blueollie

I attempted to counter convert Jehovah’s Witnesses!

Workout notes Part two: 4 miles on the floodplain trail with Olivia in Wildlife Prairie Park.

While on the trail, we saw some small “frogs”; I think that they are small American toads.

Politics
Crooks and Liars has a nice post about Bill O’Reilly’s obsession with the Daily Kos.

Liberalsmustdie: on fire, as usual. Check out their Beware of Bibles from England post.

(larger)

Counter Conversion Attempt

Just prior to leaving for Wildlife Prairie Park, some Jehovah’s Witnesses appeard at my door. I told them flat out that I didn’t “believe in God” but they still wanted to talk.

I told them that I thought that the Bible is a completely human book; of course they tried to “show me in the Bible” where “it says that the Bible was inspired.”

I didn’t bother to comment on their circular reasoning, but rather I pointed out that that epistle to Timothy was written well before the Gospels or the book of Revelation were written; hence that phrase had to have been refering to Jewish scriptures! After a few mintues, they finally started to get it.

I didn’t get anywhere with them about evolution, the big bang or other science stuff, but they did seem to listen to me when I reminded them that things were NOT uniformly getting worse (I pointed out to them that Peoria crime has actually gone DOWN over the past several years, by official police statistics) and reminded them that life has actually gotten better for most people, espeically those of us with darker skins.

Still, my attempts to convert them fell short; I didn’t do a good job.

But still, this represents progress, as there was a time where I really didn’t want to convert anyone; “science and rationality” wasn’t for the intellectual “riff-raff”, I used to think.

No more…and besides, it isn’t as if I am a Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Edward Whitten or Bill Thurston anyway. ;)

Speaking of Science, Professor Moran actually shoots down a negative review of Behe’s newest book! By the way, Moran is NOT an ID person. ;)

Bascially, and I am making a huge simplification here, Behe assumes that for a mutation to become fixed in a population, it must be beneficial. In fact, many “neutral” mutations can become fixed in a population, and a criticism of Behe’s work should focus on that.

July 31, 2007 Posted by | family, hiking, Peoria/local, politics/social, religion, science, travel | 2 Comments

Local Stuff; odds and ends

Workout notes 4 miles of walking (13:20, 12:59, 12:30, 11:20); second mile was one lap harder, one lap easier, last two were “steady”, picking up the pace throughout.

Then yoga, then 48 minutes for walking on the way back (from the back door; running time); total was just over 7.3 miles.

Note: my right knee felt much better; I did feel the lower hamstring “oh just a bit” and the knee on the last uphill when I forgot to stay in racewalking form. Yoga didn’t bother the knee or the hamstring at all, though I wasn’t ready to try Hero pose just yet.

I do notice that my balance is off on the days I walk or run just prior to yoga; Warrior III is especially harder.

Speaking of running, I have some folks that enable my bad habits!

A research team at The State University of New Jersey, showed that a combination of exercise and some caffeine protected against the destructive effects of the sun’s ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation, known to induce skin cancer. The caffeine and exercise seemingly conspire in killing off precancerous cells whose DNA has been damaged by UVB-rays.

The studies appear in the July 31 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Groups of hairless mice, whose exposed skin is vulnerable to the sun, were the test subjects in experiments in which one set drank caffeinated water (the human equivalent of one or two cups of coffee a day); another voluntarily exercised on a running wheel; while a third group both drank and ran. A fourth group, which served as a control, didn’t run and didn’t caffeinate. All of the mice were exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation that damaged the DNA in their skin cells.

Some degree of programmed cell death, also known as apoptosis, was observed in the DNA-damaged cells of all four groups, but the caffeine drinkers and exercisers showed an increase over the UVB-treated control group. Apoptosis is a way in which cells with badly damaged DNA commit suicide UVB-damaged cells in this case.

“If apoptosis takes place in a sun-damaged cell, its progress toward cancer will be aborted,” said Allan Conney, one of the paper’s authors.

Compared to the UVB-exposed control animals, the caffeine drinkers showed an approximately 95 percent increase in UVB-induced apoptosis, the exercisers showed a 120 percent increase, while the mice that were both drinking and exercising showed a nearly 400 percent increase. [...]

:)

Atheism Atheist Doctors provide free care at the same rate that theistic ones do.

From the Chicago Sun-Times (emphasis mine):

Atheist and agnostic doctors are as likely to provide care for the poor as religious physicians, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago and Yale New Haven Hospital.

The study is based on a survey of 2,000 doctors with a 63 percent response rate. Thirty-five percent of non-religious doctors, compared with 31 percent of religious doctors, said they were likely to care for people with little or no health insurance.

Usually, studies show that religious people (in general) are more likely to care for the poor, but this is the first time the question was asked specifically to doctors.

