Occasional Opinions, Irreverant and Otherwise

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The Theory of Evolution

It happens every time any scientist speaks in public, every time matters of science come up for discussion before the general public. First, some illiterate idiot in the audience issues a challenge: "Evolution is just a theory, so how can you assume that the theory of evolution is true?" Then, the scientist tries to answer logically, as if the brain-damaged lout in the audience could understand.

Scientists need to realize that the general public doesn't speak the same language as rational people. Here is what we need to say in response to "Evolution is just a theory."

Evolution is a fact. That is beyond dispute. We know that evolution has occurred in the natural world, that it continues to occur, and that it will continue to occur. Let me say it again: Evolution is a fact.

Through the years, there have been various theories of evolution. All of these theories seek to explain the mechanism of evolution. The current standard theory of evolution, based on Darwin's ideas, says that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution.

If someone says that they don't believe in the "theory of evolution," (i.e. the standard theory) then the response should be, "Okay, what is your theory of evolution?"

Scientists are always careful to admit that science is not a set of dogmatic truths. They use the word "theory" to indicate a system of explanations which corresponds to all known evidence, but which is always capable of refinement. The general public uses the word "theory" to indicate a tentative belief that has yet to be tested against reality, and which may be disproved at any moment. (This is what scientists call a "hypothesis.")

The expression "the Darwinian theory of evolution" is precisely equivalent to "the germ theory of disease." Yet you don't hear the religious idiots saying, "Oh, disease is just a theory." That's because they know how stupid that would make them sound. We need to educate the general public to recognize that it's just as stupid to say "evolution is just a theory."

-Don Sakers (3/2/01)

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Prayer in Public Schools

Everybody knows that in 1963, at the urging of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in schools. It says so in the history books, they even said so this morning on NPR.

Well, everybody's wrong.

It is, and always has been, perfectly legal for kids to pray in public schools.

What the Supreme Court outlawed in 1963 is compulsory prayer. And when you think about it, that's entirely as it should be. If compulsory prayer were legal, then a teacher or school administrator could require every child in the class to participate in whatever prayers he/she wished: Catholic, Baptist, Unitarian, Mormon, Islamic, Hindu, Scientologist, etc. How would you feel if, say, a radical Muslim teacher required your child to pray for the downfall of the United States, the Great Satan?

We often hear calls for a constitutional amendment permitting compulsory prayer in public schools. Can anyone doubt how such an amendment would be administered, in today's multicultural climate? Monday it would be Christian prayers, Tuesday Islamic, Wednesday Hindu, Thursday Navajo, Friday Rastafarian, and so on through the school year...with all children compelled to participate. In other words, a nightmare scenario for any sect.

No, the current way is clearly the best. Individual children may pray, read the Koran, or meditate as they wish. But no one -- child, parent, teacher, administrator, or Supreme Court Justice -- can compel a child to participate in prayers in which he/she might not believe.

So why is it that everyone "knows" that the Supreme Court outlawed prayer in schools, but no one ever mentions that word "compulsory"? Simple. If the full truth were told, and the phrase "compulsory prayer" were used, then most thinking adults would instantly recognize that there is no real argument. However, there are groups who would be delighted at the notion of compulsory prayer -- as long as they are the ones who do the compelling. Groups who know that compulsory prayer paves the way for compulsory thought.

These groups have framed the debate in terms of "prayer in schools" rather than "compulsory prayer in schools," hoping that no one would notice or call them on it.

And so far, no one has.

-Don Sakers (1/30/01)


California's Energy Crisis

As I write this, California is suffering with a tremendous electricity crisis. Under deregulation, fuel prices have skyrocketed, taking electricity prices with them. California's electricity supply is far below demand (hmmm, don't I remember something from tenth grade economics about "supply and demand"?) and the state has instituted rolling blackouts for the first time in its history.

Poor, poor California.

Well, I'm sorry, but the people of California had their chance. Thirty years ago, California led the nation in opposition to nuclear power. The poor, poor people of California took every opportunity they could to oppose the construction of the very power plants that would today be immune to rising fuel prices.

The poor, poor people of California insisted that windmills and solar cells and tidal generators could fill their energy needs. The poor, poor people of California said that conservation was the way. The poor, poor people of California said that, rather than allowing more evil nuclear plants to be built, they would rather sit in the dark and shiver.

So be it. I hope all of California's anti-nuke people are happily self-satisfied, and I wish them all the best of luck while they are sitting in the dark, shivering.

Oh...but with the electricity off, they can't read this, can they?


Further, general thoughts about California:

We in the rest of the country have been very generous in sending disaster aid to California to cope with earthquakes, mudslides, droughts, wildfires, more earthquakes, and probably some disasters that I've forgotten. Now it's an enegry crisis.

We don't really mind, but we fell duty-bound to tell the citizens of California something that they have, apparently, never been told before. If you are still alive in California, pay attention; this may save your life:

You can move, you know! There are lots of other, safer states.

Hope this helps!

-Don Sakers (1/19/01)


An Open Letter to My Senators

I strongly urge you to oppose the appointment of John Ashcroft as Attorney General. If Mr. Ashcroft is true to his religious beliefs, which he has often expressed strongly in public, then he must believe that his interpretation of God's law is above the law of the land. I have no confidence that he will act to protect rights of which his God disapproves. Among these are women's right of choice, civil rights for gays, and the right of freedom of religion which all Americans enjoy.

