A red-faced blue nation

Limbaugh

Recently a friend of mine referred to me as a journalist and a political writer, but I am neither.

Normally I would have been very flattered, if it weren’t for my extremely low opinion of contemporary journalism.

First and foremost, I am a novelist who writes detective fiction. I have also written several nonfiction books, and, of course, I blog here at my website.

The more liberal members of my family seem to think I’m some rabid right-wing Republican who has been brainwashed by Rush Limbaugh.

I do admit that I enjoy listening to Limbaugh’s show occasionally. I think he can be pretty funny, and admire Rush for overcoming some really serious adversity — the total loss of his hearing, and somehow managed to continue his career, with the help of a cochlear implant. I also think he’s very smart, patriotic, and quite entertaining.

But I don’t agree with everything Rush says. Just most of what he says, and practically everything he says about liberal politicians.

I don’t really consider myself a Republican — I’m more of a Libertarian who tends to vote Republican in most major elections, but certainly not someone willing to write checks to help fund the party. Currently, I don’t make enough money that I feel like I can afford to throw any of it away on a political party. After all, my wife and I are about to be hit hard by Obamacare.

I am not a person who refuses to vote for a candidate simply because they are a Democrat. In fact, I’ve voted for more than one common sensical Democrat in my career as a voter. I believe the last one was Zell Miller.

Most of the time, I try to get both sides of an argument  before I form an opinion.

Occasionally, my quest for the alternate perspective on an issue even takes me to liberal outlets such as Blue Nation Re view, where I can get the liberal point of view on subjects ranging from Kaci Hickox to the tragic death of a young girl.

I’m looking for those few opportunities where we can all agree — whether we are liberal, conservative, Democrat, Republican or Libertarian.

When I saw that liberal Democrat Sarah Burris wrote this at Blue Nation Review: “We egotistically and selfishly troll Facebook and poke fun at people — or worse, bully them until they snap. We are too often mean. Too often self absorbed.”

Heck yeah! We agreed completely…or so I thought.

I even believed she was right on the money when she added, “[S]o many Americans are extremely fortunate and we don’t even know it.”

Unfortunately, she didn’t stop there. She should have.

Only a few sentences later came this perfect gem of a punch line: “Imagine your child is playing piano one minute and the next day she is dead.  Then you have something really to complain about. Until then, all you teabaggers can shut the f*ck up.”

That insulting, vicious, and arrogant attitude helps me understand why the Democrats were absolutely decimated in the elections two weeks ago, even worse than expected. Ms. Burris should be ashamed of her vile, absurd little tirade.

But she’s a liberal. She’s probably very proud of herself.

The truth about the Scopes Monkey trial

argument_book2

I’ve been reading A. C. Grayling’s most excellent book titled The GOD Argument – after all, I don’t have to agree with the man’s opinions to admire his talent as a writer — and a realization suddenly struck me, sort of like a bolt of lightning.

Another article I’ve been working on and will publish soon discusses the some of the more interesting topics in Grayling’s book, in much greater detail.

For the remainder of this article, I’d like to focus attention on just one particular thing Grayling said in his book that I found to be very questionable.

Then I plan to connect my observations on this comment to my own personal moment of revelation, that “lightning bolt” moment I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Beginning on page 108, Professor Grayling wrote:

Since the humiliating defeat of the literal six-day creationist lobby in the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Tennessee, religious groups have become increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to promote the idea that the universe and life in it were made by an intelligent agency, just as a carpenter makes a table; except that whereas a carpenter has his planks and nails to hand when he starts, the mega-carpenter did not have any materials ready beforehand, but made them too, from nothing.

When I first read the passage above, I thought, huh?

That paragraph is clearly giving the reader the distinct impression that the Scopes Monkey trial was an overwhelming victory for the Darwinian theory of evolution, and nothing less than a crushing defeat for young earth creationism.

The problem with the impression the paragraph created is that it simply isn’t true.

Scopes lost.

True, the conviction was later overturned on a technicality. But make no mistake about it, John Scopes and Darwin’s theory of natural selection clearly lost that 1925 court case — no matter what Hollywood, and revisionist historians, might have you believe.

The movie Inherit the Wind helped create the popular misconception the courtroom defeat was merely symbolic in nature, but Hollywood was playing fast and loose with the facts. The film was not an accurate portrayal of what actually happened in the aftermath of the trial.

Rather than the “humiliating defeat of the literal six-day creationist lobby” suggested by Grayling, The State of Tennessee versus John Thomas Scopes decision had a chilling effect on critical thinking that lasted for more than three decades.

Publishers removed all references to Darwin from American science textbooks after Scopes was convicted, and kept his theory of natural selection out for the next thirty-three years.

Only creationism was taught in school.

It wasn’t until 1958, when the National Defense Education Act was passed, that Darwin and evolution theory became the accepted curriculum in biology class.

In all fairness to Professor Grayling, his mistake is somewhat understandable.

Just about everybody has heard of the Scopes Monkey Trial and in contrast, virtually no one has ever heard of the NDEA.

However, that doesn’t make his error entirely excusable. It seemed like a pretty important detail for an academic scholar to have gotten completely wrong.

Scopes most certainly did not bring Darwin into the classroom. The NDEA did that, and even then only after the U.S. government became afraid of losing the race to conquer outer space, and ultimately the Cold War, to the Soviet Union.

