Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Piece of cake...

Gosh with this handy interactive training graphic, I don't see how we couldn't all be doing 1080s on our snowboards! I mean, at least those of you with snowboards, halfbowls, death wishes, and no major mobility or vestibular issues... Follow the link and click each "next"; it's pretty cool, and I've only posted the final frame. (Update: I re-posted a cropped version of the photo to get rid of all the screenshot clutter. But just follow the link and check it out for yourself!)

This is your media on thorazine

I heard this part of this interview Sunday morning, but I was still wrapping up a paper Monday and couldn't post the details. I nearly spit my diet coke at the TV when Koppel said "If 9/11 had happened on Bill Clinton's watch, he would have gone into Iraq." When I cruised through blog sites yesterday, I couldn't believe that I wasn't seeing more about it, but apparently, a few people have finally taken notice.

But Koppel topped himself when he declared that the American people will probably agree that Bush needs the power to spy on US citizens, in order to keep them safe:
MR. KOPPEL: We do a great job, Tim, of patting ourselves on the backs, not just the media but the great American democracy, for how much we believe in the process of disclosure, of public debate, of fully vetting the issues and deciding them through our elected representatives. In point of fact, often as not, we don't do that. Often as not the decision is made that you, the public, simply are not mature enough or sophisticated enough to understand everything that's at stake here. What scares the heck out of me is that there will be another terrorist attack in this country. And after the next terrorist attack, if it's anything like 9/11, there won't be any debate about whether the government should have the right to eavesdrop. The appropriate time to have this discussion, this debate, in Congress, in the media, is now.

MR. BROKAW: Right.

MR. KOPPEL: Because after the next event, it'll be Katy, bar the door. Why didn't you do more? And the fact of the matter is, in saying we need the debate, I'm not prejudging what the outcome would be. Quite frankly, I think the outcome may well be that the American public, through its elected representatives, will say, "You know something? We feel the president needs that right. He has to have the right to be able to order the wiretapping of terrorist suspects."

MR. RUSSERT: Let's have the debate.

MR. KOPPEL: But let's have the debate. Let's argue these issues out before it's too late.
(Now how exactly is it that he is not "prejudging what the outcome would be"?) Transcript here. Emphasis, mine.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A little something for Christmas

I'm still writing a paper (my last of the semester), so I'm not doing much news-reading, but here's a little stocking stuffer for you: Barron's (Wall Street Journal-owned finance mag) used the I-word!!!

Now, brace yourself, because this will send you reeling... Apparently nothing the president has told us about his domestic spying program is true... Not the numbers, not the "international calls only" focus, not the alleged congressional authority...

But cheer up, because everything your third-grade friends told you about Santa Claus was a lie. He's real!
(Photo snatched from here.) Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, everybody!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The most eloquent comment yet...

...on impeachment is this thoughtful piece by Jonathan Schell. Would that the Congress might take his words to heart and act accordingly.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Now in good company

Although I don't necessarily want to "eat pie with no seconds" (see previous post, Marge Piercy poem) with the likes of Norman Ornstein, I just point out that there seems to be a rising tide of opinion on the question of impeachment. See here for more.

And, typing the above, I typo-ed the I-word as "impeacement." I think that's a new coinage, albeit an accidental one. But wouldn't it be great if there were a rising tide of opinion that peace is the way. I think Jesus might approve!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sense and sensibility in Dover, PA

The US District Judge ruled against intelligent design proponents in Dover, PA:
Intelligent Design Barred From Pa. School District (Update1)
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- A Pennsylvania school district cannot require the teaching of intelligent design in high school biology classes, a federal judge ruled in a case that may influence other challenges to the theory of evolution.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, ruled today that the Dover, Pennsylvania school board can't force the teaching of intelligent design, a theory that claims that the universe is too complex to have developed randomly and must have been designed by a superior power. The board in October 2004 ordered that intelligent design be introduced alongside the theory that life evolved by natural selection.

