The circle is unbroken, though there may be tangential lines

September 30, 2009

Do you recognize this?

No, its not a slide rule - photo by Decrepit Old Fool

No, it's not a slide rule - photo by Decrepit Old Fool

It sure looks like a slide rule, doesn’t it?

The last really grand slide rule I had was a fancy aluminum job that my older brother Wes used at the Air Force Academy.  It was easily worth a couple of hundred dollars, and it had a very nice leather pouch.

Somebody stole it from me in the football locker room.  I never liked football as much after that.

At the University of Utah I got enough ahead to buy a smaller version that still resides somewhere in our house.  I actually used it once in a debate round to great effect — it was cross examination debate (not so big back then), on an energy topic.  The affirmative (UCLA?  USC?  One of those two) had a daylight savings case.  They rattled off some huge number of barrels of oil to be saved, and on c-x I got it out of them that the number was barrels saved per month.  Then I got ‘em to confess to how many barrels we actually use in the U.S., daily, and with the slide rule’s help calculated that they were saving one-half of one percent (0.5%), with some rather draconian measures and stiff fines and jail time.

I had the slide rule with me to do homework on the drive to and from the meet across the deserts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico; I was used it only to make sure I wasn’t off by an order of magnitude on the calculation — but when I looked up I feared the eyes of the judge were going to inflate and float out of his head.  We won the round, I won the speaker points that round, and the judge commented about how facile the negative had been with numbers . . .

But I digress.  A little.

Decrepit Old Fool posted that picture.  It’s an iPhone — with a slide rule application (“app” to the technoscenti).

Using electrons to mimic an old slide rule!  It leaves one speechless, and with a tear in one’s eye.

I’m sure I’d have to play with the thing for a few minutes to figure out how to do percentages again.  The slide rule use in that debate round a few decades ago was cutting edge application of the tool at hand.  It was not a fancy calculation, or difficult — it was overkill, really, because we all should have been able to do the calculations in our heads, with little fear of being inaccurate.  The judge in the round was probably a speech or rhetoric grad student, working on a masters or Ph.D., and hadn’t taken a math class since freshman year.  I don’t know if he thought to feel stupid; maybe he hoped the praise for our use of the thing would cover that up.

DOF makes the case that technology shouldn’t make us feel stupid, not if its makers want to sell it.    Maybe that has more to do with the demise of the slide rule than the rise of calculators does.  It’s a great post over there.  Go read it.


Let’s go to the zoo . . . kitchen

September 28, 2009

Kate closed down Radula, and moved all her blogging to Adventures of a Free Range Urban Primate.

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to work in the kitchen of a zoo?  Kate has the lowdown.

From Urban Primate:  Just to see the scope of whats stored there, in one hand Allyson is holding meatballs. In the other, whole frozen birds . . . complete with feathers.

From Urban Primate: "Just to see the scope of what's stored there, in one hand Allyson is holding meatballs. In the other, whole frozen birds . . . complete with feathers."

The photos from that post alone would make a good PowerPoint for some biology class, or a discussion of animals in an elementary class.


Nobody called for DDT to fight West Nile?

September 28, 2009

Was I too busy to notice?

With the exception of Glenn Beck’s idiot return to 1950s science in an effort to bring back 1950s politics, I didn’t see any major calls for DDT to be brought back to fight West Nile Virus this summer, not even from the Hoover Institute.

DDT is particularly ill-adapted for fighting West Nile Virus.  The mosquitoes that carry it are best fought in the larval stage, before they mature.  DDT is exactly wrong for water applications.

But that didn’t stop people from asking for DDT as a barrier to WNV in the past.  Is some intelligence taking hold now?

Did I miss the editorials?  Maybe it was a better summer than it felt like.

(Still fighting stupidity on bedbugs — taking longer than it should.)

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Cranks refuse to budge on influenza hoaxes

September 27, 2009

Friday came and went.  President Obama did as he was scheduled to do, chairing a session of the United Nations Security Council in a meeting directed at nuclear weapons non-proliferation.

This should have silenced some of the cranks, crackpots, crank scientists and hoaxters who had “warned” us that Obama was going to use that opportunity to take over the world and order people to get inoculated against influenza — with some unstated fears that those inoculations would be more dangerous than the flu itself, or turn us all into Volvo-driving, chablis-loving, union-belonging, line-dancing Democrats, or something like that.

:::Sigh:::

No.  Never such luck.

At the post where I debunked the claim that WHO is planning to take over the world with inoculations at the point of a gun, instead of with Auric Goldfinger, SMERSH, KAOS, or Lex Luther, a guy named Simon McDermott complains I don’t give him enough credence.  His letter doesn’t help.

Look:  The World Health Organization is a group of distinguished medical care specialists, public health specialists, and policy wonks, most of whom are too nerdy to want to hold great power — heading up WHO is a stepping stone to no great governmental power position anyone has ever found, least of all at the United Nations, which has no army, no troops of its own of any sort, and advises nations on bettering health care.

