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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Only a Darwinist would think of something this vulgar ...

From The Scientist:
If only Charles Darwin could see what his work has come to.

In April 2006, Michael Fox, a 26-year old advertising salesman from Sydney, Australia, decided to start a joke dating Web site. People say that it's what's inside that matters, but what they really want is a perfect face, firm butt, and flat stomach, he reasoned. Why not be honest about it?

"Sick of dating Web sites filled with ugly, unattractive, desperate fatsos?" asks Fox's online dating site, Darwin Dating. If so, like thousands of other disappointed online love-seekers, you can submit your photo to the Web site, allow your face to be criticized or ogled by potential dates, and hopefully pass the "natural selection" process and get voted in to an elite club of beautiful people.

"Darwin Dating has been created to better the lives of attractive people and to encourage them to find other attractive people with whom they can breed," the site reads.

The irony is that the a very common mistake that young people make is to fall for a hunk or a babe. Often, such people have coasted through life on their looks and are of little use on the long trek uphill.


Expelled ten days later ...

According to Box Office Mojo, Expelled is estimated to have

- earned $5,282,000 in 10 days.

- it is currently ranked 6th in political documentary, 12th in Christian, and 15th in documentary.

- It is currently ranked 13 in films, but every film ranked above it was released in far more theatres.

Meanwhile, John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, is suing the Expelled filmmakers over their use of his 1971 song Imagine, ranked all time # 3 by Rolling Stone. The producers claim they cited it under fair use for commentary and criticism.

The Expelled producers replied to Ms. Ono, "Let it be," adding,
Premise did not pursue a license for the song and had no obligation to do so. Unbiased viewers of the film will see that the Imagine clip was used as part of a social commentary in the exercise of free speech. The brief clip - consisting of a mere 10 words - was used to contrast the messages in the documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED.

But the irony of this lawsuit was not lost on the film's star Ben Stein, "So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief Constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to 'Imagine no possessions'? Maybe instead of wasting everyone's time trying to silence a documentary she should give the song to the world for free? After all, 'imagine all the people sharing all the world...You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the World can live as one.'"
John P. Meyer at Pegasus News thinks, as I do, that
Frankly, it looks like the instigators of the lawsuit are playing right into the hands of the filmmakers, who're naturally (and in time-honored fashion) taking the approach that "all publicity is good publicity."
Apparently, Ms. Ono is trying to stop the distribution of Expelled, but there she certainly hasn't the advantage of originality. However, at least one group of fans has sent me a message urging that people see the film soon in case she succeeds.

In case she succeeds? I can't think of a better way to be sure that a billion people see it.

Meanwhile, if you want to hear and see Lennon's Imagine, go here, and here's Lennon with the other Beatles, in Let it be.

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American political scene: Churches should holler for Jesus and schools should indoctrinate Darwin?

In the United States, positions on the controversy between unguided (Darwinian) evolution and intelligent design tend to break out along partisan political lines, with Republicans doubting Darwin and Democrats embracing him.

Not surprising then is leading Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama's recent statement,
"I'm a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state. But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there's a difference between science and faith. That doesn't make faith any less important than science. It just means they're two different things. And I think it's a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don't hold up to scientific inquiry."
Hilary Clinton, his top rival, said something similar recently too.

One thing I find curious is the way these people are always hollering about God and Christianity when they endorse materialist theories of the origin of life and all that.

Meanwhile, Republican John McCain more or less supports teaching what the controversy is about. It's hard to imagine any materialist or Christian fellow traveller wanting that just now.

Note: The poll numbers are completely different in Canada, where, for example,
... some poll figures may surprise those who assume Conservative voters would be more likely to hold religious views. The poll indicates that 31 percent of Conservatives believe God played no part, the same percentage as New Democratic Party (NDP [= socialist]) voters. Only 22 percent of Liberals agree, however.
One obvious outcome is that the controversy would be much more difficult to politicize in Canada. As many votes would be lost as gained.

The miracle of the disappearing prof

Nancy Bryson taped a recent podcast with Discovery Institute about how she got Expelled from Mississippi Women's U because she told students evidence against Darwin's theory of evolution. I had covered her story back in 2005, as part of a group of similar stories. Here's the excerpt on her situation:
Mississippi University for Women: During a recent honors forum at Mississippi University for Women (MUW), Dr. Nancy Bryson gave a presentation titled "Critical Thinking on Evolution" -- which covered alternate views to evolution such as intelligent design. Bryson said that following the presentation, a senior professor of biology told her she was unqualified and not a professional biologist, and said her presentation was "religion masquerading as science.

