Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The reason for the season...

Holiday card idea...

Thanks to Phil.

Monday, December 3, 2007

iPod Touch

I've been playing with an iPod Touch for a while now and thought I'd touch on a few points... First, the touch interface is nice and very usable. I've adjusted to the keyboard and can type almost as fast on it as I can on a regular keyboard (a couple words a minute). I've used it for days without charging it and the battery has only got down to about 20%. I have a lot of stuff on it and I only have about half of the 16GB full. The iPod Touch is similar to the iPhone, except it doesn't have the phone part, or the camera.

I have a few little issues. I know you can't always get what you want, but you can try sometimes.
  1. I had to Jailbreak it to allow 3rd party apps to be installed. The stock iPod Touch came with only a couple applications.

  2. The alarm on Apple's clock program doesn't have the ability to play a playlist as the alarm. I think the original iPods would do this. It will only play a couple built in sounds for the alarm. I would like to be able to hook it up to my stereo and have a playlist start playing in the morning to wake me up.

  3. The built in speaker is not loud enough for me to hear when the iPod is in my pocket, making the calendar alerts pretty useless.

  4. The Calculator program will not do trig or other functions you would find on a scientific calculator. With the power the iPod Touch has it should be able to emulate an HP-48. Until then I'll have to kept carrying around my slide rule.

  5. It would nice to have the option of reducing YouTube and other videos size when going out to a TV. I have the cable that allows me to it up to a TV, but the people tend to make YouTube/Internet videos that have titles all the way to the edge. In the settings, under Video, under TV out, in addition to the type of TV signal it would be nice to see something like reduce video: 5%, 10%.

  6. A flash plugin will be needed eventually.

  7. When tapping on an address in Contacts, it would be nice if it sent the address to Safari and opened the GoogleMap page with it.

  8. Someone has to figure out how to get NetHack to play in the vt100 terminal app that someone made.

  9. It's missing a good screensaver that shows a big clock, any countdown timers or pending alarms, and current song playing.

  10. When playing music to a TV it would be nice to see the track info and album art on the screen.

  11. I've thought of a few others, but then forgot them...

    I remember the other one...

  12. The text in the music playlists is way to big. This is especially a problem in podcasts or audio books. For example I have a bunch of Sherlock Holmes old time radio shows. In the playlist they show up as "[DATE] - Sherlock Holmes:..." It truncates the name. I can't tell which episode I listened to last, because the name is missing, (the Red-Headed League, the Hound of the Baskervilles, the Adventure of the Speckled Band, etc). The text is also shortened when you start playing. In iTunes, longer song names will scroll. On the iPodTouch there is no way to see long song names. It would be nice to either adjust the text size in the preferences, or be able to scroll a truncated name (perhaps by swiping a finger to the left).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cat waking me up in the morning

GrrlScientist has a video that illustrates how Cat gets me up in the morning...

Credit goes to Lynette the Zoo Keeper for sending the vid to me first.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Is it Christmas yet?

A useful blog has appeared that will let you know if it is Christmas yet... Or you can just subscribe to the rss feed. If only retailers would check the Is It Christmas? site before putting up all their decorations.

Other similarly useful sites would be, and the Abe Vigoda Status page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Free Rice

I just donated 250 grains of rice to the UN... They give you a word and you click on the matching word. They donate 10 grains of rice for each correct word. You can go up to vocabulary level 50, I stopped at 46 or 47. I'll go back and try again later.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Want a cheap laptop for a kid and want to have one sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation? One Laptop One Child has a deal where you buy a laptop for $399 and they will send one to a child in a developing nation. This was originally known as the One Hundred Dollar Laptop Initiative. It has a 7.5" screen and a bright green case, so it's not designed to appeal to adults. It might be useful as an ebook reader, or (because it's very rugged and has very long battery life) it might be something you can take on a camping trip so you can type your journal.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

2007 Nobel Conference

I'm at the the 43rd Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolpus College. The topic this year is "Heating Up: The Energy Debate". We have heard about peek oil, bio-fuels, and global warming from scientists. Now we are about to hear from an economist. Tonight Will Steger will speak during the banquet (which is sold out, but I JUST managed to get a ticket to). There are 6,500 people here (not including the Gustavus students).

The message everyone is saying..."There are things we can isn't going to bankrupt your representative today!"

