I'm actually surprised. Usually American need more kicking in the
nuts before they change. I used to be anit-SUV, but now I figure that
using up the oil more quickly will make force us to convert to
sustainable resources sooner.
'Sales of sport-utility vehicles ran out of gas in September, giving
General Motors and Ford dismal results for the month while the Chrysler
Group and major Japanese brands [esp. Toyota and Honda] gained ground.'
'The dramatic drop in truck sales hit hardest at GM, whose sales
plunged 24 percent to 344,797 vehicles, and Ford, which fell 19 percent
'Toyota, Honda and Nissan posted double-digit increases and all
reported record September sales because of surging interest in passenger
cars. Car sales were up 22 percent at Toyota and Honda and 26 percent at
This study correlates religious prosperous democracies as having
higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD
infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion than secular prosperous
'In the twentieth century extensive secularization occurred in
western nations, the United States being the only significant exception
(Bishop; Bruce; Gill et al.; Sommerville). If religion has
receded in some western nations, what is the impact of this
unprecedented transformation upon their populations?'
'Among the developing democracies absolute belief in God, attendance
of religious services and Bible literalism vary over a dozenfold,
atheists and agnostics five fold, prayer rates fourfold, and acceptance
of evolution almost twofold. Japan, Scandinavia, and France are the most
secular nations in the west, the United States is the only prosperous
first world nation to retain rates of religiosity otherwise limited to
the second and third worlds (Bishop; PEW).'
'By removing the need for a creator evolutionary science made belief
optional. When deciding between supernatural and natural causes is a
matter of opinion large numbers are likely to opt for the latter.
Western nations are likely to return to the levels of popular
religiosity common prior to the 1900s only in the improbable event that
naturalistic evolution is scientifically overturned in favor of some
form of creationist natural theology that scientifically verifies the
existence of a creator. Conversely, evolution will probably not enjoy
strong majority support in the U.S. until religiosity declines
'In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator
correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult
mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion in the
'If the data showed that the U.S. enjoyed higher rates of societal
health than the more secular, pro-evolution democracies, then the
opinion that popular belief in a creator is strongly beneficial to
national cultures would be supported. Although they are by no means
utopias, the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to
govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion. Indeed, the data
examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular,
pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come
closest to achieving practical "cultures of life" that feature low rates
of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and
even abortion. The least theistic secular developing democracies
such as Japan, France, and Scandinavia have been most successful in
these regards. The non-religious, pro-evolution democracies contradict
the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most
citizens ardently believe in a moral creator. The widely held fear
that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore
'The United States' deep social problems are all the more
disturbing because the nation enjoys exceptional per capita wealth among
the major western nations (Barro and McCleary; Kasman; PEW; UN
Development Programme, 2000, 2004). Spending on health care is much
higher as a portion of the GDP and per capita, by a factor of a third to
two or more, than in any other developing democracy (UN Development
Programme, 2000, 2004). The U.S. is therefore the least efficient
western nation in terms of converting wealth into cultural and physical
health. Understanding the reasons for this failure is urgent, and
doing so requires considering the degree to which cause versus effect is
responsible for the observed correlations between social conditions and
religiosity versus secularism.'
See the trend from J=Japan (most secular) to F=France to U=U.S.
These people are adults? In this century? Who can read? Who went to
school? Who can experiment?
'For Mr. Vail and 29 guests on his Canyon Ministries trip, this was
vacation as religious pilgrimage, an expedition in search of evidence that
God created the earth in six days 6,000 years ago, just as Scripture says.
