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Monday, December 31, 2012

Not much positive about 2012

Political satirist Will Durst. (photo: WillDurst.com)
Political satirist Will Durst. (photo: WillDurst.com)

By Will Durst, Humor Times
30 December 12

nd so we bid a not-so-fond farewell to the bow of 2012, another large unwieldy year, as it sinks slowly over the horizon, wobbling unsteadily towards the graveyard of memory. And cheers erupt from we folks on shore waving the double-handed "L for loser" sign above our heads. "So long. See ya. Don't let the door slam you in the butt on the way out. And if you got any brothers or sisters, don't give them this address."

Normally there's some small sense of nostalgia for a departing annum. An iota of regret for the calendar discarded. Not this one. Getting through the past 12 months was like navigating a Black Diamond ski run in roller skates with the wheels rusted shut. While wearing a crib. It was an oil-soaked pelican of years. The Year of Living Stupidly. Had the same connection to constructive change that Vladimir Putin has to the editorial board of Crochet Monthly. The Chinese need a new Zodiac sign: Year of the Flatulent Weasel.

But in the interest of keeping this particular piece of puffery positive, it might be best if we confine our remarks to reflecting on the good that emerged from 2012.

Okay. Well, that was quick. Wait -- got one: at least the presidential election is over. Of course people are already running for 2016, so we got that to look forward to. Which is real similar to looking forward to having five-year twins playing in the back seat of a cross-country drive with a new set of drums and an unlimited supply of metallic sticks. And tambourines. Tons of tambourines. For four years.

You'd think even your average run-of-the-mill politician would possess the simple common human decency to wait till the current President was re-inaugurated, but nooo. These early birds are intent on stockpiling worms. You know what they say: Early money is like yeast. And very early money is like baking soda. And extremely early money is an egg wash brushed delicately across a pan full of hot cross buns.

When you think about it, the only thing that really went right with 2012 was we misread the Mayan Calendar. Everything else is either worse than we found it or the same. 

Middle East a mess? Check. Crazy people with guns? Check. Weather getting weird? Check. Congress unable to accomplish any sort of worthwhile task, including differentiating between their gluteus maximus and yellow paint? Double check.

Face it. These days, simple survival has become the goal. Continuing existence is the new victory dance. And then, for a half a second you ruminate on how good we got it here. What kind of state the rest of the world is in. And most of our problems just kind of fade away, don't they?

Sure, with great potential comes great responsibility. But it's an exciting time. 15 years ago, the only people with GPS units were NASA. Now we got them in our cars and phones. We're also in the middle of a cheeseburger renaissance and pretty good coffee is available almost everywhere. Not half bad perks. So, what do you say? Shall we give another a year a shot? But just 365 this time around. Don't know about you, but that extra day this year kicked my butt.

McConnell outraged at having to work weekend


us-capitol-boro-465.jpg
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Howls of protest filled the halls of the U.S. Senate today as dozens of Senators expressed their outrage at having to work through the weekend to save the United States from financial Armageddon.

“We’re hearing a lot about the country plunging back into recession and millions of people being thrown out of work,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). “What we’re not hearing much about is how our Sunday is being completely and irrevocably ruined.”

Senator McConnell said that when President Obama called the Senate back to work on a budget deal this weekend, “At first I thought he was kidding. Not only have I never worked on a weekend, I’ve never met anyone who’s done such a damn fool thing.”

The Senate Minority Leader added that “if saving this country means working Saturday and Sunday, then I’m not sure this is a country worth saving.”

“Yes, I know that the fiscal cliff is a ticking time bomb that could destroy the U.S. economy for years to come and take the rest of the world with it,” he said. “I also know that Sunday is Week seventeen of the N.F.L. season and now I’m missing all my games.”

Mr. McConnell said that while “saving the nation may be important to be some people,” he worries that forcing the Senate to work on a weekend is setting a dangerous precedent.

