The Golden Shower

Number 35 of a Series

Some parts of the infamous Steel Dossier have not been confirmed. In particular, there is still insufficient corroboration of allegations that Donald Trump paid prostitutes to pee on a bed in a Moscow hotel:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Other influence by the Russian government on the Trump campaign is on more solid ground, this despite previous denials by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The story from ABC World News Tonight with David Muir streamed yesterday on Hulu.

Former New York City Mayor Giuliani claims he never said there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Except when he did.

All right, the president’s personal lawyer aside, the president has denied there was no collusion within his campaign.

Look, people. Would the President of the United States deny his campaign worked in collusion with Russia while Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was standing right there beside him? You need to keep this in perspective.

To emphasize, the president flatly denies there was any collusion between his campaign and Russia.

“A total hoax.” What could be more clear than that? The president has the final word.

So that’s it. No prostitutes pissing on a bed in Moscow. No collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Would the President of the United States lie about something like that?

Enough said.

This is your President speaking.

Number 194 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

So funny to watch Schumer groveling. He called for the firing of bad cop James Comey many times – UNTIL I FIRED HIM!

Потому что я уже говорю по-русски.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 147

So your name is Kenneth Martell, and you’re wanted for murder, and you have parked on a deserted dirt road so you can lie low until the heat dies down. But a cop drives up, and she wants to see your papers. Now is the time you think it’s going to be a good idea to pull your handgun and kill the cop. In the image above Martell is in the process of bringing his handgun up to fire. That does not work out so well:

Video shows Lakemoor cop struggling with murder suspect and partner firing fatal shot

Surprised as he sat parked in his SUV, the man wanted for murder pointed a gun at Lakemoor Police Officer Brianna Tedesco and pulled the trigger.

The gun didn’t fire.

Oops. The video from the officer’s body camera catches the last moments of gun owner Kenneth Martell’s sorry life. While the woman cop held on to save her live, another officer drove up and put an end to this Second Amendment moment.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Spoiler alert. This review is going to reveal the ultimate twist to the plot, so stop reading now if you plan to watch the movie. Of course this one has been around since 1997, so if you haven’t seen it by now, then it’s your own fault. It’s The Game, featuring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn and now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the source of the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

It’s a tale of convoluted deception. We see the early life of Nicholas van Orton (Douglas). He has grown up among wealth and privilege, but his father killed himself early in life by taking a dive from the top of the family mansion. Nick has grown to become a person of great wealth of his own making, and he is as hard as granite. Divorced, he lives alone in the mansion. He runs his investment banking business with machine precision and without warmth.

Come his birthday, and Nicholas receives a message that his brother Conrad (Penn) wants a lunch meeting. It is short and cold, Conrad leaves him the gift of a game hosted by a concern named Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). He advises Nick to take advantage. It will be a life-changing exercise.

Nick has the intention of blowing it off, but he spies the offices of CRS and becomes intrigued.

Stopping in, he finds a concern in flux. The offices are being fleshed out, but he presents his gift card, and is interviewed by CRS representative Jim Feingold (James Rebhorn). Nick has accustomed himself to being treated with considerable sufferance, but Fiengold is detached and somewhat dismissive. He fakes Nick into undergoing a lengthy and tedious interview process. Nick is then shown the door and told he will be contacted. He subsequently receives a call on his private number telling him he has not been selected to participate in the game.

But that was only a ruse. Coming home that night, Nick discovers a clown mannequin in the driveway, at the spot where his father’s body came to rest decades before. He takes the dummy inside and eats his dinner. The newscaster on TV is Daniel Schorr (played by himself), who on occasion interrupts his business reporting to speak straight to Nick. Nick discovers the dummy contains a camera that is transmitting video from the room. The game is on.

At a business conference where Nick is in the process of dismissing a key employee for lackluster performance, he attempts to pull the requisite documents from his briefcase. However, he cannot open the briefcase, and he storms out of the meeting. Things have begun to go sour in Nicks life of domination over events and other people.

At a restaurant a waitress, Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) spills a drink on him and initiates a nasty confrontation. She is fired from her job, but Nick follows her out, and they encounter a man collapsing on the street, and they come to his aid. The police arrive and require that Nick and Christine ride in the ambulance with the victim, but when they get to the emergency entry garage, the victim is taken away, leaving the two alone in the garage. Then the lights go out, and the real adventure starts.

There are flights from the police, shootings, discovery, and a penultimate confrontation between Nick and Christine. He discovers she is working for CRS. Then he blacks out from the drink she has given him, and he wakes up in a cemetery in Mexico, no money, no passport. He is forced to use his survival skills to get back home.

