker ™ to iCal (or vice versa?) I asked our IT guy (who rarely, rarely has to make an appearance in our office suite other than to bring us our new Macs every few years) if there is any possiblility we could get the web based version of Meeting Maker™, or any version that could be used with the iPhone/Touch or any other smart phone or PDA, and he said, "No, we'll never get that, and our College doesn't support any calendars for any PDAs/smart phones."

This conversation was the same week that Abilene Christian University and a Christian U. in Oklahoma announced that they were GIVING all incoming students an iPhone or iPod Touch! You would think our major university could keep up with the church college world, but apparently not. (To be fair, our Communications College uses a scheduling system that syncs well with most smartphones, Blackberries, PDAs, etc.) If our college doesn't want to support my calendaring needs, they'd better stop scheduling all these fracking meetings! I need to get some of our science faculty to push for more support!

Perhaps I'd better dig the ol' Hipster PDA outta the recycling bin!

(Postscript -- the Blogger spell checker suggests I replace "iTouches" with "douches"!!!)

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's Just as Well the Judge Ruled Against the Prayer Vote at the Graduation Ceremony. . .

Why, the students could have voted for the Pastafarian prayer!

An Austin federal judge has prohibited the Round Rock school district from allowing students to vote on whether to have prayers during graduation ceremonies.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Night at the Caucus

The following is somewhat plagiarized from my entry at the above link.

S.R.I. and I attended the 454 precinct caucus in South Austin. Two precincts met in an elementary school cafeteria, but one precinct had only 3 people show up (there are only 75 households in that precinct.) One of the secretaries/recorders exclaimed, "This is the first caucus where I needed to use a calculator!"

It went fairly smoothly, and we were able to start not long after 7:15. 253 people signed in (and our voter cards were checked.) It took about 45 minutes for the explanations and sign in, and about half an hour to count. Had I been running the circus, I would have had people go to the sign in areas by rows, to make it more orderly, but it wasn’t that bad. We had a nice conversation with a WW II veteran about his service, and Scott shook his hand and thanked him for all he’d done for his country.

Everyone was so excited that such a large crowd showed up. One woman said, “I’ve been in this precinct for years, and this is the first time I’ve had to use a calculator!” I counted over 10 neighbors and former co-workers. About half the group left after the announcement of the count.

I believe the Obama caucus had 20 delegates and the Clinton had 15. (Anyone who had voted for someone who had fewer than 7 votes had to caucus with another candidate - there were a handful of people who had voted for Edwards, etc.) The Clintonians were able to select their delegates quicker — the Obama caucus (my group) had 28 people who wanted to be delegates, so we had to vote on which 20 would be delegates. The remaining 8 would be alternates, and then I think they tried to get another 2 alternates.

The Obama delegate wannabes each spoke briefly about why they wanted to be a delegate. It was neat to find out about some of the people in our neighborhood. One woman has a disabled or severely ill child, and has had Medicaid cut off twice — once in the middle of a hospital stay! One young man (if I heard him correctly) recently received his US citizenship, one woman was a lawyer, at least 3 were educators, including a woman who teaches a leadership glass to young girls, one man was a doctor, there were several retirees who’d lived in the neighborhood for decades, and we had an Iraq War Marine veteran and a Vietnam war veteran. Most seemed to be regular, working class folks, just like me. I’ve never been prouder to be a Democrat — these are some great peeps!

We then voted to accept the resolutions - without looking at them :( — but I think that was because everyone was tired. Scott wasn't happy about that, and he does have a point. The whole thing was over by about 10 p.m.

I've read several other caucus reports, and it seems the results were pretty mixed. Some want smoothly, but many seemed to be overwhelmed by the large turnout. One of the dorms on the UT campus which serves as a polling place had 1000 voters show up to caucus. There were reports of some precincts not being able to start until long after 7:15 p.m. (You have to wait until the last person has voted, and you can't start before 7:15.) You can read the rest at the link above, if you are interested.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just When You Think This Guy Can't Get Any Dimmer

Our Governor Perry in a NYT Magazine interview by Deborah Solomon about his new book and the Boy Scout legal fund. . .

Which has been fighting the A.C.L.U., to keep gays out of the scouts. Why do you see that as a worthy cause?

I am pretty clear about this one. Scouting ought to be about building character, not about sex. Period. Precious few parents enroll their boys in the Scouts to get a crash course in sexual orientation.

Why do you think a homosexual would be more likely to bring the subject of sex into a conversation than a heterosexual?

Well, the ban in scouting applies to scout leaders. When you have a clearly open homosexual scout leader, the scouts are going to talk about it. And they’re not there to learn about that. They’re there to learn about what it means to be loyal and trustworthy and thrifty.

But don’t you think that homosexuals might also be interested in being loyal and thrifty?

The argument that gets made is that homosexuality is about sex. Do you agree?


Well, then why don’t they call it something else?

Um, well, if "homosexuality is about sex" because it has "sex" in the name, what about the heterosexuals? Can anyone be safe with them???

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For Dinner Tonight -- Chickensaurus Pot Pie?

