#0031 RRS Newsletter for July 18, 2007

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The first thing I'd like to draw your attention to today is the first post in the Community section, it's about a news website called TheRealNews.com! I am excited about this, check it out to see why!!! Then go to the next post in that category, a video of John Stewart on CNNs "Crossfire". He calls them out!

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or suggestions you can reach me directly HERE.
Stay rational,
Jack
and the RRS MI team

Table of Contents

Rational Response Squad News

RRS Michigan News

Science News

My contributions for today Oldest Homo Sapiens Fossils Found, Experts Say

Homologies "TEXT"
James Randi outdoes Uri Geller
A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science
How scientists calculate the age of the earth.

Religion

My contributions for today

Xian Desperation? 'Use Harry Potter to spread Xian message"

Government

My contributions for today The results of our negligence overseas

How will the presidential candidates appeal to YOU?
WH Claims Executive Privilege Over Tillman Documents
AL QAEDA: REALITY CHECK ~OLBERMANN
Dangerous Men and their dangerous goals!!!

Community

My contributions for today

Support TheRealNews.com! (Please Repost Widely)
John Stewart - ONE OF THE LAST SANE VOICES !!!!
PERIODIC REMINDER THAT HITLER WASN'T AN ATHEIST # 1

Entertainment

My contributions for today Eggs - Funny Irish Short Movie Atheist are Liars who Worship Satan!

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Oldest Homo Sapiens Fossils Found, Experts Say

Homologies "TEXT"

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Human evolution
Date: Jul 16, 2007 10:41 PM

There are an enormous number of homologies between living species, and it is not possible to list more than a tiny fraction of the examples here. However, you will get a general overview of the types of homologies with a few examples of each. There are basically three categories into which the homology evidence falls:

* anatomical,
* embryonic and
* biochemical.

Despite some overlap between the categories, these three are a reasonable way to separate the evidence. The embryonic is mostly a subset of the anatomical but is nevertheless a special case and bears some discussion on its own. There is also an overarching theme to all of these homologies - hierarchies - that provides some of the strongest evidence for common descent. But the first things to consider are the actual homologies themselves; later we will look at how they fall into hierarchies and the significance of this fact.

Most of the traditional evidences for the idea of common descent came from comparative anatomy. It is still a powerful category of evidence with a wealth of examples that support the idea of evolution. The basic concept of anatomical homologies is that different species show many morphological or physiological similarities which don't make sense from a functional perspective.

If species actually arose independently (naturally or through a divine act) one would think that each organism would have characteristics that were uniquely suited to its nature and environment. That is, an organism's anatomy would function in a manner most suited to its particular way of life. And yet virtually all organisms have anatomical similarities with other very different species which, based on our knowledge of biology, biochemistry and biophysics, don't make any sense functionally.

There are countless examples of these kinds of homologies. One frequently cited example is the pentadactyl (five digit) limb of tetrapods (vertebrates with four limbs including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals). When you consider the vastly different functions of the various limbs of all of these creatures (grasping, walking, digging, flying, swimming, etc.) there is no functional reason for all of these limbs to have the same basic structure. Why do humans, cats, birds and whales all have the same basic five digit limb structure? (Note: adult birds actually have three digit limbs, but embryonically these digits develop from a five digit precursor.)

The only idea that makes sense is if all of these creatures developed from a common ancestor that happened to have five digit limbs. This idea is further supported if you examine the fossil evidence. Fossils from the Devonian time period, when tetrapods are thought to have developed, show examples of six, seven and eight digit limbs - so it is not as if there were some limitation to five digit limbs. Four limbed creatures with different numbers of digits on their limbs did exist. Again, the only explanation that makes any sense is that all of the tetrapods developed from a common ancestor that happened to have five digit limbs.

In many homologies, the similarity between species is not actively disadvantageous in any apparent way. It may not make sense from a functional perspective, but it doesn't appear to actually harm the organism. On the other hand, some homologies do indeed appear to be positively disadvantageous.

One example is a cranial nerve that goes from the brain to the larynx via a tube near the heart. In fish, this path is a direct route. What is interesting is that this nerve follows the same route in all species that have the homologous nerve. This means that in an animal like the giraffe, this nerve must make a ridiculous detour down the neck from the brain and then back up the neck to the larynx area.

So, the giraffe has to grow an extra 10-15 feet of nerve compared to a direct connection. This recurrent laryngeal nerve, as it is called, is clearly inefficient. It is easy to explain why the nerve takes this circuitous route if we accept that giraffes evolved from fish-like ancestors.Another example would be the human knee. Rearward articulating knees are much better if a creature spends most of its time walking on the ground. Of course, forward articulating knees are great if you spend a lot of time climbing trees.