“For years, people have run for Congress because they knew that serving here was synonymous with not working,” he said. “If that’s going to change all of a sudden, a lot of us are going to feel very betrayed.”

Photograph by Brendan Hoffman/Getty.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eagle with broken wing soars free at Roosevelt

After months of rehabilitation and preparation, Arizona’s only satellite-tracked bald eagle soared free on Dec. 20 when it was released at Roosevelt Lake by Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists and rehabilitation specialists from Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation of Scottsdale.

 
The 4-year-old male was found at Canyon Lake with a broken wing that required medical treatment. Once the wing healed, rehabilitators at Liberty Wildlife worked with the bird to rebuild muscle strength for flying. 
 
Hatched in 2008 from a nest site near the lower Verde River, the bald eagle was fitted with a solar-powered GPS transmitter prior to release. Biologists are excited at the rare opportunity to now track an adult bald eagle and learn more about its habits, migrations and possible breeding activities. The transmitter is lightweight and does not interfere with the bird’s flight or activities.
 
"It is very rewarding to take a bald eagle that may not have otherwise survived and rehabilitate it to the point where it can be released back into the population, especially a bird that was hatched in the state and will hopefully contribute to the population in the future,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program.
 
The state had 54 breeding pairs of bald eagles this year. The bald eagle population in Arizona has grown nearly 600 percent since it was originally listed on the federal Endangered Species list in 1978, thanks in part to management efforts supported by the Heritage Fund. The Heritage Fund is a voter-passed initiative that was started in 1990 to further wildlife conservation efforts in the state, including protecting endangered species, through Arizona Lottery ticket sales.
 
Courtship and nest building begin in October and November, and the bald eagles lay eggs from December to March. During the spring, many areas are closed to protect breeding bald eagles around the state. 
 
The Arizona Game and Fish Department manages the bald eagle as part of the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee (SWBEMC), a broad coalition of 23 government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes.
 
Additional information on bald eagles and the breeding season closures can be found at www.azgfd.gov/baldeagle or www.swbemc.org.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gun control debate pales in comparison

   LETTERLETTERLETTER 
Editor:
Well, it has begun again---the great debate on gun control.
I am not taking a stand either for or against, but would encourage our lawmakers to think about the REAL issue which no one seems to be addressing. Starting with our children, the need for more  funding for more  help to parents with children who have special needs, mental or physical, or even for parenting skills!
How about more funding for schools---teachers, counselors and health professionals who can see and address the problems before the crises?  And what about more funds for CPS (Child Protective Services)? 
In so many cases this past year, it is young adults who lashed out in a violent way against innocent victims. We really do need to “Train up a child in the way they should go”. Yes, we are all busy with our lives, with struggling day to day with our own families. I encourage you to take a moment----let your legislators know that we have to get our priorities in order, here at home with those who need it most.
Then take a moment to reach out to someone you know who may be struggling---offer a moment of solace, a smile, a helping hand, a hug of encouragement.YOU could be the difference that saves a life with your caring.  I am making that my New Year’s Resolution!
Camille Levee
Time Out, Inc.

3 for 1 Jan. clearance at Library Bookstore

During the month of January the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore is featuring a storewide clearance sale.
 
The entire Bookstore inventory will be offered at three for the price of one.  The second and third items must be of equal or lesser value than the first item.
 
 Hurry in to take full advantage of these incredible bargains.  This is a great way to ensure that you have plenty of reading and viewing material for the cold months of winter yet to come.  What better way to spend those frosty days than curled up with a good book or movie and something warm to drink! 
 
Be sure to stop by the Bookstore Bargain Table in the Library’s lobby.  All items on this table will clearance priced at four for $1.00 during January. 
 
The Bookstore constantly receives high quality donations.  Volunteers place these books on the shelves as quickly as possible.  Therefore, the wise patron will stop by frequently during January.
 
