Nye-Ham Debate Retrospective

Protons to Polygamy is Born

I stayed up half the night here in Germany to live-tweet the event and my overall “impression”? Based on the amount of pre-debate skeptic jitters about engaging in a ‘debate’ with a slobbering God botherer, which I normally concur is a bad idea btw, the whole event worked out quite well for the cause of secularism IMHO. Here’s why I feel that way.

First, there’s the relative popularity of Bill Nye easily trumping Ken Ham with all but the radical right wing ultra-minority of folks willing to overlook the reality of science and physics in the 21st Century. Then you toss in Ken Ham’s reliance on Cliff Notes from the prosecutor’s statements against Galileo.  Those are not nearly as effective as when people were engaged in bleeding themselves to death in their holy efforts to excise demons and return to health.

Finally, Ham’s “Molecules to Man” canard, was wholly inappropriate for a debate on evolution as any seasoned atheist debater is familiar with the tactic of shifting from evolution to abiogenesis willy nilly will be familiar with. I was a little taken back (see my live tweet stream) by Nye’s inability or reluctance to go “Christoper Hitchens” mode on Ham and get to some serious nut-cutting. That was a fantasy of mine I knew would not occur, but I was really saddened that Nye didn’t even do a little “soft shoe” Sam Harris impersonation at some point.

Bill Nye: “That all sounds well and good Mr. Ham, but when I read the Bible, I clearly see the story of “Protons to Polygamy” and your disavowing those parts of God’s holy works that you find unsuitable goes directly against your claims made based on other scriptures literal accuracy and contemporary relevance.” 

If Bill Nye had the quick wit and lust for metaphorical nut-cutting that I do, when Ham was busy refuting the literal facts about the Bible supporting polygamy, Bill should have come back with that line and I GUARANTEE you it would be the thing that made the highlight reel. Of course that overlooks the fact that I invented the phrase concurrent to the time of the debate itself, but great minds think alike and Bill Nye has a great mind.

In retrospect, and perhaps as part of Nye’s master plan, he modified Mohammed Ali’s Rope-a-Dope strategy and just let Ham wear himself out while Nye stood calmly covering his head tucked safely against the ropes. Instead of going for the kill like Mohammed Ali, he was happy to just stand there and witness the exhausted and frustrated puritanical pugilist nearly pass out from running himself in circles?

I dunno, but since the “debate” was taped, I expect the best of our secular public schools to use the footage, not as a religious exercise, but as an all-too-necessary exercise in deconstructing the rhetoric of creationist apologetics. FWIW, I had an extremely valuable class in critical thinking. It was in Lincoln, Nebraska when I was in 7th grade public school. Being armed with a proper list of logical fallacies is the secular armament most lacking in the rank and file militant atheism army I am trying to corral. If successful I promise not to let you all build a new religion around me since I’ve already started one on my WordPress blog.

Remember troops. Molecules to Man shall from henceforth on, be responded to with Protons to Polygamy, unless somebody can twist up an even shorter, more catchy “meme’ to undermine the creationist mindset.  H/T to Dan Dennett, and I meme that most sincerely.


Bill Nye versus Ken Ham

The Thriller over the Gorillas

“The Thriller over the Gorillas” is about to start in a little while.  It’s on at 7 p.m. eastern time and I’m going to be live tweeting the event for anybody who is interested in a little play-by-play off-color commentary.  Follow me on Twitter @thetimchannel  Look forward to seeing some of you there!

Post Debate Analysis and Highlights

I enjoyed all the interactions with my vast army of angry and mobility-impaired militant atheists during my live tweeting of the debate.  Special thanks to all of you for favoriting and retweeting those missives which struck your fancy.  Not every tweet of mine is Shakespeare worthy but since I’m aiming for the standards of Mad Magazine and not the hoi polloi of medieval England, I’ll be able to live with myself in the morning.

I was using my “broke screen” blue-collar iPad mini for most of the debate, which caused me a great deal of thumbnesia.  I switched to my pristine iPad mini late in the event, only to realize that I’d grown so accustomed to the diddling I was engaged with on the shattered iPad screen that my fingers were rendered almost totally useless on the perfect one.  It seems that all the tappy doo bullshit I had to engage in to keep a semi lucid and steady flow of live tweets pumping out of the compromised iPad had rendered my fingers nearly useless.  I watched for and backspaced over, more repetitive touch screen errors than Ken Ham had instances of repeating his “Molecules to Man” line throughout the evening.

