Dutch creationists pay to keep evolution off television

August 20, 2007

Here’s an interesting tactic Dutch Christians seem to have picked up from Adnan Oktar: If you don’t have a rebuttal to evolution, buy the rights to the information and cover it up.

It’s a commercial/religious twist on what Richard Nixon tried to do, but this may be legal. Will it work? Can Christians, or Moslems, purchase the rights to the truth, to keep it from being broadcast?

David Attenborough is famous for his nature programs, usually produced for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and often broadcast in the U.S. on Public Broadcast System (PBS) stations. An evangelical Christian television network in the Netherlands purchased the rights to one of Attenborough’s latest productions, The Life of Mammals, but has edited out all references to evolution.

Are the edits significant? See for yourself:

Comparative clips of the English and Dutch versions can bee seen at Cloggie.

MediaWatchWatch.com reports the move may be pointless, since many Dutch homes have BBC on their cable systems.

Still, with Adnan Oktar spending millions to publish and distribute widely a grotesquely inaccurate book on evolution (unholy to do such things, Adnan – really!), with Texas’s State Board of Education chaired by a hard-headed creationist, one does tire of the creationists’ tendencies to try to purchase the right to be stupid, and then force that stupidity on others.

Why not just stick to the facts? What’s so wrong about letting the truth out? What’s so wrong with the truth that religious fanatics will spend millions to cover it up?

Richard Nixon’s ghost is slapping Santayana’s ghost on the back, asking him to join in on the joke. Santayana’s ghost is not laughing.

More information:

Dog days of summer? Ask an astronomer, not a dog

August 20, 2007

Economics teachers know stock market mavens and watchers call August the “dog days.” It’s slow time, usually — which puts a piquant point on the market gyrations of the past three weeks.

Why is late August called the “dog days?”

The answer is in the stars.

Roman astrologers and astronomers named two constellations in which they thought they saw the outline or framework of dogs. They named one Big Dog, and the other Little Dog — though, in Latin, they became Canis Major and Canis Minor, respectively.

Sirius is in Canis Major. Sirius is the brightest of the true stars (not so bright as Venus, but Venus is a planet). The name “Sirius” came from ancient Egyptians, who named it after their god Osiris; Osiris, of course, had the head of a dog (“Sirius” is a Latin corruption of Osiris, I suppose). So we have a star named after a dog-headed god, in a constellation called the Big Dog.

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Tom Lehrer collides with the periodic table of the elements on YouTube

August 20, 2007


Cover to the original vinyl record, "An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer," containing his performance of his song, "The Elements."

Cover to the original vinyl record, “An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer,” containing his performance of his song, “The Elements.”

Great song, great table, entertaining mashup probably worthy of a more serious production; there are a lot of pictures of boxes on the periodic table.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Homeschool Stuff.

(Lehrer is a math instructor — he intentionally stalled out before getting his Ph.D. — who wrote a series of parody songs in the late 1950s and 1960s. There are three albums of his work, still available last time I checked. One legend is he stopped writing parodies a couple of decades ago, saying that satire was no longer possible after Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973. A collection of his works was assembled into a hit review, Tomfoolery! in 1980; it opened in London, moved to New York, and had a pleasant run in several other venues. Much of his work touches on the scientific, or dives right in.)

(You recognize the tune, of course. It’s from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Pirates of Penzance, “The Major-General’s Song.”)

Almost immediate update: Oooh! Here’s an even more ambitious animation of a live performance:

Yahoo! slides on Scouting’s 100th anniversary

August 20, 2007

Reuters photo of Scouts taking oath Aug 1, 2007, at Brownsea Island World Jamboree

Yahoo! News assembled half a hundred news photos from around the world relating to Scouting’s 100th anniversary — many from the World Jamboree at Brownsea Island, outside of London, and others showing Scouts around the world renewing their oaths on August 1.

Arco, Idaho: Stop and see the first peaceful use of atomic power

August 20, 2007

Nils Ribi is a city councilman in Sun Valley, Idaho, who blogs (public officials who blog, really, is probably a good trend).

Ribi urges that if one should find one’s self driving the highways of Idaho, one might want to stop at the nuclear reactor where electricity was first generated — the first peaceful use of atomic power in the world.

If you are driving the highway between Arco and Idaho Falls, take the time to stop and visit the EBR-1 site that is open to the general public. In 1951 it became the first power plant to produce electricity using atomic energy. It has been nicely restored as a historical site and is well worth the stop, although it is not quite like looking into an operating reactor. The kids will enjoy it too.

His blog features photos of recent forest fires in the area, some of which are starkly beautiful.

Castle Rock fire, near Sun Valley, ID - photo by Nils RibiPhoto of helicopter fighting the Castle Rock Fire near Sun Valley, Idaho, by Nils Ribi.

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