Mysterious Free Fire Zone

Your Curmudgeon expects to be engaged in matters of galactic significance most of today. We may — or we may not — disclose the reasons later. The immediate result is that you need to entertain yourselves for a few hours, without our benevolent supervision.

Therefore, we declare this post to be an Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Talk about whatever you think is interesting — science, politics, philosophy, etc. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

43 responses to “Mysterious Free Fire Zone

  1. Verily, our Curmudgeon doth move in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform…

  2. I would like to declare here: The Megalonyx Creative Challenge – # 1, which is to complete the following sentence in 25 words or fewer:

    The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is__________________

  3. I would like to declare here: The Megalonyx Creative Challenge – # 1, which is to complete the following sentence in 25 words or fewer: The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is__________________
    Trying to figure out what is making the Republican crop of candidates devolve into a babbling, mass of fearful, gray goo for brains idiots, during this election cycle.
    My apologies as that is 27 words but I couldn’t think of any way to be more concise. I think this is an important question as the election seems to be running more and more on fear of …… what? The future? To paraphrase FDR the only thing I’m afraid of is other people’s fear. And there’s more than enough of that to go around especially in high places within the government among individuals who aren’t smart enough to understand what it is they are afraid of in the first d—-d place.
    Oh well, enough. This is making me depressed because it will probably take a Galactic Tribunal, ala., “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” to straighten our dumb butts out. Good luck Curmy, you’re going to need it. :-))

  4. As the rules of a MCC clearly state (as I am making them up extemporaneously with the same carefree alacrity of a Creationist making up ‘quotes’, ‘facts’, and ‘Laws of Nature’), I am permitted to enter my own competition.

    The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is

    [a] chaining himself to the doors of the WordPress Offices as a protest against the impostion of Beep-Beep-Boop

    [b] buying a Mother’s Day gift–for Ann Gauger

    [c] returning to his ancestral home on the 7th planet, to spawn

  5. anevilmeme

    I wonder when the majority of republicans will stop allowing the fundie republicans to pick the parties candidates?

  6. The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is__________________

    I would hope for something like “taking himself and his trusted pets for a long walk in the first really good weather we’ve had this spring”. The very act rings of galactic importance to my set of priorities

  7. I have returned. Mission accomplished! Details in a later post.

  8. Our Curmudgeon, channeling George W. Bush on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, proclaims:

    Mission accomplished!

    As previously noted, this most likely means there is a clutch of embryonic Curmudgeonlings now growing in some hapless womb and preparing to hatch somewhere on the 7th planet.

    Be afraid.

    Be very afraid…

  9. Can we make jokes about Uranus or would that be considered Uranal retentive?

  10. “The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is”
    a. picking out a red Alfa Romeo 4C, the pinnacle of automotive engineering
    b.determining finally, why are there still bananas
    c.sending more crayons and silly putty to Casey for his research
    d.writing a treatise on the giant Pleistocene ground sloth
    e.buying a Mother’s Day bouquet for Mom
    f.none of the above
    g. all of the above

  11. The Mission of Galactic Significance on which our Curmudgeon is currently engaged is: Emerging from the C.I.T.A.D.E.L. just long enough to get married. Olivia finally said “Oh, okay. If you insist.”

  12. Actually, what Olivia said was “YES!” “Yes.” “Yeah, whatever…”

  13. Pope Retiredsciguy reports

    Emerging from the C.I.T.A.D.E.L. just long enough to get married. Olivia finally said “Oh, okay. If you insist.”

    …And the second time our Curmudgeon pulled the string in her back, she declared, “Math is hard!”

  14. A serious question for readers, especially teachers: I am planning a book aimed at the 60% of American biology teachers who accept the fact of evoluton but din’t teach it because they are scared of the questions they’ll get from creationism-indoctrinated kids. What should be in it and how should I go about it?

  15. @Paul Braterman
    I think that a great many of people, including those who have no problem with accepting evolutionary biology, think that evolution is only about what happened long ago and that the only evidence is fossils.

  16. Ty. Evolution now! as a chapter heading!

  17. Paul Braterman, that’s a much needed book, and you’ll get a wide range of suggestions. Here’s mine: It begins with a knowledgeable and committed teacher who is determined to teach evolution. Alas, that eliminates a lot of them.

    Evolution should be in the curriculum (it’s nice to have the backing of the state), and there should be a clear commitment of support from the local school administration. It should be put in writing, so the principal can’t wiggle out later when parents start complaining and it’s convenient to throw the teacher under the bus.

