God-centered geography: A world of stupidity

May 31, 2008

If you had thought the God-centered math courses first exposed in the Bathtub to be the apex of Christian of religious folly, sit down; buckle up. Take a deep breath.

Did you know God sculpted Antarctica to look like a trumpeting elephant? Did you know God did it for political reasons?

Dr. Pamela Bumsted of Grassroots Science alerts us to this website, God’s Geography, which should contain enough abuse of scripture to offend all Christians, and Jews and Moslems, too. The site steals good maps from good sites — but the accuracy in geography stops there.

Consider Antarctica: Antarctica, from U of Texas Library, Perry Castaneda Collection

This is the map God’s Geography borrows from the University of Texas Libraries (to their credit, giving close to proper attribution), Antarctica (small map) from the Perry Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas Library.

Argh: Here’s what the site says:

Why is Antarctica shaped like an elephant’s head? I believe it is to illustrate a global political system. Nations typically have an animal or bird as their national symbol (such as the American eagle), but no single country owns Antarctica, although about 40 nations have made claims. So let’s think of these 40 nations as one nation, living in peace, and their symbolic animal is the elephant because it is the largest beast on earth.

* * * *

A global government means all nations cooperating together for the benefit of mankind, and not for the benefit of God or the King of kings. And as the world’s largest terrestrial animal it makes a perfect symbol of the world’s largest government.

So the elephant gives us a visual clue as to what a global political system looks and acts like. It’s very formidable, and can not be defeated except by God Himself. It’s futile to fight against it, but we shouldn’t want to because it’s part of our heavenly Father’s overall plan. He’ll guide the elephant where He wants it to go, and He’ll take care of the ivory towers, as it’s written in Amos 3:

13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD.

It’s crazy enough to send you to the law books to see if you can find a loophole in Poe’s Law, ain’t it?

I don’t object to the use of mnemonic devices. Remembering Italy as the peninsula and nation “shaped like a boot” seems to cement the identity of country into the minds of students otherwise a bit weak on European geography.

God’s Geography passes over the line into pure fantasy, into false claims about geography. The religious claims also far exceed any rational claim from Christian theology. I can’t imagine serious Christians not being offended at the religious messages the author claims to find in the simple shape of geographic entities.

My second complaint is that the religious claims tend to obscure reality, also. Again, on the Antarctica page, we find a gratuitous note about Elephant Island, which is off the tip of the archipelago this guy sees as an elephant’s trunk:

Near the tip of the elephant’s trunk is an island called Elephant Island, although I’m sure it wasn’t named for elephants, but rather for the largest member of the seals, the Elephant Seal.

Elephant seals were sighted there in the year of its discovery. But every description of the island I’ve ever seen notes that the island’s profile resembles an elephant’s head, and that’s how it was named. The island provided scant refuge, but enough refuge for the crew of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship Endurance in 1916, so it is relatively famous among history, exploration and geography buffs.

So contrary to the history books, the author of God’s Geography claims Elephant Island is not named because it looks like an elephant’s head. Fantasy is just one egregious problem with this site; gross error is a second. In a game where one strike equals an out, this odd site has three strikes against it: Whole cloth invention, offense to scripture, and geographic error.

And may God save us from God’s Geography’s description of the island of Lesbos.

Watch out: This is the sort of stuff that might excite Texas Education Commissar Don McLeroy.

Serious resources:


Can I turn this in late? More economics carnivals

May 31, 2008

Struck in Traffic works to lay claim to the title of King of the Economics Carnival with his bi-weekly American Economics Blog Carnival. Two editions since I last posted on it (though I confess, I visited a couple of other occasions thinking I would post).

For those correspondents who argue with me that the U.S. faces a crisis of turning to socialism, I invite you to find either posts advocating socialist policies (5-years plans, anyone?), or from obviously Marxist or socialist economists. Tell us what you find in comments, please, I dare you.

And I wonder: Do students learn the meaning of the word “sepulchre” anymore? Would they get the reference to a “white sepulchre?”


Taxis to the past, and the future

May 30, 2008

Bill Howdle lives, for a while longer anyway, in Manitoba. He’s got heart disease and a brain tumor, which explain the name of his blog, Dying man’s daily journal.

He used to drive a taxi. One woman was grateful he did.

That story is well worth the time to read it. Click on the link. After all, each of us is dying. We might learn something.