The claim that WHO is plotting to take over the world is not just moonbat-shagging silly, it’s completely insane.  It makes no sense on any level, nor is there any evidence to corroborate the claims.  Jane Burgermeister’s website notwithstanding, I have my doubts that she could demonstrate mental competence to enlist as a private in the Russian armed forces.

Moreover, the world faces a crisis in influenza.  With luck and a lot of hard work, we can avoid a spread of a killer flu virus that might make Zero Population Growth look optimistic.  We don’t need hoaxsters, pranksters and fools claiming that influenza is all a great hoax.

Simon said:

I am a freelance writer and have heavily researched the ‘well known’ and ‘established facts’ written in my article that I posted in my previous comment.

The facts are that the H1N1 vaccine has not been safely tested. It takes years to accurately test and research the effects of a new vaccine.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1208716/Half-GPs-refuse-swine-flu-vaccine-testing-fears.html

I have posted a link above to the Mail Online a highly respected national newspaper here in Britain.

The article says that health officials say the vaccine has been thoroughly tested.  No one in the article offers any credible denial of that fact.  The headlines feature an earlier poll of general practitioners alleging that they said the vaccine had not been tested well enough.

Simon:  An out-of-date, nonscientific poll of  GPs in Britain who were underinformed, is not science.

Nor is your reading that story doing “heavy research.”  Googling is not generally considered serious research.

‘First, you exaggerate. Second, that outbreak and the aftereffects are very much on the minds of health officials. Guillan Barre was never linked to the vaccine, by the way. Get some facts, will you?’

This is established fact; although experts now believe that it will be more like one in one million that will contract GBS rather than one in ten thousand.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcnIojjzvvg

No, a badly researched, poorly produced story on a local CBS affiliate, migrated to YouTube, does not make something “established fact.”

GBS is rare, but occurs all the time.  We don’t know the cause, and no one has been able to pin any vaccine as a cause of GBS.  After several million people were vaccinated, a few fell ill from GBS.  No research has ever been able to establish any vaccine as a cause of GBS, however — it may be that those people would have fallen ill with GBS whether they got any vaccine or not.  See the CDC’s information page on GBS:

What causes GBS?

It is thought that GBS may be triggered by an infection. The infection that most commonly precedes GBS is caused by a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni. Other respiratory or intestinal illnesses and other triggers may also precede an episode of GBS. In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with getting GBS. Several studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines since 1976 were associated with GBS. Only one of the studies showed an association. That study suggested that one person out of 1 million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine.

We’ve had that many kids die of swine flu already this year, in Dallas and Tarrant counties in Texas.    Right now, GBS from all causes is less prevalent than deaths from swine flu.

Also here is a list of dangerous substances that are in other vaccines; we can also expect similar material to be in the swine flu vaccine.

http://www.stunnedmullets.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=130:official-facts-on-vaccines&catid=78:vaccines&Itemid=141

Did you know that potatoes contain carcinogens?  Are you aware that the essential nutrient, selenium, is also carcinogenic?  Did you know that an excess of salt can kill a person?  Are you aware that plain old tap water can be deadly, in several ways?

Gosh, a list of “dangerous substances.”  Did you look at the list?  Did you see that the “dangerous substances” include eggs and yeast?  Are you aware that almost every loaf of bread in America contains more eggs and yeast than three years’ worth of all vaccines for a person?

You’re being irresponsible to the point of recklessness. Yes, people with allergies to eggs should avoid flu vaccines.  No, that doesn’t mean the vaccines are inherently dangerous, that they vaccines don’t work, nor does it mean eggs are inherently dangerous.

It means people who are allergic to eggs should avoid flu vaccines (vaccines are grown in eggs, and some egg proteins remain in influenza vaccines).

Almost all substances are dangerous, when out of place, or in the wrong quantities.  You could note that fact without alarmism and without hysterics.  Dangerous things are all around us.  Flu vaccines fall near the bottom of the danger scales, but near the top of the life-saving scale.

You’re aware that we annually lose around 30,000 people to the pedestrian, seasonal flu?  How many thousands of times greater is the risk of death to flu than death by vaccine?

Research has shown that there are plenty of natural preventative actions that can be taken to protect against catching flu viruses. These are a healthy organic diet, vitamins; such as vitamin D3, regular exercise and certain herbs – all of these are known to boost and strengthen the immune system.

Staying healthy is always a good idea.  H1N1, however, attacks healthy kids. It’s not a question of natural prevention.  Some people have never been exposed to this particular strain or its cousins, and they have no natural immunity to it.  When it strikes, it strikes quickly.  Most of the deaths in the U.S. from H1N1 are to young people who have taken your natural preventive actions.  Vitamins and organic diets don’t work.

