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Collected editorials

Mr. Popularity

They shut me down again

Earthlink, the current supplier of the tiac.net hosting name, has shut me down again. (Fear not, this was only for the last few days of October. The deal is that they have given me eight pieces of pie, each one holding ten megabytes, that I can scribble web pages into, a pastime that I indulge in with great vigor if not sense. They have their little regulations though. They insist that the traffic on an individual piece of pie cannot exceed one gigabyte a month. That's a lot of ones and zeroes for a fish as small as I.

What has happened is that the bulk of the material is one piece of pie called cri. Vast hordes of enthusiasts have glommed onto the many treasures to be found therein, and have sucked out too many ones and zeroes. The guardians of the binary gates sensed the outflow and slammed the gates shut. Just as there are eight pieces of pie, so there are eight gates, one for each piece of pie. Even though the main gate was shut down the others remain open. I do not know why Earthlink has this peculiar arrangement but they do.

Once upon a time there was a company called tiac (The Internet Access Company). Once upon a time, approximately ten million web years ago and approximately ten years ago in fossil time, yours truly contracted with tiac on the understanding that they would provide web space and an address (cri) and I would provide them with a monthly stipend. Over the web millennia tiac was acquired by company A which was in turn was acquired by company B etc until finally I ended up with Earthlink. Mind you, this didn't matter much to me - all that changed during all that time was where the money went, and a credit card took care of that.

Earthlink changed things a bit. They increased my web space from 10 megabytes to 80 megabytes, albeit in the aforesaid (there's that word again) eight pieces of pie. This was fortunate. Over time my web site has metastasized, er, grown. The increase in allotted space has been useful, though inconvenient. I say "inconvenient" because moving stuff from one place to another involves lots of dog work changing links. I dare not miss any because my North Carolina conscience will chastise me severely. From time to time I move stuff out of the main site to the various annexes. I hope it's okay. Someday Earthlink will sell the tiac name to someone else; I hope my next owners will be understanding.

But what about being turned off? As I mentioned, there is a bandwidth limit, one that should be outrageously generous. But you see, it's like this. I have been around for ten million web years. I have Presence, rather like the Sahara Desert or the Bermuda Triangle. Some of my pages attract links and visitors, much as garbage ... never mind, we needn't go there. Let's put it this way: When I first had my site I was thrilled to get 1000 hits a month. Nowadays I get over 300,000 hits a month.

I have answers. I'm moving popular pages such as the Kitty Litter Cake page, the Whole Stuffed Camel page, and other less savory pages out to the boondocks.

Richard Harter's World. Slum city of the mind with suburbs.

After thought

On the 31st of October they turned my site back on. Apparently at Earthlink October only has 30 days. It must have something to do with daylight savings time.

Intelligent Design?

The following turned up in a chat column run by the Washington Post.

Somewhere in Ohio: My husband is a high school principal. Every so often the school administrators get together for a few days of state meetings. Of course, the meetings are deadly so in the evenings lots of the attendees go out and fortify themselves with alcoholic beverages so they can make in through another day of meetings.

After every set of meetings my husband came home with stories about this fellow principal who, when he got smashed, ate urinal cakes. At first I thought he meant the fellow took used cakes out of the urinals and ate them, but it wasn't quite that bad. He ate new, unused cakes, much to the amusement/horror of those around him.

Anyhow this guy has now retired and he spends his time writing letters to the editor in support of intelligent design. Do you suppose there is a connection?"

It would be quite unfair to adduce this as evidence that Intelligent Design is the province of flakes and fruitcakes even though, to be honest, it pretty much is. The ID movement has its charms though.

Creationists have been trying to smuggle their religious pseudoscience into school curriculums for the past half century and have regularly been smacked down by courts for violating the separation of Church and State. Intelligent Design is the latest run around the courts. Basically it says the complexity of life means that life (or at least critical features of life) must have been designed by some carefully unnamed Big Kahuna. The two big intellectual guns in the ID movement are a biochemist named Michael Behe and a mathematician named Dembski. Both ought to be ashamed of themselves. Behe peddles irreducible complexity and Dembski peddles complex specified information. The objective of this intellectual shell game is to palm off the same old damaged goods (creationism) as brand new spiffy science.

Currently there is a court case going on in Dover, Pennsylvania, that is a real hoot. It seems that a number of creationists had gotten themselves elected to the local school board, and seized the moment to add a disclaimer to the biology textbook saying that evolution was just a theory and that there were valid scientific alternatives. They then added an alternate textbook, Pandas and People, full of good creationist foofarah.

Some of the good parents of Dover objected to this, possibly on the grounds that they didn't want their children indoctrinated, or perhaps even that they wanted their children to learn science in the science courses. They sued. (They are Americans; of course they sued.) My, how the money poured in. On one side money flowed in from the fundamentalist right; on the other the ACLU came on.

The trial has not gone well for the school board. Dembski was supposed to testify on their behalf. He got $20,000 from the defense fund for not testifying. Hey, I would be willing to not testify for a lot less. Michael Behe got up and said that ID was science and by the way Astrology was science too. Way to go, Mickey.

One of the school board members who had voted for the waiver said that she didn't know about such things but that she had been told that it was all very scientific. Who could ask for more from a school board member?

Another school board member, one Ron Short, said, "I fear the ACLU more than I fear al-Qaida." Well he should. The ACLU has lifted his rock, which al-Qaida never did.

A (former) board member named Bill Buckingham provided some of the most amusing testimony. He deposed that he didn't know where the money for the creationist textbooks had come from, and then admitted in court that he raised the money from his church, the Harmony Grove Community Church. He denied saying that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in high school biology classes and then changed his story after being confronted in court with TV news footage of him making such comments. He blames his confused testimony on his Oxycontin addiction.

They say that the judge retires to his chambers every so often and giggles a lot.

See the York Daily Record for much entertaining reading.


"I'm not a fatalist. But even if I were, what could I do about it?"
---- Emo Philips

This page was last updated November 1, 2005.
It was reformatted and moved October 16, 2006

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