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Over to your right, at the start of his U.S. News op-ed on creationism, Henry Morris contends that 60 percent of Americans believe in the Jewish and Christian myth of creation: that some 10,000 years ago, a Supreme Being created an Adam and Eve and so began the human race.

He cites this statistic as a reason for including creationism, along with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, in public school biology classes.

By doing so, of course, Morris exposes the silliness in his own argument.

Humans believe in lots of stupid stuff. Ghosts. UFOs. Satan. Collateralized Debt Obligations.

Our ancestors believed that the sun was a flying God named Apollo. The Hopi, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Mormons, and many other peoples have composed elaborately varying songs of creation. It is our nature, when looking out at the great twin expanses of space and eternity, to come up with comforting myths.

The alternative—”They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more”—makes for truly courageous literature, but too many sleepless nights. 

Here’s a challenge for Mr. Morris, as we consider the seriousness of popular opinion. Name one great movie star who hasn’t played a supernatural being, or otherwise starred in a science fiction or fantasy flick.

The pop culture industry—that supposed font of liberal atheism—constantly fills our heads (and its bank accounts) with comforting imagery of dancing angels, talking pigs, kung fu pandas, star cruisers, zombies, cavemen riding dinosaurs, sensuous vampires, lost loved ones who linger as friendly spirits, comic book superheroes, cuddly aliens, prep schools for wizards, and cute beeping robots.

The Force is ever with us. When you add all that mythology to the pervasive influence of Sunday church services, religious schooling, and Christian rock radio, it’s a wonder that science can carve out any space in our culture at all.

Skeptical journalism? Well, consider U.S. News—which gives Mr. Morris and his superstitions equal time, in homage to “objectivity.”

And yet, we humans can compartmentalize. We may not want to weigh the pointlessness of life in every waking moment—there are too many fun things to do. But at some level we acknowledge that myths are myths and facts are facts and it’s better for the race if we keep the two things separate. The place for that is science class. And we need to keep it that way.

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After 2 decades of right wing christian oppression and social and scientific regression, are we, as a society, finally moving forward?

The intellectual and philosophical developments of that age (and their impact in moral, social, and political reform) aspired towards greater rights & liberties for common people based on self-governance, natural rights, natural law, central emphasis on liberty, individual rights, reason, common sense, and the principles of deism. These principles were a revolutionary departure from theocracy, autocracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, and the divine right of kings. For modern counterparts to oligarchy and monarchy, or other forms of individual, social, religious, and economic tyrrany, see totalitarianism, Nazi Party, democratic centralism, Leninism, Stalinism, Soviet Union.) The Enlightenment marks a principled departure from the Middle Ages, State & Church mandated oppression, toward an era of rational human discourse, freedom of religion, liberty, scientific advancement, and modernity.

The National Gallery of Art is joining the Lincoln exhibition bandwagon by showing the heaviest and tallest artifact of them all.

The gallery plans to announce today that it will display the 1,000-pound model of the statue that sits in the Lincoln Memorial. Created by Daniel Chester French in the summer of 1916, this plaster form became the basis of the marble statue, now the iconic backdrop to speeches, concerts, movie scenes and family snapshots.

Starting Feb. 12 and continuing for one year, the gallery will show the six-foot-high model of the statue, and also the original wood model of the Lincoln Memorial by Henry Bacon. The exhibition, called “Designing the Lincoln Memorial: Daniel Chester French and Henry Bacon,” will be in the West Building and contain illustrations about the objects, the artists and a history of the memorial over the years.