In fact, that’s dangerous advice right there.  A medical professional could be subject to malpractice for the advice you just issued.   Kids, Simon is an amateur — don’t try that at home.

I used to regularly take the seasonal flu vaccine before finding out the dangers of vaccines in general; on the two occasions that I did take it I ended up getting flu shortly after taking the vaccine. Since then I have not taken it and decided to go down the alternative route, which has served me very well as I have not had so much as a cold in over three years.

As people grow older they have fewer colds — you never get the same cold virus twice.  When you’re over 30 or 40, you’ve been exposed to most of the variations on cold viruses.  Your reduction in colds is because you’re older, not because you’re healthier.

Ironically, that’s exactly what you argue against.  You’re more resistant to colds because you’ve been “vaccinated” against them.  The vaccination was natural, by catching the viruses and developing immunity.  For flu, we have to have flu shots for the greatest safety.

Don’t argue against flu vaccines by telling us how effectively the natural method of vaccination has protected you from colds, okay?  You look like an idiot when you do that, suggesting you really don’t understand viruses, how they are passed, nor how human immunity occurs.

Since you seem so eager to poison your body with a substance which is clearly more dangerous than swine flu itself, then who am I to stand in your way.

That’s just a crass, cold and craven lie.  There is not even an insane argument to be made that flu vaccines this year are more dangerous than the flu itself.  That’s crazy talk, terrorist talk.  What do you have against old people that you want to see thousands of them die from the flu?   Since the “death panels” claim turned out to be bogus, you decided to go on a one-man campaign to encourage death among the elderly and ill?

Since you are so eager to poison minds with completely bogus attacks on science, let me urge you to volunteer to forego all flu vaccines, but be exposed to the viruses, for the sake of research.  That way the rest of us could benefit from your bizarre animus to life.

I am sorry to hear that there have been a couple of deaths where you live due to swine flu, but there are much safer alternative and natural preventative actions that can be taken. A healthy nutritionally rich diet should be first on the list before we even consider vaccines, of which there is a huge amount of evidence calling into question, their overall safety and effectiveness when fighting disease.

Call the CDC.  Volunteer for flu exposure now, before the rush.  You’re not sure that the vaccines are safe, but you argue that the flu IS safe?  Let’s see you put your life where your mouth is.

I don’t think you’re that big a fool.  Your that whopping dishonest, but not so big a fool.

The problem is that the majority of western doctors are taught absolute fallacies at medical school and in some cases have been brought up to become nothing more than glorified pill prescribers.

The human immune is an extremely powerful and efficient tool when it comes to fighting disease. The reason that it is susceptible to diseases like swine flu at all is because our diets are so nutritionally poor. In many cases this is due to processed foods (filled with additives and preservatives) and poisons such as aspartame in many of our soft drinks.

http://www.naturalnews.com/026168.html

I have posted a link above to a site that lists natural preventives and explains that viruses such as swine flu cannot be contracted by a healthy well maintained immune system.

Don’t look now, but you’re obviously suffering a dementia produced by lack of immunity.

In your case, that dementia could be cured with a trip to a library.

What you wrote in that last excerpt is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

Thank you, but we’ve already heard the “smart pills” joke.

I am not a ‘crack pot’ and neither are others who show a distinct lack of trust in bodies like the WHO and companies such as Baxter, because history has taught us that they have seriously let us down in the past.

You mean, you advocate crackpot ideas for noble reasons?  Alas, that leaves you in the category of crackpot.  Anyone who thinks killer flu is safer than vaccines is a crackpot, or an idiot, or an agent of evil.  I’m assuming you’re not an idiot, and not an agent of evil.  Can you convince me otherwise?

If after examining the evidence that I have provided you still believe that the vaccine is safe, then be my guest, take it, it is your right to choose, but please do not belittle with your derogatory use of humour those who do not!

The reason I talk about this information is because I want people to be safe, and nobody wants a repeat of the 1976 debacle.

Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Shut up.  Nobody wants a repeat of the 1918 debacle, either — and you should be ashamed of campaigning for it as you are.

If we all lived clean and healthy natural lives then there would be no need for vaccines at all.

There you go with that crackpot stuff again.  If you think that chicken pox and shingles would disappear without vaccines, you’re a fool.  If you fail to understand that polio can’t be beaten without vaccines, you’re a greater fool.

If you claim that people could beat chicken pox, smallpox, measles and polio without vaccines, you’re a dangerous tool of crackpot evil.

Maybe it is our social system that needs a rethink, because if you examine Amazonian tribal communities, who have had little to no contact with the outside world, you find a distinct lack of disease in these societies.

There’s a whopper I’d like to see some serious studies on.

