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February 23, 2007

And at the other end of the galaxy, Second Conservapedia
Posted by Patrick at 07:30 AM * 296 comments

Via several news sources in the last day or two, we learn of Conservapedia, the online, user-editable encyclopedia for crazy people.

Conservapedia is a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian “C.E.” instead of “A.D.”, which Conservapedia uses.
Sadly, portions of Conservapedia already appear to have been vandalized by the forces of irony and sarcasm. For instance, Roy Edroso points out this, from the entry on Bill Clinton:
Bill Clinton managed to serve two terms without botching the prosecution of two wars, manipulating intelligence, engaging in a systematic program of torture, or mishandling the federal response to the flooding of a major American city. Obviously, he is the devil incarnate.
Remember, like it says on the main page, “With your help, Conservapedia will continue to be an online encyclopedia you can trust.”
Comments on And at the other end of the galaxy, Second Conservapedia:
#1 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:10 AM:

I'm sure they'll edit any dates before 4000BC to be "speculative, because before the flood, you know, things were weird with all that extra pressure from the water over the firmament." And I didn't know listing dates as CE/Current Epoch/Era" was anti-American. You learn somethin' new every day on these interweebie tubular thingies.

#2 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:16 AM:

Wow, that's almost too easy. With so many fish in one barrel, I almost feel bad for them.

Or I would, had they not volutarily jumped into a barrel clearly labled 'Please Mock.'

#3 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Wow. The internet finally gains truthiness.

#4 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:53 AM:

Irony deficiency is a such a debilitating disease. The first uses of CE and BCE as alternatives to BC and AD that I ever encountered were in those anti-Christian, anti-American publications Watchtower and Awake!.

(Apparently, Faux News is now pushing its own 'satirical news' programme in competition with 'The Daily Show' -- the bit I heard on NPR the other day involved a 'Hillary is a lesbian' joke.)

#5 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:00 AM:

You mean "crazier people," of course. :-)

Their site seems slow as hell and overwhelmed (something that will surely be entered in Conservapedia as proof that the net was in dire need of their services). The one search I was able to accomplish (searching for "internet,") led me to the entry for "Milton Friedman," which magically avoids making any references to his opposition to the war on drugs.

I can't wait to see the first story of a Young Republican attempting to use a link from here as a citation.

#6 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:05 AM:

#4 Fragano Ledgister, you mean that all those talking heads are doing Faux News straight? I thought it *was* a comedy act.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:06 AM:

I read the Friedman entry and nearly spat up my coffee upon seeing this: "Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was a libertarian economist who emphasized freedom. He was the favorite economist of many conservatives (including Ronald Reagan), in part because nearly all other economists have been liberal."

#8 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:06 AM:

Has to be a joke. Has to be.

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:08 AM:

From the Conservapedia index:

World History
Lectures
Ancient History (Creation-500 CE)
The Middle Ages (500 CE-1500 CE)
The Renaissance (1300 CE-1600 CE)
Pre Modern Era (1500 CE-1900 CE)
Modern Era (1900 CE-Current)

They're clearly anti-American and anti-Christian....

#10 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:11 AM:

"...in part because nearly all other economists have been liberal"

I did choke on my coffee. I managed not to douse the keyboard with it, but only by inhaling, hard. I did, however, dribble some of it down my chin because of the coughing fit.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:14 AM:

Steve Buchheit #6: Not only that, Bill O'Reilly is not a comedian.

#12 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:20 AM:

And our esteemed hosts are from... TranTor?

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Joel Polowin #12: That might be the case. I'm certainly resident in Terminus....

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:49 AM:

It gets even better. Here's an entire entry:

Heliocentric
From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The view that the sun is at the center of the universe.

(The solar system is the universe. Wow.)

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:53 AM:

Fragano @ 14... It's their way of countering Thomas Dolby's song "She blinded me with science!"

(And if you google 'they blinded me with science', a column by Jonah Goldberg comes up. I'm going to be sick.)

#16 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:00 AM:

Fragano, that stuff is priceless—"Creation to 500 CE"! It has made my afternoon.

#17 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:05 AM:

This project should be encouraged.

Because every minute a crazy person spends playing in this sandbox is a minute they're not spending on vandalizing the real Wikipedia.

Think of the Wiki wars this will forestall.

