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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Let My People Go

Free the scientists!
Free the lovers!
Free willy!

In the Another-Fire Department: Domenech's Downfall.

Wha…? [Incredulous laugh. Splutter.] The War Against Football?
So Ms. Phyllis Schlafly considers her work a "hobby, not a career." Oh sure. I've got an idea for a counter to her "hobby," the Eagle Forum--the HMS Beagle Forum. Because creationism means never having to say you're censoring. This is a disgrace!

Best argument yet against Intelligent Design.

Groan. Stink-stanker Kazmer Ujvarosy has jumped on Dawkins, too, after Dembski started the hog-pile. I guess that's what happens when your book, The Selfish Gene, is finally acknowledged as a classic by an overwhelming consensus, including the science writer who originally panned it. Take it as a compliment, Dr. Dawkins.

Laughter predates speech by millions of years. I think that that's fascinating, but naturally the sourpusses in the Intelligent Design movement don't like the idea; they want to hear all about the boo-hooing done by Adam and Eve about their sins.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Abdul Rahman, Don't Stop to Wave


Abdul Rahman is high-tailing it to Italy. Yay! Run, man, run! Get the hell out of that place!

Is anybody else out there shocked to learn that the so-called democracy that we fought for in Afghanistan bans on pain of death the conversion from Islam? Well, I'm perfectly pissed off. Though this may stun the William Dembskis of the world (but it shouldn't), I don't believe in executing or punishing Christians for thoughtcrime--or Buddhists, or atheists, or Muslims, for that matter. I am a simple girl, and I believe in something called freedom of conscience. In fact, I don't think that a person can even claim to have a belief or philosophy until one has made a conscious decision to accept or reject what he or she was taught.

Criminey, Hamid Karzai, grow a pair, willya? Focus on the real problems facing your nation (and I'm not talking about rebuilding the Buddha statues; even Buddhists will tell you that they accept that rock crumbles, and I used to work in historic preservation myself--those statues are gone). Focus on women's rights, increased literacy, stopping the opium trade, and the fact that your nation is perfect for generating solar power and having a mountaintop telescope (I'm just thinking aloud). Don't worry so much about the corrupting influences of the West; I can show you how to deal with the Avon Lady.

(My father's middle name was Lewis! I just love this cat.)

UPDATED: Yeah. Who needs to punish Christians when they are so obsessed with punishing themselves? I just came across this statement, which hints at such self-loathing that I actually felt my heart skip a beat. "God was perfect and I was imperfect..." "God was serenely watching as I made a mess of my life..."

Holy shit, William Dembski, a mess of your life? I sure don't have three Ph.D.s! Can't you understand that, while you judge yourself so harshly (and attack defenders of evolution so harshly), I do not judge you at all? So, who wants to be perfect, man? There is no perfection. I wish that I could shake you and tell you: There is no Intelligent Designer, and there is no need for one--scientifically, personally, or emotionally. Screw perfection--let's be alive before we die, let's be wonderfully imperfect. (In other words, I'm trying to get you to take up belly dancing. We need more men!)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Check Out My New Blogs: Prude Watch and Utter Bloggerel

Inspired by "News of the Weird," I have started a new blog, Prude Watch, in which I hope to hold the feet of fatuous prudes in the mire so that they sink and disappear, hopefully never to be heard from again... Well, a gal can dream, can't she?

Also, the "utter bloggerel" roll call on my current site makes its debut as a new blog called (well, duh) Utter Bloggerel! inspired by a Scottish convert to Christianity who realized that he was living in a "Gaaawwwdless Univairrrsse!"


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Birthday Rankings, Birthday Spankings...