His conviction via the Butler Act was a travesty of justice — though not because the teaching of evolution was specifically banned by law, but because it set a bad precedent by making critical thought illegal.

This was when a ‘Eureka’ moment temporarily left me thunderstruck.

My reaction to the glaring mistake of Professor Grayling was not unlike the reaction some of my critics of my book have had, as they have objected to my interpretation of Darwinian theory, as it must be defined in order to fit within the context an existential Big Picture.

My critics have vociferously complained about the errors contained in my text as if they affected the overall point being made — for example, when I mistakenly wrote that ‘clade’ was a new term biologists had introduced to replace the word ‘species.’

What I should have said was the term was new to me. The mistake seemed relatively minor, in my opinion. But some of my critics would have you believe that a trivial mistake such as that invalidated everything else I had to say.

And it occurred to me that while Professor Grayling had messed up with some of the details, his overall point remained quite valid.

It is illegal in America to teach anything other than evolution theory in science class today.

Just as creationists succeeded in their opposition to Darwinian theory in the Scopes Monkey Trial, the biology professors of today have also discriminated against creation science and intelligent design, under the pretense that Darwin is science and creation is not.

God and science are not mutually exclusive, however.

We have not been given the luxury of being able to choose between “science” or “nature” over a supernatural God.

As I’ve explained in Counterargument for God, the only true alternative to a creator God is serendipity, or extraordinary good luck. If you think there’s a third choice, you simply don’t have a clear view of the Big Picture that includes life, the universe, and everything.

It’s very important to remember that life cannot evolve until it exists.

By disallowing critical examination of Darwin’s theory through the ruling of a scientifically illiterate judge in the Dover decision, the advocates of neo-Darwinian theory became guilty, and just as successful with discouraging critical thought as the overzealous creationists had been during the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Their fierce opposition to creation science has kept God out of schools, and excluded from science class in particular. If you don’t think it has had a negative effect on society, you should listen to what notorious cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer had to say about evolution theory and creation science.

There have been serious consequences from these secular efforts to use science in trying to convince the masses that God does not exist.

Furthermore, if Darwin’s theory were truly an indisputable fact, it ought to be able to hold up under intense scrutiny.

But if you dare question Darwin, you run the risk of being called a science-denier.

 

 

The Happy Atheist

atheist_1What makes an atheist happy?

In the case of biology professor P. Z. Myers, the answer to that question shouldn’t be all that difficult to discern, especially considering the fact he wrote a book titled The Happy Atheist.

Though I don’t know Professor Myers, should we ever meet, I suspect it is possible we could consider each other a friend, in spite of our vast difference in opinion about certain mutual topics of interest.

One reason I think it’s possible is because it seems that we share a few things in common. Also, I respect his honesty.

For example, I agreed with him completely when he wrote that saying “abiogenesis is not evolution” is a cop-out and commend Professor Myers for his intellectual courage to admit it.

After all, more than once I have asserted that life cannot evolve until it exists myself.

The logical foundation for making the connection between life and its origin would seem to be inarguable — but that doesn’t keep some people from wanting to argue about it.

Several of my atheist friends have tried to rebut the “Big Picture” argument presented in my book Counterargument for God by saying the ability for a living organism to change and the origin of life are two completely separate processes as unrelated as gravity and germ theories, which is just plain silly to even suggest.

The hypothesis called abiogenesis might be an issue for chemistry and the theory of evolution a philosophical interest in biology, but biological organisms are created by chemical reactions forming complex structures. That little fact is undeniable.

Going beyond our agreement about the significance of abiogenesis, it might be interesting to note that Professor Myers and I were both raised Lutheran. Furthermore, we are both writers. He blogs regularly at Pharyngula, and I haphazardly voice my opinion on a very wide range of subjects right here at southernprose.com.

P. Z. Myers

P. Z. Myers

However, I’m afraid that may be the full extent of what P. Z. Myers and I have in common. As an atheist, he believes in neither a supernatural God or an afterlife, and he derives much of his pleasure from looking down rather snobbishly on those who do.

Unfortunately I can’t even score any brownie points with Professor Myers by writing a rave review about his book. Frankly, I’m much more impressed with his blogging.

His book simply wasn’t very good. In fact, The Happy Atheist reads like a cobbled-together collection of lesser material that didn’t merit publication on his blog.

For example, on pages 62 and 63 in an essay titled “Afterlife? What Afterlife?”, Myers wrote:

Look at the stories religious people make up. They know nothing of the deep history of the world, so they create a fable about a humanlike deity as one would construct a house. They know nothing of disease, so they make up imaginary demons and spirits that torment us. They don’t understand geology or the weather, so every natural catastrophe becomes a warning shot from an angry god. They want power, so they pretend that their incantations and rituals will get them the blessings of their god. Most pathetic of all, they fear death, so they’ve invented fabulous heavens to tempt and hells to terrify. They’re all lies. Religious people don’t know what happens after we die–they can only pretend to know. No one has returned from an unambiguous death to tell us what goes on afterward, and the people who do claim to have had visions of an afterlife or ghosts or souls are not consistent with each other. The only reason to invent a story that we have a “spirit” that will “live on” after our death is that it’s what people want to hear. Death is frightening, so it’s easy for people to believe in an afterlife. But there is no evidence at all for an afterlife.