Next years topic...."Who Were the First Humans?"...

"Who were the first humans? Where did they come from? How did they live? These questions have traditionally been the domain of paleontologists and anthropologists studying fossils and pottery shards, More recently, molecular biologists, population geneticists, evolutionary biologists, evolutionary psychologists, paleoclimatologists, and even cognitive archeologists have added their unique scientific views to these questions as well." (first paragraph of the description of next years topic).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Free stuff from the Minnesota Orchestra

Now that I'm going to have to spend the next hour listening to Holst's The Planets, thanks to Bjorn...I thought I'd look up the FREE Minnesota Orchestra concerts coming up...
- On October 6th there is a 2007-2008 Season Preview Concert
COPLAND-"Buckaroo Holiday" from Rodeo
GRIEG-Two Elegiac Melodies
BRAHMS-Symphony No. 2 - Mvt. IV
BACH/Ormandy-Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
MOZART-Symphony No. 41, Jupiter - Mvt. IV
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV-Scheherazade - Mvt. III
BRITTEN-The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Finale

- October 28th - Target Free Family Concert: Folk Music in the Concert Hall
- December 9th - Target Free Family Concert: Sleigh Ride
The Target Free Family Concerts require entering a drawing for tickets
Other non-free, but interesting sounding programs...
- Feb. 1st and 2nd Leonard Nimoy is narrating a Sci-Fi/Space themed program.
- On Darwin Day 2008 they are doing Stephen Paulus' "To Be Certain of the Dawn".

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I'm never going to forgive her for this... I'm listening to Last Night of the Proms in the car and get home just as the Fantasia on British Sea Songs starts. I run in and put the headphones on my little radio so I can listen to it in glorious hi-fi stereo... It doesn't sound quite right, a little muffled and crackly and getting's a shortwave/am/fm/etc radio so it has a switch to optimize it for voice or music, but it was in the right position...then half way through Rule, Britannia I notice that someone has been chewing through the cord on my $50 headphones!!! This is coming out of her allowance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Help me win an iPod...

Help me win an iPod by NOT linking to the truth.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jailhouse Rockers

When they come up with a reality program about dancing inmates...the Philippines are way ahead of us. We better get our prisons working to close the prison choreography gap so we can compete.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Remember the movie Idiocracy?

In Idiocracy an average man in an Army experiment is supposed to be kept in hibernation for 1 year, but they mess up and he sleeps for 500 years. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

This is how it starts
Via the DefCon blog comes that news that Texas governor Rick Perry has appointed a creationist to head the Texas State Board of Education.

I’ll give you a moment to clean off your screen. Yes, you read that right.

At first I thought, "No, not even a politician in Texas could possibly do something that dumb, that contrary to reality, that horrifying to their kids. DefCon Blog must have gotten it wrong!" ... continues at BadAstronomy
When the dumbing down is coming from the people expected to educate us...we are doomed.

[Cat wants to make sure you know about the cat picture at the bottom of the BadAstronomy post I linked to]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brownback's idea of religious liberty

On presidential candidate Sen. Brownback's MySpace page, there is a page for "Brownback - On the Issues". Under the "Religious Liberty" section Brownback says...
"... The First Amendment protects the freedom to practice the religion of one's choice. That freedom is under attack by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who profit financially from lawsuits brought against cities and towns that display religious symbols. ...."
I'm confused. Is religious liberty something individuals have, or something the government has?
"... I introduced the Public Expression of Religion Act last year to prevent groups like the ACLU from collecting attorneys' fees in religious freedom cases. Our country was founded on the idea that its citizens should be free to express their religious beliefs without government interference. ..."
So we have the freedom to express our beliefs without government interference, but the government should be immune from paying my costs to defend my rights when it does interfere?
"... I will continue the fight to protect that freedom."
Please don't.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Free Movies in the Twin Cities

2010 Free Movies in the Twin Cities can be found here Below is a post from 2007.

There are a few FREE MOVIES in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota this summer. You know you want to go see The Killer Shrews while sitting in the courtyard at the Bell...
11 - O Brother, Where Art Thou? - S
12 - My Big Fat Greek Wedding - D
13 - The Thin Man - F
16 - All That Heaven Allows - W
18 - Goonies - S
19 - Akeelah and the Bee - D
20 - Casino Royale - F
23 - There’s Always Tomorrow - W
25 - Ghostbusters - S
26 - Father of the Bride - D
27 - Much Ado About Nothing - F
30 - The Tarnished Angels - W
1 - On the Waterfront - S
2 - Sabrina - D
6 - Written on the Wind - W
9 - A Cinderella Story - D
13 - Imitation of Life - W
16 - Attack of the Giant Leeches - B
20 - Magnificent Obsession - W
23 - The Killer Shrews - B
30 - The Wasp Woman - B