That testifies to a lack of virus transmission, but you will also find a distinct surplus of diseases that diet can’t cure.  Someday spend some time studying Huntington’s Disease, Huntington’s Chorea, and how the prevalence of the disease in one of those isolated Amazonian tribes contributed to the search for a cause.  Of course, almost every member of that tribe had the disease.  (It’s genetic, and no vaccine can prevent or cure — yet.)  You’ll also find they die of bacterial diseases that modern medicine can treat — those physicians you mock.

Dirty living equals disease; an unclean polluted environment equals disease; the addition of chemicals to our food, drink and drinking water equals disease; when are we going to wake up and realise that the cause of disease is not some unknown, unfortunate ‘random factor’, but the way we live our lives.

Of course, clean living increases asthma.  A lack of pollution tends to correlate with lack of civilization.  The absence of chlorine in our drinking water contributes to cholera epidemics and typhoid, the lack of fluorine in our water means more dental caries and brain infections.  Trace amounts of iodine in salt have all but eliminated goiter.  When are you going to wake up and realize that some disease causes are well known, some diseases easily preventable, and life is complex and cannot be made perfectly safe with today’s technology, but was a minefield of deadly infections without today’s technology?

If we live our lives soaked in superstition and crank science, we haven’t even a prayer (full irony intended).  You’re not advocating for better health.  You’re ranting about stuff you don’t know about.

Although in the case of Baxter the cause of the so called ’swine flu virus’ may well have been them!

I think there’s a better case that you are the cause of swine flu than there is a case that any drug company manufactured the stuff.  Among other clues you should look at is the prevalence of swine flu in swine populations around the world — today and historically.  Influenza viruses tend to be species specific, and it’s actually quite rare for them to jump species.  That’s why, when they jump, they can be so deadly.

But then, that’s what you’re campaigning for, right?  You’d love to see a virus wipe out most people, especially those with scientific knowledge — right, Simon?

Ugh.

Get an education about flu and other viruses:

Don’t let your friends go without this information, please:

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Fighting the flu in Texas

September 27, 2009

Texas government worries about the flu, with good cause.

The Texas Department of State Health Services set up a flu information page at its website, urging Texans to act now to prevent trouble later:

Flu season is here — here’s what you can do:

  • Stay Informed
    TexasFlu.org is the DSHS site for flu information in Texas. Bookmark it. Sign up to receive Twitter and e-mail notices when information is posted.
  • Get a Seasonal Flu Shot Now
    Don’t wait. Get your seasonal flu vaccination now. It’s one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from seasonal flu. Also, be prepared to get the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine later. It is expected to be available in mid-October.
  • Stop the Spread
    Wash hands frequently. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you’re sick. Have a plan to care for sick family members at home
  • 18 Texas kids have died from influenza in the past 52 weeks.  Health officials hope immunization will keep pediatric and other deaths low, for both the regular seasonal flu viruses and the novel H1N1 which is the subject of a WHO-declared pandemic.

    (By the way, “pandemic” does not have “panic” at its root; it’s a combination of “pan” from Greek and roughly meaning “all people“, and “demic” meaning a health issue “people. (See Mr. B’s comment below.)

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a pandemic can start when three conditions have been met:[1]

    • emergence of a disease new to a population;
    • agents infect humans, causing serious illness; and
    • agents spread easily and sustainably among humans.

    A disease or condition is not a pandemic merely because it is widespread or kills many people; it must also be infectious. For instance, cancer is responsible for many deaths but is not considered a pandemic because the disease is not infectious or contagious.

    Complaints that deaths are low from H1N1 should be regarded as a compliment to the work of health care workers and officials; and statements that we don’t have a flu pandemic ‘because not many people have died’ miss the definition of “pandemic.”)


    Did AT&T drop off the face of the Earth?

    September 26, 2009

    How times change.

    Two weeks ago, with North Texas soaked thoroughly to the bone, our telephone service went out.  We were scrambling to get James to the airport and off to another year of school in Wisconsin, so there was little we could do when it expired.

    Later that Saturday, on a cell phone with a different carrier, I got through to a machine at AT&T that promised someone would come check the problem on the following Tuesday.  Tuesday afternoon at just after 4:00 p.m. we got a note on our door that phone service was restored — and it was for about an hour.

    Then it went out again.  And it’s been out since.

    After several days of unsatisfying robot answers, I found another number and got to a human who referred me to another human who said they were completely flattened by phone outages in the Dallas area after the recent spate of Noachic storms (we had something over 11 inches in a week — the rain gauge kept topping out).  No, they said, it does not good to call again to complain — they’re working as fast as they can.

    To AT&T’s credit, the internet service is fine.  We have alternative telephones to use, though many of our family and friends don’t know the numbers.

    But, two weeks in America without telephones?  That could be a problem for many people, still, couldn’t it?

    Or is AT&T becoming increasingly irrelevant in their own business?

    Who else is having similar problems?


