God for Sale

You asked for it. You got it. You kept saying we should not exclude God from our public lives. You wanted God to be front and center, not tucked away in some back corner of society. You got it. God is now for sale:

Mingle

Forget about those other sex-connect sites. Forget about eHarmony:

eHarmony

See that? eHarmony’s got the hot babes like Christian Mingle, but there is something they do not have. They don’t have God. God is what makes the difference. Only Christian Mingle’s got God. And we all know, God is good. Some would say God is Great, but those people often say that right before they kill somebody. Go with eHarmony, go with Christian Mingle. Either way you’re going to get screwed. But when you go with Christian Mingle you know you have the blessing of The Lord. It’s the ultimate product endorsement.

This is but one of an emerging line of Holy endorsements, and we can only hope it will not be the last. When something so touches our lives as a little nookie, it’s well advised to seek an acknowledged source. And a blessed one. Take for example the matter of self defense, so close to our hearts. For the sake of your own safety and for your family’s future you need to know what assault rifle Jesus recommends:

Last fall, the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin spoke at the WallBuilders’ Pro-Family Legislators Conference where he declared that when Jesus comes back, he’ll do so carrying an AR-15 assault rifle.

As Boykin explained once before, Jesus was a tough guy and real “man’s man,” and that is because he is a warrior who will come back covered in the blood of his enemies and carrying an assault rifle … which is why every Bible believing Christian must own one as well.

This is only the beginning of a long campaign to put God back into our daily lives. For a number of years we have been getting a foretaste of what’s in store:

Would Jesus Drive an SUV?

In an ad campaign that will air in four states, the group says Christians have a moral imperative to preserve the environment by giving up their gas-guzzling SUVs, minivans and pickups.

“Too many of the cars, trucks and SUVs that are made, that we choose to drive, are polluting our air,” the commercial says. “And endangering our health, especially the health of our children.”

The television ads, which will run in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and North Carolina, include a question: “What would Jesus drive?”

If this is any indication, then we are in for some exciting times. That is right up to the end of times, if you know what I mean.

Just think:

  • Jesus condoms (for immaculate non-conception)
  • Payday loans (available at your nearest temple)
  • Holy Water (Culligan, you are so out of here)
  • Vodka (when you really want to get stoned)
  • Apples (share one with a friend)

Those are all possibilities, but we first need to get past some present-day concerns, chief of which may be the answer to the burning question, “Which really is the Party of God?” Democrats, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you’ve been scooped on this one. The other party has captured all the big issues:

  • Creationism
  • Prayer in schools
  • America as a Christian nation

And what do the Democrats wind up with? Global warming and gay rights. You need to decide now which you would rather be: In the right or in office.

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Ecolink Z-Wave PIR Motion Detector

MotionDetector

A little change of pace here. It’s time for a product review. This is the Ecolink Z-Wave PIR Motion Detector, and I will recount my experiences with the product and also provide some insight into working with it.

A few months ago I installed some Z-Wave components in my home and also a VeraLite controller. I did two short write-ups then:

It’s not science fiction anymore. Home automation is here already, if not complete home automation. For that you would need to go to Ray Bradbury’s short story There Will Come Soft Rains. But automation enough for your immediate needs is available.

Here’s what is available: Home automation can give your home a lived in appearance even when you are away. It can do that by turning lights on and off on a computer-controlled schedule so that from the outside it does not appear you just have your lights on a timer. It can respond to various sources of stimulus, such as motion detectors and temperature sensors and activate lights and other appliances as appropriate. A home automation system can also incorporate a compatible thermostat and a security video camera.

Various home automation technologies are available, including X-10 and Z Wave. X-10 has been around for maybe 30 years, and its components communicate with each other through the house’s electrical wiring. Z Wave technology is newer and uses a low-power radio network. I have previously used some X-10 components, but I’m only going to discuss Z Wave. In particular, this discussion will involve a low-end controller called VeraLite.

More recently there was an attempted home invasion at my house. Somebody used a trick key to open our front door at three in the morning. Barbara Jean frightened the intruder away, but the incident got me to thinking about some extra safety features. What I wanted was something to detect when somebody was on the front porch, before they used a trick key to open the lock. Ecolink seems to have a good solution. I ordered one through Amazon, put it in my system, got a feel for how it worked, then ordered two more. Here are the details. See the photo above.

  • Passive infrared (PIR) sensing
  • Not weather resistant
  • Radio link operates at 908.42 MHz.
  • Range (radio link) 100 feet line of sight
  • Detects motion up to 39 feet away
  • Battery operated
  • Battery: 3V Lithium CR123A (3-year life)

It’s about the size of a deck of playing cards, only four times as thick. It has a plastic body and seems to come only in a neutral off-white color. It comes with a plastic bracket you can mount on a wall somewhere (corner or flat surface). You mount the bracket with screws then snap the unit in place. The unit can be dismounted from the bracket for service or adjustment. You can also just set the sensor unit on a table or book shelf where it will be out of the way but still effective.

What is most fun about this unit is removing the cover. It snaps off, but you need to know to pry up on the top tab with your fingernail and gently rotate the cover back and toward the bottom, being careful not to break the two bottom tabs.

One feature is pet forgiveness. It’s expected you are mainly interested in husky burglars, and you don’t want your rottweiler to be all the time tripping it. There are three settings:

  • Do not ignore anything, even hummingbirds.
  • Ignore large pets but not people.
  • Ignore small pets, but do not ignore large pets.

The pet setting is performed by opening up the unit and placing a jumper in the correct position. There are three positions for the jumper:

  • Small pet
  • Large pet
  • Test mode

If you don’t want to ignore small pets, then take the jumper off completely. A jumper comes with the unit, and to ignore nothing I just parked the jumper on a pin where it did not make a connection. That way the jumper is always available, and I don’t have to go searching for it if I later need it.

The device works this way: When it detects motion it goes into the tripped mode. Ordinarily it stays in the tripped mode for four minutes, after which it reverts to the not tripped mode. If you want the unit to revert immediately to the non tripped mode, then put the jumper in the test position. This lets you test the unit without having to wait four minutes for it to enter the not tripped mode.

Adding the sensor to your Z-Wave network is straight forward. Bring the sensor close to the Z-Wave controller. Place the controller in the inclusion mode, then install the battery into the sensor unit. This places the sensor in the inclusion mode. Then press the button (or whatever is needed) on your controller to tell it to accept the sensor and then save the status on your controller. Replace the cover on the sensor unit and take it to wherever it’s going to be used.

Setting up the operation of the sensor is through your Z-Wave controller interface. Here is how it appears on my control panel:

SensorPanel

You can see the unit reports battery status. You can also associate alerts with the unit, one of them being battery level. I have set the controller to alert me when battery level gets to 20%. VeraLite will also send me an email when a sensor is tripped. For this to happen I had to set up an account with Micasaverde (free so far) and give them the email address. I tested this, and it works. Here is the message I received when I ran a test:

Your trigger “Sensor 1 tripped” occurred.

The originating device ID:13 Front Door Sensor in room:

The ID is: 3584723292
Code: Tripped Value:1
Serial #35012892

This is a standard email, so it came with a time stamp, which would allow me later to tell the police when somebody came to my front door.

Be aware that responses are not edge-triggered. They are not associated with transitions. They are based on combinatorial logic. So when you come into your house and immediately go to the VeraLite controller and arm the sensor, it will trigger an event. That’s because the sensor has not had time (four minutes) to exit the tripped mode. If somebody trips the sensor and continues to move about in its viewing range, the sensor will not alert again for another four minutes, at which time it will go not tripped and will then trip again.

The sensor can be placed in the armed and unarmed states by the Z-Wave controller. My VeraLite controller allows me to set up a scene based on absolute time, so the controller will arm soon after I leave my house and will disarm shortly before I am scheduled to return. Micasaverde provides a free app for Android and Apple devices, which makes it most convenient to manage my sensors and lights while sitting comfortably watching TV or reading.

I paid $37 plus change for tax on each of my units. I’m guessing the price will go down in the future as usually happens with new technology.

Bad Movie of the Week

This could have been a good movie. But somebody was trying to imitate Mickey Spillane. Or Dashiell Hammett. It turns out that somebody was Steve Fisher and Oliver H.P. Garrett. Or possibly Gerald Drayson Adams and Sidney Biddell, who wrote the original story. It’s Dead Reckoning from Columbia Pictures in 1947.

Dead_Reckoning_(1947)_film_poster

Keep in mind, this is right after we and some other countries won World War Two in a big way. Everybody was still feeling good two years later, and lots of movies of the time had a tie-in with the victory. Only this one is tragic.

In the opening scene Captain Warren “Rip” Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) comes into a church late at night to seek out a noted Army chaplain, a Catholic priest still in uniform. The priest is in the 101st Airborne Division, and Rip is in the 82nd Airborne. Both men have jumped out of airplanes into combat, so Rip feels he can talk to the priest. He starts to tell the priest his story, just in case something happens to him, because his story is not over.

The story is that Captain Murdock had recommended Sergeant Johnny Drake for the Congressional Medal of Honor, and a special B-17 flight brought them back from Europe so President Truman could make the award at the White House. Only nobody has told Sergeant Drake, and when he finds out what is about to happen he bolts, hopping another train out of town. See, Johnny Drake had originally enlisted to escape the police, who wanted to prosecute him for murder. It’s the last we see of Johnny Drake in the movie.

The last we see of Sergeant Johnny Drake

The last we see of Sergeant Johnny Drake

Murdock sets out to find Sergeant Drake, and his hunt quickly leads him to Gulf City and just as quickly leads him to discover that Johnny’s body has been found burned to a crisp in a wrecked automobile. Murdock’s investigation also leads him to a night club owned by a man named Martinelli. Here he meets the lusciously beautiful Coral Chandler (Lizabeth Scott), rich widow of the man Drake supposedly killed. Murder and intrigue follow for the remainder of the film.

Rip meets the luscious Coral

Rip meets the luscious Coral

As you watch the film you will, as I do, wonder: “Did people ever really talk like that?” Here are some of the Captain’s notable lines:

  • You know, the trouble with women is they ask too many questions. They should spend all their time just being beautiful.
  • I’m the brass-knuckles-in-the-teeth-to-dance-time type.
  • [coming to from a drugged stupor] Coming out of it was like after being tapped on the button. Everything foggy – fur in my throat, an anchor on my head, and ringing in my ears.

In the film Murdock is slipped a knockout drug in his drink and framed for murder. He confronts Martinelli and is conked on the head from behind. He is beaten up and taken at gunpoint to his hotel by Martinelli’s henchman Krause, where they meet the police out front. Krause assaults one of the police officers and flees in the car.

At this point Murdock’s tale to the priest ends, and the plot reverts to real time. This is about half way through the movie. We later see Krause still working at Martinelli’s place, and the police have not hauled him in for assaulting an officer. Does anybody besides me find this strange?

The romance between Rip and Coral falls apart as the truth comes out, and everything ends tragically for Martinelli, Krause and Coral. Murdock instructs the Army that Johnny’s Medal of Honor needs to be awarded posthumously.

They do not make movies like this anymore. And there is a reason

Charm School Dropouts

All right then. We have all seen the videos. We have all studied the news reports of atrocious behavior. The threat “We will raise the flag of Allah in the White House,” has caught our attention. What then to make of this new face of religious fundamentalism?

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel lightly put it “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.” He is speaking of ISIS, Islamic State in Syria, which can most generously described as a bunch of frat boys with Kalashnikov rifles.

From Google Images

From Google Images

Of course the big question is how to respond. That is to say, how to respond to this college prank that’s gotten out of hand? That requires a little history. The Secretary thinks we have not seen anything like this before. I think he means we have not seen anything like this before in the 21st century. Prior examples abound.

  • From about 1600 years ago we have the Huns under their famous leader Attila. For some odd reason Attila’s motives seemed to have been tangible as opposed to religious. Nevertheless, he and his Huns were then and are still now viewed as most disagreeable fellows. They made war on everybody available to make war on, and they extracted tribute in exchange for not making war, sometimes increasing the required tribute in reprisal to real and imagined offenses. When they met resistance that murdered everybody who survived the battle, including all civilians. They looted as though looting were about to go out of style.
  • More recently we had the Nazis, those 20th century sadists who worked hard at giving “nasty” a bad reputation. Without abandoning their religion (Gott mit uns) they set out to make war on their neighbors whenever expedient. They murdered millions of people they disliked, including their own citizens, and they looted as though looting were about to go out of style.
  • The Japanese Empire found it expedient to make war on China, and they looted and murdered as though these practices were about to go out of style. When the rest of the civilized world expressed shock and dismay and imposed sanctions, they attacked the remainder of the civilized world, with the exception of the Soviet Union and the Empire’s own partner in atrocity, Nazi Germany.
  • Communist dictator Joseph Stalin, more as an individual initiative than as a social movement, inflicted on his citizens a massive purge (murder) in the 1930s. Subsequently mass graves yielded approximately 200,000 corpses, the work of just a few days by the Japanese Empire.
  • Pol Pot’s reform movement in Cambodia in the 1970s exterminated, through murder and mistreatment, 1 to 3 million.