Notice the sweeping generalization containing all these assumptions Professor Myers has made about people with religious beliefs in one paragraph–that we “know nothing” about the deep history of the world, or disease. We don’t understand geology or weather.

Reading Professor Myers, it seems clear that in his opinion, no really logical and smart person could ever believe in God.

However, the most significant problem with his diatribe in the paragraph above is that atheists don’t know what happens when we die, either. Claiming that what others believe is a lie implies that the person making that declaration knows the truth with absolute certainty.

In reality, nobody does. Our best sources for potential information about what happens after we die might be gleaned from interviews with Pam Reynolds or Matthew Botsford.

Regardless of whether it was born of ignorance or denial, Myers’s claim “there is no evidence at all for an afterlife” simply isn’t true.

There are phenomena known as corroborated veridical NDE perceptions that clearly seem to demonstrate that the mind and brain are separable entities and strongly suggest our conscious mind may be able to survive physical death.

On the other hand, in an essay beginning on page 149 titled “Our Brains Are Full of Contradictions,” Myers wrote,

“When we claim that, because so-and-so is a scientist, every thought in his head must be automatically legitimate in the scientific sphere, we’re making a glorified argument from authority — we’re making a logical fallacy. There’s plenty of room for each one of us to be wrong.”

Because I reject arguments attempted using authority on a fairly regular basis, I appreciate the honesty of Professor Myers in conceding that point and agree with his debunking the argument from authority. Unfortunately, he later tries to use a similar argument from authority when on page 160, in an essay titled”Religion Fails as a Source of Knowledge.” Myers wrote:

Science and religion are incompatible in all of the ways that count. Science works. Religion doesn’t.

That is an argument attempting to use his authority as an academic to assert a baseless claim in support of his atheistic beliefs. What does it mean to say “religion doesn’t work?”

Probably the most positive thing I can say about The Happy Atheist is the book is short, a quick read. However, it lacks much in the way of real substance that might serve to validate his atheistic worldview, except to say it makes Professor Myers feel better about himself to feel superior to other people. For him, happiness seems to be found in something other than a normal, well-developed sense of humor.

He claims to derive a schadenfreude-like pleasure from watching people he believes to be foolish acting like fools. In the opening chapter titled “Morning in the Midwest,” Myers describes his neighbors as “good people” and says they aren’t stupid — except about their religious beliefs, of course.

Most of the chapters/essays have pithy titles such as “The Top Ten Reasons Religion Is Like Pornography,” “The Big Pink Guy in the Sky,” and “Laughter as a Strategy for Diminishing Religion.”

The irony of his writing “I’m Not a Spoiled Child Having a Temper Tantrum” is quite delicious, especially considering the fact that in other chapters, Myers brags about his plans to desecrate a communion wafer, and burying Bibles to fertilize his garden.

What Professor Myers fails to explain in his book is how other atheists might become happy without looking down in condescension toward people who believe in a supernatural God. When he proclaims “Science works. Religion doesn’t.” he’s making the tacit admission that he doesn’t really even understand the only two real alternatives from which we must choose, if we seek a glimpse of an existential Big Picture.

We don’t have a choice to make between science and religion. Science is merely a tool we use to help us form answers to our existential questions that conform to our personal worldview.

The existential questions focus on the relative probability of whether or not a creator God exists.

In other words, we must choose between God and virtually impossible, certainly not very plausible good luck.

 

 

Narcissist nurse Kaci Hickox and the Ebola quarantine

Kaci Hkaci_hickoxickox has done her good deed. She went to Africa and helped people suffering from Ebola.

Now she just wants her life to get back to normal.

Immediately. You can forget about a three week quarantine for this modern day Florence Nightingale.

The Clara Barton of the Sierra Leone made it crystal clear that no mere politician is going to tell her what to do.

She lawyer-ed up to avoid spending three weeks in isolation out of concerns for public safety because, as she put it, Governor Chris Christie isn’t a doctor.

Neither is she, but that’s beside the point. She knows what’s best for her. Screw the general public.

We’re completely irrational to be afraid that a contagious disease with a high mortality rate and for which there is no known cure has come inside our borders for the first time in American history.

Right?

I know what my problem must be — obviously, I’m just jealous.

After all, Kaci figured out a way to experience her 15 minutes of fame. The New York TimesMeet the Press. The Huffington Post. Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC. The BBC.

Even Saturday Night Live got into the act, adding to her claim to fame.

In stark contrast, I’ve written five books that have been published. Three of them even won an award, and still almost nobody knows who I am.

The best I’ve managed to do thus far was a brief interview by the American Thinker people on the Dennis Miller Radio Show and a few one-hour long interviews with Dr. Robert Rose on his web blog radio show. Pathetic, by comparison.

I haven’t even been asked to write an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News.

The irony is that Kaci obviously cares nothing about all this publicity. She just wants to ride her bike.

We’re absolutely stupid to be worried that it was reported her temperature registered 101 degrees at the airport — that was only because her hot temper matches her red hair.

When she was denied the ability to go when she pleased…after coming home from treating Ebola patients, never mind you, Ms. Hickox literally got hot above the collar.

