Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Intelligent Design vs. Evolution – Get ready to laugh

I’ve tried to avoid blogging about this, but I just can’t bite my tongue any more. It’s too sore as it is. This whole “intelligent design” thing is just too funny. The Dover PA school district doesn’t think so, but maybe they’ve just lost their sense of humor.

Let me start out my saying that I am a person of faith. I believe in God, and most people would consider me a Christian. I’m also studying biology in college. While I don’t think that evolutionary theory is complete and correct, I’m not above talking about in a science class because it’s one of the core themes of biology. It’s only uniformed religious bigots that like to try and use it to prove that God doesn’t exist. In fact, there are a lot of biologists who don’t see a conflict between evolution and their faith in God.

I also don’t support the idea of teaching intelligent design in schools. It’s not science; it’s metaphysics. Save that for the philosophy and religion classes, please.

These quote from the Dover PA trial just made me shake my head, though. The star witness for the defense is Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist. Get a load of this:

The statement read to Dover students states in part, "Because Darwin's theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered." Miller said the words are "tremendously damaging," falsely undermining the scientific status of evolution.
"What that tells students is that science can't be relied upon and certainly is not the kind of profession you want to go into," he said.
"There is no controversy within science over the core proposition of evolutionary theory," he added.

Cough . . . choke . . . sputter. What? Since when? First off, it may be damaging to Darwin’s theory, but it’s not damaging to kids thinking about biological sciences as a career choice. And since when is there no controversy in biology over evolution? Saying there’s no controversy is like saying Swiss cheese doesn’t have holes.
The double talk gets thicker, though.
During his cross-examination of Miller, Robert Muise, another attorney for the law center, repeatedly asked whether he questioned the completeness of Darwin's theory.
"Would you agree that Darwin's theory is not the absolute truth?" Muise said.
"We don't regard any scientific theory as the absolute truth," Miller responded.

Okay. Let me get this straight. We want to teach science, but we don’t regard science as truth? We don’t want to question the validity of evolutionary theory, even though science is all about questioning what we know, and don’t know? That sounds like religious dogma to me. Don’t question Darwin, but go ahead and question God? Isn’t that a double standard? I think Mr. Miller is just having a tough time explaining it because for him, and may others proponents of evolutionary theory (whether they wants to admit it or not), evolution is a matter of faith.
Go put that in your pipe and smoke it for a while.

Liars Fighting Liars

Whenever the ACLU does something, I have to raise my eyebrows. In this case, I think I’m may to have to put aside my animosity towards them, and give the devil his due. According to this KSL story they’ve joined the fight against the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for wrongfully raiding two dance parties in Spanish Fork Canyon.

Now, I’m all over the Utah County Sheriff’s office on this one. They blew it, and then they lied about it.

. . . county officers say they were justified in breaking up the August concert because organizers lacked necessary permits. Officials also say undercover officers at the concerts spotted the sale and use of illegal drugs.

The Utah County Sheriff is a lying bastard. I know some people who were involved, including one of the DJs. The organizers had the permits, but were threatened at gun point and told to shut up when they offered to show them to the raiding officers. There were no undercover officers. The police showed up in full military grade riot gear carrying M-16’s. The illegal drugs they supposedly seized were those confiscated by the private security force the people throwing the party had hired.

And now the ACLU has gotten involved. I’ve always considered the ACLU to be a bunch of bigoted (anti-religion) lying sacks of shit for what they’ve tried to do (and in some cases succeeded) in Salt Lake City. Now they’ve decided to go after another bunch of bigoted (anti-dance scene) lying sacks of shit. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Rocky Anderson Overstepping Mayoral Bounds

There’s one thing I can say for Rocky Anderson: he’s certainly given me a lot to blog about.

This latest escapade involves him acting like a dictator instead of an elected official. According to this KSL article, he’s going to sign an executive order offering benefits to non-married, domestic partners of Salt Lake City employees.

Now, I’ve blogged about something similar before. No matter which side of the aisle you are on when it comes to gay marriage, I really think health insurance should be dealt with by the household and financial need, not by whether you’re married and what age your kids are. I’m a capitalist to be sure, but when it comes to health care I’ve got a real socialist streak.

The issue for me is not whether Salt Lake City should offer these benefits, but whether it’s up to Rocky Anderson to do it. Isn’t this an issue better left for the city council? There’s also a question of legality. This kind of action may very well conflict with the Utah State Constitution.

Personally, I don’t think even Rocky believes that this will stick, no matter how it’s created. It’s just a way for him to get his name in media, and in the face of the people he believes are his constituents. In other words, it’s just a publicity stunt. He’s only got a 36% approval rating, and he thinks that this will appeal to the democrats in Salt Lake City that elected him.

It’s a re-election strategy that is going to cost Rocky, nothing. It will cost the people of Salt Lake City between 38 and 113 thousand dollars, whether he can keep it in effect or not.