"To preserve the separation of church and state" mandated by the First Amendment, the Dover Area School District is barred from maintaining the ID policy in any school, Jones wrote. "The students, parents and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources."
Here's the story.

"Three people are a delegation...."

I seem to be on the impeachment bandwagon, now joined by Jonathan Alter, who at least mentions the possibility in this piece revealing that early last week Bush importuned the Times editors to spike the Snoopgate story once and for all. I am reminded of that wonderful poem by Marge Piercy, "The Low Road." Question: is she on the enemies list for writing it, or I for quoting it, or both?

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Monday, December 19, 2005

O Christmas (or Holiday?) Tree....

Loved this piece by Sister Joan Chittister, one of my all-time favorites in the religion-and-politics realm. A sample of her prose:

If I were you and I really wanted to be a sign of Christianity, I wouldn't set out to prove it by fighting over the Christmas tree.

Sounds right to me.

The I-Word, Part 2

At least I'm in pretty good company (what I've always said about those of us on the margins of one system or another): here's what Karen Kwiatkowski had to say about the possibility of impeachment. Listen up:

In my opinion, we need to fight, resist, refuse to subsidize Washington in every way, and we must immediately begin impeachment proceedings against this particular president, not only because he has clearly earned impeachment, but in order to revive a national awareness of the intent of the Founding Fathers to circumscribe centralized state power, and their vision of a free and peaceful Republic.

This comes from a truthout piece by William Rivers Pitt. You'll have to ignore the final paragraph, in which he credits Solomon with the writing of the book of Proverbs -- not quite as egregious as Howard Dean's locating Job in the New Testament. The attribution to Solomon, which biblical scholars uniformly understand to be apocryphal, is just one more example of what happens when you take the scriptures literally.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Impeachment, Anyone?

The NY Times, without mentioning the I-word, lays out the case in good "gray lady" fashion. Of course the decision-makers should be taken to task for sitting on the story for all these months. Having been married once to a reporter, I'm guessing that the ones who got the story were beside themselves about the (albeit temporary) spiking. That aside, this all has a real Watergate feel to it. If you like the idea of a Bush impeachment (and hey, let's throw in Cheney too for good measure), and your member of Congress sits on the House Judiciary Committee, make some noise. Yeah, yeah -- I know that committee chair Jim Sensenbrenner will convene impeachment hearings in the year hell freezes over. Still, make some noise; that's how representative government is supposed to work. Also, and better yet, work like hell to get a Democratic Congress elected in 2006. Then, when Bush and Cheney are both thrown out and the next in line is sworn in as chief executive, we'll have President Nancy Pelosi (who'll be moving from her new post as Speaker of the House) -- way better than Geena Davis. Cool, huh? Sounds like a dream, but it could happen if anybody cares enough to make it so.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"The Wizard of Oil"

Many thanks to MB for sending this link. It's really, really funny. Make yourself some popcorn (no worries about the keyboard; you'll only need your scrolling finger) and enjoy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another law broken by the Bush administration?

Buzzflash, in their inimitable way, pretty well said it all this morning...
"Bush, Taking a Page from the East German Stasi Secret Police, Ordered Secret Wiretaps on Americans (Perhaps in the Thousands), Without Court Approval. Gulags, the Pentagon Spying on Americans, Unauthorized White House Wiretaps on American Citizens, Our Library Books investigated, Rampant Torture. Al Qaeda Doesn't Need to End Our Democracy; Bush Has Done It For Them. Stalin Would be Proud. (Also, NYT Delayed Report for a Year.)"
They've moved on to another header by now, but the story this one refers to is here and here:
President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign
nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.

The super-secretive NSA, which has generally been barred from domestic spying except in narrow circumstances involving foreign nationals, has monitored the e-mail, telephone calls and other communications of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of people under the program, the New York Times disclosed last night.
And the follow-up here -- what Bush has done is probably illegal. (See here, too.) And what the Times did - sitting on a story like this for a full election year - should be.