    Six Tiger Cubs grow into six Eagle Scouts

    September 24, 2009

    Six kids from Fort Bend, Texas, did what very few did.  From their start in a Tiger Cub Scout den 11 years ago, all six stuck with Scouting — and all six earned the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank award offered by the boy Scouts of America.

    Here is the story in its entirety from the online publication Fort BendNow.com.

    September 24th, 2009  |  by FortBendNow Staff | Published in News

    Six young men, all members of the same Den 2 as Tiger Scouts, have earned the rank of Eagle Scout. The six boys began their scouting journey 11 years ago as they went through the Cub Scout program together then joined two different Boy Scout Troops.

    Keith Wedelich, David Sackllah, Vincent Lau, Vijay Rajan, Edward Zhou, Bryan Parker at the Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony.

    Keith Wedelich, David Sackllah, Vincent Lau, Vijay Rajan, Edward Zhou, Bryan Parker at the Eagle Court of Honor Ceremony.

    Keith Wedelich of Boy Scout Troop 1631, and Vincent Lau, Bryan Parker, Vijay Rajan, David Sackllah, and Edward Zhou of Boy Scout Troop 441 were honored at a special ceremony to recognize their achievement at Christ United Methodist Church.  Family, friends, teachers, scouts, and adult volunteers attended the ceremony.  Troop 441 is chartered by Christ United Methodist Church and Troop 1631 is chartered by the Optimist Club of Sugar Land.

    Only 1 in 4 boys in America will become a Boy Scout, and of those only 2 percent earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest honor a Boy Scout can achieve.

    The ceremony was opened by Dennis Olheiser, Tomahawk District Commissioner, with introductions, followed by Chris Roberts, Boy

    Scout Troop 441, who led the flag ceremony and provided a blessing for the ceremony.

    Keith Wedelich, David Sackllah, Vincent Lau, Vijay Rajan, Edward Zhou and Bryan Parker as Cub Scouts at Wolf Rank.

    Keith Wedelich, David Sackllah, Vincent Lau, Vijay Rajan, Edward Zhou and Bryan Parker as Cub Scouts at Wolf Rank.

    Jim Rice, former Chairman of the Tomahawk District, and member of the Board of Directors of the Sam Houston Area Council BSA, gave a history of scouting and provided an introduction to a video of the 100 years of Scouting in America.

    Scott Icenhower, Tomahawk District Advancement Chair, spoke on the significance of the Eagle Scout Rank; and Louis Alexander, Committee Chairman for Troop 441, spoke on the responsibilities of an Eagle Scout.

    B.J. Bonner and Susan Fredericksen both spoke on the Trail to Eagle for the six scouts who started the journey 11 years ago.  A summary of their achievements and eagle projects were presented.

    Rick Conley, Tomahawk District Chair, presented the Eagle Scout Rank Award to the Eagle Scouts and recognized the contributions of their parents.  Each Eagle Scout then spoke to thank those that have helped them along their journey and to share highlights of their scouting career so far.

    Remarks were provided by Debbie Wedelich, the Den Leader for Den 2 in Cub Scout Pack 631, Jerre Parker, former Scoutmaster at Troop 441, and Arun Rajan, Committee Member of Troop 441 also spoke on the eagle scouts and how Boy Scouts had a profound effect on the families as well as the Eagle Scouts.

    Jim Rice provided final comments and the ceremony concluded with a benediction and flag ceremony.  A reception was held immediately following the ceremony.

    The Eagle Scouts

    Keith Wedelich, Boy Scout Troop 1631, joined Cub Scouting in 1999 with Pack 631 and earned the Arrow of Light Award in December 2002, the highest award in Cub Scouts.  He joined Boy Scout Troop 1631 in January 2003.  Wedelich joined Troop 1631 as both of his brothers were members.  Wedelich held various positions of leadership in his Troop including scribe, quartermaster, assistant senior patrol leader, and Order of the Arrow representative.  He was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 30 merit badges.

    Wedelich’s scouting career has included all three high adventure camps; more than 50 miles of hiking in the mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, 75 miles of canoeing in the boundary waters of Canada at Northern Tier, and scuba diving in the Florida Keys at Florida Sea Base.  He also attended the 2005 National Boy Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill Virginia.  He has more than 124 nights of camping, 134 canoe miles, 129 hiking miles.

    For his Eagle Scout Service Project, Wedelich designed and led a crew to build a horse barn for Morning Glory Ranch, an organization that provides equine therapy for mentally and physically handicapped youth.  The horse barn is 12 foot by 12 foot and 10 feet tall.  The barn was built in a small pasture area where new horses are held for quarantine or horses that are ill or about to foal can be closely monitored.  Wedelich directed 20 people over six work days for a total of 320 man hours.  He also provided more than 200 hours of service to the community on various service projects.

