Pat Robertson: irate eugenicist

Televangelist Pat Robertson has once again managed to insult another US ally. This latest remark is so weird that it’s stranger than science. Europe is committing racial suicide, he says, because Europeans aren’t having enough babies. And who is to blame for the low birth rate? Not Satan, but French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre! From the Feb. 6 edition of his news program, The 700 Club, Robertson said: Studies that I have read indicate that having babies is a sign of a faith in the future. You know, unless you believe in the future, you’re not going to take the trouble of raising a child, educating a child, doing something. If there is no future, why do it? Well, unless you believe in God, there’s really no future. And when you go back to the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre, the whole idea of this desperate nightmare we are in — you know, that we are in this prison, and it has no hope, no exit. That kind of philosophy has permeated the intellectual thinking of Europe, and hopefully it doesn’t come here. But nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen, Europe is right now in the midst of racial suicide because of the declining ...

BBC map shows spread of bird flu 1

In a previous blog entry, I expressed doubt about how serious the spread of Asian bird flu might turn to be. Is it really the beginning of a pandemic, or are we just too jumpy nowadays? I may have to eat my words. The BBC has created an excellent interactive map showing the location and number of infected birds and humans over the past two years. From a few cases in Indochina, the disease has spread, though not exactly like wildfire, into northern Iraq, Turkey and Croatia. True to form, the BBC has done a terrific job covering the spread of bird flu in the Beeb’s usual calm, thorough approach. Well worth a visit.

It’s the economy, stupid! 2

Here’s some cheery news. According to this report, the U.S. debt just topped $8.19 trillion, somewhat over the current U.S. debt ceiling. Technically, that means the U.S. is in default, at leat until it raises its own debt ceiling. To put this whopper of a number in perspective, that $8.19 trillion works out to just over $27,480 for each citizen of the U.S.A. Or, if you had a stack of 8.19 trillion, 1-cm thick CD jewel cases, they would stretch 81.9 million km (51.2 million miles) into space — about halfway to the sun! Incredible.

Federal money + religion = help? 2

Religious groups have received almost 25% of the $15 billion in federal funds set aside for Pres. George W. Bush’s global AIDS battle, the Associated Press reported today. The groups stress the conservative Christian litany of abstinence first, being faithful second and condom use third. Some overtly spread the Word of God, as well. Before I launch into my tirade, let me first offer some of my background. I am in fact a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and have been for 22 years. I have also lived in a country, South Africa, with a serious HIV/AIDS crisis. That experience and my faith-based background color my remarks. Were these funds disbursed to religious groups who were working in the U.S., there would be a huge backlash. The Constitution prevents the government from promoting religion, otherwise known as the separation of church and state. The groups, however, do their work overseas, so they are not preaching Christianity to U.S. citizens. Rather, they bring the Good News and their HIV/AIDS instruction to the unchurched masses of the Third World. The federal funds no doubt facilitate the process. Now, undoubtedly, these groups are doing some good diminishing the spread of ...

20 years ago today …

… the Shuttle Challenger, exploded shortly after launch over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all seven of its crew. Among them was the first (and so far only) Teacher in Space, a radiant, inspiring woman named Sharon Christa McAuliffe. The accident, 73 seconds into the flight, remains fixed in my mind for many reasons. One, quite selfish, is that fateful day was also my 30th birthday. Another is the consideration I made to apply to the Teacher in Space myself (though I never did). Christa and I shared the same profession, and I understood the deep emotional connections that can exist between teachers and their students. And yet another was just the shock of it all. We had grown so accustomed to routine launches from Cape Canaveral that collectively we forgot how dangerous space flight really is. In the months that followed, we learned, courtesy of an impatient demonstration by physicist Richard Feynmann, that O-ring seals in the external boosters had failed in the unusually cool weather of the launch date. Chilled below their design temperature, the rings lost their pliability and allowed jets of burning solid propellant to ignite the liquid hydrogen and oxygen in the external fuel tank. The ...

It’s not just here …

From the BBC comes this disheartening news. According to a recent survey, just under half of the Brits surveyed accept evolution as the best explanation for the development of life. And in case you thought the British public was more sophisticated than the folks in Kansas and Dover, Pa., more than 40% of those surveyed believe intelligent design or creationism should be taught in school science classes. Ironically, the BBC’s Horizons program commissioned the survey for a program about the ID controversy in the States. According to the BBC report, Over 2,000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life: * 22% chose creationism * 17% opted for intelligent design * 48% selected evolution theory * and the rest did not know. Asked what explanation of the development of life should be taught, the respondents replied * 44% said creationism should be included * 41% intelligent design * 69% wanted evolution as part of the science curriculum. Let’s hope that the IDists in the States don’t use this survey as more ammunition for including ID in high school science classes. Let’s also hope that educators, both here ...

And speaking of Tom Cruise … 1

who really is NOT a scientist, his success in pulling the latest South Parkepisode off the air just drove the ep onto the internet. Strangely, no one in the South Park production crew seems too upset by the copyright infringement. The episode not only pokes fun at Tom’s chosen religion, Scientology, but also cracks a joke about his animated self “coming out of the closet.” The real Tom threw a fit and threatened to sue. Comedy Central pulled the episode from distribution. Resourceful fans, however, immediately posted the episode on the internet. Tom’s going to have a tough time tracking all those links down. At the risk of bringing the wrath of Tom and the “Church” of Scientology down on me, as a public service, here’s a link to the controversial episode. And links to South Park DVDs (hover over the images for the titles):    South Park:Complete Seventh Season

Is Washington getting ready to play ball with Cuba?

The US Treasury Dept. is going to allow the Cubans to play here during the inaugural World Baseball Classic. This news is like hearing Nixon is going to China! The US has been maintaining a cold war against Fidel’s Cuba for almost 50 years. Is the anti-Fidel sentiment beginning to thaw? Or is Washington just planning ahead for the day when the old man dies? Cubans do love their beisbol. Either way, it’s good news for the game. Sixteen nations will field teams to compete against each other in the first international contest involving professional teams. Some of the games will be played in the States, which prohibits commercial transactions with Fidel’s government. So, there was some question that Cuba would be barred from the US, effectively killing the whole event. For more details, see here.

Obligatory introduction

So, why should I, who already has way too much to do, bother to start my own weblog? Like Everest, because it’s there! I maintain three websites in one way or another, and am support staff on another. None of them really allow me to vent my opinions, frustrations, rants, whatever. Now that the internet allows everyone to be their own publisher, I thought it was time to join in on the fun. So, what do I do? Who am I? I wonder myself sometimes … I have taught high school physics at St. Francis High School in Louisville, Kentucky, for more than 20 years. (I still retain some fragments of sanity, thank you.) In 2000, I spent a year teaching at Pretoria Boys High School in South Africa on a Fulbright Teacher Exchange. I have also been called upon to teach math. Aside from my teaching duties, I am the technology coordinator for the school. That title translates into “network administrator + webmaster + computer repairman + help desk + security expert + Exchange administrator + infrastructure guru.” Yes, I am a one-man shop — pretty typical for a small private school. I was one of the go-to guys ...
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