#18 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:10 AM:

A post at Cosmic Variance preserves several entries that are already at least partly changed or gone, including this gem from the "Christ" entry:

Many atheists claim that there is no evidence of Jesus outside the Bible,(Citation Needed) but few scholars take this seriously.(Citation Needed) Historical evidence for Jesus is comparable to that of many historical personalities such as Caesar, Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, and Socrates, and many others. Historical context indicates that as a ‘rabbi’ in judea, Jesus would have been married. An explaination for his lack of a wife may be that he was a confirmed bachelor, and had twelve men to fufill his needs.

Alas, when I went to check, that bit had already been edited, though (as of this posting) the entry still tells us that "the name Jesus almost always refers specifically to Jesus of Nazareth, believed by Christian followers to be God's dad" ...

#19 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:19 AM:

Jon Swift did a nice job on this

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:20 AM:

Serge #15: Well, that might explain it!

#21 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:23 AM:

#18 Peter Erwin "(entry on Conservapedia) Jesus of Nazareth, believed by Christian followers to be God's dad"

Obviously a mixup involving a time machine and contreception.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Andrew #16: As Patrick put it, this is an online encyclopædia for crazy people.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:30 AM:

Here's another entry:

Fidel Castro
From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgenico Batista in 1959 and became dictator of Cuba. Liberals in America promoted Castro as a hero, but the conservatives believed he would become a ruthless and dangerous dictator. Sure enough, Castro soon began to rule the country cruelly, seizing private property and ending free speech. Under Castro's rule, Cuba has changed from being one of the richest nations to being one of the poorest.

(When was Cuba one of the richest nations? Is 'Fulgenico' related to 'fotogénico'?)

#24 ::: Stephen G ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:01 AM:

If you'd like to have some fun, take a look at the older edits of the relativity entry.

#25 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Did you know that faith is a uniquely Christian concept?
Oh dear oh dear.

#26 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Did you know that faith is a uniquely Christian concept?

I await with bated breath their call on what Jesus and his mother had.

#27 ::: Q ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:14 AM:

Huh... to be perfectly honest, I always thought that CE stood for "Christian Era". Which to me, is not anti-Christian, since it at least acknowledges the basis behind our dating system without the implied assumption of the date of Christ's birth being "fact".

Still, this thing is hilarious...

#28 ::: hamadryad ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:22 AM:

You know what's really sad? When I read some of the entries, I honestly can't tell if they've been vandalised, or if they were serious.

Or is that funny? Damn! I can't decide.

#29 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Satire is dead, Satire is risen...

#30 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:27 AM:

I was taught that CE = Common Era

#31 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:13 PM:

Everyone here must read the Ayn Rand entry, and the scholarly analysis of her ideas as derived from Norman Spinrad's "The World of Null-A".

#32 ::: BigHank53 ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Reportedly, the folks behind the Conservapedia are the Schafly family, whose most noted member is of course Phyllis.

So not a joke. Merely batshit insane.

#33 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:20 PM:

I kind of wish people wouldn't vandalize Conservapedia, actually. Any project whose Examples of Bias in Wikipedia includes such gems as, "The Wikipedia entry for the Piltdown Man omits many key facts, such as how it was taught in schools for an entire generation and how the dating methodology used by evolutionists is fraudulent" seems pretty self-vandalizing already.

Let their native craziness be on display in its full glory!

#34 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 12:48 PM:

Wikipedia on CE: "Common era, also known as the Christian era or the Current era"...

Since it's precisely the same calendar/dating system as BC/AD, it's all to easy to slip into thinking "CE = Christian Era." (One could probably construct an argument to the effect that "Common Era" is stealth Eurocentrism, enshrining Christianity as somehow defining the "common era" of human history...)

Maybe we should go back to AUC...

#35 ::: Q ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:06 PM:

I don't know if I can tell the vandals using irony from the whackjobs using whatever passes for their brains...

Checking out the "Recent Edits" listing is scary.

#36 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:07 PM:

I don't think I could vandalize Conservapedia effectively, even if I wanted to, for the same reason that I have trouble satirizing a lot of behaviour/beliefs/attitudes that I find silly. No matter how off-the-wall I write my satire, I keep running into people who not only agree with what I've written, they think it doesn't go far enough.

To (approximately) quote song-writer Fred Small, "Tom Paxton said it best: 'Some folks you don't have to satirize, you just quote 'em.'"