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“Bud” Abbott-comedian, Roy Acuff-“King of Country Music,”  “Buzz” Aldrin-Astranaut, Eddie Arnold-singer,Prince Arthur-son of Queen Victoria, John Audubon – American ornithologist, Gene Autry– American actor, Count Basie-composer, Lloyd Bentson-politician, Irving Berlin-songwriter, Mel Blanc-voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and many others, Daniel Boone-US Pioneer, Ernest Borgnine-actor, Jim Bowie-Pioneer, defender of the Alamo, Omar Bradley-Army General,William Jennings Bryant-famed attorney and former Sec. of State, Richard Byrd-Navy Admiral, 1st to fly over north pole, Eddie Cantor-famed vaudevillian, “Kit” Carson-frontiersman, Joshua Chamberlain-Union General Civil War, won Battle of Gettysburg, Walter Chrysler-founder of Chrysler Corp., Winston Churchill-Prime Minister, Lewis AND Clark-explorers, Mark Twain-author, Ty Cobb-baseball player, “Buffalo Bill” Cody-guide & showman, George M. Cohen-famed composer,Nat “King” Cole-singer, Samuel Colt-firearms inventor, Davy Crockett-frontiersman, Norm Crosby-comedian,Cecil B. DeMille-director, Bob Dole-WWII veteran, senator, presidential candidate, James Doolittle, WWII General famous for his impossible raid on Tokyo, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-Sherlock Holmes creator, King Edward the VII &VII, Duke Ellington-composer, Bob Evans-restaurateur, Douglas Fairbanks-actor, David Farragut-Union Admiral, WC Fields-entertainer, Sir Alexander Fleming-discoverer of penicillin, Gerald Ford-former US President, Henry Ford-car maker, Benjamin Franklin-american founder, Frederick II “The Great”-King of Prussia, Clark Gable-actor, James Garfield-former US President, King George VI-father of current Queen Elizabeth, John Glenn-astronaut, Senator, Barry Goldwater-conservative politician,David Goodnow-CNN anchor, Curt Gowdy-famed sports announcer,”Gus” Grissom-astronaut, Dr. Joseph Guillotin-french physician who developed the execution device bearing his name,John Hancock-signer of Declararion of Independence, Warrren Harding-former US President, Oliver Hardy-comedian of Laurel & Hardy fame, Franz Haydn-Austrian classical composer, Jesse Helms-politician, Patrick Henry-patriot, Edgar Hoover– former FBI director, Frank Hoover-vacuum inventor, Sam Hornish, Jr.-racecar driver, Roger Hornsby-famed baseball player, Harry Houdini-escape artist, Sam Houston-Texas frontiersman. politician, Burl Ives-entertainer, singer, Andrew Jackson-former US President, Rev. Jesse Jackson-activist, Edward Jenner-founder of small pox vaccine, Andrew Johnson-fromer US President, Al Jolson-vaudevillian entertainer, John Paul Jones-American Revolutionary Naval hero,Kamehameha (s), King (III, IV, and V)-Monarchs of Hawaii, David Kalakaua-last King of Hawaii, Rudyard Kipling-poet, Henry Knox-Revolutionary Hero, gave his name to Fort Knox,Sebastion Kresge-founder of K-Mart, The Marquis de Lafayette-French noble friend of George Washington, helped win the revolutionary war, Charles Lindbergh-american aviator, Trent Lott-former Senator, Douglas MacArthur-US General WWII, Rowland Macy-founder of Macy’s department store, George Marshall-author of the “Marshall Plan”, Thurgood Marshall-1st black Supreme Court justice, Hart Massey – Massey-Ferguson farm equipment, Dr. Charles Mayo-co-founder of the Mayo Clinic, Fredrick Maytag-washing machine inventor, William McKinley-former US President, Andrew Mellon-founder of Gulf Oil, philanthropist, James Monroe-former US President, Amadeus Mozart-composer, Audie Murphy-actor, most decorated WWII veteran, Sam Nunn-Senator, Brad Paisley-country singer, Davis Patterson-visually impaired current Govenor of NY, Robert Peary-admiral, 1st man to reach north pole, JC Penney-department store founder, John Pershing-US General WWI, George Pickett-General CSA, led final charge at Gettysburg, James Polk-former US President, Israel Putnam-Revolutionary hero famed for saying “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” Paul Revere-patriot, Michael Richards-“Kramer” on the TV shoe “Seinfeld,” the Ringling Brothers (all 7)-circus founders, “Sugar Ray” Robinson-boxer, Roy Rogers-actor, singer, Will Rogers-amercian humorist, Franklin D. Roosevelt-former US President, Theodore Roosevelt-former US President, Telly Savalas-actor, Peter Sellers-actor, Red Skelton-comedian, Jonathan Swift-author “Gulliver’s Travels,” Carl Switzer-actor, “Alfalfa” in the “Little Rascals” series, William Taft-former US President, Sylvanus Thayer-founder West Point US military academy, Danny Thomas-entertainer, founder of St. Jude’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, Dave Thomas-founder of Wendy’s restaurant, Strom Thurmond-conservative, long serving Senator, Mel Tillis-country singer, Harry Truman-former US President, Francois Voltaire-french essayist, Honus Wagner-” The Greatest Shortstop of all Time,” Lewis Wallace-Civil War General, author of “Ben Hur,” Jack Warner-half of Warner Brothers Pictures, Earl Warren-former Supreme Court Chief Justice, Booker T. Washington-educator and author, George Washington-founding father and former US President, John Wayne-actor, “The Duke,” Charles Wilder-father of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “The little House on the Prairie,” Ed Wynn-actor, comedian father of Keenan Wynn, Brigham Young-led Mormon’s to Utah, Cy Young-great baseball pitcher, Col. Harland Sanders-founder of KFC.