ISIS does not come close to the accomplishments of these past miscreants, but we do need to give them their due. This is not a vagabond group of disaffected atheists. These are true followers of the God of Abraham. I have not seen the videos, but I am sure these people pray on their knees five times a day. Furthermore they are bringing biblical tradition to the 21st century. For example, when they are victorious in battle and defeat a town of religious deviants, they are known to sell women and young girls into slavery.

How, then, can civilized 21st century society deal with these religious crackpots. It helps to see a comparison with traditional terrorists groups of recent times:

  • Small base, fewer than 1000 followers
  • Operating in a region with strict rules of conduct and police power to enforce these rules
  • Marginal material and monetary support

ISIS sidesteps these drawbacks:

  • Large base, thousands of fanatical followers
  • Operates in regions with rules of conduct that can best be described as laissez-faire and little or no police power to enforce even laissez-faire
  • Significant material acquisition from capture in battle and generous monetary support from outside benefactors

Here are some significant terrorist groups we have defeated recently:

  • Red Brigades: Formed in 1970, they carried out murders and robberies for over a decade before being run down and imprisoned or exterminated by the Italian police.
  • Weather Underground: Formed as an offshoot of the Students for Democratic Society, they conducted bombings and armed attacks on United States government and local government agencies starting in 1969. The explosion of a bomb factory in New York City killed three prominent leaders, and police work eventually ran the remainder to ground. Survivors of the group have reintegrated in to civilized society.
  • Symbionese Liberation Army: Initially gaining notoriety with the ambush murder of a school official, they devolved into robbery and kidnapping to gain material support. A second murder occurred during a bank robbery, and members committed a number of bombings. The group was virtually exterminated in a shootout with police in Los Angeles in 1974.
  • Baader-Meinhof: Actions of the Red Army Faction resulted in 34 deaths from 1970 to 1998. Aggressive German police action eventually exterminated or captured most of the gang. The Red Army Faction had a fanatical communist ideology and suffered greatly from the fall of communism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Al-Qaeda still exists as an earnest enterprise seeking to make mischief on the civilized world. They differ significantly from ISIS in that they never sought to form a state, a country, a political entity with established borders. ISIS seems to be doing exactly that. In religious terms this is defined as a caliphate. This is the main difference, the main strength, of ISIS. It could also be its solar plexus.

What made the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Red Army Faction so intractable were their lack of an identifiable target. In comparison, seventy years ago we had a bead on the Nazis and the Japanese Empire. We ended their reigns of terror by the expedient of bombing them back almost to the Stone Age. If ISIS were ever to take root and apply for membership in the United Nations we could consider the Curtis LeMay Option. Of course, the CLO has the downside of killing a disproportionate population of civilians, but it’s not as though it has never been used.

Putting aside for a moment the CLO, what other options are there?

Nailing itself down to a define locale with defined borders has a definite downside for ISIS. They have to eat. It has been noticed that ISIS has particular skills at kidnapping, dynamiting, shooting and beheading, none of these things puts food on the table. Unless the Holy Caliphate of ISIS, as I have chosen to name this new state, sees living out its future herding goats for subsistence, I don’t see much future for it.

Its actions so far—did I mention public beheadings and the slave trade—have lost it the sympathies of (most) of the civilized world. Without resorting to the CLO, we could just box them up and wait them out. So far they have captured some significant cities, but most of what they have is desert. They (for now) can boast they have some oil fields, but these are what the civilized world views as targets. What would it take to starve ISIS back to sensibility?

  • You really have to get control of the surrounding territory. ISIS cannot be allowed to make new conquests. This goal is feasible in principle. To advance toward anywhere in Iraq they are going to have to take to the roads. This has not been a good idea for an advancing army for the past 70 years. We can do this in Iraq, but Syria remains a problem.
  • ISIS is fighting battles, and fighting consumes resources. You need to keep ISIS engaged and continue to drain it. Again, Syria is a problem. In Syria ISIS is up close to its supply of captured weapons (Syrian army plus other insurgent groups) and also to its supply of purchased and donated weapons.
  • You are going have to keep ISIS from obtaining additional funding. ISIS gets money from donations and also from countries willing to pay ransom for hostages. When this money heads toward an arms purchase it should be tracked and confiscated.
  • You are going to have to put pressure on nations and individuals that provide aid to ISIS. ISIS may be immune to military attack, but their outside friends are not. Arms that are seen heading for ISIS can be confiscated. You are going to lose some friends with such high-handed tactics, but these are not the friends you want to keep.
  • Make sure ISIS has nothing to sell. If they produce some oil, do not buy it. If somebody buys it, confiscate it. Lose some friends, defeat ISIS.
  • Bottle them up. We are talking, at least for the coming five or more years, of an army of occupation. Nobody in, nobody out. ISIS does not yet have an airline. If it does, then make sure it has no airfields.

By now you should be getting the picture. You may also be asking, “How well has this worked in the past?”

Not always so well. See North Korea.

North Korea is the closest thing we have to the Holy Caliphate of ISIS. This little spot of Hell on Earth has been under containment for the past 60 years. To the north are the borders of China and Russia, whom they have no interest in pissing off. To the south is the border with South Korea, which is defended by an occupying force that includes 30,000 American troops. For various reasons the isolation of North Korea has never been complete:

  • As of 1991 it is a member state of the United Nations.
  • The population of North Korea includes millions of people effectively held hostage by the dictatorship and representing unacceptable collateral damage in case we ever saw fit to use full military action.
  • North Korea has a number of powerful allies in the civilized world, said allies likely to respond if we took appropriate action against the dictatorship.
  • Unlike the HCI, North Korea has considerable natural resources, a sizable population and the wherewithal to produce salable goods, specifically modern weapons of war.

The threat that North Korea poses is that sells weapons of war to rogue groups like Hamas and likely ISIS. North Korea’s isolation has made it immune to the disfavor of enlightened society.

To gain the dubious status now held by North Korea, ISIS will need to acquire considerable territory, including territory with an intact infrastructure. The toilets are going to have to flush, because ISIS can’t fix them without supplies from civilized sources. Such an acquisition could be attained if ISIS were to prove victorious against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. That presents a tricky situation. We want Assad and his ISIS wannabes out, but it’s quite possible ISIS will be there waiting when they leave.

From Wikipedia: ISIS territory as of 24 August 2014

From Wikipedia: ISIS territory as of 24 August 2014

All that said, what’s going to happen? My prediction:

ISIS in Iraq will be defeated. Iraq is going to see that it’s existence hangs on a workable government that puts aside partisan ambitions and starts working toward its next 100 years.

ISIS, as a concept, will never go away. Defeated in Iraq and possibly in Syria, ISIS will go to ground and make mischief for the rest of the world for decades to come. It’s rooted in the mysticism of a deep past. It’s a cause to die for. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

No one believes seniors . . . everyone thinks they are senile.

An elderly couple was celebrating their sixtieth anniversary. The couple had married as childhood sweethearts and had moved back to their old neighborhood after they retired.. Holding hands, they walked back to their old school. It was not locked, so they entered, and found the old desk they’d shared, where Andy had carved “I love you, Sally.”

On their way back home, a bag of money fell out of an armored car, practically landing at their feet. Sally quickly picked it up and, not sure what to do with it, they took it home. There, she counted the money – fifty thousand dollars!

Andy said, “We’ve got to give it back.”

Sally said, “Finders keepers.” She put the money back in the bag and hid it in their attic. 

The next day, two police officers were canvassing the neighborhood looking for the money, and knocked on their door. “Pardon me, did either of you find a bag that fell out of an armored car yesterday?”

Sally said, “No”.

Andy said, “She’s lying. She hid it up in the attic.

Sally said, “Don’t believe him, he’s getting senile”

The agents turned to Andy and began to question him.

One said: “Tell us the story from the beginning.”

Andy said, “Well, when Sally and I were walking home from school yesterday ….”

The first police officer turned to his partner and said, “We’re outta here!”

Is Paris Burning?

This is a significant 70th anniversary. I’ve pulled the title of this post from a book and a movie:

Is Paris Burning? (French: Paris brûle-t-il ?) is a 1966 film directed by René Clément, starring an ensemble cast, about the liberation of Paris in August 1944 by theFrench Resistance and the Free French Forces during World War II. The script was based on the book of the same title by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.

[Some links deleted]

In a previous post I related the high point in the career of American general George S. Patton. Patton took charge of the American Third Army on 1 August 1944 and proceeded to make history. Given free reign, his troops, spearheaded by tanks, swept around south of German forces facing off against the Normandy Invasion force. In three weeks the German forces that had occupied France since 1940 were on the run, those that had not been trapped and annihilated in the Falaise Pocket.

Screen shot from The World at War documentary

Screen shot from The World at War documentary

I have seen the movie and read the book, but I don’t have either. So I will cite a lot of the content from memory, with help from on-line counts:

As late as 11 August, nine French Jews were arrested by the French police in Paris. On 16 August, collaboration newspapers were still published and, although food was in short supply, sidewalk cafés were crowded.

In contrast, by 18 August, more than half the railroad workers were on strike and the city was at a standstill. Virtually all the policemen had disappeared from the streets. Several anti-German demonstrations took place and armed Resistance members appeared openly. The German reaction was less than forthright prompting small local Resistance groups, without central direction or discipline to take possession of police stations, town halls, national ministries, newspaper buildings, and the Hôtel de Ville on 19 August.

There were about 20,000 Resistance members in Paris, but few were armed. Nevertheless, they destroyed road signs, punctured the tires of German vehicles, cut communication lines, bombed gasoline depots, and attacked isolated pockets of German soldiers. But being inadequately armed, members of the Resistance feared open warfare. To avoid it Resistance leaders persuaded Raoul Nordling, the Swedish consul-general in Paris, to negotiate with the German military governor of Groß-Paris and the commander of the Paris garrison, General Dietrich von Choltitz. On the evening of 19 August, the two men arranged a truce, at first for a few hours; it was then extended indefinitely.

The arrangement was somewhat nebulous. Choltitz agreed to recognize certain parts of Paris as belonging to the Resistance. The Resistance, meanwhile, consented to leave particular areas of Paris free to German troops. But no boundaries were drawn, and neither the Germans nor the French were clear about their respective areas. The armistice expired on the 24th.

[Some links deleted]

What we see first in the movie are some French youths heading out to join the Resistance. They load into the back of a truck, but when the truck stops they find themselves facing a German machine gun squad. It was a trap abetted by a French Nazi. They are all killed.

The title derives from the command given to General Choltitz to destroy Paris before evacuating his troops. The remarkable thing is that he did not carry out that order, but surrendered himself to Allied forces.

In June 1940 Paris had been surrendered to the Germans without firing a shot. During the four years following Parisians endured the humiliation and the insult of German occupation. The killing of the would-be French Resistance fighters was typical of German tactics. By August 1944 the French in Paris were ready to settle old scores. The Allies had decided to bypass Paris. Their objective was German forces, not geography. However, by 19 August the Germans began pulling out. Columns of trucks threaded down the famous Champs-Élysées. The French had few weapons, but those came out now. Apparently the Resistance fighters did have movie camera, and photographers recorded the battles. Here are a few screen shots from the World at War documentary series:

Fighters take aim in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

ParisBurning-02

Following two: French civilians motorized to do battle

ParisBurning-06

ParisBurning-03

Firing on the run

ParisBurning-05

End of the line for a German soldier shot dead in the street

ParisBurning-07

There was tragedy in abundance. Prior to the German occupation a Frenchman told his wife he was going out for cigarettes. He never came back. The next his wife heard from him he was calling from a phone. His tank had just entered the city. He was killed before he saw his wife.

A German tank was situated at the Place de Concorde at one end of the Champs-Élysées. The tank commander spotted an allied tank at the Arc de Triomphe. He ordered his gunner to set the range at 900 meters and fire. The gunner recalled from a school lesson that the distance from the Place de Concord to the Arch de Triomphe was 1000 meters, and he overrode the command and hit the Allied tank.