It all comes to a head, as Nick figures it’s a scheme to gain access to his accounts and steal all his money. He returns to CRS and confronts the people there, and now he has a gun he obtained when a mugger attempted to hold him up. When CRS men pull weapons, Nick takes Christine hostage on the roof of the building.

Now it’s Christine’s turn to be alarmed. It has all been part of the game, but Nick was supposed to have a fake semiautomatic pistol. She sees he has obtained a real gun (from the mugger), and she tries to warn the CRS people, who are in the process of breaking through the door to the roof. Nick takes aim and shoots the first person to come through the door. It’s Conrad. The game has gone horribly wrong.

Nick realizes what he has done, and he ends it by stepping off the roof of the building.

But many floors down he crashes through the fake glass roof of the restaurant and onto an air cushion. It has all been part of the game. Conrad is not dead, and he holds up a tee shirt with the logo, “I was drugged and left for dead in Mexico, and all I got was this stupid shirt.” Everybody wishes Nick a happy birthday.

Everybody is happy, and as they start to leave Nick follows Christina out to her car. She is going to the airport. She invites Nick to have coffee with her at the airport.

Complaint number one: most of the scenes were shot so dark that it was difficult to pick up on a lot of the action. I had to use Corel PaintShop to brighten up many of the scenes before posting them.

Much of this is highly improbable. A lot of stuff had to go right, or somebody was going to get killed. Worth a watch, however, provided you are not already reading this.

Abusing Science

Number 7 of a series

This item first appeared in the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics in May 1992. It is a continuation of last week’s installment on the topic. In February 1992 Jeff Umbarger and I attended a creationist meeting and reported back on how Creationists of the First Kind attempt to misrepresent the conclusions of real scientists. Here again is a copy of the presentation handout from the meeting and also a copy of the Science News article referenced at the bottom. In the item from Science News I have outlined the quoted text. The numbers indicate the order in which they appear in the handout. Take special note that creationist Don Patton has not only picked sections out of context, but he has rearranged the order of the quoted portions to suggest false a false narrative.

An Ageless Story

By John Blanton and Jeff Umbarger

Part II

In last month’s issue we started our discussion of MIOS chairman Don Patton’s arguments for a young Earth. In his talk at the February MIOS meeting Don cited numerous references to legitimate scientists, references that he indicated would prove that the methods of mainstream science were useless in estimating the age of the earth.

Last month we detailed the context of one of Don’s citations and showed how the meaning of the original article had been seriously misrepresented in the MIOS lecture. This month we complete our analysis by examining another of the citations used in the MIOS lecture.

The second and last of the MIOS citations we will describe here deals with dating of moon rocks. Here is the text from the handout under the heading “DATING OF MOON SAMPLES: PITFALLS AND PARADOXES.”

What complicates things for the uranium-lead method is that non-radiogenic lead 204, 206, 207 and 208 also exist naturally, and scientists are not sure what ratios of non-radiogenic to radiogenic lead were early in the moon’s history. … The problem of how much lead was around to begin with still remains. … If all of the age-dating methods (rubidium-strontium, uranium-lead and potassium-argon) had yielded the same ages, the picture would be neat. But they haven’t.

Looks like a bad day for science, doesn’t it. It turns out to be a bad day for creation science. Note the ellipses (…) that appear in the MIOS text. Now this may sound naive, but to most of us this means that irrelevant or redundant text has been omitted. See how wrong we can be? Here is the text from the article by Everly Driscoll in Science News.
[Editor’s note: I have bolded the text below that appears in the quoted sections above.]

Trying to unravel lunar history by long distance, or even by sampling six or seven areas of the surface, is a precarious job and subject to much interpretation. Much controversy during the past two years has centered around the interpretation that should be given to the ages of the lunar material — ages yielded by studying its radioactive history. If all of the age-dating methods (rubidium-strontium, uranium-lead and potassium-argon) had yielded the same ages, the picture would be neat. But they haven’t. The lead ages, for example, have been consistently older.

In addition to uranium 238 converting to lead 206, uranium 235, with a half-life of 713 million years, decays to form lead 207, and thorium 232, with a half-life of 14 billion years, decays to form lead 208.

What complicates things for the uranium-lead method is that nonradiogenic lead 204, 206, 207 and 208 also exist naturally, and scientists are not sure what the ratios of nonradiogenic to radiogenic lead were early in the moon’s history. Wherever there is nonradiogenic lead 204, however, there is usually nonradiogenic lead 206, 207 and 208.

