I love it when the truth comes out ahead of political correctness. Considering how many people despise PC I always find it surprising how widespread it is. Why would politicians and other public figures be so dedicated to PC when they know the vast majority of people are opposed to it?
The specific example I read about on this occasion was the case of a nutrition expert, John Birkbeck, who says it is your own fault if you’re a “fatty”. He says anti-obesity efforts won’t work until society refuses to accept being overweight as normal and makes it a negative thing like it has for smoking.
Of course all of the politically correct people have come out and condemned the idea. The coordinator of the Eating Difficulties Education Network, Maree Burns, said the comments were “flagrant”, “inappropriate”, “intolerant” and “offensive” (I’m not sure if she’s a “fatty” herself or just making the criticisms on behalf of others).
She went on to say “Shaming and blaming people has never been effective. This is the worst example of fat phobia and doesn’t achieve anything except building discrimination.” and “People that are bigger already experience profound levels of discrimination and feel like health pariahs and social outcasts without these kinds of attitudes. With comments like that I am glad he’s retiring.” And, no surprises, she was particularly upset by his race-based comments.
So obviously some people are offended by the comments, but are they true? And if they are true is it still OK to make them if they are offensive to some people?
Birkbeck points out that obesity basically results from eating more calories than you expend. Since people can have control over both of those things its really up to them if they consume a surplus of calories. While some people do have a genetic propensity for getting overweight that doesn’t change the basic facts.
Just to stir trouble up even more, he also said “over-fatness” was a bigger problem for Maori and Pacific Islanders than Europeans as well as being an emerging issue with Asian migrants. Wow, talk about living dangerously! Its never been safe to make comments which could be construed as being critical to minority groups. Again, the truth seems to be of only secondary importance.
I don’t know enough about nutrition to know for sure whether he’s right or wrong, but I suspect after 50 years as an academic in the area he’d know a lot more than the people who have objected to his comments.
So maybe to some people his comments were intolerant, offensive,flagrant and inappropriate but I think he was right to make them anyway. I think someone who is an expert in the field and who genuinely has something to say which is potentially important should say it even if it might be offensive to some who are overly sensitive on the issue.
I don’t know if Birbeck’s comments will actually make any difference to the obesity problem we have in New Zealand (which is probably less of an issue than in other countries like the US, but still significant, especially with those minority groups!) but I always say that the first step to solving a problem is accepting it exists, and the second is being honest about it by rejecting political correctness!
What is the best financial approach to take during a recession? Is it best to play safe and try to save money and minimise debt, or is it better to act positively and try to improve the situation? Well it seems that the New Zealand government has taken the former course because the budget they just released is extremely yawn-worthy.
To be fair they have produced a fairly well balanced budget which doesn’t penalise or advantage any particular groups. No one should be too upset about it, but then again no one will probably be celebrating either.
Of course, there is a case to say this is the best approach. At least we aren’t handing out free money to dead people as part of a stimulus package like the Australians. Maybe they think they will stimulate the dead back into life!
But you would think that to recover from a bad financial situation you would need to do something. Just waiting around and doing as little as possible while the rest of the world tries to solve the problem doesn’t really seem like the sort of thing we should be too impressed by.
One opportunity we might be able to take advantage of during the recession is the increased number of people who participate in tertiary education programs while jobs are harder to get. But there is no money in the budget for this. In fact, given the increased number of students likely to arrive, tertiary education institutions are likely to be a lot worse off. And I’m not just saying that because I work at a University!
Anyway I guess I should be happy that the budget hasn’t been the type that takes an axe to anything that’s still moving. It probably won’t do any harm but it seems unlikely that it will do any good either.
Many people around the country, and around the world, are having to survive on lower incomes, often as a result of voluntary pay reductions to help the company they work for survive. This makes excessive payments to government advisors even more controversial than usual.
So should the New Zealand government be spending up to $2000 a day for a “private purchase adviser” (I don’t know what that is but it sounds ominous) working for finance minister Bill English? Is the fact that he was a member of one of the government’s minority parties relevant? And does the claim that up to three times as much is spent on lawyers make the whole situation better or worse?
