RCimT: Friday Grab-Bag

Extracts from the first two chapters of Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

(my Amazon referrer!) are available as links from his website, as though I didn’t already have enough on my reading list. A selected quote:

Much of the initial domestication of the dog was selfdomestication, mediated by natural, not artificial, selection. Long before we got our hands on the chisels in the artificial selection toolbox, natural selection had already sculpted wolves into self-domesticated “village dogs’ without any human intervention.

Only later did humans adopt these village dogs and transmogrify them, separately and comprehensively, into the rainbow spectrum of breeds that today grace (if grace is the word) Crufts and similar pageants of canine achievement and beauty (if beauty is the word).

I wish I was half so eloquent.

Greg Laden and Mike Haubrich have both weighed in over at Quiche Moraine on the political divide between reason and emotion, and what’s fueling the “debate” over health care. Suffice it to say, when viewed objectively, the Republicans and those that support the “death panel”, “teabag”, “birther” nonsense do not come out well at all. I especially love that Mike’s called them out on their present Eddie Haskell tactics of saying “we would never dream of doing such a thing” right after doing exactly that thing that has generated so much outrage.

Roger Ebert is rapidly becoming one of my favorite media figures, posting this incisive point-by-point destruction of the right-wing talking points, including a passage from pretty much the ultimate fictional socialist, Jesus Christ: Matthew 25:31-46. A sample:

37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?”
40 And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

It’s a damn shame that though Christians love to pick and choose which passages they will adopt, and they keep picking the wrong fucking ones.

Those of you annoyed by the sudden resurgence of the “Banana Gambit”, as originally popularized by Ray Comfort and his pet washed-up-actor Kirk Cameron, in the ongoing dialogue between people who like reality and people who prefer really old fiction novels, would do well to brush up on the true history of the banana, because humans have everything to do with its “intelligent design”. Which by the way isn’t intelligent at all, since half the time you can’t use the “pull tab top” without mashing the banana all to crap. Monkeys even know to squeeze the bottom to break open the tip, then pull it apart from that end, yet we have barely figured out as much, as evidenced by Comfort’s flailings. Also, the banana probably fits as nicely in your bum as in your mouth.

And as the 2012 Apocalypse nears, it’s good to have some real information sources to help us counter the claims of the idiots whose voices are rising to a crescendo of mind-blowing stupidity. See, creationists? I don’t just fight YOUR brand of stupid, I fight ALL brands of stupid!

Speaking of which, here’s more Christians being offended by the existence of atheism, and some more billboard counterexamples showing exactly who’s being civil and who’s not.

Craig Venter is betting the biotech industry will make wholly synthetic life forms by year’s end. Since science allows us to determine how life works, we can actually do things like bioengineer life from non-living matter. That’s right, “encroaching on God’s domain,” whatever. Just as long as nobody develops Super-AIDS, we’re good. I personally see bioengineering as our way out of this fossil fuel mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. If anything’s going to be able to pull the CO2 out of the atmosphere, this is going to be it.

Finally, Greg Laden’s got a fantastic series of posts about “The Falsehoods” — specifically, foundational mis-assumptions on the part of people intentionally trying to misunderstand evolution. If Zdenny hopes to ever complete his assignment, he should start by reading every one of these posts then, instead of commenting as I’m sure he’s going to want to do, divert that effort into my challenge so that he can regain the posting rights he so greatly desires (as the held comments queue is now at 35 and counting). Here’s all the links:

Update: I should have included this above, but didn’t think to check my feeds before throwing all the stuff I already had in tabs into this post. Stephanie makes me extremely worried for her health given the States’ current insurance scheme’s propensity to refuse to cover “pre-existing conditions”. That she has to worry about having to see the doctor for fear of costs, is a horrendous failure of compassion. Please, PLEASE, fight for health care reform. I hate to see people die of preventable illnesses just because they aren’t rich enough to cover the exorbitant premiums out of pocket. Remember, Jesus would want you to fight for the less-well-off!

Anyway, happy Friday! Here’s hoping I get everything done work-wise that I’m hoping to do today.

RCimT: Friday Grab-Bag
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