Saturday, November 10, 2012

Darwin for Congress

I graduated from the University of Georgia in the early 1980's.  I saw the Dawgs football team win their national championship.  I witnessed Hershel Walker's entire career.  I have fond memories of Athens, Georgia and Clarke County.  I enjoyed the place so much that I worked there several years after I graduated, got a lot of computer experience, before I went to India.

The Athens music scene was at its height.  I saw R.E.M. perform, occasionally under the pseudo-name of Hindu Love Gods, at many late-night gatherings.  The B-52s were there, another great group.  As was a band called Pylon and at least a half dozen other good bands that few music lovers ever heard of outside of Athens.

A lot of great stuff has come out of Athens.  Now the city is the origin of a ray of hope for humanity.  Running unopposed in the last election was Georgia Representative Paul Broun, another of these seemingly endless line of Republican Neanderthals that walk around America pretending we live in the Dark Ages.

Broun, a member of the the House Science, Space and Technology Committee believes the earth was created by god in six 24-hour days, it is about 9,000 years old, and speaks of the science behind evolution as "lies straight from the pit of hell."

You can't make this shit up.

But what happened on election day? A miracle!  Against the odds for such a thing, a University of Georgia biologist started a "Darwin for Congress" Facebook page.  That was all it took for word to spread and 4,000 American citizens wrote-in the name Charles Darwin on their ballot, giving Darwin a healthy 25% of the total vote.  So, an unopposed republican cave-dweller who somehow serves on a prominent national science board (again, you just can't make this shit up) won with only 75% of the vote. The event has been reported both nationally and internationally.

So, there's hope.  If 4,000 Americans can unify themselves in absurdist fashion with minimal organization and no money against the contamination of intellectual space any positive political act is possible.  The small, failed protest vote demonstrates how freedom of speech and the right to vote is supposed to work.  More importantly, it reflects a basic discontent with the ridiculous GOP fundamentalist religious perspective that threatens centuries of progress by human reason. Now, next time maybe they can get a living person to run against this nut.

(Just to clarify my position as to why the belief in a "Young Earth," as Broun calls it, is ridiculous let's talk just a tiny bit of science.  Most creationists like to attack Carbon- 14 dating of fossils and the fossil record as being "disproven".  While I think this in itself is shallow, it is unnecessary to refer to the fossil record to understand that the universe is far older than the Christian bible allows.   The speed of light is about 186,000 miles per second.  Astronomers can judge the distance of other galaxies by how much light is red-shifted as it reaches our eyes on Earth.  The closest spiral galaxy to Earth is Andromeda, which is about 2.5 million light-years away.  In other words, if the Earth were as young as creationists believe it to be (and it is a belief, there is no factual evidence to reject the speed of light, it is a fact not an opinion) then we would not be able to see Andromeda at all.  The light from that galaxy would not have had time to reach us.  End of story.)

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