Christmas 2005 (1)

Posted in doors-parody, dubya, jib-jab on December 22nd 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: A few items of Yuletide and Year-End hilarity:

A Welcome and Long Overdue Smackdown for ID

Posted in breathtaking-inanity, intelligent-design, pseudo-science on December 20th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: The decision by a conservative, Bush-appointed US federal judge to ban the teaching of intelligent design in a Dover PA school district is a welcome development in the battle against this movement, creationism cloaked as pseudo-science. From the BBC:

The BBC’s James Coomarasamy, in Washington, said the decision by Republican judge John Jones was a landmark ruling and represents quite a blow to religious conservatives.

In his ruling, Judge Jones demolished assertions by members of Dover’s former school board, or administrators, that the theory of intelligent design (ID) was based around scientific rather than religious belief.

He accused them of “breathtaking inanity”, of lying under oath and of trying to introduce religion into schools through the back door.

The judge said he had determined that ID was not science and “cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents”.

In a 139-page written ruling regularly studded with criticism of the defendants’ arguments, the judge said: “Our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”

Breathtaking inanity – the new catchphrase to describe ID? It is very encouraging to see reasonable, intelligent, informed Americans daring to stand up against the religious right. Members of the school board who backed ID were defeated in recent elections, and there will be no appeal. From the Boston Globe:

In his ruling, Jones said that while intelligent design, or ID, arguments “may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science.” Among other things, the judge said intelligent design “violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”; it relies on “flawed and illogical” arguments; and its attacks on evolution “have been refuted by the scientific community.”

“The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources,” he wrote.

The judge also said: “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

My favorite quote from the press conference afterwards came from Witold Walczak of the ACLU:

“The court has held that it’s not a scientific theory,” said Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and one of the trial lawyers for parents who sued the school board. “At a time when this country is lagging behind other countries, we can ill afford to shackle our children’s minds with 15th century science.”

This fight is far from over. The creationists will continue to work against evolutionary biology, promoting creationism as science. What might be most disturbing is that it is Christians leading this charge, proving in the process that as religious zealots, they can be as intolerant as any other religious movement. I was raised Catholic, still consider myself to be a “small c” Christian, and would never align myself with these ideologues. I have never had a problem aligning my Catholic upbringing with evolutionary theory; accepting evolution does not constitute a rejection of a belief in a higher power, nor does it make one godless. Creationists believe the Universe is 6,000-10,000 years old, rejecting all scientific, geological, astronomical, biological, paleontological, chemical or physical evidence to the contrary, and defying all logic. I wonder if they accept the speed of light, knowing that the light from the nearest galaxy takes 2 million years to reach us.

The ACLU’s press release provides further details. The Discovery Institute, which “challenges Darwinian evolution and validates the intelligent design of life and the universe” considers the decision a “futile attempt to censor science education.” Tenets of scientific and biblical creationism are listed here. One excerpt:

All things in the universe were created and made by God in the six literal days of the creation week described in Genesis 1:1-2:3, and confirmed in Exodus 20:8-11. The creation record is factual, historical, and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false. All things which now exist are sustained and ordered by God’s providential care. However, a part of the spiritual creation, Satan and his angels, rebelled against God after the creation and are attempting to thwart His divine purposes in creation.

As such, one who accepts creationism must conclude that any and all scientists and researchers who continue to study natural history and evolutionary biology are of the Devil. Scary stuff indeed. One of the best sites for debunking creationist hooey, such as the Young Earth theory, is An Index to Creationist Claims. It uses a classification system to organize the claims that would make a cataloguing librarian proud.

Zocalo in Edmonton

Posted in bird-of-paradise, flowers, vases, Zocalo on December 11th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: My regular Sunday morning activities include dim sum followed by coffee in the Little Italy section of Edmonton. For the past few months, my friend T and I have been frequenting a very imaginative and original flower and gift shop called Zocalo, also home to a friendly coffee bar. While there today, I took a few digital photos of some of the colourful displays. The web site offers the following description:

Zocalo is a courtyard oasis, a visual feast of leisure and garden-related ideas that invite you to enjoy special items, a coffee and the lush green of it all. At Zocalo you’ll find a blend of the down-to-earth practical with the luxurious decadent, always with an artistic flare.