Prime minister John Key has said that he doesn’t think it’s excessive in the sense that the advisor has got a lot of responsibility in terms of giving good quality advice. Oh really? And will he refund the fee if his advice turns out to be faulty? No, I don’t think so. He’ll just take the money for giving out his opinion and say “thanks suckers”.
And I think we have a good idea of what sort of political bias a previous member of the ACT party might have. I think I would be prepared to pay $2000 a day for him to stay away and not give us his advice!
But isn’t it worth the cost to get good information which could be used to save many times more than what is spent? I don’t think so. First, I think in this particular case the person is hopelessly politically compromised. What’s the point in a right-wing party getting advice from a former right-wing party member? They’re not likely to get a fresh perspective on whatever problem they are studying.
Also, I don’t trust anyone who is primarily motivated by money. I’m sure there are some extremely skilled, and far less biased people in places like universities who would offer expert advice for far less. So why not use these people? Probably because the politicians might not get the answers they want.
The other point is that even if paying this sort of rate is usually justifiable, and even if it can be justified now from a practical perspective, shouldn’t our leaders be setting some sort of example of how to achieve more while spending less?
As for those $6000 a day lawyers. If we have got to the point where getting legal advice costs that much then I think its time we backed away from having so many complex laws. Its not so much that we spend too much money for expert information, its more that we spend it on the wrong people: you will never make any progress by listening to lawyers, accountants, and financial advisors who are only prepared to help the country if you pay them enough!
You might have noted that I haven’t commented on the real big news of the day: the budget. I think I’ll leave that until tomorrow, although I would have to say its barely even worth commenting on.
Why is the sky blue? Why is the Earth hotter during summer than it is during winter? These are two basic science questions that many intelligent, educated people can’t answer.
The subject arose as part of a discussion in a science podcast related to the gap between the arts and science but I think it is equally applicable to the gap between people who are scientists, technologists, or just scientifically literate for some other reason, and everyone else.
According to the program, when the entire graduating class of Harvard University was asked why the Earth is hotter in summer only a few gave the right answer. Not only is does this show a huge failure to know some basic facts (this is usually taught in school at around age 13, I think) but the answer most people give makes no sense if you think about it a bit.
The most common answer is that the Earth is closer to the Sun during summer. This seems reasonable until you realise that during the northern summer the southern hemisphere has its winter. Since both hemispheres are part of the same planet how can one be closer and experience summer while the other is more distant and be experiencing winter?
If Harvard graduates (who most people would say are fairly intelligent) can’t even see this simple problem with their answer then what chance does everyone else have?
By the way, the correct answer is that its the direction of tilt of the Earth which changes. The Earth is tilted at about 23 degrees in relation to the Sun and the direction the Earth points stays the same as the Earth orbits the Sun.
So when the Earth is on one side of its orbit and the northern hemisphere is pointing more towards the Sun during December and January it is hotter but six months later on the other side of the orbit when it is pointing more away it is colder. Of course when the northern hemisphere is pointing away the southern is pointing towards the Sun (and vice versa) so its seasons are opposite. That’s not too hard, is it?
If people can’t even handle that concept then what chance do they have with more subtle and abstract ideas, like quantum physics, evolution, and cosmological theories? And what about complex and contentious ideas like global warming?
Does this all really matter though? Well yes, because people would be called ignorant if they didn’t know a few basic facts about literature (some lines from Shakespeare maybe) or some simple geography (the capital of major countries) or some history (approximate dates of the world wars) but most people don’t seem to worry as much about scientific ignorance even though it is of greater practical importance.
Actually, looking at the paragraph above I’m not so sure I’m right because I suspect a lot of people wouldn’t have any clues about those non-science questions either. In fact I seem to remember a survey which showed many people didn’t even know which century World War I was in! So maybe I shouldn’t re railing against scientific ignorance as much as pure, generic ignorance!
Oh yes, I haven’t told you why the sky is blue yet, have I? The molecules in air scatter shorter (bluer) wavelengths of light more than longer (redder) so they get diverted down from the sky to where we see them. The red stuff goes right through. At sunset the sky seems redder for the same reason: the blue is being diverted away and the red is coming through in a straight line.
But that explanation is really too complex. Exactly the same effect occurs in a tank of coloured liquid or gas and we don’t engage in complex explanations for that. So really the reason the sky is blue is simply because air is blue!