The LFOP Bookstore is located to the right of the circulation desk just inside the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.  For more information visit the Library Friends of Payson website at www.libraryfriendsofpayson.org 

Why Republicans don't care what nation thinks

Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Portrait, Robert Reich, 08/16/09. (photo: Perian Flaherty)


By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
28 December 12
re House Republicans - now summoned back to Washington by Speaker John Boehner - about to succumb to public pressure and save the nation from the fiscal cliff?

Don't bet on it.

Even if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cooperates by not mounting a filibuster and allows the Senate to pass a bill extending the Bush tax cuts to the first $250,000 of everyone's income, Boehner may not bring it to the House floor.

On a Thursday conference call with House Republicans he assured conservatives he was "not interested" in allowing such a vote if most House Republicans would reject the bill, according to a source on the call.

Democrats are confident that even if the nation technically goes over the cliff January 1, Boehner will bring such a bill to the floor soon after January 3 - once House Republicans have re-elected him Speaker - and it will get passed.

But this assumes Boehner and the GOP will be any more swayed by public opinion than they are now.

Public opinion is already running strongly in favor of President Obama and the Democrats, and against the GOP. In the latest CNN/ORC poll, 48 percent say they'll blame Republicans if no deal is reached while 37 percent blame Obama. Confidence in congressional Republicans is hovering at about 30 percent; Obama is enjoying the confidence of 46 percent. And over half of all Americans think the GOP is too extreme.

Yet Republicans haven't budged. The fact is, they may not care a hoot about the opinions of most Americans.

That's because the national party is in disarray. Boehner isn't worried about a challenge to his leadership; no challenger has emerged. The real issue is neither he nor anyone else is in charge of the GOP. Romney's loss, along with the erosion of their majority in the House and Democratic gains in the Senate, has left a vacuum at the top.

House Republicans don't run nationally. They run only in their own districts - which, because of gerrymandering, are growing even more purely Republican. Their major concern is being reelected in 2014, and their biggest potential obstacle in their way is a primary challenge from the right.

The combination of a weakened national party and more intense competition in primaries is making the Republican Party relatively impervious to national opinion.

This poses a large strategic problem for the Democrats. It could be an even bigger problem for the nation.


Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Habitat explains tax credit program

Donations made by December 31 to qualifying charities like Habitat for Humanity can be taken off as a credit on your Arizona tax return for those who itemize, up to $200 single/$400 married. 
That's in addition to your Payson Schools Credit for Kids donation, so donors can take both credits and make their donations go twice as far. The neat thing about the credit is that it's redirecting tax money we otherwise would give the state government anyway.
So it's a win-win for our community when residents decide to keep their money here and apply it towards worthy causes.  This is a credit on the state return, and and you are also eligible for a deduction on the federal side.

For more information:

Jennifer Baltz
Executive Director
Payson Area Habitat for Humanity

Al Qaeda admires work of congress

Al Qaeda Disbands; Says Job of Destroying U.S. Economy Now in Congress’s Hands


fiscal-cliff-al-qaeda-465.jpg
By Andy Borowitz
 
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The international terror group known as Al Qaeda announced its dissolution today, saying that “our mission of destroying the American economy is now in the capable hands of the U.S. Congress.”

In an official statement published on the group’s website, the current leader of Al Qaeda said that Congress’s conduct during the so-called “fiscal-cliff” showdown convinced the terrorists that they had been outdone.

“We’ve been working overtime trying to come up with ways to terrorize the American people and wreck their economy,” said the statement from Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. “But even we couldn’t come up with something like this.”

Mr. al-Zawhiri said that the idea of holding the entire nation hostage with a clock ticking down to the end of the year “is completely insane and worthy of a Bond villain.”
“As terrorists, every now and then you have to step back and admire when someone else has beaten you at your own game,” he said. “This is one of those times.”

The Al Qaeda leader was fulsome in his praise for congressional leaders, saying, “We have made many scary videos in our time but none of them were as terrifying as Mitch McConnell.”

As for the future of Al Qaeda, the statement said that it would no longer be a terror network but would become “more of a social network,” offering reviews of new music, movies and video games.