Victory was official on 25 August, and Allied troops marched down the Champs-Élysées. But they did not stop. They marched directly into battle, just a few miles away. For many it was their first and last view of Paris.

About the same time, 70 years ago, another “liberation” was ending in treachery and tragedy:

The Warsaw Uprising (Polish: powstanie warszawskie) was a major World War II operation by the Polish resistanceHome Army (Polish: Armia Krajowa) to liberate Warsaw from Nazi Germany. The Uprising was timed to coincide with the Soviet Union’s Red Army approaching the eastern suburbs of the city and the retreat of German forces. However, the Soviet advance stopped short, enabling the Germans to regroup and demolish the city while defeating the Polish resistance, which fought for 63 days with little outside support. The Uprising was the largest single military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II.

The Uprising began on 1 August 1944, as part of a nationwide plan, Operation Tempest, when the Soviet Army approached Warsaw. The main Polish objectives were to drive the German occupiers from the city and help with the larger fight against Germany and the Axis powers. Secondary political objectives were to liberate Warsaw before the Soviets, to underscore Polish sovereignty by empowering the Polish Underground State before the Soviet-backed Polish Committee of National Liberation could assume control. Also, short-term causes included the threat of a German round-up of able-bodied Poles, and Moscow radio calling for the Uprising to begin.

Initially, the Poles established control over most of central Warsaw, but the Soviets ignored Polish attempts to establish radio contact and did not advance beyond the city limits. Intense street fighting between the Germans and Poles continued. By 14 September, Polish forces under Soviet high command occupied the east bank of the Vistula river opposite the resistance positions; but only 1,200 men made it across to the west bank, and they were not reinforced by the bulk of the Red Army. This, and the lack of Soviet air support from a base 5 minutes flying time away, led to allegations that Joseph Stalin tactically halted his forces to let the operation fail and allow the Polish resistance to be crushed. Arthur Koestler called the Soviet attitude “one of the major infamies of this war which will rank for the future historian on the same ethical level with Lidice.”

[Some links deleted]

It became readily apparent to all that Stalin did not have in mind the liberation of Warsaw. He correctly saw the Polish Resistance fighters as a future, democratic, threat to his postwar plans for Poland as a communist satellite of the Soviet Union. All efforts by Britain and the United States to supply or to aid the Polish forces in Warsaw were blunted by the Soviets. Stalin expressed the opinion these fighters were criminals and not true patriots. He warned that Allied planes attempting to fly in aid would interfere with Soviet military operations in the area. It’s the same kind of talk we get these days from Stalin’s 21st century successor.

From Wikipedia: After the Warsaw Uprising, 85% of the city was deliberately destroyed by the German forces.

From Wikipedia: After the Warsaw Uprising, 85% of the city was deliberately destroyed by the German forces.

In 1939 England and France went to war because Germany had invaded Poland. In the end nothing was done to help Poland. Poland remained under the heels of an occupying power until 1989.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

Number 9 in a series. Concerning the outrageous TV special NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, I previously told the story of Tiahuanacu, the archaeological site 12,000 feet up in Bolivia. Purported to be 17,000 years old by a couple of dubious researchers featured on the show, it is, in fact, less than 2000 years old, in keeping with what is known about the history of human habitation on the American continents.

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Host Charlton Heston states:

Mysterious metal clamps revealed a level of technology far beyond their time.

Meso-American Archaeologist Neil Steede reminds us:

The antiquity and the technological sophistication of Tiahuanacu should make each and every one of us fully question the origins of civilization.

Actor and host Charlton Heston wants to know:

Where did the Tiahuanacans learn all of this complex process?

Then he proposes to answer his own question:

The answer may lie half way around the world in one of Man’s most mysterious monuments…

Finally, we get around to talking about the Sphinx. We were all wondering when NBC’s mysterious special would get around to the Sphinx. I count this 32 minutes into a 51-minute video clip.

Heston:

Is it possible there was an advanced civilization on this planet thousands of years before history tells us?

Notice it’s a question, not a statement. This is called plausible deniability. We next meet “investigative journalist” Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods.

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There’s a lot of stuff here, so I’m going to have to summarize:

  • We see Hancock at the Stonehenge archaeological site in England.
  • He has “dedicated nine years of his life to tracking down the evidence.”
  • This monument is one of a category of such monuments in the world.
  • They have a number of things in common.
  • They have large stone components, some weighing hundreds of tons.
  • They have “very precise, scientific astronomical alignment.”
  • In all cases we don’t know who built them.
  • “We are looking at a common influence that touched all of these places long before recorded history began.”
  • This unknown intelligence left behind a legacy in all of these places.

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Back to the Sphinx. Host and narrator Charlton Heston explains further, but I will here just repost from other sources. We are introduced to John Anthony West:

John Anthony West (born January 1, 1932 in New York) is an American author, lecturer, guide and a proponent of Sphinx water erosion hypothesis in geology.

Influenced by R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, in 1993 his work with Robert M. Schoch, a geologist and associate professor of natural science at the College of General Studies at Boston University was presented by Charlton Heston in a NBC special called “The Mystery of the Sphinx” that won West an News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Research and a nomination for Best Documentary. The documentary contends that the main type of weathering evident on the Great Sphinx (pictured) and surrounding enclosure walls could only have been caused by prolonged and extensive rainfall during the time period from 10,000 to 5000 BCE and was carved out of limestone bedrock by an ancient advanced culture (such as the Heavy Neolithic Qaraoun culture). This challenged the conventional dating of the carving of the statue circa 2500 BCE. West suggested that the Sphinx may be over twice as old as originally determined, whereas Schoch made a more conservative determination of between 5000 and 7000 BCE.

[Some links deleted]

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And Robert Bauval:

Robert Bauval (born 5 March 1948 in Alexandria, Egypt) is a Belgian author, lecturer, and Ancient Egypt researcher, best known for his Orion Correlation Theory.

Bauval is specifically known for the Orion Correlation Theory (OCT). This proposes a relationship between the fourth dynasty Egyptian pyramids of the Giza Plateau and the alignment of certain stars in the constellation of Orion.

One night in 1983, while working in Saudi Arabia, he took his family and a friend’s family up into the sand dunes of the Arabian desert for a camping expedition. His friend pointed out Orion, and mentioned that Alnitak, the smaller more easterly of the stars making up Orion’s belt was offset slightly from the others. Bauval then made a connection between the layout of the three main stars in Orion’s belt and the layout of the three main pyramids in the Giza necropolis.The theory, known as the Orion Correlation Theory or OCT, was first published in Discussions in Egyptology (DE, Volume 13, 1989)

However the Orion Correlation Theory has been challenged within mainstream archaeology and history as a form of pseudoscience. Among his more notable theories is the possible connection with the Giza necropolis and the epoch of 12,500 years ago. Several Egyptologists have however entertained the general idea that some astronomical correlations may have figured in or been represented by certain physical features and orientations in Ancient Egyptian monuments. In particular, the aspects of the OCT which claim there is a link between the Ancient Egyptian structures at Giza and the constellations as they looked some 12,500 years ago are yet to find support from many within the field.

[Some links deleted]

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The similarities between Egyptian and American sites are hard to escape, according to Heston:

  • Huge pyramids precisely aligned
  • Temples with megalithic stones
  • Extremely find joints (between stones) with less that 1/50 inch gaps
  • Similar style royal headdresses
  • Construction using L-shaped corner blocks
  • Same style metal clamps to hold stones together
  • Use of mummification to preserve dead bodies

Except the metal clamps were not so similar. Other than that, we find that diverse groups solved identical problems in the most logical and identical way to be remarkable. I mean, if you don’t build a pyramid, then you’re going to have to build a sphere or a rhomboid. That would really show off the influence of an advanced intelligence.

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What does all this point to? Glad you asked. There must have been a sophisticated group of sea-faring people who crossed the Atlantic and brought the same advanced intelligence here. That gets us to the Piri Reis Map:

The Piri Reis map is a pre-modern world map compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis (pronounced [piɾi ɾeis]). Approximately one-third of the map survives; it shows the western coasts of Europe and North Africa and the coast of Brazil with reasonable accuracy. Various Atlantic islands including the Azores and Canary Islands are depicted, as is the mythical island of Antillia and possibly Japan.

The historical importance of the map lies in its demonstration of the extent of exploration of the New World by approximately 1510, and in its claim to have used Columbus’s maps, otherwise lost, as a source. It used ten Arab sources, four Indian maps sourced from the Portuguese and one map of Columbus. More recently it has been the focus of pseudohistoric claims for the premodern exploration of the Antarctic coast.

[Some links deleted]

640px-Piri_reis_world_map_01

What is so amazing about this map, according to the narrator, is its accuracy. It was a long time after this map was produced before clocks were invented with enough accuracy to allow navigators to compute longitude. Yet this map shows the coasts of Africa and South America within a half a degree of longitude. In case you are wondering, half a degree at the equator is about 36 miles.

There’s only a slight problem as I see it, looking at the map of Piri Reis. The coast lines are not even close to what is depicted in modern maps. Another way of saying that is the coast lines in the Piri Reis Map are wrong by a whole lot. Forget about half a degree. Let’s talk about hundreds of miles off. If it was an advanced technology behind the creation of this map, then we are going to need a new definition for the term advanced technology. Graham Hancock is eager to remind us this an accuracy we can hardly match today. I am eager to remind you let’s hope not.

That’s enough of Egypt, the Sphinx and Meso American archeology. We need to get on to Charles Hapgood. But you will have to wait until the next post.

MIOS

Old NTS Logo

This comes under amusement only. I attended a number of meetings of the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science (MIOS), a young Earth creationist group in Dallas. Usually the programs were presented by Don Patton, maybe one of the leading YEC proponents in the North Texas area until the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) moved there from Santee, California, in 2010.

This is one of the times the program was presented by David Bassett, who seems to have had some scientific training, though he never allowed it to interfere with his Christian faith. I originally posted this in the September 1997 issue of The Skeptic, the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics.

Living Dinosaurs at MIOS

by John Blanton

We sort of lost touch with MIOS (Metroplex Institute of Origin Science) while I was preoccupied with other matters, so on February 4th I dropped in for their monthly meeting. David Bassett was their speaker for the night, and the subject was “Living Dinosaurs.” David heads up the science department at the Ovilla Christian School south of Dallas. His talk centered on the idea that (if I may paraphrase) “Evolutionists tell us that dinosaurs have become extinct, but since they existed up into modern times, the evolutionists must be all wet and so is evolution itself.”

David Bassett presented a number of cases he said argued for the existence of dinosaurs in recent times. Winged dinosaurs, he said, are evidenced by many instances in literature. He exhibited an illustration of the hilt of Beowulf’s sword, which showed a winged serpent-like critter, an obvious reference to a pterodactyl or a pterosaur. Beowulf, who lived from 495 slew Grendel, who was likely a modern dinosaur-like beast. He also cited many references to “flying snakes,” which were surely sightings of the same animals. Further, the February 8, 1856 “Illustrated London News” showed a live pterodactyl found in France, and 1886 and 1890 issues of the “Tombstone Epitaph” contained a photo of a pterosaur and told of some local riders who encountered and killed a pterosaur that had an 8-foot long head. Finally, Basset cited Carl Baugh’s reports on pterodactyls in New Guinea last year (see the related story on the Creation Evidences Museum in the September 1996 issue of The Skeptic).

Bassett did express some concern about these flying pterosaur sightings. Creationists have concluded that the dense atmosphere preceding The Flood made it possible for these huge creatures to fly, so how could they have been flying in the 19th century!

The recovery by Japanese fishermen in 1977 of the remains of a plesiosaur is further proof that the supposedly extinct dinosaurs are still among us. Japanese scientists, who are not so hung up on evolution as American scientists, pleaded for the preservation of their find. However, the fishermen could not stand the stench and deep-sixed their catch after taking photos. The Loch Ness Monster is an additional example of a living plesiosaur. In fact, the 35 to 45- degree north latitude is the lake monster’s home ground from June through August. They winter in the Indian Ocean.

