North Korea: A hole in the fabric of the 21st century

February 25, 2014

Here’s a photograph of one of the greatest, and longest-running tragedies of our time.

No, that’s not a stretch of water in the red circle.  That’s North Korea, at night, blacked out by a lack of electrical lights.

Tweetpic from the Washington Post: North Korea looks like a sea of misery in this photo from space http://wapo.st/1c1B84q  via @KnowMoreWP pic.twitter.com/nB3g8fa63Q

Tweetpic from the Washington Post: North Korea looks like a sea of misery in this photo from space http://wapo.st/1c1B84q via @KnowMoreWP pic.twitter.com/nB3g8fa63Q

It’s a photo from the International Space Station taken in January.

The KnowMore blog from the Post describes the tragedy, and points to even more disturbing stories:

North Korea appears as nothing more than a shadow in the above photograph, taken at night aboard the International Space Station last month. South Korea’s eastern coastline is indistinguishable from the demilitarized zone along the border with the North, as though the Sea of Japan flowed into the Yellow Sea and Pyongyang were an island in a strait separating South Korea from China.

North Korea’s interior is nearly invisible from orbit at night, just as what happens inside the country on a day-to-day basis is largely invisible to the outside world. U.N. investigators managed to shine a little light into North Korea’s darkest corners last month.  [Click here to get to the U.N. report]

I’ve used similar photos in class.  It’s a powerful exercise.  North Korea is as dark as undeveloped and largely unpopulated areas of the Congo River Basin, the Australian Outback, the Arabian Peninsula’s “Empty Quarter,” and almost as dark as Antarctica.

No doubt stargazing is good in some of those dark spots in North Korea.  This is one case where the absence of light pollution does NOT indicate good planning, but instead an amazing paucity of rational development.


More Christo-totalitarianism: Science not welcome

July 10, 2009

Ooooh, I guess I push the buttons on these guys.

I’ve been banned from two more blogs run by smiling Christo-totalitarians, Dr. Doug Groothuis in Denver (second or third banning, I can’t recall), and another pontificator of Christography, Paul Adams in Arizona.

My sin?  I dared call their hand as they post false bloviations from the Discovery Institute’s Stephen C. Meyer in Meyer’s national anti-science campaign.  Adams claims I violated his guidelines.  Since I was polite, but sharp, I assume that they regard any dissent as “ad hominem” or discourteous.

And, since they banned me, they wiped out my posts.  No need to answer the difficult questions if they can just pretend the questions don’t exist.

They especially do not like my noting creationism and intelligent design as voodoo science, and the bizarre accounts creationists tell of the origins of evolution theory as voodoo history.  Truth hurts too much, I guess.

Creationism might be on its last legs, when otherwise Christian people are driven to totalitarian actions like this, baby camel nose that it is.   Christianity generally flourishes when it’s oppressed.  When Christianity is the basis of oppression, however, the faith falters.  There is a darker possibility:  It may be Christianity that totters with creationism gnawing at the legs and tunneling through clay feet of the Christian monolith.

You may have seen with the kerfuffle with the Kommissar of Houston, Neil Simpson, I don’t censor these Christ-claiming yahoos even when they get patently offensive.  One, their inability to muster rational arguments to defend their unholy War on Science always exposes them.  And two, there is always some hope that they might see the light, open their eyes and take their fingers out of their ears — at least there is hope on my part.

Both Groothuis and Adams are otherwise edified philosophers (which only makes their actions more amusing).  What is it about philosophers that makes them try to philosophize away the world they do not like?

On principle I am open to Groothuis or Adams trying to defend their assault on science in comments here, if they can.  This is an invitation to them to discuss their claims. I ask them to keep it clean and polite.   Since there is no rational or factual basis to their claims of intelligent design, they will have little to say.  Nor will they bother, I predict.  Creationism, including intelligent design, can only function in a fawning, unquestioning atmosphere filled with ignorance of science.

If you want some good clean fun and you can stand a little aggravation when they get all huffy about it, Dear Readers, stroll over to Groothuis’s inaptly named Constructive Curmudgeon or Adams’s In Christus, and post the facts of science that Stephen Meyer wishes to ignore. Be aware, they are likely to censor comments and ban commenters who assault them with science.  Even Christians with Ph.D.s fall victim to Ray Mummert’s disease.

