In Sanity We Trust
Above: The rare "Inverted Jenny" block of four.
A rare 1918 "Inverted Jenny" stamp may have been unwittingly used in a Florida postal ballot, though the envelope is now in a sealed box which can't be legally opened for 22 months. The vote cast was invalid because the ballot did not disclose the identity of the voter.
BBC: - Rare stamp 'used on US post vote'
Glassine Surfer - The Inverted Jenny
You are an idiot!
Do not click the above link!
The decision to give credit for "text-speak" answers in New Zealand high school exams has caused division both in and out of the classroom. New Zealand's United Future Party released the following statement:
"Untd Futr is cncernd bout da xeptnce of txt spk 2 b allwd in ritn xams 4 NCEA. "Skoolz r ther 2 educ8 + raze litracy 2 certn standrds. NCEA shudnt let da standrd b decidd by informl pop cultr of da time."
- United Future Party lawmaker Judy Turner
Tailrank - New Zealand students may "text-speak" in exams
16 Nov 2006
A few years ago in America, the school system decided to establish Ebonics schools, in which all curriculum and classes would be taught in Ebonics. It was said that since the students were speaking in Ebonics it would make learning easier. There are still some proponents of Ebonics, but most people came around. Popular language is a sign of the culture, but how much of the culture should we allow to affect the language in the long term? I personally think that the American language has been bastardized enough. Let us take it back fifty years; back to when words meant more than just a way to communicate.
- Becky, Zhengzhou, Henan, China
Scientists and philosophers have been hampered and harassed through the ages by those who feared their contrary ideas would harm the hegemony of the establishment. In 1633 Galileo found himself before the Roman Inquisition after the publication of his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in which he favoured the Copernican model of the sun at the center of our solar system rather than a stationary Earth. The editors of the great French Encyclopedie faced ridicule, imprisonment and exile until the work was formally banned in 1759 possibly fueling the French Revolution. Darwin's theory of Evolution has been the bane of creationists who still push for their beliefs to be taught in biology classrooms.
The above stickers were placed in Cobb County high school biology textbooks after more than 2000 parents complained about the theory of evolution being taught as fact. They were in turn ordered to be removed by a federal judge as an "unconstitutional endorsement of religion".
MSNBC - Judge nixes evolution textbook stickers
Trials for heresy, witch burnings and exorcisms thankfully appear to be on the wane though clearly the church and other religious institutions continue to have influence on the pursuit of knowledge in the modern era.
A secular education system is demonstrably more conducive to the dissemination of knowledge and ideas. Proponents of so called "intelligent design" theories however persist with demands that their beliefs are equally represented along with evolution. This of course brings into question which particular intelligent design theories should be taught in an environment of equal opportunity. Following the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to require the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to biological evolution, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) published an open letter requesting that Pastafarianism also be taught.
Pastafarians claim that the universe was created by a supreme deity closely resembling spaghetti and meatballs. Clearly FSM is a parody along the lines of "Russel's Teapot" aimed at making a reductio ad absurdum argument against the teaching of non scientific models of creation.
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.
- Bertrand Russell
Is there a God?" - Bertrand Russell
Intelligent Design - The Skeptic's Dictionary
Teapot Athiests - Richard Dawkins video on YouTube
The God Delusion - Interview with Richard Dawkins
Invisible Pink Unicorn
Talk Origins Archive - Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy
The Evolution Controversy
The Trial of Galileo
Encyclopedie - BBC "In Our Time" podcast series.
God vs. science: Can religion stand up to the test? - Time Magazine
Intelligent Design vs. Darwinian Evolution - DeepScience.com
At the time of writing the winged messenger is still a planet and is set to peform a cosmic ballet later on this day. The transit can be oserved in it's entirety in parts of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and the West Coast of North America. East Asia will be able to view the transit at surise and South America at sunset. If you live in Europe or Africa you are shit out of luck.
Finally the jury has come in on Neil Armstrong's famous quote from the lunar surface. It appears that Neil did in fact utter "One small step for a man" The missing partical has been found by an Australian researcher One small step for clarity
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
5/11/2006 Guy Fawkes Day
Some recall Guy Fawkes as the only man ever to enter the British parliament with honest intentions.