    Wedelich is a senior at Clements High School and is involved in the Clements Robotics Team, National Honor Society, Academic Decathalon, JETS, Mu Alpha Theta, choir and the computer science club.  His parents are Hank and Debbie Wedelich and he has one sister, Laura, 25, who earned the Girl Scout Gold Award.  His two brothers, Jeffrey, 24, and David, 23, are also Eagle Scouts from Troop 1631.

    Vincent Lau, Bryan Parker, Vijay Rajan, David Sackllah, and Edward Zhou of Boy Scout Troop 441 all joined Cub Scouting in 1999 with Pack 631 and earned the Arrow of Light Award in December 2002, the highest award in Cub Scouts.  All then joined Boy Scout Troop 441 in January 2003.

    Sackllah held various positions of leadership in Troop 441 including patrol leader, troop guide, and chaplain aide.  He was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 22 merit badges.

    Sackllah’s scouting career has included National Youth Leadership Training and he attended various summer camps.  He was also part of Frog Patrol which earned National Honor Patrol recognition.  David earned the God and Me Religious Award.

    For his Eagle Scout Project, he wanted to create a friendly environment for the students using Settler’s Way Elementary Library.  Sackllah designed, built, and painted 12 flower-shaped tables.  He also re-shelved more than 10,000 books so the books would be in the correct order and easier to find.  He directed 24 people for a total of 148 man hours.

    Sackllah is a senior at Clements High School and is involved in Clements Varsity Football, Student Council, PALS, and the National Honor Society.  He also volunteers as a “Dream League Angel” and is a volunteer coach for the First Colony Youth Basketball Association.  His parents are and Jimmy and Tracy Sackllah.

    Lau held various positions of leadership in Troop 441 including assistant patrol leader, patrol leader, historian, troop guide, instructor, and assistant senior patrol leader.  Lau was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 35 merit badges.

    Lau’s scouting career has included National Youth Leadership Training in 2006; the New River Adventure Camp in Virginia in 2006; National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience in 2007; and 73 miles of hiking in the mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 2008.  He was part of Frog Patrol which earned National Honor Patrol recognition.  Vincent also earned the World Conservation, Winter Camper, and Mile Swim awards.

    For his Eagle Project, Lau designed and constructed four 6’ x 3’ x 2’ shelves and a 6’ x 7’ x 2’ lockable cabinet for Colony Bend Elementary School.  The shelves hold standardized storage bins filled with various props and musical equipment.  The lockable cabinet provides secure storage for costumes.  Lau brought together 20 volunteers over three work days to construct and install the shelves for a total of 390 man hours.

    Lau is a senior at Clements High School and is involved in the robotics team, Clements Interact (currently hold Vice President position), Clements Earth, and ACES clubs.  He is also a member of National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, and National Eagle Scout Association.  For the past three summers, he spent a total of 350 hours volunteering at Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) as an Ecoteen assisting the science summer camp counselors and giving science presentations to the public.  For his volunteer efforts at HMNS, he earned the President’s Volunteer Service Silver Award in 2008.  His parents are Lawrence and Linda Lau and he has a 15-year-old sister, Stacey.

    Vijay Rajan held various positions of leadership in Troop 441 including patrol leader, troop guide, librarian, historian, and Order of the Arrow representative.  He was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 38 merit badges.

    Rajan’s scouting career has included an expedition at Philmont Scout Ranch, and various summer camps in Texas, and he earned the Mile Swim award.  He was also part of Frog Patrol which earned National Honor Patrol recognition.  Rajan earned the Dharma (Hindu) Religious Award as a Boy Scout.

    For his Eagle Scout Project, Rajan planned and supervised landscaping for a garden courtyard and cleaning a pond for Kids Unlimited.  This non-profit organization benefits children with cancer.  Their 12-acre facility provides an atmosphere where their illness can be temporarily forgotten.  He directed 22 people for a total of 131 man hours.

    Rajan is a senior at Clements High School and is involved in DECA, Rotary Interact and Indian Cultural Organization clubs. He hopes to major in Engineering and Business at College.

    His parents are Arun and Padmini Rajan.

    Edward Zhou joined Cub Scouts in 1998, and then joined Pack 631 when the family moved to Texas.  He held various positions of leadership in Troop 441 including patrol leader, troop guide, historian, and instructor.  He was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 24 merit badges.

    Zhou’s scouting career has included National Youth Leadership Training, two summer camps in Texas, and he earned the Mile Swim award.  He was also part of Frog Patrol which earned National Honor Patrol recognition.

    For his Eagle Scout Project, Zhou designed and built a pair of storage shelves for the Chinese Civic Center.  The storage shelves were pre-built on the first day and then they were moved to the site, assembled and stocked.  He directed 14 people for a total of 133 man hours.

    Zhou is a senior at Clements High School and is an active member of Rotary Interact and his high school debate team.  He is a National AP Scholar and a National Merit Semifinalist. He earned a “Distinguished Volunteer” award from the Chinese Civic Center in 2009.  His parents are John and Tina, and his brother Oliver is a student at UT Austin.