Quote of the moment: Sir Francis Bacon, creation as testament

May 30, 2008

Sir Francis Bacon (source unidentified)

Sir Francis Bacon (January 22, 1561 – April 9, 1626)

For certain it is that God worketh nothing in nature but by second causes: and if they would have it otherwise believed, it is mere imposture, as it were in favour towards God; and nothing else but to offer the Author of Truth the unclean sacrifice of a lie. But farther, it is an assured truth, and a conclusion of experience, that a little or superficial knowledge of Philosophy may incline the mind of man towards Atheism, but a farther proceeding therein doth bring the mind back again to Religion: for in the entrance of philosophy, when the second causes, which are next the senses, do offer themselves unto the mind of man, if it swell and stay there it may induce some oblivion of the highest cause; but when a man passeth on further, and seeth the dependence of causes, and the works of Providence, then, according to the allegory of the poets, he will easily believe that the highest link of Nature’s chain must needs be tied at the foot of Jupiter’s chair. To conclude therefore, let no man upon a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation think or maintain, that a man can search too far, or be too well studied in the Book of God’s Word, or in the Book of God’s Works—Divinity or Philosophy. But rather, let men endeavour an endless progress or proficience in both; only let men beware that they apply both to charity, and not to swelling [pride]; to use and not to ostentation; and again that they do not unwisely mingle or confound those learnings together.

Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning (1605), Bk I. [for example, here]

Tip of the old scrub brush to John Stockwell commenting at Constructive Curmudgeon


NY Times blog gets in the donuts-for-terrorists scuffle

May 29, 2008

Nice post, too, with history of the doughnut:  “Doughnuts:  The Third Rail of American Politics.”


Double standard

May 28, 2008

George W. Bush was famously untravelled as a candidate for the U.S. Presidency.  He had spent more time hanging out in bars just over the border in Juarez than hanging with diplomats anywhere.  In 2000, conservatives found this lack of care about foreign nations, U.S. interventions, and foreign people to be “charming,” sort of a poke-in-the-eye to the Rhodes scholar-rich Democratic Party who worried about things like peace in Palestine and getting the North Koreans to agree to stop building nuclear devices (who could be afraid of a bad-hair guy like Kim Jong-Il anyway?).

That was then.  Now they desperately have to find something about Barack Obama to complain about.  Never mind that Obama has spent more time overseas and in Iraq than George W. Bush, still.  While John McCain can get his information in a one-day, flack-jacketed, armored personnel-carrier tour of Iraq, Obama’s two days isn’t enough to please Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit nor Jim Geraghty at National Review Online.

Observation:  Conservatives are really, really desperate to find mud on a nice guy; Reynolds and others really are losing badly on issues, to make so much of so little.  Also, William F. Buckley has been dead for just over three months, and NR has already gone to hell, deteriorating to a barking-dog cutout of its former intellectual heft.

 


Staying competitive: Do the math

May 27, 2008

Will Texas ever stack up to California? Do the math, at TexasEd.

Will Texas ever stack up to India? China?


Trafficking workers’ bodies for profit

May 27, 2008

If a guy beats someone to death, it’s murder, right?  And so the nation’s labor laws hold an employer liable for the death of a worker when unsafe working conditions caused the death.

But what if the worker doesn’t die?  What if the worker only loses his arms, or legs, or arms and legs?

No death, no crime, U.S. law says. 

What if the employer poisons the worker with cyanide that eats away the worker’s brain

No death, no crime, U.S. law says.

My colleagues and I were shocked to learn that an employer who breaks the nation’s worker-safety laws can be charged with a crime only if a worker dies. Even then, the crime is a lowly Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison. (About 6,000 workers are killed on the job each year, many in cases where the deaths could have been prevented if their employers followed the law.) Employers who maim their workers face, at worst, a maximum civil penalty of $70,000 for each violation.

Read a plea to change the law, in the New York Times, from David H. Uhlmann, a law professor at the University of Michigan.


Good though: Folksinger, Storyteller, Railroad Tramp Utah Phillips Dead at 73

May 27, 2008

Utah Phillips died Friday. He was 73. He died at his home in Nevada City, California.

Wonderful tribute at Fifteen Iguana.

Utah Phillips publicity shot

Utah Phillips

Phillips’s website lists planned tributes, memorials and the funeral in Nevada City, California. KVMR Radio’s site has an obit and links to other tributes.

Read the rest of this entry »


Ghost of Joe McCarthy: LGF/Malkin assault on Rachael Ray

May 26, 2008

WARNING: Satirical material ahead.

At long last, Sen. McCarthy Little Green Footballs, have you no decency?