After all, science tells us how and when it can be transmitted, and Ms. Hickox knew that she posed no public health risk.

Don’t worry about those reports her roommate in Africa has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

If you do plan to make something of it, you’re nothing but a fear monger, and Kaci is a hero for confronting you.

Ignore those scientists who are now predicting 130 new cases of Ebola will be detected in the United States by the end of the year.

But I’ll bet Typhoid Mary didn’t like her quarantine, either.

We fools in the general public should just realize that we are not doctors — you know, medical professionals like Dr. Craig Spencer.

Remember him? He’s the genius who began to display Ebola symptoms after arriving in New York City, and yet rode the subway, drove a rental car, ate in a restaurant and even went bowling before checking himself into the hospital, for God’s sake.

And you know what they call the guy who graduates at the very bottom of his class in medical school?

Doctor.

 

The University of Georgia, Todd Gurley, and the NCAA’s growing credibility problem

Todd_Gurley_cropped

Running back Todd Gurley

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I am an alumnus of the University of Georgia, but not affiliated with the university in any official capacity. These comments merely represent my personal opinion and nothing more.]

I need to vent my frustrations, before my head explodes. I need to express my anger, even though I have no idea how demanding the right thing be done will actually help or accomplish anything, except it might make me feel a little bit better.

We can save the argument for another day about whether the NCAA should allow players to be paid. Though I think that players should be allowed to have some sort of income, it’s irrelevant to the point that I intend to focus upon today.

Likewise, for the time being, we can also ignore that the NCAA earns nearly $1 billion dollars per year in revenue, in spite of the fact the organization is treated as a non-profit by the IRS.

Right now I don’t even want to bring up the relevance of the Ed O’Bannon court decision to this suspension, even though the ruling would seem to be quite pertinent. It’s also helpful and important to note that the NCAA lost that case.

However at the moment, I only want to figure out the answer to one question: what is the NCAA going to do about its very serious and growing credibility problem?

And what message did Mark Emmert and the NCAA think they sent the college football world by increasing Todd Gurley’s suspension from two to four games?

I agree with Bill King of the AJC, when he says their message is “honesty doesn’t pay.

While I believe most Georgia fans are proud of their school, their coach, and especially Todd Gurley this morning, we are also  frustrated.

According to the NCAA webpage when they describe themselves in the section “About Us” under their “Fairness and Integrity” policies in what the NCAA claims they do, it says,

No one is above the rules. The consequences for breaking them need to be clearly defined and consistently enforced.

NCAA President Mark Emmert

NCAA President Mark Emmert

Really? What does the word “consistency” mean to you, Mr. Emmert?

It’s pretty easy to see our head football coach has taught his players that honesty, integrity, and doing the right thing are more important than winning or losing.

You even commended Coach Richt for it, right before your organization dropped the hammer on Gurley with a suspension of four total games, with two more to sit out.

coach Mark Richt

coach Mark Richt

Georgia fans are disappointed the NCAA benched the best player in college football for two more games when other programs seem to get away with murder, but we’re proud of the way our team has dealt with this adversity. We’re proud they won two tough SEC road games in spite of the fact Todd was suspended.

And we’re proud to say that Mark Richt, a man with the utmost integrity, is the coach of our football team.

But we are confused when we see that a player accused of domestic violence currently remains eligible to play for FSU tonight, when Todd Gurley won’t play Saturday because he broke a silly rule that a lawsuit seemed to say was illegal.

Even worse, there’s absolutely no reason to believe FSU will ever suffer any consequences for their program losing control, because the NCAA appears powerless to do anything when the people that break the rules don’t report themselves.

Some of us Georgia fans are concerned about the obvious lack of a level playing field. Our guys get suspended. Other guys don’t.

Compared to Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity and coach Richt’s handling of the Todd Gurley matter, the situation down in Tallahassee appears a train wreck, but there’s no reason for us to have any confidence that the NCAA will do something about it.

A. J. Green

A. J. Green

Ironically, Todd Gurley has received the exact same punishment that was given to former Georgia wide receiver A. J. Green in 2010 for essentially the same infraction.

Make no mistake — A. J. Green broke the rules. And Todd Gurley broke the rules, whether or not we agree with them. So they both deserved punishment.

But hasn’t Gurley been punished enough, especially compared to how others aren’t being punished? For example, contrast the Gurley situation to the ongoing saga of Jameis Winston down at FSU.

Todd missed the Missouri and Arkansas games so far for signing autographs and then admitting what he did. Jameis missed the game against Clemson for a completely different offense that could not be denied because of multiple witnesses.

But Winston denies signing autographs for money and remains eligible to play, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t get away with it. The precedent has already been established. Remember when Johnny Manziel dug in his heels in spite of the overwhelming circumstantial evidence against him? He got off with a slap on the wrist by simply refusing to tell the truth. Apparently  NCAA investigators have never heard of an invention known as a lie detector, the polygraph machine, which might help them get to real truth when someone appears to be lying through their teeth.

photo from 247sports.com.

Kolton Houston

The NCAA forced Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston to undergo risky elective surgery in order to remedy a doctor’s mistake to gain his eligibility. So why can’t these players who appear to obviously be lying receive a shot of Sodium Pentothal, also known as truth serum, before they get interrogated?