“Molecules to Man” is obviously a field-tested Creationism “sciencey soundbite” as well as a safe harbor to return to at times of confusion or panic and Ham was promiscuous in it’s application.  Even when he wasn’t in obvious panic mode, I swear I could hear Ham, muttering “Molecules to Man” under his breath during the inhale portion of his respiration cycle.  He had to figure out a way to keep squeezing it in somehow, and that was difficult to do on the exhale portion of his breathing cycle which was fully committed to the task of creating a perpetual stream of Creationist boilerplate claptrap.  Ham seemed to offer words like ‘evidence” a special place in his litany.  I’m pretty sure I remember him bringing it up in a list of words that had to be properly defined by Creationist standards.

By a special coincidence of Providence’s own design. the list of sciencey sounding words needing clarification by Ham’s own admission, shared in his worldview a common definition derived from the sole source of reliable human knowledge in the universe, his Bible.

May be more added tomorrow.  I gotta crash.


Friday’s Feud

Krauss V Craig

Every generation deserves their own version of the Scopes monkey trial.  This is probably the best we’re ever going to get in our generation.

Setting the Stage

If you haven’t seen this Vimeo of Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig you’re really missing out.  It’s another one of those “Does God Exist” style debates (Spoiler alert: He’s still incommunicado).  I know.  I can hear you all sigh.  …..not another one of those….  Hear me out!   It lacks the faux intellectual suck-upitude present in most of these types of debates.  Krauss brings a deserved wickedness to the mix that has been sorely lacking since Hitch passed.

This event is sponsored by a Bible Forum with an audience I expect is heavily stacked in favor of religious leaning viewpoints.  You can skip the first 23 minutes to get directly to Krauss’ opening and bypass the long intro.

William Milquetoast Craig

If you’re an atheist of any intellectual rigor at all, you’re already recoiling in horror at the thought of listening through the tortured rhetorical apologetic sophistry that is William Lane Craig (Skip over his soliloquey to get to coffee table format immediately after).  On the other hand, seeing Krauss expand his role into the empty shoes left by Christopher Hitchens is a refreshing respite from his many Universe from Nothing videos of late.  Krauss is clearly not confounded by fools nor suffering them gladly, a trait he shares in common with the late Mr. Hitchens.

Lawrence Krauss

While Krauss is clearly lacking when compared to the linguistic facility of Hitchens, he is decidedly less restrained than the oft too-clever Hitchens and entirely more surefooted in matters pertaining to science and religion.  Krauss does borrow from Hitchens in this debate, tossing in a Mother Teresa bit related to the Catholic vexation on suffering as a means to salvation.  I felt that Craig got away on that, brushing it off much more easily than he would have if Hitchens had been there.

Krauss had clearly sharpened his knives against Craig before entering this debate.  He did the best take-down of fundamentalist quote mining in recent memory.  He was clearly angry at the misrepresentations being peddled by Craig and others of his ilk.  Seeing his unrestrained disgust with Craig was worth the price of free admission.  Somebody needs to do what Krauss is doing and he obviously likes to travel more than I do, so more power to him.


Hyperlinking Down Memory Lane II

Welcome to part two of my look back at the development and evolution of my early blogging history through the magic of The Wayback Machine’s historical screen capture technology at the Internet Archive.

In part one, I looked at the initial launch design of my blog back in February, 2001..  Part two will focus on the changes made as of June, 2002, a little over a year after launch.  Note the addition of the quotation added under the new banner.  Would have been nice to have an automated function to change it daily, but I had to do it manually, so it didn’t change that often.  I thought it added a bit of style and interest to the new layout.

Banner Boldness

Even in those nascent days of internet design, I avoided the dreaded “MySpace” look like the plague, opting for a more conservative layout.  I kept the lights, bells, buzzers and assorted web whistles muted to aid in readability and to shorten page loading times.

I am that old guy who rants and raves to the kids about the horrors of that bygone internet era, when simply surfing personal web pages was a surefire ticket to a throbbing migraine, if not a full blown epileptic seizure.

We had to click our way two miles uphill and in the snow, just to get one crappy song off Napster @28k dial-up.  An era when you could have actual sex faster than you could download porn.

You know, the good old days. But I digress.

My lifeless, but entirely utilitarian silhouette banner needed an update.

It would be replaced with a combination of personalized caricature and an animated Tim Times GIF logo as shown in the static screenshot above and experienced in the fully animated version below:

I carried over my web slogan, “Sensibility Without the Static“, matching the blue color to my custom GIF logo.  I am a sucker for the color blue.   Is it the sky, the water, or my baby blue bedroom eyes that influence my favoritism?  I don’t know, but bury me in a blue neon casket and I’ll be as happy dead as I surely am alive.

Enter Gravatar

Gravatar had just come up with the idea that they could standardize your personal profile and icon avatar across different web venues automatically, saving you the hassle of having to load picture avatars and profile info at each different site you posted or interacted with.