That’s 9 signers of the Declaration of Independence

13 signers of the US Constitution

 a minimum of 26 US Supreme Court Justices

Over at LEAST 125 former or current Presidents, Vice Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinet Members, Senators, Congressmen and Ambassadors

Over 30 former or current Archbishops, Bishops, Priests,and Ministers

Countless Generals, Admirals, officers and enlisted military personnel, and at least 4 US Congressional Medal of Honor recipients

Dozens, if not hundreds of famous actors, artists, musicians, composers, sports figures and entertainers

Dozens and dozens of Industry leaders, corporate CEOs, and University presidents….

Do you have a guess?

While the Obama transition team works on headline issues such as the economy and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, a small but cautiously hopeful cadre of arts groups, arts educators, and artists from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and beyond is nursing the quiet hope that creativity will find its place beside the sterner faces of war and recession on the Jan. 20 White House to-do list.

The incoming president himself has steadily fed such hopes. Barack Obama enters office with the first-ever presidential arts platform drafted during the campaign. While it lists eight strategies, including increased funds for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the three top priorities are:

•Expanding public/private partnerships between schools and arts organizations

•Creating an Artists Corps

•Publicly championing the importance of arts education.

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To kids, everyday life is an experiment. The trick, says Claire Green, president of the Parent’s Choice Foundation, is finding toys that take advantage of their natural curiosity. The best ones will encourage the whole family to spend time together and spark discussions on biology, dinosaurs, and other kid-friendly fields. Here are the Parents’ Choice top 10 picks for science toys, books, and magazines for kids for every price point:

Discover Kids DNA Explorer Lab (Discovery Channel Store), $79.95, ages 9 and up. This kit comes with plant DNA, test tubes, and other equipment that let kids explore magnetism, density, and polarity in addition to basic DNA analysis concepts.

Perfume Science (Thames & Kosmos), $59.95, ages 10 and up. Eight scented oils along with glass storage bottles and labels let kids conduct their own experiments. A 48-page instruction manual explains the sense of smell, history of perfumes, and where fragrances come from. Users can even invent their own formulas.

EyeClops BioniCam (Jakks Pacific Inc.), $79.99, ages 8 and up. This “BioniCam” is much more than a microscope—Parents’ Choice calls it an “eyeball on a stick.” It lets kids zoom in on their own sweat, an ant, a penny, and other images. Photos taken with the camera can also be uploaded to a computer for even closer inspection.

Green Science—Spinning Top Generator (4M Industrial Development Limited), $11.99, ages 8 and up. This science kit shows kids how electricity is generated through a coil of wire, LED light, and a magnetic spinning top. Parents’ Choice calls it “an excellent representation of how electricity is generated at large power plants that supply electricity to our homes.” It even contains an environmental lesson in how electricity need not come from burning fossil fuels.