To arrive at the percentage of nonradiogenic lead present on the early moon, one can take the ratios of nonradiogenic lead 206 to 204, 207 to 204 and 208 to 204 found in meteorites (these ratios are 9.5, 10.5 and 20 respectively); but the question unanswered is, are these meteoric lead ratios the same as those that existed on the moon? Those scientists who are willing to accept the 4.6-billion-year-old age of meteorites and apply that to the moon are often not willing to apply the lead ratios found in meteorites to the moon.

Another example is with sample 14163. This sample, says Silver, has already shown that some parts of the lead could not have formed more recently than 4 billion years ago, and it probably includes some components considerably older than 4.0 billion years. Silver heated the sample. At 550 degrees C. the lead that came off had very high lead 207 to 206 ratios. One would have expected to see a ratio of 0.6 lead 207 to 206 for lead that had been forming continuously since 4.5 billion years ago. But what he saw were ratios of 1.2 or 1.3. “This isotopic composition has never been observed anywhere in the material of the solar system,” says Silver.

If these lead ratios were interpreted as other ratios, the lead would have apparent ages as high as 5.5 billion years. But, says Silver, “We are probably looking at lead 207 made very early in the solar system before it could be diluted with lead 206, and this large amount of lead 207 has had more time to move around.” Lead that is similarly bound comes off at the same temperatures. There is usually a correlation with the age of the lead, but the implications of this are not fully understood.

Tatsumoto and Doe have been working with lead at different temperatures (1,000 to 1,350 degrees C.), and they are getting similar results. The most significant has been isolating lead that consistently dates at 4.6 billion years old (SN: 12/18/71, p. 423).

The Problem of how much lead was around to begin with still remains. This could be partially solved by dating all of the soil samples from the moon, determining the over-all effects on each soil sample and getting a convergence point.

The broader implications of the history of volatile metals are apparent even if not all of the results and answers are yet. Volatile metals such as mercury, lead, zinc, cadmium, bismuth, rubidium and potassium are important to man. If scientists could unlock the history of these chemical reservoirs — what the chemical pot started from, how it evolved and what makes it work — says Silver, and if they could understand these processes on the moon, they might know how to use them today on earth and predict for tomorrow. “We don’t know the total chemistry for the earth, but our best chance of understanding it is on the moon.”

Obviously the forgoing does not make as interesting reading as the MIOS text, especially since Driscoll did not see fit to arrange the original text in an order that would later be useful to the creationists. What the complete text shows is scientists working without the master blueprint (as they often do) and trying to make something useful of the information they have at hand. What the complete text does not show is scientists expressing doubts that the moon is billions of years old, as was implied during the lecture. Also, we plead guilty of using the notorious ellipses to shorten the extracted text and to avoid completely reprinting Driscoll’s article.

Perhaps it was our mistake but on listening to the MIOS presentation, we felt the speaker was telling us that a representative of mainstream science was reporting in a reputable journal that radiometric dating in general and the uranium-lead analysis in particular is fraught with such perilous assumptions as to render it completely unreliable.

We were further led to believe that we should conclude that all claims of a 4-billion plus year-old earth (that goes for the moon, too) were false, based on this line of reasoning (Don ended up stating his belief that the earth is less than 10,000 years old). It appeared to us that the MIOS audience generally reached this conclusion. Perhaps they would have reached this conclusion even if the full text been presented. Perhaps they would have been bored to tears.

Don’s lecture consisted of a slide presentation that closely paralleled the material handed out at the conclusion, and he additionally presented some slides that represented his ideas photographically. The greatest difficulty the two of us had was with the quotes extracted from texts and journals and presented as supporting the invalidity of scientific aging methods. In all, there were seventeen citations in the handouts from various journals and texts, including Science, Science NewsScientific AmericanNature and Journal of Geology.

Additionally, the handouts included citations from William D. Stansfield’s Science of Evolution. An entire page printed front and back consisted mainly of quotations from the book. There were other citations from the slide presentation that were not available in the handouts. Jeff managed to track down seven citations in the library at first pass, and in general, while they may contain phrases critical of certain aspects of various age dating techniques, the entire texts of the citations do not support the conjecture of the MIOS presentation — that claims of an earth over four billion years old are invalid. Where we have been able to crosscheck the citations against the actual text, we have noted that the classic out-of-context stunt is being pulled to make it appear that mainstream science supports the MIOS view.

In a phone interview later in the month, Don Patton claimed authorship of all the materials presented at the lecture. This dispels our idea that MIOS gets all of its literature from the Institute for Creation Research. Don says he does his own research, mostly at local libraries, and prepares the presentation materials himself. He announced that the next MIOS lecture, on the first Tuesday in March, would continue the same theme to the scientific evidence for the age of the universe.