Friday Cat Blogging

Monday, December 12, 2005

It just gets better (Warning: disturbing animal news)

It's not my night for random television encounters. First, I stopped by just in time to see sharks being "finned" and dropped back into the sea to drown. And just now, I took a break to see who's on Larry King, and it's Alec Baldwin and some other folks discussing the booming trade in cat and dog fur in China! I couldn't watch, so I googled: cats and dogs are being captured by the thousands in the Czech Republic and China, and then skinned - in many cases, still alive - so that their "pelts" can be sold to a "thriving cat and dog skins industry and trade."

When the transcript shows up on Larry King's web site, I'll link to it here. (Update: here it is.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I'm neck-deep in paper-writing this week and next. But I just wandered past the television on my way to get another Diet Coke, and 60 Minutes' Bob Simon was talking about how sharks are facing extinction because of finning:
In some regions, shark populations are down 90 percent, and some species are approaching extinction.

Why is this happening?

The answer boils down, literally, to soup. Shark fin soup. In China, it’s been an expensive status symbol for millennia. Chefs in the emperor’s court were once beheaded if they prepared it incorrectly. But these days, with China booming, more people can pay $100 for a bowl. Finning sharks is a billion-dollar business, and it’s not a pretty sight.

That’s because as soon as a shark is caught, his fins are cut off and he is thrown overboard, alive, to sink to the bottom and drown...
So the shark is killed, quite brutally, for a minute fraction of its edible flesh - the rest of which sinks to the ocean floor. This kind of "thinking" makes my head hurt.

The whole story - on shark tourism - is here.

Friday, December 09, 2005

What are you doing here when you could be reading Fafblog?

I haven't worked Fafblog into my daily rounds, yet: it takes practice to develop a good habit. But the times I remember, I'm well-rewarded.
The Central Front In The War On Facts

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military's planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn't a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren't factually inaccurate, but mere "spin" - such as the article that spun an Iraqi general's death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America's leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality - and reality has always been America's greatest enemy in Iraq.

Along with facts on the ground and the ugly truth, cold hard reality has persistently undermined America's efforts in the war on terror. Were it not for reality, America would already have destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear-powered robo-mummy factories while uniting Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd in common love of their American liberators. Malicious facts, however, have conspired to turn Iraq into a bloody war zone racked by insurgent violence and sectarian bloodshed, and the war itself into an unwinnable quagmire built on a transparent fraud. Even now, reality is working to tarnish America's reputation by exposing its routine torture of military prisoners, in defiance of the stated policies of the Bush administration. This pattern of obstruction and interference can leave no doubt: reality isn't merely misguided or ill-informed. It's on the other side.
Read the rest. While you're there, check out their links to "Vital Resources" such as Animals on the Underground. Somehow, BART just doesn't fire the imagination in the same way.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Molly Ivins

Some Christians seem to me inclined to lose track of love, compassion and mercy. I don't think I have any special brief to go around judging them, but when the stink of hypocrisy becomes so foul in the nostrils it makes you start to puke it becomes necessary to point out there is one more good reason to observe the separation of church and state: If God keeps hanging out with politicians, it's gonna hurt his reputation.
The whole column is here.

Akk-centuate the positives...

Rummy says we're missing the good news - the insurgents Enemies of the Legally Elected Government have not blown up the oil fields! (the latter via Buzzflash) If the media would just stop "looking for drama" and reporting on US casualties, we'd recognize the progress in Iraq. And hey, says Rummy, let's have a little perspective on this whole casualty count thing:
In remarks delivered at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, Rumsfeld suggested that news organizations are reporting on deaths in Iraq because they are "looking for drama."

At the same time, he said, they are not giving intense coverage to fatalities in the United States, where an average of 42,000 traffic deaths and 16,000 homicides take place each year.


Every time I get a little magnanimous and allow myself to think of John McCain as more principled than most Republicans of his Republican colleagues (update: I was a little hasty, there, but I caught myself within minutes), he proves me wrong. He is now leading the administration's attack on John Murtha. Sure, it's a kinder, gentler attack than Jean Schmidt or RoboScotty could pull off, but that's probably exactly the point. And McCain apparently is willing to do it for them. That's disgusting.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The hundred-year old liberal plot to destroy Christmas!

