31 March 2009

Invasive Species: The Burmese Python and the Nile Monitor making a home in the Southern US.

Since my time in Earlham's Ornithology class I have long harbored a deep affection for the Everglades, not to mention Florida's wild lands in general. The Everglades is a place I try to get to every two or three years. The biota, the climate and camping make it all unbeatable (except when my tire blew out in the middle of the night and all I could think of as I tried to change it were the Everglades Pumas that were surely staring at my neck).

Listening to NPR tonight I heard a bit of bad news for Everglades National Park, as well as the Florida Keys. The problem you ask? If you guessed invasive species give yourself two points. If you guessed something else, uh...don't give yourself two points. Of course this is a problem on going and everywhere, and anyone concerned with conservation biology has an encylipedia of organisms to cite. If I were to introduce you to some of them say Honey Suckle, Lonicera maackii, Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria, Starling, Sturnus vulgaris, House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, Africanized Bee Apis mellifera scutellata Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta, I would only be getting you acquainted with the tiniest fraction of the trouble makers.

I now have two new species to add to the list I carry around in my head. The new entries for my list are the Burmese Python (Python molurus) and Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) Having worked in a pet store for some years I hope I didn't contribute to the problem. Sadly the trade in these animals is the root of the problem. Any pet store, like a zoo, has a fair number of escapes. Animals can escape from their owners as well as be set free. The outcomes are bad either way. A pregnant Burmese Python escaping from a home in Duluth MN in the middle of summer will maybe kill a few of its new neighbors but will not make it past October. That same python escaping in South Florida may cause considerably more problems. The pythons are now, according to the Nature Conservancy 10,000 strong in the Everglades alone. Now they are turning up in the Keys.

Both of these species present huge problems for the regions they in habit, and for the regions they could potentially inhabit. Both species are large bodied predators that can potentially wreak havoc on the biodiversity of both the Keys and the Everglades. Both places are characterized by high endemism. That is both places have many species or taxa whose distributions are limited to single region or locality. The native species in the Florida Keys and the Everglades (and potentially elsewhere) have no evolutionary experience with either the Burmese Python or the Nile Monitor and this may make them more susceptible to predation by the two. Both are excellent climbers (the Nile monitor is also deeply at home in the water, and is none to shabby running over land) and pose what I can't help but think are unique problems for many of the region's low and ground nesting birds.

25 March 2009

A Tim Tackett essay on the JKD

Here is an interesting essay by Tim Tackett about Jeet Kune Do. I don't think he and I would probably agree on everything, I think he has a valuble perspective, and some keen insight into the history of the art of Jeet Kune Do. Worth a read. Just click on the title of my blog and you can be directed to his essay.

Hear are some other web resources on different interpretations, and methods of applying the philosphy of JKD.
For a look at the way Burton Richardson applies the principles, and yes concepts of JKD, go here.

Interesting JKD fora can be found here and here.

Also there is the Dog Brothers Forum. Their martial arts forum is often extremely erudite, sharp, and insightful, and perhaps a little inciteful. Their other fora are interesting, and fun to read and argue with. In any event they are worth a view as Crafty Dog Marc Denny has a background that includes Jun Fan, and I think they have taken the JKD approach as far as anyone in the modern era. Agree or disagree they make you think so go examine the way of the dog.

24 March 2009

Oh and if that wasn't enough Steven Pinker....

Here is another talk by Pinker that will make you look twice...

An old TED talk by Steven Pinker about his book, The Blank Slate

A poster at RD.net posted this, and it was so cool I just had to share it here. Pinker is a fascinating guy, and fantastic as a lecturer.

19 March 2009

What is Jeet Kune Do?

(Preface to the subject: I've been thinking a great deal about martial arts as they are envisioned beyond the sporting aspects of their practice. I practice Brazilian Jiu-jitsu avidly-BJJ hereafter- have for several years now. I enjoy competing in BJJ tournaments, and find its self-defense applications sound. However I was introduced to BJJ through a little approach to martial arts called Jeet Kune Do-JKD hereafter. I have an admission to make. I've never not considered myself a "JKD man." That is to say, when I think of martial art as self defense, I apply JKD principles to my training. Lately I have been retooling my own approach to the "totality," as Lee himself might have referred to it. In my researches I found the following.

