Evolution debate fizzles like a wet firecracker

The on-again, off-again evolution debate with Pennsylvania physics teacher Tom Ritter is apparently off indefinitely. It seems the organizers failed to arrange for a venue for the event. I have this news from the opposing debater, Tony Whitson, who at the eleventh hour agreed to argue in favor of evolution as a science. Ritter was to argue that evolution is a faith. Whitson says the debate’s sponsor, the Constitution Party of Pennsylvania, asked several high schools to host the debate. There were no takers. So the debate has been called off until further notice. Now, it seems to me that, if you wish to hold a debate, it would be wise to arrange for a venue before advertising the event. Trying to find a high school to host it at the last minute near the end of the school year is just plain ludicrous.

Go to church, win a prize!

This news is either weird, or offensive, I’m not sure what. One of the local churches is holding some kind of bombastic special event — sturm und drang Christian style — at which they will hand out prizes. Examples include a TV, a vacation, … a car! Need I say that the church is Pentecostal? Maybe it’s just me, but Pentecostal-style churches seem to borrow heavily from secular entertainment shows for their services. Now, they are  adopting a game-show mentality to win people to the Lord. Visitors might now say, as they leave a service, “Well, I wanted to be born again, but I was really holding out for that convertible.”

Voyagers are still muses after 3 decades

Thirty years ago, the US launched twin probes towards the outer planets. Taking advantage of the favorable arrangement of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, the Voyagers swung by the four gas giants over the course of a decade, returning valuable data and beautiful, compelling images of the Big Four. The Voyagers kept on going, heading for interstellar space. Astronomers told us they would travel for hundreds of thousands of years before reaching another star system, since space is pretty damn big, but that caveat did not prevent some SF writers from using the Voyagers as a plot device. Thanks to a team led by astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, each probe carried on its side a metallic phonograph record (with a stylus included, in case alien space scientists had moved onto CDs) containing messages in dozens of Earth languages, photographs, music, tidbits about our biology and relative size, the location of our home world, and so on. John Carpenter’s movie Starman begins with the launch of the Voyagers and quickly establishes that an alien civilization has intercepted one of the probes, and followed its handy roadmap back to Earth. In the movie, the alien scientist, played by Jeff Bridges, ...
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