6 - The Giant Gila Monster - B

W = Walker Summer Music & Movies - Mondays
The Walker’s beloved summer favorite returns for its 31st season of sizzling music and classic films under the stars. The movie theme this year is "films directed by Douglas Sirk". The lush 1950s Hollywood films of director Douglas Sirk document the public’s growing discontent with the social conventions of the time. He was drawn to stories in which the characters struggle to claim their right to live as they’d like, often flying in the face of disapproving, nosy neighbors, friends, and family. Sirk illustrated the strength it takes to rise above the harpies who blindly enforce society’s empty morality.

S = Stevens Square Community Organization Cinema and Civics - Wednesdays
Cinema and Civics (formerly Music and Movies) is a summer film series sponsored by Stevens Square Community Organization, curated by Stevens Square Center for the Arts, and held in Stevens Square Park. This year's series is entitled "Come Together!" The theme centers around the idea that any group of people, either large or small, can change the world (or, at least, their little part of it.) We wanted to go back-if only for an evening-to a simpler time-a time when a group of people could gather together and just be...happy. At least for a little while...

D = Music & Movies in District del Sol - Thursdays
Now in its fifth year, “Music & Movies in District del Sol” returns to Saint Paul’s West Side every Thursday for 8 weeks this summer. Held in Castillo Park on St. Paul’s West Side, this free series will feature a variety of live, local bands and well-known films. This year the event includes activities during the musical performances. The activities start at 7:00 pm, music starts at 7:30 pm, all followed by a film starting at dusk.

B = Bell Museum Summer Sci-Fi Series - Thursdays
In a special summer edition of Science on Screen, the Bell Museum and Take-Up Productions will present animal-themed sci-fi films on an outdoor screen in the Bell Museum courtyard. Come early to see live animals and learn about the real behaviors and biology of the featured creatures. In the event of rain, films will be moved indoors to the Bell Museum auditorium and will begin at 8:30 p.m.

F = Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library - Fridays
Watch six weeks of films, all based on books, comics or plays, in the Kellogg Boulevard Courtyard of Central Library, 90 W. 4th Street, Saint Paul.

Did I miss any...I'd hate to miss out on a free deal?!

What kind of wives can be beaten?

I was doing some Google Video hunting and came across an interesting video....

Types of wifes that can be beaten, according to the Koran

"...and because when you purchase an electric appliance or a car you get a manual...explaining how to use it. The Creator of Man had sent down this book (the Koran) in order to show Man which ways he must choose". Apparently we in the West are still in our "days of ignorance" and can't acknowledge the "wondrous verses" that explain when we can beat our wives.

And then by clicking on the related videos area I found this one...

Cat Stevens signing "Hard Headed Women"

Cat Stevens has gone by the name Yusuf Islam after he converted to Islam in 1977, which explains why it was only a couple related videos away from the other one.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

This weeks science lesson - Physics

The 1964 Messenger Lectures
"The Character of Physical Law"
Richard Feynman

I was just made aware of these newly available Feynman lectures by Blake at Science After Sunclipse. I thought it would be nice to put them together in one place and in order...
Lecture 1 - The law of gravitation, an example of physical law
Lecture 2 - The Relation of Mathematics & Physics
Lecture 3 - The Great Conservation Principles
Lecture 4 - Symmetry in Physical Law
Lecture 5 - The Distinction of Past and Future
Lecture 6 - Probably and Uncertainty - the quantum mechanical view of nature
Lecture 7 - Seeking New Laws

Friday, June 22, 2007

Silly kitty...

...I would think that would be a little uncomfortable after a while.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Needs caption

Cat has been lazy lately, what would make a good caption for this one....

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hope you have magnum conexus

Sometimes when I get board with the stuff in my iTunes library...

...I look around YouTube for music. I find all kinds of interesting stuff like this, or this, or this or even THIS (need to learn your elements?).

