For some reason, the past 24 hours has me channeling my inner Arte Johnson.

Anyway, here's an interesting little tidbit. It may be that the PR gaffe occasioned by PZ and his pals in Minnesota has already had some unintended consequences.

My friend Mark was considering attending the Santa Clara showing of 'Expelled', but as he describes here, that's no longer possible:

But it was all for naught, I'm afraid. I've just received an email notifying me that the Santa Clara showing of "Expelled" has been canceled "due to technical issues". A quick peek at the Expelled RSVP site shows that Santa Clara has been removed from the list of screenings.

Well, that intrigued me no end, so I compared the current (as of 12:15 AM PST) 'Expelled' RSVP site with Google's cache of said site taken on March 16th.

There are significant differences. Not only is the Santa Clara showing absent, but 'pending' screenings for Portland, OR and Seattle, WA are nowhere to be seen, either. Makes you wonder.


Since I posted this a few days back, this has become the all-time most viewed post in my blog's modest history. There has also been a more radical reworking of the Expelled RSVP site. Whereas earlier a few screens were absent, pretty much all of the previous screenings have been cancelled. Seems that the producers have problems attending those screenings. Or something.



On the morning after, our two squid discuss the previous evening's wild romp, and a few things are established:

1) They were not 'gate crashers'

2) The event itself was 'inartistic'

3) The crowd was 'syncophantic'

4) The Harvard-affiliated Xvivo "Inner Life of the Cell" video previously purloined by IDevotee William Dembski pops up in this affair, as well.

What in the name of the Hasty Pudding is going on down in the Pain, anyway?




Over at PZ Mwahaha's an incredibly delicious bit of gossip at the expense of the phonies who produced Ben Stein's 'Expelled' documentary, which I've previously posted about. Seems they grabbed a fairless aggressive Humboldt squid at the door, but let the dreaded white-haired Architeuthis itself into the affair. This is better than irony. It's, like, cobalt-y or even platinum-y.

Anyway, the story's a hoot.

And, Kristine's got pictures.

Me? I've got a serious case of squid envy that I wasn't there.


Not quite, but this breakthrough could prove very significant!

The development does not exceed the previous cuprate-perovskite mark of 138 K, but neither did it require supercooling. It has long been believed that under the right conditions hydrogen could form a readily-available superconducting material. The key to the work led by John Tse is to apply high pressure to a mixture of hydrogen and silicon (silane).

I will modify this post extensively as I learn more.


I have an entire other blog for this bit of whimsy. I just got a note from a fellow blogger who is traveling on Easter weekend and wanted to get together for lunch at Red Robin in Fresno.

(sigh) As if.

Oh, it's not my diet, though that figures, as well. I'm holding my (raises hand of geeky admission) annual Fantasy League draft at my school site on Saturday afternoon. I'll only be a few blocks away from that Red Robin, too. I have a fairly involved draft that uses a program to simulate actual game play. I've been doing this for 18 years and the level of participation is sufficiently high that we often draft prospects in the minors, colleges, even high schools and sit on them for 3-4 years.

I can recall fondly, for example, drafting LHP Randy Johnson back in 1989, still months from his major-league debut. A-Rod, Johnny Damon and quite a few others were also tabbed while in the prep ranks. It takes a certain fanaticism to draft players that far in advance of their expected arrival in the majors, but fanatics, I've got 'em. So much so that I have to tweak some of them on a regular basis. Witness my braggadocio as a defending divisional champ.

Anyway, on that day, may fantasy prevail and reality be banished.


I tend not to be overtly political, and I don't let politics (or my faith) affect my choice of friends as a general rule. This also seems to be the rule with the pastors at my church, so it seems to me a good model to follow. Ironically, Senator Obama is now having to answer questions about what sort of role model (if any) his former pastor served. In response, one of the pastors at my church penned this letter to the editor, which I share as food for thought:

I’m not a Democrat (or a Republican) but a European-American Christian curious about the corporate news feeding frenzy over Barak Obama's former pastor’s preaching.

Media ignorance about Christianity may explain the apparent misconception that people in the pew agree with everything a preacher says.

But many don’t understand the prophetic nature of African-American sermons since slavery. Too many Americans confuse Christianity with support for U.S. economic and foreign policy and don’t notice the indictment of greed, injustice, and jingoism in the message of Jesus and the Prophets. (“…Blessed are the peacemakers…”).

Why has John McCain gotten a pass on wealthy right-wing preacher John Hagee's endorsement, except for passing mention of his anti-Catholic rants? Hagee's virulent distortion of Revelation as a prediction of violent apocalypse leads to unquestioning support of the secular Israeli government, disregard for Palestinian Christians, condemnation of Muslims, and the anti-Semitic conviction that Jews must ultimately convert.

Seems like a fair question to me.



Arthur C. Clarke, one of the last of the great SF writers who came of age in the 1950's, has died. Clarke was in his lifetime one of the few SF writers familiar to the general public, joining a select group that included Issac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Philip Dick and (still among the living) Ray Bradbury.

Clarke was more than an SF writer, however. He was a man interested in the real future of mankind, and his thought anticipated and inspired many technical developments. He helped develop the concept of geosynchronous satellites, and the geostationary orbit he first described in a 1945 article is now described as a 'Clarke orbit.' Clarke also described the concept of a space elevator back in 1979 and believed that this would actually end up being of greater significance than geosynchronous satellites.