These are two men who should know better.  These are two men whose faith claims should prevent them from supporting voodoo science, junk science, and the War on Education.

Vampires of fiction and cockroaches of reality are negatively phototropic.  They avoid light generally, they cannot stand sunlight, the light of day.  Oddly, creationists share that trait.

Update: Adams, whose philosophy appears to include neither manners nor good science, will not do me the courtesy of saying why he banned me despite two e-mails, but he will respond at his blog when a fellow totalitarian writes in, leaving off any evidence of what he claims is true.  Adams said today:

I spent some time crafting my guidelines and intend on holding to them, expecting everyone to do same.
They’re not optional. Perhaps I should change to “Rules.”

In my estimation, Mr. Darnell committed the ad hominem fallacy violating guideline #2 when speaking to Doug’s inability to respond, rather than addressing the content/substance of Dr. Meyer’s presentation.

How convenient that is.  Adams can claim that I posted nothing of substance against Meyers’ unscientific diatribe, and then Adams doesn’t have to answer.  As best I can figure it, when I note Meyer’s errors, Adams regards that as “ad hominem.”   If Adams were consistent, he’d take down Meyer’s piece. Meyer cannot talk without ad hominem, especially since he has no science to back his claims.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go look at Adams’ blog — warning, he’s unlikely to leave your post up if you point out any of Stephen Meyer’s many errors, or rudenesses, or ad hominem claims — and see for yourself.  If you think for a moment or two that Meyer starts making sense, keep that thought and go look at a serious review of his claims by professionals, here. Adams can’t tell you why he completely disregards Dr. Gotelli, nor will he explain why a link to Gotelli’s critique of Meyer is unacceptable on his blog.  There is no good reason other than Adams’ bigotry against science.  Gotelli, of course, is a practicing scientist in the field in which Meyer polemicizes about.


Human rights lawyers arrested in Vietnam, Iran

June 18, 2009

Get the story here, at Accumulating Peripherals, from Matthew Steinglass.

While eyes are on Iran — as best eyes can be on a place where the government has the fog machines turned on high — Vietnam also arrestsed a leading human rights defender, with too few watching.

On Tuesday, according to NPR’s Mark Memmott, Iranian Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi told NPR reporter Davar Iran Ardalan that a prominent human rights lawyer had been arrested by security agents posing as clients.

That lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani, spoke with Davar just yesterday — telling her that the Iranian government should recount all the votes in last Friday’s disputed presidential election, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by a 2-1 margin.

“Once they were inside they immediately confiscated his computer and other documents and they arrested Mr. Soltani,” Ebadi said in today’s interview. “As far as we know, they did not have an arrest warrant.”

And in Vietnam:

On the other side of Asia last weekend, Vietnamese plainclothes security agents entered the offices of the Ho Chi Minh City dispute resolution firm PIAC and arrested US-trained lawyer and former Fulbright scholar Le Cong Dinh. As a lawyer at White & Case in 2003, Dinh defended Vietnamese catfish farmers against US anti-dumping tariffs. Then, in 2007, he served as defense counsel for two Hanoi human rights lawyers, Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan, who were ultimately sentenced to several years in prison for spreading information “harmful to the State”. While continuing his corporate and civil work, Dinh also defended the well-known political blogger known as Dieu Cay in 2008, when the blogger was arrested on tax charges.

Dinh was arrested Saturday on charges of “colluding with domestic and foreign reactionaries to sabotage the Vietnamese state.”

Resources:


Irony: Celebrate Solzhenitsyn, not his ideas

August 5, 2008

In the old, old movie, from the H. G. Wells story, “Things to Come,” the forces of scientific good (led by Raymond Massey) use a gas to knock out warring parties, to stop the shooting, and to give the good guys a chance to disarm disputants and set things right.

1936 movie poster for Things to Come - WikiMedia image

1936 movie poster for "Things to Come" - WikiMedia image

That was fictional. The “Gas of Peace” doesn’t exist.