It was this clip (which I would recommend that everyone view, and then follow the various links provided, suggested)that reminded me of the pointless fissure that originated, or at least manifested in a very public way, in JKD circles in the early to mid-90s. Two groups emerged. On one side we had the Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do clan-most apparent in the form of the Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do Nucleus, and an amorphous group which practiced Jeet Kune Do concepts. Judging by the comments sections, and blogs and articles the argument appears to be ongoing.
I’ve decided to put my own thoughts down here on my blog.

If I don’t do this now, it is likely I will have to do it later. What makes me qualified to talk about this subject? Here is the martial CV. Tae Kwon Do, brown belt; Chan Style Wing Chun, brown sash; Taijitsu, a year of study among the Bujinkan; Jeet Kune Do ,full instructor through Indiana PFS; Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, purple belt; Judo yellow belt. In addition to this training, I’ve spent the entire time researching martial arts in an attempt to take some ownership of my own training. Certainly my copies of Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do and his Fighting Method series are deeply annotated, and colorfully highlighted. I will still hear about my lack of qualifications, but I had to try to head that obvious criticism off. Enough by way of introduction, here are my thoughts on the nature of JKD, and the mistakes most common to its adherents. )
The question that forms the title of this blog is a common and sensible question. Eminently sensible. There is no shortage of answers on offer. But it is there that we get into trouble. Most of the answers that you are going to get are unreflective, and victim to the very errors Bruce Lee first identified decades ago. So let me do the shocking thing and say I don’t know what your JKD is going to look like. I don’t have a clue as to what you, a JKD “man,” might look like in a fight. I could likely predict a few commonalities between you and I, but that will be all I can do. I may guess that you will try to be efficient, economical, and that you will try to flow with your opponent as best you can. You will observe the five methods of attack. As a JKD practitioner you will strive to have a functional eye toward the real . That is to say that your self-defense applications will be constantly reviewed through a reality based lens. Beyond that I cannot really say. While JKD has a few core principles you couldn’t really call JKD a style. Lee was beyond that. And so is JKD.

Jeet Kune Do favors formlessness so that it can assume all forms and since Jeet Kune Do has no style, it can fit in with all styles. As a result, Jeet Kune Do utilizes all ways and is bound by none and, likewise uses any techniques or means which serve its end.
Bruce Lee The Tao of Jeet Kune Do

The philosophy seemed the perfect tool to move martial arts into the modern era, while at the same time avoiding the decidedly sectarian nature of martial arts politics. Bruce favored simplicity, and accepting reality. Points to which we will shortly return. Before we can address what he favored however, we have to ask a question embedded in the aforementioned quote. Namely we have figure out the end for which JKD aims.

Luckily for our investigations this actually isn’t very difficult. He wrote it down for anyone interested. Bruce was interested in human combat in its totality.

Styles that focus on a particular aspect of combat are in bondage.

Combat is never fixed and is changing from moment to moment. Working in patterns is basically a practice of resistance.

The way of combat is not based on personal choice and fancies. Truth in the way of combat is perceived from moment to moment when there is awareness without condemnation, justification, or any form of identification.

Bruce Lee, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do.

From the quotes above we see Lee establishing this theme of reality, and totality. JKD is the philosophy designed to help a martial artist function in a real moment of combat. The philosophy does not, as some have argued, favor any technique, or style, or system. A JKD player is thus freed to use any and all techniques that enable them to prevail in a real, fluid, and dynamic combative moment. This perspective is not universally agreed upon.

Sifu Lamar Davis has suggested that JKD emphasizes, no less than the following to make authentic Jun Fan/Jeet Kune Do. You must have your strong side forward, no wasted motion in defense or attack, vertical fist punching structure, interception skills, the five ways of attack, light quick explosive type footwork, energy/sensitivity training, trapping hands. He has a few others but they can be viewed as subsets of the list above. Within this list I can find things both to admire, and place at which I might raise my eyebrows. Points involving principles I like, but points where he begins to suggest that JKD favors a particular style or set of specific techniques are where I think he (I am using Sifu Davis simply because he is one of the more articulate “original” JFJKD guys out there. He is by no means the only advocate for this position) goes awry. You have to see vertical punching structure? Really? This seems deeply at odds with history since Lee utilized and found vastly effective, the arsenal of western boxing. You have to have your strong side forward? Lee certainly favored placing his strong side forward as most of your attacks were carried out by the leading weapons. The rear weapons structurally more powerful could then be carried out by the weaker side. This is fine, but demanding that this be done seems unnecessarily restrictive of the personal freedom for which JKD is supposed to allow. Each practitioner must experiment with such particulars on her own and decide what is best for her. The point is that JKD isn’t bound by such things as technique, or style and it is here that I think that those adhering to the original material taught by Bruce Lee are making a mistake. They are becoming closed in a style and thinking that there is no need to look beyond that. This brings us to the next point.