Additionally, there is the remarkable evidence of living dinosaurs in the Congo region. Although Polaroid photos of these specimens were ruined by the awful climate there, Bassett did have a copy of a copy of an audio tape that was made by a recent expedition. On this tape we could clearly hear the popping sound made by the dinosaurs as they bellowed just a short distance away in the forest. The high atmospheric pressure in this region accounts for the viability of these ancient species. The pressure there is 1.3 to 1.5 times normal atmospheric pressure. This is because of the dense vegetation, which keeps the air quite humid. Of course, water vapor is denser than dry air, David Bassett told the audience.

When he is not contributing to the science education of students at Ovilla Christian School, Bassett works the front desk at Carl Baugh’s Creation Evidences Museum near Glen Rose. Check it out. Also, while at the MIOS meeting I took the opportunity to purchase a copy of D. Russell Humphreys’ recent book Starlight and Time. Humphreys is a legitimate Ph.D. working at Sandia National Laboratories, and his book explains how we can be seeing light from stars and galaxies millions of light years away while the universe is less than ten thousand years old. Watch for a review in a coming issue of The Skeptic.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is the 8th in a series. Previously in my review of NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man I had some fun with the story of Michael Cremo and Richard Milton. They wanted to discredit “Darwin’s theory of evolution,” otherwise known as basic 21st century biological science. They did it by demonstrating the fact of biological evolution.

Next up, host Charlton Heston introduces us to the ancient city of Tiahuanacu. First he reminds us that traditional history has civilization beginning in the Old World (Africa, Asia, Europe) and spreading to the New World (North and South America).

But there is evidence that humans were building cities in the New World thousands of years before history tells us.

Jericho is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city:

Jericho (/ˈɛrɪk/; Arabic: أريحا ʾArīḥā [ʔaˈriːħaː] ( ); Hebrew: יריחו Yeriẖo; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. The city was occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupationsince 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994. It is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history.

[Some links deleted]

It would appear that Tiahuanacu is far older. Maybe 17,000 years old.

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How do we know? We next meet Neil Steede, Meso-American archaeologist.

Neil Steede, a scientist living in Missouri, calls himself a “contractual archaeologist” and is frequently paid by institutions or museums to examine controversial claims. Since he has no vested interest in the results, his approach is refreshing and usually unbiased. His look at this collection, up close and in detail, is the subject of an extremely well documented video, Jurassic Art, available at BC Productions. In this video, Steede confirms the date of the clay figures, but points out some possible flaws in the dating and analyses. Although he does not confirm or repudiate the authenticity of this find, his discussion of their implications is both shocking and controversial.

According to Steede, either our human history goes farther back in time than we ever imagined or the existence of dinosaurs– a species believed to have been extinct for 60 million years– survived to more recent times in human memory and mythology. Steede questions whether or not the carbon dating reflects the time when the figurines were made and fired, or whether the test simply indicates when the clay itself was formed by nature.

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Host Charlton Heston first fills us in on the story’s background. Main stream science considers Tiahuanacu to have been constructed by the predecessors to the Incas in the region about 2000 years ago:

However, around the turn of the century [1900], Bolivian scholar Arthur Posnansky began a 50-year study at the ruins of Tiahuanacu. Using the science of astronomy, Posnansky came to the amazing conclusion. He calculated that Tiahuanacu had been constructed more than 17,000 years ago, long before any civilization was supposed to have existed.

He continues:

Even though the accuracy of Posnansky’s measurements was confirmed by engineers, his conclusions about the age of Tiahuanacu have never been accepted.

Neil Steede to the rescue. Steede stepped in to rework Posnansky’s research. Steede noticed something others have—that stones used in the construction are amazingly well-formed and are fitted together with nary a thin gap. Furthermore, Adjacent stones are locked together with metal “staples” formed by pouring molten metal into cavities carved into the stones.

Tiwanaku monumental architecture is characterized by large stones of exceptional workmanship. In contrast to the masonry style of the later Inca, Tiwanaku stone architecture usually employs rectangular ashlar blocks laid in regular courses. Their monumental structures were frequently fitted with elaborate drainage systems. The drainage systems of theAkapana and Pumapunku structures include conduits composed of red sandstone blocks held together by ternary (copper/arsenic/nickel) bronze architectural cramps. The I-shaped architectural cramps of the Akapana were created by cold hammering of ingots. In contrast, the cramps of the Pumapunku were created by pouring molten metal into I-shaped sockets. The blocks have flat faces that do not need to be fitted upon placement because the grooves make it possible for the blocks to be shifted by ropes into place. The main architectural appeal of the site comes from the carved images and designs on some of these blocks, carved doorways, and giant stone monoliths.

[Some links deleted]

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Steede explains this remarkable practice would have required bringing a metal refractory right up to the construction site, a tremendous undertaking. Or else, the stones could have been carved and their links poured at a central location and then moved to the construction site, the most likely explanation.

The ancient date arrived at by Posnansky and confirmed by Steede rests on the amazing fact that the structures were crafted with such precision. Steede concludes from their passion for precision the ancients must have sought to align the site astronomically. The problem is, the alignment with the sun is not perfect. It’s off by some. In fact, it’s off by an amount that would have existed 17,000 years ago, when the Earth’s axis was aligned differently.

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-10

 

Forget about a body of archaeological evidence that the civilization responsible for Tiahuanacu’s construction only lasted from 300 to 1000 AD. Charlton Heston is pleased to tell us the story of the Spanish Conquistadors asking the Incas if they built this site. The Incas were happy, in return, to tell their future murderers that somebody else built the city thousands of years earlier. That information is remarkable, considering:

The site was first recorded in written history by Spanish conquistador Pedro Cieza de León. He came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 while searching for the Inca capital Qullasuyu.

The name by which Tiwanaku was known to its inhabitants may have been lost as they had no written language. The Puquina language has been pointed out as the most likely language of Tiwanaku.

Modern civilization, with all its resources, is just barely able to retrieve history from just 3000 years ago, yet the Incas kept records going back over 10,000 years? It’s certain the builders did not leave a written record, because they had no written language.

So what does all of this to do with the Sphinx? I’m glad you brought that up. I will cover that in the next post.

The Ape-Man Within

TheApe-ManWithin

Husband and wife writing team Sprague and Catherine de Camp moved to Plano, Texas, about 25 years ago in semi-retirement. We got to know them, and they joined our group, The North Texas Skeptics. This was Sprague’s next to last published book, and I received a copy in the mail for review. The following review appeared in the January 1996 issue of The North Texas Skeptic.  It’s The Ape-Man Within.

L. Sprague de Camp.  Prometheus Books, Buffalo, 1995.  266 pages (bibliography).  $25.95.

Reviewed by John Blanton

Where we came from has made us what we are.  This is the theme of Sprague de Camp’s latest non-fiction work.  Our ancestors were wild animals who somehow domesticated themselves and ratcheted their way up in steps to what we know as civilized society.  We dress ourselves in fine silk and go to the opera and to the ballet, and we probe the depths of the atom and visit nearby planets, but our daily actions belie all this pretense and show us to be the product of our forefathers after all.

The “theratics” were the hunter-gatherers, little removed from roving packs of ground-dwelling apes.  Next came the “georgics,” who improved their lot over the theratic existence by staying in one place and obtaining reliable sources of food from the land and from captive animals.  Then came the “astics,” builders and inhabitants of cities.  The development of crafts is prominent in this stage.  Finally, we have become the “dynatics,” exerting our power over our environment.  This progression has come as a consequence of, and often in spite of, the psyche we inherited from our unwashed predecessors.

Critics of social Darwinism stand clear, for your nemesis runs free in this book.  Darwinism explains all:  love, jealousy, rage, hatred, racism, and even self-sacrifice.  Whether the connections be cause and effect or just post hoc rationalization, the reader cannot deny the compelling arguments.  Why do people kill without profit?  Why do we divide ourselves by erecting artificial boundaries of race and culture?  Why does belief in religion persist in the face of overwhelming counter evidence?
In this book we are pointedly reminded of much that we already know (or should know).  There is less genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees than there is between chimpanzees and gorillas, and in the social and sexual antics of chimps and other apes we see reflections of our own society.  Despite all this, the author emphasizes that heredity does not excuse antisocial activity; morality, after all, being a human invention.  There are also some surprises for those of us who haven’t checked out the sections on archeology and anthropology in the library.  For example, the tales of Moses and the exodus from Egypt seem contrary to evidence that the people involved really migrated down from the North.  (Furthermore, if the Jews did migrate from Egypt, they forgot to tell the Egyptians they were leaving, or else the Egyptians forgot to write it down.)  And finally we are told more about a certain female gorilla named Congo than we really wanted to know.

Do not look here for hope and reaffirmation.  On this matter the writer is gloomy and more pessimistic than I can allow myself to be.  Sprague de Camp’s views on religion are no secret, and one would expect to find in him a general condemnation of it.  However, with surprising cynicism he acknowledges its necessity.  Never having inherited real altruism, we require an imaginary, authoritarian presence to continually threaten us with punishment and to cajole us with the promise of reward in order to keep us from seeking short term gain through socially destructive conduct.

This book is not based on objective science, though there are research citations aplenty to establish its modern knowledge base.  Prominent Darwinists, Stephen Jay Gould included, will disagree with many of its conclusions.  Instead, this is a statement of the philosophy, the observations, of a modern man.  It is told, not in narrative form, but more as a diary, as though the author is gathering a lifetime of experience and revealing it in a conversation with the reader.  Several points are restated frequently throughout the book whenever discussion of a new subject recalls them.  Read this as the wisdom of one who has trod the length and breadth of the Twentieth-Century.  You will hardly find a better perspective.

Physics of the Squirt

I’m not sure whether we had to work this problem in physic class in high school, but I eventually had to do it at work. I will just post the solution here for future reference in case anybody else has to scratch around and come up with the right computations. It went like this:

I worked for a company that made ink jet printers. These were high-performance jobs that fit into machines that processed bank checks. The machine would feed 20 checks per second into a transport mechanism that would whisk them along at 200 inches per second past various stations. One of the stations was an MICR station that would read the magnetic characters along the bottom edge. Another station would read information off the check using OCR (optical character recognition) technology. A lot of useful information was captured from the speeding checks, and we wanted to immediately put it back onto the checks in various forms. One form was a bar code that could subsequently be read using cheaper technology. We also wrote in numbers and letters on the checks. All this writing was done by ink jet printers.

See the drawing. The printer had a reservoir of ink, and the ink was fed under pressure to a tiny glass nozzle. For simplicity I’m not showing how the stream was broken up into drops and how the drops were deflected to form the patterns printed on the checks. My problem was: “What pressure is needed to get an ink jet at 100 inches per second?”

WaterJet

So you know the velocity. Do you need to know anything else? Apparently only the density of the ink. It works like this. You have a number of parameters and variables:

  • v = velocity of the ink jet
  • A = cross sectional area of the jet
  • P = pressure in the ink reservoir

Where do you go from here? Start with a simple relationship between momentum, force and time:

mv = ft

Mass times velocity = force times time.

If you want a mass m to have a velocity v you can achieve this with a force f applied for a time t.

m is the mass of an arbitrary chunk of ink.

f is the force on this chunk of ink.

t is the time the force acts on this chunk of ink.

Then f = AP.

m = Axρ

x is the distance the ink moves while the force is acting on it.

ρ is the density of the ink.

v = x / t.

And there you have it. A little algebraic manipulation gives you

InkJet

Any time you apply a pressure (pressure difference) P to a liquid of density ρ you can achieve a velocity v.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is number 7. There are going to be more.

I’ve been reviewing the special NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man, which came out in 1996. Previously I posted on the so-called Klerksdorp spheres, metallic spheres with interesting features found by miners in South Africa and other places. These were supposed to be objects created by humans or other intelligent beings from 2.8 million years ago. There was also the tale of the carcass of creature pulled from the ocean by Japanese fishermen, hinted at being a long-extinct plesiosaur. All of this was supposed to demonstrate that main stream science has its time scale all wrong. Enough of that.

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Narrator Charlton Heston next takes us to the Natural History Museum in London. Standing in front of it is Richard Milton, Author of Shattering the Myths of Darwinism.

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He speaks:

The building behind me is London’s Natural History museum, and it’s rather like a cathedral or church. And in a way that’s what it is. It’s a kind of temple to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

People come to museums like the Natural History Museum to get answers to their questions. Have we evolved from apes? Do humans and apes share a common ancestry? And to look at an exhibit like this you would think that questions has been answered decisively yes. But the answer is far from decisive.

Milton elaborates.

This presentation is the interpretation of one group of scientists. There are other interpretations, but you won’t find them in this or any other museum in the world.