UPDATED: What I would really like for my birthday is a rational and peaceful world. Too much to ask, I guess, since an Afghani man my age faces the death penalty for converting to Christianity (come to America, Abdul Rahman, here it's the atheists everyone hates), and global warming doesn't seem to hear us when it's called a myth, while fucking lunatics try to ban ridiculing Islam, rubes ban sex toys in Mississippi, and pathetic suckers see Jesus in a plaster wall in Alabama (you know what, Mississippi and Alabama, He’s just not that into you. I’m sorry). By the way, evolution is hardly taught at all in this country. Well, at least the hostages in Iraq were freed. And why are we over there in the first place?

It's my birthday on the 22nd. I can't be this old. No way can I be this friggin' old. I still get carded, for Pete's sake! I finally have age 19 figured out, and I'm 41? I still haven't figured out what to do with my life.

Well, anyway, I share March with these spring babies:

March 5: Rex Harrison (Spank! I still have a major crush on this guy);
March 9: Yuri Gagarin, first man in space (Sorry, can't say the same, Yuri);

March 10: Osama Bin Laden (Holy shit! And I left my belly-dance/trap-a-terrorist costume at the cleaner’s. If I ever had the honor of catching this guy, I’d turn him over and tell the CIA where to stick its 25 million dollar reward. I wouldn’t need a reward to turn in Osama Bin Laden. It would be my pleasure, my gift to the American people and to the world.)

March 12: Wally Schirra, astronaut;
March 13: Percival Lowell, astronomer;
March 14: Albert Einstein, and Frank Borman, astronaut and airline executive;

Okay, here we go - March 22: Chico Marx of Marx Brothers, Karl Malden, actor (I’m a big fan!), Marcel Marceau, William Shatner, and... oh, no... oh, crap...

March 22: Pat Robertson! AUGGH! AAUUGH! No fucking way!

March 23: Erich Fromm, psychoanalyst (and I'm gonna need one! Pat Robertson! Augh!)
March 24: Harry Houdini, magician, and (UPDATED) Steve McQueen (Thanks, j-dog!)
March 25: Gutzon Borglum, who sculpted Mt. Rushmore (The “Designer” himself. Maybe Michael Behe will throw a party), and Gloria Steinem;

March 26: Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams, Leonard Nimoy, and of course, Richard Dawkins;
March 28: Dirk Bogarde, actor (Big, big crush on him! Okay, no more actors, Kristine);

March 29: Eugene McCarthy;
March 30: Vincent van Gogh;
March 31: Cesar Chavez, and Al Gore Jr.

Get lost, Pat Robertson! This is my birthday! Mine. No spanking for you. Ditto for Osama.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Gratitude to Richard Dawkins

I saw "Root of All Evil?" last night and came away astonished. I cannot summarize this program. It simply must be shown in the United States, if we are as "open-minded" as we say that we want our children to be, if we are the free people that we like to think of ourselves as being. After all, this program is largely about America, and it is not a flattering view.

Let me just say that I am grateful--truly grateful--that someone like Dawkins, who has the inclination, the means, and the opportunity to make such a statement at this point in our world's crisis, has chosen to do so, and to brave the criticism that even some of his supporters have launched at him. Yes, he is "strident," but Dawkins is asking the questions that must be asked by somebody, in fact by everybody, and when he goes down in history for having made this program and for having written his books, I am confident that posterity will ultimately laud him as a man of principle and of vision.

It may be that there are dangerous times ahead. It may be that science is under profound threat, that we are even headed toward another Dark Ages, that expendable little people like me--especially an outspoken woman like me--could face terrifying consequences for our choices and our beliefs. (Note: Dawkins interviewed a man who favored the death penalty for adultery, whereas my man and I refuse to marry as long as homosexuals cannot.) It may be that all one can do is to stand up and be counted among the few, the brave, and the aware, against all this fear and ignorance.

Dawkins' bald honesty made me feel like a coward. I shall not be one in the future. Thank you, Richard Dawkins, and if I may say, though I tend not to idolize people, you are my hero.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dawkins Tonight!

