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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.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Missionary Position

P.O.V. on PBS tonight follows a group of young Mormon missionaries as they, after having been severely indoctrinated in the bizarre religion that is Mormonist theology, go to Germany in an attempt to convert Deutschland zum Jesus.

These poor, befuddled kids get a lot of Türen slammed in their Gesichten, not the least of which is the door of opportunity that their nutball religious Führers in America sadly slammed in their young minds. Following up with these young men today, the camera rolls as they express a mixture of gratitude for the discipline and embarrassment about the silly ideology that they had to mouth. If you missed it, check the link for when it will re-air, because it's exactly what Salman Rushdie meant when he said, while speaking at the University of Minnesota a few months ago, that surrealism is the true realism of today.

"The truth about the Church of Latter-Day Saints is that it is a corporation, and it's run like a corporation, and at the bottom of it, it has no heart."

Speaking of surrealism, and of corporations... I got what I wanted: heartless DaveScot was booted from UberCommon Dissing and William Dembski has started posting more. I've heard so much about Dembski's reported sense of humor despite his crazy beliefs, but the dude has been so whiny lately that he's losing his amusement value for me. Okay, I tease him a lot and get a little coquettish even though he's absolutely safe from me, but ever since the Dover decision he's waving his wet handkerchief so vehemently that it may as well be a white flag. So give it up, Bill! Switch sides already, man.

Why does a giant of evolution, like Coyne, need to sully himself with an extended critical review of Coulter’s GODLESS? Can you imagine Einstein reviewing a popular book by a journalist critiquing his general theory of relativity? Why does evolution need so much defending? [Because lies are easier to believe, my boy.]

By the way, I received my first PhD, in mathematics, from Coyne’s institution, the University of Chicago. It’s in my capacity as a mathematician, rather than as a theologian, that I make my primary contribution to ID. [Oh, yeah?] Also, Lehigh is, as I recall, one of the top 50 research institutions in the US, and Behe is a full professor there. So calling him a third-rate biologist seems a bit much. Can Coyne point us to any third-rate biologists who love evolution as much as he does? [What, first-rate not good enough for you? Well, okay...] Does evophilia automatically make one at least a second-rate biologist? [Huh?]

Oh, boo, hoo, hoo. Poor foppish I.D.! Everyone picks on it (or id). It can't even cross the road without being called a chicken. It's better funded than many legitimate scientific institutions, and yet it cannot throw a punch without knocking itself in the cheek! And this has been called by UD and Dembski's Disco Boys "the only alternative to Darwinism"?

Well, so much for this "youthful, rebellious" movement formerly known as the movement formerly known as scientific creationism, which was going to "go back to the lab" and displace evolution in ten years. (That clock is still ticking, Bill, baby.) I guess that's what happens when you try to dress up your own Goliath (or how about Go-LIE-eth) as David--you're forced to aim your slingshot at your own eye just to get a little attention!

Perpetual victimhood, like perpetual fringe status, is not impressive.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Public Archaeology

UPDATED: I won't be blogging for some time, so I will leave you with this lament for the Middle East, a particularly prescient quote from Richard Dawkins' documentary, Root of All Evil?

"I’m here on the Mount of Olives looking out over this beautiful old city. We’ve heard some pretty extreme statements, some hatreds, some bigotry such as I haven’t really heard before…

"I don’t see what future the world has as long as people think like that, and people are going to go on thinking like that as long as they’re brought up from childhood, from the cradle, to think that there’s something good about faith, to think that there’s something good about believing because you’ve been told to believe, rather than believing because you’ve looked at the evidence.

"I want to say that killing for God is not only hideous murder—it is also utterly ridiculous. Unlike religion, science doesn’t pretend to know everything. There are still deep questions about the origins of the universe that are yet to be explained."

—Richard Dawkins

I, too, wish to emphasize that I condemn both Islamist terrorism and Zionist extremism. It all sickens me. Here, again, are two ideas that are popular in the minds of the common people—the call for blood by Hezbollah and other fanatical groups, and Zionist predestination (as opposed to the average secular Israeli's desire for a democratic nation)—just as creationism is popular in the minds of so many Americans. It's wrong. Too bad that this nation deems Richard Dawkins' statements as too strident for this country to hear, for they're aren't just his ideas, after all.

Peace, everyone.
Fortunately, I am taking time from work and traveling along the West Coast for the next few weeks, which unfortunately also means a vacation from the Mill Ruins Park archaeological dig.

I have been showing up on Saturdays to help excavate several sites along the Cataract Mill complex, a line of mills that once stood along the Mississippi. The public is invited to scrape and sift alongside professional archaeologists and graduate students every Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., through August 12.

It's slow going, since the mills went up and were torn down in quick succession, with various types of fill thrown in so that another mill could be erected almost immediately on the same site. Most of the children who show up want to be told that they could find dinosaur bones, but of course, we're searching for human artifacts from the past 100 years. What we have found are nails, piping, ceramic pieces, clunkers, coal, mortar, agates, rodent skulls, paper clips, some newspapers, bricks (the softer, cheaper yellow and the expensive red), a few buried insects, and a even purple leather jacket from the 1950s!

There's something hypnotic about scraping; I'll go at it for two hours at a time without looking up, even if we don't find much. The people guiding the visitors at the sites are mostly young naturalists who don't get paid enough, in my opinion, and are not necessarily specializing in the field of archaeology; I spoke with a young man who has a degree in biology and a master's in education, and another young graduate student in ecology. They teach and do research in addition to working at the site, and they're great with the kids. School groups have been working on the sites during the week; my sig. other, John, recently made a short film about the project.