In its first movie review, Al Qaeda gave the film “Zero Dark Thirty” two thumbs down.

Photograph by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty.

They're wagging the dog

Screenshot from the movie 'Wag the Dog.' (photo: New Line Cinema)
Screenshot from the movie 'Wag the Dog.' (photo: New Line Cinema)


By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

27 December 12
readersupportednews.org
 


he entire premise of the 1990s movie "Wag the Dog" was a few powerful elites feeding a complicit media a made-up story about a war in Albania to distract from a president involved in a child-sex scandal. Today, politicians are happily feeding a complicit media a made-up story about a "fiscal cliff" and a nation that is too broke to pay the bills. Don't believe the hype.


The hype is definitely chugging along full-steam. In "Wag the Dog," the media manipulators hired by the government brought in a choir to record a patriotic song to rally Americans behind the fake war effort. They even found an ex-con to play the part of the returning war hero held captive behind enemy lines, and expertly staged a scene where an actress played an Albanian refugee running away from manufactured gunfire. In this new version, there's a fake grassroots effort (re: astroturf) dubbed "Fix the Debt," which uses social media to push out photos of everyday, red-blooded, by-God-Americans complete with quotes about how fixing the debt should be at the top of the agenda. The end goal of this effort is to convince real Americans that the debt, which they allege is caused by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is the one problem that needs fixing before anything else. While everyday Americans have all but laughed Fix the Debt out of the room
Congress has bought it hook, line and sinker.


What Fix the Debt doesn't tell you is that it's a campaign financed and staffed by war profiteers who don't want to lose their multi-billion dollar Pentagon contracts. 38 of Fix the Debt's leaders have ties to 43 companies with more than $43 billion in defense contracts. And while the CEOs who make up the Fix the Debt campaign are all gung-ho about cutting healthcare and benefits, Fix the Debt oddly never mentions the fact that the United States spends more on its military than the next 26 biggest military
spenders combined. Or that most of our debt was made possible when President Bush used China's credit card to wage two wars that have cost us over a trillion dollars and counting. Or that we've doubled defense spending since 2001 and are showing no signs of slowing down.


At the end of "Wag the Dog," the president easily won re-election as the news about his sex scandal was drowned out in the cacophony of news about the made-up war and the made-up war hero. And while we've all been hearing non-stop about the "fiscal cliff" and how our budgetary woes can only be solved through tax hikes or gutting Social Security, the Senate unanimously approved a whopping $631 billion Pentagon budget in early December. The fact that Republicans and some Democrats are still hell-bent on telling us there's a budgetary crisis that can only be averted by cutting New Deal and Great Society programs shows that their true allegiance lies not with their constituents, but with the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower, a former 5-star general, warned us about more than 50 years ago.


It remains to be seen whether or not the backbone of progressivism will be sacrificed in this manufactured "fiscal cliff" fiasco. But nonetheless, we have, as a nation, let ourselves be thoroughly played by the politicians, the corporations and the media so they can keep their goodies. To tell the truth, the history books must document how easily manipulated people can be when enough fear has been injected into the conversation.




Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You can contact Carl at "> carl@rsnorg.org.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The right's Second Amendment lies

President George Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, leading a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. (photo: Consortium News)
President George Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, leading a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794. (photo: Consortium News)


By Robert Parry, Consortium News
22 December 12
readersupportednews.org
 
ight-wing resistance to meaningful gun control is driven, in part, by a false notion that America's Founders adopted the Second Amendment because they wanted an armed population that could battle the U.S. government. The opposite is the truth, but many Americans seem to have embraced this absurd, anti-historical narrative.

The reality was that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison.

The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 weren't precursors to France's Robespierre or Russia's Leon Trotsky, believers in perpetual revolutions. In fact, their work on the Constitution was influenced by the experience of Shays' Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786, a populist uprising that the weak federal government, under the Articles of Confederation, lacked an army to defeat.