I know this is making the rounds, but there's a good reason for that; it's a great editorial!
This Season's War Cry: Commercialize Christmas, or Else

Religious conservatives have a cause this holiday season: the commercialization of Christmas. They're for it.

The American Family Association is leading a boycott of Target for not using the words "Merry Christmas" in its advertising. (Target denies it has an anti-Merry-Christmas policy.) The Catholic League boycotted Wal-Mart in part over the way its Web site treated searches for "Christmas." Bill O'Reilly, the Fox anchor who last year started a "Christmas Under Siege" campaign, has a chart on his Web site of stores that use the phrase "Happy Holidays," along with a poll that asks, "Will you shop at stores that do not say 'Merry Christmas'?"

This campaign - which is being hyped on Fox and conservative talk radio - is an odd one. Christmas remains ubiquitous, and with its celebrators in control of the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court and every state supreme court and legislature, it hardly lacks for powerful supporters. There is also something perverse, when Christians are being jailed for discussing the Bible in Saudi Arabia and slaughtered in Sudan, about spending so much energy on stores that sell "holiday trees."

What is less obvious, though, is that Christmas's self-proclaimed defenders are rewriting the holiday's history. They claim that the "traditional" American Christmas is under attack by what John Gibson, another Fox anchor, calls "professional atheists" and "Christian haters." But America has a complicated history with Christmas, going back to the Puritans, who despised it. What the boycotters are doing is not defending America's Christmas traditions, but creating a new version of the holiday that fits a political agenda.

The Puritans considered Christmas un-Christian, and hoped to keep it out of America. They could not find Dec. 25 in the Bible, their sole source of religious guidance, and insisted that the date derived from Saturnalia, the Roman heathens' wintertime celebration. On their first Dec. 25 in the New World, in 1620, the Puritans worked on building projects and ostentatiously ignored the holiday. From 1659 to 1681 Massachusetts went further, making celebrating Christmas "by forbearing of labor, feasting or in any other way" a crime.

The concern that Christmas distracted from religious piety continued even after Puritanism waned. In 1827, an Episcopal bishop lamented that the Devil had stolen Christmas "and converted it into a day of worldly festivity, shooting and swearing." Throughout the 1800's, many religious leaders were still trying to hold the line. As late as 1855, New York newspapers reported that Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches were closed on Dec. 25 because "they do not accept the day as a Holy One." On the eve of the Civil War, Christmas was recognized in just 18 states.

Christmas gained popularity when it was transformed into a domestic celebration, after the publication of Clement Clarke Moore's "Visit from St. Nicholas" and Thomas Nast's Harper's Weekly drawings, which created the image of a white-bearded Santa who gave gifts to children. The new emphasis lessened religious leaders' worries that the holiday would be given over to drinking and swearing, but it introduced another concern: commercialism. By the 1920's, the retail industry had adopted Christmas as its own, sponsoring annual ceremonies to kick off the "Christmas shopping season."

Religious leaders objected strongly. The Christmas that emerged had an inherent tension: merchants tried to make it about buying, while clergymen tried to keep commerce out. A 1931 Times roundup of Christmas sermons reported a common theme: "the suggestion that Christmas could not survive if Christ were thrust into the background by materialism." A 1953 Methodist sermon broadcast on NBC - typical of countless such sermons - lamented that Christmas had become a "profit-seeking period." This ethic found popular expression in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." In the 1965 TV special, Charlie Brown ignores Lucy's advice to "get the biggest aluminum tree you can find" and her assertion that Christmas is "a big commercial racket," and finds a more spiritual way to observe the day.

This year's Christmas "defenders" are not just tolerating commercialization - they're insisting on it. They are also rewriting Christmas history on another key point: non-Christians' objection to having the holiday forced on them.

