Saturday, February 28, 2009

Google's Ken

Google adSense sucks. It's absolutely terrible. And yet google is capitalized at multiples of sane ($337.99 per share as of this writing, P/E ratio of 25+) because, for among other reasons, it has supposedly set the standard for web-based advertising.

Sweet Karl Rove's striped underwear!

I have been banging away at this precious, precious blog for over two years, day after day. I believe I have made my views clear on a variety of topics, and I have gone a long way toward defining the range of the things I like to think about, write about, and otherwise take interest in. I have been many things, but I have rarely been coy or retiring about my likes and dislikes, passions, mood swings, and interests. I think it's fair to assume that anyone who tunes in, so to speak, shares these same predilections, in whole or in part.

Here's what I mean when I say google sucks at this. I just checked the adSense ads that google is placing at the top of this precious, precious blog, and what I found is described below. I am not linking to any of the advertising entities because they're awful or ridiculous or both, and the point is, they have no business getting inbound links from here:

  • A link to a batshit offshoot of the Catholic Church that touts itself as a defender of the "real" Catholic Church against the "false" Vatican II church. I gather google's ad sense selected this ad because it brilliantly noticed all my mentions of the Vatican, Catholicism, Ratzinger, et. al., without bothering to "sense" that these mentions tend to come with terms like "pedophile" and "child rape" and "bullshit."
  • Some other batshit Christian web site or service or church or cult or whatever that claims to have read the animal entrails just right and thereby divined just exactly what Jesus prefers and which people he plans to roast in hell.
  • Something or other -- a scam, I assume -- offering Christian housewives the chance to make money working from home.
  • A construction contractor in Tallahassee. Tallahassee, Florida. Seriously. To humor this result, I checked google analytics, and it shows a grand total of seven visits from the greater Tallahassee, Florida area, the last one being twelve days ago. To further humor this result, I searched this blog for Tallahassee, and I have never mentioned it, not a single time -- not until this very post you're reading. I fully expect this will be the last time I mention it unless something unforeseen happens that makes Tallahassee worth mentioning. As a last resort, I checked for instances in which I mentioned Florida, and they're almost all either quoting someone else mentioning Florida or discussions of presidential electioneering. For people who are looking to get some construction work done in Florida's panhandle, this blog offers nothing. No, make that less than nothing.
So herewith I remove the adSense banner, somewhat abashed that I didn't remove it on the strength of similar observations in the past, and that I ever put it there in the first place. Good riddance.

If adSense is the state of whatever art it is trying to be, I would hate to see examples of it done badly.

Put Down That Brave Front

You casually mention that clowns terrify you and people look at you as though you've insulted the world's population of grandmothers or claimed to speak with the grasshoppers.

Then you see something like this: a wild-faced Ronald McDonald clawing his way into, or possibly out from, a small plastic container of chocolate milk, and you realize you've been on psychological terra firma all along, and it's the people who don't fear clowns who are likely to be running a kitten-strangling operation in their basements.

Dear reader, if you fear clowns, this blog will never slight you. This is a safe place for you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Middle Cyclone, Song


Neko Case and the Anti- label have generously made the title track from Middle Cyclone freely available for download, but I offer a word of caution: even by the very high standards of Neko Case's music, her title tracks are devastatingly good, and this one is no exception. You might fall in love or something, musically and otherwise. You have been warned.

In Which I Agree with the Vatican

If the Vatican issued a press release declaring the skies are cloudy over Rome, I would assume the statement is not only wrong but sinister: I would suspect the sun is gleaming in a cloudless sky over Rome and they have issued this statement to somehow shield a pedophile priest from the law, or defend laws restricting women's rights, or keep condoms away from people exposed to AIDS. But I agree with this statement, mostly:

The Vatican said Friday it is not satisfied by the apology issued by a Catholic bishop who denied the Holocaust, saying the cleric must still clearly "distance himself" from the controversial comments.

Bishop Richard Williamson, who is now in England, issued a statement Thursday saying he regretted making the remarks. But he did not retract them or say he had changed his mind about the Holocaust ...

"The bishop's 'statement' does not appear to respect the conditions set by the secretariat of state on February 4, 2009, whereby he must also distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public from his stand regarding the Shoah (Holocaust)," said Padre Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.
I agree with what I take to be the spirit of this undertaking -- namely, the Vatican appears to be making it clear that they will not lift the curse on or otherwise associate with Williamson because he shows every sign of clinging to his Holocaust denial. Holocaust deniers do not deserve the comity of civilized people, and insofar as that is genuinely the stance of the Vatican, I agree.

