Conservapedia has published (what they call) an essay, titled, “Capsizing people’s evolutionary views via 15 questions,” which attempts to explore why evolutionists (or, those who believe evolution) are just dead wrong in their understanding of how the world works.

Unfortunately, the article does little more than ask questions which for the most part seem irrelevant to the study of evolution all together. Here are the questions.

Most of what the article seems to be trying to promote, however, is the new Question Evolution! campaign, consistently citing instances where evolutionists are stumped on answering some of the infamous 15 questions posed.

We all know evolutionists are utterly powerless when it comes to the 15 questions that evolutionists cannot satisfactorily answer. Just imagine seeing videotaped interview after videotaped interview of people being stumped by the 15 questions that evolutionists cannot satisfactorily answer. Of course, once people see these interviews, many will want to do their own videos. It is going to be very educational and a lot of fun.

I have a few objections to make. Actually, no; these aren’t objections. This is me calling out the bullshit.

1) Nothing is hard fact. Nothing.

Science is an ever-changing atmosphere because knowledge is an ever-changing atmosphere. Half of what we discover in this century may be rewritten in the next. Anyone who has taken a basic philosophy course realizes that everything we observe (and things we can’t observe) are subject to change at any given point; the often cited example is how mankind used to believe our world was flat, when in actuality (well, this is how we see it now) the world is a sphere. It is because things can always change that rational human beings call things relating to nearly all subject areas, including science, theories.

2) Science & Evolution are separate from religion for a reason.

That reason is because science flat-out attempts to answer questions we as mankind have about the natural world, whereas religion is there to help us answer questions about the spiritual world. You see the difference? Science is based upon things strictly observed — which is why it is easier to pile evidence or backing on theories we develop from science. Religion, however, is something much different. We use religion to help us answer things we can’t necessarily just observe — like the existence of a god, or a heaven, or magic for all that matter. The study of evolution doesn’t even attempt answering how life originated from the very, very beginning; the best links it can provide are how organisms have evolved from other organisms — which does not answer how the universe & life itself was created — and that’s fine, because evolution is not supposed to try answering those questions.

I think what people don’t realize a lot of the time is that most aspects of evolution and religion can exist cohesively, for the most part. Just because one believes in the science of evolution & natural selection does not mean that some all powerful deity didn’t create the process of evolution in the first place. The only conflicting aspects might be in regards to time — in particular, how old the earth actually is. Yet that still doesn’t mean one cannot believe in the Christian faith, or any other faith, and at the same time not look to scientific findings & research as a basis for how they view the world.

3) Creating a conflict between the two is nothing more than bigotry.

I just fucking love how this video tells students in schools to question their instructors on how evolution works and whether or not it is fact. I’ve already established that evolution is not fact, just like everything in science (philosophically, that is); but no shit, of course students should question their teachers on things they’re taught in school — just like how kids should question their history instructors about the great depression and what other casual links may exist, or how kids should question their pastors in church to understand, fundamentally, why their pastors believe what they believe so strongly, so that they themselves can judge if it works for them.

The Question Evolution! campaign even cites itself as:

…a worldwide “grass-roots movement to challenge the anti-Christian dogma of evolution”.

Evolution is not anti-Christian in and of itself, OK? Are there people who use evolution as backing to condemn the Christian faith? Absolutely. (I’m looking at YOU, Dawkins.) Should they be doing that? No, I don’t think so. But the writers of this article on Conservapedia seem to do the same thing by condemning evolutionists worldwide. They even go as far as to pool evolutionists and atheists into the same category, as if they are interchangeable terms (which they are not, by the way. Go back to my second point.) Creating campaigns/groups like this are the same reason American politics is a failure in today’s two-party system — all you’re doing is creating more “Ravvle”!

If there’s anything you or I can take away from this post, let it be this:

Science is as much a belief system as any religion is. Get the fuck over it.