That same week, a few miles upriver, a decidedly different group of 24
rafters surveyed the same rock formations - but through the lens of science
rather than what Mr. Vail calls "biblical glasses." Sponsored by the
National Center for Science Education, the chief challenger to creationists'
influence in public schools, this trip was a floating geology seminar,
charting the canyon's evolution through eons of erosion. "Look at the
weathering, look at the size of the pieces," Eugenie C. Scott, the center
director, said of markings in Black Tail Canyon. "To a standard geologist,
to somebody who actually studies geology, this just shouts out at you: This
is really old; this is really gradual." Two groups examining the same
evidence. Traveling nearly identical itineraries, snoozing under the same
stars and bathing in the same chocolate-colored river. Yet, standing at
opposite ends of the growing creation-evolution debate, they seemed to speak
in different tongues. '
' "I won't defend evolution," Dr. Scott said in exasperation one
evening. "We don't defend the spherical Earth. We need to stop defending, as
they put it, Darwinism, and just make them show they have a scientific
' "Ultimately, creationism is not just bad science to me, it's bad
Christianity, it's Bible worship," said Mr. Gishlick, 32, a paleontology
Ph.D. "There's just no reason to look at these patterns of layered sediment,
or in the fossil record, or at the stars, and think that what you're seeing
isn't what you're seeing. God doesn't require you to be stupid, to deny
what you see, to deny what you know." '
' She said she asked God whether her role as an evolution advocate was
meant to be her mission. "I say, 'God, if this is wrong, if I'm wrong,
please strike me with lightning, because I don't want to be walking down the
wrong path.' " '
Ah there's her proof.
' "I don't really care how they reconcile Noah's flood with scientific
things - it's about religion," protested Mary Murray, 54, an artist from
Laguna Beach, Calif., who came with her biology-professor husband. "We
shouldn't be talking about religion at all in the public schools." '
The red cross of the Red Cross is neutral and not
specifically Christian because it was a reversal of the
Swiss flag. However the Christian association of any cross
cannot be ignored so I think a new "red crystal" symbol is a
worthy secular attempt.
Nice trivia on the other symbols too.
'Switzerland plans to convene a conference by the end of the
year at which the 192 countries party to the Geneva conventions
will be asked to approve the red crystal, a red square tilted on
its edge against a white background.'
So instead of a CRoss or a CRescent, you get a CRystal? How succinct and secular.
The Brights had their logo contest and didn't come up with anything nearly as good.
Would the Internationa Red Cross/Crescent rename themselves as the International Red Crescent?
I need a photo of a Red Crystal crew rescuing some poor
chump smashed into a tree that's right next to a black diamond
ski run sign.
I don't know anybody in prison but if I had a loved one in
prison or if I ended up in prison, then something like this would
provide hope. (This makes me sound like a bleeding heart, eh?)
Friends Beyond the Wall takes your prison visiting room photo,
crops you and your loved one out of it, and digitally inserts you
into one of dozens of exotic backgrounds. Instead of standing in
front of a cinder block wall, you can be seen leaning on your
Jaguar, on safari in Africa or taking a virtual honeymoon in
I usually dislike hoaxes and April Fool's Day joke because of my
loose grip on reality, but I like #4:
'The Taco Liberty Bell. In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation
announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell from the federal
government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of
outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in
Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger. Their
nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed that it was all a
practical joke a few hours later. The best line inspired by the
affair came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked
about the sale, and he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also
been sold, though to a different corporation, and would now be known
as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.'
'Alabama Changes the Value of Pi. The April 1998 issue of
the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an
article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to
change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the
'Biblical value' of 3.0. Before long the article had made its way
onto the internet, and then it rapidly made its way around the
world, forwarded by people in their email. It only became apparent
how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began
receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation.
The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative
attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by a
physicist named Mark Boslough.'
Weird. The exact same thing happened to me the last time I was at
the all-you-can-eat buffet.
'An unusual clash between a 6-foot (1.8m) alligator and a 13-foot
(3.9m) python has left two of the deadliest predators dead in Florida's
swamps. The Burmese python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole but
then exploded. The remains of the two giant reptiles were found by
astonished rangers in the Everglades National Park. '
Picks up five years after Superman II (i.e. ignores the
events of Superman III and Superman IV).
2006-06-30 release. Directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men and
X-Men 2). Warner Brothers.
Note that the Superman's usual straight red is darkened so that it's