I get a line in the article as well:

“People who are not religious generally believe that you have to help other people because this is the only life you have,” said Hemant Mehta of Orland Park, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay: Seeing Faith Through an Atheist’s Eyes.

Local Stuff: Michelle Obama had a women’s event in Peoria yesterday (lunch); the Peoria Journal Star gave it front page coverage and provided a photo spread.

Energizing average people about a national election and convincing them that they play a vital role in the political process brought the wife of presidential hopeful Barack Obama to Peoria on Monday.

“Peoria is important because, first of all, it’s (in) our home state … you don’t take home for granted. Much of how the state of Illinois, especially Peoria, thinks about this thing is indicative of how the country thinks about it,” the senator’s wife, Michelle, told the Journal Star.

She stopped in Peoria to launch the “Downstate Women for Obama” committee and rally with 400 supporters and those still undecided who paid $35 to attend or $1,000 to host the event at the Civic Center.

Also, Peoria is important because of its close proximity to Iowa – another early voting state, Michelle Obama said.

“I think it means something if Peoria, Illinois residents march across the state line and talk to their neighbors over in Iowa about what this man can do for our country. It’s a critical set of relationships,” Michelle Obama said.

As she spoke, her husband was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, touting what he called the most far-reaching ethics and lobbying reform plan of any presidential candidate that he plans to bring to the White House.

“… We have an opportunity to really turn the page and move our country in a different direction for politics,” Michelle Obama said. “Barack didn’t get in this race just to be in the White House or to win. Fundamentally, he believes that the political process, the way people engage in public discussion needs to change.”

Why the public often sours on government
Check out this letter to the editor:

I recently received my bill for 2006 property taxes. It went from just below $850 to just short of $2,400.

When I called the Fulton County treasurer’s office and asked why this was fair – to wait until the middle of July to send me a bill for taxes due on Sept. 4 – the response I got was that I should have saved the tax money by June because I knew this was coming. Agreed. That’s why I saved $1,000 for my taxes, assuming they would increase a bit. Now I don’t even have half of the bill.

It’s one thing to send the bill out late and say I should have known this was coming, but there was no way for me to know that my taxes would triple. This is irresponsible and derelict. This state on every level has overtaxed us. It is ridiculous.

Marshall Bernard

Yes, I am a pro-government liberal. But government must work FOR The people and it fails to do that when it fails to treat them in a humane way. It is things like this that drive people toward “the government is too damned big” conservatism.

Humor

Drunkness, breaking things, bringing computers home, NASA has Dunlap’s dream job! :)

Evolution
h3ney follows an ID blog so you don’t have to. :)

Doesn’t look as if I missed much.

What is your view of Evolution? Professor Moran wants to know.

Yes, he has a poll. The poll is good for your seeing the various approaches out there; there are many different schools of thought.

July 31, 2007 Posted by | injury, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social, religion, science, walking, yoga | 1 Comment

Too good to pass up

I wasn’t going to post again, but there are some interesting things out there.

Running and Evolution
What accounts for our ability to run (or walk) long distances when other primates struggle to do so?

Dr. James Sikela and team used microarrays with over 24,000 human genes to screen and compare genomic hybridization. In other words, they compared DNA samples from humans to those of nine other primate species: chimpanzee, gorilla, bonobo, orangutan, gibbon, macaque, baboon, marmoset, and lemur in oder to identify specific genes and gene families that, through evolutionary time, have undergone lineage-specific copy number gains and losses.

The authors of the report suggest that,

“many of the genes identified are likely to be important to lineage-specific traits found in humans and in the other primate lineages surveyed.”

Several gene families that exhibited striking lineage-specific differences were highlighted. In particular, the human lineage-specific copy number expansion of a gene called AQP7, a gene that plays a role in transporting water and glycorol across membranes, was pointed out because it could explain why humans have evolved the capacity for endurance running. It may facilitate the mobilization of energy stores during long periods of intense exercise as well as playing a role in dissipating excess heat through sweating. [...]

The whole article is worth reading on its own, by the way.

Weight Gain while marathon training? Yes, that happens; I am of the opinion that many who are attempting to train for the first time forget that a longer workout (say, 20 instead of 10 miles) might mean a few extra pieces of fruit, not a whole family sized pizza. But what do I know?

Veteran ultrarunner Julie Berg “weighs in” on this (she also comments on a calorie burning exercise strategy):

Bingo! Wonder why you don’t lose any more fat while running mucho mega miles? Your body adapted. Which is a GOOD thing when you are training for an endurance race, and don’t want to hit the wall, you want your body to adapt. But in fat burning; nope. You don’t want your body to adapt to your form of exercise, it will become very efficient. You need to mix it up.