Literally, a “zócalo” is a public square. In Mexico these squares are central to the city’s social life. Lined with trees and park benches, these public courtyards are buzzing with activity and life. So, too, is Canada’s first Zocalo, tucked away in the Italian district of Edmonton, Alberta.

Zocalo offers aesthetically and functionally superior gardening related products at competitive prices. The store features a genuine coffee bar, funky fresh-cut flowers, select indoor plants, quality tools, and simple, eclectic décor items. Here you’ll find an array of local, national and international surprises that touch on simple courtyard, garden and entertaining pleasures.

“Oasis” is a very accurate description of Zocalo. The store is filled with many unique and colourful flowers, ceramics, pottery, vases, seasonal plants, and as it says, “electic décor items.” Recently I’ve been buying one or two flowers each week for my home. I was pleasantly surprised to discover two birds of paradise flowers in the store, and I bought them both, along with a larger vase to hold them.

RSS Clusterf***

Posted in Movable, RSS, Type, WordPress on December 6th 2005 by Administrator

.: I’ve spent upwards of 6 hours today trying to understand why the RSS feeds for PBD and STLQ seem to have imploded. The “old” PBD, until a few hours ago, was running on a Movable Type blog. The “new” PBD is running on a WordPress blog. STLQ remains on an MT blog.

STLQ’s feeds were pointing back to PBD. PBD’s feeds were pointing to God knows where. So what have I done to try to fix this, given that I am php- and xml-challenged? I transferred the old PBD posts to the WordPress PBD. I deleted the old PBD site from its Movable Type platform, deleted and then reinstalled (after much weeping and gnashing of teeth) the stlq.info domain to my server space, and redirected that URI to podbaydoor.com/engine, to where it was pointing in the first place. (Don’t ask, please…)

In my MT settings, where STLQ lives, I changed the URI from stlq.info/ to podbaydoor.com/engine/. When I checked the RSS feeds for STLQ in Bloglines, they “seemed” to be working again. However, closer inspection confirmed that only the atom feed is working properly: http://podbaydoor.com/engine/atom.xml, and the index.xml feed, while pointing to STLQ, doesn’t produce any feeds.

Plug www.podbaydoor.com into Bloglines, and it responds with four feeds that don’t work. Plug podbaydoor.com into Bloglines, and you get seven feeds, three of which point to STLQ feeds (which I thought no longer existed, as they would now be podbaydoor.com/engine feeds), and two of which don’t seem to work at all.

It’s not supposed to be this way. I have over 220 subscribers to PBD, and who knows how many on STLQ, now that the feeds have turned to shyte. I am so fed up with this nonsense, and my MT 3.2 installation has been sluggish since the upgrade.

The laughter you hear is coming from the first, fourth and fifth floors of Cameron Library…

RIAA Bans Telling Friends About Songs

Posted in Humour, The-Onion on December 5th 2005 by Randy Reichardt

.: LOS ANGELES—The Recording Industry Association of America announced Tuesday that it will be taking legal action against anyone discovered telling friends, acquaintances, or associates about new songs, artists, or albums. “We are merely exercising our right to defend our intellectual properties from unauthorized peer-to-peer notification of the existence of copyrighted material,” a press release signed by RIAA anti-piracy director Brad Buckles read. “We will aggressively prosecute those individuals who attempt to pirate our property by generating ‘buzz’ about any proprietary music, movies, or software, or enjoy same in the company of anyone other than themselves.” RIAA attorneys said they were also looking into the legality of word-of-mouth “favorites-sharing” sites, such as coffee shops, universities, and living rooms.

God Bless The Onion.

.: I don’t know what to make of this, but I smiled while I watched it. Turn up the sound and enjoy. Too bad the screen isn’t bigger. If this really is someone’s house somewhere in BC, it must drive the neighbours nuts, but what creativity! Does anyone know what the name of the music playing with the lights? I thought I heard a bit of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in the mix.

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