One wonders just how much mob activity these guys can provoke before somebody — perhaps someone at LGF, and Michelle Malkin’s blog — wakes up and stands up to stop the madness.

Rachael Ray wore a black and white patterned scarf at a shoot for a Dunkin’ Donuts ad. As a Blood to a blue bandana or a Crip to a red one, LGF pulled out their rhetorical guns and started firing. ‘Aren’t those the colors of Yassir Arafat’s group, Al Fatah?’ LGF wonders.

You couldn’t make up this kind of craziness if it didn’t exist. Well, almost couldn’t make it up.

I expect that, next, Little Green Footballs will hear that some radio stations are suppressing the news about the invasion of Martians.

Next week: Little Green cake pans filmed flying across LGF’s yard, and LGF leads a new dig at the old quarry in Piltdown. How long before Nebraska Man shows up in the credits to Michelle Malkin’s blog, and they start rooting for the Cardiff Giant during the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown? Is it true that Michelle Malkin has an interview with Judge Crater set up for later this week?

Barnum’s ghost is tired.

What Michelle Malkin and LGF claimed to see:

British woman wearing Palestinian kaffiyah

What everyone else saw:

Rachael Ray advertises for Dunkin' Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts pulled the ad rather than risk offending anyone. The scarf had a paisley design, a company spokesman told LGF — and no one disputes that.

Does anyone else see the irony of Little Green Footballs complaining about this and inciting a mob? What will they do when they realize that green was Mohammed’s favorite color, and is almost an official color of Islam?

And when the truth comes out, will it be that LGF was mainstreaming terrorism to sell Little Green Footballs — like mob action against a donut shop — occasionally outing one of their friends or some innocent person to avoid suspicion themselves?

Santayana was right. What do you know about Herb Philbrick’s dip into communism double agentry, in I Led Three Lives? What do you remember about Robespierre and the Summer of Terror? What do you remember about Stalin’s installation of terror in the Soviet Union?

Why aren’t Malkin and LGF going after Rev. Moon, or some real threat to something — whooping cough, measles, something really dangerous?

Whose side is Little Green Footballs on, anyway?

Islamic religious flag of Turkey

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

Other Resources:

Update: Greater, sadder irony: Rachael Ray’s site today featured a nice tribute to our troops, with recipes.


Barnum’s Law and toxic feet

May 26, 2008

Much as we’d like to deny it, the evidence to verify Barnum’s Law just keeps piling up.

Here’s a blogger astounded by the black stuff on the pad on her feet, convinced that it’s toxic stuff magically drained out of her body, through her feet.

Who is going to tell her the facts?

Uh, you haven’t been suckered by that scam, have you?

Update: The blogger in question seems to have gotten the message:  The post has been yanked.  Smart people change things when their errors are pointed out.


Texans want McLeroy gone, too

May 26, 2008

Texans who ought to know want Education Commissar Don McLeroy out, too — P. Z. Myers (“Fire Don McLeroy”) is not the only one.

In a letter reported in only one newspaper I’ve found, The Houston Chronicle, State Board of Education member Mary Helen Baranga of Corpus Christi asked Gov. Rick Perry to fire McLeroy.

Don McLeroy “has created havoc” as chairman of the State Board of Education and should be replaced, the senior member of the board said in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry.

“It is such a shame that after all these years of trying to improve public education in Texas, we are taking steps backwards because of Don McElroy,” Mary Helen Berlanga of Corpus Christi said in her letter to Perry, misspelling McLeroy’s name.

Berlanga, who has been on the 15-member board since 1984, said McLeroy’s leadership has been a disaster and asked Perry to replace him with “a moderate conservative who can work with all members of the State Board of Education and the citizens of this state.”

Gov. Perry said the SBOE should deal with the issues.

Has Perry forgotten what office he holds?   Nuts.


Memorial Day, 2008 – fly your flag in honor of our nation’s dead

May 26, 2008

(Much of this is reprise from Memorial Day 2007)

You may fly your flag the entire weekend.  Please fly your flag today.

Memorial Day, traditionally observed on May 30, now observed the last Monday in May, is a day to honor fallen veterans of wars. Traditionally, family members visit the cemetery where loved ones are interred and leave flowers on the grave.

On Memorial Day itself, flags on poles or masts should be flown at half-staff from sunrise to noon. At noon, flags should be raised to full-staff position.

When posting a flag at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the full-staff position first, with vigor, then slowly lowered to half-staff; when retiring a flag posted at half-staff, it should be raised to the full staff position first, with vigor, and then be slowly lowered. Some people attach black streamers to stationary flags, though this is not officially recognized by the U.S. Flag Code.

