Wednesday, January 27, 2010


What could this possibly involve?

Any guesses?

Homeopathy Acute Care Workshop

ETA: Professor Myers weighs in.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'm not sure how I feel about this

Here's one way to say it:
Focus on the Family is airing an ad during the Superbowl.

Reaction: well crap. This is a hateful organization, but if they have the money, who's to say they can't?

Here's another way to say it:
CBS is airing a Focus on the Family ad during the Superbowl.

Reaction: basically the same as above, with the added bonus that I can feel superior for watching almost no network television.

And yet another way to say it:
CBS is airing a Focus on the Family ad during the Superbowl, but refused to air an ad by in 2004.

Reaction: that totally blows, and shows a clear bias. They should have standards. But then again, they are a business and can make their own business decisions.

Clearly, Focus on the Family is doing it for publicity. Meaning, not the publicity it will get from the 30-second ad, but the publicity it is getting due to the protests about the ad. If everyone had ignored it, what would FotF really get out of it? But if everyone ignored it, would that be giving it tacit approval?

If the ad gets pulled, they win. They get even more publicity and also get to whine about how conservatives and Christians are persecuted. Also, they get more donations.

If the ad airs, they win.
They still get all the publicity from the hype, more people see the ad, they feel vindicated, they get more donations, they feel that they have triumphed over godless liberals.

If the ad gets pulled, we win...
We show that enough people care enough to loudly disagree with them. Small consolation.

Basically, they win. They have already won. No one is going to care that many who oppose CBS's airing of this ad are simply calling for standards. No one is going to care that they would not air's ad. Those pesky little facts don't matter to a large section of Americans (see: President Obama's birth certificate, death panels, H1N1 vaccine conspiracy, etc.).

Basically, God got all up in the NFL's business sometime during the late '80's/early '90's, and there's nothing we can do about it. He's on both sides of every game, and he clearly cares deeply about touchdowns and extra points. Though he's not so hip on safetys.

Apparently, this ad contains the same cloying nonsense that we always hear, basically, what if (insert famous person's name here)'s mother had chosen abortion?

What if? What if nothing. We would not know the difference. It's not an argument; it's something that didn't happen. This argument never gets used as "What if (insert name pulled from obscurity here)'s mother had chosen abortion?" or "What if your mom had chosen abortion?" (answer: she didn't, and if she had, I would not be here, and I would not know the difference, nor would anyone else) or, as these people like to bring up Hitler so much, "What if Hitler's mother had chosen abortion?"

We still would not know the difference because we would not know that the thing that would have happened would have happened if not for X, but it's the flip side of "What if football player's mom had chosen abortion?"

In fact, it makes that question sound incredibly shallow and petty.

I'm a Joiner! Who knew?

Turns out, I can go to organized events that include people I don't know. In the past two weeks, I have been at two such events, both of which were organized by MNAtheists. For those of you who think that the words "organize" and "atheist" don't belong in the same sentence (see: organizing atheists/herding cats), I'll tell you, these non-believers can put together events. Lots of them. My calendar is often riddled with events, most of which I am unable to make (see: my other blog), but aside from the Creationism debate, I had not made a single one.

Two weeks ago, the whumpus family went on a trip to the Children's Museum. We met new people, who we liked, and no one asked us where we go to church. Plus, babywhumpus got to run around and touch stuff and play and play and play. It was excellent. Then last Thursday evening, I went to a Newbie Night. They have these periodically for people like me. I expected a free-for all with coffee. What I got was an organized small group meet and greet, which produced interesting conversations with a variety of people.

It was great. I am normally opposed to most forms of organized fun, and at first, I felt very nervous upon finding that there was a process and something that closely resembled teams, but I stuck with it.

I have the lists of questions, and they will make for good blog-fodder when I am avoiding work or otherwise meandering in my constructive pursuits.

Minnesota Science Standards

Minnesota is about to adopt its Academic Standards for Science.