Seeing the pathetic incompetence of the NCAA’s investigation into the Manziel case reminded me of Sergeant Schultz from the old TV show  Hogan’s Heroes:

Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel

Manziel does have a rich father, and that seems to have given him just enough plausible deniability to convince the NCAA that $7,500 a broker allegedly paid him to sign could have conceivably come from his daddy.

Nothing to see here. Move along. The NCAA claimed they bought into his story hook, line, and sinker.

In reality, it appears they simply couldn’t prove Manziel took the money.He stonewalled them, in spite of the fact that more than 4,400 signed pieces of memorabilia were found advertised for sale on the internet with his authenticated signature on them.

Yeah, he really suffered the consequences, all the way to New York where he picked up his Heisman Trophy.

Except for the NCAA investigators, a few sadly deluded Texas A&M fans, and possibly Jimbo Fisher, nobody with half a brain believes that Manziel signed thousands of sequentially numbered autographed pieces of merchandise purely out of the goodness of his heart.

And nobody except Jimbo Fisher can believe that Jameis Winston has signed more than 2,000 items of autographed memorabilia without receiving some cash under the table for his time and trouble, either. But Winston says he didn’t do it, and that’s gonna be good enough for ole Jimbo because obviously, in every other respect, Jameis is a paragon of virtue.

Jameis Winston doing something he does best

Jameis Winston doing something he does best

Please. Even Inspector Clouseau could figure out that a really bad smell is coming out of Tallahassee.

It’s called the stench of corruption. When the wind changes direction, it starts blowing in from Chapel Hill.

Come on, this isn’t rocket science. Jimbo has more than half a million reasons to turn a blind eye to Winston’s shenanigans.

He doesn’t think it’s a problem that 2,000 pieces of authenticated memorabilia are currently available for sale on the internet with his quarterback’s name on them, because Winston simply follows the example set by Manziel and claims that he took no money

Todd Gurley told the truth. He admitted breaking NCAA rules.

And his reward will be to sit home for two more weeks and watch while liars get to play.

The REAL war on women — Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking

actor Denzel Washington

actor Denzel Washington

Whenever I hear one politician accuse another of participating in some “war on women” by somehow threatening to infringe upon their “reproductive rights”, it makes me want to vomit.

Anyone who says something that stupid obviously does’t have a clue about the real war being waged on women by terrorist thugs like ISIS or Boko Haram, who kidnap, rape, and enslave young children.

Unfortunately, dangerous predators who prey on young girls also lurk within our midst, right here at home in America.

But instead of kidnapping their victims, these domestic predators usually prey on young teens who have run away from home.

So yesterday, my son and I went to see The Equalizer in the plush, gorgeous and brand new AMC Theaters at North Point Mall and it became one of the best experiences in a theater that I’ve had in years. The chairs were very comfortable leather recliners, and the theaters and lobby were impeccably clean.

The bar was even open for business, though it was a little too early for alcohol.

The very best part of my experience was watching the movie itself, though — I really needed to see Denzel Washington wipe out a gang of Russian mobsters getting obscenely rich selling young girls into prostitution.

I will concede that I probably enjoyed the film more than I should have. I’m quite sure that I’ve seen better movies.

However, I chose that particular movie specifically because I anticipated the plot would prove to be cathartic, given the nature of my experience the previous evening, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

The night before I attended a symposium on domestic minor sex trafficking held at at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Alpharetta that featured Attorney General Sam Olens, as well as Scott Gates of Street Grace Ministry, Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Camilia Wright, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Asst. Special Agent Brian Johnston, and Mary Frances Bowley of Wellspring Living.

This panel of experts presented information about the sexual abuse of children that was enlightening, but also depressing to learn.

Attorney General Olens has worked with state legislators to strengthen Georgia’s laws against sex trafficking, making the potential sentences for conviction among the toughest in the nation. He is quite passionate about prosecuting this heinous crime.

Street Grace is a nonprofit faith-based organization that educates people to increase awareness of this pernicious element hiding within our society, working to help put an end to domestic minor sex trafficking.

Wellspring Living rescues and rehabilitates the young victims of this sordid business, providing them with a safe place to stay while mentoring them while the kids complete their education and prepare them to become self-sufficient, .

Assistant D.A. Wright serves as the head of the Fulton D.A.’s Human Trafficking department. Think about the implications of what that means — in Fulton County, the problem has become so bad that an entire department within the organization has been dedicated to prosecuting one specific crime.

How bad can this problem really be? You might ask…so let me tell you.

Our panel of experts opened more eyes than mine, educating us by sharing some very alarming statistics. For example:

  • 300,000 children are sold into prostitution every year.
  • The child sex-trade industry earns $150 billion dollars per year in the U.S.
  • The average age of recruitment for a child prostitute is between 12-14 years old.
  • The average life expectancy of a child coerced or forced into prostitution is only seven years.
  • Between 70 and 90 percent of the victims were sexually abused at home before running away.
  • Over 90 percent of the victims stay in school, where they often try to recruit other victims at the behest of their pimp.
  • 42 percent of the “buyers” of these children are wealthy or upper middle class white men from the suburbs north of I-285 — in other words, people who could be my neighbors.