I love this. How many times have I had a runner or ex runner come up to me and say ‘ I began training for a marathon and it ruined my metabolism! I gained 30 pounds (or 7 or 12 or 15 or 21) I’m not kidding while training for the marathon and I can’t lose it now. I usually say ‘well, it wasn’t the marathon training it was the PROCESSED CARBS you were eating, thinking you needed a 60% carb diet because you are a runner, in fact when you don’t.’ Then I get the eye roll and ‘I so will never run a marathon again’ well, whatever. So this is what Alwyn says ‘ I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people say “I barely eat anything-I eat like a bird and I still gain weight” Oh, really. You are eating fewer calories than you need and your body is gaining weight? Impossible. This violates the law of thermodynamics. If your body was capable of producing body weight from nothing, then we better get you sent over to NASA or UNICEF immediately-with magical genes like yours, we might be able to solve the Third World’s hunger problem.” I LOVE THAT!

His program is lifting and cardio. The cardio is a plan where you NEVER do the same cardio machine two workouts in a row. Genius! You switch length, intervals, etc. over time so your body DOESN’T adapt. [...]

Peoria/Local

Ray LaHood has announced that he is not running for reelection (yes, he would win easily if he did). So, the door is open, though I’d have to admit that the Republicans have the advantage.

From the Journal Star “Word on the Street” section:

His seat isn’t cold yet – he’s still sitting in it, for gosh sakes – but the number of people itching to be the next U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood is growing as we speak.

State Rep. Aaron Schock? Everyone says the young, popular Peoria Republican is a given to run.

Darin LaHood, Ray’s son? There’s a good chance.

Schock’s mentor, longtime state Rep. David Leitch? Definitely considering it, he says.

Former Peoria Councilman John Morris? Same as Leitch, a definite maybe.

Mayor Jim Ardis? Even iffier.

State Sen. Larry Bomke? This Springfield Republican says thanks, but no.

That takes care of the short list of Republicans. (Read further for other Republicans testing the waters.) But what about the Democrats? After all, this will be an open seat in a year in which the Democrats are riding high nationally.

State Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville is a name oft-repeated and he admits he’s “seriously” considering it. He’s also already been approached by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s people and, we hear, talked to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons is another name out there on the national political blogs. While he didn’t return our call, several people speculate he would be reluctant to leave his current job.

Freshman State Sen. Dave Koehler’s name was floated. He says: “Absolutely, definitely not. I really want to stay focused on representing the 46th (Senate) District. As everyone knows, there are plenty of problems at the state level and, as a freshman, I need to focus and come up to speed and play what role I can to fix them.”

And Doug Stephens, a local personal injury lawyer who ran unsuccessfully against LaHood on the Democratic ticket in 1994, says he’s not interested anymore.

There may be other names that haven’t trickled up here yet, particularly from the more rural parts of LaHood’s 20-county district, but the key voting blocs are Peoria, Tazewell and Sangamon counties.

Keep in mind, this seat has been held by either a Peorian or Pekinite since at least World War I. But, as Frank Mackaman, executive director of the Dirksen Congressional Center points out, if there are a lot of Peoria Republicans splitting the vote in a primary, that could help, say, a Sangamon County Republican win. [...]

Racism
A Daily Kos Diary about Jena (as reported on NPR)

Wow. Talk about a driveway moment. NPR just broadcast a story about Jena, a small Louisianna town. Talk about a powerful story of evil, injustice and racism happening today. Wow. Go listen to it rather than reading my diary.

* zootfloggin’s diary :: ::
*

Djtyg has a diary on this and does a much better job than I could.

The basics of the story are this: black and white kids at the local high school had maintained their own voluntary segregation over the years during lunch period. Several of the white students hung nooses from a local tree after a newcomer to the school naively asked about changing this social segregation. The students were given in-school suspensions. In protest, several black kids had a peaceful protest over the light punishment for these students. The local DA then visited the school and in a public assembly threatened the students–pointedly emphasizing the black students–with legal action: “With one stroke of my pen, I can make your life disappear.”

Things then went to hell in a handbag. Someone burned down the high school. A black student got in a scuffle with a white student at a convenience mart, who then went to his truck to get a shotgun. The black student wrestled him to the ground and took away the gun and walked home. He was charged with assault and theft of the shotgun!

Shortly thereafter, a black kid was beaten up at a party. A white kid at the school was jumped by several black kids and got beat up after boasting about the beating. Not good, but the kid’s injuires were superficial and he went to a social function later that day. But th six black kids involved in the fight were charged with ATTEMPTED MURDER. One was just convicted and faces 22 years in prision. [...]

From NPR

The following is just a small part of the story, but outrageous!

The next night, 16-year-old Robert Bailey and a few black friends tried to enter a party attended mostly by whites. When Bailey got inside, he was attacked and beaten. The next day, tensions escalated at a local convenience store. Bailey exchanged words with a white student who had been at the party. The white boy ran back to his truck and pulled out a pistol grip shotgun. Bailey ran after him and wrestled him for the gun.