This is in there:

"Explain how scientific and technological innovations can challenge portions of, or entire accepted theories and models including, but not limited to: cell theory, atomic theory, theory of evolution, plate tectonic theory, germ theory of disease, and the big bang theory." (Page 27; Minnesota Academic Standards, Science K-12 2009)

Sounds good, right? New evidence should be considered in the scientific method.

Except what this statement can mean when interpreted in the real world of the science classroom is Intelligent Design/Creationism.

This benchmark is under the Standard "Understand that Science is a way of knowing about the natural world and is characterized by empirical criteria, logical argument and skeptical review."

It's unnecessary, given that other benchmarks explain the scientific method and "that scientists conduct investigations for a variety of reasons, including: to discover new aspects of the natural world, to explain observed phenomena, to test the conclusions of prior investigations, or to test the predictions of current theories."

Niggling, wheedling little semantic additions like these, acting like it's all about the scientific method, we only want to teach our kids all the facts, and we're are just trying to make sure that all angles are considered are disingenuous at best. What they are doing is allowing the obfuscation of the facts to continue, and it's not doing our kids or our nation any favors.

Next on my reading list: this short paper about evolution and creationism in America's classrooms, just for the garment-rendering, hair-raising fun of it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I've been reading a great deal about Henry the VIII lately, and the notes for the most recent book are a doleful repetition of "destroyed by the Commonwealth." I know it's futile to be angry at Oliver Cromwell for destroying so many precious antiquities, but at this point, I feel like it's actually more useful than being mad at Americans for being so dumb.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

Contrary to the claims of at least one raving lunatic in America, it seems that the earthquake in Haiti was not caused by a pact with the Devil, but by natural occurrences related to faultlines. This is a great post explaining that fact, just in case anyone was wondering. The Devil, Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, nor any other minion of the underworld is mentioned.

Want to help? Contrary to the claims of another raving lunatic, President Obama is encouraging aid for the sake of humanity, not politics, and you can donate to groups such as Partners in Health and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the spirit of compassion.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wildlife, Minneapolis Style

This past fall, I heard that the otters are back. This is not a children's professional hockey team, I mean actual river otters, of the playing and frolicking variety. They have apparently colonized an area of the Mississippi River right in the middle of Minneapolis, not far from the bridge that fell, actually. In other words, right near where I work! This has led me to look for otters whenever daddywhumpus drops me off, and we drive along the river, and it has led me to plan a spring excursion where we look for otters. I have never seen one in the wild, and I. Love. Them.

They are indifferent about me.

This winter's reports of a cougar in The Cities, yes, a MOUNTAIN LION, have me feeling similar things, albeit from the safety of my car. As I don't own a small dog, my cats stay indoors, and I have a modicum of common sense, the idea that a cougar is traipsing around NE Minneapolis, where many of the cool kids live, fills me with unwarranted glee. I hope that it can be found and moved before someone does something stupid, but I have never seen a cat in the wild, and I really, really want to.

Monday, January 11, 2010


It's almost unbelievable! I never saw this coming at all:

Sarah Palin is going to be a commentator on Fox News!

FOX NEWS of all places!


Monday, January 4, 2010

George Washington

Another one of these.

I love them.

I wish I were her, or Tina Fey, but I will have to settle for being me because at the very least, no one else can do it like I can.

resolution one

I think I would like to try to visit all of the national park service sites within 200 miles of my house. I went to Find a Park, and found that I have five:

Effigy Mounds in Iowa
Apostle Islands in Wisconsin
Pipestone in Minnesota
Mississippi River in Minnesota*
St. Croix in Wisconsin

*barely counts because it's right here in my city, and I would not need to make a travel weekend of it. This prompts me to search again...

A search of 250 miles adds Herbert Hoover, a National Scenic Trail, Ice Age, and Grand Portage.

I like this resolution.

Hawkeye was HERE?!

How could Alan Alda have been here, in St. Paul, at the Science Museum, and I had no idea?!

Oh yeah, I'll be watching this.

Dear Blog,

I miss writing.

I'll get back to you as soon as my Inbox is cleared out.