The evening’s news wasn’t all depressing — Ms. Wright also told us about a recent prosecution of sex traffickers resulting in a sentence of life without parole for the “recruiter”, and a sentence of 30 years with a minimum of 25 to serve for the person who marketed the young girl.

The buyer paid for the sexual encounter with $79 and a soft drink. For his crime, he received a sentence of ten years with a minimum of five to serve. He is scheduled to be deported upon his release due to his status as a foreign national.

You might be wondering, what can average citizens do to help put an end to this awful business?

Tell our legislators how much we appreciate the new, tougher sentences for the sex traffickers. Let them know we would also appreciate them increasing the penalties available for people who pay to have sex with underage children.

Discourage any potential buyers you suspect. Exert a little peer pressure by making sure your friends understand how sick, despicable, and pathetic you think anyone who pays to have sex with a very young girl must be.

Donate time, money, or both to support Street Grace and Wellspring Living. Both are worthy nonprofit organizations dedicated to an excellent cause, the eradication of childhood prostitution.

Report suspicious activity involving children and especially potential sex crimes to the Georgia Cares hotline at 404-602-0268.

Or, you may also call the National Human Trafficking Resource center hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

The real war on women is happening before they become women, while they are still vulnerable young teens.

I know it’s a shame, but we can’t expect Denzel Washington to kill all the bad guys who exist in the real world.

We must put an end to this evil ourselves.

Fossilized rabbits in the Precambrian

Haldane

J. B. S. Haldane

In his book The God Delusion, prominent atheist Richard Dawkins wrote, “As J. B. S. Haldane said when asked what evidence might contradict evolution, ‘Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian.'”

But how does Haldane’s rather sarcastic and flippant remark translate into English?

Well, consider that the Precambrian describes the geologic period of time between the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion.

According to our experts in paleontology, this particular period of time during the Earth’s development was dominated by single-celled organisms that descended via asexual reproduction from LUCA, an acronym referring to our Last Universal Common Ancestor, formed by a secular miracle of chemical reaction.

So a fossil showing the presence of a more complex and modern product of sexual reproduction, such as a rabbit or a human, shouldn’t be found in rocks formed long before that particular creature could have come into existence, according to these “rules” of evolution.

When Darwin famously suggested that “monkeys make men“, he could have claimed that protozoa make men, but his idea presented in The Origin of Species would have been harder to defend using comparative anatomy as the only weapon in Darwin’s arsenal of evidence to argue in favor of common descent rather than common design.

The idea that every living organism is related through common descent is the very heart and soul of Darwin’s theory — the belief that simple organisms can gradually evolve to become more complex, given the vagaries of time, through variety created by descent with modification via natural selection, of course.

By employing that same logic and extrapolating from the same evidence only a little bit further, one could also reasonably assert that “bananas make men.”

In fact, in his book The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution, Richard Dawkins said as much when he wrote,

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzee, somewhat more distant cousins of monkey, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips…continue the list as long as desired.

Because I didn’t fall off the turnip truck this morning, personally I find this “fact” called evolution more than just a little bit hard to believe. Usually I’m a fairly reasonable person, and yet I have very good reasons for expressing my doubts that Mr. Dawkins’s above claim is true.

For example, another theme central to Darwin’s theory says that if we can look far enough back in time, we can see evidence that ancestral creatures went through radical morphological changes at some point in the distant past. This phenomena allows evolutionary biologists to “predict” when a critical divergence occurred — such as when dinosaurs evolved into birds, or when fish magically mutated into tetrapods.

For whatever reason, it has been generally assumed that Haldane’s comment more or less applied to any fossil evidence that was found in rocks where it didn’t belong, and Darwin’s theory would fall under new scrutiny should that occur.

However, that may have been a foolish assumption.

For example, when fossil footprints were found in Poland that appeared to be 20 million years older than Tiktaalit, the alleged transitional fossil that purportedly bridges the gap between fish and all tetrapods. That seems to strongly suggest that Tiktaalit was not some miraculous intermediate species that magically crossed the boundaries between two phyla.

Crocoduck1

Creationists have been harshly criticized and ridiculed for allegedly demanding that evolutionists produce a crocko-duck transitional fossil.

However, the so-called “educational” website produced by the University of California-Berkeley described Tiktaalit as having “the head of a crocodile and gills of a fish,” and no one seemed to think that sounded remotely absurd.

Protoavis

Protoavis

This extinct specimen pictured on the left has been dubbed Protoavis, which means “first bird.” It allegedly lived during the late Triassic Period, approximately 210 million years ago.

When my friend Landon posted the picture of Protoavis as shown on the left, I suggested that he’d only created a massive headache for himself. After all, he had just pointed to yet another equivalent of a “Precambrian rabbit” that might finally get people questioning the conventional wisdom of Darwinism once again.

Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx

This is because Archaeopteryx has been widely accepted as the transitional creature from dinosaurs to birds, and it lived during the late Jurassic, only 150 million years ago.

That makes Protoavis the second “first bird” fossil. However, it looks a lot more like a bird than Archaeopteryx.

How does the die-hard evangelist for evolution respond to such evidence? Most will probably parrot P. Z. Myers, who seemed to be suggesting that evolution theory will not be successfully challenged or debunked until a Precambrian rabbit has literally been found.

And not before.