Ha, ha, ha, I'm going to be among the elite "unwashed"* American masses to see Richard Dawkins' documentary "The Root of All Evil?" tonight! Haw, haw, haw! It's being shown at the Fireside Chat sponsored by Atheists for Human Rights.

St. Patrick's Day, Dawkins, and my birthday (next week). Happy birthday to me! 41 is the new 21, you know, and I feel just like I finally got my I.D. (no, scratch that, scratch that!)--er, like I can legally drink.

I'll post a summation afterward. Because I can!

*Bill Dembski.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

In Memory of Tom Fox

It is my belief that while greedy individuals who wish to serve only themselves use God as a projection of themselves in order to worship themselves (Slobodan Milosevic comes to mind), positive individuals who wish to serve humanity use God as an external receptacle for their own talents. Thus they are modest about their gifts, having placed them outside of themselves. Tom Fox was such a person.

I do not worship Jesus (or any deity), but I certainly believe in the Sermon on the Mount and embrace everyone else who believes it, too. I am utterly devastated to learn of Fox's death. I had real hope that he would be released. That press conference by his colleagues is an inspiration to me.

I want to take this moment to denounce all violence, whether it be the Iraq War or the kidnapping and killing of contractors and aid workers, whether it be the occupation of the Palestinian Territories or the actions of Islamist suicide bombers, whether it be motivated by religion or racism or just plain boredom and drunken "jokes" (like the arson of churches). In memory of Tom Fox and all people like him, I affirm my belief in the peaceful resolution of conflict and the equality of all people on the planet earth.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Atheistic, "Aries," and About to Have Cake

I came across these amusing parallels between Richard Dawkins's journey and mine:

"...But reveals he began doubting the existence of God when he was about nine years old [as I did!]. He was later reconverted because he was persuaded by the argument from design [as I did, or at least, tried to be]; though he began to feel the customs of the Church of England were "absurd" and had more to do with dictating morals than with God. When he was taught about evolution at the age of sixteen his religious position changed, as he felt that evolution explained the illusion of design."

I was raised Lutheran rather than Anglican, and learned about evolution much earlier, too, at around ten or eleven, on my own.

UPDATED: Correction. "I had my first doubts when I was nine," he recalls, "when I realised there were lots of different religions and they couldn't all be right."

But our birthdays are only days apart in March (mine, the 22nd; his, the 26th). All of which, of course, means zip. But it's fun, that's all.

(I can't believe that this December it will be 10 years since another great hero of mine, Carl Sagan, died.)

Do We Have a Bet or No?

With apologies to the Clash:

Dembski, you gotta let me know—
Do we have a bet or no?
‘Cause you said that we could “play ball,”
Then I didn’t hear more at all!
So you gotta let me know,
Do we have a bet or no?

It’s always tease, tease, tease.
I wanna see complexities.
One day it’s “science,” then it’s flack,
So, if you want me off your back,
Come on and let me know—
Do we have a bet or no?

Do we have a bet or no, now?
Do we have a bet or no, now?
If you say “no,” there will be trouble,
And if it’s “yes,” there will be double!
So come on, and let me know—
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Perhaps it is a meaning hid—
The letters “ID” look like “id.”
I’m really not a Freudian,
But my unconscious spies a sham.
So come on, and let me know—
Where is ID gonna go?

Where is ID gonna go, now?
Where is ID gonna go, now?
If you say, “culture,” there’ll be trouble—
and if it’s “science,” there’ll be double!
So you gotta let me know,
Will you spar with me or no?

I won’t say please, please, please.
No Harley gets down on her knees.
Lab evidence, it packs more punch
Than Audiomartini lunch!
So you gotta let me know—
Is Cosmic “Brownie” a no-show?

Friday, March 03, 2006

I'll Bet William Dembski... amount of money that I'm able to pay (me not being the recipient of generous grants from right-wing pizza magnates who can build their own cities) that evolution will not, as Dembski predicts, be "dead" in 15 years, that Intelligent [sic] Design will not make any significant contribution to science or medicine, and that ID believers will not be garnering many Nobel Prizes. (Alternative link for Dembski's prediction in "Whither Intelligent Design?" here.)