Daniel Shays, the leader of the revolt, was a former Continental Army captain who joined with other veterans and farmers to take up arms against the government for failing to address their economic grievances.

The rebellion alarmed retired Gen. George Washington who received reports on the developments from old Revolutionary War associates in Massachusetts, such as Gen. Henry Knox and Gen. Benjamin Lincoln. Washington was particularly concerned that the disorder might serve the interests of the British, who had only recently accepted the existence of the United States.

On Oct. 22, 1786, in a letter seeking more information from a friend in Connecticut, Washington wrote: "I am mortified beyond expression that in the moment of our acknowledged independence we should by our conduct verify the predictions of our transatlantic foe, and render ourselves ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of all Europe."

In another letter on Nov. 7, 1786, Washington questioned Gen. Lincoln about the spreading unrest. "What is the cause of all these commotions? When and how will they end?" Lincoln responded: "Many of them appear to be absolutely so [mad] if an attempt to annihilate our present constitution and dissolve the present government can be considered as evidence of insanity."

However, the U.S. government lacked the means to restore order, so wealthy Bostonians financed their own force under Gen. Lincoln to crush the uprising in February 1787. Afterwards, Washington expressed satisfaction at the outcome but remained concerned the rebellion might be a sign that European predictions about American chaos were coming true.

"If three years ago [at the end of the American Revolution] any person had told me that at this day, I should see such a formidable rebellion against the laws & constitutions of our own making as now appears I should have thought him a bedlamite - a fit subject for a mad house," Washington wrote to Knox on Feb. 3, 1787, adding that if the government "shrinks, or is unable to enforce its laws … anarchy & confusion must prevail."

Washington's alarm about Shays' Rebellion was a key factor in his decision to take part in - and preside over - the Constitutional Convention, which was supposed to offer revisions to the Articles of Confederation but instead threw out the old structure entirely and replaced it with the U.S. Constitution, which shifted national sovereignty from the 13 states to "We the People" and dramatically enhanced the power of the central government.

A central point of the Constitution was to create a peaceful means for the United States to implement policies favored by the people but within a structure of checks and balances to prevent radical changes deemed too disruptive to the established society. For instance, the two-year terms of the House of Representatives were meant to reflect the popular will but the six-year terms of the Senate were designed to temper the passions of the moment.

Within this framework of a democratic Republic, the Framers criminalized taking up arms against the government. Article IV, Section 4 committed the federal government to protect each state from not only invasion but "domestic Violence," and treason is one of the few crimes defined in the Constitution as "levying war against" the United States as well as giving "Aid and Comfort" to the enemy (Article III, Section 3).

But it was the Constitution's drastic expansion of federal power that prompted strong opposition from some Revolutionary War figures, such as Virginia's Patrick Henry who denounced the Constitution and rallied a movement known as the Anti-Federalists. Prospects for the Constitution's ratification were in such doubt that its principal architect James Madison joined in a sales campaign known as the Federalist Papers in which he tried to play down how radical his changes actually were.

To win over other skeptics, Madison agreed to support a Bill of Rights, which would be proposed as the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Madison's political maneuvering succeeded as the Constitution narrowly won approval in key states, such as Virginia, New York and Massachusetts. The First Congress then approved the Bill of Rights which were ratified in 1791. [For details, see Robert Parry's America's Stolen Narrative.]

Behind the Second Amendment
The Second Amendment dealt with concerns about "security" and the need for trained militias to ensure what the Constitution called "domestic Tranquility." There was also hesitancy among many Framers about the costs and risks from a large standing army, thus making militias composed of citizens an attractive alternative.

So, the Second Amendment read: "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Contrary to some current right-wing fantasies about the Framers wanting to encourage popular uprisings over grievances, the language of the amendment is clearly aimed at maintaining order within the country.

That point was driven home by the actions of the Second Congress amid another uprising which erupted in 1791 in western Pennsylvania. This anti-tax revolt, known as the Whiskey Rebellion, prompted Congress in 1792 to expand on the idea of "a well-regulated militia" by passing the Militia Acts which required all military-age white males to obtain their own muskets and equipment for service in militias.