According to Winston Churchill democracy is the worst form of government… apart from all the rest! In other words, despite its problems we don’t have anything better. So if most people agree that democracy is the ideal to aim for shouldn’t we be upholding its principles as much as possible?
It seems to me that one of the major principles of democracy is equality. Everyone should get a say in electing their government. Of course, that doesn’t happen: for example people younger than a certain age can’t vote. Is that undemocratic? It would be worse though if some members of society were given a greater say in the democratic process than others. For example, if a certain group were given a special voting category or even had representatives appointed instead of elected.
No one would put up with this in general but its exactly what certain Maori (for foreign readers, Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand) groups want in the new authority if the Auckland “supercity” goes ahead. Now for many people the issue becomes different. Because its now an issue of race the extreme opinions come out on both sides.
On one side we get the opinion that Maori are “tangata whenua” (a conveniently vague term that seems to imply anyone labelling themselves as such should get special privileges) and of course they should have guaranteed representation. On the other we have the opinion that Maori should get nothing more than anyone else. There are also more extreme opinions saying they should get less but I’ll ignore these because they can’t really be justified.
While I am usually labelled a liberal I do take a more conservative (sorry to stereotype the two sides of the argument like that) view here. If we are going to have a democracy then let’s have one. No one should have special privileges or guaranteed representation. Apparently most people agree with me because the Herald poll showed over 80% of participants disagreed with the idea of special Maori rights.
Special rights are wrong for both sides. Not only is it insulting to non-Maori because it effectively says they aren’t as important, but its also insulting to Maori because it suggests they need special help to participate in the political system instead if relying on their own merit.
OK, it would be unfortunate if there was no Maori representatives on the new council but that problem can easily be solved. Just make sure there is a person running for election who has strong views regarding Maori issues and get the 11% (or whatever it is) of Maori to vote for him/her. If no one is prepared to stand for election and insufficient people are prepared to vote then there probably shouldn’t be that representation there anyway.
Also, there are the legal processes which guarantee Maori have a say in most new planning and building projects. Yes, I know many people would say those are also racist but let’s not go there at this point!
I don’t really have a firm opinion either for or against the so-called supercity. I live near the opposite end of the country so I really don’t care (I reject the claim that Auckland is the “engine room” of the economy or that for New Zealand to thrive Auckland must be looked after). I have heard reasons for the change ranging from making Auckland a lot more efficient to creating an environment where its assets can be sold off to foreign owners. I certainly hope the government isn’t embarking on the disastrous path of foreign asset sales again, even if it is just Auckland!
So its the Maori representation issue which is more interesting to me. Many people think we should eliminate the Maori seats in the national electoral system as well. I agree they do make the process less democratic and with a proportional representation system they are unnecessary so I would like to see them go. But with the Maori Party being a partner in the current government that might not be easy.
So I think these extra privileges Maori are given are undemocratic and are racist as well. The question is are those negative aspects balanced or exceeded by the positive aspects? With the current political environment here I don’t think so. Reverse racism is still racism and it would take a lot to justify that!
It is now 100 years since the British scientist Arthur Eddington performed one of the most important experiments in modern physics which confirmed Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. He observed a total solar eclipse from the island of Principe, off the west African coast. Basically this confirmed that space (and time) really are bent by mass (in this case, the Sun) as Einstein predicted.
The reason we don’t usually see this effect is that it is very small. Even a large mass like the Sun only distorts space a small amount so it was necessary to observe stars which were really close to the Sun (or appeared to be close because they were in line). Usually these stars aren’t visible because the light the Sun is so much greater than the distant stars (even though the stars could easily be intrinsically brighter) so the eclipse was used to block the Sun’s light.
OK, so there’s my little history, physics and astronomy lesson but what is the point of all this? Well there are certain experiments, observations and theories which just keep coming up in discussions of science. These experiments are so revolutionary and far reaching that, even years after they were carried out, they still get mentioned in discussions of the relevant fields of science. So I started thinking about what other experiments might be in that category.
The first one I thought of, and another one which is very topical (because of the 150th anniversary of its publication), is the Theory of Evolution. This wasn’t really the result of an experiment, it was more about careful and meticulous observation and recording, but I still think it ranks as one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs ever.