Why giraffes and humans would have such poor configurations if they originated independently is something that remains for creationists to explain. The most common creationist rebuttal to homologies of any kind is frequently of the "God created all creatures according to some pattern which is why different species show similarities" variety. Ignoring the point that we would have to consider God an extremely poor designer if this were the case, this explanation isn't really an explanation at all. If creationists are going to claim that some plan exists, it is up to them to explain the plan. To do otherwise is just an argument from ignorance and is equivalent to saying things are the way they are "just because." Given the evidence, the evolutionary explanation makes more sense.







Copied and pasted from http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/evolution/blfaq_evolution_evidence07.htm

James Randi outdoes Uri Geller

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 17, 2007 9:12 AM





We are The A-Team and we approve this message.

A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 4:24 PM

Here is a good book review from one of my favorite bloggers. I just downloaded the book but I have not listened to it yet.

TPO


The Canon

Pharyngula, 17/07/2007| Pharyngula

As a major fan of Natalie Angier, I was well-disposed to favor The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll) — and overall, my opinion of the book is favorable. I'm afraid, though, that it's filling a very narrow niche and most of my readers here won't be interested in it…but some of you may find it just right.

As you might guess from the title, the premise of the book is a reaction to a peculiar snobbery of many of the educated elite. Science is mechanics; it's engineering; it's greasy hands and strange smells; it's a place of childish enthusiasms. It is not the place for the rarefied appreciation of true beauty, which belongs to the arts and literature, and sophisticated children will be yanked out of the model rocketry club and told to take ballet lessons. You can look through a list of books belonging to the traditional Western Canon, for instance, and find Shakespeare and Camus, but you won't find a single work of science, no Galileo, no Newton (I was especially amused at Bloom's list that includes Aristotle's Poetics and Ethics, but bugger all on History of Animals, Parts of Animals, or Physics). The asymmetry of our educations is clear even at my own university: as a liberal arts college, we emphasize that all students should get a basic introduction to literature, art, history, and all those crucial elements of culture … except that a humanities major can still get a degree with negligible exposure to math and science. Angier has set out to correct a massive gap in the education of the literati with a kind of canon of science, a summary of the major concepts of a series of scientific disciplines.

It's an admirable goal, but it's also the source of a flaw. The book has to be written for those products of an educational system that regards science as a lesser vocation, so the content can only ascend as high as a superficial primer. We science nerds have our own kind of snobbery, and I'm afraid we aren't going to be appreciative of the thin gruel served up here. She's in Bill Bryson territory here, and I'd recommend A Short History of Nearly Everything(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll)</span> over The Canon as the primer lay people ought to read.

Another weakness is that her audience is narrower still: this is the science book for the tweed-and-elbow-patches set, garden club attendees and fans of Merchant-Ivory films. Those movies, for instance, linger long over the elegant appointments of the drawing room, the fine, formal fashions, and the studied language of the actors, but from my point of view, nothing much happens. There are lovely static tableaux, but, well, Bruce Willis isn't likely to roar up in a muscle car and smash the bric-a-brac shelf. Angier also gives us relatively passive summaries of the sciences which are rich with description, but don't tell us much about how we know these things, or where the controversies are, or even who produced these marvelous ideas. We get the mise en scène but not the plot or the dramatis personæ. It's a bit like reading a textbook in that sense.

Where there is a deficiency of dynamism in the subject, though, Angier makes up for it in the energy of the prose. Some reviewers have criticized it for her exuberant language, but I actually enjoyed it — this is the kind of book where, if you can't just sit back and enjoy the work for the shape of the words on the page, where you can't just relax and enjoy the journey without worrying about the destination, you are going to be constantly irritated. You have to be the kind of spectator who is enchanted to see someone in love with science, where the passion bubbles off of every page, to really find satisfaction here. Then it works, and it works very well.

Ultimately, it felt like a book where most of the pieces were there for the kind of book I'd want to hand to incoming college freshman English majors and say, "here, this will explain those parts of the Western Canon that aren't actually included in the Western Canon" … except that in the need to cover so much, she had to make room by jettisoning the plot that would make it a story they'd want to read. Maybe the major error was trying to reduce a scientific canon to a single book.

How scientists calculate the age of the earth.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Human evolution
Date: Jul 17, 2007 11:33 PM





"Also, if you haven't checked out my latest blog, check it out"

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Xian Desperation? 'Use Harry Potter to spread Xian message"

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: The A-Team
Date: Jul 17, 2007 10:02 AM

For the record, Simpsons' creator Matt Groening is an atheist, which should be obvious to those who have actually watched the show.
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Jeff
Date: Jul 17, 2007 12:24 PM


-I could see this coming...first they hijack Star Wars on the History Channel and say that it's a religious film, Now this...

'Use Harry Potter to spread Christian message'

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/17/npotter217.xml

The Church of England is publishing a guide advising youth workers how to use Harry Potter to spread the Christian message.

