Friday, November 23, 2007

The Creation Museum Report

Gifted science fiction author John Scalzi visits Kentucky's Creation[ist] Museum, and is badly over-matched by the sheer idiocy of the place. The first goodly chunk of his report is little more than a string of awed expletives. He collects himself long enough to make this point:

The problem with this is that creationism isn’t a theory, it’s an assertion, to wit: The entire universe was created in six days, the days are 24-hour days, the layout for the creation and for the early history of the planet and humanity is in the first chapter of Genesis and it is exactly right. Everything has to be made to conform to these assertions, which is why creationist attempts at science are generally so damn comical and refutable.

Then he turns his attention back the museum, and his muse is trumped again, as back come the expletives. Then he finishes up with a "to each his own" dismissal of the whole enterprise.

In case John is still curious about what creationists say happened to the dinosaurs after the Flood, I humbly direct him to this Jack Chick tract. Better duct tape your head first, though.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nature + Sin = Consequences

The rates of sexually transmitted diseases are ticking up, after a long period of decline. From a NYT article:
The incidence of gonorrhea, which had declined sharply, has risen in the last two years in this country while the number of chlamydia and syphilis cases continue to rise, federal health officials said yesterday.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the two most common diseases among those doctors must report in the United States. And the 1,030,911 cases of chlamydia in 2006 are the highest ever recorded for any nationally reported disease in any year, the officials said in releasing their annual report on sexually transmitted diseases. They said that because of underreporting, a more accurate estimate is 2.8 million new chlamydia cases annually.

(There's also some shocking demographic aspects to these data, but that's for someone else to parse.)

So back to the Seventies we go, when the ripples from the Sexual Revolution's Sixties splash first spread out over the pond of our society. And may the consequent Great Relearning not be far behind. People forget that we didn't always live in a time of medical miracles, and thanks to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we may yet outlive said age. A syringe in the ass can't bail you out of all the possible trouble your naughty bits get you into.

What's the best defense? A happy marriage, which the Constitution unfortunately only guarantees the right to pursue, not to have.

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent, unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting.
--George Eliot

Marriage enlarges the scene of our happiness and of our miseries. A marriage of love is pleasant, of interest, easy, and where both meet, happy. A happy marriage has in it all the pleasures of friendship, all the enjoyments of sense and reason, and, indeed, all the sweets of life.
--Joseph Addison

No fleeting piece of nookie will ever be worth all that. If you have steak at home, you don't have to sneak out for hamburgers. Tainted hamburgers, as it happens.

Related: In case someone suspects me of Christophallic judgmental triumphalism, I direct your attention to this sad bit of red state notoriety. As someone once said, the Anglo-Protestant moral ethic doesn't stop people from sinning. It just stops them from enjoying it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

People watching in traffic court

So there I was, sitting in traffic court, waiting for our turn to plead our case. My wife had gotten tagged for a couple of moving violations, but she insisted to fight them in court. So we had gone in to plead, then come back on the trial date, only to have it postponed because the officer was on "court leave". It was rescheduled for a couple months later, on a bad day for me, as it turned out. But I couldn't reschedule, even though my reason was at least as good as whatever reason the officer had blown off the first date.

We were among the last to be tried, so I had time to watch the other people go through. The jump-suited prisoners from the city prison were dealt with first. Then it was on to the "civilians". Of note were these cases:

Most were traffic cases, and most of the defenses (few of them had lawyers) were along the lines of "you must have clocked someone else in front of me". One Afro/Carib woman's defense was that everyone else was illegally parked, so why ticket her? Another tried to be slick and file a motion requesting the court to re-enact the traffic stop, or something like that. This guy also pleaded his status as a military veteran, a soldier in Desert Storm. The motion was denied, and the solicitor threw his veteran's status back at him: "Many of us are," he said, and then proceeded to reel off years of speeding and red light running tickets the guy had collected over the years. Guilty.

One case was for disorderly conduct. A single mom, a hash-slinger at Picadilly's, had blown up at her slumlord about her roach-infested apartment, and was jailed. The judge and solicitor were sympathetic, found her guilty, and sentence her to time served and let her go.

The only not guilty verdict of the day came on an expired tag charge. The man had a paper from the DMV of another state saying that his tags were still current at the time of the stop. The judge apparently decided not to punish him for a government paperwork snafu, and let him go.

Finally it was our turn. We were given a fair trial and found guilty on both counts. The judge asked for "mitigating or aggravating" circumstances before handing down sentence. The solicitor recommend a light fine, since she had no prior convictions, and the violations were due more to confusion than recklessness. So, we got off lighter than if we had paid the fines straightaway. All in all, quite an educational experience.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pictures of transitional fossils

Here is a nice gallery of transitional fossils, from the Cambrian on up to the advent of prehistoric man. They're from a new book by paleontologist Donald Prothero, Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters. Looks like a good pushback against creationists and their lies, if anyone who's on the fence happens to read it. Coverage of a Q & A with Dr. Prothero is here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Giving Charlie Brown the Mommy Dearest treatment

I watched a few minutes of the PBS special on Charles Schulz, in which his kids were carving him up. I didn't like it. However unequal to his familial responsibilities he may have been, those adult kids are betraying him, and for what? For what?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Healthcare costs money? Those damn conservatives!

I've boycotted Daily Kos since his despicable "screw them" remark about murdered American contractors in Iraq a few years ago. But even I can feel a pang of sympathy, when a Deep and Real and Concerned and Pissed Off progressive bumps into the fine print in his health insurance.

I feel sorry for Kos, if this is his first big run-in with insurance red tape. I got it hot and strong early on, and by the time my oldest was in kindergarten BC/BS had paid a third of a million for her. Pretty much all of the trouble I had to unsnarl was the result of muddle, not malice, on the part of the insurance or the healthcare provider. There are plenty of people out there who really ought to be stocking the salad bar at Golden Corral, and not messing around with medical records. The trick is to keep records, know your deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket obligations--and don't yell at the phonebots. I once got a collection notice, and through patient sleuthing discovered that the hospital's data had become corrupted when they migrated it to a new server, erroneously showing me in arrears.

When The Hillarycare Revolution comes, there will be no more fine print. Just an infinite number of competent, dedicated, government health & insurance workers, and an infinite amount of money to pay them.

And I want a pony for my birthday.