[Deleting a section that gives outdated meeting schedules and contact information.]

Notes:

E. Driscoll, Science News 101, 12.

Quiz Question

Number 186 of a series

This didn’t really happen, but imagine it. The only clock in my house is one of those grandfather types, with hands and a pendulum, and you have to wind it up. So I got up in the morning, and the clock was stopped. I forgot to wind it. I needed to set the correct time.

My friend Bill lives about five blocks away, and he always has the correct time, but no telephone. I walked over to Bill’s house and talked to him for some time. Then I walked back home and set my clock to very close to the correct time. I walked at the same rate the whole trip, but I have no idea how fast I walked.

How was I able to set my clock so accurately?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

Update and Answer

People provided answers to the Facebook posting, but nobody commented one the blog site. Anyhow, here is my answer.

 

Before I left the house I wound my clock and set the time to noon. Then I walked to Bill’s house and noted the time I arrived and the time I left. When I got home I noted how much time had elapsed on my clock, and computation of the current time was straightforward.

The Government You Paid For

Number 53 of a Series

It’s great when we are finally sure we are getting the government we paid for. It’s even greater when along with that assurance comes foot-stomping amusement. The following hilarity is brought to us by President Donald J. Trump,by way of comedian John Oliver. Oliver has his show “Last Week Tonight” weekly on HBO, and three years ago in March he unloaded on us grandly.

Check your Sunday newspaper or your favorite cable news channel, and I am sure you will see something about the same Mexico border wall that candidate Trump was all aglow with back then and which fills our in-box to this day. To see how much we have progressed in 34 months, take a look at what marveled us then.

Yes, that’s candidate Trump heralding the announcement that has come to shake our world. Even then he exhibited the modesty we have come to appreciate on a daily basis.

And I do mean modest.

This does not mean adjectives were never applied with a trowel.

I declare, a marvel of humility.

To be sure, Donald Trump is known throughout the world as a great builder, and he has a mind for detail. Even then he was prepared with the exact figures.

All right, the figures may not have been settled back then, but there was no doubt about construction details.

For a moment I will pass over that rebar is steel, but you have to give Donald Trump credit for his mastery of the facts.

But all that is beside the point, because Mexico is going to pay for the wall, so it’s likely they will manage the construction.

As John Oliver pointed out back then, when you force somebody to pay for something they don’t want, they are going to be glad to do it.

Of course there were those who objected, including past and present Mexican presidents.

Master negotiator that he is, Donald Trump had the proper response to that kind of maneuvering.

Right! You contradict me, and I am going to show you how we handled this kind of stuff back when I was in the 7th grade.

But why would Mexico pay for the wall? Because… Because they owe us.

I mean, Mexican industrialists and merchants are going to feel so guilty about getting good trade deals with the United States that they are going to dig into their corporate profits and cough up funds for the wall.

Of course, the wall was then, and always has been, popular with the American public. Well, mostly.

Actually, some people challenged the idea the wall was going to do any good. I mean, all you need for a 30-foot wall is a 31-foot ladder. Ha! Donald Trump has a great mind, and he has foreseen this ploy. What if you attempt to scale the Trump Wall with a very long ladder. You will be sorry if you do.

But Donald Trump has covered all the bases.

Readers, I swear. I have outlived a multitude of dictators and other impostors, but our president wins hands down for balls of brass. If you are having as much fun with this administration as I am, then you are welcome to join in the fun. Catch the antics of this most amusing creature on all the major cable news channels. Make a game out of it. Each time you spit up you drink costs you a point.

And the wall just got ten feet higher.

Bad Movie of the Week

Number 254 of a series

This came out in 1962 when I was deadly serious about college and probably missed it. I must have seen it first on TV, and I have some history with it. I worked with a guy named Mike, and I was doing an impersonation of some sort, and he called me the terrible triffid. Now others use the appellation. This is The Day of the Triffids, a classic and a really bad one. It’s one of that bag of down-market features currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

This is London. A brilliant meteor display lights up the sky, and inside a botanical section of the Christal Palace, triffids attack and kill the security guard. The meteor display has triggered them to go rogue. They can kill and devour animals, and they are not rooted to the ground. They roam and multiply.

Merchant naval officer Bill Masen (Howard Keel) misses out on meteor display, because he is laid up with eye surgery and has his eyes bandaged. The doctor promises that tomorrow at 0800 the bandages will come off and Masen will be able to see again. He hopes to see pretty Nurse Jamieson (Colette Wilde), but he never does.