The park is very close to the new Guthrie. If you're in the area and have a chance, stop by on a Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to get your hands dirty.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

If It Walks Like a Devil Duck, Quacks Like a Devil Duck...

I can just see it now: "Mom, our Sunday School teacher keeps saying that Adam and Even rode dinosaurs to church. So where are all the dinosaurs in the Bible? And don't give me that %#&$@ about Behemoth and Leviathan!"

Or, how about this:

Sunday School Teacher: "Today, boys and girls, we're going to learn about Moses in the bullrushes."
Kids: "But where's the Brontosaurus! The Brontosaurus!"

Yes, where are the demon ducks and fanged kangaroos in the Bible? Kent Hovind, give it up and sell your flabby biblical dino-snores to a carnival merry-go-round. We're taking the dinosaurs back back!

Friday, July 07, 2006

A Godless Proposal

UPDATED: Hey, Annie Coulter--I just returned your book. I am now Godlessless. You should pay me for even reading that claptrap. Hell, I should get disability. Here's what I did with the money I won't give you--I bought Through Our Eyes Only? The Search for Animal Consciousness by Marian Stamp Dawkins, Professor at Somerville College and University of Oxford.
So, according to columnist Megham Daum, Ann Coulter’s Godless is brilliant satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, eh?

I confess that unintentional satire entered my mind when I read her 80-page yowl against “Darwinism.” In using that word interchangeably with evolution and “survival of the fittest,” Coulter certainly encapsulates the duh-termination of addled creationist activists who apparently go through life trying to walk up the down escalator. I found the chapters on evolution in Godless to be an astonishingly garbled rendition of tried-and-untrue creationist rants, which get recycled even more often than “True Love Waits” vows.

Are we to believe that, in between attending the spinstrel shows at her megachurch, Coulter lifted her anti-“Darwiniac” rant directly from secondary sources like Intelligent Design hucksters William Dembski, Michael Behe, et al, in order to lampoon them?

That’s laughable, all right (though not as hilarious as Dembski’s and Behe’s regular “satirizing” of themselves). I must say that Ms. Coulter sure does an excellent imitation of a possible cosmetic surgery addict and creationist sock-puppet who, in keeping with the Republican pattern, could even have had a couple of secret abortions (how would we know?), which would compliment her cry of “virgin sacrifice!” as nicely as Strom Thurmond wagging his white finger (the one on his hand). Yes, it’s an inspired comic performance!

It inspires me, too. Being that “comedy is tragedy plus time” as Meghan Daum writes, the current American orgy of Christian piety should be ripe for satire as well. Now, don’t be so serious! Everyone must join the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in “defending the cultural foundations of a free society” by demonstrating that Americans’ love of satire extends even to making fun of the ungodless.

Therefore, here are few of my own witticisms for your delectation. (But unlike Coulter, I thought up everything that I wrote and speak only for myself.) Enjoy!

  • Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell hold a Good Friday service every year. I have never seen clergy enjoying their god’s death so much! Of course, these preachers are millionaires. We don’t know that their Jesus wasn’t planning to throw these hypocrites (harpy-crites?) into Hell. Now that their earthly shelf life is dwindling they’d better hurry up and appear in “Godspell.”

  • Most churches are—at best—expensive baby-sitting arrangements—for adults. At worst, they are idiot-training labs, where priests and pastors sexually abuse the children between protesting pap smears at women’s clinics and making guest appearances on Fox News.

  • Assuming you aren’t a fundamentalist former fetus, the right’s most dangerous religious belief is their secret admiration for the same Islamist terrorists that this nation is ostensibly waging a war against.

  • The only evidence for God’s existence is fake evidence. Forget the peppered moths (which were never presented as “evidence for evolution” anyway)—the real scandal of the millennium is the Jesus face in pepper on someone’s mashed potatoes in Chunky, Mississippi.

  • The Party of Rape-publicans wants to stay in (and we do mean in) Iraq. Don’t pull our troops out—that would be unmanly! Iraqi women and girls need “liberation.” It’s a good thing no one searches the President for mislabeled Viagra prescriptions after his return from those secret visits.

Ha, ha, ha. Now, I’ll just sit back and listen to the pundits celebrate me as “a comic genius, an anthropologist with an edge, the adopted lovechild of Oscar Wilde and Gore Vidal.”

See, I can take a joke.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    America is not a "Christian Nation"

    UPDATED: And neither is Britain. Talk about losing hearts and minds!

    That so-called "politically correct rewriting" of FDR's speech on the World War II memorial is an urban legend. If you want to get outraged about anti-Americanism, get outraged about this, which is about as unpatriotic as it gets! So happy Fourth of July, and may we take our nation back soon from these lunatics. (As originally posted on Pharyngula)

    This country has now raised more shitty crosses than the fucking Roman Empire! Is that something of which even the most fanatical Christian should be proud?

    For the true patriot's reading pleasure:

    "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
    -Abraham Lincoln, American president (1809-1865)

    "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies."
    and, more famously,
    "Lighthouses are more helpful then churches."
    -Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father, author, and inventor

    "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, bigotry, and persecution."
    "In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people."
    "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
    -James Madison, American president and political theorist (1751-1836)

    "The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."
    -John Adams, U.S. President, Founding Father of the United States

    "Religions are all alike - founded upon fables and mythologies."
    "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature."
    "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man."
    -Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President, author, scientist, architect, educator, and diplomat

    Nothing is better than the writings of the Founding Fathers. Ann Coulter should read them. Maybe she'd astound us all and actually learn something.