The guide's author has previously written a book on Christian messages in The Simpsons cartoon
Days before the release of the seventh and final novel in the series, youth leaders are being told they could use the popularity of the Potter books and films as a "launch pad" for exploring Christian themes.

The guide - published by Church House Publishing - comes as fans gear up for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday, marking the final chapter in an extraordinary publishing phenomenon.

The Harry Potter books and films have been attacked in the past by evangelicals for allegedly glamorising the occult.

Canterbury Cathedral even rejected a request to become a location for the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, for fear of upsetting Christians unhappy with the books.

But in recent years, the Harry Potter phenomenon has received backing from church figures including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey, who described the film as "great fun" and a serious examination of good and evil.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, today described Harry Potter author JK Rowling as a "great storyteller."

He said: "Although the fictional world of Harry Potter is very different from our own, Harry and his friends face struggles and dilemmas that are familiar to us all.

"Jesus used storytelling to engage and challenge his listeners.

"There's nothing better than a good story to make people think, and there's plenty in the Harry Potter books to make young people think about the choices they make in their everyday lives and their place in the world."

Owen Smith, 24, the author of the guide and a youth worker at St Margaret's Church in Rainham, Kent, said: "The magic in the books is simply part of the magic that JK Rowling has created, in the same way that magic is part of the world of Christian writers such as CS Lewis.

"To say, as some have, that these books draw younger readers towards the occult seems to me both to malign JK Rowling and to vastly underestimate the ability of children and young people to separate the real from the imaginary."

Mr Smith has previously written a book on how to use The Simpsons cartoon series as a means of spreading the Christian message.


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Disturbing and graphic video, but a must see none the less!

The results of our negligence overseas...

How will the presidential candidates appeal to YOU?

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: RRS_TX
Date: Jul 16, 2007 11:52 PM

You as in non-religious.

YouTube/CNN has a little thing where people get to ask question of the candidates. And one person asked, "How will you all appeal to non-religious voters?" However to get get it answered it'll probably need votes. Not to mention there might be another issue which you might want answered so check it out at here.

Videos Below:













Thanks to all the people who posted something about this, who voted it up, and who tell others about.

WH Claims Executive Privilege Over Tillman Documents

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 2:56 PM

WH Claims Executive Privilege Over Tillman Documents
By: SilentPatriot

Digg It!!!

pattillman.jpg And the disgraceful Pat Tillman saga continues.. How’s this for “supporting the troops” and respecting their families?

Seattle Times:

The White House has refused to give Congress documents about the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, with White House counsel Fred Fielding saying that certain papers relating to discussion of the friendly-fire shooting “implicate Executive Branch confidentiality interests.”

Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Tom Davis R-Va., the leading members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, objected to the refusal Friday in letters to the White House and the Defense Department.

White House and Pentagon officials have turned over about 10,000 pages of material, but Waxman and Davis said those papers lack critical documents that would show communications between senior administration officials and top military officers shortly after Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004.

Is there anything this administration is not secretive about? And why would they want to conceal their role in the cover-up informing of the Tillman family?




BUT WHY EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE IN PAT TILLMAN CASE? ~OLBERMANN

AL QAEDA: REALITY CHECK ~OLBERMANN

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 3:55 PM

Thanks to:
SpeedReeser
CSPANJUNKIEdotORG





Dangerous Men and their dangerous goals!!!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 7:47 PM

Dangerous Men (it’s always men, isn’t it?) and their dangerous goals

By Naomi

blackwater_350Image: A bodyguard from Blackwater USA protects former Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer in Iraq in 2004. Blackwater's founder is a right-wing Christian whose paramilitary contractors may be operating outside constitutional restrictions imposed on the police and military. Truthdig.com: America's Holy Warriors, by Chris Hedges

KA brought us Allegories Gone Wild - The Arm Of Gord Smites Mightily The Feeble Of Mind…, about the dangers of mixing malcontents, lack of education and religious fervor.

This is about the dangers of a different brand of malcontent: educated; powerfully-connected, wealthy and secretive; and a religious zealot. Follow these links:

Erik Prince has a private army, sometimes called the Praetorian Guard; others say it "unites conservative Catholics, evangelicals and neoconservatives to fight a theoconservative holy war". Son of an entrepreneur (who ran Holland MI as a "company town") and a former SEAL, he started Blackwater USA in the late '90s; his private-contractors include former Pinochet-backed Chilean soldiers, and more from Honduras, both of whom know how to torture; on his board of directors is a Knight of the Military Order of Malta***, who hates all Muslims, just like those in Iraq. He doesn't take criticism well, disliking the documentary, "Iraq for Sale," immensely. But Prince has loyalists, like White Rabbit (who doesn't understand how ironic this is: "Definitely a hot issue. Keep digging for the truth. Start here [his own site! doh!], and don't accept opinions and conjecture as facts. Read Pelton, watch Shadow Company … think critically about what both sides are telling you!" A visit to that site will show you just how "wrong and soft our gummint really is"…) Not everybody in Michigan "luvs" Erik; check out the very funny The Disembodied Head of Dick DeVos for even more informative links.