Comes morning, and Masen is sleeping in bed when hears Big Ben strike nine. It’s 0900, and the doctor has not come to remove the bandages. Calling out, Masen receives no response, so he removes the bandages and goes looking. He finds the doctor, blind. Everybody who looked at the meteor display has gone blind. The doctor commits suicide by jumping out the window.

Meanwhile, drunkard scientist Tom Goodwin (Kieron Moore) and his wife Karen (Janette Scott) work on research at a lighthouse on a spit of rock off the coast of Cornwall. They, too, missed the display, and they have not been blinded. Tom waits for the resupply boat that will bring him another bottle of scotch. It never arrives. Neither does radio contact work very well. They are puzzled, but they soon learn the fate of the rest of the world.

Masen goes hunting through the streets of London. The few people he comes across are blind.

At the train station a train thunders in, apparently operated by a blind engineer, because it crashes into the platform. A survivor is school girl Susan (Janina Faye), who can see. They team up and go to Masen’s ship.

Masen uses the ship’s radio to gain information of the catastrophe. He and Susan listen in as an airliner, everybody aboard blind, crashes. Coincidentally the crash is near where the ship is docked.

Masen and Susan make it to France, where they meet other survivors at a château. One is Christine Durant (Nicole Maurey).

Escaped criminals invade the château. They, being in prison, avoided the light show and are not blind. They take over and turn the château into a debauchery. Triffids invade and kill everybody except Masen, Susan, and Christine.

The three make it to Cadiz in Spain, where Susan discovers an ice cream truck that plays music over speakers. They take the truck to an estate in the country near Alicante, where a submarine is available to take on survivors.

There they are menaced by triffids. They discover that sound attracts the triffids, and they use the music from the truck to distract the triffids.

When triffids attack, they encounter an electrified fence that Masen has constructed.

But the fence will not hold them, so Masen employs the hose from a fuel truck and sprays fire onto the triffids. Then, while Susan and Christine get away in a car, Masen decoys the triffids with the sound truck.

Susan and Christine make it to the submarine and are taken aboard. As they watch, Masen reaches the bluff above the water, and he dives in to be picked up by crew members from the submarine.

Meanwhile, at the light house, the triffids multiply and break in. As a last resort, Tom sprays them with a fire hose. But the fire hose uses sea water, and the sea water melts the triffids. They have discovered how to defeat the triffids, and humanity is saved.

I don’t think I have to explain why this movie is bad. For one, it is massively disjoint. The Odyssey of Masen and Susan comprises the bulk of the plot. It’s a chain of unrelated episodes without cohesion.

The bit about the convicts at the château breaks up the flow of the action, seeming to have been inserted as a distraction, perhaps to burn off some celluloid.

From France they go to Cadiz. That is way south on the Atlantic coast. From there they drive in a few hours to Alicante, which is on the Mediterranean coast, hundreds of miles away. Really?

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by John Wyndham. The Kindle edition is available on Amazon for $6 ($5.99 plus tax), and I obtained a copy for comparison. There is none. About the only similarity between the two is Masen and the matter of the triffids. There is a Susan character, as well, but no Christine. No lighthouse, either.

So we have to wonder what inspired screen writers Bernard Gordon and Philip Yordan to stretch Wyndham’s apocalyptic yarn into such a pot boiler. The book appears to have promise. There is a strong parallel to The Death of Grass (No Blade of Grass) by Samuel Youd (John Christopher), that came out five years after this book. Recommended reading. There is also a movie, but it’s not currently streaming on Prime, so I will watch for it and catch it when it does.

People Unclear

This is number 70 of a series

I subscribe to conservative news feeds, and some of the stuff is amazing. I know I’m hooked on these, but I assure you I can stop anytime. But first I need to do this one more.  Here is from a recent email:

Trump Headquarters <contact@campaigns.rnchq.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Jan 11 at 11:15 AM

John,

When President Trump accepted the Republican nomination in 2016 he promised he would always speak for YOU, the forgotten American.“These are the forgotten men and women of our country. And they are forgotten, but they’re not going to be forgotten long. These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.

Tuesday night, President Trump stood firm in front of the entire nation and made good on that promise once again.

He clearly laid out the issues at our Southern Border, pointed out that Democrats have wanted a wall in the past, and DEMANDED Democrats quit playing games and protect American citizens.

We were so thankful to him for speaking out for all Americans. As one of our top supporters, we wanted to give you a special opportunity to say thank you.

“John.” See, they addressed me by name. Trump Headquarters knows my name. I am blessed. But let me get to the details.

These are the forgotten men and women of our country. And they are forgotten, but they’re not going to be forgotten long. These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am your voice.