In 1794, President Washington, who was determined to demonstrate the young government's resolve, led a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey rebels. Their revolt soon collapsed and order was restored, demonstrating how the Second Amendment helped serve the government in maintaining "security," as the Amendment says.

Beyond this clear historical record - that the Framers' intent was to create security for the new Republic, not promote armed rebellions - there is also the simple logic that the Framers represented the young nation's aristocracy. Many, like Washington, owned vast tracts of land. They recognized that a strong central government and domestic tranquility were in their economic interests.

So, it would be counterintuitive - as well as anti-historical - to believe that Madison and Washington wanted to arm the population so the discontented could resist the constitutionally elected government. In reality, the Framers wanted to arm the people - at least the white males - so uprisings, whether economic clashes like Shays' Rebellion, anti-tax protests like the Whiskey Rebellion, attacks by Native Americans or slave revolts, could be repulsed.

However, the Right has invested heavily during the last several decades in fabricating a different national narrative, one that ignores both logic and the historical record. In this right-wing fantasy, the Framers wanted everyone to have a gun so they could violently resist their own government. To that end, a few incendiary quotes are cherry-picked or taken out of context.

This "history" has then been amplified through the Right's powerful propaganda apparatus - Fox News, talk radio, the Internet and ideological publications - to persuade millions of Americans that their possession of semi-automatic assault rifles and other powerful firearms is what the Framers intended, that today's gun-owners are fulfilling some centuries-old American duty.

The mythology about the Framers and the Second Amendment is, of course, only part of the fake history that the Right has created to persuade ill-informed Tea Partiers that they should dress up in Revolutionary War costumes and channel the spirits of men like Washington and Madison.

But this gun fable is particularly insidious because it obstructs efforts by today's government to enact commonsense gun-control laws and thus the false narrative makes possible the kinds of slaughters that erupt periodically across the United States, most recently in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 schoolchildren and six teachers were murdered in minutes by an unstable young man with a civilian version of the M-16 combat rifle.

While it's absurd to think that the Founders could have even contemplated such an act - in their 18th Century world of single-fire muskets that required time-consuming reloading - right-wing gun advocates have evaded that obvious reality by postulating that Washington, Madison and other Framers would have wanted a highly armed population to commit what the Constitution defined as treason against the United States.

Today's American Right is drunk on some very bad history, which is as dangerous as it is false.


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, "Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush," was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, "Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq" and "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" are also available there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Evolution is the unifying foundation of life

 COMMENTARY: GEORGE TEMPLETON    

Evolutionary

John Dewey wrote, “Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently stable world in peril, and no one can wholly predict what will emerge in its place.”  He felt that past doctrines always require some reconstruction because of cultural, technical, and political evolution.  For him, the scientific method, and democracy in politics, education, and journalism embodied a single ethical ultimate ideal for humanity.  

Education was a balance between content knowledge and experiences that would help man to understand his relationship to facts and truths, thus acquiring the tools needed to become the informed citizenry that would drive social evolution.


Dewey’s views are an anathema to anti-evolution creationists who on a recent radio program demonized him as nothing short of the anti-Christ.  There was no way that his attack on certainty could be divorced from their emotional reality.  It is as Georgia’s Republican representative Paul Broun, who sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology committee said:   Evolution, embryology, and Big Bang cosmology are lies from the pit of hell.


The Genesis story about eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge suggests that people are innocent and virtuous when they are unsophisticated.  Knowledge introduces temptations and opportunities that lead to sin.  Ecclesiastes 1:18 says, “For in much wisdom is much grief and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.”


Is ignorance really strength?


Twilight Zone

Mathematics is more than numbers.  It is a language and a refinement of everyday thinking.  It cannot prove every truth.  Certainty is subordinate to truth.  Uncertainty is not always a consequence of ignorance.  It was Lord Kelvin who maintained that measurement and quantification were the first steps to understanding, but quantification does not capture reality as much as it creates it.  Certainty seems to be an artifact of human psychology instead of an attribute of our world.  Uncertainty is the friend of curiosity and discovery.