After some scuffling, Bailey and his friends took the gun away and brought it home. Bailey was eventually charged with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who pulled the weapon was not charged at all.

But listen to this:

“Jena has always been a racist town,” says Bailey’s mother, Caseptla Bailey. “We’ve understood that….It has been that way since I’ve lived here.”

But school board member Billy Fowler disagrees.

As far as racial problems, our community is no different than any other community,” Fowler says.

Fowler is one of the few leaders with the school administration or local law enforcement willing to talk to the media. The principal, the school superintendent and the district attorney all declined repeated calls for comment.

Fowler says he is appalled at reports by outside media outlets that he claims portray Jena as a racist community. But he and many other white leaders agree that the charges are unfair.

“I think it’s safe to say some punishment has not been passed out fairly and evenly,” Fowler says. “I think probably blacks may have gotten a little tougher discipline through the years.

“Our town is not a bunch of bigots. They’re Christian, law-abiding citizens that wouldn’t mistreat anybody.”

Oh, but of course. It isn’t as if southern white Christians wouldn’t, say, lynch someone on Saturday night and then go to church on Sunday, right?

Face it: being moral and following a religion has nothing to do with each other at all.

More Hatred

O’Reilly really doesn’t like the Daily Kos. We don’t like him either. :)

O’Reilly, sexual deviant. (hey, ok by me, but given how he tries to market himself…)

O’Reilly, Hate monger.

OReilly, windbag and maker of threats.

Today, Father Coughlin — er, sorry, frog in my throat — Bill O’Reilly is planning another in his ongoing attacks against Daily Kos and YearlyKos. Fox News has apparently been emailing the Democratic campaigns asking them for “comment” on Bill’s ongoing Jihad of Jackassery: the following email was sent on to us from one of those Democratic campaigns:

From: Mitchell, Ron [mailto:xxxxxxx@FOXNEWS.COM]
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2007
To: xxxxxxx
Subject: Fox News Request

This is Ron Mitchell with Bill O’Reilly at the Fox News Channel.

The O’Reilly Factor plans an update on issues involving DailyKos website the story for Monday.

There are some disturbing images on the DailyKos depicting Sen. Joe Lieberman and others along with some very offensive language. We are asking for statements regarding this issue from each of the Democratic candidates planning to attend the YearlyKos convention.

The image attached is from an active posting. I think that most people would agree that this sort of thing has no place in mainstream political discourse.

So, what was this abominable photoshopped image, the one that was supposed to “bury” Daily Kos by the mere fact that some commenter once put it on the site? Well, here it is, but I warn you, it is very graphic and mean and abominable and it causes puppies to cry, so we don’t dare post it. Click here to see it.

Good Lord. You’re kidding, right? [...]

I’d like to point a few things out here. First, myspace.com, also owned by News Corp, just purged 29,000 convicted sex offenders from their site. That’s more rapists, pedophiles, and sexual predators on a single Rupert Murdoch site then total trolls we have ever banned from ours. And yet Bill O’Reilly says nothing — is it because, as a renowned pervert himself, he likes associating with rapists and pedophiles and sexual predators? Or is there another explanation? Bill O’Reilly’s own site contains language threatening violence against Democratic leaders and presidential candidates — and not only did he _not_ remove that language when it was pointed out, but pointing it out apparently was the far worse violation. And then he lied about it, yet again, on his own program. Is it because Bill O’Reilly is _comfortable_ with violent threats against Democrats? Perhaps he is, given his history.

O’REILLY: You know, if I’m the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, “Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you’re not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead.

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.

But the simplest explanation is that Bill O’Reilly is merely an idiot. A narcissistic, egotistical jackass who surrounds himself entirely with the obtuse and manipulative — a blowhard who has proven, time and time again, to be not just willing but eager to manufacture fake news, or ignore the real news, or lie about the news in order to give his narrow demographic band of fearful, ignorant and twittering viewers something to feel good about. He is a tabloid journalist surrounded by accusations of sexual harassment, employee abuse and lying through his teeth in front of a camera, and Fox News isn’t just supportive of all those things, they absolutely crave them — a sleazy tabloid host for a sleazy tabloid network.

Can you imagine any other news network mounting a multi-pundit jihad against a group of grassroots Americans, merely because they have the audacity to not support the Republicans? Can you imagine any other news network getting themselves into a bitter televised fight with a political community website?

Of course not. Because Fox News isn’t “news” at all, and this is yet another example of why they should not be considered a legitimate news network, or even an “opinionated” news network. Actual news networks do not fabricate stories — Fox News does. Actual news networks do not send pundits out in attempts to punish and/or sabotage grassroots political events of the opposing party — it would be absurd. Only at Fox News, where a spectacular lack of ethics is after all the cornerstone of the efforts to manipulate the very news itself in order to prop up Republicans, would such things not get you immediately fired.