Oops! That’s a view from ABC World News Tonight with David Muir yesterday. It shows hurricane destruction in Puerto Rico. One thing President Trump mentioned by way of taking care of American citizens is he can use some of the money Congress approved for disaster relief in places like Puerto Rico and South Texas to build a wall along the Mexican border. It is fortunate we have President Trump looking out for ordinary Americans.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a series

Once when I was traveling I had a stop-over in an Appalachian town. I was taking the train out, and I spent some time waiting on the platform, just looking around.

I struck up a conversation with a local gent, who was sitting on a bench whittling. We talked some time.

I noticed a cat lying about on the platform, and it was kid of odd. It had no tail. I motioned to the local, “Manx cat?”

“Nope,” said, continuing his whittling. “3:40 express.”

The Government You Paid For

Number 52 of a Series

Call me a bleeding-heart liberal if you want, but I am glad we are finally getting the government we paid for. Or, is that the government Mexico is paying for? We need to sort that out. For assistance, I have checked with the President of the United States.

Wait! Mexico is not going to pay for the wall? There has got to be more to this.

OK. So Mexico is going to pay using petroleum or some other commodity. No, wait! There is this:

Now I’m confused. But then, I’m not President of the United States. But I am getting the government I paid for.

People Unclear

This is number 69 of a series

Never mind the screen shot above. I thought it was cute, and I put it in to kick off this discussion. And, yes, it is true. I subscribe to conservative mail lists. Here is an excerpt from a recent one:

Urgent (via NRCC) <info@nrccvictory.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
Jan 9 at 5:38 PM

Democrats began plotting attacks against President Trump the moment they took power.

First: Maxine Waters vowed to launch outrageous subpoena-filled sham investigations against President Trump.

Then: Radical liberals like Rashida Tlaib used profanity-laced rants to attack President Trump’s legacy and agenda.

Now: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are refusing to work with President Trump to keep America safe.

For once I have to agree that those conservatives (Republicans) are right. Every one of the above points is laced with truth. Take them in order.

Maxine Waters vowed to launch outrageous subpoena-filled sham investigations against President Trump.” There is little doubt that is exactly what Congresswoman Waters has in mind.

Then the second point: “Radical liberals like Rashida Tlaib used profanity-laced rants to attack President Trump’s legacy and agenda.” Caught you there, pesky Democrats.

And most disgracefully, the third item: “Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are refusing to work with President Trump to keep America safe.” Don’t Democrats know how hard President Trump works to keep America safe?

It is un-American the way Democrats are treating President Trump.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Everything comes to those who wait. I have been looking for Cujo to stream, and it’s on Hulu starting this month, where I obtained these screen shots. It’s based on the Stephen King novel, but I am not prepared to review the book. Rest assured, however, that there will be differences between the book and the movie.

The intro sequence shows a cute bunny rabbit, could be Marlon Bundo. Anyhow, the cute bunny rabbit is stalked by a giant St. Bernard dog named Cujo, hence the title.

Cujo chases the rabbit down a hole, and when he sticks his nose into the hole a rabid bat bites him on the nose, setting the plot for the movie.

Next we see the Trenton family, Donna (Dee Wallace), young Tad (Danny Pintauro), and husband Vic (Daniel Hugh-Kelly). Vic is a high-pressure advertising genius.

But Vic has trouble with his Jaguar sports car, and he is advised to take it to mechanic Joe Camber (Ed Lauter), who lives out in the country. Out in the sticks, really, but I’m being polite and saying “country.” Two different worlds meet here. Donna meets Joe’s repressed wife Charity (Kaiulani Lee).

She also meets Cujo, the family dog.

The scene shifts back to the suburbs, where Donna is having a fling with family friend Steve Kemp (Christopher Stone). She tries to break off the liaison, but Steve resists. He comes to the house and tries to force himself on Donna. Vic comes in. Things get tense.

Back at the Camber estate, the effects of the rabies virus become manifest. Joe’s neighbor Gary Pervier (Mills Watson) is the first to take note. He is outside pilling some trash onto the pile that is already there when Cujo approaches menacingly. Cujo attacks and kills Gary.

This is an interesting point of the plot. Joe and Gary are depicted as country bumpkins with all the expected bumpkin traits. They are coarse, slovenly, and disrespectful of women. Charity has won $5000 in the lottery, and she takes her son to visit her sister for a few days, clearing the deck for the remainder of the plot.