    Also, the teacher should be forthright with the class. On day one, tell the students what’s in the course — including evolution — and that they’ll need to learn it in order to get a passing grade. Then teach.

  18. Indeed, and thanks. Too often, evolution is in the back of the book and they don’t get around to it. A bit like teaching chemistry, with atoms at the back of the book.

    In creationist areas, should the teacher perhaps also say “You don’t have to believe it. You do, however, have to show that you understand it, and what the evidence is that that scientists find so totally convincing”? then the standard reply to “But the Bible …” would be “It’s not my job to discuss the Bible. It’s my job to teach you, and to help you learn, science.”

  19. Paul Braterman:
    i“It’s not my job to discuss the Bible. It’s my job to teach you, and to help you learn, science.”

    I can make no better suggestion. Your entire last paragraph concerning creationist regions is right on the money.

    Perhaps your textbook should amplify the fact that evolution is NOT about the origin of life, but simply about how life is diversifying and appears to have diversified in the past, and that the mechanism of this evolution is best explained by natural selection. This approach would seem to deflect the main (false) religious criticisms of evolution without bringing religion into the discussion at all.

  20. @Paul Braterman: I taught jr. high Earth Science (7th grade) for 27 years in a semi-creationist area, and had no major problems. I hope Holding the Line in Florida sees your plea. I’m sure he (or she) will have some helpful insights.

  21. Holding The Line In Florida

    Paul, being a 7th Grade Science Teacher and considered to be the Anti Christ by several of our local churches, I start with evolution on day one. In Florida we have an integrated science at our level. Part of that is called “the Nature of Science”. It explains how our understanding of existence changes with new discoveries, methods, technologies etc. I always use evolution as one example. I never apologize, or make excuses. I just present it as reality based information. I never say that religion is stupid, or that creation myths are just that, I bring as many different versions of the myth when the opportunity presents itself. I bring a reality into each of the subject area that any “critical thinking” individual can see or in their case begin to question the indoctrination they get from religious sources. Energy: the speed of light and how far distant galaxies and stars are, a bit more than 6000 years! The law is conservation of matter/energy: everything that was is now, everything that will ever be is now. On Oct 23 I celebrate the birthday of the earth explaining how Ussher was actually brilliant and did great research, but just didn’t have all the information that we have and came to an understandably incorrect conclusion. Then I explain the story of how we got to our present understanding. That covers our first 9 weeks. The second covers plate tectonics and the history of the earth. Naturally that goes against the indoctrination because no where is Noah mentioned! But by bringing forth the story of how we got to our understanding, it helps them get ready for the 3d 9 weeks and the dreaded E word. But since our text book is all messed up in my opinion as to the order of material, I start with DNA, then go to genetics and THEN go to Evilution! That way the basis of life can be more easily understood. The year ends, thankfully because I sure need a vacation!, with the interaction between all forms of life and the environment. This reinforces the mechanisms for natural selection covered the previous 9 weeks.
    When confronted by God Bots, I simply smile and say “that’s ok evolution believes in you! The test is tomorrow!” If still pressed, since our county has a religious neutrally policy, I say what about Islam, Buddhism, Wicca, Shinto, nativists, Zues, Wotan and my own religion, Buffettism.
    When I die I am going to Margaritaville, End result. Treat evolution exactly as it is. Reality. Constantly talk about it. Show it isn’t “just another theory”. Bring the latest discoveries in all branches of knowledge everyday. Let them see science in operation. The website Science Daily is truly that for me. I like to bring at least one new thing a day. It also models for them a way truly curious and interesting people should be. Anyway that is my take on it.

  22. Holding The Line In Florida

    Retired Sci Guy. You wish is my (his) command!

  23. Holding The Line In Florida says:

    When confronted by God Bots, I simply smile and say “that’s ok evolution believes in you! The test is tomorrow!”

    A wee bit insensitive. I would say that there are lots of things we routinely teach that aren’t in the bible — the shape of the Earth, the solar system, bacteria, the germ theory of disease, etc. Yet no one ever complains. There are other things too — democracy is a good example. And how about the American Revolution? Revolution against one’s sovereign is never a good thing in the bible — Satan rebelled, Adam & Eve were disobedient, so were the residents of Babel, etc. Yet we proudly teach about our Revolution. The bible is fine, but it doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.