Richard Milton (born 1943) is a British journalist and writer who deals with often highly controversial subjects. Milton, an engineer by training, has published on the topics of popular history, business, scientific controversies and alternative science and has published a novel.

His books, especially those on scientific controversies, have given rise to heated debate. To his critics Milton is a contrarian who engages in controversy for its own sake, while to his supporters he is a writer unafraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects and orthodoxies that have become dogmas. Milton is controversial in the field of evolution as he is a neo-Lamarckian who has supported the experiments of Paul Kammerer.

The Facts of Life aroused intense controversy and was met with both high praise and intense criticism. Reviewing it in New Statesman, Oxford evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins described it as “twaddle that betrays, on almost every page, complete and total pig-ignorance of the subject at hand”.

Milton’s claims have been criticised as pseudoscience by philosophy professor Robert Carroll. Milton appeared on The Mysterious Origins of Man, a television special arguing that mankind has lived on the Earth for tens of millions of years, and that mainstream scientists have suppressed supporting evidence.

Milton’s claims on the age of mankind have also been criticised for scientific inaccuracy.

[Some links deleted]

Narrator Charlton Heston continues. The idea that humans and apes share a common ancestor is accepted in the scientific community, but its acceptance hangs on fossil evidence. That brings into question the so-called missing links. These are the fossils that are supposed to be intermediary between ancient species and humans. Such evidence is “highly contested.” Milton:
Darwinists have promised us the missing link, so they’ve got to deliver. They’ve got to come up with one. Any missing link will do, it seems.

Each time a supposed link is discovered, Milton tells us, it is hailed as the answer, only later to be reclassified as either a human or an ape, and it’s discarded, and the search goes on.

Heston tells the sad tale of Java Man:

Eventually, similarities between Pithecanthropus erectus (“Java Man”) and Sinanthropus pekinensis (“Peking Man“) led Ernst Mayr to rename both Homo erectus in 1950, placing them directly in the human evolutionary tree. Because Java Man is the type specimen of H. erectus, it is sometimes given the name Homo erectus erectus. Other fossils belonging to that species were found in the first half of the twentieth century in Sangiran and Mojokerto, both in Java; older than those Dubois found, they are also considered part of the species Homo erectus.

Estimated to be between 700,000 and 1,000,000 years old, at the time of their discovery the fossils of “Java Man” were the oldest hominin fossils ever found.

[Some links removed]

Heston does not get to this point in his tale of Java Man. He only reminds us that at the end of his life the Java Man’s discoverer,  Eugène Dubois, reconsidered and decided the Java Man skull was really that of an ape. I have heard this tale about Dubois, as well, but I can find no reference to it in responsible literature. I can only guess the producers, and thereby Heston, got the idea from mythology being floated around by creationists.

Totally false. Although he did emphasise the ape-like features of the skullcap, Dubois did not say it came from a giant gibbon. He always believed that it was an intermediate between ape and human (correctly), and that the skullcap and thigh bone belonged to the same creature (probably incorrect). Java Man is still recognized as a member of Homo erectus by all competent modern scientists (and as an ape by almost all creationists).

Heston also seems to be mistaken in claiming “Nevertheless, the Java Man was prominently displayed at the Museum of Natural History in New York until 1984. Since then it has been removed.” Jim Foley, writing in the Talk Origins Archive a month after the TV special first aired noted:

According to Phil Nicholls (pnich@globalone.net), Java Man was never removed from the American Museum of Natural History, and is still in their human evolution hall, as it should be. It is also mentioned in “The Human Odyssey”, a 1993 book based on the AMNH’s human evolution exhibit by its curator, Ian Tattersall)

Another famous transitional fossil is Lucy, retrieved by Donald Johanson in 1974. We see Michael Cremo weighing in on this matter. Again, Jim Foley explains and wraps up this TV show’s story about human fossil evidence:

Michael Cremo, co-author of Forbidden Archaeology: “Lucy the famous australopithecine. Discovered by Donald Johanson. He says she was very human-like. But I was at a conference of anthropologists where many of them were making the case that she was hardly distinguishable from an ape or a monkey.”

Johanson claimed that Lucy’s locomotion was very human-like, but not Lucy as a whole. Many scientists now believe that Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) spent a significant amount of time in the trees; their hands and feet seem adapted to climbing. That does not mean she was “hardly distinguishable from an ape or monkey”, and I would be very surprised if any reputable scientist has said any such thing. The pelvis of Lucy, for example, looks a lot more like a human pelvis than a chimp pelvis. There appears to be near universal agreement that when on the ground, Lucy was predominantly bipedal, to a far greater extent than any living ape or monkey.

Richard Milton: “These bones have been restored to resemble a missing link. Part human, part ape. And Lucy is now thought of as being our long lost ancestor. But this is merely an interpretation. An interpretation of one group. Those same bones can be, and have been, taken by scientists and identified as simply an extinct ape. Nothing to do with us at all.”

Milton has not actually presented any evidence in favor of his claim that Lucy is just an extinct ape, except for the fact that some scientists supposedly agree with him. Arguing from authority seems a strange tactic to support an viewpoint that is strongly rejected by scientists. Few scientists would agree that Lucy was no more closely related to humans than chimps are, and even fewer, if any, would say that Lucy was “just an extinct ape”. The large majority accept, on the basis of physical similarities, that Lucy was an ancestor of Homo sapiens, or a close relative of an ancestor.

MOM’s treatment of the evidence for human evolution consists of a dubious interpretation of Lucy, and outright falsehoods about Java Man. The rest of the abundant evidence has been ignored. See the Fossil Hominids FAQ for a synopsys of the evidence for human evolution, and creationist responses to it.

A proper perspective needs to be taken. Just what is it that Milton and Cremo are attempting to demonstrate? If they want to convince us that evolution has not happened, that humans did not evolve from a now extinct species, then they have been making the wrong argument. They have only argued that humans did not evolve from the species represented by these fossils.

The fact left lying on the floor is that the fossil evidence shows that a long time ago there were no humans, and now we know there are humans. If I trace my lineage back I get to people who were in England and Scotland and France before that. Those people my family name came from migrated to France from Scandinavia. I am not going out on a limb in assuming that those Scandinavian people had ancestors, as well, and those ancestors had ancestors and so on and on until my ancestors were creatures that were not humans, because after a time in the past there were no humans.

This alone should demonstrate the truth of evolution. It’s only the details anybody is arguing about now. This is a fact that Charlton Heston, Michael Cremo, Richard Milton and the show’s producers Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire chose to ignore back in 1996 when they all got together to put this piece of fiction together.

Coming up next, NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man will tell us about “the mysterious city of Tiahuanacu, built at an altitude of twelve and a half thousand feet.” Bring your oxygen masks.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This has got to be number 6 in my series of posts about the documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The previous post covered the amazing finger fossil, which unfortunately does not appear to be the fossil of a human finger. Before that I touched on the Burdick Print, an apparent stone carving being passed off by creationists as an actual human footprint in Cretaceous limestone. If by now you are beginning to suspect each of the remarkable stories has the look and feel of a hoax, then you are starting to get the idea.

Veteran actor Charlton Heston, now deceased, hosts the show, and his presence is commanding and authoritative. What I find most remarkable is the way he presents each of these tales with a straight face. You will recall he won an Academy Award for his role in Ben Hur.

Up next we are told of some remarkable metallic spheres found in Klerksdorp, South Africa.

Yet, as we saw earlier, objects have been found in rock strata much older than this. In Klerksdorp, South Africa, hundreds of metallic spheres were found by miners in pre-Cambrian strata, said to be a fantastic 2.8 billion years old.

Call me skeptical if you want, but I find that to be especially fantastic, since the Cambrian began about 541 million years ago. The chart from the video shows the spheres at 2.8 billion, not 541 million, years ago.

 

 

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-01

Let’s take a look at one of these remarkable balls. Fortunately the producers had one to show. Here is a screen shot from the video.

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-02

Charlton Heston continues:

The controversy centers around the fine grooves circling some of the spheres. Lab technicians were at a loss to explain how they could have been formed by any known natural process. According to the curator of the Klerksdorp Museum, Roelf Marx, the spheres are a complete mystery. “They look man made, yet at the time in Earth’s history when they came to rest on the rock, no intelligent life existed. They’re like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Viewing this you might get the idea that no intelligent life exists today.

Of course, real scientists, taking a real view of the matter, have thrown some cold water on this notion. Said cold water not appearing anywhere in the TV documentary.

Various professional geologists agree that the Klerksdorp spheres originated as concretions, which formed in volcanic sediments, ash, or both, after they accumulated 3.0 billion years ago. Heinrich argues that the wollastonite nodules formed by the metamorphism of carbonate concretions in the presence of silica-rich fluids generated during the metamorphism of the volcanic deposits containing them into pyrophyllite. It was also argued that the hematite nodules represent pyrite concretions oxidized byweathering of near surface pyrophyllite deposits. Below the near-surface zone of weathering, which has developed in the pyrophyllite, pyrite concretions are unaffected by weathering and, thus, have not been altered to hematite. The radial internal structure of these objects is a pseudomorph after the original crystalline structure of the original carbonate or pyrite concretion.

Both Cairncross and Heinrich argue that the grooves exhibited by these concretions are natural in origin. As proposed by Cairncross, the grooves represent fine-grained laminations within which the concretions grew. The growth of the concretions within the plane of the finer-grained laminations was inhibited because of the lesser permeability and porosity of finer-grained sediments relative to the surrounding sediments. Faint internal lamina, which corresponds to exterior groove, can be seen in cut specimens. A similar process in coarser-grained sediments created the latitudinal ridges and grooves exhibited by innumerable iron oxide concretions found within the Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah called “Moqui Marbles”. Latitudinal grooves are also found on carbonate concretions found in Schoharie County, New York. The latitudinal ridges and grooves of the Moqui marbles are more pronounced and irregular than seen in the Klerksdorp (Ottosdal) concretions because they formed in sand that was more permeable than the fine-grained volcanic material in which the Klerksdorp (Ottosdal) concretions grew.

Very similar concretions have been found within strata, as old as 2.7 to 2.8 billion years, comprising part of the Hamersley Group of Australia. The Australian concretions and the Klerksdorp spheres are among the oldest known examples of concretions created by microbial activity during the diagenesis of sediments.

[Some links deleted]

Next we meet “author researcher” David hatcher Childress. We are told he “has written numerous articles on the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs.”

MysteriousOriginsOfMan-03

This is posted on YouTube, and one of the nice features of the site is that you can sometimes get a transcript from the video. The transcript is apparently produced by a voice to text process, which doesn’t always get it right. I obtained Childress’s quote from the transcript.

I think that one other solutions to the paradox of dinosaurs and people together and the vast discrepancy in time this … the whole time line above millions of years versus as only thousands of years can be explained in a cataclysmically geological view of the past where rather than geological events taking place over millions of years they take place more quickly. What is a million years on a geological timescale is in fact only say a thousand years and therefore is going to bring all this dating much closer to us and make it possible so that in a scientific way man and dinosaurs can have existed together in the past and in fact dinosaurs can still be alive today in small numbers.

That’s a remarkable view of space and time, especially time, but Childress uses it to rationalize something else.

The Zuiyo-maru carcass (ニューネッシー Nyū Nesshii?, lit. “New Nessie“) is a creature caught by the Japanese fishing trawler Zuiyō Maru (瑞洋丸?) off the coast of New Zealand in 1977. The carcass’s peculiar appearance led to speculation that it might be the remains of a sea serpent or prehistoric plesiosaur.

Although several scientists insisted it was “not a fish, whale, or any other mammal”, analysis later indicated it was most likely the carcass of a basking shark by comparing the number of sets of amino acids in the muscle tissue. Decomposing basking shark carcasses lose most of the lower head area and the dorsal and caudal fins first, making them resemble a plesiosaur.

[Some links deleted]

Metallic sphere, a plesiosaur carcass, what else from the fertile minds of producers Bill Cote, Carol Cote and John Cheshire? The world waits. In the next post of this series we can expect to see the producers take on the venerable theory of evolution. This should be interesting.

Bad Movie of the Week

I’m getting these out of order. This one was the second of a series of comedy flicks directed by William Beaudine, but no further installments were produced after this one. Some may wonder why.

Director William Beaudine may have been Hollywood’s most prolific director, credited with 75 releases in the 1940s alone. Here I will just list the first 38.