That said, I continue to question the validity of the exercise in that the Vatican appears to be demanding that a person change his mind about matters of historical fact, and do so sincerely, and on a strict timeline. I'm not sure that's the kind of thing that can be achieved by means of external command, but of course, demanding particular opinions about particular truth claims is the Church's historic bailiwick -- what good is having a dogma if you can't burn people to death over it? The Vatican appears to hold a piece of cheese Williamson wants, so that places them in a position of making demands, be they realistic or not.

Twelve Lanes, More of the Same

Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the same mayor I vociferously defended against a phony lies-about-sex scandal a few weeks back (once, twice, thrice, and again), pictured here to the right of the unicorn (image source) and Amanda Fritz -- who is apparently the last member of the city council with any integrity -- has now given me an opportunity to show I am not a complete tool. I include myself in this:

Disappointed environmentalists are talking about that missing research, as well as other big unanswered questions about the Columbia River Crossing, after City Council approved the biggest option for the $4.2 billion commuter bridge last night.
The approved new Columbia River Crossing is a 12-lane bridge that will be, in part, funded by tolls. Lovely. More lanes for cars, combined with whining about tolls from every man-on-the-street for the next few lifetimes. Fantastic!

Adding lanes just pushes the problem around but does nothing to change the way people travel in the local area, as it retains the emphasis on passenger cars. I would like to see public transportation made even easier and even more practical for more purposes. I would like to see expanded opportunities and amenities for biking and, yes -- I say the following even knowing the ghosts of Portland's interred unicorns are seeing me type it, I say it even in the United States of America circa 2009 -- walking. Yes! I said it! People can actually get from place to place using their feet and legs! I've seen it, and not only in wild cold-sweat dreams.

More lanes for more cars is not what I voted for, and I hope this is not a sign that Sam Adams, who ran on a "sustainability" and "green" platform, is caving in to anti-green and greenwashing forces in response to the fake scandal. If that's what it is -- and it's ultimately speculation for anyone besides Sam Adams -- he does need to look in the mirror and think carefully about leaving office.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wilbur's Chest Licking

This is my cat, Wilbur, exhibiting his soon-to-be world famous behavioral oddity in which scratching stimulus to his back just above the tail kicks off a round of furious chest licking.

We probably shouldn't laugh, but it is odd.



On second thought and after a few seconds of googling, it seems this condition does not appear to be uncommon. Its explanation is not clear, but it's not really so odd after all. Wilbur! You disappoint me again!

Erupting Perversity

PZ Myers noticed Bobby Jindal's anti-science comments from a few nights back and got closer to what's so deeply perverse in them:

Bobby Jindal gave a rebuttal to one of Obama's recent speeches, and what does he do? Criticizes the investment of "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C." Heck, this isn't even any of that abstract, difficult-to-understand stuff — it's work that directly helps people.
Here, here. Even the likes of Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin have heard of Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii, right? Perhaps Mt. St. Helens? Krakatoa? Torrents of fire, ash, and lava? Globe-encircling dust plumes? Catastrophic explosions? Is this mic on?

The reckless and stupid mockery of science from the American right surely puts Matt Nisbet's vision of framing into perspective. Nisbet repeatedly advocates saying only the kindest of things about reactionaries and nihilists because conflict
distracts from the narratives and frames that are actually likely to build broad-based support for action. As I note in the Environment article, these frames include an emphasis on the moral and religious imperative to action along with a focus on the public health ...
It's not clear what line of scientific inquiry could have more self-evident resonance with moral and religious imperatives and public health than knowing when the volcano is going to explode, and yet there he is, Bobby Jindal, the new spokesmodel for American conservatism, smirking before the largest possible audience as he reviles "volcano monitoring" as nothing more than a pointless, wasteful, fraudulent, wealth-redistributing folly of tax-and-spend Democrats.

I'm all for making nice when it's possible. But I'd rather be alive and in bad spirits with conservatives than burned to death and bipartisan.

Creative Commons: If a thing isn't worth saying, you sing it.

Notwithstanding my paltry to middling to nonexistent graphics manipulations talents, I am very well pleased at how this turned out. And I didn't even cheat any of the randoms! I swear it!

What thing, you ask? Why, it's my very own band name & album cover from Creative Commons.