I’d liken it to a more primitive version of the social linking that Facebook now allows, whereby you can access and join many different sites just by connecting them to your Facebook (or Twitter) account, often with a single click.

My Gravatar icon was based on the original 12″ x 16″ hand drawn caricature that Bob Pennebaker drew.  After scanning it into my PC, I did my best to shrink the drawing down to an icon graphic suitable for use across the web (through Gravatar).  This was no easy task given the extreme difference between the size of the original and the miniscule nature of icon graphics, but the outcome was passable, and thus the caricature was born.

About to Hit the Big Time

Driving home from work one afternoon, bored and listening to right-wing lunatic talk radio, I happened to catch a squawker, Kim Wade, on the local Fox affiliate talking about gun control.  There’s just too dam much of it according to Mr. Wade!  This hardly jibes with the facts on the ground in most of the United States, let alone Mississippi, where gun shows and their purchase loopholes make for a shooter’s paradise.  It made me wonder, “Who is this crazy black guy pretending to be Charlton Heston on meth?”

I didn’t know it at the time, but I would soon learn that Kim Wade could mimic the angry racist lunatic “white guy” mode with considerable aplomb, and nary a concern for negative public feedback.  The Mississippi on-air radio rules seems to be that if you are black, you can say any racist thing you want, without the kind of nervous second guessing your typical white guy struggles with when dealing with sensitive race issues.  It helps that Kim was drawing a check from the Fox Network.  Lord knows they could give a rat’s  ass about black people in general, and paying one to bash all the others must have seemed like a corporate coup of epic proportions to the “white power” station owners.

It turned out that Kim Wade is the the kind of black guy that never met a black guy he liked, and is more than happy to go on the airwaves and berate them for their many perceived foibles.  This skill-set pays pretty well in a state where white people are the predominant wealth holders, and most of them haven’t met a black guy they like either.  I only wish I was making this up.  But I digress.

The unrepentant liberal in me was tweaked by this idiocy, and I was motivated to call in and add my two cents to the discussion.  I decided to go into full-on gun nut mode if I somehow manage to get on the air.  A radio version of Poe’s Law.  So I dialed the station and the producer answered, asked me a couple questions, and then immediately put me on-the-air with Kim.  I started ranting about the lunacy of believing that a lowly M-50 fully automatic machine gun, (or even an RPG launcher) could save you from a government out to get you.  Since our government has standoff Apache helicopters that can kill you before you can even see them, I stressed the necessity of owning surface-to-air missiles to level the playing field.  My memory of the call is a little fuzzy now, but it’s better than even money I tossed in an aside to the second amendment as a little bluing to burnish my banter.  About that time, Kim breaks for a commercial and puts me on hold.

During the break, Kim cuts into my phone line and asks me if I would be interested in doing some co-hosting with him.  Based on nothing but our brief on-air conversation, this guy is wanting to put me on the radio?  My curiosity piqued, I question Kim on how he can so quickly judge me worthy of handling such a demanding extemporaneous conversational situation, based solely on a few minutes of airtime.  He assures me that I will be great.  I thank him for the offer and tell him I will get back with him about setting up a future in-studio appearance.  The seed has been planted.

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure if Kim thought I was a raging right-wing gun nut, or if he was able to see through the mockingly sarcastic over production I did on the radio in regards to the gun issue.  All I knew for sure was that I had an open invitation into the belly of the Fox Media Beast and there were dam few liberals with that opportunity, let alone any as forceful, dynamic and persuasive as myself.  I was prepared to take on the vast right wing conspiracy single-handedly if necessary.

Radio Daze

Here is the banner that I put on my website to announce my acceptance of a co-host spot with Kim Wade every Tuesday from five to six p.m.  There was never any offer of compensation, nor was any ever expected.  The work I did on the radio was performed as a public service for what I considered to be the public good.  It was done after hours of my normal job on my own personal time.  My website slogan, Sensibility Without the Static, was created long before, and without any idea that I would end up doing radio.  I find it serendipitously ironic that I ended up broadcasting on static prone AM radio, but at least on my website there really wasn’t any static, so it all kinda flowed together well.

In part three, I will give an inside view of my radio experiences while taking a look at the final iteration of The Tim Channel as it appeared in 2007.


God Problems

The issue at hand over at Pharyngula is whether there could ever be any ‘proof’ for the existence of God that PZ Myers would find acceptable.  PZ claims there could be no evidence that would change his belief in atheism.  You can follow the link to find examples of people who both support and debate him over his unwavering stance.

It’s not the usual biblical nutcase vrs. reality debate most prominent on PZ’s site.  It’s atheist vrs. atheist.  You might find it interesting to see how intelligent people with differing views actually engage in reasonably discourse over such a contentious matter.