  1. She Done Him Right (1940)
  2. Four Shall Die (1940) aka Condemned Men
  3. Misbehaving Husbands (1940)
  4. Up Jumped the Devil (1941)
  5. Emergency Landing (1941)
  6. Federal Fugitives (1941) aka International Spy
  7. Desperate Cargo (1941)
  8. Mr. Celebrity (1941)
  9. The Miracle Kid (1941)
  10. Blonde Comet (1941)
  11. Duke of the Navy (1942)
  12. Broadway Big Shot (1942)
  13. Lucky Ghost (1942) aka Lady Luck
  14. Professor Creeps (1942)
  15. The Panther’s Claw (1942)
  16. Men of San Quentin (1942)
  17. Gallant Lady (1942) aka Prison Girl
  18. One Thrilling Night (1942)
  19. Phantom Killer (1942)
  20. Foreign Agent (1942)
  21. The Living Ghost (1942)
  22. The Ape Man (1943)
  23. Clancy Street Boys (1943)
  24. Spotlight Scandals (1943) aka Spotlight Revue (reissue title)
  25. Ghosts on the Loose (1943)
  26. Here Comes Kelly (1943)
  27. Mr. Muggs Steps Out (1943)
  28. Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)
  29. What a Man! (1944)
  30. Voodoo Man (1944)
  31. Hot Rhythm (1944)
  32. Detective Kitty O’Day (1944)
  33. Follow the Leader (1944)
  34. Leave It to the Irish (1944)
  35. Oh, What a Night (1944)
  36. Shadow of Suspicion (1944)
  37. Bowery Champs (1944)
  38. Crazy Knights (1944) aka Murder in the Family (TV title)

I’m getting the idea that at this output level he did not have much time for second takes. Also staging and other details. Hopefully somebody else managed the scripts and the story lines.

This is from January 1945, released by Monogram Pictures. It’s Adventures of Kitty O’Day, with Jean Parker as the smashing redhead Kitty and Peter Cookson as her befuddled boyfriend Johnny Jones. They could almost be Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Things go down hill from there.

Kitty and Johnny work in a large hotel. Kitty is the hotel telephone switch board operator (remember those?), and when she is not spending her time listening in on guests’ telephone conversations she’s reading detective magazines. The detective magazines give her all sorts of ideas about possible crimes, and she is immediately suspicious when a tough looking guest checks in. She is sure she’s seen him in one of her magazines. The hotel manager has two problems on his hands. One is a series of burglaries in his hotel (jewels), and the other is Kitty. He threatens to fire Kitty and also Johnny, but there is a severe labor shortage (the war is still on), and he can’t find anybody to take their places.

Kitty takes a call from the hotel owner (lives in his own hotel). We see the owner talking on the phone. He sees somebody. He’s alarmed. Two shots cut him down. Kitty hears all of this, because she is listening in. Kitty alerts Johnny, and Johnny goes up to investigate. He takes the janitor along. The janitor is very reluctant. Inside the owner’s room they find the body. After some scrambling around they call the police, leaving the body alone in the room. Surprise surprise! The body is gone when the police arrive.

Thus begins the madcap adventure. Kitty and Johnny trying to solve the case. More people killed. The police hauling Kitty and Johnny into jail multiple times. Kitty racing around the hotel being chased by the police. Here is a synopsis of the action in stills from the movie:

AdventuresKittyODay-01

Kitty and Johnny before all the turmoil

Kitty and Johnny before all the turmoil

Kitty explains the body is in that room

Kitty explains the body is in that room

Kitty and Johnny have a serious discussion

Kitty and Johnny have a serious discussion

Kitty has found the body in her own room

Kitty has found the body in her own room

Kitty escapes the police detective by diving down the laundry chute

Kitty escapes the police detective by diving down the laundry chute

Plop, Kitty lands in the laundry hamper in the basement

Plop, Kitty lands in the laundry hamper in the basement

You can see this is all very light weight. A running gag is that Kitty screams or there is some other noise or commotion and a man, sleeping in his bed in a night gown, is startled and sits up, poking his head into a lamp shade. After a few of these viewers know exactly what will happen.

Does Kitty solve the mystery? Of course. Is there a future for Kitty as a detective? Fortunately not.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This has got to be about the fifth in my series of posts on the TV documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. I previously posted on the postulations of young Earth creationists Carl Baugh and Don Patton. I also made the observation that everybody appearing in the video, including narrator Charlton Heston, discuss these absurdities with an absolutely straight face. Nobody is laughing.

Don Patton gave his rundown on the Burdick Print, an apparent rock carving that Patton described as “definitely in the Cretaceous limestone.” Others have given the artifact a longer journey to its current location:

According to John Morris, the Burdick track (the right-foot slab) was purchased “years ago” by Burdick from a Rev. Beddoe of Arizona, who in turn had purchased the track from the late Pessee Hudson, proprietor of a knick- knack store in Glen Rose. Morris added that “many things were purchased in that store, including some of George Adams carvings.” Morris continued, “tracing the print proved impossible, but it was reported to have come from a tributary south of Glen Rose (1980, p. 117).

As mentioned before, the citation is to a book by young Earth creationist John Morris.

I commented that the Burdick Print lacks features I expect to find in a real footprint made in soft mud. When a foot pulls out of the print some of the loose matter is torn away, leaving a ragged perimeter. This feature is not apparent in the Burdick Print. As if to lend me a helping hand, the video next shows that very thing. This is from a sequence showing a human foot making a print in soft mud and then moving on. You can see the foot lifting off at the top of the picture.

HumanFootpring

Readers are invited to compare a real human footprint with the Burdick artifact.

We next move to another of my favorite items, The Finger. I have seen this before. The following was originally posted in The Skeptic, the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics in the September 1997 issue:

Modern dinosaurs at MIOS

by John Blanton

In August at the meeting of the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science (MIOS) Dr. Don R. Patton, geologist, spoke on the subject of “Topsy-Turvy Fossils.”

Undergraduate geology texts are deceitful regarding the geological column, according to Patton. He said that the texts implied the existence of an actual column of material containing every sedimentary layer from geological time. In fact, he correctly points out, no such column exists. Geologists acknowledge that any boring into Earth’s crust will not produce a column containing a complete time record. The time record of any single boring would have to be completed by merging it with the record from other borings. This is because no single spot on the world’s surface has continually accumulated sediment and also because very often erosion removes top layers of sediment before new sediment is added to the column. Patton is one of the many creationists who employ this tactic to debunk the geological argument for an old Earth.

The meeting notice quotes from The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins: “If a single, well-verified mammal skull were to turn up in 500 million year-old rocks, our whole modern theory of evolution would be utterly destroyed.” Patton contends that this has happened, and he used the example of the “finger” fossil from the Carl Baugh’s Creation Evidences Museum to illustrate (Figure 1). Local creationists contend this fossil was found in Comanche Peak limestone and that it indicates human existence during the time of the dinosaurs.

 

This item also shows a photo of the famous finger.

finger

The photo is from the Creation Evidences Museum website, which link has since expired. The museum’s current site has a link to the finger artifact, but that link is also broken.

Dr. Dale Peterson displays a CAT scan (computer aided tomography) of the item.

FingerScan

Not being a certified medical practitioner, I only notice this fossil seems to be missing any internal structure that resembles bones of the human finger. A few others agree with me.

The alleged fossilized finger promoted by Baugh and associates is more likely just an interesting shaped rock or concretion. I was allowed to personally examine the “finger” several years ago, and saw nothing in it to suggest it is a fossil of any sort. Nor do I know any mainstream scientist or regards it as a fossilized finger. Contrary to the suggestions in the NBC show, it does not show bones in the CT scans. The dark area in the center of the scans are not well defined and are likely due to differences in the density of rock at the middle of the concretion, or the greater mass of rock the rays passed through at the center than the edge of the rock. Last, a key point that Baugh did not reveal in the show is that the “finger” was not found in situ, but rather in a loose gravel pit some distance from Glen Rose. Therefore, like the Burdick print it cannot be reliably linked to an ancient formation, and is of no antievolutionary value, even if it were a real fossilized finger.

Narrator Charlton Heston seems to have been unaware of the history of “the finger,” because he informs us “the limestone layer that preserved these artifacts is reportedly dated at 135 million years old.” This may not be the first time Heston has been clueless about something regarding science.

Next up, some mysterious metallic spheres found in Klerksdorp, South Africa. I investigate this stuff so you don’t have to.

To Tell The Truth

PeopleMockEvolution

Lifted from a Facebook feed

I can’t write this blog without seeking out people who disagree with me. Trust me. If I only talked to people who think like I do this would be an incredibly dull read. Duller, anyhow. That’s one reason I’m on the mailing list of the Discovery Institute.

The Discovery Institute (DI) is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of the pseudoscienceintelligent design” (ID). Its “Teach the Controversy” campaign aims to teach creationist anti-evolution beliefs in United States public high school science courses alongside accepted scientific theories, positing a scientific controversy exists over these subjects.

In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District (2005), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania found:

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board‘s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” […] 

This federal court, along with the majority of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, say the Institute has manufactured the controversy they want to teach by promoting a false perception that evolution is “a theory in crisis,” through incorrectly claiming that it is the subject of wide controversy and debate within the scientific community. The court ruled that the Discovery Institute pursues “demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions,” and the Institute’s manifesto, the Wedge strategy, describes a religious goal: to “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” It was the court’s opinion that intelligent design was merely a redressing of creationism and that, as such, it was not a scientific proposition.

[Some links deleted]

Anyhow, I’m on their mailing list. It was no surprise, then, that a few weeks ago I received the following email from Kelly J. Unger of the Discovery Institute.

Battling a Tsunami with an Umbrella

Dear John:

This coming fall, those who believe nature is the product of a blind and unguided process rather than purposeful design want the hearts and minds of your children.
According to the Wall Street Journal , researchers are currently trying to find ways to eradicate the belief young children have in intelligent design. These researchers are gravely concerned because “by elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists”! Wishing to debunk this belief as a myth, the researchers are developing picture books to teach kids that biology is the result of unguided natural selection. Their idea is to “reach children with the right theory before the wrong one is too firmly in place.” In other words, they want to brainwash our kids into a materialist worldview—at taxpayer expense.
At the same time, the religion-bashing and wildly inaccurate TV series Cosmos was recently honored with 12 Emmy nominations. With that kind of recognition, the series (just out on DVD) seems destined to end up as a staple in public school science instruction.
I am not alone in feeling that a tidal wave of Darwinian indoctrination is about to hit our public schools.  Many supporters have shared the same concern with me and are asking what Discovery Institute is going to do about it.  Specifically, how are we going to help parents and concerned educators counter the misinformation that is coming their way? I am so glad they asked . . .
We have an ambitious plan to publish a book that directly challenges the misinformation presented in the Cosmos series. We also plan to release a new documentary titled Privileged Species that will show—contrary to Cosmos—how our universe is a special place exquisitely designed not just for life, but for large multi-cellular beings like ourselves.
[Followed by a request for donations]

First off I need to comment that I find this to be a touching appeal. My heart goes out to those folks at the Discovery Institute. Look at what they’re up against. “Tsunami with an umbrella” does not even come close:

  • Biological evolution is in fact driven solely by natural processes.
  • All the major scientific societies are in agreement that evolution is a natural process.
  • The alternative proposal, put forward by a number of individuals of limited vision, has no scientific basis, and no scientific research backs it up.
  • The sole product of the Intelligent Design movement seems to consist of a protracted propaganda campaign directed not at the scientific community but rather at politicians possessing a religious or political bias and having limited knowledge of how science works.
  • The movement is continually beset by the scandalous actions of some of its advocates, who have engaged in prevarication to advance the cause. This will include the Dover Area School Board in Pennsylvania, who were observed committing perjury in a civil trial, and the producers of the Expelled video, which presents multiple false statements about people who were supposedly victims of bias by the scientific community.
  • Intelligent Design and all other forms of creationism are bits of fiction concocted in the minds of people who have little appreciation for physical reality and for truth itself.

Note to the Discovery Institute: Convincing rational, thinking people that Intelligent Design has any merit is going to be an uphill battle all the way.

The mail I received from Kelly Unger contains a link to an item posted on Evolution News, the Discovery Institute’s blog:

Story Time: Psychologists Show How to “Suppress” Children’s Intuition of Design in Nature

David Klinghoffer April 20, 2014 3:43 PM | Permalink

I don’t know whether this is outrageous, hilarious or simply very telling. Probably all three. The Wall Street Journal salutes the research of Boston University psychologist Deborah Kelemen. She has discovered that it’s possible with Darwinian storytelling to suppress common sense in children of the kind that leads them to recognize artifacts of intelligent design in nature.