Chinese Slavery

…Well, they at least don’t make sense anymore. Occupy Wall Street has been going on since the fourth quarter of September, and it has sparked similar movements and protests to spring up around the globe. The message? Although the movement has not adopted a specific platform of any sort, it is fair to say that the main theme(s) have been: Anti-Corporate Greed, Campaign-Finance Reform, and raising awareness over Wealth Disparity in the U.S.

And don’t get me wrong — I am in total support of these themes. These are real issues which need real solvency. However, the problem lies in how the movement goes about doing that.

Whenever someone starts talking to me about the Occupy protesters do you know what comes to my mind? A five-year old who stomps his foot down yelling, “NNNEEEAAHHH!” This is because that’s all the Occupy protesters are accomplishing with their actions. The very thought that your movement will motivate change to happen just by sitting around & camping in a given spot indefinitely for as long as possible is ludicrous. Why? Because you’re not actually doing anything; you’re more or less an annoyance — especially when you’re denying public use of public space.

Now, the Occupy movement likes to cite their right to protest/assembly via the first amendment as justification for their actions. This, too, is ludicrous. Yes, you have every right to voice your opinion and peacefully assemble; but this does not give you the right to intrude on other individuals’ rights to use public space and go about their lives like normal. It’s a rights issue, essentially. Do the protesters in New York intrude on anyone else’s individual rights through their actions? Absolutely.

The Occupy movement is morally correct about a lot of things. However, it has been long enough. Their voices have been heard. It’s time to pack the bags and continue to raise awareness some other way — one that won’t intrude on the rights of others.

Beautiful Law

I came across an interesting article the other day in the New York Times on the subject of employment discrimination — particularly involving discrimination against the “ugly”. That’s right. Believe it or not, employers do turn folks down from positions because of their appearance.

Daniel S. Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas, has recently opted for pursuing legal rights for the ugly:

A more radical solution may be needed: why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?

An article by The Economist describes some of the advantages the beautiful people seem to be stealing from the ugly. Indeed, research shows that an American worker who is attractive will make roughly $230,000 more over his/her lifetime than an ugly counterpart — regardless of identical skill sets. In addition, it is also known to most that if you happen to have good looks then you are more likely to be paid higher than someone who has “average” looks. Indeed, conventional wisdom says that employers and supervisors have every right & need to discriminate based upon appearance because it is a marketing strategy that helps sell products and bring quality customer service. It is obvious that those born beautiful get to reap the benefits of their beauty for much of their life, and that maybe it is unfair to those who are not born beautiful.

However, here is what Hamermesh says:

Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ugly people could be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination. We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.

This is sort of the problem I have with the whole idea of offering “legal protections for the ugly.” Here, Hamermesh is wanting to extend legal rights/protections for the ugly through the ADA; really, is the level of one’s attractiveness and looks something we should be calling a “disability?” I don’t think so. Maybe if an individual was literally born with a genetic mutation that disfigures the body in a visible way…but how often do we get a case like this? Also, he is suggesting affirmative-action policies which could benefit those who are unfortunate enough to be too ugly to help themselves.

At this point I just throw my hands in the air and say, “What the fuck?” Affirmative action for the ugly? Really? How the hell are we supposed to measure one’s beauty? Affirmative action is already an issue on many different fronts in the race & gender-pool because it merely awards people different advantages simply for pertaining to a certain trait. If you are applying to a prestigious law school with the same credentials as another white person and you are black, it is affirmative action that gives you the upper edge on your application into that law school. It is often said that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I think this is very true — so how can it possibly be applied here? I understand that there are many things we Americans can agree upon that are attractive traits: skinny, tan, medium-short height, symmetry, waist-to-hip ratio, breast size, etc. (These are female traits that males generally look for, by the way.) Hamermesh actually gets this part right:

That aphorism is correct in one sense: if asked who is the most beautiful person in a group of beautiful people, you and I might well have different answers. But when it comes to differentiating classes of attractiveness, we all view beauty similarly: someone whom you consider good-looking will be viewed similarly by most others; someone you consider ugly will be viewed as ugly by most others. In one study, more than half of a group of people were assessed identically by each of two observers using a five-point scale; and very few assessments differed by more than one point.

