Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Funds for Replication Study of WTC Dust Being Sought

For information on the the first peer-reviewed paper of the WTC dust, which claims that active thermitic material was found in it, and the recent attempt that claimed it could not replicate the results of the experiments, but really didn't try to replicate the experiments, go here.

 If you feel like chipping in a couple of bucks for the new, single-blind study, go here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How to Lure Unsuspecting Atheists

"I don't primarily see apologetics as the winning of arguments or converts," writes Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology, in his new book, The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails. "Rather, apologetics is the discovery of truth through a winding, weaving, honest, aimless, pointless, and completely purposeful conversation to which two or more people desperately want to understand the way things really are."

But how does one strike up such a conversation with an atheist? Rauser offers an imaginative attempt, where he and the Reader decide to visit a local, college town coffee shop. "Let me share a tip for getting the grande conversation going," says Randal. "Employ strategically placed conversation starters. For example...." he reaches into his book bag and pulls out a shiny silver copy of Richard Dawkins's bestseller The God Delusion. "No atheist can walk by without sharing a comment on Dawkins."  With that, he places the book prominently on the edge of the pitted coffee table, slightly propped up by the corner of a couple of Mother Jones magazines for better visibility.

"Here's another conversation starter," he says as he opens his laptop. Pasted on the back of the case are two stickers, a Darwin fish and an ichthus. He taps the stickers. "Great catalysts for conversation since many people still pit Darwin against God. Whatever your views on that topic, these two stickers are bound to get people talking. That's the great thing about having a laptop. You can treat it like a portable billboard. Set up shop pretty much anywhere, pop the lid with your evocative stickers, and wait. The possibilities are endless. Just imagine the inquiries if you plastered on an 'Anarchists for Jesus' bumper sticker!"

Needless to say, Rauser's tactics work. He hooks an atheist, reels him in and begins the grande conversation of two people who desperately want to understand the way things really are. I haven't finished the book, but so far, it's been a good read.

What a Gravity-Driven Demolition Looks Like

In the previous post, professional engineer Jonathan Cole referred to the gravity-driven demolition method known as "verinage" and claimed that if one measured it's collapse, it would reveal that there was a "jolt," unlike the collapses in the North Tower and Building 7. And indeed, high school physics teacher David Chandler did just that, using a special program that measured the rate of acceleration of the collapse. The point is that in gravity-driven collapses, whether natural or man-made, if resistance is encountered there will be deceleration or a "jolt." In order to have no deceleration, the cause of resistance must be removed.

UPDATE: I thought I would add Chandler's original video, "The Downward Acceleration of the North Tower."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Larry Moran's Posts on Michael Behe's Arguments

Larry Moran was kind enough to provide one place where one can find his discussions of Michael Behe's arguments for intelligent design, so I thought I would pass it on to those of you who might be as interested in them as I am.

  Update: For what it's worth, coming from a layman, I think most of Moran's arguments against Behe are rather weak. The strongest one is based on Michael Lynch's views of how evolution works. But I'm not sure the scientific community fully accepts Lynch's views.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Election is Over: Long Live the King!

The Colossian Forum offers a very important reminder:

"On the evening of the election, as polls were closing and first returns would begin to stream in, I was amazed: here were 200 parishioners at church on election night, eager to learn about ecclesiology, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. What kind of place is this?, I asked myself. 

Rob then stood up to introduce me, but first began with this announcement: “I know it’s election night, and I have some very important news that you’ll all be interested to hear: Jesus is still the risen King!” Brilliant. And true. And just the kind of centering confession the body of Christ needs to hear in fractious times.

Using "Blazing Saddles" and the N-word

In 2011 Turner Classics explained why they were about to show a film that used the N-word. That film was "Blazing Saddles", which, I just found out, was co-written by and supposed to star Richard Pryor:

"Brooks’ sledgehammer style of comedy can often fall somewhat wide of the mark, as it has in other movies. (‘Young Frankenstein’ being the only other exception I can think of.) The challenging use of the N word in ‘Blazing Saddles’ (the film was originally to have been called ‘Black Bart’) and jokes about rape were a huge risk back in 1974 (and still are now) but it all works thanks to the input of another great comedy genius, the late Richard Pryor, who was involved as a co-screenwriter on the film and who had intended on playing the part of Sheriff Bart himself. This would have marked his first buddy match-up with Gene Wilder of course, but it was not to be. Financial backers balked at Pryor’s dangerously challenging image. They were so afraid that middle America would stay away in droves if Pryor were in the role, they forced Brooks to recast the part with Cleavon Little. Little did a superb job, but he could never quite fill the huge boots left at the end of his bed. Pryor and Wilder would go on to create a string of hugely successful odd couple comedies, like ‘Silver Streak’ (1976) and ‘Stir Crazy’ (1980) instead."

Too bad Pryor wasn't in it. It would have been much funnier (and because of the script it already is very funny).