I want to point something else out here, however. Take a look at what’s happening. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, a multi-kajillion dollar company, is having to battle us. And they’re having to do it as equals. They’re a giant, well-financed corporation: we’re a damn collection of websites and grassroots groups. We took away their ability to host Democratic presidential debates: they struck back by launching an on-air battle against one of the YearlyKos sponsors.

They’ve launched themselves into a pathetic tit-for-tat, now choosing to take time out of their busy schedule of lying about the news to making conservatives feel better about themselves in order to start lying about us, because we’re finally to the point where we’re starting to threaten their abilities to get away with their manipulative, hatemongering crap — redbaiting, anti-patriotic blubbering that went out of style decades ago among all Americans but the most trembling and fear-driven and bigoted. They’re battling us on equal terms because they have to. And by mere virtue of that fact, we’re winning.

And speaking of Faux News: Ann Coulter tells the truth about them! :)

Rick Perlstein catches Ann Coulter accidentally telling the truth about the Republican Party’s “news” network.

Ann Coulter’s latest column claims that “New York cabbies’ compliance rate on daily bathing” is less than 48 percent; dilates upon the reporting in the “Treason Times“; and reflects, “Fox News ought to buy a copy of Monday’s Democrat [sic] debate on CNN to play over and over during the general election campaign,” because the only people it could possibly convince to vote for a Democrat are “losers blogging from their mother’s basements.”

Oh, why would “Fair and Balanced” Fox News do that…I mean, they wouldn’t intentionally help Republicans (or try to), would they? :)

July 31, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social, religion, running, science, walking | 1 Comment

End of July 2007

Workout notes 2500 yard swim (medicore, as usual), 3 miles of walking on the Rivertrail (goose loop), then 3+ home. I noticed that the right knee is slightly swollen (it didn’t hurt at night though), and bending the knee while going uphill seemed to hurt it; walking with a straight knee (racewalk style) helped.

Evidently, the hill running (too much, too soon) and the Hero pose is what caused this latest episode; for now, appropriate yoga, cycling, swimming and “light” walking should be ok.

That is the problem of introducing running back into my program: my areobic fitness allows me to go more than my weak legs will allow (weak in terms of running strength).

Politics

Max Blumenthal (The Nation): Christians United for Israel Tour (they want to bring on the end of the world and the so called rapture). Hat tip to RichardDawkins.net.

[...]
Over a dozen CUFI members eagerly revealed to me their excitement at the prospect of Armageddon occurring tomorrow. Among the rapture ready was Republican Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. None of this seemed to matter to Lieberman, who delivered a long sermon hailing Hagee as nothing less than a modern-day Moses. Lieberman went on to describe Hagee’s flock as “even greater than the multitude Moses commanded.”

Throughout CUFI’s Israel Summit, videographer Thomas Shomaker and I were hounded by PR agents seeking to prevent us from interviewing attendees about the End Times. The conference, we were told, was about “one message” – evangelical Christians supporting Israel. We were instructed to only interview CUFI leaders capable of sticking to the talking point that their support for Israel has, as Hagee declared, “nothing to do with the End Times.” But I was forbidden from asking Hagee about statements he made in his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” that appeared to blame Jews for their own persecution. After doing just that during a press conference, I was removed from the conference by off-duty DC cops summoned by members of Hagee’s family.

I have covered the Christian right intensely for over four years. During this time, I attended dozens of Christian right conferences, regularly monitored movement publications and radio shows, and interviewed scores of its key leaders. I have never witnessed any spectacle as politically extreme, outrageous, or bizarre as the one Christians United for Israel produced last week in Washington. See for yourself.

The video lasts about 10 minutes.

Videos

John Edwards on affirmative action

Redstate update: invitation to Republican candidates!

Illegal Immigrants in the United States; one describes his experience.

July 30, 2007 Posted by | edwards, injury, politics/social, running, swimming, walking | Leave a comment

Why I took so long to accept evolution

I was blown away by the Darwin exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum; wait, I already told you that. :)

And of course, evolution has been on my mind lately; it has even influenced me to the point where I am writing a mathematical article motivated by it.

But, when I was young, I actually embraced creationism. I remember the first time I admitted to “believing in evolution”; I was a senior at Annapolis (a First Class Midshipman) and one of my aunts asked me what I believed about the origins of the world and of humankind. She asked “do you believe in evolution or in creationism” and I said “evolution”, almost without thinking.
(I was a Roman Catholic at the time, who still practiced the Church Rituals).

I don’t know when I first changed.

But in grade school, I believed in a sort of creationism.