Got another week of school? Here’s a quiz about the history of Memorial Day that might make a warm-up, provided by Carolyn Abell writing in the Tifton (Georgia) Gazette:

1. Memorial Day was first officially proclaimed by a general officer. His name was: A. Robert E. Lee; B. John A. Logan; C. Douglas MacArthur D. George Washington.

2. The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was A. Virginia; B. Rhode Island; C. New York; D. Georgia.

3. The use of poppies to commemorate Memorial Day started in A. 1870 B. 1915 C. 1948; D. 1967.

4. The original date of Memorial Day was A. May 30; B. July 4; C. May 28; D. Nov 11.

5. Which U.S. Senator has tried repeatedly to pass legislation that would restore the traditional day of Memorial Day observance? A. John McCain B. Ted Kennedy C. Saxby Chambliss D. Daniel Inouye.

The answers, again provided by the Tifton Gazette:

OK, now for the answers. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30, 1968 as Memorial Day in his General Order Number 11, issued on May 5, 1868. The purpose was to honor the dead from both sides in the War Between the States. Subsequently flowers were placed on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery on May 30 of that year.

New York was the first state to officially recognize the Memorial Day, in 1873. Southern states, though paying tribute to their dead on separate dates, refused to use May 30 as the official date until after World War I, when the holiday was broadened to honor those who died in any war.

In 1915 a woman named Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” (by Canadian Colonel John McRae) began wearing red poppies on Memorial Day to honor our nation’s war dead. The tradition grew and even spread to other countries. In 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell the poppies made by disabled veterans as a national effort to raise funds in support of programs for veterans and their dependents. In 1948 the US Post Office issued a red 3-cent stamp honoring Michael for her role in founding the national poppy movement.

As stated above, May 30 was the original Memorial Day. In 1971, with the passage of the national Holiday Act, Congress changed it so that Memorial Day would be celebrated on the last Monday of May. Some citizens feel that turning it into a “three-day weekend” has devalued the importance and significance of this special holiday. In fact, every time a new Congress has convened since 1989, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has introduced a bill to the Senate calling for the restoration of May 30th as the day to celebrate Memorial Day.

In his 1999 introductory remarks to the bill, Senator Inouye declared:

“Mr. President, in our effort to accommodate many Americans by making the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, we have lost sight of the significance of this day to our nation. Instead of using Memorial Day as a time to honor and reflect on the sacrifices made by Americans in combat, many Americans use the day as a celebration of the beginning of summer. My bill would restore Memorial Day to May 30 and authorize the flag to fly at half mast on that day.

In addition, this legislation would authorize the President to issue a proclamation designating Memorial Day and Veterans Day as days for prayer and ceremonies honoring American veterans. This legislation would help restore the recognition our veterans deserve for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our nation.” (from the 1999 U.S. Congressional Record).

Flat at half-staff, U.S.Capitol in background - from Flag Bay

Other sources:

Image of flag and U.S. Capitol from Flags Bay.


Technorati Monster: Dead?

May 25, 2008

Is anyone else having trouble with Technorati?  What has been flawless performance up to now, especially for a free indexing service, has failed to update anything about the Bathtub for more than three days.  The statistics listed suggest problems dating back two weeks.

Anybody know what’s going on?


Phoenix has landed

May 25, 2008

Phoenix landed on Mars today at 4:38 p.m. Pacific Time. Confirmation of the landing took 15 minutes to get to Earth, radio signals traveling at the speed of light.

We have a robot scout on Mars again!

This is another of those teachable moments, an event to note in class that your students might tell their children and grandchildren about.

Artist's drawing of Phoenix, on Mars.Touchdown occurred exactly at the time programmed and predicted. Such accuracy might be interpreted as a good sign that NASA has anticipated problems, and a successful mission of discovery is in store.

The University of Arizona leads the discovery consortium on this mission (one of my alma maters). Educational activities and plans for teachers are listed at Arizona’s Phoenix Mission website.

NASA is the world’s biggest player in astrobiology, the science of figuring out how life could have begun, and where it might be. Astrobiology is one of the topics Texas’s State Board of Education threatened to remove from biology texts in 2003. That this mission has gotten this far is a sweet little bit of beneficial revenge on the anti-scientists who tried to gut the books then. Maybe it will pose a warning to them on the next go-round.

Teachers, strike a blow for science, knowledge and leadership in knowledge gathering: Teach your kids some astrobiology.

Resources:


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