The instructions (source):

1 – Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random” or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to Quotations Page and select “random quotations” or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 – ... Grab the photo randomly generated from Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr here: http://mikelietz.org/code/flickr-ccgettr.php

4 – Use Photoshop the free Paint.Net or Gimp or similar to put it all together.

5 – Post it to FB with this text in the “caption” or “comment” and TAG the friends you want to join in.
In what I consider the true spirit of Creative Commons (and from a general aversion to tag-driven memes), I am not tagging anyone, and I may or may not post this to Facebook. If you find this interesting and worth continuing forward, please consider yourself tagged and carry on.

My sources:

Random Wikipedia article (band name): "Magra Islet"

Random quote (album title): "If a thing isn't worth saying, you sing it." - Pierre Beaumarchais. I used the entire quote; it's just too apt.

Random photo (album cover art): http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3565/3291367251_df2723fbfa.jpg?v=0. I don't know exactly where this is from, but I know I like it, and all due credit to the person who created it and made it available.

I used paint.net to put it all together; I am a long-time admirer of paint.net.

Update: Brian called my attention to a Best Week Ever compilation of the best fake album covers made in this fashion. One of them -- #100 as it happens -- chanced upon the same cover art. I really like some of these; many are extremely convincing as things you might see in a record store.

A Fake Recantation Continues

The Times Online reports that

The bishop [Richard Williamson] whose excommunication was lifted by the Pope despite his denial of the full extent of the Holocaust has arrived in Britain after being threatened with expulsion by Argentina ... The Times has learned that, while in Britain, he is planning to meet the revisionist historian David Irving, in order to find out how to present his views on the Holocaust without arousing controversy.
This is all so precious. Under the guise of reviewing the historical evidence as the Pope winkingly commanded him to do, Williamson has made a bee-line for other deniers masquerading as historians, with whom he will brainstorm on framing techniques that might convince the Pope of the sincerity of his recantation-free recantation -- or, putting euphemisms and other self-serving bullshit aside, provide a sequence of plausible- and sincere-sounding sentences that will successfully forestall any further public relations problems for Williamson, Ratzinger, their Church, or its historical campaign to associate Jews with "deicide."

(Via Normblog)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scrabble Disallows "Cheez"

A routine inspection of the products page on the official Cheez-It web site yielded this, the unexpected union of two great tastes -- Scrabble tiles and Cheez-It crackers. Still indistinguishable, now in a single brightly-colored box!

It's NEW!

(via Portland Mercury)

Unicorns Interred Here

If this creation of the Zehnkatzen Times -- based, as it is, in actual lore -- does not make you want to visit Portland and burn through countless thousands of tourist dollars, perhaps nothing ever will.

And maybe you're just a little dead inside. I'm just saying.

Desiccated Man in Tie: We ain't need no money for no volcanos!

With the pressures of a camera pointed at him combined with the dead weight of the Wide Stance party's future electoral hopes, desperately underfed Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal heroically stood up long enough to rebut Barack Obama's address to Congress last night with a combination of knife-sharp jowls and spoon-fed idiocy. Quoth the governor of the state that endured Katrina, a disaster at least as hilarious in its armchair conception as any volcano:

JINDAL: While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government. $8 billion for high speed rail projects such as magnetic levitation line from Las Vegas to Disney Land. And $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC. [link to video]
The part about Disney Land and Las Vegas is false as well as nasty, but going without food does tend to degrade basic cognition.

No, he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he has the right priorities for winning the hearts and minds of the short-sighted and depraved.

Posterity Polling

Norm Geras is sponsoring an intriguing posterity poll, and these are my [slightly annotated] entries. My approach to constructing a time capsule is to try to balance including the best with including the most representative and the most influential, so that the future world might have some hope of reconstructing all that can't fit the capsule.

1. Poet - Homer and Ovid [There's no justifying the poets this leaves unpreserved, but choices must be made.]

2. Playwright - Sophocles and Shakespeare [Sophocles gives us another important window onto the classical world; and leaving Shakespeare here means I can sneak in an extra poet.]

3. Novelist - Abelard & Heloise. [Arguably a cheat, but I don't think so. Their overwrought epistles laid much of the groundwork for the novel form, and gave us plenty of insights into history, philosophy, theology, and the daily life of their times. Their correspondence takes the tradition of courtly love and breathes real life into it -- arguably a good enough summary of the novel, or if not that, at least an adequate starting point.]