What did I think of the scientific theories? Believe it or not, I thought about it this way: “a good scientist has to look for the natural causes for things; a scientist who said “oh, it was a miracle that caused that” would be a bad scientist. Hence, they HAD to believe in natural origins, and I thought that my god would give them special dispensations because the scientists were good, honorable people who just didn’t have the special revelation that us non-scientists had.

True, a Roman Catholic could safely believe in evolution at that time (when I was a kid), but neither I nor my mom knew that.

I do remember the footnotes in my Douey-Rhiems Bible saying something to the effect that one had “to choose” between believing “modern theories” or “God’s word”. (note: The Douey-Rhiems Bible was the one that was a translation from the Latin Vulgate, or a “translation of a translation” that had all of the Latin-like names to the various books).

I remember my 4’th grade teacher introducing “evolution” to us in the classroom; we saw a series of drawings that depicted an ape like creature, some “sort of ape, sort of human” creatures, and then finally a human.

I kept wondering the following: “ok that is well and good and I can see the similarities. But why did the species change at all? Why?

And, as my dad (who was non-religious) said “if we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?”

Also, I remember talking with my aunts, listening to all of those Bible stories (totally true, by the way) and reading some of her creationist books (little books).

And, because my last biology class was in 7’th grade (!), I never understood what caused evolution to happen.

I don’t remember when the egg broke and I embraced evolution all of the way, but it had something to do with

  • hearing the term “natural selection and survival of the fittest”
  • seeing moths evolve into spotted ones that better hid in sooty areas
  • hearing of bacteria which evolved to be resistant to current anti-biotics

So, that is my story; of course, part of what helped me along was actually reading the Bible in high school, being horrified by much of it (especially the Hebrew Bible, commonly called the Old Testament), and losing my bibilical literalism (thanks to Priests and good footnotes).

But, my taking so long to embrace evolution had something to do with the way it was first explained to me: no one told me WHY species might “improve” over time, and Lamarkian improvements never made sense to me. It was the “mutation that happend to be benefical” idea that sold me, but I didn’t hear that until much later in life.

July 30, 2007 Posted by | creationism, religion, science | 9 Comments

Slept in

Workout notes: After a late night; 10 mile walk in some warmth and humidity, including 5 laps on the W. Peoria track in 25:38, and a couple of W. Peoria Cemetary loops (big hill). Right knee ached during the second uphill; it doesn’t like heat, humidity and hills.

Hillary Clinton: I might have gotten an oblique mention in a Ellen Goodman column:

AMONG the endless reasons I will never run for public office is a deep-seated fear of having my wardrobe subject to the fashion police. Excuse me, the fashion shrinks — those media monitors who seek deep meaning in every shoe, sexual clues in every hemline, and psychological insights in every shirt collar.

Just imagine the casual summer wardrobe that I am modeling so stylishly at this moment. What would the fashionbabblers have to say about my well-worn khaki capris? That they display a certain comfort-first sensibility? Or does that flash of calf reveal a senior citizen insouciance? What of the green polo shirt? Does it symbolize my bond with the Land’s End sisterhood? Or my rebellion from the designer-label sophisticate? And what to make of my lime-colored Crocs with their peek-a-boo holes? Do they express a certain post-feminist funkiness? Or do they expose a feminine (if chipped) pedicure?

This self-couture-analysis comes in response to the latest piece on Hillary Clinton’s attire by The Washington Post’s resident fashionista. Robin Givhan’s cultural critique began with a holy-moly observation: “There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-Span2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.”

Givhan’s 750-word plunge into the shirt of the presidential candidate had women throwing up their hands (among other things) all over the blogosphere. Cleavage! Omigod! As one blogger responded, the senator has breasts. Two of them. Details at 11.

Yep, since we’ve covered the fact that Hillary Clinton is indeed a healthy female mammal, we can now cover the fact that she has hair.

(larger)

It’s ok, she is addressing a hair-dresser’s convention. Hat tip to Princess Sparkle Pony.

Speaking of human interest fluff, you’ll find as much on Obama as you could possibly want at this Prairie State Blue Diary. Ok, you’ll find solid campaign information as well, but most of it is this kind of stuff:

July 29, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, injury, obama, politics/social, walking | Leave a comment

Briefly…Darwin in Chicago.

Workout notes yesterday, 4 miles in Shaumberg (sp) IL, prior to driving home.

Trips Barbara, Olivia and I went to the Field Museum in Chicago; we saw several exhibits but the highlight (for me) was the Darwin Exhibit. Check out the link, and especially the photo gallery and the page where the work of the museum scientists is described.

The whole exhibit is well done, though I note that the organizers have thrown the religious a bone by having a couple of videos of top scientists who are also religious. Of course, these folks deny things like ID (thank goodness), but I suppose that since religious stuff is in the public’s mind, they were correct to do this.