Clarke wrote rather interesting non-fiction books and articles, some for juveniles, that focused on science, particularly space flight. His TV programs, such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, reflected an interest in looking at paranormal claims and other pseudoscience. Clarke completely rejected formal religion, yet he retained an interest in religion's impact on modern life, and in stories like 'The Nine Million Names of God' and 'The Star' reflected rather poignantly on how ever-expanding knowledge of the universe as it is leads to a recognition of the limits of traditional religion, which Clarke felt was a immature stage of human development.

I'm actually going to post this in a few places, so forgive me if you see this more than once.

I think, rather than talk about the impact that Clarke had on the world or myself, which is substantial, I'll let Clarke speak for himself. Here's a link to a video that Clarke released just weeks ago on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Enjoy.



In the spirit of Holy Week, I offer this crunchy example of lipid textiles gone wrong. In Christianity, the palms waved at Palm Sunday are burned, and their ashes collected for the following Lent's Ash Wednesday. But what about the strange devotees of the 'Six Degrees of Separation'? What objects will they symbolically transform?

Here, on the other hand, we have the remnants of one of the Suidae (say the last quickly and it sounds like an endearment, heh).....stitched into a placemat. Full instructions are found here. This weirdness courtesy of Brownian via PZ's place.



Prolific pro-ID blogger 'ftk' has a post mocking Eugenie Scott, who is the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a modestly-funded non-profit organization which is a national clearinghouse of information and support for science educators and anyone else who is running into opposition to evolution education.

Ftk references an article by Dr. Scott from the UCMP web site, and comes to a conclusion similar to that floated in the last few months by Discovery Institute mouthpiece Casey Luskin, which I have previously savaged on this blog. Basically, folk like ftk are seizing upon strategies to address the role of religion in resistance to the acceptance of evolution. They allege that the recommendations made by Dr. Scott and others intended to 'defuse the religion issue' violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Ftk, for example, writes:

That's right folks...*use* clergy and religious beliefs in the science classroom just as long as it doesn't conflict with Genie's own atheist/humanist religious beliefs.

Casey Luskin and the DI are misrepresenting the intent of Scott and the NCSE, ftk, and by parroting them you are doing the same, albeit perhaps unwittingly. Perhaps you only feel that they are hypocrities, rather than violating the Constitution. Still, it may interest ftk and other ID-friendly types to learn that this science teacher is not only a proud supporter of NCSE, but a member of the Interfaith Alliance, which works assiduously to promote that very First Amendment they seem convinced that people like me are violating.

To put it bluntly, I am deeply offended by the suggestion that I am pushing or privileging any religious belief in my classroom, mine, Dr. Scott's, ftk's, anybody's. Here's why:

In the first place, the quote referenced has to do with clergy addressing school boards in support of evolution education, not address students in science classrooms. I would not invite a member of the clergy to address my science class, ever, because (duh) it is a science class, not a religion class, and bringing in just one speaker would privilege that sect within the community. I would never do that, regardless of whether the clergy in question was in favor of teaching evolution of not.

However, it does not violate the Constitution to point out to students that there is a diversity of religious views regarding evolution. I use the episode from the PBS series 'Evolution' entitled 'What About God?' to make that point. It is especially telling to show students that one of the authors of their text (Ken Miller) is an observant Catholic. Does this privilege holy mother church? Not at all, for Miller's co-author (Joe Levine) is Jewish, and the PBS program makes it clear that other views exist. The statement that there are a diversity of views, and that some believers have made their peace with evolution, does not constitute a de facto endorsement of religion. Casey Luskin and the DI surely know that. It misrepresents the intent and practice of the NCSE and Dr. Scott to suggest otherwise, or to suggest that these organizations (or their members, like me) are urging teachers to violate the Establishment Clause.

Secondly, constitutionality aside, it is intellectually dishonest for any teacher to pretend that religious views have no bearing on how evolution should be taught! You can't understand evolution without knowing the context in which Darwin and Wallace produced their theory, and you can't understand why evolution is controversial in the culture today without having some familiarity with the role of religious belief.

What makes this truly ridiculous, of course, is that Luskin and the rest of the DI scholars are constantly preaching 'teach the controversy'. But, if we can't reference religious belief, then the 'controversy' depends upon...what? Arguments produced by conservative Christians, which the mainstream scientific community has concluded are without merit? Giving 'equal time' to design in that context would expose me to a real constitutional challenge. On the other hand, teaching that there is no scientific controversy, but there is a religiously-motivated controversy in the popular culture, should be constitutionally-protected speech.

Of course, if I am wrong, I once again invite you or any other fellow travelers to contact me. I'm starting my evolution unit after Easter break. I am not afraid of you people. Come into my classroom as my invited guest. Watch me teach: you will see for yourself the way I will weave the theme of religious belief and assumptions into both the historical and present context required to actually understand evolution. If you are right, this will constitute advocacy that runs afoul of the Establishment Clause, and then you can rat me out to the DI and see if they or any of their other trained courtroom clowns would like to sue the school district I work for.

My cell phone is 1-559-916-0777.

Put up or shut up.