  24. I wonder whether it would be helpful to point out how science has so much useful and important to say about things that we cannot directly observe. Where science really comes into its own is when we were not there, where we never will not be nor cannot be, because it is too far, too dangerous, too small or too big, too fast or too slow, or because it is invisible.

  25. @HTLIF: Just got back from taking my wife & our daughter out for Mother’s Day brunch, or I would have responded sooner.

    I like the way you state the science without hesitation concerning potential religious conflicts. When I was teaching, I was seldom confronted by Godbots, but occasionally I was asked by a student, “Mr. (RSG), do you believe in God?”

    I would answer yes — but I didn’t tell the student that my definition of “God” was most likely quite different from hers. (Invariably, this question would come from a girl. The guys never pressed the issue.) Thus, I avoided lengthy religious discussions taking up valuable science class time. Besides, it would put the idea in their heads that they don’t need to abandon religion in order to accept science.

    I suppose I was lucky in that most of my teaching career was before Intelligent Design became an issue, and before the evangelicals got really wound up on the whole issue.

    One thing I did do was show all 13 episodes of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth series. I don’t think anything does a better job of communicating evolution.

  26. Holding The Line In Florida

    @retiredsciguy. When asked I give my Buffettist response. That usually gets a laugh and that is the end. I do have a few that are really hardcore. They say things, “I hear you are an atheist!” Wonder where that came from! We have a really large and influential Mega Church wanna be here. Pure literalists. Went one time when the ex girl friend was looking a church. You would have thought Satan himself walked in! The Right Reverand looked me straight in the eye from the pulpit and announced that here Gawd’s Word was the literal word for word truth and was all there was to it! There was much nodding in agreement and whispers and fingers pointing in my direction. Hell, I taught the Rev’s kid! That was interesting. I digress however, I respond that it makes no difference in what I believe. This is science and here we go on empirical data. As an old retired infantry sergeant, I sometimes lose patience with the little darlings! I mean with after three weeks of evolution, and I really go step by step following Darwin on his journey to his masterwork, they say “I still don’t believe.” Hence my “that’s ok evolution believes in you.” statement. They can’t even grasp theistic evolution. That series you mentioned is great. Just don’t have the 13 hours to show it. I use “What Darwin Didn’t Know”. It is only two hours and really hits some good stuff to compliment my earlier genetic studies. @SC. Oh I cover all those things in the context of like the Germ Theory for example, “Once upon a time the best minds thought disease was caused by bad air! Silly humans! Now with modern technology we know better, but there are still people out there who don’t believe evidence!” We explore why the Loch Ness Monster isn’t real. Why UFOs aren’t real. I show them the flat earth websites, the hollow earth websites. The tin foil beanies. All without saying your religion is just another fairy tale too. I let the “critical thinking” sink in. As to Social Studies, well I have had a few conversations with our government teachers. They have been interesting when it comes to foundation of our Founding Father’s views on the origins of our system Does the name Barton sound familiar? Welcome to the Ark of FL. I am pretty much secure in my job however. Most kids like me, most parents like me, most of my fellow teachers like me. I outlast all my principals, I was one of the last to get tenure, and the state of Florida makes damn near impossible to fire veterans! So I generally feel little pressure to conform to the very vocal minority. The worst that happens is that the kids switch to the other class, but there is little relief there. My partner is a confirmed Darwinist too! We are a pocket of sanity in a strange world. My fellow science teachers in the other grades are very happy to leave Evolution to us. It is a 7th grade topic!

  27. “On Oct 23 I celebrate the birthday of the earth explaining how Ussher was actually brilliant and did great research, but just didn’t have all the information that we have and came to an under-standably incorrect conclusion. Then I explain the story of how we got to our present under-standing.”

    Brilliant! If our second biggest mistake is to mix up evolution and atheism (our enemies LOVE that!), our biggest is to present creationists as fools. Darwin (see autobiography) rejected hell-fire for unbelievers because that would damn (in the original and strongest sense) so many he loved and admired; if we present science in a way that intellectually damns so many that our students love and admire, they can hardly be blamed for rejecting us.

  28. One thing I would disagree with here: you call yourself a Darwinist. You’re not, any more than your chemistry colleague is a Daltonist. And yes, Darwin’s notion of inheritance was as deeply flawed as Dalton’s assumption that water was HO and that Avogadro’s hypothesis couldn’t possibly be true.

  29. Holding The Line In Florida

    Oh Paul that is just a phrase (Darwinist) that I used because that is what those opposed to reality based education would call us.

