|Friday, December 31, 2004
Tsunami Photos: These images from Thailand are some of the most graphic I've seen. In the eighth photo from the top, there's a still of a man with, presumably, his daughter on his shoulders turning and running from an enormous wave. A note beneath the photos, as of this posting, indicates that the fates of these people are unknown.
Aid For The Suffering: Certain organizations such as Episcopal Relief and Development had outposts established in the areas affected by the tsunami before the disaster. The logic is that, thanks to their preexisting infrastructure, they are able to convert donations into real aid to victims faster than some other outfits.
Also, the United Methodist Church promises that 100 percent of your donation will reach tsunami victims.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Workin' For The Man: Busy at the day job today. No blogging.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Speaking Of Darwin: Slate has "recycled" an old rant from William Saletan slamming proponents of Intelligent Design. Saletan imagines the existence of a monolithic alliance of "liberals, teachers, and scientists" who are "hysterical" at the thought of Intelligent Design being taught in schools. Rich, isn't it? Most lay science buffs surpass the entire lifetime of knowledge of one of Saletan's "liberals" when each month they read the first two pages of an article in their subscriptions to Scientific American. But liberal anti-religion partisans often fancy themselves scientifically savvy.
In fact, the scientific community, like society as a whole, has more than its fair share of atheists and agnostics--as well as devout believers in various religions.
In his efforts to debunk the Intelligent Design movement, Saletan writes:
A theory isn't just a bunch of criticisms, even if they're valid. A theory ties things together. It explains and predicts. Intelligent design does neither.
Saletan quickly glosses over the notion that a "bunch" of criticisms of Darwin are valid. Later, he even feigns advocacy of critiques of Darwin being taught in school. Do you buy that?
If Saletan's agenda were to endorse highlighting the shortcomings of Darwin in schools' curricula, while offering no endorsement of any particular religious alternate explanation, then I'd be with him. But his contempt for religion in general seeps through nearly every argument. If religious groups sought, not the inclusion of Intelligent Design, but scientifically sound objections to Evolution in public school text books, I have a hunch that Saleton would become "hysterical" once again.
Darwin Award: A jogger in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area discovered a pipe bomb in a park yesterday:
"The jogger picked it up and carried it to a nearby parking lot," Colleyville Police Chief Tommy Ingram said. "We recommend that a person not pick up any explosive devices."
The bomb was detonated later--harmlessly--by the fuzz. Our jogger will live to tempt natural selection another day.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Journalism & Science: Drudge is linking to an AFP story today announcing that Sunday's earthquake off of Sumatra "altered the regional map":
The 9.0-magnitude temblor that struck 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of Sumatra island Sunday may have moved small islands as much as 20 meters (66 feet), according to one expert.
Notice the word "may" in the above excerpt. It didn't quite make the headline. Later in the article, another geophysicist doubts the islands moved laterally, thinking the plate tectonics of this particular quake would have raised the islands higher above sea level. Neither expert seems all that committed to either prediction. Maybe the islands didn't move at all--who knows? No one has taken GPS readings just yet, I'm guessing.
Am I nit-picking? Oh, yes. But, nine times out of ten (my own non-scientific, throw-away stat here), the AP, the NY Times, etc., offer up misleading headlines when the subject is scientific. My advice: always read the story top to bottom. And, then, don't be surprised if a completely contradictory piece appears in the paper a few days later.
Moral of the story: Liberal arts majors don't often know how to cover hard science.
Monday, December 27, 2004
A New Week: I mentioned one of my favorite preachers last week--Greg Boyd. Well, here's another: Don L. Fischer of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson, Tx. His weekly homily is available every Sunday morning at 10 a.m. (CST) via an Internet audio stream at WRR-FM's Web site.
From Fischer's Christmas Day homily:
What I find so fascinating about religion in general is that I could take any denominationno matter what it isand put 150 or 200 people in a room and ask them to describe the God they worshipand its very likely they would come up with many, many different descriptions of this God we all worship. Its amazing how we, as human beings, get a part of the story. We dont always get the whole story. In fact, one of the weakest aspects of religion is that most of us dont take it seriously enough. We dont take religion as far as it invites us to go. And so, religion remains a little bit flat. There is nothing flat about the message of God. There is nothing flat about the way in which God has invited you and me to live on this earth. Thats what religion is designed to do: To teach us how to live.
An important point: religion teaches us how to live. Unfortunately, there's a very fundamental and powerful temptation which invites us to feel scolded by the inverse of that statement: religion tells us how not to live.
On Dec. 23, I focused on a passage from C.S. Lewis in which he describes God as the designer and engineer of the "human machine." I like that analogy, because it follows that God created and keeps our blue prints. He knows under what conditions the human machine operates most smoothly. So instead of looking at Torah law, the Psalms, Jesus' parables, as creating boundaries and limits to our lives, we should see them as inside peeks at our very blue prints--the deepest possible insights into our organic machinations. A means to the fullest enjoyment of our time on earth.
Follow-Up: The brother-in-law did not disappoint. The turkey was excellent. But the gravy stole the show. When I went back for seconds, I only went for the items which were vehicles to more gravy: stuffing, rolls, etc. Happy belly.