Another one which comes up a lot in physics and cosmology is the Michelson-Morley experiment. It was performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at what is now Case Western Reserve University. It was designed to detect the ether, which physicists at the time hypothesised the existence of because they needed a medium for wave phenomena, such as light, to travel through. The experiment showed the ether didn’t exist, although this was so unexpected to some physicists that there were various attempts to rationalise the result.
A more modern example (and those are difficult because great experiments usually only become obvious after their influence has lasted many years) is the observations of the cosmic microwave background by various satellite observatories, especially the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). This mission was launched on 30 June 2001 and helped establish many important characteristics of the Universe, including its age to an accuracy of 1%. WMAP is still working and recent observations of anomalous areas of low temperature could be very significant in the future.
Another older result would be Hubble’s (I mean the astronomer, not the telescope which was named after him) observations which showed the Universe was expanding. I do seem to be mainly concentrating on physics and cosmology here but that has always been one of my major interests so I guess that’s inevitable. Hubble performed some remarkable precision measurements of galaxies which showed they were all (or almost all) racing away from us. This showed the Universe was expanding which was contrary to what most people thought at the time (including Einstein).
I’ve got to mention one last experiment which is one of my favourites of all time. And it is related to quantum physics, of course! Its the infamous double slit experiment which demonstrates: how particles are waves and waves are particles, but maybe they’re neither or both depending on the conditions; how one particle can be in two places at the same time; and how particles change their behaviour depending on whether they are being “watched” or not.
This experiment is still a mystery: not only can’t we explain it but I don’t think we even know what it means! Richard Feynman (one of the greatest quantum physicists) often said that all of quantum mechanics can be gleaned from carefully thinking through the implications of this single experiment.
Unfortunately, even though its been thought about a lot, quantum mechanics is not only the most successful theory but also the hardest to believe! It seems that reality at its deepest level seems totally unreal to humans who are used to thinking at the macroscopic level.
Finally, what will be the next great experiment? I think we need to know two things (again I’m sticking to the big picture – which is cosmology). First, what is dark matter and dark energy, and second (and most impotrant of all) how do we devise a theory which incorporates both quantum theory and relativity? Yes, its the old theory of everything again. We need an experiment to establish whether string theory or other alternatives can be used for the “theory of everything”. There’s no sign of that happening yet but one day it will.
Everyone is looking for a way to escape the current financial crisis. Its clear to me that the best long term answer is to build a new financial system which doesn’t put greedy, mediocre fools in charge, but its unrealistic to expect that to happen immediately, so what can be done now?
A team of “high-flying entrepreneurs” gathered together in Auckland today to try to find some ways that New Zealand can lift itself out of the recession. So what did they come up with?
Well it seems the top idea was: “Give it a go, bro” a proposed marketing and educational campaign to change attitudes. They say the “number 8 wire mentality” (the ability to do things ourselves with low-tech solutions) is being lost and we need to regain a more positive outlook on things.
Number two was a “KiwiCard”. The idea is to offer free return airfares to tourists who buy a $10,000 debit card that can be used only while they are in New Zealand.
Third was “Harness the Possum”. Presumably this involves using the glut of possums, which are a noxious pest in New Zealand, in some commercial venture. The details of how this would work or how it would differ from past efforts doesn’t seem to have been explained.
Fourth was the “Flying Kiwi Fund”, the idea to create a venture capital fund to help new businesses to grow. Maybe there are more details somewhere but I doubt whether there’s anything involved which thousands of people haven’t already thought of.
Finally was the idea of better co-ordinating the $760 million available for research and development and making research institutes’ intellectual property available to entrepreneurs.
So that’s it apparently. I’m so underwhelmed. If this is the best this pack of self-righteous, egotistic idiots can come up with then I’m not surprised our country, and the whole of western civilisation, is sinking into the mire.
The photo associated with the story shows a few of the entrepreneurs, obviously overwhelmed with their own self-importance gesturing and basically ignoring each other.
According to the article “this group of blue sky thinkers may not have saved the world yesterday, but you’ve got to admire their outlook on life”. Well I wouldn’t. The people I admire are those who make genuine, long term contributions to society instead of running hair dressing salons, for example, like one of these geniuses does.