Cujo next kills Joe. Vic leaves on a business trip, leaving Donna with their broken down Pinto. It has trouble, and Vic has instructed her to take it to Joe to be fixed. When Donna arrives, with Tad in the car, Cujo attacks, and the two become trapped inside their car. The car takes this opportunity to go belly up, so Donna cannot simply drive away. This was in the days before cell phones, so the remainder of the plot involves Donna and Tad trapped inside the sweltering car while Cujo attempts to get at them. It’s the entire plot.

Two days pass. Vic tries to phone home (before cell phones) and gets no answer. Steve tries to phone Donna and gets no answer. Steve comes to the house, and finding Donna gone, trashes it and leaves. Vic comes home to find Donna and Tad gone, the house trashed. He has learned about Donna’s liaison with Steve, and he informs the police. Nobody has yet brought the Camber estate into the picture.

When they do, the sheriff (Sandy Ward) drives out to investigates. He fails to notice Donna and Tad trapped in the Pinto, and he fails to notice Cujo until too late. He becomes Cujo’s third victim.

Now Donna becomes desperate. Tad is having an asthma attack and is near death. She exits the car and does battle with Cujo, using a baseball bat that has been left lying in the yard. She breaks the bat on Cujo, and Cujo impales himself on the splintered handle.

Donna rushes Tad into the house and revives him in the kitchen with water. Cujo comes around and crashes through a window, spraying broken glass all over. For some reason Donna has brought the sheriff’s pistol with her, and the reaches for it, lying on the table. Exit Cujo. We weep.

About this time Vic drives up in his Jaguar, and the Trenton family is united again, and that is the end of the movie.

Yeah, there’s a bunch to look sideways at. The entire plot is about the mother and son trapped for two days by a large, rabid dog. The business with Steve is a side show to give the plot some human interest.

We see the sheriff, a professional lawman, drive up at the Camber place and fail to notice two people trapped inside a car that has blood smeared all over the windows.

We see Donna club Cujo with a baseball bat and gore him with the broken handle. She grabs the sheriff’s gun, but she does not shoot the dog. Do you believe that?

Yes, this is late 20th century America, and we see Tad driving around in a nifty Jaguar, while his loving (?) wife is forced to get around in a Pinto on its last legs. If I did that kind of shit with Barbara Jean I would be out the door before I could get a last word in.

The part of Cujo was played by Moe.

Abusing Science

Number 6 of a series

This series catalogs the abuse of science throughout recent times. Particularly, creationists have turned to misinterpretations of peer-reviewed science to bolster their attacks on modern biology and geology. These sciences contradict the core of creationists’ belief that the God of Abraham created the universe within the past few thousand years and further that a world-wide flood subsequently eradicated most of life on this planet. Beginning about 1989 I attended meetings of a group called the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science (MIOS) in the Dallas area. These meetings typically featured creationist Don Patton, a self-professed Ph.D. A business card he gave me indicated he has a degree in Geology, but there is no evidence he ever obtained so much as a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institute of higher learning. In a conversation he told me he skipped that phase of his education and went straight for the Ph.D.

Don Patton gave a talk in February 1992, and I attended with a co-worker. We listened in amazement as Patton garbled published science toward his goal of refuting scientific findings for the age of the Earth. Particularly what we found, when we checked his citations, is that he selectively pulled quotes from published works, even re-arranging the order of sections of material to create a story of his own. Following is a reprint of the story that was published in the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics in April 1992. A copy of the presentation from the meeting is available on-line, as well as a copy of some source material (see below).

An Ageless Story

By John Blanton and Jeff Umbarger

Part I

The flier from the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science (MIOS) advertised “The Scientific Evidence for the Age of the Earth.” Since this is a subject of concern to anyone interested in modern science and cosmology, we decided to give it a look. Besides, neither of us had been to a meeting of MIOS since they moved their monthly lecture series to the Ridgewood Recreation Center in northeast Dallas, and we were anxious to see how they were doing in their new home. Just fine, it turns out.

We had concluded from the title that MIOS Chairman Don Patton would be presenting scientific evidence that our favorite planet was less than 10,000 years old. Our mistake. This is not to say that MIOS is one of those proponents of old Earth creationism. Far from it. Don’s group is among those creationists who still maintain that the earth (and the universe of Carl Sagan, as well) was created just a day or two before the first humans appeared on the scene. In MIOS lectures previously Don has also been known to espouse periods of extremely rapid evolution, if you have not already guessed.

Hoping to see just how good the scientific evidence for the age of the earth is, we were told, instead, just how bad it is. Furthermore, the evidence presented was not from creationists but from honest-to-goodness, card-carrying scientists of the first kind. Really, folks. After taking in Don’s complete lecture, we began to wonder why scientists even bother with the issue of the age of the earth. None of their methods ever seem to work for them. Radiometric dating methods, says Don Patton for example, are just about worthless, even according to anti-creationist scientists such as William D. Stansfield, author of Science of Evolution, which Don quoted often during his lecture.