    Bryan Parker held various positions of leadership in Troop 441 including assistant patrol leader, patrol leader, quartermaster, instructor, and senior patrol leader. Parker was elected by his Troop to the Order of the Arrow.  On the trail to Eagle, he earned 31 merit badges and camped over 135 nights.  He has also earned an Eagle Gold Palm.

    Parker’s scouting career has included National Youth Leadership Training, New River Adventure in Virginia, the 2005 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill Virginia, and hiking more than 150 miles during two treks at Philmont Scout Ranch including one selection as his trek’s crew leader.  He was also part of Frog Patrol which earned National Honor Patrol recognition.  Parker earned the God and Me Religious Award in 2001.

    For his Eagle Project, Parker designed and constructed a storage cabinet for Colony Bend Elementary School to hold science equipment for various grades in a central, secure location.  He directed 14 people for a total of 94 volunteer hours.

    Parker is a senior at Clements High School and is a member of the National Honor Society.  He plans to study Business at a major university next year.  His parents are Jerre and Maureen Parker and he has one sister, Heather, who has earned the Girl Scout Silver award.

    Do you like this story, this kind of news?  Kindly spread the word:

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    Dembski’s students sent into the crucible of Darwinism, at SMU!

    September 24, 2009

    Oh, the sermons they’ll be able to preach!

    We learn from a couple of sources that Bill Dembski has assigned his students in two different classes at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary to try to crash a program honoring Charles Darwin and evolution theory at nearby Southern Methodist University, on Thursday, September 24.

    Fall 2009

    Christian Apologetics (SWBTS #PHILO 4373 – Fall 2009)

    <> New as of 09.16.09! Dear Class, I want to share with you a few things: (1) For extra credit I’d like you to go to SMU on September 24th. On that day there are two back-to-back events at SMU celebrating Darwin — go to smu.edu/smunews/darwin/events.asp and scroll down to September 24th. I don’t want you going there merely as spectators but will indicate in class how you might actively participate and engage the Darwin-lovers you’ll find there.

    *     *     *     *     *

    Intelligent Design or Unintelligent Evolution (SWBTS #PHILO 2483 – Fall 2009)

    <> New as of 09.16.09! Dear Class, I want to share with you a few things: (1) For extra credit I’d like you to go to SMU on September 24th. On that day there are two back-to-back events at SMU celebrating Darwin — go to smu.edu/smunews/darwin/events.asp and scroll down to September 24th. I don’t want you going there merely as spectators but will indicate in class how you might actively participate and engage the Darwin-lovers you’ll find there.

    You gotta wonder just what would happen if one of those abused students were to actually pay attention to the science, turn honest, and become a defender of science and Darwin.  SWBTS students are not required to swear to honesty, however, so it’s unlikely they will turn (not at the tuitions they pay!).

    SMU’s Year of Darwin programs feature the NOVA episode on the Pennsylvania trial on evolution and intelligent design.  The NOVA piece will be screened, and discussions will include the Honorable John E. Jones, the federal judge who presided over the trial and has since been maligned unfairly by Dembski and other religionists who reject the views of science.  Other lecturers include reporter Laurie Lebo and the team that produced the NOVA episode:

    Sept. 24, 2009

    Reception 10 a.m.

    Lecture 10:30 a.m.

    DeGolyer Library

    The Friends of the SMU Libraries/Colophon and The Friends of KERA Invite the public to a special event in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species and the 200th birthday of its author, Charles Darwin. Featured speakers will be Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA, and Melanie Wallace, senior series producer of NOVA. Please RSVP to 214-768-3225 or cruppi@smu.edu, Complimentary Valet Parking.
    Sept. 24, 2009

    4-6 p.m.

    O’Donnell Hall

    Owen Art Center

    Screening of “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” a NOVA documentary. Introduction by Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of NOVA, who received an honorary degree from SMU in 2008.
    Sept. 24, 2009

    Reception 6-7 p.m.

    Panel 7-8:30 p.m.

    Caruth Auditorium

    Owen Art Center

    A panel discussion on the legal, ethical and journalistic issues surrounding the making of NOVA’s documentary film, Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Participants include John E. Jones, the federal judge who barred a Dover, Pa., public school district in 2005 from teaching “intelligent design”; Paula Apsell and Melanie Wallace, NOVA producers of the documentary; plaintiff’s council Eric Rothschild; and Laurie Lebo, author of The Devil in Dover.
    Sept. 25, 2009

    10:30 a.m. – noon

    Karcher Auditorium

    Storey Hall

    “Intelligent Design in the Classroom,” a panel discussion on First Amendment issues featuring Judge John E. Jones III, Eric Rothschild (Pepper Hamilton, LLP), Hiram Sasser (Liberty Legal Institute) and Lackland Bloom, SMU’s Dedman School of Law.
    Sept. 25, 2009

    10-11:30 a.m.