More than fifty years ago an aging mathematics professor emeritus explained to his beginning class that they could enter the twilight zone at any time.  You didn’t need a doctorate.  Wonder and mystery existed everywhere if we would only open our eyes to see.


Simulation

Computer games are evolutionary.


A student can write a computer subroutine about half an inch long to quickly solve problems that would otherwise require years of science and classical math study.  The method is listed below to show that it is simple and obviously true.


1.  Regeneration:  Where you are at depends on where you have been.

2. Continuity:  What comes in must go out or it will pile up.

3. Temporality:  The fastest wins the race and comes first.

4.  Linearity:  Make long journeys with a large number of small steps, each resulting in miniscule changes.

5.  Evolution:  Obey nature’s simple laws.  They define the rules but not the complex outcomes that evolve.


Scientific

Science is not about making an informed decision based on evidence that fits in with your beliefs.  Life is a dynamic pattern of organization and patterns are what math is all about.  Our lives are about bringing the world outside into harmony with our gut feel.  Science is about changing our gut feel to harmonize with the world outside.


Efforts to discredit Darwin’s theory fail to understand that evolution does not claim that life arises purely by chance.  Intelligence and creativity are built into the fabric of the cosmos and did not follow the creation of mankind.  In nothing more than chance we find structure.  In contrast, our efforts to make life more predictable and explainable lead us to see patterns where none exist.  Uncertainty and ambiguity are universal and imply a feared lack of control, but they are also the fuel of wonder, freedom, and creativity.   We can’t avoid uncertainty.  We must learn how to live with it.


Probably

Ivars Peterson’s book The Jungles of Randomness describes how we see a lack of intent in anything irregular and disordered, but patterns exist when we are not aware of them.  When we see no clear relationship between cause and effect, we assume that some element of randomness must be present. However, we must distinguish between a random process and the results of that process.


Walter Bagehot, the nineteenth century Social Darwinist, journalist, and banker, ignored the debauchery of gambling when he claimed “Life is a school of probability.”  Risks versus rewards are the realities of investment.  Uncertainty is the price of being alive.


We think of randomness as having no pattern, but that is not true.  Pure chance can lead to highly ordered results, and a completely specified deterministic process can lead to unpredictability.  When we have only results we cannot know their cause.  A random coin can come up heads ten times in a row even though that is unlikely.  

Computer programs can create lists of random numbers that come from a completely determined program.  What seems random can be intelligent design, and what seems to be the act of a creator can be pure chance subject to an unknown and unseen probability distribution such as the bell curve that teachers grade by.


Statistical probability that uses sampling techniques, such as in voter polls, has  to provide the  same results as common sense probability, the kind that comes from counting the number of ways an event can or fails to happen, but it does so  only when we roll the dice an infinite number of  times.  Infinity is important, and thought to be the realm of God, because only it guarantees the stable long-term behavior of nature’s laws.  It was Georg Cantor, the developer of modern set theory, who proved that some infinities are larger than others!  His mathematical correspondence would later be used in proofs about the limits of human knowledge.


Data and Law 

There is a young child’s toy consisting of successively smaller concentric disks mounted on a rod so that a conical pyramid is formed.  Hindus give us two more empty rods and a total of sixty-four discs.  They explain that the world will end when we finish transferring the disks to another needle, provided that we move only one disk at a time and we never allow a smaller disk beneath a larger one.  Examination quickly shows that each transfer requires twice as many moves as the previous.  If we try to describe the step by step movements we are met by increasing complexity and incomprehensible huge numbers.  Two to the sixty fourth power minus one moves are required.  If we made non-stop movements every second it would take fifty-eight thousand billion years, more than ten thousand times the  estimated age of the  earth, to accomplish the task.