However, this is only what we can consider attractive on a very general consensus — and legal policy is something that we want to make as specific as possible. So, what? Is it possible for us to create a concise list of “ugly” traits in which we could make applicable to law in order to offer protections for individuals meeting all of the pre-listed requirements of “ugly?” Of course, not. If we received a case that involved a female who claims to have been discriminated against when applying for employment at a local bank on the basis of a lack of “attractiveness,” are we to just look at a list and say, “Well, you do have a body fat percentage of 30%, your ass-to-boob ratio is way out of whack, you’re too short for your size, and your nose is too pointy. Congratulations! Your case can be filed in court!”? Whenever attractiveness is cut down to its core, every individual is going to find incongruities with one another on what it means to be truly “ugly.” And does anyone have any idea how hard it would be to actually take a case to court on the grounds that you were discriminated against based on your looks? Believe it or not, but it is very difficult to prove intentional discrimination…not to mention just showing that discrimination had occurred in the first place.

I’m afraid there is no easy answer on how to combat discrimination against individuals who surely do not deserve it, but here is how I see it: people need to stop looking at trying to stop discrimination through offering special legal rights to different minority groups. It doesn’t solve the problem; all it does it say, “Hey, you cannot be racist or we will file legal action against you,” as if it will fix racism, or sexism, or anything else in this country. The problem simply lies in how people think — and it’s backwards. If anything, it is an insult — telling someone they are in need of extra help because of their appearance, race, or gender. Stop talking about race; stop talking about gender; stop talking about how I look.

Now that I’m done with my rant, I’ll let you bask in the warmth of Morgan Freeman’s voice as he explains his thoughts on Black History Month:

Yeah, OK. He’s not completely “jobless,” per se. After resigning as Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs is taking role as Chairman of the company’s board of directors; Tim Cook is now Apple’s new CEO. His resignation has been all the talk for the past twelve hours on major news networks and economists are already trying to put in their two cents as to what will become of the world’s most valuable company. (Well, it’s now back down to the #2 spot on the stock market because of its recent hit in stocks.)

Those who play the stock market game are already starting to panic over his resignation; after all, Steve Jobs is seen as the very soul of Apple Inc. since he had retaken over the company just when it was near bankruptcy and had set it back on track to become one of the greatest financial successes in history. Apple had taken a blow to extended trading by 7%, today.

Are shareholders overreacting to Steve Job’s resignation? I would indeed think so. People are making these headlines appear as if Steve Jobs is completely retiring from the company all together, which is obviously not the case. As chairman of the board of directors, he will still be in a position to provide input into company decisions. What? Do people honestly think Tim Cook is going to be left all alone to run Apple Inc. with little insight as to where to take company next? Of course not.

Besides, Tim Cook already has a good history with the company. He joined the company only a year after Steve Jobs had reclaimed the company and has been working along side him ever since. In 2004, Steve Jobs had been diagnosed with a rare cancer and was on leave for a month; during this time, Tim Cook was temporarily in charge of Apple Inc. and its stock had seen a significant increase during this single month. Cook has always been the man for the job whenever Mr. Jobs had taken medical leave, and I don’t think this time is any different.

Apple’s most recent hit to the stock market was expected — fairly inevitable. It’s natural for consumers to respond hastily and sell stock as soon as possible without knowing what lies in store for the company. But what about the intermediate term after Steve Job’s resignation? The shock will be short-lived, and then Apple will reclaim consumer confidence in its company by continuing to perform well under Tim Cook’s supervision. Thus, I think we’re bound to see consumers start buying Apple’s stock again in a short amount of time — that’ll be the aftershock; the media attention will only get individuals to pay closer attention to where the company goes, and shareholder confidence in the company will be reinforced. (Especially since Apple already has an agenda of products scheduled for release in three years’ time.) In no time at all, Apple Inc. will be back on top of the world.