The campaign's leaders insist this is a new phenomenon - a "liberal plot," in Mr. Gibson's words. But as early as 1906, the Committee on Elementary Schools in New York City urged that Christmas hymns be banned from the classroom, after a boycott by more than 20,000 Jewish students. In 1946, the Rabbinical Assembly of America declared that calling on Jewish children to sing Christmas carols was "an infringement on their rights as Americans."

Other non-Christians have long expressed similar concerns. For decades, companies have replaced "Christmas parties" with "holiday parties," schools have adopted "winter breaks" instead of "Christmas breaks," and TV stations and stores have used phrases like "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings" out of respect for the nation's religious diversity.

The Christmas that Mr. O'Reilly and his allies are promoting - one closely aligned with retailers, with a smack-down attitude toward nonobservers - fits with their campaign to make America more like a theocracy, with Christian displays on public property and Christian prayer in public schools.

It does not, however, appear to be catching on with the public. That may be because most Americans do not recognize this commercialized, mean-spirited Christmas as their own. Of course, it's not even clear the campaign's leaders really believe in it. Just a few days ago, Fox News's online store was promoting its "Holiday Collection" for shoppers. Among the items offered to put under a "holiday tree" was "The O'Reilly Factor Holiday Ornament." After bloggers pointed this out, Fox changed the "holidays" to "Christmases."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Me and my avatar

If you're a Yahoo user, you were greeted this week with a mysterious "create your avatar" (update: link restored) feature when you logged into your mail box. I ignored it, until I saw that LutheranChik had some fun with it. She inspired me. (It was a pleasant break from The Abuse of Casuistry.) So here I am in Yahooville.

OK, now add 25 years, 25 pounds, and gray "highlights" instead of bronze. Strike the blue eye shadow: I believe that blue eyelids should occur only on certain birds and fish. Then imagine the black and white dog as brown, and wearing a St. Francis medal instead of a "Jeep" collar.

(Bear, the dog I'm holding in this picture, is no longer with us. But Baxter, front and center, is!)

See! That's not such a stretch!

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Madness of King George?

Someone I read, somewhere this week (I apologize, whoever you were, for the imprecise attribution), said words to the effect of, "he may not be talking to the portraits, yet, but..." We can only get so far on the jet lag excuse.

James Wolcott:
The thing I'm most struck by over the last few weeks is President Bush's shrinkage in stature. He cut an insignificant figure in China even before he went into his doofus shtick, and seems to be diminishing as the dark cloud of Cheney solidifies and casts Bush in shadow. It's hard to believe he was once the chalice of Peggy Noonan's hopes; Winston Churchill in a leather jockstrap, in the humid imaginations of warbloggers. You get the impression that underneath the show of resolve and irritable resentment, he feels sorry for himself, pouty about not being appreciated. Which may explain why Laura Bush seems to have hardened into a carapace at his side, reverting to the Pat Nixon role to withstand the buffeting winds swirling around her husband and his own stormy moods.
Seymour Hersh:
“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”
Dan Froomkin:
What does it say about the president of the United States that he won't go anywhere near ordinary citizens any more? And that he'll only speak to captive audiences?

President Bush's safety zone these days doesn't appear to extend very far beyond military bases, other federal installations and Republican fundraisers.
The best chance ordinary citizens have had in ages to be anywhere near the president comes Thursday at 5 p.m., when the Bushes participate in the Pageant of Peace tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse. But it won't exactly be a policy speech -- and anyway, tickets to that event were distributed three weeks ago.

When was the last time that Bush spoke in a forum open to citizens who are representative of the diverse array of views in the country? Certainly not since last October's presidential debates, and not often before then, either.

The White House advance team has long been sensitive to the potency of imagery in presidential events, going to great lengths to stage dramatic backdrops for Bush's appearances. In particular, they have used uniformed, on-duty military audiences many times before to underscore his case for war.

