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When I take my last breath and they publish my obituary, the first line will say that I presided over the intelligent design trial. I can't top this, I don't think, and I'm fine with that, if this is what I'm remembered for. I'm proud of what I did. I thought I discharged my obligations and my duties well.
A fascinating interview with the judge who presided over Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2004), a case on the teaching of Intelligent Design. The interview is, I think, as interesting for his explanation of how he did (and still does) his job, as well as the specifics of the case itself.
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Startlingly, this great sceptic, this non-guru who believes in nothing, is still a practising Christian. He regards with some contempt the militant atheism movement led by Richard Dawkins.
"Scientists don't know what they are talking about when they talk about religion. Religion has nothing to do with belief, and I don't believe it has any negative impact on people's lives outside of intolerance. Why do I go to church? It’s like asking, why did you marry that woman? You make up reasons, but it’s probably just smell. I love the smell of candles. It's an aesthetic thing.” (link)
This is an interesting article - with, admittedly, a few odd hints, like that Taleb isn't entirely convinced of global warming - but I really like that quote. I've made several attempts to add a little editorialising on this, and I'm not happy with how any of them have come out. So, just read it and make up your own mind.
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James Cameron claims in a documentary that he's found the tomb of Jesus. This article is just full of fun. Skeptics will apparently love Cameron on account of how the find pokes holes in the resurrection story, which, er, would said skeptics not also be skeptical of Cameron's claims in the first place? And a local resident welcomes the "discovery" on the grounds that it'll increase her property value. I guess the silly season arrived early this year...
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From the Irish Times breaking news RSS feed:
The United States said last night it had flown five Chinese Muslim men who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison to resettle in Albania, declining to send them back to China because they might face persecution.
I really can't come up with a comment that does this story justice. I'll just sit here doing the stunned monkey routine.
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From the trivia notes for Shark Tale:
The shark gangster voiced by Peter Falk was originally called Don Brizzi. Bowing to pressure from the Italic Institute of America, an organization protesting Hollywood's stereotyping of Italians as mobsters and gangsters, Dreamworks agreed to change the name of the character to Don Feinberg just before release.
So, wait, (a) there's an Italic Institute of America? (not Italian? Do they all lean to one side?) and (b) Dreamworks' response to accusations of stereotyping Italians is to turn them into Jews? (not that "Brizzi" is a million miles away from "Bris", either)

Oy vey.
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"I'm looking forward to completing your training. In time, you will call me 'Master.'"
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Vox Pop in Vatican City: "with all due respect to the Catholic Church, the Pope can't be replaced"
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Apparently Il Papa has requested that he not be sent back to hospital, so I guess you won't get to follow up on the whole business of life preservation as you'd posted about some time ago.
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Didn't someone have some gong to bang recently about how evolution might favour people who believed in religion?
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in subtitles: "Bhuddists". Yes, spelled like that.
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Take your "under God" and stuff it. Well, at least until the next round.
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An interesting article on the Bloody Sunday (re)Inquiry, if for no other reason than the hi-tech nature of the Inquiry itself - search for the paragraph starting with the word "Testifying", for example.
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I've just watched the (brief) coverage of today's Drumcree march. 24 members of the security forces were injured, five seriously. I am not going to attempt to take any sides here, since for all I know it may well be perfectly acceptable for the local Orange Order to march down a road full of non-Orange people in celebration of a defeat of said non-Orange people several hundred years ago. That's the sort of thing that greater minds than mine are trying to figure out. No, I'll just give you a simple dialogue and let you calculate things such as DEGREE OF STUPIDITY by yourself:

The Orange Order: We would like to march down this road.
Security Forces: The Parades Commission has said you can't march down this road this year because of past rioting. However, if you can guarantee them that you will behave responsibly and non-antagonistically, you may be allowed to march down this road next year.
The Orange Order: Okay.

"The Orange Order" proceeds to spit on, and then attack with rocks, cudgels, and their bare hands, a wall of security forces in riot gear. The latter retreat; however, the antagonists continue to advance and attempt to breach the wall of riot shields in order to inflict more damage on the people behind the shields. It's pretty obvious who's doing the attacking here; the security forces are, for the most part, not even using their batons - they're simply protecting themselves with their shields, retreating slowly, and preventing the crowd from proceeding down the Garvaghy Road - which is blocked off, anyway, and defended by water cannon.

Now, I'm not claiming any supreme intelligence or clairvoyance here, but how do you think the Parades Commission is going to respond next year, when the Orange Order puts forward its case for marching down the same road?

Note, I've put scare quotes above because it's pretty obvious that at least a portion of the crowd is there purely for a riot. Especially the 12-year-old kid in the white tracksuit with blue stripes right at the front of the crowd who, if there is any sense of justice in the North, is currently sitting in a police station being taught the meaning of "a short, sharp shock".
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I have to work tomorrow, yet the pubs are closed. Are we a religiously controlled country, or are we not?


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