Then I came across a few versions of O Magnum Mysterium. It's one of those pieces that choruses bring out when they think they can do it really well, especially the Lauridsen arrangement. The UST Alumni Singers from the Philippines do a great job, and they only have 16 people...

On the other hand...

Usually when someone posts a performance of themselves on YouTube, the comments are supportive. Maybe it's because this group isn't the typical amateur, and it doesn't help that the purists like to see this song done right. Check out the savagery of the comments! It's not clear who the group is, but they look like they are in Kings Hall at Newcastle University in NE England.

It is a bad performance, but why would I waste my time coming up with a response...especially when there is good stuff like this to keep me busy.

It's also done as an orchestral piece (hay, their middle schoolers...). The quality of all these versions are limited by the fact that they are on YouTube. For some good versions check your library for Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna, Los Angeles Master Chorale or O Magnum Mysterium, Robert Shaw

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Every Day Systems

This guy is making too much sense. A simple diet, without having to buy lots of diet stuff...a simple exercise routine, without having to buy fancy, expensive equipment or join an expensive gym....they are going to have to shut this guy down! You better read it while you can.

Monday, June 4, 2007

More on chaplains already...

A couple of months ago I brought up the hypothetical situation of a state department employing a chaplain, like the Legislature does. Just today I found out about the case in Indiana where the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has been employing a chaplain for the last year, for $60,000. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed the case in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of four Indianapolis resident (only 4!).

This is exactly the thing I was worried about with the trickle-down justification of mixing religion and government. The Congress does it, so state Legislatures feel they can do it, so city governments feel they can do it, and so on... One of the justifications for the program by a FSSA spokesperson was “The U.S. Congress has had them forever.”

The only response from FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob – who is named in the suit – was, “Sometimes you know you’re right by who opposes you.” That's the best justification he can come up with for why the program is legal...this case should be easy. I've been asking since Easter for a good justification for chaplains in the legislature other than 'historical tradition', and I still haven't heard anything.

I hope that this works its way up to the Supreme Court and a ruling is made about all chaplain programs in positions other then the military, prisons, etc (which I mentioned where in a different category).

Friday, June 1, 2007

Chaplains in Minnesota - Part 2

I see that a few people are checking out the post from the "Blog Against Theocracy" about chaplains... There are a few things to correct from it.

Dan Hall is no longer the chaplain of the Minnesota State Senate. The current chaplain, (according to a January '07 Star Tribune Article) is Rev. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. McDonough is also chief operating officer of the archdiocese and considered second only to Archbishop Harry Flynn. McDonough has been a frequent advocate for the church at the State Capitol.

The comment was made to the previous entry that Dan Hall received no tax money for being chaplain of the Senate, but is funded through donations. Maybe you are thinking of his role as president of Midwest Chaplains, which is a 501(c)(3). In it's 2005 tax filling (publicly available on the internet), Midwest Chaplains reported a revenue of $76,906 and it's one paid employee (Dan Hall) made $62,500. I assume he doesn't make as much, if anything, as the leader of the Bachmann Prayer Team, or any of his other ventures. His pay with Midwest Chaplains isn't an issue, I'm not donating any money to him. He can give himself a million dollars if that's what people want to give him.

The House chaplain gets $2000 per year, and $35 per prayer (visiting chaplains receive $35). I'm looking into how the Senate pays it's chaplains, but I'm sure it's a similar honorarium. The Senate chaplain makes $25 per prayer plus milage if requested. The fact that it is very hard to find out anything about the office of chaplain is disconcerting in itself. What's the job description?

Even if the position of chaplain was volunteer and there was no money used to support it whatsoever, there are still issues with government appearing to endorse one religion (Christianity, in this case).

One of the issues I had with the position of chaplain in the Legislature is that the chaplain is proselytizing to state employees (the members of the legislature); by way of the prayers at the beginning of the sessions and, as Dan Hall admits, in their offices. The current Chaplain has also expressed his interest in proselytizing to legislators. In January, McDonough told the Star Tribune...
Q: Any plans to do lobbying on the side?
A: No, this role is not related to my official role with the archdiocese. I'll only be trying to lobby the senators into heaven.
That clearly shows his intent to proselytize on the job...and this article in Politics in Minnesota [I see this link is now behind a paywall - 11/5/13] mentions the lobbying he appeared to do against the bill that would extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Dan Hall and Rev. Kevin McDonough may be great guys. If they feel their calling in life is to proselytize to people, fine...they can walk down any sidewalk and do a Kirk Cameron (I hope they don't forget to bring a Banana), but when they are given an official position in the government, that creates an unnecessary relationship between government and religion.