But its easy to criticise, what about a positive suggestion myself? OK, I suggest this: we introduce a Kiwicard to give free flights to people who will come to New Zealand and put $10,000 into an investment fund which can be used to research new ways for New Zealanders who have positive attitudes to set up businesses to export possum skins!
The title of an article I spotted today at the Herald web site amused me. It was “Twitter users at risk of becoming bird-brained”. A local media commentator seems to have come to this conclusion, based on what evidence I really don’t know, and obviously thought his opinion should be made public.
There are two aspects of the claim that I think are worth commenting on. First, Twitter can be used for many purposes, from totally inane drivel to focussed and purposeful news and commentary. And second, birds have been found to be a lot more intelligent than has traditionally been supposed so the insult “bird brained” is probably no longer relevant.
I have been using Twitter since before it was well known (I like to try out new Internet technologies at an early stage of their development) and I find it a useful way to share real information as well as fun, trivial comments.
For example today I have posted tweets about these topics: the status of my SETI@Home effort, the sales figures for the iPhone, a reference to the article I am discussing here, a comment about physics, how robots have learned to fall without damaging themselves, and a complaint about a computer hardware failure.
In the last few days I have followed other people’s tweets on subjects such as: NASA reporting on its progress fixing the Hubble Space Telescope, Science Friday’s report on a world record for paper airplane flight, MSNBC reporting on a British political issue, a TUAW list of web apps they want to see, ThisIsTrue reporting on a new laptop’s anti-bacterial keyboard, ObamaNews reporting on a call the president made to the Shuttle, and many others.
Far from being bird brained I think those topics represent an excellent spread of interesting issues and news. On the other hand, if I hadn’t been careful about who I followed I could have been reading these gems: hmmmm bored… no tweets =[ mmm pepsi.. wonder whats for dinner??, or: Why am I still awake? Someone please tell me to go to bed!, or: me hungrryyy, or maybe oook so reality is kickinq in. . . se me va mi mami. :’( pero sea la madre hace FRIO.!!!!
So clearly Twitter is what you make it. Sometimes its a great source of news and commentary as it happens, but other times its full of idle comments from people with nothing better to do.
And there is one other thing about it which should be obvious but I should comment on anyway. Tweets are short: 140 characters or less. So its easy to scan through piles of them looking for interesting stuff. In fact I use a Mac add-on called Growl which displays the tweets on the screen as they arrive.
And one final factor. Twitter should never be used for critical communications. So if you miss a tweet it doesn’t matter. People expect you to read emails they send you (and act on them and reply) but no one should expect the same form Twitter. That makes it less restrictive and demanding.
So anyone who still thinks Twitter is a frivolous toy (maybe because of its name) should think again. You might be missing out on something genuinely useful!
PS. Another thing I appreciate about Twitter is the fact that it is run entirely on Macs and the people responsible are all Mac fanatics. I’m not sure what the lack of reliability of Twitter when it first started says about Macs but recently it seems to be running really smoothly and reliably!
A recent poll on Slashdot asked people how often they reboot their main computer. I often ask people this question myself and I’m surprised at the range of answers I get. Even people with similar computers and operating systems seem to have a wide range in the frequency of reboots from some who do it every day to others who do it almost never.
Computer systems are certainly more stable now than they were back in the days of Mac OS 9 and Windows 98. Even Windows is fairly reliable now and Mac OS X is very good as long as it isn’t deliberately “sabotaged” by installing inappropriate drivers and other software.
So what were the results of the Slashdot poll? Well at the time I voted these were the results:
1. Many times a day 1%
2. A few times a day 4%
3. Once a day 17%
4. A few times a week 12%
5. A few times a month 33%
6. A few times a year 23%
7. What is this “reboot” you speak of? 10%
So over 20% of people reboot their computer at least once per day! It doesn’t explicitly say so but I guess this excludes shutdowns and starts at the end and beginning of the day because many people do shutdown over night. But that’s not a reboot.
There are also reboots to install new software but that is either infrequent (about once a month on a Mac) or not counted into the total (is that really a reboot?)
I find it surprising that so many computer users (and these are presumably technically capable people because that is Slashdot’s audience) have to reboot every day – presumably to fix stability issues. And the additional 12% who have to reboot several times a week are hardly better off!
I would expect everyone to be in category 5 and 6. Anyone who is in category 7 is perhaps not being totally honest. Surely everyone – Mac, PC and Linux users – need to install updates that require restarts!
