Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Saint Matthew's Churches -- They're back

I don't know if it's the anti-evolutionist who sent me letters and a Chick tract (Big Daddy) sending my address to these bozos, but this is the third time I've received an invitation to mail money to the Church Of The Post Office Box. I posted about this scam before, and I've heard a few people mention it. Their emphasis seems to be on asking God for money (or other worldly goods, like new cars or "big 6 room houses"); heck, the yellow-colored free crucifix is referred to as a "prosperity cross." Of course, in order to receive these blessings the mark is urged to send in a generous "seed" gift, i.e., first you have to send them money, the more the better (for them).

These scammers have become more sophisticated. They now have their own Web page, where they inform us that this is a very old church with a rich (so to speak) heritage: You are welcome to view the website of this very old church ministry. First established in 1951. Imagine that--they've been scamming wretched people for just over 50 years!

It's stuff like this that reminds me not to laugh at the poor benighted Cargo Cultists or Haitian voodoo practitioners. We have plenty of people right here in America wishing for magical interventions.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Speaking of teeny-weeny Evinrudes...

In my last post I noted that PBS reran the Nova broadcast of Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. In it, we heard Judge Jones say "We've seen that," referring to a picture of a bacterial flagellum, similar to one already shown. The flagellum had been introduced as literally an outboard motor. This was not noted as a simile; it was not noted as a metaphor. However, I must say, that many times when I hear someone refer to something as literally something else, they frequently mean "No, not literally--when I say literally I really don't mean that literally."

Anyhow, Michael Behe's contention was that this structure, the bacterial flagellum, is irreducibly complex--that is, take away any single part and the thing doesn't function. That contention was seen to be flawed; part of the structure has quite successfully functioned as a delivery system for plague.

An article in Science for 15 February 2008 by Shou Furuike &al. (subscription required) describes an itty-bitty motor that also lacks a rather important part, yet apparently still functions. In this case it's not an Evinrude, it's a Yamaha, er, the Fo motor of the ATP synthase. And the part it's missing is the axle. The axle-less mutants do indeed rotate. The authors end the article with
Why is there superfluous robustness in the rotary mechanism of F1? Perhaps this began as a clumsy device, and then proceeded to sophistication. If so, ring-shaped AAA+ ATPases may all, in principle, be capable of producing torque, as suggested for helicases.

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Show the good stuff

Apparently, PBS is doing more begging fund-raising now, showing those old dead people playing music that wasn't all that good forty years ago. If they want to impress me enough to send them more money, they need to run more shows like they just did. Tonight they reran
Nova's Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, interviews and re-enactment of the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, presided over by Judge John E. Jones III. That's a damn sight better than bringing on the woomeisters and the experts on the obvious that make up the bulk of fund -raising programming.

My only criticism of the show is that although they interviewed Pastor Ray Mummert, they did not get him to repeat , We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Expelled? Execrable!

I'm not going to review the anti-science pseudo-documentary film "Expelled."

For one thing, it's getting a bit late, and the film is being shown in fewer and fewer theaters. It opened in 1,052 theaters on 18 April, and on 8 May it was showing in 656 theaters (data from here).

Furthermore, there have been numerous reviews of Expelled, some by people who have actually seen it. Some reviewers managed to see it despite efforts by the producers to keep them away (i.e., expelled). The reviewers all agreed that Expelled is a lousy film from an artistic viewpoint, but, more importantly, it is exceedingly dishonest. It misrepresents science and scientists, it relates a false history, it ignores facts contrary to its premise, and it insults any viewers capable of rational thought. Expelled is the quintessential manifestation of the phrase, "Lying for Jesus." Judge John E. Jones III made a comment in his opinion in the Kitzmiller &al. v. Dover Area School Board &al. (Document 342, Memorandum Opinion, December 20, 2005, p. 137) that perfectly fits Expelled:
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.

The purpose of this post, then, is merely to direct anyone who hasn't been there already to visit Expelled Exposed, hosted by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Get the facts. Check the sources.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

A desirable state of affairs

In a post at Rabettrun, Eli quotes a Kansas Republican legislator giving her reason for upholding Governor Sebelius' veto of legislation that would require the state to permit construction of some new coal-fired electricity generation plants: I'm amazed at how well-educated many Kansans are on issues about the environment and energy.

Imagine... if other legislators, of any political party, could make similar claims about their constituents' knowledge of other issues that require just a bit understanding of science. Say, for instance, legislators or school board members in Florida. Or any other place under assault by the anti-science forces of the Discovery Institute.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Did I mention I received an award?

No, of course I didn't mention it; I was out to lunch for a few months. Every time I thought I would be able to sit down and write a post, something came up. Not that I actually accomplished much over all that time.

A comment in my last post informed me this blog was considered worthy of the "E for Excellence Award," a tag that was making the rounds a few months ago. Well, a belated thanks, Ian--I do appreciate a complement when it comes from someone whose blog I respect and enjoy. And I will try to get back to blogging more frequently.