My original question still stands. As 'awesome' as you might think it is to have a 'Chaplin'[sic] at the Capitol...can you provide any legitimate reason why there should be one other than 'historical tradition'?

Update 11/5/2013: The Star Tribune has just done an article mentioning Rev. Kevin McDonough lobbying at the capitol. When will they do an article questioning the need for chaplains altogether?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Just a little closer...

....I wont hurt you...I just want to taste you...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Falwell to Obama - A weeks worth of videos

I didn't bother saying any about Jerry Falwell when “He had an attack where his heart should have been”. I would like to think that he is less and less relevant, but I'm afraid his large shadow will loom over us for a long time. At least some things aren't as bad as they were back in the '80s...

Life and Liberty for All Who Believe. 25 min 25 sec

Unfortunately, some things are worse. Joan Bokaer of Theocracy Watch outlines the subtle and stealthy ways that the remnants of the Moral Majority have attempted to turn the United States in to a theocracy with Dominion Theology and Christian Reconstructionism...

Are We Becoming a Theocracy? 41 min 4 sec

Then we have some hope. You would expect presidential candidates to refer to religion as much as possible, be seen in churches, etc... Barack Obama has been throwing around religious rhetoric all throughout his campaign, but in a June 2006 speech that has been equated to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy's Houston speech in 1960 declaring his independence from the Vatican, Sen. Obama "laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate."

Reconciling Faith and Politics. 5 mins 11 sec

Monday, May 14, 2007

Chuck Norris responds to my attempts to "Outlaw Christianity"

In a recent WorldNetDaily Exclusive Commentary article by Chuck Norris (yes that Chuck Norris) titled "How to outlaw Christianity (Step 1)", Mr. Norris seems to respond to my earlier entries about theocracy. I'm flattered. Instead of responding he actually confirmed everything I had to say about the insidious us-versus-them'ism that his form of theism advocates.

He also seemed to admit that without government endorsement of religion it would not be able to win the "war for ideological dominance"...
"For these liberal groups to win the war of ideological dominance, they know they must minimize the effects of Christianity, which many are doing (unbeknownst to others) behind the scenes through lobbying and legislation. In fact, two significant actions occurred on the National Day of Prayer just two weeks ago!

The London Telegraph[the local Pioneer Press has coverage of both events in a photo/audio piece] noted that, while American Christians were praying across the land on the National Day of Prayer, atheists were petitioning the Texas Legislature against the civic display of the words, "In God We Trust."

Eroding and erasing theistic language in culture is a growing trend. Earlier this year George Washington dollar coins were not only inscribed with the words "In God We Trust" on their edges, but many excluded them entirely! Such minting modifications are a flagrant defiance against theism and a public reflection of the place God is now relegated – to the fringes of society.
I haven't heard of any attempts to "Outlaw Christianity", and lobbying and legislation are hardly going on "behind the scenes".

One of Norris's other complaints, under the sub-title "The tyranny of the state over the church", is about the "legal disgrace" of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He believes that it is a violation of the freedom of speech to have hate crimes laws that restrict Christian leaders rights to incite people to beat up homosexuals and transvestites.

Hemant has also responded to the article.

Someone just asked me if the WND article was a parody like the Onion... nope (it's like Poe's Law in reverse).

Part's 2 and 3 are now available... where Norris 'proves' the Bible is correct by calling Dawkins, Harris and others fools.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

A card of a different color

I just saw this at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Blog. A video by his evil twin Richard Wiseman showing an interesting card carefully...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Service Cat

Cat would not make a good service cat

...todays Joy of Tech.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Haiku - Morning

The alarm rings out
"Get up and feed me", Cat says
Snooze - Cat is angry

Saturday, April 14, 2007

So caffeinated...

Yet so tired...

Don't worry...the LD50 for Mt. Dew for her weight is 7 1/2 more 24 oz. bottles.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bird Bait

The birds finally found the bird bait that I hung outside Cats perch...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #3 - Us Versus Them

I'm going to try to anticipate the response to the last post by some people who will say "your claim that using the phrase is illegal is dubious, and it's historical so its got to be okay."

