Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

Religious Freedom By Popular Vote

Polls from Fox News and CNN indicate that around 60% to 70% of Americans disapprove of an Islamic community center being built in New York, blocks from Ground Zero.  A followup Gallup poll, though, shows 65% of Americans have only heard a fair amount, a little, or nothing at all about the issue.

Either way, I find it disturbing. The majority of Americans either think their petty sense of emotional outrage is more valuable than an unambiguous right of religious freedom, or they are opinionated on an issue they are not completely familiar with. The media has gleefully fanned the flames without clarifying the facts.

Yes,” I hear the critics of the Islamic community center say, “we all have religious freedom.”

But,” they add, “you should be polite enough not to use it when it offends us.”

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Filed under Christianity, Religion

My Vision Of Hell

Christians regularly tell me I’m headed for hell for being a freethinker. But when I try to imagine this fiery underworld, my mind falls short, and all I see is spending an eternity with them  –an army of pious brain-dead conservative robots, dressed in matching polyester outfits, oafishly shuffling about under twinkling chandeliers and gaudy lighting, to the most insidious, elevator music ever conceived. It’s an intellectually barren world where the only shape is a square. I’m afraid even considering its existence. Now, peer into my hell, if you dare.

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Culture Warfare

Health Care CEO Misleads Using Numbers

Many opponents of health care reform are throwing numbers around, making it sound like the health care industry is barely profitable. They claim a 2-3% profit margin. It’s a half-truth –that 2-3% is, in fact, the percentage of total revenue, which is different from net return on investment. For example, CNN Business lists fortune 500 industries by profit margin of total revenue.

If I make $2 for every $100 I collect in revenue that’s 2%. But if I make $2 million for every $100 million I collect that also 2%.  If my operating costs are 20% of my gross profit (the insurance company average is about 17%), then in the former example my net profit is $1.60, a 400% return on my $0.40 investment. In the latter example it would be $1.6 million, also a 400% return. In both I keep 80% of the gross. In other words, the health care industry’s revenue is ginormous, and its operating costs are low. There’s tons of wiggle room for profit even with having to pay out medical claims.

No one would stay in any business with a 2-3% net return on investment when CD bank rates are 2.85% for a 5 year certificate. With those numbers a business might as well invest its money and do nothing. The real numbers show that the health care industry’s return on share holder equity is 16%. Not a bad return at all. But if you accept the profit margin lie, then the health care companies must be operating at a major loss, which we know isn’t true.

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Filed under Politics

Conservatives And The History Of Teleprompters

Watch the video and you’ll see David Keene, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, call the teleprompters in front of him “this new technology”. The teleprompters here are glass panels on poles angled so as to reflect the projected words from below. Well, here’s a picture from the 1980’s of Ronald Reagan speaking before British Parliament. Anything look familiar?

One of the reasons conservatives fail so miserably is because they’re not living in the same reality as the rest of us. And they think they’re being clever. How pathetic.

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Top 15 Reasons To Visit The Kentucky Creation Museum

15. The World’s Biggest Bible –Enough Said?

14. Short Line For The Baptismal Water Slide World-Wide-Flood Simulator

13. The On-The -7th-Day-God-Smoked-A-Cigarette Demonstration – Sponsored By The Kentucky Tobacco Council

12. It’s Fun Getting To Interpret The Fossils The Way You Want

11. The Atheist Random-Chance Electric-Chair Challenge With Stuntman PZ Myers

10. Noah’s Ark Diorama Smells So Darn Farm Fresh

9. Ken Ham’s Policy Of Hiring Only Virgin, Tour Guides

8. The Gift Shop’s The Exclusive Seller Of Bobby Jindal Man-O-Action Figures

7. A Dinosaur Rodeo Starring Chuck Norris & His Trophy Wife

6. Every Spin On The Scientific-Quote Roulette Wheel Is A Winner Supporting Creation

5. A Giant Display On The Complexity Of Ben Stein’s Lazy Dry Eyes

4. The Beer Garden Of Eden Serves Flavored Holy Water On Tap

3. Copies Of Adam & Eve’s Birth Certificates Signed By Jesus

2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Reenacted With Real Monkeys In Suits, Narrated By Sarah Palin

1. You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cry, You’ll Kiss Your $21.95 Goodbye

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More Lies Supporting Expelled: The Movie

Pseudo-Science

Pseudo-Science

Ben Stein is putting his smirk and whiny voice to ads for the DVD release of Expelled: The Movie, No Intelligence Allowed. Christmas is just around the corner and a rotten lump of pseudo-scientific coal makes such a great stocking stuffer for the kids. In the ads, Mr. Stein claims Expelled is the #1 documentary of 2008. I think not. Let’s check the stats. Expelled grossed about 7.7 million and opened in 1052 theaters, while Bill Mahr’s documentary Religulous grossed 10.6 million and only opened in 502 theaters. If Mr. Stein is alluding to the reviews of Expelled making it #1, then he is wrong on that point, too. Most reviews were resoundingly negative. For example, The New York TImes said,

Mixing physical apples and metaphysical oranges at every turn “Expelled” is an unprincipled propaganda piece that insults believers and nonbelievers alike. In its fudging, eliding and refusal to define terms, the movie proves that the only expulsion here is of reason itself.