4. Composer - Bach and Mozart [I know, I know --- highly original choices! But really, life would cease without either, so I have no choice.]

5. Jazz musician - Miles Davis [I am not a jazz fan -- if that even means anything -- but I cherish Kind of Blue.]

6. Rock or pop star/group - The Beatles [They had their own influences -- Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, jazz, etc. -- but they took it well beyond those sources and influenced very nearly everything that has come after; the music of 'youth culture' as we know it is unimaginable without John, Paul, George and Ringo.]

7. Country music - Hank Williams [He almost single-handedly spawned the genre once, why not again? If only he hadn't spawned his son. It's hard to leave out Johnny Cash, but choices must be made.]

8. Movie director - Stanley Kubrick [One stop shopping! He spans so many subgenres and touches on so much material that he suggests as many possibilities for movies as any director.]


9. Painter - Albrecht Dürer [I place him perfectly at the mid-point between painting-as-veneration and painting-as-representation, the sacred and the profane, premodern and modern. Just look at that hare! Painted in 1502!]

[These last three left blank out of prioritization; my passion runs low in these areas so the picks are best recovered and put to other areas, in keeping with Norm's rules.]

--x 10. Photographer
--x 11. Sculptor
--x 12. Architect

OK, I am going to post this and send it to Norm before my mind changes again. The Normblog poll remains open!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bigots or Pepsi?

The ad is insipid and predictable, and the product it promotes is, well, the less said the better:



And yet it's the best ad and the best product in its category because it has outraged the bigoted ninnies at the American Family Association, which has breathlessly informed its membership that

Pepsi had released a similar ad before. The ads serve two purposes for Pepsi: to sell Pepsi and to promote the homosexual lifestyle. AFA asked Pepsi to remain neutral in the culture war, but the company refused - choosing to support the homosexual activists.

Pepsi has made no effort to hide their support for the homosexual agenda:

Pepsi gave a total of $1,000,000 to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to promote the homosexual lifestyle in the workplace.
I suppose I can agree with the objection to the $1,000,000 donation in that it arguably should have been higher for a company the size of PepsiCo. But $1,000,000 is nothing to sneeze at, so I'm certainly not going to throw a boycott over it.

So have yourself a Pepsi product -- it's actually hard not to, given time -- and know that the flavor is the flavor of bigotry's death throes.

Within 8% of My Expectations

I had to do it.

I only missed the one about John Bobbitt.

Your morality is 8% in line with that of the bible.
 

Damn you heathen! Your book learnin' has done warped your mind. You shall not be invited next time I sacrifice a goat.

Do You Have Biblical Morals?
Take More Quizzes



(H/T Pharyngula)

Hitchens-D'Souza Redux

Via RichardDawkins.net, yet a more recent debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is a good tactical debater who makes embarrassingly poor arguments; Hitchens is a devastating debater who makes generally strong arguments. That's my take going in, having watched all of four minutes of this debate as of this posting -- your mileage may vary, as may my own.

Enjoy!


Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza at CU Boulder from Justin Leddick on Vimeo.

Hear the Cyclone

Via the miracles of the internet and pre-release promotions, you can listen to all of Middle Cyclone, Neko Case's forthcoming new album, right now.

Yes, apparently the whole thing on NPR!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Two Lines on the Horizon

U2 has complicated my life again, this time by releasing a new album on March 3rd, the same day Neko Case will release Middle Cyclone. I hope someone will give me one of those "stated income" loans so I can afford all these new CDs, then bundle the loan with millions more like it, leverage them to the hilt, and seed them throughout the global financial system. As a music fan, I am too big to fail.

The reviews for U2's No Line on the Horizon are coming in and they're surprisingly strong, as helpfully clipped from Wikipedia:

I note the rare five-star review from Rolling Stone, which is sure to provoke sneers inasmuch as openly despising Rolling Stone is part and parcel of being a Serious Fan of Rock.

I'd sneer right along but for the fact that U2 is one of a handful of recording artists for which I am a hopeless tool: they release it, I buy it. I do make exceptions for allegedly enhanced re-releases and 'best of' compilations. I won't even spend someone else's money on those.

Another Year in Oscar

I didn't have any deep emotional investment in the Oscars, but I was glad to see Kate Winslet finally get an Oscar (for a role I have not yet seen) and pleased to see Heath Ledger's last performance rewarded. I continue to seem to be the only person who didn't like Wall-E, but its win for Best Animation was inevitable and nothing to fret over.