Bruce Lee did invent a system, or style. And that style was Jun Fan Gung Fu. It has a definite progression, and suite of things you must learn as you progress. It has a stance, ideas about movement, and is clearly Lee’s first attempt to create a personal system reflecting his philosophical principles. Jun Fan is an incredibly good style, and according to Dan Inosanto is the place where one absolutely must begin when they explore the philosophy of JKD. Jun Fan is mostly concerned with the stand-up (punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing headbutting) aspects of hand to hand combat. It isn’t sporty, but can be trained in real time, with contact using proper equipment which minimizes injury. It is focused on economy of motion, interception and brutality (eye jabs, groin strikes, attacks on the knees with strikes). As a stand up art of self defense, it has to be considered, when practiced with seriousness, one of more effective martial arts one could learn.

Some of its practitioners (most falling under banners that say Jun Fan/JKD) think Jun Fan represents the totality of which Bruce Lee so often spoke. This is simply not the case. We have no idea what it would look like in the year two thousand and nine, but we can bet it would not currently be frozen in nineteen sixty nine, or sixty four, or seventy one. The art of Jun Fan was still evolving, as was Lee’s understanding of his own expression of JKD. There is no weapon portion of Jun Fan. This surely would have changed as Lee’s focus on reality would have forced it to change. Most attacks in the US involve a weapon of some kind. And the grappling in Jun Fan was limited largely to a series of flowing drills that were done without much resistance. So in this area too Jun Fan was unsophisticated, and under developed. According to Dan Inosanto, Bruce Lee was only toward the end of his life exploring how grappling could be, or should be incorporated into his fighting. Lee may even have ushered in the new focus before the Gracies exploded on the scene, or their explosion might have been facilitated by his research. We will never know. Lee was always ahead of the curve on these things. He may have been here too. In any event Jun Fan, even as good as it is as an art of one-on-one self defense, it was, let us admit, in its infancy and incomplete.

The Jun Fan-only advocates scoff at the incorporation of other techniques, methods and approaches, and will point to the brutal efficiency of their Jun Fan, and wonder how a Muy Thai kick or BJJ approaches the kind of efficiency, and ecomony of which JKD demands. Or they will think that incorporting new techniques violates Lee's daily decrease, not daily increase maxim. Here they are at their most errant, and closed minded. Economy, and efficiency are not qualities that exist in a vaccum. They are utterly contextual. Your favorite method may not be available to you. Perhaps you were just tackled, perhaps you are a 120 lb woman and there is a 230lb man accosting you, where then is your JKD lead punch. Vanished in the ether and you have no time to lament you must react with the approaches that are most efficient and economical in the new moment. Daily decreases (that is Bruce's leanings toward simplicity and effeciency) can come in any number of ways. You can shed techniques you find no longer helpful or necessary. You can shorten steps, make more efficient your training. It isn't implied that the decrease is always on the number of techniques. (If this were so, I suspect that those calling themselves Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do would jettison almost all of their complex trapping drills as they are ineffective, and extremely low percentage.)

Here some examples of the ways in which efficency, economy are contextual and cannot be judged from the arm chair but only in the experience of combat. Maybe you are threatened with a knife (if you are attacked in the US this is not statistically unlikely) your focus on BJJ, or Jun Fan has likely just failed you. Pulling guard just got you stabbed a hundred times, or launching the dreaded Jun Fan side kick just cost you the mobility of your leg, perhaps for the rest of your life (perhaps not terribly long given the scenario). Jun Fan is a wonderful art but it isn't the totality, and it isn't something to which a JKD player should become overly attached, or limited. Think of the totality of fighting not your own conception of it. Let that be your guide to understanding how to apply JKD principles and concepts to your technical training.

Anyone saying that JKD is the practice of only the material taught by Bruce Lee have defacto admitted that they do not apply the philosophy of JKD to their martial arts. They have instead opted for the security of a system or style.

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13 March 2009

Stop What you are doing and watch this. (If you are fan of Wolverine that is.)

Click on the title, and watch a bunch of different previews of Wolverine.
Stop looking at me funny.

