Squid, reversible, hooded jacket

If you’re fond of squids and octopodes, check this out! Clothier Gama-go is offering a limited edition squid hoodie called the Leviathan reversible. It’s black and red. I like it because there’s a flamboyant side and a subdued side:

I can see PZ walking down the street with his minions, everyone dressed in black jackets with a red squid on the shoulder. Then, when he rises to debate those who would drag science down to the level of a religion, or religion into science, education, and government, he wears the red jacket with its all-embracing tentacles.

There’s a continuing squid theme at Gama-Go. They have a ‘squid calimari’ one that shows the squid on a plate with a knife, ready to fight. There’s also a “seasick squid” – just a few tentacles above a sea of tossing waves. I also like the “Flock you” jacket, which is adorned with flying birds.

Chasing Hurricane Fay online

From Mashable, ways to “chase” hurricanes online.

Hurricane Fay near Florida

Hurricane Fay near Florida

AccuWeather has some nifty images:

Tropical Storm Fay near Florida

Tropical Storm Fay near Florida

There’s an animated GIF file of the storm.

Cone of storms predicted track

Cone of storm's predicted track

Meanwhile, the good news is that it seems to be moving north and away from Miami, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster! PZ Myers needs to fly home from the Galapagos Islands through Miami.

There’s The Weather Channel’s Weather.com:

Hurricane Fay from satellite by infrared light

Tropical Storm Fay from satellite by infrared light

And of course there’s NOAA and the National Weather Service:

Probability of hurricane-force winds is low

Probability of hurricane-force winds is low

The new entry is MyFoxHurricane.com:

00 p.m.

Some predicted tracks of Hurricane Fay, 2008 August 18 6:00 p.m.

Expelled: the copyright issue

Expelled exposedWesley R. Elsberry at The Austringer points out a delicious irony: the hypocritical dishonesty of the Expelled producers as it relates to copyright law could result in the exposure and collapse of the whole Discovery Institute house of cards.

It’s bad enough to for Kevin Miller and Mark Mathis lie and deceive to get interviews. It’s laughable to expell the people you interviewed and filmed from a movie decrying persecution. It’s ludicrous to pick on science blogger PZ Myers and miss major author Richard Dawkins. But to steal intellectual property from Harvard University and science-movie-makers XVIVO is going too far. It seems that religion excuses everything.

Read “Expelled: Plagiarism will do that for you.”

PZ as Elvis?

The Church Burnin’ Ebola Blog has a very nice, detailed commentary on PZ and religious fanatics who froth at the mouth when PZ’s name is mentioned and project their authoritarian notions onto him: “PZ Myers, the Elvis Presley of atheism?”

Miss Quote-mine is at it again

Dense O’Leary, a dim-bulb journalist and cdesign proponentist, has been regaling anyone who will listen with tales of the dangerous PZ Myers who might have plotted to disrupt an advance screening of the movie Expelled , in which he was featured, and for which he had registered under his own name. Diffidently I point out that she wasn’t there. By all eye-witness accounts, the assistant producer vetted the guest list and decided to turn Prof. Myers away at the door. That was an ill-judged show of spite and cowardice that violates the registering site’s privacy policy. But the producers have tried to hide their movie from both movie reviewers and the scientifically literate.

Dense quotes something about PZ breaking out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, trying to imply that he was talking about the movie. But that would be a lie. The quote-mine queen had to go back to 2005 to find something that sounded vicious enough for her. And naturally she dug it out of a completely different topic, one that is worth getting passionate about, even if the boots are rhetorical.

Of course, she’s just following her mentors at the “Discovery” institute. Jonathan Witt used the same quote about disagreements in evolutionary theory. PZ reports:

Because we think the unqualified lawyers, philosophers, bibliolaters, and kooks of the Discovery Institute deserve no place in the curriculum, we must also be planning to snuff out other unconventional thinkers.

“According to the Darwinists’ Ohio logic, scientists who merely point out weaknesses in Darwinism (Stephen Jay Gould, Franklin Harold, Stuart Kauffman, etc., etc.), are arguing for intelligent design, are card-carrying design theorists. That means they’re fair game: break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles. (See “No more coffee for Mr. Witt.”)

funny pictures
(More funny pictures)

What Prof. Myers actually said, after he discovered that he’d been lied to and tricked into doing an interview for a pro-ID propaganda movie, was that he’d go to the movie and cheer loudly at his 30 seconds onscreen. And I think he was kidding.

PZ Myers
I will go see this movie, and I will cheer loudly at my 30 seconds or whatever on the screen, and I will certainly disembowel its arguments here and in any print venue that wants me. That’s going to be fun.

Here’s the original context of the ‘steel-toed boots’ remark:


John Hawks thinks there’s too much “foaming at the mouth” over Bush’s support for Intelligent Design creationism.