[UPDATED: See my terms of the bet below. After initially saying that he and I could "play ball," Dembski has received my terms and not replied to either accept or reject them.]

Okay, I can fork over $1000. That's the best I can do. So it's a bet, Dembski--one thousand dollars. You probably make that just by yawning at your desk when you should be trying to educate people about knowledge that is really worth having!

(Yeah, go help some little blind kids or something--don't tell them that their sightless eyes were designed.)

The clock is ticking. Fifteen years. Evolution, dead as a doornail. It's a bet!

UPDATED: These are the terms that I submitted to Dembski:

Naturalistic evolutionary theory as defined by the mainstream, legitimate scientific organizations that he is opposing, a goner in 15 years (not just "Darwinism," that makes about as much sense as "Newtonianism" in physics--no evolutionary biologist is a strict "Darwinist" today, just as no physicist is a strict Newtonian). Evolution as the undirected, naturalistic process of random mutation and natural selection working over millions of years after life arose by abiogenesis, gone, denounced by peer-reviewed, legitimate scientific organizations, and replaced with intelligent design (irreducible complexity by an intelligent agent).

More specifically: evolution as defined by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Anthropological Assocation, Oxford University, the National Science Teachers Association, the National Center for Science Education, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences, has to be rejected in 15 years by these same organizations in favor of irreducible complexity through the work of an intelligent agent. No more talk from Dembski of the "elitism" of these institutions--an electrician is an elitist compared to me. Either ID is a science or it isn't, and only a pseudoscience remains a perpetual "censored" underdog, appealing to the credulous layman outside of the legitimate peer-reviewed literature.

If this is about science, then it's not a "culture war," and it's not a youth movement, and it's not about redefining science so loosely that it could also encompass astrology and supernaturalism. No excuses, or the bet is off! ID has to be accepted by the organizations listed above and make specific predictions that are testable and falsifiable, that result in significant contributions to science and medicine as acknowledged by those organizations. No shell games with the Doug Axe mo bio paper, etc.--ID has to cough up real, incontrovertible results. That's what the advocates of intelligent design are promising, isn't it?

A thousand dollars means a thousand dollars in 15 years, not a thousand dollars today adjusted for inflation.

Those are my terms.

Myself, I have absolutely no intention of spending that $1000. As far as I'm concerned, it's tainted money [I'm still quoting what I sent to Dembski!], and this is not about money for me. Yes, it's a fun challenge in cyberspace, even a joke of sorts, but for me this is about nailing down a claim made at a specific point in time and holding someone to that claim even after most people have forgotten about it. It's about knowledge, and the process of knowing how we acquire knowledge. It's about pinning Dembski down and making him deliver, not money, but scientific results.

This is about scientific integrity, and it's also about little "unwashed" Jane Citizen educating herself, and being absolutely shocked at the doublespeak that is used against her relatives and other credulous, willing believers [I'm still quoting what I sent to him]. Americans have short memories and don't remember much about the "creation science" movement of the 1970s, but I do, and that hockum accomplished nothing, either. Evolutionary theory, though it undergoes refinement, is never going away. There simply is nothing else--no intelligent designer, no intelligent agent, and no irreducible complexity.

That's what this is about. I want results in 15 years. [I'm still quoting.] No more talk, interviews, publicity releases, websites, youth groups, church-sponsored lectures, polls, best-selling books, and perpetual redefinitions--evolution as defined above (random mutation and natural selection working over millions of years after life arose by abiogenesis) has to be absolutely rejected by the peer-reviewed, mainstream members of the scientific community listed above in 15 years, just as he said in his interview on Audiomartini, in favor of irreducible complexity through an intelligent agent or designer. [Close quote.]