If, on the other hand, Mr. Ashcroft is not true to the religious beliefs which he has promulgated for so many years...well, then, the man is a liar and a fraud, and his appointment should be opposed on that basis.

One last word about Mr. Ashcroft. Republicans may claim that any opposition to John Ashcroft is based on his personal characteristics, not on his ability to do the job. However, Mr. Ashcroft himself, while a Senator, opposed the appointment of James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg for many years, solely on the basis of Mr. Hormel's personal characteristics (Mr. Hormel is gay, which Mr. Ashcroft considers to be a sin.) Whether Hormel had the ability to do the job, was entirely irrelevant to Mr. Ashcroft.

Mr. Ashcroft deserves to be judged on the same basis that he judged others. After all, doesn't Mr. Ashcroft's religion teach "Judge not, lest ye be judged"?

-Don Sakers (1/12/01)

"Of Course It's Big of Me..."

In Utah, a Mormon named Tom Green is going to trial for violating the state's anti-polygamy laws. Green is an admitted polygamist who has appeared on national television, virtually daring the state to bring charges against him.

Considering the Mormon Church's intense opposition to gay marriage (they've spent millions of dollars fighting gay marriage in Hawaii, California, Vermont, and elsewhere), it would be really nice to say the following:

The majority of people in this nation think that your marriage practices are immoral. According to the sacred scriptures of a religion that isn't yours, your marriage practices offend God. Government at all levels should (and must) pass and enforce laws against your marriage practices. If you are caught enganging in these practices, even in the privacy of your own bedroom, you should be thrown into jail. Any legislation to legalize your marriage practices (federal, state, or local) must be opposed with all possible ammunition. In particular, schools and other government agencies should be forbidden to promote (or even mention) your marriage practices. And not only that, but you are all a bunch of sinners and you will rot in Hell for eternity.

Yes, it would be tempting to behave toward the Mormons the way they behave toward others. An eye for an eye, right?

Unfortunately, some of us are more compassionate and rational. As long as polygamy is entered into voluntarily by all parties, and is dissolvable in the same manner as monogamous marriages, what on earth is the problem? Laws against polygamy should be repealed; adult Americans should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding marriage and family structures.

Therefore, it is with enormous reluctance and a very bad taste in my mouth, that I encourage the repeal of anti-polygamy laws.

But boy, is it tempting to wish to see the Mormons hoist on their own petard!

-Don Sakers (1/08/01)


I work on the information desk at a busy public library. Over the years, I have noticed an enormous number of people (women, mostly) named Kathy. With a few exceptions, three things are true about these Kathy-people:

  1. No two of them spell their names the same. There is Kathy-with-a-K, Cathy-with-a-C, K/Cathy-with-a-Y, K/Cathi-with-an-I, K/Cathie-with-an-IE, K/Cathey-with-an-EY, K/Cathee-with-two-E's, K/Cathiee-with-an-I-and-two-E's, K/Cathe-with-just-one-E-and-no-I's, K/Caathy-with-two-A's, C/Kaithy-with-an-I-in-the-middle-and-no-concept-of-phonics, C/Kaithiee-with-entirely-too-many-vowels, etc.
  2. Consequently, every time a K/Cathy-person gives her name -- to retailers, public servants, friends, police officers, passing strangers -- there is a little game of twenty questions that goes on: "Is that Kathy-with-a-K or Cathy-with-a-C? Cathi-with-an-I, Cathy-with-a-K, Cathie-with-an-IE, or some other variation? Just one A in the middle?" etc. Particularly in the computer age, it is often necessary to get the exact spelling of a person's name, or you won't find them in the database.
  3. For some reason that completely defies explanation, it never occurs to the C/Kathy-person that perhaps she could forestall the question game by voluntarily spelling her name for the non-K/Cathy!


What is it with you K/Cathy/i/ie/ee people!? Do you do it on purpose, just to annoy those of us whose parents had some sense of independence? Or are you as pathetically brain-dead as you seem?

There need not be confusion. In the birth cohorts from which I come, say 1956-1960, Federal law required that every second girl-child be named "Susan." (In fact, at potluck dinner before my highschool Junior Prom, I would not let us sit down and eat until we arranged the table so that there was a Susan and a person and a Susan and a person and a Susan and a person.... We had to use middle names, but we made it!) You didn't see sixteen different spellings of "Susan." Of course, there was an occasional Suzanne, but at least that's pronounced differently.

I refuse to even get started on the problems of Crystal/Christyll/Krystall or Caitlin/Kaitlyn/Catelynne/Kaytlinne....

-(Don Sakers, 1/02/01)

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Opinions presented here may or may not be the personal opinions of anyone in particular. It's possible that none of us at Meerkat Meade agree with a particular opinion. They may be posted just to make you think.

We realize that many of you may wish to contact us in order to tell us how wrong we are, to "explain" your own opinions loudly and fiercely until we see the light, to quote various religious documents (or the inspired word of your gods or goddesses) at us, or to inform us that you will pray for us to avoid the eternal damnation that is so obviously our fate. If this is the case, then in the words of Miss Manners, "How nice for you." However, please don't waste our time with any of the above nonsense. If you wish to disagree, set up your own website and link to this one, or print your editorials/articles/tracts and give our URL. Refute us all you want, at whatever length you want, in your own publications...just don't make us read it.

(PS: We have it on excellent authority, right from the lips of Satan himself, that we are even less welcome in Hell than in The Other Place. We are currently negotiating with the Norse god Loki for quarters in the afterlife.)

updated: 1/01

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