I want to improve the teaching of evolution. Taking an adversarial position toward religious viewpoints or political parties is not the way to make education better. Sometimes such conflicts are unavoidable. Some religious beliefs are just scientifically wrong. The Earth was not created 6,000 years ago, and any scientific understanding of the past must repudiate this particular religious view. But many deeply religious people, and entire faiths, have no conflict with evolution. Even so, they may believe that alternative views should be available in schools.

Would it help to have a biology teacher call a child’s parents “lunatics”? Certainly not. But parents, community members, churches, and other people that children know and respect are precisely the people that one is attacking, when one uses derisive rhetoric. —John Hawks

PZ MyersThere is a bit of truth here terribly wrongly applied. It is correct that if I were talking to a student or a parent, trying to persuade them to abandon misbegotten notions of creationism that are affecting the student’s ability to be a good biologist, I wouldn’t call them lunatics. It isn’t very effective to try and persuade an individual by calling them idiots, and in most cases I don’t think the creationist students I occasionally get are idiots—just sadly misled.

However, I was not attacking such individuals, but the president of the US and the preachers at the Discovery Institute. You know, the responsible people who are lying to the public or working to disseminate destructive delusions.

Oh, but Hawks has that covered; his last sentence suggests that the people they “know and respect” should not be so harshly criticized, lest we alienate them. I strongly disagree. It is the leaders and enablers who must be vigorously attacked, the ones who abuse those positions of authority and respect to poison minds. When thinking people abstain from criticizing religious or political groups out of some abstract notion that responsible intellectuals are aloof from sectarian or party arguments, they are betraying the principles of their discipline.

I am a biologist. Like it or not, the Republican party is being led by religious zealots who are anti-biology, who publicly and vigorously oppose reason and knowledge and evidence in my field of study. This hasn’t always been true, and it may not always be true (I hope), but right now and right here, it is inarguably the case. I will not throttle my criticisms of the despicable gang of anti-intellectuals who run this country because it might irritate all those millions of people who voted for George W. Bush; they were wrong and he is wrong and it is my responsibility as a scientist to oppose ignorance, especially ignorance that has power and influence. Let them find comfort and forgiveness for stupid mistakes in their religion, because I sure as hell am not going to give it to them.

Don’t tell me to be dispassionate or less unreasonable about it all because because 65% of the American population think creationism should be taught alongside evolution, or that Americans are just responding to common notions of “fairness”. That just tells me that we scientists have not been expressing our outrage enough. And yes, we should be outraged that the president of our country panders to theocrats, faith-healers, and snake-oil artists; sitting back and quietly explaining that Bush may be a decent man who is mistaken, while the preachers are stridently condemning all us evilutionists to hell, is a damned ineffective tactic that has gotten us to this point.

I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don’t care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.

However, I will concede that there are reasons to argue that the worries of scientists are overblown. There is the matter of perspective.

The fate of science in our country is a small thing (but it is my small thing, so be understanding when it is the one I harp on) compared to other issues. For instance, consider Gary Farber’s accounts of our soldiers, also summarized by Digby. Our people are killing Iraqis by beating them with a rubber hose while tied up in a sleeping bag, or pounding on them with sledgehammer handles. We are aggressors who have launched an unjust war and are committing atrocities against a civilian population.

So, yeah, that argument would give me pause. It is relatively unimportant to bash on the Republican party as a scientist, for betraying the promise of the Enlightenment.

We should be marching in the streets as self-respecting human beings because the Republican thugs have betrayed the cause of civilized humanity. We should be yelling EVEN LOUDER.

Goddamn, but don’t even suggest that we’re being too partisan. I am on the side of reason and human rights, and my only failing is that I’m not partisan enough. —PZ Myers

Most of the bolding is mine. Now, isn’t that worth getting pasionate about? A strong human disgust for lying, pandering, torture and atrocities. And that’s the person the Expelled producers (and others) slander and want to shut up!

PZ Myers Expelled by creationists

PZ Myers expelled from Expelled conference call

PZ Myers, science professorScience blogger and professor PZ Myers got an e-mailed invitation to a conference-call press-conference about the movie Expelled, in which he was featured, from its producers. However, all questions had to be submitted by e-mail in advance. Then the organizers would read approved questions aloud. Thus they could suppress all but friendly questions. So the “press” phones were muted. But the organizers carelessly mentioned the “let me speak” code just before the conference went on the air, after some participants, including PZ, had signed in. (Would you trust those people with anything important?)

So when the lies got too rank to stomach, PZ used the code to speak up. Unable or unwilling to answer him, the organizers asked him to hang up and said they would answer his questions later and  call him back if they needed to talk to him. Nicely, he did as they asked. Why are they afraid to talk to him or let him speak up?