For anyone who scoffs at the idea that birds aren't avian dinosaurs, just take a look at Chickensaurus!

Hmm, perhaps a Chickensaurus cookbook isn't far behind!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Evolution is NOT Boring -- and ID "Proves" that the Creator is a Cephalopod!

An Austin HS science teacher, Steve Bratteng, proposes 13 questions that Intelligent Design cannot answer in an article in the Austin American Statesman:

here are the answers:

Here's one of the questions:

"3. Why does each of your eyes have a blind spot and a significant tendency for retinal detachment, but a squid's eyes, which provide equally sharp vision, do not have either problem?"

We have the scientific explanation (albeit simplified):

"Vertebrate and squid eyes have very different evolutionary origins, arising in very different ways, but both achieving an effective visual structure. The vertebrate pattern happens to leave the retina open to a much greater tendency to become detached."

And we have a possible ID explanation:

"I know! I know teacher! I know! This proves the creator was a cephalopod!"

If IDers & creationists want their beliefs taught in science class, they're going to have to demonstrate that they are, indeed, science. I think we'll be waiting for quite a long time for that.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Little Sir Echo Satellite

In 1960, NASA launched their first communications satellites. Echo 1 launched in August of that year, and my father and a couple of his brothers loaded a bunch (at least 6) of the Brown cousins into the back of my father's old Chevy pick-up and drove us outside of town so that we could see the satellite passing by. I was 7 or 8 at the time and in awe of the dark, dark rural Colorado sky and the wonderful stars.

When we finally saw Echo, looking just like a star, but moving swiftly across the sky, one of my cousins started singing, "Little Sir Echo how do you do? Hello, (hello) hello, (hello!)" The rest of us joined in and we sang it at the top of our lungs until dad got us all home (I'm SURE that drove him and my uncles nuts.)

Well, for almost 50 years I thought that my cousin Kenny had just composed that song out of the same awe I had at seeing something move across the sky so quickly, but thanks to the powers of the internets, I have found that my cousin did not spontaneously compose an astronomical paean -- this song dates back to at least 1939 (you can hear it on YouTube if you click the title.)

Such disillusionment, haha!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Just a Theory?

I can hardly get past the first paragraph of the above article (click on the title) -- in Florida,

Top state legislators say they're ready to join the fight over putting the word ''evolution'' in Florida's public school science standards to ensure that it's taught as just a theory and not as fact.

It all just depends on what you think the meaning of theory is, isn't it!

Here's a thought, school boards -- why don't you let the SCIENTISTS decide what should be taught in science courses, and how it should be taught?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Evolution too Boring? Too Boring! WTF?

Did Mr. Villalobos of the ATX sleep through his biology courses or what?!

John Young’s column is another attempt to keep the Institute of Creation Research from attaining a graduate degree program for creation science

Young fails to see that Darwinism has failed to pique the interest of students to further their academic knowledge. Except for T-rex kicking dinosaur butt, evolution stinks. It’s boring and no self-respecting kid is going to lay claim that he came from a monkey.

Darwinism has contributed more to the dumbing down of our kids than all the negligent, uncaring, uninvolved and pathetic parents combined.

Where to begin with this? All subjects will have their boring parts for some people, but if you are bored by a theory that explains the development of life on this planet then go back to your WoW. Science is hard, and it isn't for wimps like you. (I know, I know, ad hominem and all, but I just couldn't help it.)

There is a good chance that if he was educated in Texas, he wasn't really taught much about evolution anyway.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Didn't Find the Book Club, but We Did Find This. . .

Doh! The book club (Center for Inquiry - Austin) is on Thursday night and this is Wednesday! My days are all off. Well, it will give Scott another day to finish the book.

We did look around the bookstore where I found, "Science Evolution, and Creationism" brought to us by the National Academy of Sciences (click the title above to a link where you can find the book -- you can even read it free online.) This will save me sending off for it, although they were discounting it so cheaply if you bought copies in bulk, I thought I'd buy a few extra copies to distribute to some creationist relatives.

The bookstore was also playing such gawd-awful, somewhat atonal music -- not music that made me want to browse and spend $$ -- it was music that grated, irritated and made me want to flee! I have pretty broad musical tastes, but that was atrocious. We do hope it isn't playing tomorrow night, when the book club really meets.

Oh, and the book we're discussing is The Subtle Knife. Next month, I think, is a collection of short stories, Galileo's Children: Tales Of Science VS. Superstition, ed. by Gardner Dozois. Scott's read all of it, and I've read about half, so I should be able to finish that soon (and review what I have read.) This is about the same proportion of reading we've done for Subtle Knife -- I've read it all, and Scott hasn't finished.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Master of "Science" Education

There is a big controversy here in Texas over the proposed "Master of Science Education" degree that the Institute of Creation Research wants to offer. If this degree is approved, I'm afraid of what we'll see in our science classes.

I have never seen a Sunday School/religious school religion assignment that has been in the least bit challenging -- they're all designed so that everyone "passes."

I can see the attraction some have to intelligent design/creationism/ and science "from a Christian perspective" -- after all, science is hard and Sunday School is mind-numbingly easy.

(I've adapted this from a comment I left at