I said that I thought that it was wrong for the government to print "In God We Trust" on currency, but I only went into detail about the legal issues. The psychology of "Us Versus Them" is what really concerns me. By establishing the 'we' (aka us), by default there will be a them. This is unnecessarily divisive. It served a purpose in the 1950's cold war red scare days, but even then it was just as illegal and wrong. I suppose it's no coincidence that atheists are the least trusted and least likely to get voted for minority group. There is an excuse for exclusion being promoted by the government on every piece of currency floating around.

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #2 - In God We Trust

This time we'd like to bring up the In God We Trust on the money issue. I'm not superstitious and neither is Cat, so it's not like carrying around money with a religious message scares me. But I think there is something fundamentally wrong when the government makes a law that says everyone, regardless of there belief or lack of belief must carry and use currency that has a religious message on it. I will skip over the history of the phrase showing up on money...but it was officially made the national motto in 1956. There was a lot of fear of the atheistic Soviet Union at the time and it was felt that it would be a good idea to distinguish the U.S. from the godless commies.

Although it has been challenged in a lower court, the Supreme Court has refused to rule on the constitutionality of the motto or the phrase on currency. The phrase "ceremonial deism" has been used to describe references to God and religion by the government. Deism is a belief in a supreme being, but doesn't specify's like generic religion. Recently we have seen more attempts to use the motto as a wedge to introduce the Christian concept of God as if it is recognized by government. In Indiana there are new license plates with the motto that are free while other specialty plates cost $20. There are Christian groups promoting the use of the motto in schools. There was a resolution in the U.S. House last year (it didn't pass, but it wouldn't have been law anyway) that said things like...

"Whereas the historical fact of the fundamental trust of the American people upon the God of the Bible is irrefutable;"

"Whereas Psalm 33:12 states, `Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.';"

"Resolved...That the Congress...encourages the American people to commemorate the national motto through personal acts of piety, patriotic and sacred assembly, prayer and petition on behalf of the Nation's elected and appointed leaders at the Federal, State, and local levels of government, and through a rededication of trust in God for the good and providential protection of this great Nation."

The Lemon Test is a standard that has been used by the Supreme Court to rule on First Amendment issues. It has 3 test or prongs. If any of these 3 prongs are violated, the government's action is deemed unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The three prongs are...
  1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
  2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
  3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" with religion.
There is no guarantee that future establishment clause cases at the Supreme Court will be tested against the Lemon Test, but if this one were how would it fair? This is my take...

1. The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose... The fact that the majority of Americans consider themselves religious no more justifies printing "In God We Trust" on money then suggesting that since the majority of Americans consider themselves Trekkies, Star Trek should be named the official sci-fi series of the nation.

2. The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; ... There is no question in my mind that the presence of this message has the purpose of advancing religion, and that's not even dealing with the form of that religion. When you look at it closely it's clearly referring to a monotheistic male supreme being that we are expected to trust. This rules out a lot of religions, thereby inhibiting them.

3. The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" with religion ... The fact that the government, by way of the dept. of the treasury, is directly involved in carrying out this law is entanglement. The government isn't simply allowing a violation of the First Amendment through inaction.

My question today is...can anyone think of a reasonable argument for why printing "In God We Trust" on currency doesn't violate one of the prongs of the Lemon Test? Pick one, any one.

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Blog Against Theocracy #1 - Chaplaincy

If a department of state government, the Department of Education for example, were to have a religious leader on staff (paid for by the tax payer) who gave prayers at the beginning of the work day, and considered it part of their job to proselytize to state employees and insure that their job was done according to Christian principles (as they defined them)...I think most people would say this was wrong and unconstitutional.

The state legislature on the other hand has chaplains on staff and has daily prayers, which have been very sectarian at times. The argument made for maintaining such positions is that they are 'historical tradition'.

The current chaplain of the Minnesota State Senate, Dan Hall, has said... (from Pastor leads outreach to state leaders)

"...these committed public servants have a need to understand the bigger purpose of life and to know the Lord in a deeper way.”


"We must pray that they would know God’s heart and have the courage to vote as Jesus would."