I still have not seen most of the films with the most Oscar "buzz" -- Milk, The Wrestler, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Revolutionary Road. Sigh. I follow the movies?

I did have a slight investment in Best Documentary, where the two front-runners -- and the two I had seen -- were Man On Wire and Encounters at the End of the World.

I enjoyed both, but I was glad to see MOW edge out Encounters. The latter was just another vehicle for Werner Herzog to go to an exotic setting and find quirky things to film, with minimal concern for weaving it into anything coherent. Without question, Herzog has a gift for finding interest in the smallest and oddest places. Here's a nice passage from Encounters, which is undeniably appealing but at the same time leaves the viewer with a sense of "Yes, and ...?":



MOW, by contrast, did very nearly the reverse: it took an odd figure and his odd feat and turned it into a romance. It really puts you in the mind of the subject, Philippe Petit, and succeeds in taking us well past "Why would anyone be so crazy?"

If you have Netflix, you can watch Man On Wire right now.

Progress in Afghanistan

When it comes to faith-based oppression, his has to be considered a reprise of one of the classics of the form:

An appeals court in Afghanistan upheld 20-year prison sentences Sunday for two men who published a translation of the Quran ...

The controversial text is a translation of Islam's holy book into an Afghan language without the original Arabic verses alongside. Muslims regard the Arabic Quran as words given directly by God. A translation is not considered a Quran itself, and it is believed a mistranslation could warp God's word.

A host of Muslim clerics in this conservative Islamic state have condemned the translation — which was published in 2007 and handed out for free — as blasphemous and accused its publishers of setting themselves up as false prophets.

The appeals court found the men guilty of modifying the Quran — a crime punishable by death. However, the three-judge panel reiterated a lower court ruling giving the men 20 years each.
In 1536, for the crime of making an English translation of the Bible, William Tyndale was tied to a stake, strangled to death, and burned to ash. In that case as in the present case in Afghanistan, the punishment was considered lenient in that strangling kills more quickly than burning, just as spending 20 years in Afghan prison is better than death.

This is what passes for mercy, justice, and progress in the faith-addled jurisdictions of the earth, then and now.

Take That, Stereotypes!

It turns out the New York man who beheaded his wife for slighting his honor was indeed dedicated to the last to flouting stereotypes about Islamic misogyny. The Buffalo News reports that

Aasiya Z. Hassan was stabbed several times before being beheaded Feb. 12, and authorities still aren’t sure whether she was alive when she was decapitated.

Sources close to the case also have confirmed that Hassan was attacked with hunting knives.

“The certificate of death is going to say stab wounds and decapitation,” one law-enforcement source familiar with the case told The Buffalo News. [emphasis mine]
See? He didn't just cut off her head with the big sword, but may well have done the actual killing by stabbing his wife with, of all things, hunting knives. That's not old school honor killing at all.

Consider your cultural perspectives broadened.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top-Shelving God

Move aside, Dewey! Not content with the damage they've done to humanities and the sciences, religious zealots have proposed changes to library organization:

[S]ome Muslims in Leicester had moved copies of the Koran to the top shelves of libraries, because they believe it is an insult to display it in a low position.

The city's librarians consulted the Federation of Muslim Organisations and were advised that all religious texts should be kept on the top shelf to ensure equality.
Naturally, the library appears to have complied with this idiotic request because -- I am guessing here -- the Dewey decimal system (and similar systems), as useful as it might be, is nothing to get beheaded over. So this becomes yet one more emboldening example of successful faith-based whining.

Looking on the sunny side, suppose we run with this top-shelf-for-holy-texts idea. Granted, the physical layout of libraries will vary, but generally speaking, putting all the holy texts on top shelves will make it harder for shorter people to reach them, which is what I call a good start.

And because the holy books are filed according to some corner screamer's theology rather than the orderly system the library actually uses to organize the placement of books, the books are going to be harder to locate for everyone, apart from the broad clue to check the upper shelves. Excellent!

Better still, if you really want to run with this idea, you have to take top shelf quite literally. Technically, there can be only one true top shelf in any library -- possibly the highest shelf on the highest floor, or more to the point, the roof of the structure.

Yes! Remove all the holy texts from the library shelves, and stack them on the roof of the library. There, as close as possible to the god(s) they document, they can enjoy god's protection from the elements. And as the roofs to public buildings tend to be tightly restricted in most cases, only the most deeply-committed and/or suicidally-inclined book browsers will check for reading material there.

