Out of the Forest

April 17, 2007, 6:55 pm
Filed under: beliefs


The long-awaited Creation Museum is set to open in a few months, and the BBC has an interesting story about it. Quote:

On a rocky ledge, there is a pair of small theropods – young T. rex individuals, we’re told. And near to them (“hold onto your hat”, says Ken, anticipating our disbelief) there are two human children playing by a stream.

Most geologists would say humans and dinosaurs were separated by more than 60 million years. And those dinosaurs have very sharp teeth!

“So do bears”, says Ken, “but they eat nuts and berries! Remember, before the sin of Adam, the world was perfect. All creatures were vegetarian.” One of the dinosaurs lets out a rather contradictory roar.

27 million dollars was spent to build this craptastic “museum”. I bet I could think up some better uses for that money. And I think Jesus would agree with me.


April 17, 2007, 6:48 pm
Filed under: beliefs

A new report reveals that teenagers who take part in “abstinence-only” sex education are just as likely to have sex as other teens:

It’s been a central plank of George Bush’s social policy: to stop teenagers having sex. More than $1bn of federal money has been spent on promoting abstinence since 1998 – posters printed, television adverts broadcast and entire education programmes devised for hundreds of thousands of girls and boys.

The trouble is, new research suggests that it hasn’t worked. At all.

A survey of more than 2,000 teenagers carried out by a research company on behalf of Congress found that the half of the sample given abstinence-only education displayed exactly the same predilection for sex as those who had received conventional sex education in which contraception was discussed.

I guess sexual beings will be sexual beings.

Interestingly, the liklihood of protected sex is the same for both groups. So is teaching kids how to have safe sex a waste of money as well?

April 12, 2007, 6:31 pm
Filed under: beliefs


Kurt is up in heaven now.

From Vonnegut’s book A Man Without a Country, regarding the funeral for Isaac Asimov:

We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, “Isaac is up in heaven now.” It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, “Kurt is up in heaven now.” That’s my favorite joke.

April 12, 2007, 6:09 pm
Filed under: beliefs

A followup on my post from a few weeks ago. In response to the threats posted on Kathy Sierra’s blog, computer guru Tim O’Reilly has written up a draft “code of conduct” for blogging. The New York Times, no less, published an article about it:

Chief among the recommendations is that bloggers consider banning anonymous comments left by visitors to their pages and be able to delete threatening or libelous comments without facing cries of censorship.

The first rule in the conduct code is that bloggers assume responsibility for the content of their blog, including what is said in the comments section. Am I the only one who finds that concept rather scary, just from a possible legal standpoint?

I do believe that people should be repectful on blogs, just as they should be in other aspects of life, and that maintaining whatever level of civility the blogger chooses should not be seen as an automatic attack on free speech. But I think the way blog content is monitored should be up to the personal blogger.

Though the draft of the code of conduct has some good guidelines, the notion that bloggers should be expected to follow them is too restrictive, unnecessary, and runs counter to the non-homogenic nature of the Internet. Most competent bloggers follow similar guidelines anyway. And call me cynical, but I don’t think adding “badges” to your site will solve civility problems on blogs.

April 2, 2007, 5:27 pm
Filed under: beliefs

A New York gallery has cancelled its planned exhibition of a “nude chocolate Jesus” sculpture by artist Cosimo Cavallaro after the Catholic League of Religious and Civil Rights called for a boycott.  Matt Selmer, the gallery’s art director, resigned as a result.   From the article:

Bill Donohue, head of the watchdog Catholic League, said it was “one of the worst assaults on Christian sensibilities ever.”

The hotel and the gallery were overrun Thursday with angry phone calls and e-mails about the exhibit. Semler said the calls included death threats over the work of artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who was described as disappointed by the decision to cancel the display.

This is one of the worst assaults on “Christian sensibilities” ever?   Deserving of death threats?  With all the poverty and war in the world, this is what spurs these people to action?

The lack of loincloth on this particular Jesus seems to have sparked the most outrage.  Rather predictably, those offended can’t see beyond the nudity to any deeper meaning to the sculpture, which is a shame. 

No one talks much about the “commercialization” and “secularization” of Easter, but this sculpture would seem to me to be a rather interesting comment on this trend.  That’s my initial reaction to it, at least.  I’m sure there are many others.  That’s what art is all about, after all.  Interpretation and judgment.  But of course it has to be seen on display as intended to really form an opinion, and for now at least, the public can’t see it.

April 2, 2007, 5:19 pm
Filed under: beliefs


A new study from the University of Manchester concludes that astrological signs have nothing to do with how romantically compatible two people are:

Dr David Voas from The University of Manchester said that zodiac ‘love signs’ have no impact on our chances of marrying — and staying married.

The Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Census and Survey Research analysed the birthdays of all 20 million husbands and wives in England and Wales.

The investigation — using 2001 census data — failed to reveal any evidence of attraction between star signs.

Next they’ll be saying that my daily horoscope is so vague it could apply to anyone!

March 29, 2007, 5:26 pm
Filed under: beliefs

Kathy Sierra, tech blogger and co-author of my favorite Java learner’s guide, has cancelled all speaking engagements and suspended her blogging due to the endless threats of death and sexual violence directed at her in her blog’s comments section. You can read her entry about it here, but beware it is very graphic in its content. Says Kathy:

To all of you were meant to be at my tutorial today at ETech, or my keynote tomorrow, you have my deepest apologies. If you want to do something about it–do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech–these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like–but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech–however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.

Bloggers are often hesitant to delete comments from their blog, lest they be accused of being proponents of “censorship”, or unable to accept criticism. But criticism is one thing, and threats are quite another. No one has the right to threaten violence. Furthermore, in my opinion, Kathy is well within her rights to maintain whatever level of civility she desires in the comment section of her private blog. And I would hope that fellow bloggers and readers would agree to accept such a level of “censorship”.