 

Todd Grantham versus Jeremy Pruitt — which Defensive Coordinator would you rather have?

Georgia legend Erk Russell

Georgia legend Erk Russell

It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee.

This morning during breakfast when I read Michael Cunningham’s article in the AJC that was published a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that Todd Grantham has done a better job of coaching defense at Louisville than Jeremy Pruitt has been doing this year at Georgia, I would have spit that coffee all over my keyboard.

Water cleans up much easier. Nor does it hurt very much if you laugh while swallowing and some goes up or down the wrong way.

Was Mr. Cunningham serious? Has he actually watched the two defenses play, or simply looked at the raw statistical analysis? In his defense, Mr. Cunningham normally writes about the Atlanta Hawks and professional basketball. He must have wandered a little bit out of his comfort zone.

That’s the only way I can guess someone might think Todd Grantham could do a better job at Louisville than Jeremy Pruitt has been doing this year at Georgia.

He simply can’t have watched Todd Grantham coach a defense before.

However, I have. In fact, I watched Grantham in action for four mostly painful years,  from 2010 – 2013, every game the Bulldogs played.

And in my personal opinion, Georgia won the freaking lottery when Grantham left and they hired Pruitt to replace him.

Coaches Pruitt and Richt -- AP photo

AP photo

Now it simply isn’t fair to Grantham to compare him to Jeremy Pruitt, a man who has proven he knows how to coach a national championship caliber defense. Grantham’s work should be measured against Willie Martinez, the guy he replaced.

Grantham was a slight improvement.

But I am sure that I can recognize a well-coached defense when I see one, and I never saw one being coached by Todd Grantham.

Not even once.

During Grantham’s tenure with Georgia, typically Aaron Murray and the offense put up enough points to win in spite of the defense, not with their help.

More often than not under Grantham, our play in the secondary resembled the Three Stooges, instead of a disciplined unit working as a team. I still have nightmares about 4th and 18 at Auburn.

Then after I wake up in a cold sweat and finally go back to sleep, I have more nightmares about the 99-yard bomb Nebraska threw in the bowl game.

In comparison, the vast improvement in Georgia’s defense from week to week with Jeremy Pruitt at the helm has been obvious and remarkable, beginning with the season opener against Clemson.

By the time the second half against the ranked Tigers ended, I could tell that we had seriously upgraded our defensive coordinator.

In the Clemson game, I saw glimpses of brilliant defensive play reminding me of glory days and  legendary Junkyard Dawg defense, coached by Erk Russell.

Now I freely admit that I haven’t watched Louisville play very much this year, simply because I don’t find their games against Wake Forest, Murray State, or the Little Sisters of the Poor very interesting.

At the time Mr. Cunningham wrote his column, Louisville had just defeated Wake without the Demon Deacons scoring an offensive touchdown — with a passing offense ranked #105. Their rushing offense is even worse, ranked #128 averaging only 31 yards a game.

It isn’t difficult to look good against really bad competition. Louisville has only played two difficult games and lost both of them.

In four years of watching Todd Grantham at work, I never saw any effort from his players that reminded me of Erk. His defenses managed three shutouts in four years, all in Sanford stadium.

By  contrast, Pruitt’s defense shut out two opponents in half a season, the most impressive of which being on the road in Columbia last weekend.

The Junkyard Dawgs showed up again last Saturday, proving at ranked Missouri the Clemson game wasn’t a fluke. This time, the effort was sustained for all four quarters.

Missouri would have been in the driver’s seat for the SEC East title, plenty of incentive to win at home. Instead, Georgia’s offense played well enough to win, and the defense absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage and suffocated the Tiger offense from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.

It’s much too early to compare Pruitt to coach Russell at this point of his career — it seems more appropriate to compare him to Brian VanGorder, the best defensive coordinator under Richt,

Until now.

After Pruitt has had the opportunity to recruit a couple of shutdown corners and shore up the secondary, the sky may be the limit.

 

 

The really big money in politics

Charles-David-KochNow if you only get information from uber-liberal media sources like Mother Jones or Media Matters, you might have the impression that the Koch brothers (pronounced “Coke” like the soft drink) are probably the most powerful and corrupting influence out there, when it comes to the really big money in politics. Right?

No, you would actually be wrong.

Wait a minute — even if the Kochs are not the absolute biggest individual political donors on the list, they must at least be in the top 10, correct?

Nope. Not even close.

But hold on now — when Rolling Stone magazine suggested these e-e-e-vil brothers are trying to “buy up our political system” with ill-gotten profits of their “toxic empire,” there must be some truth to those allegations, or their printed accusations would constitute libel, wouldn’t it?

Maybe. I’m not a lawyer. Nor do I play one on television. But if I’m reading the definition of libel correctly from the dictionary, perhaps a lawsuit looms in the magazine’s near future.

So, if not even in the top 10, where exactly on the list of big money donors do the Koch brothers fall?

Well, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website published by the Center for Responsive Politics, Charles and David Koch rank 59th out of the top 100 political donors with donations of slightly more than $20 million dollars from 1989-2014.

According to that same list, the largest single political donor is ActBlue, which alone donated over $100 million dollars more than the Koch brothers.

Unsurprisingly, given their name, 99 percent of ActBlue’s $121 million in total donations went to Democrats. None went to Republicans.