The next day, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Vagn Hansen asked Bryson to resign from her position as head of the school's Division of Science and Mathematics. "The academy is all about free thought and academic freedom. He hadn't even heard my talk," Bryson told American Family Radio News. "[W]ithout knowing anything about my talk, he makes that decision. I think it's just really an outrage."

Well, Dr. Bryson, St. Charles Darwin's fanatics are really into the "Miracle of the Disappearing Prof" these days. And I can tell you this much for sure - the prof really does disappear - though many such profs do turn up later at other U's or in the Expelled movie, and increasingly in the public eye.


Blogging: Crocodile, crocodile, cry me some tears ...

Alan Mutter at Reflections of a Newsosaur blog reports that
While more people than ever may be visiting newspaper websites, they are sticking around less this year than they were in 2007.

That’s the troubling problem the Newspaper Association of America failed to mention this week, when it reported that the number of unique visitors at its members’ websites increased 12.3% to an all-time high of 199.1 million in the first three months of the year.

But an analysis of the first-quarter web traffic reported by the industry association determines that, by most other key measures, the relative popularity of newspaper websites has waned in the last year in spite of the industry’s professed commitment to aggressively building online products and revenues.

Anyone familiar with today's news environment won't be surprised at the fact that many people prefer to go to blogs.

Meanwhile, the New York Times, whose circulation seems to be bleeding while mine is growing, published a story recently by Matt Richtel about the Web World of 24/7 stress of "blog till they drop" types (like me?), citing two recent deaths of bloggers:
The pressure even gets to those who work for themselves — and are being well-compensated for it.

“I haven’t died yet,” said Michael Arrington, the founder and co-editor of TechCrunch, a popular technology blog. The site has brought in millions in advertising revenue, but there has been a hefty cost. Mr. Arrington says he has gained 30 pounds in the last three years, developed a severe sleeping disorder and turned his home into an office for him and four employees. “At some point, I’ll have a nervous breakdown and be admitted to the hospital, or something else will happen.”

“This is not sustainable,” he said.

Funny, I would have said that about The New York Times. But hey.

Well, here's one blogger's less melodramatic tale:

I make a living, am still undead, and have not come anywhere near a nervous breakdown. I prefer blogging to writing for magazines because I can usually link my readers to my sources. So if they want to pursue a story in more detail, they can follow the links. Not only that, I can link to images, audio, and video.

Improvements I would like to see: If I were a techhead, I would long ago have figured out how to offer images, audio, and video myself. But I am not a techhead, there are only so many hours in a day, and I do NOT blog till I drop. Just like you, I have a life - a family, friends, a church, a garden, and all that. And every so often a publisher wants me to write a book, too.

Problems I would like to see solved: (1) bonehead governments that make laws about the Internet which don't make sense and (2) publications that charge a fortune to view their articles - which means I can't link my readers to my sources.

But I don't see how The New York Times can help me with any of that. For all I know, they would want more bonehead laws and higher fees. So go ahead, Times, cry me a river. We need rain here in Toronto.


Blog seeks the firing of Baylor U's anti-ID president, John Lilley

Recently, concerns have been raised at Uncommon Descent about Baylor president John Lilley overruling faculty tenure decisions for no very clear reason. (Lilley originally attracted UD attention because of his obvious hostility to the ID theorists, compared to previous President Sloan, who attracted controversy by hiring Bill Dembski.)

Now a contact points me to a fire Lilley site that has just sprung up. 404 to 59 voters so far want Lilley fired. What does that mean? Who knows?

The "fire" brigade doesn't make a very good case (or any particular case so far). In any event, Lilley's predecessor Sloan was more or less forced out of office over controversies like these. I suspect that anyone who wanted to be Baylor's president under the circumstances would need lots of skill at talking out of both sides of his mouth, which is not the best qualification for rebuilding trust.

It bears watching for a while.


Darwinism and atheism: No connection whatever?

A friend sends me this:
“Darwin developed an evolutionary theory based on chance variation and natural selection imposed by an external environment: a rigidly materialistic (and basically atheistic) version of evolution,” (- Stephen Jay Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History 33 (W.W. Norton 1977).)
Another one for the "theistic evolution" files, I guess ...

Who links to me?