During last year's campaign, White House advance teams began screening audiences at Bush events to insure that only supporters were allowed in. After the election, that policy gave way to a new, "invitation only" approach, in which tickets to so-called public events were distributed largely by Republican and business groups. Now Bush is in phase three, where almost everyone he appears before is either on the federal payroll or a Republican donor.

I've written a lot about Bush's bubble before. In particular, I've wondered if Bush suffers from being so sheltered from dissent, and I've raised the question of whether taxpayers should be funding presidential events to which the public is never welcome.

Why is this happening? Is it related to the widespread public dissatisfaction with his policies, particularly in Iraq? Is Bush reluctant to appear before an audience that might not clap at his applause lines? Is he afraid of dissent? Are his aides shielding him against his will? Is it just a matter of stagecraft, to avoid any incident that might lure the media off message?

We don't know, of course, because no one has actually asked the White House to explain...
A couple of weeks ago, a Bush-loving Washington Times outlet, Insight on the News, reported that Bush now maintains daily contact with only four people: his wife Laura, his mother Barbara, Condoleeza Rice, and Karen Hughes.

Paging Dr. Krauthammer...

"Rumsfeld is using psyops specialists and information warfare specialists on US journalists, and by extension, the American public."

That's her conclusion, but see Laura Rozen's whole post on revelations that the Pentagon has been planting stories in Iraqi newspapers, paying Iraqi journalists to write "positive" stories, and even using psychological operations specialists to help write the stories... many of which wind up in international media. The White House is "concerned" about these reports. (As Bill Cosby's "Noah" would say, "riiiiiiight.") And as of today, the Pentagon admits and defends the practice - says it's a way to get the truth out.

Speaking of getting the truth out, see the Center for American Progress's reality check on Iraq.

My Biblical World View

Over at Street Prophets they've been having a good time with the Biblical World View test, so I decided to see how I stacked up. Turns out I'm in the barest minority of the current standings - a Socialist Worldview Thinker (although that puts my Biblical world view, or lack thereof, slightly above Communist/Marxist world view thinkers). If you have some time to kill (it took me much less than the 25 minutes they recommend), or a task to put off, this is your chance to see if you're a closet Dominionist.
This test is not meant to frustrate you, but rather to challenge and be a tool to show where your worldview is strong and where it needs improvement. Do not get frustrated, it is only a test. The good news is you can always improve. We all have room for improvement. In the next few weeks, we will post the biblical response to every question at the end of the test next to your score. Again, our goal is to encourage you and challenge you, not to frustrate or discourage. This test is a free service we offer for educational and research purposes.
Some of the questions are so patently absurd I ended up talking to my computer.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


(Photo from here.)
Crab Nebula poses for Hubble close-up
By Tariq Malik

( -- The Hubble Space Telescope has caught the most detailed view of the Crab Nebula, revealing the intricate epitaph of a long-dead star.

The new image superimposes one of the largest ever produced by Hubble -- and the highest resolution view ever of the nebula -- over observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Astronomers used Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 to build the image.

Astronomers in Japan and China witnessed the birth of the Crab Nebula in 1054, when a star 6,500 light-years from Earth exploded in a brilliant supernova.

The nebula spans a patch of space six light-years across and has proved an attractive target for professional and amateur astronomers alike.

One light-year is the distance light travels in one year, about 5.8 trillion miles (9.7 trillion kilometers).

Wispy filaments, primarily of hydrogen, weave through the Crab Nebula, at the center of which sits a neutron star that spins 30 times per second.

The only fixed remains of the supernova explosion -- the rest of the original star stuff has blown outward -- the neutron star acts as a beacon, spitting twin beams of radiation from its poles as it rotates.

The dense, city-sized object powers the Crab Nebula's bluish glow, which is generated by electrons that follow the neutron star's magnetic field lines, astronomers said.

The elemental composition of the nebula can be picked apart by color, with blue areas indicating neutral oxygen, green regions showing singly ionized sulfur and red portions denoting doubly ionized oxygen, they added.
If this leaves you feeling "spacey," you might enjoy this interview with science writer Dava Sobel about her new book The Planets; the book sounds fabulous.