    3531 Garson

    Owens Art Center

    Master class on Documentary Film Making, taught by Paula Apsell and Melanie Wallace of NOVA. Strictly by RSVP (to Teri Trevino, trevinot@mail.smu.edu)
    Sept. 25, 2009

    2-3 p.m.

    Hughes-Trigg Forum

    Lauri Lebo will speak on “From Dover to Texas: Reporting on Extremist Views in a Fair and Balanced World” followed by a book signing of her book, The Devil in Dover.

    I have attended sessions around Dallas where Dembski and other ID creationists were the featured speakers.  We know one thing for certain:  Dembski’s students will be given a more polite and mannerly reception at SMU than Dembski and his crew give scientists and critics at their own sessions.  For years, since 1991 at least, SMU has allowed Dembski and his accomplices to use the facilities and good offices of SMU to promote their anti-science screeds, though Dembski’s views are not shared by Methodists, and are contrary to positions taken by the Methodist General Assembly.

    It is impossible to imagine that SWBTS would allow Methodists to do the same thing, teaching and promoting science and especially evolution theory, at the seminary.

    SMU’s program is open to the public (go to the SMU site above to see more events set over the next few months).

    Dembski is teaching apologetics.  Creationist apologists are not licensed, and generally cannot be sued for pedagogical or theological malpractice, even by their students.  Standards for apologetics don’t exist.  Scientists, on the other hand, are subject to peer review, and if using federal funds, prosecution should they tell falsehoods.

    Nota bene: SMU’s lectures on Darwin’s Evolving Legacy are available on video, on-line.  See the wonderfully informative and explanatory presentation by Dr. Barbara Forrest, for example.


    Mid-year switch: Would you change jobs like this?

    September 23, 2009

    At NorLa, Wheeler writes “I’ve been traded.”

    Not really, but it feels similar. Starting Monday I’ll be leaving seventh grade US History for the high school and Civics, Free Enterprise and World Geography.

    I like the parish in which I teach. My principal, not so much. While she’s a micromanager and extremely disorganized, I’m very independent and CDO (that’s OCD in alphabetical order, like it should be). As a teacher, my only request from administrators is to be left the heck alone. I have the best test scores in the school, I have no discipline problems, I’m never absent, the students like me and their parents like me. With those credentials, I figured any sensible principal would be more than happy to leave me be and go worry about stuff that actually needs attention. Not so at my school. I actually had a written reprimand placed in my personnel file because I abbreviated the days of the week on my lesson plans. That’s just one example.

    It’s a good read, about why a good teacher would abandon students and leave his principal in a fix, mid-year.

    There’s a lot of wisdom there, for an administrator who cares to learn.  Go see.


    Quote of the moment: Victor Hugo, telescope vs. microscope

    September 23, 2009

    Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo

    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has a grander view?

    – Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, St. Denis, bk. III, ch. 3


    Scouting as a tool to fight gang violence

    September 22, 2009

    Video from my council, Circle 10, in and around Dallas, Texas:

    Interestingly, I’ve not seen the video before I found it on YouTube.  Have I just missed chances, or has it not been promoted as well as it should have been?


    Glenn Beck doesn’t know Canadian health care

    September 22, 2009

    Just one more thing Glenn Beck doesn’t  know that he spreads disinformation about.

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    Ideas are incombustible: Banned Books Week 2009

    September 22, 2009

    Banned Books Week 2009 is set for September 26 through October 3.

    Which banned book will you read just to poke the eye of the censors, and to wave the flag of freedom and liberty?

    Ellen Hopkins wrote several controversial books, including Burned which is out of favor in Pocatello, Idaho, close to my birthplace.*  She has written a Banned Books Week Manifesto, which she recites in the video.  You can read an interview with Ms. Hopkins at the site of the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC).

    ___________________

    *  Does Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub have any readers in Pocatello?  Pocatello readers:  Do you know of anyplace you can get a copy of Burned to read, in Pocatello?

    Banned Books Week resources:

    Encourage others to read banned books, too:

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    Daniel Webster Council, Boy Scouts of America, wants you

    September 21, 2009

    Interesting recruiting film for the Daniel Webster Council, BSA (New Hampshire).

    More councils should spend a little more effort filming the reasons to join, I think — and put the films on YouTube.

    Do you know of other good Scout recruiting videos — Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or Campfire?


    Peter Sinclair update: Mars still doesn’t deny Earth’s warming

    September 21, 2009

    Cleverly avoiding real discussion of greenhouse gases and their effects on Venus, climate change denialists often claim warming to be a solar system-wide event, caused by the Sun — evidenced, they say, by warming on all the other planets in the solar system.

    Peter Sinclair’s “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” dealt with the issue several months ago, but he’s redone the piece, with improvements in sound especially.

    Spread the word:

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