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (Scholastic Inc/Blue Sky Press), $15.95, ages 2 and up. This funny book is designed to cheer up kids who are under the weather by depicting a dinosaur that hides from the doctor and spits pills into the sink.

Dinosaur Holiday (Museum Music), $15.95, ages 4 and up. This CD was created by the American Museum of Natural History, which turned holiday songs into tunes that teach kids about dinosaurs. Songs include “Hey Duck Bills” (set to the tune of “Jingle Bells”) and “Dino, Dino, Dino” (set to “I Had a Little Dreidel”).

Uncover a T-Rex (Advantage Publisher’s Group/Silver Dolphin Books), $18.95, ages 8 and up. This book lets kids see what’s inside dinosaurs, based on scientific theories about their inner workings and lifestyle. It includes facts about dinosaurs’ diets, running abilities, and relation to birds.

Inflatable Insects (Learning Resources), $34.95, ages 3 and up. These giant bugs—including a ladybug, dragonfly, and grasshopper—let kids build their new “pets” houses and cages. They also inspire kids to learn more about critters.

Big Bad Booming Bugs (Little Kids Inc.), $19.99, ages 6 and up. This “electronic observation station” lets kids capture insects and then examine them closely. A magnifying lens and earphones let them get up close and personal. It also comes with information about ants, beetles, and grasshoppers.

National Geographic Little Kids (National Geographic Society), $15 for one-year subscription, ages 3 to 6. This magazine features photos and easy-to-understand articles about animals, nature, and science.

Virginia Naturally provides citizens with “one-stop” shopping to programs and information to learn about Virginia ’s environment. At this gateway site, you’ll find links to more than 800 organizations which provide environmental education programs and services in Virginia including volunteer and funding opportunities, teacher workshops and lesson plans, conferences, and community events to name a few. You can also find out what your ecological footprint is based on your lifestyle and what you can do to help reduce your impact on the environment. 

Adopted in 2000 as the official environmental education initiative of the Commonwealth, Virginia Naturally also recognizes schools and communities that are making extraordinary efforts to help citizens of all ages understand our world and lessen the negative impact on Virginia’s natural and historic resources.

VaNaturally is all about Partners and Networking
Public and private organizations and agencies are the heart of this initiative to link people to Virginia’s natural and historic resources. Anyone interested in education can become a partner and participate in a statewide network and join others to build knowledge and skills and an appreciation for life-long learning and personal responsibility to conservation. Partners can advertise their programs and events on this website and share their success stories. They can also receive free materials, a monthly newsletter, educational kits and participate in professional development. VaNaturally staff can help your organization find collaborators in your community.

Interested in signing up as a VaN partner? It’s quick, easy and FREE! Just email your contact information. 

Whether you need information or want to help others find it, Virginia Naturally is your gateway to information and resources about Virginia ’s environment.

* If you would like your events posted on the Virginia Naturally website, email the name, location, date, a short description and a contact for your event.

The highest teen birth rates are in the South and Southwest; Mississippi is highest with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico, with a rate of 64.1 and Texas, with 63.1. The lowest rates are in the Northeast. New Hampshire had the fewest teen births with 18.7 per 1,000. Vermont, with 20.8 per 1,000, and Massachusetts, with 21.3 per 1,000, were also low. Decreases were noted in New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

Gee, what a shocker….

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is mobilizing its store managers and department supervisors around the country to warn that if Democrats win power in November, they’ll likely change federal law to make it easier for workers to unionize companies—including Wal-Mart.

In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings at which the retailer stresses the downside for workers if stores were to be unionized.

According to about a dozen Wal-Mart employees who attended such meetings in seven states, Wal-Mart executives claim that employees at unionized stores would have to pay hefty union dues while getting nothing in return, and may have to go on strike without compensation. Also, unionization could mean fewer jobs as labor costs rise.

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MONDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) — Teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex as teens who don’t make such promises — and they’re less likely to practice safe sex to prevent disease or pregnancy, a new study finds.

Emphasis mine to highlight the incredible short-sightedness of an abstinency only program.

