Saturday, March 31, 2007


From a recent Newsweek poll:

Nearly half (48 percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree with that view.
Oy vey. This data really isn't all that surprising--many polls in the past have reported similar numbers--but I still find it highly discouraging that, even now, almost three out of four evangelicals could hold a view so inconsonant with all the available evidence.

It should be noted that not all of that 73% necessarily hold to a "Young-Earth" view, (some may, in fact, accept that the earth is around 4.56 billion years old, but still believe that humans are a recent creation), but even so, a person has to throw most of the basic principles of geology and paleontology straight out the window in order to reach the conclusion that humans have existed on earth for only 10,000 years.

I look forward to the day when, like geocentrism and flat-earthism, antievolutionism will be held by only the kookiest kooks of the extreme religious fringe. I can't wait for a time when reasonable people of all faiths can hardly even fathom why evolutionary biology was once considered a threat to their religions (and I guess this is an admission on my part that--contra many people with similar metaphysical opinions--I don't view religion itself as the main culprit behind the rejection of scientific reality). It will happen, someday. Unfortunately, poll results like these lead me to believe that this day is a depressingly long way off. And yet, with deeply religious scientists like Ken Miller, Wesley Elsberry, Simon Conway-Morris, and thousands of clergy all resolutely standing up for the integrity of evolutionary biology, hope springs eternal.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Inebriated Primates!

On St. Patrick's Day, an inebriated primate is not an especially unusual sight, but, sadly, I don't think I'll see anything quite as amusing as this:



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In which I try to start a new meme (or perhaps dredge up an old one)

If there's one thing the internet needs more of, it's blogging memes. So, in the interest of furthering my existence as a meme-replicator (Richard Dawkins, you better be proud of me!), I think I'll start one. Here are my "10 favorite beers of the moment":

1. Duvel

2. Arrogant Bastard Ale

3. Widmer Hefeweizen

4. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

5. Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss

6. Stone Smoked Porter

7. MacTarnahan's IPA

8. New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale

9. Shiner Bock

10. Smithwick's Irish Ale (but only on tap)

That's my list. Of course, ask me tomorrow, and some specific hankering will no doubt prompt me to change my answers. How about you, fellow discerning beer drinker? What's on your "To Drink" list? Do tell. Prost!

Message to Hillary Clinton

Your would-be supporters are sick to death of Democrats who spend more time dissembling than governing; we've had our fill of so-called liberals whose knees shake at the mere thought of offending conservative sensibilities (Here's a hint: the people you're so loathe to offend won't voting for you anyway). More than anything, we despise your inability to take a stand on things that really matter.

If you truly fancy yourself to be presidential material, it might behoove you to GROW A DAMN SPINE. Now there's a novel idea.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Boys will be boys

In my previous post, I intended to include a picture of a bonobo from my latest trip to the San Diego Zoo, but alas, I couldn't find any good enough to share. It seems that I have not yet found a method for consistently taking clear, sharp pictures through glass without getting any glare. Oh well, I'll keep trying. In the meantime, here's a short video--butchered, as always, by You Tube's uploading software--of a three-year-old Orangutan named Cinta.

The best thing I've heard all week!

It's been a long, stressful, sleep-deprived week for me, but, via Afarensis, comes a bit of news that is sure to lift my spirits--a previously unknown population of bonobos has been found (click the link for a really neat video):

March 6, 2007—A new population of bonobos, one of humankind's closest genetic relatives, has been discovered deep in a forest in Africa's Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Perhaps the largest known concentration of bonobos anywhere, the group may number as many as 3,000—a significant addition to a recent estimated total of 10,000.

Bonobos, or pygmy chimpanzees, live only in the Congo River Basin and are notable for using sex for greetings, reconciliations, and favors for food.

The apparently thriving new population may owe its success to its location—partly within a private ranch—and to the local Bateke people

"We consider them human, our ancestors," a Bateke man said. "We don't eat them, and we don't kill them."

I absolutely love bonobos. They are closely related to chimpanzees (and us), but, in some ways, they are strikingly different from chimps. Whereas chimpanzee societies are male-dominated and prone to high levels of aggression, bonobo societies are female-dominated, very sexual (homosexual acts are, incidentally, not uncommon), and much less violent--though not completely free of violence. I'm not sure what, if any, implications this dichotomy in gender roles and levels of aggression might have outside of a non-human ape context, but the idea that knowledge of bonobo and chimp politics might be able to inform us about the nature of our human political and social concerns is very attractive to me.

That reminds me, I really do need to read Frans De Waal's Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes one of these days.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

What really matters

From the NY Times:
Leaders of several conservative Christian groups have sent a letter urging the National Association of Evangelicals to force its policy director in Washington to stop speaking out on global warming.

The conservative leaders say they are not convinced that global warming is human-induced or that human intervention can prevent it. And they accuse the director, the Rev. Richard Cizik, the association’s vice president for government affairs, of diverting the evangelical movement from what they deem more important issues, like abortion and homosexuality.

The letter underlines a struggle between established conservative Christian leaders, whose priority has long been sexual morality, and challengers who are pushing to expand the evangelical movement’s agenda to include issues like climate change and human rights.

“We have observed,” the letter says, “that Cizik and others are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time.”

Those issues, the signers say, are a need to campaign against abortion and same-sex marriage and to promote “the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children.”

The letter, dated Thursday, is signed by leaders like James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family; Gary L. Bauer, once a Republican presidential candidate and now president of Coalitions for America; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Paul Weyrich, a longtime political strategist who is chairman of American Values.

How delightful. Dobson, Bauer, Perkins--the self-appointed three musketeers of American Decency fighting the good fight to the end. How can anybody possibly care about an inconsequential little thing like global climate change--which, since the scientists who believe in it are probably liberals and evilutionists, probably isn't true anyway--when there are so many people doing things with their bodies that we think is icky and wrong? Fuck biodiversity; fuck sustainability; fuck the underprivileged--somebody somewhere is probably having an abortion or gay sex (or both!) at this very minute, and they must be stopped at all costs! Isn't it refreshing to see people take a stand for what really matters?

(hat tip to RSR)