Monday, October 27, 2008

Could it be...Satan?!???

Of course you know that Barack Obama is a celebrity radical Muslim black nationalist socialist appeaser elitist Chicago politician pedophile racist, but did you know that he's also a satanist and practices mesmerism? I read it on the Internet so it must be true (and I might point out that the first link is to a web blog hosted by Fox News, so you know it's especially trustworthy).

More Obama-related evil as it appears over the next week -- I expect quite a lot will be surfacing.

Shocking news: religious foundation run by homophobic wingnuts!

Over the past few years I've observed the Templeton Foundation with some bemusement, as it seems to sponsor all sorts of things that seem interesting-but-bordering-on-flakey. I don't have a problem with its general goal, which to explore the connections between science and religion. As a moderate in the God wars I'm all for people trying to find a middle way.

So, I was a bit disturbed to find out that a boatload of Templeton money is going to the forces behind California's regressive Proposition 8, which would strip away the rights of gays to be married (rights they gained under a recent CA Supreme Court decision). John Templeton (son of the founder of the Templeton Foundation and its current chairman) has contributed $1 million dollars to a collection of groups campaigning for this odious law (along with Howard Ahmanson, another crazy rich guy who funded the similar but less respectable Discovery Institute).

Templeton funds many interesting scientific and quasi-scientific efforts, including the Foundational Questions Institute, which lists many prominent people as members and affiliates, including science bloggers Scott Aaronson and Sean Carroll.

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with taking money from the Templeton Foundation, no matter what dubious causes they may be linked to. Money they spend on actual research is money not being spent on supporting regressive legislation. However, if I was taking money from such people (and I have been in somewhat similar situations, where I've accepted military funding for my own research), I would feel some extra obligation to speak out for goodness, righteousness, and truth in areas where my patron is spreading evil, hatred, and lies. Just saying.

On the intellectual level, I'm disappointed to learn that Templeton-brand religion is the fundamentalist/wingnut variety -- the kind of God that hates teh gay, not the kind of abstract principle of existence and value that an intelligent person might conceivably have truck with; not the unnameable of mysticism or apophatic theology; no, this is a God with very firm opinions about the proper deployment of human genitalia. There are sane people who work on reconciling science and religion, but they apparently have no crazed billionaires behind their efforts.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Word of the week

Zoopharmacognosy refers to the process by which animals self-medicate, by selecting and utilizing plants, soils, and insects to treat and prevent disease. Coined by Dr. Eloy Rodriguez, a biochemist and professor at Cornell University, the word is derived from roots zoo ("animal"), pharma ("drug"), and gnosy ("knowing").

Came up when reading this interesting article on human drug-seeking behavior, which came up in the course of another stupid flamewar with an idiot libertarian. My only excuse for doing this is that it leads me down interesting pathways to new words and ideas. Did you know that two of the most important Nobels in biology are partially attributable to the influence of LSD? Kary Mullis everyone knows about, but Francis Crick?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'd go broke but I can't afford it

Credit has gotten so tight in recent weeks that companies contemplating a bankruptcy filing can't find the cash needed to get through the process.

-- from the WSJ via Obsidian Wings

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Break Every Yoke

Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to HaShem?

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of HaShem shall be thy rear guard.

-- Isaiah 58:5-8

[for Kol Nidre]