11 March 2009

My letter to Todd Thomsen

I decided that since this cretinist (yes the misspelling was most certainly on purpose) will not quit himself and quit embarassing himself and his state, I should help max out his email's storage capacity. Some of the themes in the letter are repeats of my blog points but don't begrudge me a small repetition of points here and there. I doubt the honorable Todd reads my blog regularly. Maybe after he reads this eh? I also endeavored to keep the letter short. An earlier draft was too long and hopelessly attempted to explain the finer points of not only evolutionary theory and how it works as successful scientific theory, but also how science works in general. It is there the most massive disconnect lies. Many IDers (remember constant reader this includes the more honest folk who identify as creationists) tend to think scientific progress proceeds simply by a process of debate and campaigning in the public square. This is why many of them cannot understand why ID is completely ignored as an explanation. I decided after the first version of this letter to abandon that educational attempt. Primarily because a single email cannot possibly explain all that Todd doesn't know about science. It is probably also a given that my email will be brushed aside any way. Hence the slightly unfriendly tone. My promise at the end, truth be told, probably shouldn't be making Todd tremble too much, I only know a couple people in Oklahoma, and not very well at that.
Here you can send your own email to Todd by addressing it to the following.

Now for the letter....

To Todd Thomsen,
It will no doubt have escaped your considerable attention that the dark ages have long since passed us by but if you will permit me a few moments to point out the inanity of your recent proposition I think you will be tremendously helped.
You say, "I am trying to promote free thinking,” and, “I strongly oppose the Department of Zoology for their unwillingness to lead our state in this discussion and not have opposing views in this matter." What discussion would you have take place? Are you worried that group selection isn't more widely appreciated? Do you think Lynn Marguilis cooperation hypothesis is more powerful than the competitive mechanisms that dominate evolutionary biology? No you are deeply unconcerned with any real biological question. You do however think that we should discuss the faux scientific questions of Creationism.
This is not science. Creationism is a waypoint in the history of an explanation. Discussing it now, as a serious hypothesis is a fruitless waste of time because the literal reading of Genesis has been FALSIFIED. What stands isn't science, but theological objection based on emotion and the argument from negative consequences (if x is true then bad things follow. Bad things may follow but it has precisely no bearing on the veracity of x). There is no science to teach.
No one is indoctrinated, and people are already allowed to think freely on the subject. Sad for you as it makes you look like an ignorant fool. But it is terribly worse for your state. Your cluelessness about the scientific process, and your predilection for speaking authoritatively about the intellectual trends of your state makes Oklahoma look like a laughing stock, an intellectual backwater. Way to go. I hope that you will back off from this ridiculous endeavor and let science proceed without your ancient foolishness and ignorance obstructing it. This is probably too much for which to hope.
As it is too much to hope for, I will encourage everyone I know in Oklahoma to donate heavily against your re-election, as well as work for any campaign opposing you.

EDIT: Fixed mangled formatting of letter, sorry all.

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Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death

Ed Brubaker and I got acquainted (no I don't know Ed personally) last year when I started, well actually the other comic book collecter in the family started, reading The Death of Captain America collections. I was pretty skeptical of the whole endeavor. Killing off a hero in comics is often a gimic, an angle, an attempt to inflate interest and boast sagging sales. Sometimes it works. Not just for the stated goals just mentioned, but some times the stories created in the enterprise really cook. The immediate aftermath of D.C.'s Death of Superman is a prime example. Ed Brubaker though brought some of his hardboiled sensiblities to Captain America and in killing him (something that he has gone out of his way to make narratively hard to reverse) has crafted some of the finest work ever seen in Captain America. He as killed off Steve Rogers, and the title continues to tell the tale of Cap's friends, and the ways in which they cope with the aftermath of their friend's death. Rarely has a death in comics been so effective at driving a story forward, or affecting the universe in which they inhabit.

All this is a massive aside. What Brubaker is known for, and which I am enjoying exploring is his hard-boiled crime comic books. He has several collections Criminal is as good a place to start with Brubaker as any. His new dark look at superhero noir, Incognito isn't half bad either.

Okay that was a tinier aside.

I was watching Penn Jillette on youtube the other day (his vlog Pennsays for the curious) when I saw a preview for a web-based series playing at www.crackle.com, which I then started watching. The show in question? Ed Brubaker's Angel of Death. New episodes up every weekday. It stars the incomprable stuntwoman extrodinaire, Zoe Bell. You may remember her from Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Its eight episodes into the series (each episode averages about 8 minutes in length). Without giving too much away it is the tale of a hit woman who contracts for the mob. We get shady mentions of New York and Chicago ties, but really those particulars are not important. There is one crime family in her city and currently that is all that matters. Oh that and the events of the first episode. A classic theme in the hard boiled crime genre is the hit gone wrong, and that in a nutshell is where we meet our heroine. Its a fine, shocking, and totally entertaining meeting at that. I was born too late to get a taste of the weekly serials that preceded the movies of the forties and fifties. But this in many ways reminds me of what those must have been like. Bloodier maybe, and there is the foul language....but yeah just like the movie serials of an earlier era.