The Journal notes that quite apart from religious instruction, kids are primed to see life as reflecting “intentional design.” It’s intuitive. The corrective is to catch them at an early age and train them to see things in a Darwinian light.

David Klinghoffer is a writer who works for the Discovery Institute, and he writes a lot of their arguments for them. I’ve read a lot of his stuff and agree is one of the most effective of the Discovery Institute’s propagandists.

David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute in Seattle and a contributor to Evolution News & Views. He is the author most recently of How Would God Vote?: Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative (Random House, 2008). His previous books are Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History (Doubleday, 2005), The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism(Doubleday, 2003) and the spiritual memoir The Lord Will Gather Me In(Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 1998), a National Jewish Book Award finalist. His forthcoming book is Shattered Tablets: What the Ten Commandments Reveal about American Culture and Its Discontents(Doubleday, 2006). A former literary editor of National Review magazine, Klinghoffer has written articles and reviews for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. He lives on Mercer Island, Washington with his wife and children.

That’s from the Discovery Institute. Wikipedia also has an entry for David Klinghoffer:

Klinghoffer has published a series of articles, editorial columns, and letters to the editor in both Jewish and conservative publications seeking to promote opposition to Darwinian views of evolution, stating that science can include a support for an underlying intelligent design in the development of living things and the universe as a whole, and indeed that some scientists hold to such views. Larry Yudelson has responded, in a piece directed at Klinghoffer, that rabbinical Judaism has accepted evolutionary theory for more than a century, and that Judaism has never rejected science. Yudelson also charges that Klinghoffer is paid to promote his ideas by his employer, the Discovery Institute, which Yudelson identifies as a Christian think tank that is funded by organizations that seek to promote a “Christian-friendly world view.”

[Some links deleted]

One thing I like about Klinghoffer and a number of other Intelligent Design proponents is that they assist in making the case that Intelligent Design is religiously motivated, something that is often denied in proclamations by the Discovery Institute. You will also notice I try to make sure I always capitalize Intelligent Design. This is in line with standard practice in the English language of capitalizing the names of religions.

Klinghoffer’s post on Evolution News links to an item that appeared in The Wall Street Journal:

By elementary-school age, children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them—even children brought up as atheists. Kids aged 6 to 10 have developed their own coherent “folk biological” theories. They explain biological facts in terms of intention and design, such as the idea that giraffes develop long necks because they are trying to reach the high leaves.

Dr. Kelemen and her colleagues thought that they might be able to get young children to understand the mechanism of natural selection before the alternative intentional-design theory had become too entrenched. They gave 5- to 8-year-olds 10-page picture books that illustrated an example of natural selection. The “pilosas,” for example, are fictional mammals who eat insects. Some of them had thick trunks, and some had thin ones. A sudden change in the climate drove the insects into narrow underground tunnels. The thin-trunked pilosas could still eat the insects, but the ones with thick trunks died. So the next generation all had thin trunks.

Before the children heard the story, the experimenters asked them to explain why a different group of fictional animals had a particular trait. Most of the children gave explanations based on intentional design. But after the children heard the story, they answered similar questions very differently: They had genuinely begun to understand evolution by natural selection. That understanding persisted when the experimenters went back three months later.

One picture book, of course, won’t solve all the problems of science education. But these results do suggest that simple story books like these could be powerful intellectual tools. The secret may be to reach children with the right theory before the wrong one is too firmly in place.

What Klinghoffer has heartburn with is that Kelemen, a researcher at Boston University, is suggesting that students be inoculated at an early age against supernatural explanations for life on this planet. Kelemen’s findings, and those of her colleagues, are that children on their own impose supernatural explanations for things that are not obvious—that are intellectually challenging. Klinghoffer complains that Kelemen’s recommendations amount to proselytizing for a religion, the religion of naturalism (my interpretation). This at government expense.

Not only Klinghoffer, but I as well, have issues with Kelemen’s conclusions. This is based on my personal experience. I was not raised in an atheist household. My parents sometimes took us to church. I never looked to supernatural explanations on my own. The only supernatural explanations I may have carried in my youth came from outside sources—the church, family, peers. It could be that I am some kind of weirdo outside Kelemen’s area of research.

Ultimately what Klinghoffer is complaining about is that teachers of young children are being advised to stand up in front of the class room and tell the truth. What a novel idea.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

HUMOROUS QUOTES

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, ‘Lillian, you should have remained a virgin.’

– Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: – ‘No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.’

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement.

– Mark Twain

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.

– George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.

– Victor Borge

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

– Mark Twain

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.

– Socrates

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.

– Groucho Marx

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.

– Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.

– Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.

– Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.

– Rodney Dangerfield

Money can’t buy you happiness … But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

– Spike Milligan

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP.

– Joe Namath

I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap.

– Bob Hope

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it.

– W. C. Fields (That’s not what he really said.)

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.

– Will Rogers

Don’t worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.

– Winston Churchill

Maybe it’s true that life begins at fifty … But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out.

– Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he’s too old to go anywhere.

– Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist’s diet: – If it tastes good spit it out.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is about my fourth post in a series about the TV documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The show came out in February 1996 and was hosted by actor Charlton Heston. It’s one of those pseudo documentaries that are popular with viewers—lots of exciting stuff but little of any substance.

My previous post told of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre. She worked at an archaeological site in Mexico in 1966 and published results concerning human artifacts dated 250,000 years old. She mentions in the video that her career was ruined as a consequence.

Charlton Heston was no longer a young man in 1996, but he still projects a strong presence in the video. The wisdom of Moses is projected in his voice as he intones the awful facts of Steen-McIntyre’s case:

According to McIntyre, because she stuck to the facts all of her professional opportunities were closed off. She’s not worked in her chosen field since.

By “since” I am going to have to assume Heston means except for her subsequent publications, including one in 1981:

In 1981, the journal Quaternary Research published a paper by Steen-McIntyre, Fryxell and Malde that defended an anomalously distant age of human habitation at Hueyatlaco. The paper reported the results of four sophisticated, independent tests: uranium-thorium dating, fission track dating, tephra hydration dating and the studying of mineral weathering to determine the date of the artifacts. These tests, among other data, validated a date of 250,000ypb for the Hueyatlaco artifacts.

[Some links deleted]

As I mentioned in the previous post, that’s about the high point of this documentary. Next we get down to the good stuff.

We next meet one of the most outlandish frauds to ever insult the place of my birth.

CarlBaugh

This is an image of Carl Baugh, anthropologist, from the video. Actually, Baugh really is an anthropologist. In the same sense that I’m an astronaut.

Carl Baugh has been on the creationism scene in North Texas for three decades, and he operates a Creation Evidences Museum outside Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, just a few miles from where I was born. Back when Baugh was beginning to make a name for himself Glen Kuban contributed an analysis to the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics, which I reproduce here in its entirety:

A follow-up on Carl Baugh’s science degrees

by Glen J. Kuban

I wish to bring to light some additional information regarding “man tracker” Carl Baugh’s alleged scientific degrees.

As pointed out by the authors of a recent Skeptic article, [1] the College of Advanced Education (CAE), from which Baugh claims a Ph.D. in anthropology, is not accredited, and has no science courses or facilities. Don Davis, administrator of CAE and pastor of the Baptist Church that houses it, told me that it is a “missions” school only. Davis explained that the degree was given through CAE, “under the auspices” of Clifford Wilson in Australia.[2] However, the reason for this curious arrangement was not explained, and the connection to Clifford Wilson (explained below) only further undermines the legitimacy of Baugh’s degree.

A copy of Baugh’s diploma (dated 1987) indicates that CAE is the “Graduate Division” of International Baptist College (IBC). As mentioned In the recent Skeptic article, IBC is incorporated in Missouri, but it is not certified there to grant degrees in any subject. Furthermore, IBC evidently is just as lacking in science facilities and classes as CAE. The phone receptionist at IBC stated that it was a correspondence school for religious studies based on tapes by Jerry Falwell.[3] Even more interesting, the letterhead of IBC listed Carl Baugh himself as president.[4] Thus, it appears that Baugh essentially granted himself a science degree from his own unaccredited Bible school.

Pacific College, Inc. (a.k.a. Pacific College of Graduate Studies) from which Baugh claims a masters degree in archaeology, traces to creationist Clifford Wilson in Australia. Wilson is the principal officer of PCI, which is a religious school with no accreditation or authority in Australia to grant degrees. [5]

Moreover,Wilson is (or was) a close associate of Baugh, [6] and evidently was a partner of Baugh in IBC. Wilson’s name was listed as “Vice President, International Studies” on the letterhead of IBC,[7] and the location of IBC was given as Australia on a plaque displayed at Baugh’s first “man track” site.[8]

Thus, all of Baugh’s alleged science degrees appear to trace directly or Indirectly back to himself and/or his partner Wilson, and to their own unaccredited Bible schools or “extensions” of them.

Last, it may be noted that there is no evidence that Baugh has even an undergraduate degree in any field of science. Not having a science degree is not a crime; however, misrepresenting one’s credentials is another matter. Baugh’s frequently claimed degrees in science appear to be as dubious as his “man track” claims, and ought to be of serious concern to his fellow creationists.

References

[1] Thomas, John, Ronnie Hastings, and Rick Neeley, “A Critical Look at Creationist Credentials,” The Skeptic, 3:4, July-Aug. 1989.

[2] Don Davis, personal communication, December31, 1989.

[3] Phone conversation, July 5, 1986.

[4] A letter from Carl Baugh to me, dated March 10, 1983, was written on International Baptist College letterhead.

[5] According to Australian paleontologist Ralph E. Molnar (personal correspondence, October, 1986), Pacific College of Theology was amalgamated with Pacific College of Graduate Studies to form Pacific College Incorporated. Australian Barry Williams stated that PCI appears to be a small, private Bible college headed by Wilson (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 30, 1989). Ian Plimer, professor of geology at the University of Newcastle and member of the Australian Research Council, determined that PCI is unaccredited and stated, “Any ‘degrees’ from this ‘College’ are illegal in Australia (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 1989).

[6] Wilson worked alongside Baugh on some Paluxy “man track” excavations, and coauthored a 1987 book with Baugh entitled Dinosaur (Promise Publishing, Orange, CA). Baugh’s supposed degrees are listed on the back of the book.

[7] Immediately under Baugh’s name on the letterhead (reference 4) was Wilson’s name and title, obscured with “white-out” but clearly visible when held to light.[8] In 1982 the metal plaque was mounted on a large rock at the “man track” site, but later was removed (reportedly by Wilson).

[8] (Reference missing in the original)

The previous article referenced was the July and August issue of the same year. I have written some stuff on Baugh, and I need to post it here. Watch for it in a few days. On one of the occasions I visited the “museum” in hopes of running into Baugh, I asked the person in charge about Baugh’s supposed degrees. I was informed that the “museum” made no claims for Baugh’s academic credentials.

Baugh’s enterprise in this video is the existence of human footprints in the Cretaceous limestone at the base of the Paluxy River in Somerville County, Texas. This area has long been known for dinosaur prints, but the claim is now that there are human prints in the same layer, even adjacent to dinosaur prints. This is a formation that is 115 million years old, 50 million years before dinosaurs went extinct and over 110 million years ago before anything resembling humans walked.

 Footprints

 What Carl Baugh, anthropologist, wants to tell you is these are 16-inch footprints left by people back when this limestone was soft mud. What geologists and real paleontologists want to tell you, and so do I, is these do not even look like human footprints. The best going idea is these prints, following along with the obvious dinosaur prints, are imprints of the dinosaur metatarsus.

But wait. “Dr.” Baugh has one more thing to show you. Here we see the very personage of Moses, Charlton (from my cold, dead fingers) Heston, look directly into the camera and tell us without a catch in his voice and without a wince in that famous face, “But Carl Baugh is in possession of one of the most compelling prints ever found.” And here it is:

BurdickPrint

It’s called the so called Burdick Print, named after Clifford C. Burdick, an early proponent of the man tracks claims:

According to [young Earth creationist] John Morris, the Burdick track (the right-foot slab) was purchased “years ago” by Burdick from a Rev. Beddoe of Arizona, who in turn had purchased the track from the late Pessee Hudson, proprietor of a knick- knack store in Glen Rose. Morris added that “many things were purchased in that store, including some of George Adams carvings.” Morris continued, “tracing the print proved impossible, but it was reported to have come from a tributary south of Glen Rose (1980, p. 117).