I say he's a cog in a much bigger wheel bag-man for the theocratic movement. And is involved in sedition with many christian zealots, including Paul Weyrich, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Gary North, Gary DeMar, both Mr.&Mrs. Tim LaHaye, Don Wildmon and many, many others. I'm not alone; it's what the Blog Against Theocracy is about and why Talk to Action and TheocracyWatch stay vigilant. Contrary to what FixedNews says about us, it isn't "tinfoil hat" lunacy at all.

Assuming they never join forces: which is the more dangerous malcontent? Which will fulfill their mission first? Both want a theocracy in America, with white christians in charge. One is willing to use actual warfare to obtain it; the other has built a high-tech army loyal-to-the-CEO, and has been working with an underground network of religious leaders and thinkers who have been establishing think-tanks, recruiting people to run for office (and getting them elected) and pushing legislation. Pushing limits. Pushing false ideologies. Pushing false propaganda and revisionist history.

But both can be stopped by a single word : Treason, or most specifically Sedition. (Even this is a tough-sell: "Although the Supreme Court upheld the convictions of 11 [Communist Party]USA leaders in 1951, the court reversed itself in 1957 in Yates v. New York by ruling that 'teaching an ideal, no matter how inimical that onlookers may view it to the United States, does not equal advocating or planning its implementation'.")

So, why aren't they stopped? In a word: Religion. In America, and around the world, it gets a "free pass", a convenient "get out of jail free" card. It is accorded a respect it doesn't deserve; it is "above reproach"; its undeserved "feel-good/do-good" reputation seems unassailable and impervious to scrutiny; and, moreover, criticizing religion brings hate-mail, death-threats and worse. Atheists understand this instinctively.

Squishy christians, of the liberal-almost-agnostic sort, also understand this in their hearts and minds - it's their lips that stay zipped… Why are they silent? For the same reason others are silent: criticizing religion brings hate-mail, death-threats and more - even to christians. Or, especially christians. It's the unwritten Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not speak ill (nor even honestly) of religion. Called "heresy" for centuries, it was the usual charge levelled during that Middle Ages' own Abu Ghraib: the Spanish Inquisition. (Witchcraft was in second place.)

Today, we can call it "First Cause Anti-Whistleblower Gord-Protection Act".

______

*** Ex-Pentagon IG Joseph Schmitz is a real "class-act". A member of the Federalist Society (as is John Roberts, Supreme-SCOTUS), he 1) was accused of covering up several investigations into fraud, waste and abuse within the Rumsfeld Pentagon; 2) is the son of the late GOP far right congressman and segregationist American Independent Party presidential candidate John G. Schmitz; AND 3) is the brother of former Washington State school teacher Mary Kay Letorneau who was jailed for child rape after having sex with her 12-year old sixth grade student! To say nothing of his adult affair

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Support TheRealNews.com! (Please Repost Widely)

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 1:29 PM

From: Net

If you haven't heard about "The Real News" yet...check it out. This company is one of the first I've heard about to actually get the the FACTS as REAL journalists are supposed to do. No advertising, no corporate money, no lies, no distortion of truth...just REAL NEWS.

Lynette
--------------------


To find out more about The Real News: CLICK HERE


If you haven't signed up yet: CLICK HERE TO REGISTER






John Stewart - ONE OF THE LAST SANE VOICES !!!!

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: TPO
Date: Jul 17, 2007 2:32 PM

From: Gyreck


Hey people,

This is an amazing video from John Stewart's appearance on "Crossfire" from 2004, leading into the election.

He really tried here. You can clearly see the pressure of the media to maintain their bullshit unreality, and people like John get rolled over like he wasn't even there, no matter how blunt and direct he is.

Remember... it's just Bullshit Unreality...


I predict that this one will be reposted heavily.

|:]'

- Gyreck


----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Temerice
Date: Jul 16, 2007 7:24 PM








.

PERIODIC REMINDER THAT HITLER WASN'T AN ATHEIST # 1

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: ATHEISTS AGNOSTICS SKEPTICS & HUMANISTS ON MYSPACE
Date: Jul 17, 2007 8:36 PM

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Hitler leaves the Marine Church in Wilhelmshaven.
http://www.bytwerk.com/gpa/hitler2.htm
http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm

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Eggs - Funny Irish Short Movie

Atheist are Liars who Worship Satan!

The darkness of godlessness lets wisdom shine.