There's no obvious reason this logic shouldn't apply to book stores and private homes where holy books are shelved. If you are keeping a copy of any of the leading holy books in your book store or dwelling, put it on the roof lest god and his earthly spokesmodels take umbrage. God will protect the text(s) from the pigeon scat and the rain, and if he doesn't, well, god famously has his reasons.

(via Ophelia Benson)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hard Times at Red Donkey

Suppose there's an "energy drink" called Red Donkey of which sales are persistently low despite various marketing and advertising efforts.

Further suppose Red Donkey's VP of Marketing (Nat Chisbet) proposes the hypothesis that people reject Red Donkey because they believe it contains large amounts of caffeine. Chisbet is very passionate about this. Assume it does, in fact, contain large amounts of caffeine, but that the VP of Product Development, Pritchard Hawkins, does not accept Chisbet's hypothesis -- Hawkins believes the surplus of caffeine is either unimportant or possibly a net positive for the product's popularity.

To settle the question, the company conducts opinion polls, and the results are somewhat surprising to all: quite a few people aren't even aware that Red Donkey contains caffeine!

Intrigued, they crunch the numbers and find that among those who correctly believe Red Donkey is caffeinated, 53% like the product, and another 18% express no opinion about it. Only 29% of people who know Red Donkey contains caffeine also dislike the product.

Meanwhile, the polls show that among those who mistakenly believe Red Donkey is caffeine-free, 29% like the product, 30% don't like the product, and 40% express no opinion.

Do these poll results vindicate Chisbet's hypothesis, or do they vindicate Hawkins's doubts? Wouldn't any VP worth his salt have to concede that the polling results at least bear on the question?

Evidently not if Red Donkey is evolutionary science, caffeine is Charles Darwin, the polling is this recent effort by Gallup, and the VP of Marketing is Matt Nisbet:

Not surprisingly, Carl Safina's Feb. 10 essay at the NY Times calling for an end to Darwin worship generated a fair amount of criticism.

Safina's suggestion to frame information in terms of the nature and benefits of evolutionary science rather than the more traditional "great man of science" narrative is a sound one. In fact, it's the exact strategy that the National Academies used in last year's educational backgrounder on evolution.
One would think that Nisbet would have considered these poll results before declaring victory over the phony specter of "Darwin worship," just as one would think he would have cited some polling data to support the claim that last year's "educational backgrounder" from the NAS is producing broader acceptance of evolution.

But no, the "science" of Framing Science seems to amount to a mix of announcements of Matt Nisbet's forthcoming talks, self-citations by Matt Nisbet, and, of course, demands by Matt Nisbet that others shut up and leave the communicating to him.

Those poll results bearing on the relationship between acceptance of evolution and association of Darwin with evolution are reproduced below; the fuller Gallup survey has plenty more, including several results holding considerably more promise in understanding why evolution is unpopular, and thus more promise in how its acceptance might be broadened with well-crafted communications and outreach.



Update: more on Safina's piece in the NY Times and "Darwin worship" can be found at Quintessence of Dust, Pharyngula, The Scientific Activist, and John Hawks.

Red Donkey image courtesy The Elms Farm.

Cat Actor's Studio

Cats may not have the acting range of dogs or humans, but if the role calls for world-weariness, they can bring it.




They can also do horror.

Snuggie Culture Progresses Apace

When it comes to the prospect of a Snuggie-led economic recovery, the vision is hazy but the hope is vibrant:

A few cities are hosting a "Snuggie Pub Crawl," wherein a group of idiots goes around drinking at different bars whilst wearing their Snuggies. San Francisco is hosting their Snuggie Pub Crawl on March 20, and Chicago has one scheduled for April 18. Dates are still TBD for New York, L.A., Seattle, D.C., Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Austin, and Boston.
Just look at those warm, comfortable Snuggie wearers. They look like they could use a drink (maybe not the baby) inasmuch as anyone wearing a Snuggie looks like they could use some form of immediate help. The image of thirty or fifty or a few hundred similarly dressed people stumbling from bar to bar may seem terrifying and depressing, but that's what they said about Roosevelt's New Deal at first too. Really it's an image of stolid perseverance and uplifting solidarity, which is what we need now.

Join the vanguard. Drink in a wearable fleece blanket. Keep hope alive.