I accept that military chaplains serve a purpose of allowing for freedom of religious expression (with limits) to members of the military. Can anyone provide any good reasons (other than 'historical tradition') why taxpayers should be paying for a chaplain for a group of state employees (who happen to be working in the legislature), and not other employees?

This is part of the Blog Against Theocracy project....more pictures of Cat coming soon (I am waiting for her legal people to get the signed releases back to me).

Blog Against Theocracy Part 2 - Blog Against Theocracy Part 3

I've added a new post with a correction to this entry and more information.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sylvia Browne

The James Randi Educational Foundation (as in "The Amazing Randi" has recently changed the conditions of the "Million Dollar Challenge". That's the challenge where you can win a one-million-dollar prize if you can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. They used to accept anyone who applied. No one ever passed the preliminary tests. The new requirements are that the applicant must have a "sufficient media profile" and "some sort of academic recommendation". This has been done so that the JREF can spend more time on high-profile figures who are conning people out of a lot of money. One of the current 'targets' is Sylvia Browne who accepted the challenge 5 years ago on Larry King Live, but she has yet to submit to the testing which may only take 30-45 mins. Wouldn't she want the million dollars? Of course she can bilk more money then that out of people in no time...but if she really can do it why not prove it and donate the money to charity? Her Novus Spiritus church is asking for donations.

I put a button on the sidebar to "Stop Sylvia Browne" which has more information about her. Here are some more links...

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cats are evil?

According to an entry on PZ's blog, some people consider cats to be related to serpents, and the cause of all kinds of Biblical mischief.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cat knows the secret to happiness...

Now Barry Schwartz has figured out the secret to happiness...

TED Talks are short 20 min lectures by a variety of different people on a variety of different topics. Schwartz's talk should be compaired to this one.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Teach me...

Teach me the path to nothingness, master...

...see Bizzaro.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Where kittens come from

According to Reed, when PZ turns fifty …God Creates a Kitten. Happy Birthday PZ.

Friday, February 23, 2007

When Cats Take Over the World

Cat found this on YouTube.

It's the newest thing in feline fashion....

Cat says she needs a wig to look as cool as the other cool cats.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cat waking me up in the morning

Every morning Cat wakes me up by licking my face or pounding on the plastic on the window. It's pretty loud at that time of the morning. And there is nothing that will stop it except getting out of bed and feeding her.


Just to places where it is cold in the Winter, some of us put plastic over leaky windows and then use a hair dryer to tighen it up (and then cut the edges off). This keeps drafts down.

Cat is beating on the plastic which is stretched over the window like a drum.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Magic Cat for Sale

I have found that Cat has certain magical abilities...

1. She can conjure up food by simply licking my face in the morning while I am asleep. I have found that licking her face does not seem to have the same just ends up annoying her, and giving me a furry tongue.

2. She can hold objects down by sitting on them...otherwise they would obviously float away. She can hold down the whole bed this way.

3. Untold other magical attributes.

The bidding will start at 1 million US dollars.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How to give a cat a pill

Cat had to go see Dr. Judi the Vet recently. She needs to take a pill once a day for the next week. I found some interesting advice for how to give a cat a pill here, but this is the advise that ended up being useful.

Cat seems to be feeling better already.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cat having nightmares

Cat having nightmares of cute little girls coming at her with scissors to trim her whiskers...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

CFA says she's a British Shorthair...

The people at the Cat Fanciers' Association have an entry in their list of breeds that looks like Cat called a British Shorthair...

I don't know much about breeds but this looks like her and it describes her pretty well.

Cat's Name

She came with a different name, but I usually call her kitty when she's being good, or Cat when she's not. She doesn't respond well to anything so what's the difference. I tested Hay You, Weirdo, Bum, Loafer Who Eats My Food and Doesn't Help With the Rent, and Paper Shredder...but she responds equally well to simply Cat.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Cat Vision

Cat doesn't like looking out the window. She might be nearsighted.

I made the ladder/perch for her to sit on, but she usually only goes up there for food.

Sleepy Cat

Cat sleeps more than I do...

Cat Snores

Cat snores...she calls it 'sleep-purring', but it's snoring. It has been known to be so loud as to be heard on the other side of the house...sleep-purring indeed.

First Post

This blog is a test...I'm just trying to figure out how the blogger-half lives. I may not keep it going for very long... so I hope no one likes it.