But what about the company’s rivals? The most notable one is South Korea’s Samsung, which saw a 1.58% increase in its Stock Price Index hours after Steve Job’s resignation. Investors (again, amidst the panic) are now looking for the potential company that will trump over Apple Inc. Samsung and Apple have been in legal battles for the past few years over product hardware, software, and supplies — particularly related to smart phone competitiveness. But this is exactly why I myself would not be selling my Apple shares & immediately thrashing it into new hands. Apple is a large company; a large company that runs on many wheels, not just one. It is also a successful company because it is innovative. The company is competitive in not just smart phones (which is pretty much ALL of Samsung…), but also in the music industry, hand-held devices, computers hardware and software, etc. The fact that Apple Inc. can bring so much to the table in terms of what they offer in products is what makes them such a highly valued company. Out of all the companies competing in the electronics industry, I doubt Apple would be the first to run out of ideas.

This news of hasty stock decisions by shareholders, however, could spark a new round of competition between the bitter rivals in electronics. Apple Inc. is, indeed, becoming the world’s monopoly for electronic devices. Would some competition between the two be a good thing for the global economy? Definitely.

Anyone who has been following political news & headlines since Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for the presidency knows all too well the heavy disappointment his administration has delivered. Some individuals might see Mr. Obama as a traitor to his own political party; he has, after all, gone against campaign promises (Gitmo, Middle-East Policies, job growth, healthcare, etc.) and has consistently played the silly games of politics in negotiations. (Especially with House Republicans post mid-term elections).

But can Obama really be blamed for making different, and sometimes surprising, decisions during his presidency that appear to stem away from what Democrats across the country hold to value? Nate Silver of The New York Times wouldn’t say so.

In actuality, Obama’s political decisions thus far appear to be spot-on with what Nate Silver dubs, “2010 Democrats.”

Mr. Obama is a prototypical, early 2010s Democrat. And although a 2010s Democrat shares more in common with a 1990s Republican than with the Republicans of today, they are still far from alike.

What is perhaps more interesting outlined in this New York Times blog post is the shift of parties on the political spectrum over the past century.

As you can see from the chart produced by DW-Nominate, both parties had seen a shift on their political platforms towards moderance from the 1930s through about the 1990s. Then what do we see happen? We see both parties appear to sway back on track with their normal ideals through the mid-1990s…but at the turn of the century, Democrats change paths once again towards the right; Republicans, at the same time, instead choose to keep their influence where it serves them best — on the extreme right.

What this chart reveals is that Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats are actually in-line with what the current Democrat looks like in the turn of the 21st century — something that looks more like a moderate Republican; one that is more open to negotiation and policies proposed by congressional Republicans.

By this point it would appear that perhaps Democratic Representatives in Congress are not losing touch with the party they represent specifically, but rather the very people they attempt to represent. However, Nate Silver answers that for us, too.

Mr. Obama’s positions are also broadly in line with the median Democratic voter. According to polling conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm, 70 percent of Democrats think Mr. Obama’s positions are “about right”, and those who disagreed were about as likely to say he was too conservative (12 percent) as too liberal (14 percent).

OK, so I guess the Democratic party in general is seeing a shift in their own ideals and values, and not just its representatives over in Washington. But if you take a look at the polling data from a demographic perspective, you’ll see that individuals between the ages of 30-45 and/or over the age of 65 were less likely to hold a favorable opinion of Obama, approve of his job performance as President, and to actually say that he is in-line with the party platform. Given the age of those polled, it tells us that those growing up prior to 1975, in general, appear to have different views of their own political party than do those aged 18-29. This tells me that it is the younger voter populace that is pressing the newly found moderate conservative values onto the Democratic political platform. Whether or not that is good for politics, I am unsure.

What we can be sure of is congressional Democrats are taking a liking to a new platform. I wonder how long until they decide to shift back towards the left…?