The sniping will continue about P. Z. Myers’ complaint that some Catholics grossly over reacted when they threatened death to a fellow who didn’t swallow his wafer at communion, and then kept the wafer (not a hostage — the wafer has been returned), and a lot of the sniping will come from Rod Dreher at the Dallas Morning News.

Did anyone else note the irony of Dreher’s comments commending the ideas of the late Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who campaigned his entire life against authoritative oppression of freedom and enforcement of ideas against all good and common sense, while at the same time railing against Myers’ similar campaign?

Santayana’s Ghost needs to do more active haunting. We can’t excuse tyranny from a church, nor tyranny from any government in the United States of America, either. Freedom typically works better when the freedom to offend is greater than the privilege of being free from being offended. Why doesn’t Dreher see that?

More resources:


Rewrite the government and civics texts

May 16, 2008

Government teachers, can you find this in the textbooks you use in your classes?

Nat Hentoff reports:

The Bush administration believes, he said, “that the president could ignore or modify existing executive orders that he and other presidents have issued without disclosing the new interpretation.”

I noted before, these are exciting times to be teaching, with all these examples of Constitutional law, and Constitution abuses, and President Bush’s War on the Constitution in the headlines, or buried on page 14, every day.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture WarsNat Hentoff’s original column is at WorldNet Daily (!!!).  The Constitution with comments, and also here.

Other resources:


“Surviving the religion of Mao”

September 13, 2007

Real information about real struggles for human rights, as opposed to mere efforts to set the record straight: American Public Media’s radio program, Speaking of Faith features a program on the “religion” of Mao, how life under the long-time communist ruler of the Peoples Republic of China really was closer to religious fervor than reason.

Maoist era propaganda poster;

Propaganda poster from Maoist era: “I’m a battlefield hero, as well as a labor hero!”

It’s an encore presentation, from a year ago. Featured is an interview with Anchee Min, author of The Red Azalea and The Last Empress.

Speaking of Faith’s host Krista Tippett is one of the better interviewers on spirituality and faith. The program may be carried on your local public radio station (not in Dallas, alas); if not, you can listen on-line. Read the rest of this entry »


Turkish creationists censor 1 million WordPress blogs

August 19, 2007

It’s an act worthy of Nicolae Ceauşescu, or Idi Amin — but the Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar has taken legal action that effectively blocks more than a million weblogs from access in Turkey — all the blogs on WordPress, the host of this blog.

Here’s the general announcement to WordPress clients. This site has the text of the threats from Oktar’s lawyers to WordPress.

Here’s a link to Matt’s blog, which has more discussion.

Adnan Oktar is the guy who pays people to write under the name Harun Yahya. Under that name he has published dozens of anti-evolution screeds. You may recall that, in the past year, he has financed the publication of an 800-page book, handsomely bound with scores of pictures (many of them plagiarized), claiming evolution could not account for features of living things. The scientifically vacuous book was delivered to schools and libraries across Europe in 2006, and then to thousands of U.S. scientists, teachers and libraries earlier in 2007.  (Here’s a good summary of creationism and Islam, from Taner Edis.)

I suggested in comments that protests should be made to the European Union. Turkey is working to gain admittance to the EU, and childish, totalitarian eruptions such as Oktar’s getting a court to censor a million blogs, significantly detract from Turkey’s chances and case. There is high irony here, too — Oktar is one of those who has willingly spread false claims that evolution was a cause of the Holocaust (when he’s not busy denying the Holocaust happened; consistency and accuracy are not among his strong points) — heck, just a few months ago he was claiming evolution is the cause of terrorism.

Do you have better ideas about what to do?

I hope the few of you who read this blog will spread this word far and fast.

Such disruptions of communication over an entire nation are the dreams of terrorists. Are we to understand that Adnan Oktar does this because Darwin convinced him? Or are his actions direct denial of his earlier claims?

I have been a journalist for a long time, having joined the Society of Professional Journalists in 1974. I spent many years in Washington, slugging it out against people who wished they had the power of censorship, and some who actually did have that power in other nations. I do not recall any similarly stupid activity outside of totalitarian governments, most of which are now gone.

Nuts.


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