Click on the title of this blog and you can judge for yourself.

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07 March 2009

Oklahoma House of Representives oppose Richard Dawkins as speaker at OSU

The Oklahoma House of Representives has issued a Resolution opposing the invitiation to speak, by Oklahoma State University, of Richard Dawkins. A state sponsored, bona fide, Resolution (State of Oklahoma 1st session of the 52nd Legislature, 2009, House Resolution 1015)! In so doing they have demonstrated a complete disregard for concepts like irony, hypocrisy, and unintentional comedy. The Onion could scarcely do a better job of ridiculing the Oklahoma House, or satirizing parochial politics better than the god-squad in Oklahoma.

It is a
A Resolution opposing the invitation to Richard Dawkins to speak on campus; encouraging the University of Oklahoma to engage in a certain discussion of certain scientific theories; and directing distribution.

The state legislature is encouraging a "certain discussion of certain scientific theories?" On what grounds ought they do this? What scientific qualifications do the honorable members of the House possess that they should be offering ideas about what is good or bad science? How certain a discussion I wonder? What certain theories you may ask? Of course you needn't ask because you already know. Besides they inform us very early in their Resolution.

Under the guise of academic freedom, members of the Oklahoma House are trying to force OSU, indeed any university I would guess, that gets public funding to teach either intelligent design (hereafter ID) or straight creationism (hereafter tucked into my ID abreviation because they are one and the same thing). The wording of the Resolution pretends to want to foster a university which is "open to all ideas, and should train students in all disciplines of study and research, and to use independent thinking and free inquiry." This is an assortment of meaningless nonsense. There are obvious objections. What would it mean to be "open to all ideas?" If a professor wanted to teach a course on the therapuetic benefits of bondage gangbangs would Todd Thomsen (the representative who appears to be pushing Resolution 1015) and his gang be open to the possiblities? Would they embrace this fresh, counter-intuitive idea, that would presumbly be short on data, and even shorter on sound methodology? The hypothetical professor's idea is certianly ripe with independent thinking, and encourages free inquiry. Would they support a field course on cryptozoology, that taught the wildlife biology of unicorns, bigfoots, Lochness monsters? Just what is it they want OSU to allow? R1015 is actually short on such specifics but we can infer a great deal of their specific aims by examining that which they aim their extreme antipathy.

All disciplines? What does that even mean? What more can reasonably be added to college curriculae? Clearly our minds must be open to new possiblities, but they should be so open that our brains fall out. That Resolution 1015 singles out Dawkins is something of a surprise, but that it would then attack the science of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin was not.

You are probably wondering just what R1015 has to say...

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma has planned a year-long celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s theory of evolution, called the “Darwin 2009 Project”, which includes a series of lectures, public speakers, and a course on the history of evolution; and

WHEREAS, the University of Oklahoma, as a part of the Darwin 2009 Project, has invited as a public speaker on campus, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published opinions, as represented in his 2006 book “The God Delusion”, and public statements on the theory of evolution demonstrate an intolerance for cultural diversity and diversity of thinking and are views that are not shared and are not representative of the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma; and

I must confess that I doubt Todd Thomsen, or the other authors of R1015 have even cracked the cover of The God Delusion or read any thing but quotes of Dawkins "public opionions", nor ever listened to him discuss evolutionary theory. A harsh accusation I grant you, but one born of some unpleasant experiance. Dawkins is in no way obligated to hold an opionion commensurate with that of "the thinking of a majority of the citizens of Oklahoma." Nor is OSU's biology department or its College of Arts and Sciences in any way similarly obligated to parrot the purported sentiments of most of the thinking citizens of Oklahoma. Charges like cultural intolerance, and intellectual intolerance are, when left vague, ultimately pointless. What does it mean specifically to call Dawkins intolerant? The authors of R1015 are not concerned with specifics, just making the charge, and the careless implication.