Don’s talk consisted to a large part of a discussion of citations from legitimate journals of science, these citations being mainly critical of modern geological dating methods. Following the lecture, MIOS was gracious enough to supply handouts of most of these citations, and that along with notes we made from the slide presentation enabled us to follow up on the evidence. One of us (Jeff) spent an evening at the UNT library making copies of the citations that could be located. The citations, as presented by Don, turned out to be even more interesting when compared with the complete text from the journals.

Here, from the MIOS lecture, is what appears to be a highly derogatory critique of radiometric dating practice. Under the heading “SHIFTY URANIUM” it reads:

“The fourth assumption presupposes that the concentration of uranium in any specimen has remained constant over the specimen’s life. …ground-water percolation can leach away a proportion of the uranium present in the rock crystals. The mobility of the uranium is such that as one part of a rock formation is being improvised another part can become abnormally enriched. Such changes can also take place at relatively low temperatures.”

I note here that the text from the handout is reprinted exactly. The cited text was from an article in Scientific American by J.D. MacDougall entitled “Fission Track Dating” (see Note 1).

Although I had gotten the impression from Don’s presentation (wrongly, it now seems) that this statement pertained to the uranium-lead dating method, a review of the complete text reveals that the process being discussed is, as the title indicates, dating of mineral samples by counting the tracks of nuclear fission products within crystals. Far from being critical of the method, the author promotes it highly in the complete copy. The “fourth assumption” being described by the author is the fourth, and the weakest of the required assumptions, the first three being 1) radioactive decay rates are constant [they are], 2) “fission tracks are produced with 100 percent efficiency” [laboratory experiments indicate they are], 3) the tracks are perfectly retained by the crystal [they are generally, but, for example, heat can anneal the material and shorten or eliminate the tracks]. The complete text concerning the fourth assumption, quoted directly from the Scientific American article follows:

“The fourth assumption presupposes that the concentration of uranium in any specimen has remained constant over the specimen’s lifetime. This assumption is usually valid, but there can be exceptions. A combination of elevated temperatures and ground-water percolation can leach away a proportion of the uranium present in rock crystals. The mobility of the uranium is such that as one part of a rock formation is being impoverished another part can become abnormally enriched. Such changes can also take place at relatively low temperatures. Andrew J. W. Gleadow and John F. Lovering of the University of Melbourne have compared heavily weathered grains of apatite, a common mineral in rocks with unweathered grains still embedded in the parent rock. The weathered grains contained approximately 25 percent less uranium than those in the parent rock and yielded anomalous age determinations.”

I am sure that the editor who prepared this material for the MIOS lecture had the comfort of the audience in mind when he eliminated the words “This assumption is usually valid, but there can be exceptions. A combination of elevated temperatures and …” from the lecture materials. This part is particularly wordy, and it does break up the train of thought being developed. Nothing lost, however. Interested readers can stop by the library and read the complete article by J.D. Macdougall. This fascinating account outlines the theory and application of the fission track dating method which appears to be both robust and broadly applicable. For example, as described by the author, the technique has been used to provide a reliable date (2.0 +/- 0.3 million years) for a sedimentary stratum in the Olduvai Gorge, and it has also been used to determine that a supposed 18th-century Chinese glass ring was really a 70-year-old forgery.

In the second part of this story, we’ll look at some claims MIOS makes for moon rock dating, and the dubious and deceptive schemes used to support their claims.

Notes:

1) J.D. Macdougall, Scientific American 235 (6), 118

Editor’s note: The page from Scientific American has been marked up to show the text that was lifted for Patton’s presentation. The picking of selected text and the exclusion of selected text is intended to mislead readers and is a typical example of the abuse of science practiced by Creationists of the First Kind.

 

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 146

Welcome to a new year, and welcome to another year in America, where possession of handguns is not only protected by the Second Amendment, but is also promoted by any number of conservative factions. So, a quick look back at 2018. Let’s call it The Year of the Handgun:

Four-year-old in critical after 2-year-old brother shoots her in head

By Elisha Fieldstadt

A 4-year-old Indiana girl was in critical condition after her 2-year-old brother shot her Thursday, police said.

The children were being watched by their grandparents Thursday morning when the 2-year-old shot his sister once in the head, according to Lebanon police.

The young girl was taken to Indiana University Riley Hospital for surgery, officials said. The state Department of Family and Child Services is assisting in the investigating.

Family court may not be necessary when siblings are allowed to settle disputes in an adult manner.