But that film was made in 1974, before use of the N-word was totally forbidden. And I think it is good that the N-word is forbidden. All words that degrade classes of people will, I think, not exist in Heaven. But now the question arises, is it proper to show parts of the movie "Blazing Saddles"? And if we do show it, should we "bleep out" the N-word? And as the author of a blog should I refuse to show parts of the movie if the N-word isn't bleeped out?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Advice for Obama

Even though all of us genuine liberals know (or should know) that Obama is just another lackey of Corporate America, which really runs Washington, for four years Rush Limbaugh and Co. have been telling white, conservative, blue collar workers that Obama is a Muslim, communist, socialist, nazi, who isn't even a citizen of the U.S.   And now that Obama has been re-elected, I'm afraid far too many of them are angry and desperate and feel that they must take matters into their own hands. My advice to Obama? I don't know if this trick will work, but it might be his only chance:  

Yes, they are dumb.  But I don't know if they are that dumb.  Good luck!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

U.S. admits Abu Zubaydah wasn't part of al Qaeda

I'm falling behind in my blog reading, and just got around to reading Kevin Ryan's fascinating post on (formerly) alleged al Qaeda operative, Abu Zubaydah:

"Abu Zubaydah, a man once called al-Qaeda’s “chief of operations,” appears to be at the center of an unraveling of the official myth behind al Qaeda. After his capture in early 2002, Zubaydah was the first “detainee” known to be tortured. The information allegedly obtained from his torture played a large part in the creation of the official account of 9/11 and in the justification for the continued use of such torture techniques. Yet in September, 2009, the U.S. government admitted that Zubaydah was never a member or associate of al Qaeda at all. These facts raise an alarming number of questions about the veracity of our knowledge about al Qaeda, and the true identity of the people who are said to be behind the 9/11 attacks.

Unlike other alleged al Qaeda leaders, including Khlaid Sheik Mohammed and Rasmi bin Alshibh, Zubaydah has never been charged with a crime. As these other leading suspects await their continually-postponed military trial, Zubaydah is instead being airbrushed out of history. Why would the U.S. government want us to forget Zubaydah, the first and most important al Qaeda operative captured after 9/11?

Read more.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Neo-Darwinist Makes Major Concession that Behe is Right

Dennis Venema, a Christian Evolutionary Creationist (which means that he is a neo-Darwinist who is also a Christian) made what I consider to be a major concession: that Michel Behe is right about the limits of what neo-Darwinian processes are able to accomplish. Venema, while explaining the latest findings of Lenski's lab, stated:

"If indeed all five (or more) mutations needed for this transition to Cit+ in the LTEE were required simultaneously, we could be confident that the trait would never arise.

Put more simply, Behe is right that numerous mutations occurring simultaneously are too rare to expect in evolution.

This was the essential point that Michael Behe was attempting to make in his book, The Edge of Evolution: that if more than two or three simultaneous mutations for the evolution of a feature were needed, then that feature would never evolve. After all of Venema's efforts at refuting Behe (and he's been at it for quite a while, now), he finally gets around to admitting that Behe is right: There is an edge or limit to what neo-Darwinism can accomplish.

In fairness, Venema goes on to state: "What he [Behe] has not demonstrated, however, is that evolution must proceed only by numerous mutations occurring simultaneously.

Perhaps Venema is correct. But it's difficult to know how anyone could ever show that evolution had to occur that way. There might, afterall, be some unknown evolutionary pathway where things proceeded, one selective mutation at a time. But I would suggest that the burden of proof is on neo-Darwinists to show that this is indeed the case and that the whole history of evolution can be explained by this process. To just blindly believe that it can be, without demonstration, requires one of the greatest leaps of faith ever known.

Venema thinks that it at least has been demonstrated in one case:

With the LTEE, we have direct evidence of what Behe defines as a “noteworthy gain-of-FCT mutation” occurring step by step, without the need for simultaneous mutations.

I'll be curious to see if Behe agrees with Venema's assessment.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Craving Sweets? Eat Sour.

So I'm driving to the hardware store, listening to the radio, when John Tesh offers one of his endless tips for living. This time its for fat people like me: Whenever I crave sweets, I should eat something sour, instead. It will take away the craving for sweets. So after the hardware store I stop at the supermarket and pick up a jar of sliced dill pickles. It's been less than 24 hours, but so far it's working. How do I know? I have a house full of leftover Halloween candy that I haven't devoured, yet.

 This tip for living brought to you by the blog that not only discusses superficial topics like whether or not there is a God, or how to know if your government is out to get you, but also the really important things, like how to lose weight.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Non-Romney Arguments Against Obama

The Egalicontrarian links to two articles that offer arguments not to vote for Obama. Both authors also recommend not voting for Romney and suggest voting for a third party candidate, instead.

When Homer reveals that Clinton and Dole were really Kodos and Kang in disguise, someone suggests voting for a third part candidate. Kodos (or was it Kang?) laughs and says, "Go ahead! Throw your vote away!"

I'm still undecided.