In stark contrast, the Koch brothers were a little less biased, donating at least 8 percent of their total political contributions to Democrat candidates.

Now if one simply looks at the list and the top ten donors and adds the total donations of the ten largest political donors, it becomes easy to determine that well over a whopping $400 million more went in big money campaign contributions from lawyers, big business, and labor unions to Democrat candidates.

So remember this information, the next time a political candidate tries to win your sympathy and your vote by demonizing the Koch brothers.

Their paltry (in comparison to the others on the list, of course) $20 million dollars is just a drop in the bucket of big money in politics.

The entrapment of Todd Gurley

Todd_Gurley_croppedWhen media reports were published claiming the man accusing UGA running back Todd Gurley of accepting improper payment to autograph sports memorabilia had hired an attorney, my initial reaction to the story was one of surprise.

The first, most obvious question that popped into my head was this: Why does the guy who allegedly entrapped Gurley need an attorney?

It turns out that apparently by accusing Gurley, this person has tacitly admitted violating a Georgia law passed in 2003 that would make him legally liable for damages incurred by the University of Georgia through his deliberate causing of recruiting or regulation violations to occur.

Now the conventional wisdom of pundits in the media currently seems to be that Gurley may have played his last game for the University of Georgia. However, I’m not convinced that #3 won’t be suited up again next week for the Dawgs fairly soon, perhaps even as soon as next weekend against Arkansas.

The rationale for my thinking is simply this: unless there is a smoking gun like video of money changing hands or cashed checks showing a direct payment of cash by the accuser to the accused, how will the NCAA justify giving Gurley more than a one game suspension, considering how similar recent cases have been handled?

Reports in the media have emphatically indicated that the video allegedly showing Gurley autographing merchandise does not show any money changing hands. These reports suggest it is only the word of one accuser described as disgruntled and unscrupulous versus the best player in college football, Todd Gurley.

And most people who enjoy college football want to see Todd Gurley play.

Interestingly, it appears that Gurley’s accuser cannot repeat his allegations on the record to the NCAA without incriminating himself, which may be why he hired a defense attorney.

Unless I’m missing something, the best move for this memorabilia dealer would be to retract his accusation or simply refuse to repeat it for the record. If he’s smart, he won’t cooperate with any investigation for fear of exposing himself to the risk of personal financial loss.

Here’s why — if this guy repeats his allegations, without hard evidence to corroborate his claims, the NCAA will be hard pressed to accept his unsubstantiated allegation on face value and impose a drastic punishment…and this guy will have made himself vulnerable to civil lawsuit.

You might ask how much might the University of Georgia expect to recoup if they sued Gurley’s accuser and won? Well, consider the fact that the school spent $40,000 alone just for an insurance policy to cover their prized running back for the 2014 season.

Room, board, tuition, lost Heisman publicity — the potential damages could add up quickly.

Given this information, what is the likelihood Gurley has played his last game for UGA?

Consider these precedents set by the NCAA with their handling of similar recent cases: former Alabama players Julio Jones and Mark Ingram were let off with a slap on the wrist, donating “restitution” for allegedly accepting improper benefits. Neither player missed any game time.

Former Auburn Tiger and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton‘s father demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars for Cam to sign with Mississippi State, but because there was no evidence Auburn paid him or that he knew of his father’s demands, the player was suspended and reinstated by the NCAA without missing any game time.

Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was only suspended for one half of one non-conference game for basically being accused of the same thing as Gurley.

Jameis Winston of Florida State University has only been suspended for one game by the NCAA for far more egregious behavior. Without hard evidence to substantiate these allegations against Gurley, it would hardly seem fair nor defensible for the NCAA to punish him more harshly than any of these other players.

After all, missing the entire Missouri game probably cost Gurley his shot at the Heisman Trophy. It should be noted that the very same memorabilia dealer making these accusations against Todd Gurley has not mentioned Jameis Winston, but allegedly has quite a few of Winston’s autographed items for sale on Ebay right along with Gurley.

Why rat on one guy, and not the other? Why pick on Todd Gurley?

As the story goes, greed is the motive. This particular individual was allegedly upset with Gurley because he wasn’t making enough profit off sales of his merchandise to suit him.

The whole sordid story poses an interesting question: does the NCAA really want to allow this precedent to be set?  Do they want to allow serious allegations to ruin the college career of a player without requiring concrete proof that the allegations are true?

If this is despicable practice, allegedly coercing athletes to break the rules and then framing them, is allowed to succeed,the integrity of college sports will be called into question.

Think about it — if this sort of manipulation is allowed to succeed, how long will it be before a die-hard Auburn fan makes a similar allegation in order to get the best player on Alabama, or vice versa, disqualified right before the Iron Bowl? Or a USC fan sets up a UCLA player, or Buckeye does something like this to a Wolverine?

For these reasons, unless that proverbial smoking gun can be produced proving Todd Gurley took money for his autograph, I think the NCAA has little alternative but to reinstate him.

Even if that evidence proves to exist, the NCAA should think long and hard about revising the rules so people with an ulterior motive can get away with the malicious entrapment of a college kid. After all, college football is essentially semi-pro football, especially in the SEC.

Why can’t the players get paid for their autograph, if some fool is willing to pay for it?