Finally, if you go to the Expelled website you can crash their ironic poll asking, “Do you think Darwin’s theories are outdated?” If Darwin is over-the-hill, then creationism is fossilized. I made a funny.

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Filed under Intelligent Design

Sarah Palin, The Anti-Intellectual

Like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin (I keep typing “plain” mistakenly) is an anti-intellectual. She comes across as completely incurious about economic issues and about international politics in general. She obtained her first passport only last year. And she spouts mindless uninformed opinions on important scientific issues; for example, mocking the use of fruit flies in genetic research. A periodic reading of the science section of a news magazine would have educated her on the basics. Slogans like “Joe Sixpack”, “Hockey Mom”, and “Joe The Plumber” aren’t a substantive political platform, they’re advertizing jargon. You Betcha!

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Filed under Culture Warfare, Politics

Faith By Any Other Name Is Just As Empty

In a Newsweek opinion peice from September 27th, writer Lisa Miller, “argues against the atheists”. The column is called “Belief Watch”, and Miller’s apologetic scribblings do the vacuous nature of religious belief complete justice. She begins by arguing that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are unfamiliar with real believers.

First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it’s unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that “believe in God” box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead.

When over fifty percent of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, what are we atheists supposed to think? If we include all Christians worldwide, particularly the ones in poorer Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations, the percentage is probably much higher. This doesn’t take into account the non-democratic Islamic nations, where Western ideas are spat upon, and where basic education is limited to males, and where people are threatened into believing in the all-powerful Allah. So, the actual number of believers in an angry, vengeful, and intervening god is probably much much higher than even Lisa Miller cares to imagine.

Apologetics is a form of faith; it’s faith in faith. Miller finishes her paper-thin argument by hauling in the invisible sacred cow.

Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don’t know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once.

Reasonable believers? Can reason and faith coexist? And how can faith define the unknown? Isn’t the unknown, by its very definition, indefinable? Here, Miller’s mental gymnastics are Olympic quality. And most believers would likely take great offense to her reducing their unshakable faith to an algebraic X. Personally, I prefer to think of all faith simply as a Y.

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity

What’s Wrong With Being A Mad Scientist?

Fictional mad scientists are most often portrayed as highly driven and glory hungry; they are the unwitting villains, the victims of their own inquisitive natures. Author, Reto Schneider, has written The Mad Science Book, which chronicles the history and present of questionable experiments carried out by real-life “mad” scientists. A list of nine of these experiments is on The New Scientist website. My favorite is Dogbot, the robot dog that was a social reject. Real dogs wanted nothing to do with him. Maybe his nose glowed red or he aspired to be a dentist. Whatever the reason, Dogbot was not allowed to participate in dog games.

What I like about mad experimentation is it’s raw unbridled curiosity. What does it matter if some experiments go wrong or if others are completely useless and outright wacky? What counts is that humans have a desire to understand the world. Thomas Edison was a mad inventor; he wasted ten years of his life on devising a new mining technique, which failed miserably. He also designed furniture and homes made out of that comfortable substance know as concrete. Not big sellers.

The lesson here is that in a complex world, curiosity saves the cat, it doesn’t kill it. But still there is an intellectual divide in society. There are those who care to know the world, and those who don’t care to have their world views tarnished by reality. I’m talking about creationists here. To them a mad scientist is someone to be feared.

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Three Blind Fools, See How They Run Into A Wall

These guys either didn’t read the complete definition or they have a really crappy dictionary, or they’re just stupid. They are wearing clownish costumes on TV, after all. I just wish they had looked up the word “colloquialism”. If they had, they might have understood that some words, like “theory”, often have a common everyday definition as well as a scientific one. Even Scrabble players appreciate the fact that many scientific terms can’t be found in Webster’s or American Heritage.

The “evolution is only a theory” argument is sad, pathetic, and old. It’s what uneducated goofballs spout from their blowholes.

In addition to the common definitions, Merriman-Webster’s defines a theory as “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena” and the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another”.

It’s strange how these three wise men missed that one.

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Filed under Trawling For Creationism