I found what Collins (a evangelical Christian) said in one of the videos to be interesting: bascially, he thinks that ID is, in part, a bad idea because if one says “ok, mutations X, Y, and Z must have been intelligently designed by god” and it is later found that there is a good secular reason why those mutations occured, then someone’s “faith could be shaken.” He says “it is not good to put god in a box”.

As far as evolution itself, I don’t see how anyone could have seen this exhibit and not been convinced, unless they are in deep, deep denial, crazy or just didn’t understand anything.

July 29, 2007 Posted by | religion, science, travel | Leave a comment

BREAKING NEWS: Hillary Clinton HAS BOOBS!

Yeah, I could be writting about the latest Obama-Clinton dust up (over whether or not they would meet with heads of state from countries that are hostile to us).

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama tried to turn rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s words back on her Wednesday, saying her vote to authorize the Iraq war was “irresponsible and naive.”

Clinton had used the same language a day earlier to criticize Obama for saying he would be willing to meet with leaders of nations such as Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions within the first year of his presidency. Clinton said renegade leaders could use such a meeting for propaganda and that envoys below the presidential level should begin diplomatic work.

Obama told NBC News it’s obvious that the diplomatic spade work must be done before any such meeting. But he wants to change Bush administration policies that freeze out enemies and move to a principle that says the United States should talk with everybody.

“The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous,” he said in an interview outside his Senate office. “But the general principle is one that I think Senator Clinton is wrong on, and that is if we are laying out preconditions that prevent us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we are continuing with Bush-Cheney policies.”

Obama’s comment about meeting with foreign foes came in response to a question in a Democratic presidential debate Monday night. The Clinton campaign immediately highlighted his statement as evidence that he doesn’t have the foreign policy skills to be president. “I thought that was irresponsible and frankly naive,” she told the Quad-City Times of Iowa.

Later Wednesday, the Clinton campaign issued a statement by former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is supporting her candidacy, taking issue with Obama’s comments and saying she would bring an end to “the cowboy approach of the Bush years.”

“She has said she would initiate serious, responsible dialogue with nations with whom we don’t agree in order to further the national security interest of the United States,” Holbrooke said. “But she is right not to risk the prestige of the presidency by unconditionally committing to meet with leaders of adversarial nations.”

But there are bigger issues at stake here.

The ever vigilant conservative pundits and bloggers have discovered a deep dark secret:

Hillary Clinton is a female mammal and therefore HAS BOOBS!

As J. Lopez says:

Zarqawi might have knocked Ann Coulter out of the headlines and off our TV screens for the moment, but Hillary Clinton this morning seems to be dressing to full-out take on Ann….Senator Clinton’s blazer is a bit lowcut today (I have C-SPAN 2 on).

UPDATE: Here’s a screenshot. Prediction: Washington Post Style section piece by a Pulitzer Prize winner about Hillary’s sex-appeal advantage.

The “boob shots”:

Oh gosh, not another Clinton “boobgate” scandal?!?! (scroll all the way down).

As one “conservative” blogger (chuckle) puts it, this emboldens Al-Qeda! (yes, I know that it is a spoof blog…) ;)

July 27, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, obama, Peoria/local, politics/social | 8 Comments

Thinking of a Chase Credit Card (e. g. Amazon)? Don’t do it!

Workout notes Nice 8 mile walk on West Peoria course; to heading and back.

My comment on the credit cards:

Update: this irritation pales in comparison to the outrage I am going to express after describing this credit card incident.

Some time ago, I used the credit card to make a 40 dollar purchase. I attempted to pay this online; evidently one of the numbers I entered was wrong, but undectected.

so, I get a note in the mail that my payment was rejected and was asked to send in a payment. I did. I did NOT get a notice that I had a late fee ($15.00) tacked on.

So what happens? I had a 16 dollar balance in my account (which I didn’t know about) and then didn’t get any notice (possibly e-mail that ended up in my spam filter?) until this month where I had a 48 dollar balance.

What was this from? THREE fifteen dollar late fees plus three one dollar interest charges!

In other words, this 40 dollar transaction ended up costing me 88 dollars, all because I might have misentered one digit.

I called to complain and got fifteen dollars taken off, but still cancelled the account.

Outrage: Iraq war veterans billed for damaged/broken equipment, many years after the fact! (War? Damaged equipment?)
(from Markthshark at Daily Kos)

This is morally wrong. It’s a blatant injustice towards every man and woman who’s ever donned a military uniform in service to their country. It’s disgraceful, and I’m outraged!

Apparently, wartime sacrifices of putting one’s life on the line in service to their country – taking precious time away from family and career – is not enough to satisfy the sordid souls in the Pentagon. Our brave men and women returning home from Iraq are, for undisclosed reasons, faced with paying a new price, a “debt of service.”