John M. Lynch adds:

scienceblogger John M. Lynch

Update: Predictably the DI-hack spin has begun already. Denyse O’Leary claims “Myers apparently somehow got into the press conference itself! – ‘under false pretences’ [sic] according to the moderator”. Problem is, PZ – like all members of the Panda’s Thumb received an invitation from the movies PR firm. Now it could perhaps be argued that PZ should have stayed quiet and not interrupted the show but you’ve got to question why Mathis and co. hadn’t muted the phone lines. Apparently the “conference call” was supposed to be an echo chamber in which journalists got to listen to Stein and co. field pre-screened questions.

In other words, difficult questions were “expelled.” Oh, the irony.

PZ Myers expelled from <i>Expelled</i> conference call

UPDATE: Ian H. Spedding has composed a verse in honor of the pwning, phwning, or PZwning of the IDiotic conference call:

They see him here, they see him there
Those fundies see him everywhere
Whether in movies or on the wires
That damn’d persistent PZ Myers.

Did Expelled violate its own privacy policy?

I think they did when they singled out PZ Myers from their list of registered and confirmed guests for their creationist propaganda movie and decided to turn him away at the door in a spiteful ambush.

PZ Myers expelled from Expelled movie

The Expelled site may have violated their own privacy policy. There’s nothing in it about running personal information past the junior producer to see if he approves of the guest list.

Our Promise of Privacy

We at Premise Media Corporation and Motive Entertainment are committed to protecting the privacy of our customers, and we treat any information you share with discretion, care and respect.

How do we use the personal and non-personal information that we gather?
We use personally identifiable information to respond to requests, to provide special offers, and to notify of new resources on our site. Like most Websites, we may also add to the above personally identifiable information a variety of technical data, including (but not limited to) your IP address (a unique number that identifies your access account on the Internet), domain, and Web browser information. We may track the page you visited before coming to our Site, the page you link to when you leave, which of our pages you access, and how long you spend on each page.

Do we disclose your personally identifiable information to third parties?
From time to time, we may provide your personally identifiable information with third parties that we use for our own business purposes, such as to process your order or request for information, or to provide services for us.

Notwithstanding anything else in this policy, we may: (a) disclose personal and aggregate information when required by a valid legal mechanism such as a search warrant, subpoena, or court order, or when we deem it necessary to protect the safety of Site users, our employees or property; and (b) disclose personal information in the context of the sale of some or all of our assets.

How are “Contact Us” emails treated?
We use “Contact Us” forms to allow you to contact us directly with any questions or comments you may have. We read every message sent in and try to reply promptly to each one. This information is used to respond directly to your questions or comments. We may also file your comments to improve the website.

Those are all the acceptable purposes. I think that someone should ask them formally about their use of guest registration information.

Just in case the policy mysteriously and retroactively changes, here it is:
Expelled movie privacy policy, page 1, captured 2008 April 16

And here’s the second screen:
Expelled movie privacy policy, page 2, captured 2008 April 16

New holidays

Help me to develop new, nerdy, secular holidays that everyone can enjoy. I’d like to propose some new holidays, preferably one a month, but I haven’t come up with a complete list yet. Help me out!

Nerd Calendar:

  • Jan. 5, George W. Carver, 1843
  • Jan. 9? (Analemma Day) (earliest sunset of the year)
  • Feb. 8, Dmitri Mendeleev (1834)
  • Feb. 12, Charles Darwin’s Birthday
  • Feb. 19, Nicolaus Copernicus’ Birthday (1473)
  • Mar 14, Pi Day; also Albert Einstein’s Birthday (1879)
  • March 20, Expelled Irony Day (the day PZ Myers was spitefully expelled from the theatre while clueless creationists let in Richard Dawkins)
  • Mar 21/22, Spring Equinox
  • April 23, William Shakespeare’s Birthday (estimated) (1564); also Max Planck’s Birthday (1858)
  • June 21/22 Summer Solstice
  • July 10, Nikola Tesla’s Birthday (1856)
  • July 25    Rosalind Franklin, 1920
  • Aug. 30, Maurice Hilleman (1919)
  • Sept 21/22, Fall Equinox
  • Nov. 7, Marja (Marie) Sklodowska Curie
  • Nov. 30, John Napier’s Day (birthday unknown)
  • Dec. 21/22, Winter Solstice
  • Dec. 25, now Jan. 13, Isaac Newton (1642)
  • Dec. 27, Johannes Kepler’s Birthday (1571)

How about Sir Sanford Fleming Day? I’d like to remember the man who invented time zones. Gregor Mendel day? John Snow Day? Ramujan Day? The possibilities are endless.

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