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These gift ideas keep kids entertained while imparting lessons about the natural world.

To kids, everyday life is an experiment. The trick, says Claire Green, president of the Parent’s Choice Foundation, is finding toys that take advantage of their natural curiosity. The best ones will encourage the whole family to spend time together and spark discussions on biology, dinosaurs, and other kid-friendly fields. Here are the Parents’ Choice top 10 picks for science toys, books, and magazines for kids for every price point:

list

Here are some good calculators, try them out!

Ecological

Carbon

What to do if you don’t want your child to get 8 vaccines at once

Federal law requires doctors to discuss the benefits and risks of any immunization before administering it, so your doctor should be willing to address your questions. After all, says Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, “the doctor-patient relationship isn’t a dictatorship; it’s a negotiation.” Here are some options to consider.

Space out shots-Don’t overwhelm the Child’s immune system all at once.  You especially want to space out live virus vaccines like the MMR and chicken pox.

Do some research–  Does your child really need Hepatitis B ( a sexually transmitted disease) vaccination as a toddler?  Does your child even need the polio vaccine?  The last case of polio in the wild in the US was back in 1994.  North America has been declared a polio-free zone since 2004.  Why are we giving shots to kids when the risk is so minimal?  In fact, the side effects can be more numerous, and potentially more detrimental, than natural polio.

Chose flu vaccines without thimerosal-Thimerosal, a mercury based preservative, has been linked to all sorts of health problems from autism to birth defects.  Beware-the flu vaccine that pediatricians are recommending for kids often contains thimerosal, in fact up to 250 times the EPA’s safety limit!!  Make sure to ask!  (If you have any questions about which medicines/vaccines that contain thimerosal, or what the harmful effects associated with it, respond to this post and I’ll list the CDC’s notes.)

Be cautious about new vaccines-Since manufacturer trials include thousands rather than millions of children, it may take a few years for rare side effects to come to light. That’s one reason that many parents object to mandatory Gardasil vaccination.

Avoid shots if your child is sick-Rashes and other allergic reactions can be the result when an immune system already primed to fight an infection kicks into overdrive after a shot.

Christian Fraternity Sues for the Right to Discriminate.

One thing that really bugs me about modern christianity is their hypocritical disregard for equality.  They whine and moan whenever they perceive that their religion is being discriminated against (real or not), but yet have no problem discriminating against others. Once again their actions are far from Christ-like.  This Florida “fraternity” wants to prohibit all people who don’t follow their form of “christianity,” from being able to join their organization.

ATLANTA (AP) — A Christian fraternity asked federal judges Wednesday to recognize the group as part of student life at the University of Florida, despite a school rule that bars Gator groups from discriminating based on religion.

Beta Upsilon Chi lawyers told a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the university’s policy threatens their core beliefs and that inviting non-Christians would undermine their mission.

“They’re not going to be as open if everyone in the group is not sharing their Christian values,” fraternity lawyer Tim Tracy said.

University lawyer Chris Bartolomucci said student groups are an extension of the educational process and should be open to intellectually curious students. He said no non-Christians have attempted to join the fraternity to hijack it, a hypothetical concern raised by the judges during a hearing in Atlanta.

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The NRA and Co. have pushed campaigns to allow concealed-weapons permits on college campuses in 15 states this year and failed in all of them.

First the bad news: Despite its election day smackdown, the NRA and its pals soldier on in their mission to arm god-fearing Americans in ludicrous places. A flurry of news stories earlier this year reported a pioneering solution proposed to the rash of recent campus shootings: instead of redoubling efforts to enforce the whole “gun-free school zone” thing — a quaint little notion from, like the 1980s — why not change the rules to let students bring more guns onto college campuses?

A few answers leapt to mind — binge drinking, drug use, close living quarters in a high-pressure environment — but for awhile, it seemed like the idea was catching on. In the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, in which 32 people were killed, several states began considering legislation to expand the right to carry a concealed weapon onto college campuses.

So what’s the good news?

The legislation has been a dismal failure.

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