A simple structure subject to a few rules can generate huge amounts of confusing data.  Data cannot be trusted apart from context.  However, science is called upon to infer context given only data. 


Omega

Kurt Gödel’s “Incompleteness Theorem” showed that math could not prove all truths. Alan Turing’s computer “Halting Problem” proved that certainty is not computable.  They laid the foundation for Gregory Chaitin’s extension of what computers can’t do to what man can’t know.   


Complexity, an argument for intelligent design, is difficult to quantify.  If we can find the underlying laws, complexity goes away.  Scientists use computer programs to draw a curve through the data points trying to find a simplifying relationship.  If this can be done, the data is not random and a computer can always find the original law, the conical pyramid and its rules.  Math can always draw a complex curve that goes exactly through the data points but if the explanation is as complex as the data there is no simplification.  Then the data is random by definition.  Without simplification, no theory explaining the data exists.


Gregory Chaitin generalized the Halting Problem to all possible computer programs.  He calculated a precisely defined but unknowable number called “Omega”.  In so doing, he proved that pure randomness is an intrinsic part of mathematics.  No mathematics will ever be able to grasp ultimate reality.      


Chaotic

A butterfly flapping its wings in Beijing in March makes the August Atlantic hurricane season completely different.  Everything is complex, intimately connected, surprising sensitive to, but ultimately independent of beginning conditions.  Order, not chaos, is the foundation of everything.


The math of chaos begins with simple equations expressing underlying laws, like those used by our student.  As the simulation begins, its behavior is certain, but then accumulated tolerances drive it into wildly unpredictable patterns.  More information will not make the uncertainty disappear.  It is not a matter of our inability to know the present in all its determining details.


In nature, chaos is the rule.  Order is the exception.  Uncertainty, felt to be incompatible with the Almighty, evolves out of certainty even though the emerging patterns express an extreme order, as in snowflakes, instead of an expected random structure.


Entropy

Time is a consequence of change giving birth to causality.  As the arrow of time irreversibly moves from past to the future, organization decays into disorder and formlessness.


Entropy comes from the laws of thermal physics.  It is demonstrated by a drop of ink in a glass of water that diffuses and spreads throughout, and never reorganizes into the beginning droplet.  The large number of molecules in the glass causes a gradual spreading of the ink instead of the unseen erratic motion of individual particles.  The certainty of entropy comes entirely from the fact that it deals with immense numbers.  Although entropy wins in the long run, structure arises at the expense of chaotic increase elsewhere.  Locally, the universe has a built-in tendency to order.  However, order is subjective, not objective.  It requires an observer.


Degeneration

We proudly think of evolution as ascendency instead of adaptation.  Man in the future will be a far more perfect creature.  Could God use evolution as his method for creation?


Drummond, in his 1891 work, Natural Law in the Spiritual World, argued that deterioration is the law of nature.  He saw a cycle of youth, maturity, aging, and final decrepitude.  Death is nature’s natural state.  A universal force leads us to incivility, imbecility, and madness.  We are like the man who falls from a fifth floor balcony.  The same force that caused him to fall the first foot will surely make him fall the remaining fifty feet.


Drummond may not have realized that nothing in Darwin’s theory is clearly directional describing an upward force toward improvement.


Evolution

Our mind and substance are different perspectives on a single unified mysterious reality.  William Byers’s book, The Blind Spot, explains it.  We are unavoidably both participants and observers, both subjective and objective, unavoidably implicated in a river of continual evolving flow, changing the course of history while being part of it.
 
Knowledge does not come into being fully formed.  Creative solutions have always been step by step.  Ideas replicate, mutate, and evolve.  They don’t just proliferate and survive or die in disputation. They change qualities creating new paradigms.  

Explanations take time and resources.  They always reveal new questions requiring further explanation.  In this respect, evolution is an emergent property, like Chaos, depending on many facts, math, and all the sciences.  It is not constrained to biology, but rather can be recognized as the unifying foundation of life, thought, complexity, and ultimate reality.