The citation is to Morris, John D., 1980, Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs and the People Who Knew Them, San Diego, CA., Creation-Life Publishers.

A big fan of the Burdick Print is young Earth creationist Don Patton, who now appears in the video. I have mentioned Patton already in two of my previous posts.

DonPatton

Here we have a geologist weighing in. I know that because I have a business card from Don Patton. It says, “Don Patton, Ph.D.,” and on the next line it says geologist. It is obvious to the most casual observer reading this that Don Patton has a Ph.D. in geology. Please spare me.

I have attended Patton’s presentations during which he showed us, as he does in the video, that this is not a carving. Creationists researching this artifact have made saw cuts (see the photo above) to expose the inner structure. Several cuts have been made, but Don has resisted showing any but the cross section shown below.

BurdickPrintCrossSection

What he is pointing to, Don explains, are compression layers formed when the “foot” pressed down into the soft material. Whether these compression layers show up in any of the other cross sections we may never learn. This does, however, add a layer of mystery to the topic and also to the documentary.

If Carl Baugh, anthropologist, and Don Patton, geologist, do not bring enough credibility to this narrative, we are next introduced to a real doctor. At least now we have somebody with a college degree looking at this.

DalePeterson

Dale Peterson, M.D., says he first saw the “print” when he visited Glen Rose in 1984. At first he thought it was too perfect to be a human print, but after closer examination he is now convinced it is. He points out significant anatomical features.

Never haven taken a course in human anatomy, I could only examine my own feet. The first thing I notice is the print is 15 inches long. My feet are considerably shorter. At its widest the print is seven and a half inches. Not so my feet. The print also has a mound in the middle where the human arch should be. When a human foot steps into soft clay it does not leave a mound in the middle. Also, when a human foot continues its stride and pulls out of the print, it takes some of the soft material with it, leaving a jagged perimeter—missing from this artifact.

And nobody is laughing. Baugh, Patton, Peterson, and most of all Charlton Heston are telling all of this with a straight face. I call that just short of wonderful. This is Academy Award material.

I will continue this narrative in a future post with another of the stories from the video. The story of Atlantis is coming, so be patient.

Don’t drop the soap

Hard Time

Hard Time

Two days ago I posted a small item I thought was humorous. It was my comical (?) take on the recent decision by a grand jury to indict Texas Governor Rick Perry on felony criminal charges. What came to my mind at the time was a series of commercials that ran on TV years back. They were for a credit card company. I spoofed that ad campaign for Perry’s predicament. I wrote something like this:

  • Funding for state public corruption prosecutors vetoed:
  • $7.5 million
  • Tax payer funded legal fees for Governor Perry:
  • $80,000 so far.
  • Rick Perry’s face in a police mug shot:
  •  Priceless.

All right, if you haven’t seen the ads, then you won’t get the joke. If you have seen the ads you still might not get the joke.

Anyhow, I got some push back when I posted a link on Facebook. Here’s an excerpt from one response:

I am not political unless it is necessary. I don’t think this charge will stick to Perry. What I think is that you should let the law decide who is morally unfit to hold a position.

Here’s another:

I’ve tried to understand the down side for Tx Republicans, but all I can come up with is WTF is wrong with the Tx Democrats? Really, you want a drunk to manage corruption prosecutions? Or you want to say to a drunk that their behavior is OK? Or you’re willing to live with both just to point out the obvious that Perry is a bit of a rube? Or, you believe that jailing your political opponents is good (worked with Delay)? So, which is it?

Both of these allude to some incidentals of the case:

The case stems from Perry’s erasing $7.5 million in state funding last year for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. He did so after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, rejected his calls to resign after her drunken driving conviction.

The facts are these:

  • District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg is an elected public official.
  • She was convicted of DWI (guilty plea).

Governor Perry may not have liked Rosemary Lehmberg in the first place, and it is possible that her personal life (DWI) makes her unfit for holding public office. All of that may not have anything to do with this case. In any event, Governor Perry did not want Rosemary Lehmberg to remain in office.

Big problem. Governor Perry does not have any power through his office as governor to compel Lehmberg to resign. So what did the Governor do? He tried to make a deal. You (Rosemary Lehmberg) resign, and I will not veto this funding which has been approved by the legislature.

That is illegal. You think not? Let me show you some examples that are also illegal. Some will be readily apparent to you, and some may not be:

  • I don’t want you to run for office. If you will withdraw your candidacy I will sign off on the appropriation for the new highway to your housing development.
  • Your child is disruptive in class. If you don’t withdraw him from public school and place him in a private school I will veto funding for special education, which your child needs.
  • Purchase my real estate development for $15.2 million, and I will approve the bill that eases environmental restrictions on your oil refineries.

You should be starting to get the idea. The Governor has the right to approve an appropriation, and he has a right to veto an appropriation. But it is illegal for him to do these actions as part of a deal with an individual.

Making the threat (to Lehmberg) was an offense in itself. Governor Perry carried through with the threat, which just hardened the case against him. It demonstrated the threat was not just idle talk. He was earnest. He demonstrated criminal intent. He can possibly serve hard time.

NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is one in a continuing series of reviews of NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The video (documentary) came out in February 1996 with Charlton Heston as narrator. The one-hour program featured a number of stories, the first of which I covered in a previous post. It concerned the ideas put forward by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson in their book Forbidden Archaeology. Their story, much like their book, represented as fact some highly suspect tales.

Heston next traces the origins of the human race as viewed by modern science. Beginning maybe 100,000 years ago in Africa, humans migrated into Europe and Asia 40,000 years ago. The map shows migration onto the American continents 30,000 years ago.

MigrationOfMan

But, says the narrator, it ain’t necessarily so.

The case of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre, of all the stories presented in this program, is the most worthy. Unfortunately for the others.

Heston: Yet numerous artifacts have been found across North and South America that are so old they threaten to completely overturn this theory. According to geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre she was silenced at the height of her career because of her determination to report the facts.

Here we see Steen-McIntyre relate her story.

Virginia Steen-McIntyre from the video

Virginia Steen-McIntyre from the video

Her story revolves around the Hueyatlaco archaeological site in Mexico:

Hueyatlaco is an archeological site in the Valsequillo Basin near the city of Puebla, Mexico. After excavations in the 1960s, the site became notorious due to geochronologists’ analyses that indicated human habitation at Hueyatlaco was dated to ca. 250,000 years before the present.

These controversial findings are orders of magnitude older than the scientific consensus for habitation of the New World (which generally traces widespread human migration to the New World to 13,000 to 16,000 ybp). The findings at Hueyatlaco have mostly been repudiated by the larger scientific community, and have seen only occasional discussion in the literature.

Cynthia Irwin-Williams led the team that first excavated the site in 1962 The dig is often associated with Virginia Steen-McIntyre because of her continuing efforts to publicize her findings and opinions. However, the site was actually discovered by Juan Armenta Camacho and Irwin-Williams. Steen-McIntyre joined the team in 1966 as a graduate student, at the request of project geologist Hal Malde. The excavation was associated with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The region, about 75 miles SE of Mexico City, was known for its abundance of animal fossils, and Irwin-Williams described Hueyatlaco as a “kill site” where animals were hunted and butchered.

Excavations were conducted via standard protocols, including securing the sites to prevent trespass or accidental disturbances. During excavation, investigators discovered numerous stone tools. The tools ranged from relatively primitive implements at a smaller associated site, to more sophisticated items such as scrapers and double-edged blades uncovered at the main excavation site. The diversity of tools made from non-local materials suggested that the region had been used by multiple groups over a considerable period.

[Headings and some links deleted]

Steen-McIntyre goes on to say she would have been ready to accept an age of 20,000 years for the site, but an independent dating gave it an age of 250,000. She says in the video she did not realize publishing these results would “ruin my whole career.”

I see a lot of similarity here to the Expelled video. This came out in 2008, produced by Premise Media, now defunct. It featured actor and economist Ben Stein as host and narrator and told the stories of six individuals who were expelled because they cast doubt on Darwinism. The theme is that in modern America an honest researcher, reporter, teacher could be denied tenure, lose employment, be ostracized for disagreeing with the scientific consensus.

A number of people have commented on the Hueyatlaco findings and on Virginia Steen-McIntyre, including Mark Owen Webb and Suzanne Clark of Department of Philosophy at Texas Tech University:

The Hueyatlaco Dilemma

Beds containing human artifacts at Valsequillo, Mexico, have been dated at approximately 250,000 years before the present by fission-track dating of volcanic material and uranium dating of a camel pelvis.

The dilemma posed by such dates is clearly stated in the following quotation from the conclusions of the subject article.

“The evidence outlined here consistently indicates that the Hueyatlaco site is about 250,000 yr old.

We who have worked on geological aspects of the Valsequillo area are painfully aware that so great an age poses an archeological dilemma.

If the geological dating is correct, sophisticated stone tools were used at Valsequillo long before analogous tools are though to have been developed in Europe and Asia.

Thus, our colleague, Cynthia Irwin-Williams, has criticized the dating methods we have used, and she wishes us to emphasize that an age of 250,000 yr is essentially impossible.”

(Steen-McIntyre, Virginia, et al; “Geologic Evidence for Age of Deposits at Hueyatlaco Archeological Site, Valsequillo, Mexico,” Quaternary Research, 16:1, 1981.)

Webb and Clark conclude by reminding us that British scientist William Thompson (Lord Calvin) computed the age of the Earth at only 100,000 years based on principles of thermodynamics. He was obviously off by a few factors of ten, because he did not take into account the heat generated by radioactive elements in the Earth. This was some years before radioactivity was discovered. Webb and Clark Apparently some would like to compare the modern scientific consensus with the findings of Lord Calvin, consistent with known science but wrong nonetheless.

The Early Sites Research Society in its very first issue has an item by Neil Steede:

Many of our readers have been interested in the study of the site, Hueyatlaco, located in Puebla, Mexico. That particular site has found remains of human habitation at about between 250,000 to 350,000 years ago. Many things are happening with this site, which have not been reported in other magazines such as “the Ancient American.”

We would like to report some of these events to our readers at this time. Hueyatlaco was excavated at first by an archaeologist by the name of Cynthia Williams.

Archaeologist Williams found that she had a very early occupational site. She found some crude stone tools and also found many animal bones from which meat had been butchered.

The animal bones consisted of such things as the wooly rhinoceros and other pre-glacial fauna. She realized, having such an early site, that she must get laboratory dating done on the site, and requested that to be done by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The U.S. Geological Survey sent down a three member team who dated the site and found the range of very ancient dates mentioned above. Much of their controversy has been reported by Geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre.

We consider Virginia to be a very good friend of ours, and have helped channel some of the financing that she needed to complete her work more recently.

We will not attempt here to cover ground which she has already covered in her articles. What we do wish to relate to our readers in this article are the steps that we took in parts of the investigation of this enigma.

Shortly after the excavation of the Hueyatlaco site, and shortly after the dating of the site was made public, the Mexican Government came to be directly involved. The head of the Archaeological Department of the Mexican Government was very upset at these very ancient dates at this site.

It is also believed by us that he did not like the fact that Americans were finding this site, nor did he like that the Americans involved were women. Whatever his motive, he had the Mexican army go and close the site down, and confiscate all of the artifacts and related materials.

I side strongly with the scientific consensus on this issue. It’s a matter of parsimony. Is it easier to believe thousands of research findings that are in near agreement or in a few anomalous findings that could possibly erroneous or even faked?

If you think Mysterious Origins of May will eventually touch on the Lost City of Atlantis, then you are else perceptive, or you have seen this video before. I will cover the story of Atlantis and others in future posts.

UPDATE

I was called down on a misstatement in this post last year by author Mark Owen Webb, and I corrected it by posting a comment. This item has gotten additional attention recently, and on reviewing it I decide a comment was not sufficient. See the above. I have crossed out the offending text and added (underlined) less vacuous wording.

A reader calling himself “Austin” has submitted a comment. It’s not shown below, because it was submitted to a different post not related to this topic. I have asked Austin to resubmit his comment to this post. Austin’s comment reads:

Your analysis of
Tag Archives: Virginia Steen-McIntyre
NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man
August 21, 2014
is vastly slanted, you say she would have accepted a dating of 20,000 years for the site. She in fact said she would have been happy if it turned out to be a 20,000 year old site because it would have been in the realm of what was expected, although old, and would have enhanced her career. She stands by her dating of 250,000 years old for the site even though it cost her career dearly!!
SKeptic, why don’t YOU report the facts???