So it seems that computers aren’t as reliable as they really should be, because if power users reboot this often imagine how often more naive users (who lack the skills to recover from problems using more subtle methods) might need to reboot.
But maybe help is on the way because both Apple and Microsoft are releasing new operating systems this year which are primarily aimed at increasing performance and stability more than the traditional release which is to introduce new features. Maybe the OS developers realise that we have enough features now and that what we really want more of is speed and reliability.
You will notice that I have concentrated on the operating system in this discussion. Many people get crashes from applications – I sort of expect it with Microsoft Word for example. When someone comments that Word has just crashed I act as if they had just said a car has moved or a light has shone. That’s just what Word does, isn’t it?
We can’t all avoid using buggy software (although I do quite well because I don’t use anything developed by Microsoft) but if we have a stable OS then application crashes don’t necessarily have to cause too much havoc on our computers as a whole.
I must admit that on occasions my MacBook Pro does get into a state where a forced reboot is the easiest (maybe the only) way to recover, but that really is very rare: probably about once every couple of months (and remember I really thrash my main machine by using it for many hours every day from multiple locations with many programs running).
Just to see if we really are progressing with the quest for stability I might research similar polls carried out in the past. It sounds like a job for Wolfram|Alpha except that so far I haven’t got it to produce anything useful beyond slight modifications of the demo questions they have made available. It might be back to Google and manual manipulation of the data I’m afraid!
During the Bush era (have you ever noticed how the time George Bush was president is referred to in similar terms to other dark eras in world history, like Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, etc) I used to joke with friends about the latest antics of the characters in the great farce of global politics, especially Donald Rumsfeld.
We would say something like “did you hear what Ol’ Rummy said the other day?” as if he was some sort of bumbling but lovable buffoon more worthy of an affectionate laugh than serious condemnation. Recent material seems to put a more sinister cast on his time in power though because there is a point when buffoonery becomes a lot more threatening.
So what am I talking about here? Various material has come to light recently which is so worrying that it not only makes the Bush administration look even worse than we thought but also puts genuine challenges in the path of the new administration in its efforts to regain some respect and trust of the US as a world power.
Here’s a few quotes from Rumsfeld’s reports to the president during the times the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq…
A briefing delivered to the White House featured the famous scene where the statue of Saddam Hussein was being pulled down in Firdos Square (if this isn’t one of the greatest feats of propaganda in the history of war I don’t know what is). Just below the headline “Secretary of Defense” was a Bible quote from Psalms: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him… To deliver their soul from death.”
Here’s another one, from a report showing a photo of a US tank with another quote from the Bible, this time Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
And on another report featuring Saddam Hussein striking a dictatorial pose was this passage from the First Epistle of Peter: “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”
So either Rumsfeld himself was a religious nutter or he used this violent religious imagery to manipulate someone who was (yes, that would be the president). I’m not sure which of the two options is the worst but it doesn’t really matter in the end because it shows how the US was making decisions based on paranoia, fantasy, and ignorance rather than facts and sound analysis of the military and political situation.
Sure we now have a sensible president with relatively good advisors in the US but it might be only a matter of time before the political pendulum swings back to having the crazies in charge. I’m not necessarily suggesting all Republicans are religious nutters – although a good proportion of them are. I’m suggesting that everyone should be cautious of any religiously motivated politician.
And that’s the problem with religion in the US. A large part of the population of the US takes religion far too seriously and it means that they are liable to make emotional decisions when voting which could lead to disaster for the US and the rest of the world.
Look at the situation dispassionately: why would decisions affecting the complex society of the modern world be made partly based on the writing of primitive tribes with no knowledge of the issues we now need to be aware of. Its time to move on. The Bible is a pile of contradictory, incompetent, delusional, violent, dangerous, badly written nonsense. Its only place is as a guide for social anthropologists to help understand the people of the time.
It should not be used by easily deceived, fantasy prone people who use old books and primitive beliefs as a shortcut to building a world view and a morality. There are important factors we face today: the environment, global politics, the direction of scientific progress, and many others which are barely mentioned in the Bible. I say this to George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and all the rest who use the Bible for their own incompetent or immoral purposes: its time to throw it away and move on!