  30. Fair enough. But I think we need a better one. Suggestions, anyone?

    “Evolutionist” sounds as if non-evolution is is a tenable position. And of course our enemies are obsessed with Darwin, as a way of ignoring everything that has been learnt since: see https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/the-creationist-obsession-with-darwin-from-louisiana-to-meyer-to-glasgow/

  31. docbill1351

    Darwinist, ha!

    I am Spartacus!

    (South Kensington to Green Park)

  32. Holding The Line In Florida

    No I am Spartacus!

  33. @Paul Braterman: How about “scientist”?

  34. That might work. In writing, one would need a footnote, “With a very few odd exceptions”, since Behe and Denton and even Anne gauger are scientists, albeit very bad ones. (Though of course most of the DI crowd are not; Fuller is a sociologist, Meyer a philosopher with undergraduate courses in geology, Dembski and mathematician, and the UK’s own Andy McIntosh a fuel engineer)

  35. To get back to my original comment: how best can I set about finding out what my proposed audience of evolution-accepting but underinformed teachers most need, how do I get their attention, should I seek a publisher or self-publish, and any further suggestions about specific content?

  36. Paul Braterman asks: “should I seek a publisher or self-publish”

    I’ve always considered vanity-published books as being those no actual publisher would touch. Rather than going that route, I’d prefer to hand out computer-printed essays stapled in the corner. Try talking to your university’s press, if they have one. If not, get an agent — one who has experience with education books.

  37. @Paul Braterman:
    I don’t like to characterize the people, rather than the ideas. I don’t care who comes up with an idea. A Newton can come up with a worthless idea. The creationists like to tout the number of scientists who doubt Darwin, but that is pointless if they do not have any product. What point is there in discussing whether someone who has achieved tenure at a reputable institution is a good scientist?

  38. I totally agree, but I’m trying to solve a much narrower problem; what name should we give to those who accept the scientific account of evolution and an old Earth? I have said why I don’t like “Darwinist”, “Darwinian”, or “evolutionist”. Since Behe is (as Fred Hoyle was) a scientist who rejects the scientific account of evolution (and Hoyle was actually a very good one), then if, as HTLIF suggests, I simply say “scientist”, I need to admit that there are exceptions.

  39. @ docbill1351: Hah, you will regret that move when you see mine:

    Mornington Crescent!

  40. Paul Braterman notes

    if, as HTLIF suggests, I simply say “scientist”, I need to admit that there are exceptions.

    I understand the problem here, and commend you for endeavouring to find an accurate yet courteous solution, but I genuinely don’t think it would be inappropriate to simply refer, where necessary, to “serious scientists.”

    And it wouldn’t be technically wrong to distinguish the genuine article as “honest scientists”, but that really would cast too pejorative a slur over the alternatives.

  41. Addendum to previous, @ Paul Braterman:

    Or maybe, in the introductory pages of your book, you simply need to include a qualifying paragraph stating something along the lines of

    Science is driven by our curiosity and thrives on our willingness to raise fresh questions, our courage to challenge consensus, and our determination to understand our world. And science provides the proven tools and empirical methodology for precisely this endeavour—the continuous expansion of the breadth and depth of our knowledge—with unrivalled success.

    Of course, there are other ways to consider nature. We may speculate about its remaining mysteries, or even hope that nature can be described in some particular way consistent with some particular set of our desires—but such endeavours, poetic or philosophical though they may be, are simply not part of the scientific endeavour that gives us knowledge. In this book, a ‘scientist’ means a practitioner of the scientific method, someone who accepts empirical evidence over unevidenced speculation

    – or whatever you need to say about what you mean here, so you are thereafter free to use the term ‘scientist’ to mean the real deal.

  42. Paul Braterman: “…if, as HTLIF suggests, I simply say “scientist”, I need to admit that there are exceptions.”

    Don’t blame it on HTLIF. Blame it on me.

    It was just an offhand remark. I don’t like “evolutionist” either; sounds too “Ken Ham-ish”. There really isn’t any good shorthand tag to identify “one who fully accepts evolution”.

    Paul, I was looking for an email address on your blogsite to extend the conversation, but didn’t find one. This particular thread on our Curmudgeon’s site is getting buried deeper and deeper into past history.

  43. There now, at start of “About me”

    psbratermanATyahooDOTcom or paulDOTbratermanATglasgowDOTacDOTuk