* markthshark’s diary :: ::
*

One soldier in particular from New York is currently battling with the institution in which he once faithfully served. The Pentagon has decided to reward returning Iraqi vets by slapping them an invoice for equipment damaged during war operations.

From BSTV.com:

Brian Rodriguez is a fighter, an honorably discharged soldier who’d been deployed in Iraq.

“I was a combat engineer,” Rodriguez said. “We deal with land mines, explosives.”

He fought for his nation, only to return to his homeland and wage a fresh battle.

Former Army Specialist Rodriguez started getting bills for $700 for lost or damaged government property this summer. Although he was discharged some four years ago, bills recently arrived demanding payment, but giving no details on what or why — nor do they offer a way to dispute the charges.

“For doing my job you’re going to bill me?” Rodriguez said.

What’s even worse, former Army Specialist Rodriguez Is not alone.

A 2006 government report found more than 1,000 service men and women [just] in the U.S. Army alone have been billed a total of $1.5 million. Many are facing the ruination of their credit. Now, it’s not their lives that at stake but instead… their future.

Source for Markthshark’s article: wcbstv.com

Support the troops? Right.

Local Politics

Evidently Ray LaHood is retiring from congress; he had some interesting things to say.

U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood will not seek re-election when his term expires in January 2009.

He will announce his retirement Friday at a press conference at his campaign headquarters, his chief of staff Tim Butler said today.

LaHood did not return multiple phone calls for comment.

The decision comes just more than a month after the long-time Republican representative said he would seek an eighth term in Congress and was not going to apply for the Bradley University presidential post. He said in July he would make an official re-election announcement when he begins circulating petitions for candidacy in August. [...]

t shouldn’t be a surprise after LaHood’s latest comments on the congressional Dems.

“[Congressional Democrats have] had a pretty strong quarter,” said Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), who praised [the legislation expanding SCHIP] as “creative” and suggested the homeland security bill would pass overwhelmingly. “The first quarter was not so good, and that’s why they’re not looking so good in the polls, but this quarter is looking very good for them. They can send their members home crowing about their accomplishments, and they’ve done it in a bipartisan way, which is exactly what they promised to do,” LaHood said.

July 27, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social | 2 Comments

The Over 40 Endurance Athlete

Quick injury side note: the hamstring has some minor to moderate soreness/pain after my workout; actually “stiffness” might be a better description.

I’ve had an interesting conversation with a friend who is also on the comeback trail after some lay-offs. She is a much better athlete than I am; her PR for the marathon is 3:11 (I am a guy and my lifetime best is a pokey 3:33; masters is 3:38).

She too, is struggling. This conversation has inspired me to say some things that I’ve learned about myself and how my athletics have changed with age:

  • It takes longer to recover from hard efforts. In my younger days, I could do 3-4 hard workouts per week. Now-a-days, 1-2 are more like it.
  • Easy days have to be much, much easier. In the past, 5-6 miles at my marathon race pace was easy enough for me to recover. Not anymore. Also, even my cross training can drain my energy, if I overdo it. For example, a 5000 meter swim leaves me tired for the next day’s traning
  • Top speed (say, for an all out mile run) goes WAY down!
  • It takes longer to recover from injuries, even minor ones
  • It takes longer to get back “up to speed” after a lay off from a sport, even if I’ve done other sports. That is true even for a lay-off as short as a week.
  • I lose more during lay-offs. Example: my swimming was going well until May, when I slowed it down to do an ultra. A month later I was back to square one; it is as if my good winter/spring session didn’t carry over at all!
  • My body has gotten softer and weaker; I need to supplement my running/walking with things like swimming and weights.
  • In short, aging is a b*tch. But the alternative is far worse, and well, let’s remember that I have a friend who has inoperable pancreatic cancer (he has had it since November, 2006). I am sure that he would rather have the aches and pains of athletics than that monster in his back. By the way, he is STILL working out several times a week!

    Politics

    Colbert takes up for Bill O’Reilly’s attacks on the Daily Kos. Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

    What is the world coming to? I’d never in my life thought that I’d be linking to this blog as it is a Nazi blog. Yes, this is the same Nazi who attempted to harass me. But, in this post, he admits that the African American person in a disupte is in the right and was wronged by the legal system! Keep in mind that he is a Nazi and that this blog is filled with Nazi language and diction.

    If you are wondering why I am following this, I was interested to see what he and his small group was up to, just in case.

    Haunting Songs: Dreamweaver.

    This is my current list of three:

    The other two were Candles in the Rain (Mealine) and Africa (Toto)


    (long version)

    July 26, 2007 Posted by | haunting songs, injury, politics/social, running, swimming, ultra, walking | Leave a comment

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