R1015 demonstrates a decided annoyance with evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, and any celebration of either or both. It accuses the scientific establishment at OSU of presenting "a biased philosophy on the theory of evolution to the exclusion of all other divergent considerations rather than teaching a scientific concept" not only by inviting Dawkins, but by its focus on Darwin this year. What other divergent considerations? Again the authors glide by it. But we can bet they are not upset by the fact that hypotheses utilizing group selection are not more widely examined, or the novel and engaging ideas of Lynn Marguilis concerning the role of cooperation as a driver of evolutionary trends are not being widely accepted among evolutionary biologists. The reason for this is that those minor scientific arguments (which will be settled by experiental results that are subsequently duplicated in various independent labs) do not claim to be doing anything other than expanding the mechanisms by which evolutionary change happens. ID is exactly the thing with which the authors of R1015, and presumbly most of thinking Oklahoma want to see in the class rooms of OSU. The problem is that pesky scientific method, that ignores ideas, no matter how novel, free wheeling, or paradigm shifting if they come with no data, no experiment, er...well, with absolutely nothing but the earnestness of the their claimants. While the authors don't want to bring up ID, it is the only thing about which they can be talking.

But what has been resolved? (The caps are theirs not mine)


THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

Dawkins has said that most people who think there is an alternative explanation for the diversity of life on are simply ignorant of the facts. His views about evolution are as it happens not opinions per se in the same way that my thoughts on the sun being the center of our solar system are not opinions. It is demonstrable, verifiable fact. Evolution is as demonstrable as heliocentricy. In fact it stands as one of the three great pillars of scientific success in the past 200 years. The other two relativity, and quantum mechanics being found in physics. When more ID nitwits understand those two theories better they will have no choice but oppose them as well. Being offended by facts can happen I suppose, but it won't stop their being true.

1015 further "resolves" that
THAT the Oklahoma House of Representatives encourages the University of Oklahoma to engage in an open, dignified, and fair discussion of the Darwinian theory of evolution and all other scientific theories which is the approach that a public institution should be engaged in and which represents the desire and interest of the citizens of Oklahoma.

OSU's biology department is already engaged in an open, dignified discussion of evolutionary theory and has been for several decades. I do wish they would spell out what they think is unfair about the current approach. Evolutionary biology is a lively field, full of intense inquiry, disaggreement and research. What can we add that isn't already being discussed? If the authors of R1015 would like professor's of biology to teach something they call "the controversy" (IDers prefer to think in terms of a false dichotomy. In their mind there is Darwinian evolution and ID. Here they are utterly wrong. There is currently only evolutionary biology because IDers have produced no science at all). There is no scientific controversy to teach. It seems that simply because some, perhaps sizable, percentage of Oklahomans prefer a literal interpretation of their scripture, the authors of R1015 think science classrooms should waste valuble time on mythology. Sadly for the proponents of R1015 scientific truth is not adjudicated by democratice means.

Opposing Dawkins as a speaker, while at the same time crying over academic freedom, fair and dignified discussions, and asking for free inquiry all seem like counter-productive moves. It would be hard to ignore the fact it also seems utterly inconsistent with the stated goals of the distinguished representatives in question. "Please, we want free inquiry, we want a fair and balanced appraisal of the issues, but...uh...this guy shouldn't be allowed to speak."
Did the authors of R1015 not see this? Apparently not.

Finally R1015 resolves:
THAT a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the University of Oklahoma, the Dean of the College of Arts and Science at the University of Oklahoma, and the Chair of the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

This is easily the only intelligent thing accomplished by R1015. They decided to send a copy to the people that offended them. Well done.

Post Script:
Clearly the authors of R1015 are creationists who hold a more or less fundamentalist, literalist position of the bible. As such they are likely completely in the dark about how science works. Only in this way can they think that all that is needed for creationism to be more widely believed among biologists is for more "discussion." The simple fact is that there is just nothing to discuss. The past one hundred and fifty years of research have established evolution as scientific fact. Discussion won't shift that paradigm. The only thing that possibly could cause a change in the scientific view would be actual research that falsified the evolutionary hypothesis. No one is opposeing such research, and I invite the proponents of ID to get well on with it.

If you don't hold a literalist view of your scripture I suppose science is not a threat to your religious views. If you take the position of metaphor, and allegory then what bother is it that we are kin with the rest of the biosphere? There are probably ways to make even greater, more beautiful religious metaphors awaiting you in the sciences. No doubt such a view is more work and all yours to do, but why set your belief system on the tracks of the scientific endeavor? The literalist of the cosmos has already been run down.
Move along, nothing to see here.

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