What a bizarre way to get a campaign contribution.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NRC Okays Nuclear Waste in Spite of Opposition

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has shown their bias and stupidity once again, by approving the storage of spent nuclear fuel rods at a proposed above ground site on the Goshute Indian’s Skull Valley reservation in western Utah. In spite of the fact that the tribal members don’t want it there, and the danger posed by the nearby Dugway Proving Grounds and the munitions training and testing area (where fighter pilots learn how to bomb the spit our of ground targets), the NRC feels that it’s a “safe site.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. How is putting a bunch of radioactive waste in concrete containers very close to a place where the military drops live bombs safe?

The only people I know of in the Goshute tribe that are even mildly interested in having it there is the tribal leadership. The Goshutes are in the middle of a trying to establish new leadership over the tribe because of this very issue. I saw a lawyer for the Goshutes commenting on this issue on a local news channel. She said that because the Goshutes are looking for new leadership, allowing this deal to come through anyway is illegal according to tribal law. I don’t like “playing the race card,” but this lawyer said that if the PFS continues to force the issue, and the Federal Government allows it to happen, it will be just another example of continued racial prejudice against American Indians.

Fortunately for Utah, Governor Huntsman and our senators and congressmen are taking up the fight. Even the LDS Church is taking a stand.

I have to admit, my hope for this stuff staying out of Utah is waning. The eastern constituents just have too much influence with this issue, and I suspect that there is some money changing hands under differing tables as well. I can’t be sure about that, of course, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I fear that no matter what we do as native Utahns, just like other issues in the past (such as the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), our states rights and desires are going to be overrun by uncaring people at the federal level.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Prospering in the Face of Disaster

Here’s an article I wrote for a newsletter I write for. Given the tragic messages coming out of the southern states, in the wake of hurricane Katrina, I thought I’d share it with you gentle readers, as well.

Just take a look at the headlines from any major newspaper and you’ll realize that the world is an ever changing place. Nothing is completely secure, and disaster can strike us at a moment’s notice, with little to no warning. When you take natural and economic disasters as major components in financial uncertainty, the picture starts to feel overwhelming. If we are prepared, however, we can survive and prosper during such uncertain time.

Economic Problems

Odds are, you neighbor spends more than he or she makes. Maybe you do, too. The same could be said of local and national governments. Debt and mortgages are the norm. The result of spending money is inflation. If we understand the dangers involved, though, we don’t need to be eaten alive. We just need to make some simple decisions regarding our assets.

Inflation leads to one thing, a decrease in the value of your money. Historical and contemporary trends have shown that national and international crisis weaken personal pocketbooks and shatter national economies. Our economic future depends on the value of the U.S. dollar, which is recurrently at risk for collapse.

In like manner, individual retirement accounts may be robbed. Retirement annuities that may have looked promising twenty years ago may have had their strength reduced as the value of the dollar decreases. While you may have felt at one time that it would be enough, with a decrease in buying power you may end up living at or below the poverty level. In short, inflation reduces spending power and diminishes the value of your assets. The only people who win in such situations are: big borrowers (like the government), big businesses, mortgage companies, and those who invest early to hedge against potential financial chaos.

Costly safety and other services in major cities, along with a preponderance of poor and dissatisfied inhabitants, may become the first victims of inflation and economic disruption. The already dangerous climate in our cities is worsening. Crime pays because so few criminals go to jail. Welfare roles swell because there is little economic incentive to work; slums expand, property values plummet, and jobs become scarce.

Preservation Strategies

Even if the odds favor good times, it can be useful to create a financial safety net. If you have reasonable self-sufficiency you can survive, even if various resource distribution methods suffer set backs for a while.

Avoid Unnecessary Debt

Financial over-extension creates risk, and accompanying fear. Borrow only to purchase income-producing investments, or those that inflate in overall value. Pay off your credit card and mortgage debt as fast as you can. When buying a home or investment properties, either pay in immediate cash, or invest as little cash as possible. By choose one of the two extremes, you avoid the interest of a mortgage, and leave your funds available for other good investments.

Spread Your Risk

Don’t put all of your investment “eggs” in “one basket.” If one investment loses money, the others can take up the slack. In other words, diversify your investment portfolio. You may lose money in one investment, but because the others remain more or less intact, your total assets are not affected as strongly.

Be Highly Self-Sufficient

Learn about food storage and plant gardens. Raise food animals like chickens or rabbits, if you can. Have a good generator, a fresh water supply, and other forms of back up heat and energy where possible. A good bicycle can be useful, as well. Learn practical skills such as home and auto repair.

Plan Your Future as if Social Security Didn’t Exist

Maintain some cash reserves for emergencies, but don’t keep all of it in a savings or checking account. Money-funds and treasury bills can earn better rates, are liquid, and safe.

Create a Crisis Supply

Have on hand enough usable food to last one year. Dehydrated food and extra water storage should be a top priority.  This can “panic-proof” you by creating your supply before a crisis can strike. Food and water are vulnerable commodities. Weather conditions, oil supplies, transportation and worker demands, not to mention economic need, all contribute to the ability to obtain food. Remember, no one can raise the price of food you’ve already bought.

No amount of preparation will be perfect for all situations, but by taking a few common sense steps, and creating a safety net should hard times come, we can prosper when trials come our way. Such simple steps help us make real progress towards meeting our present goals, future prosperity, and giving us peace of mind.