A Photo Tour of the Creation Museum

A tour of the Creation Museum Fantasyland.

Taking its cue from the previous room, this area describes the idea of different “starting points” in more detail by giving specific examples. Included are discussions of dinosaurs, the formation of the oceans, human ancestry, and more.

As soon as you walk into the Starting Points room, you are greeted by a rather menacing looking dinosaur, standing next to a sign about the evolutionary idea of dinosaur fossils and the creation idea of dinosaur fossils. Instead of the dinosaur dying, slowly rotting away, leaving behind only solid, hard material, and gradually becoming a fossil (if future paleontologists are lucky), the creationist section of the sign attributes the dinosaur’s death to the flood, and the development of the fossil is attributed to a rush of sediment (a LARGE rush of sediment) from a surge of flood water.

The obvious difference between the comparisons is the fact that the evolutionary ideas take a longer amount of time than the creationism ideas. That, and the creationism signs all rely on the Bible as a starting point.

(via Pharyngula)

No Honor for Andrew Card

On May 25, 2007 Andrew Card faced hundreds of boos and catcalls as he was given an honorary degree during the graduate school commencement at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Before the commencement, over a hundred protesters staged a rally and press conference outside the Mullin Center on the UMass campus. Hundreds more students and faculty who opposed the honorary degree would later protest inside the hall.

(via Gerry Canavan)

Bolivian Fighting Ritual

From SFGate:

The locals come down from the mountains drunk, dancing and ready to fight. The police come to make sure no one dies. And the tourists, reporters, and documentary filmmakers come for the blood.

The outside world has discovered Tinku, an ancient ritual in which indigenous Quechua communities gather each year in a remote corner of the Bolivian Andes to dance, sing and settle old scores in staggering and bloody street fights.

The largest Tinku takes place early each May in Macha, about 210 miles southeast of La Paz, where this year’s festival provided a stunning and sometimes uneasy combination of culture, spectacle and violence.

Relatively unknown outside the Andes for centuries, Tinku remains on the fringe of Bolivia’s growing tourism industry. But its heavily asterisked listing in the guidebooks (Lonely Planet calls it “a violent and often grisly spectacle”) is beginning to draw both backpackers and media curious to witness the peculiar event firsthand.

(via Danger Room)

Wikipedia’s entry on Tinku
A Narrated Slideshow on Tinku

Bayard Rustin

Wikipedia’s bio on Bayard Rustin:

Bayard Rustin (March 17, 1912 – August 24, 1987) was an African-American civil rights activist, important largely behind the scenes in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and earlier and principal organizer of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He counseled Martin Luther King, Jr. on the techniques of nonviolent resistance. Rustin was openly gay and advocated on behalf of gay and lesbian causes in the latter part of his career.

A year before his death in 1987, Rustin said: “The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it’s the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated.”

Louis Slotin and “Tickling the Dragon’s Tail”

From Wikipedia:

In May 1946, Slotin, among others, was in a laboratory doing an experiment that involved creation of the beginning of the fission reaction by placing two half-spheres of beryllium (a neutron reflector) around a plutonium core. The experiment was nicknamed “tickling the dragon’s tail” after a remark by Richard Feynman that it was “tickling the tail of a sleeping dragon” due to its flirtations with nuclear chain reaction. Slotin grasped the upper beryllium hemisphere with his left hand through a thumb hole at the top while he maintained the separation of the half-spheres by a blade of a screwdriver with his right hand, having removed the shims normally used. Using a screwdriver was not a normal part of the experimental protocol.

Nine months previously on August 21, 1945, the same 6.2 kg plutonium core (later nicknamed the “demon core” because of these accidents) had produced a burst of ionizing radiation that caused lethal radiation poisoning to Harry Daghlian, an experimentor who had made a mistake while working alone doing neutron reflection experiments on it. This core, subject to experiments so shortly after the end of the war, had probably been the intended core for the 3rd nuclear weapon never used on Japan.

On May 21, the screwdriver slipped, the upper beryllium hemisphere fell and caused a “prompt critical” reaction, resulting in a burst of hard radiation. The “blue glow” of air ionization was observed and a “heat wave” was felt by the scientists in the room. Slotin instinctively jerked his left hand upward, lifting the upper beryllium hemisphere and dropping it to the floor. He exposed himself to a lethal dose (around 2100 rems, or 21 Sv) of neutron and gamma radiation, in history’s second criticality accident. In addition to the blue glow and heat, Slotin experienced a sour taste in his mouth and an intense burning sensation in his left hand. As soon as Slotin left the building, he vomited, a common reaction from exposure to extremely intense ionizing radiation. The official line was that Slotin, by quickly removing the upper hemisphere, was a hero for ending the critical reaction and protecting seven other observers in the room. The official release from the authorities while Slotin was dying in the hospital after the accident was: “Dr. Slotin’s quick reaction at the immediate risk of his own life prevented a more serious development of the experiment which would certainly have resulted in the death of the seven men working with him, as well as serious injury to others in the general vicinity.” The designation as a hero is moderated by criticisms (from, for example, Robert B. Brode) that the accident was avoidable and that Slotin was not using proper procedures, endangering the others in the lab along with himself

Israel: Ultra-Orthodox Group Launches “Kosher Internet”

Oy vey:

The kosher Internet has been launched. With a host of blocks against surfing prohibited sites, with a small white list of approved sites, and with an identified e-mail address that will enable identifying rogue ultra-orthodox who do not use the kosher Internet, the ultra-orthodox have launched the war against the greatest enemy technology has presented to them: the Internet.

Behind the “kosher Internet” initiative is “the Rabbinical Council for Communication Affairs,” which is run by the most important ultra-orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the Hassidic Leader of Gur [Ya’aqov Arye Alter], [SHAS spiritual leader] Ovadya Yosef, hassidic Jewish law adjudicator Shmu’el Halevi Wozner, and Rabbi Tuvya Weiss, the head of the zealots’ stream of the ultra- orthodox sect.

Many ultra-orthodox already use the Internet, whose potential educational and spiritual damage is considered far worse than that of television, not only because of the sex websites, but because of the very exposure it offers to the outside world.