#37 ::: Christopher Turkel ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:24 PM:

When I first say this I thought "Oh the Onion has created a wiki of their own" then I realized they were serious.

#38 ::: straight ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:31 PM:

Changing AD to CE makes sense to me, but I don't know why we can't just keep BC as an abreviation for Before the Common era. Insisting on BCE seems kinda pointless and almost like you're trying to pick a fight about it.

#39 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:33 PM:

You know the true way to measure a wikipedia's worth is by it's Articles for Deletion debates.

AFD for the Xbox 360 entry

... I'd note also that there are some gaming systems which have had some historical impact and might be more worth having articles on (such as the early Atari systems). That does not seem to apply to the Xbox.

Mmm. So much to snark, so little time!

#40 ::: John Casey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Jon Meltzer #31: Surely, that's A.E.van Vogt's World of Null-A?

#41 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:00 PM:

One wonderfully ironic fact is perfectly representative of not only this sucessful realization of self-parody, but of what the conservative movement has become in this century. The software they are using for this is clearly MediaWiki, the open source software created for Wikipedia. (Using may be too strong a word -- they clearly are not technically prepared to handle the traffic load they claim to be seeking. Abuse, misuse, maluse . . . hmmm.) This project's reason for being is to reject the values of a community that the project is completely dependent on for its very existence.

Like the most of the modern conservative movement, this is simply a another bunch of parasites.

#42 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:04 PM:

By the way, all this attention is spiking their hit rate--bet they'll be trumpeting that.

But how on earth do these people expect to operate? Wikipedia is more-or-less a co-op, operated as a democratic republic; this leads to a reference which is apt to reflect widely-held views. (The validity of these views is another story.) I suppose Conservapedia has some sort of editorial elite, chosen by the management. This is going to make for problems with non-member contributors, who are going to very much resent the editorical control. If they're going to stick largely with paid contributions, they're going to end up with something more like a poorly-edited conventional encyclopedia, and it's going to be bloody expensive.

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:05 PM:

I agree with Florence Ambrose. (No permanent link to the Friday page yet...)

#44 ::: Steve Libbey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:32 PM:

"And reality has a known liberal bias."

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:33 PM:

John Meltzer (31):

Everyone here must read the Ayn Rand entry, and the scholarly analysis of her ideas as derived from Norman Spinrad's "The World of Null-A".
Is that a joke? I mean, is that your joke, or their inadvertent joke?

#46 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:37 PM:

I have to agree with the injunction not to vandalize Conservapædia. People who succumb to that temptation will only make it harder for the wingnuts to start concentrating on having their own edit wars, in their very own wiki, free from any annoying interactions with rational thinkers.

I fully expect their edit wars, should they ever be free to have them without any liberal interference, will be truly astounding to watch.

#47 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:48 PM:

(#46: I don't think they actually employ the ligature in Conservapedia - - part of the reason they started their own Wiki was because they were deeply offended by Wikipedia's use of foreign spellings.)

#48 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:53 PM:

I'm all for it. Part of the reason the conservatives are so cohesive is that they seldom compare notes on their beliefs. Now they can.

#49 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Oh, this is too easy. I agree, these folks are batshit insane, but also they are funny, and we need funny. I say, more power to them.

Note: when I try to get to the site, I can't. My guess is, everyone on the intertubes is checking them out, and probably attempting to edit entries. Better than Paintball.

#50 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Alas, the Ayn Rand entry isn't nearly so colorful:

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian-born philosopher, screenwriter, and novelist, who used her novels to promote her philosophy, known as Objectivism. Her best-known novels are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Although her philosophy differs in many respects from Libertarianism, it also emphasized invidual freedom, and her novels, particularly Atlas Shrugged, contain lectures that are considered touchstones for libertarian thinking.
I can't get at the history of the entry.

#51 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 02:56 PM:

Wild. It always bothers me a bit that so many find the ideas they hold so dear to be so fragile as to be unable to survive in their vaunted marketplace of ideas.

#52 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:09 PM:

I tried to stay away, really I did.

An entry, more-or-less at random, from Conservapedia:

Lamarck:

Jean Baptiste Lamarck was the first scientist to come up with the idea of evolution (though a different version than Darwin's). Lamarck suggested that giraffes got long necks by stretching to reach trees, when clearly they got long necks because God wanted them to be long. Lamarck is now an object of derision amongst scientists, much like Darwin will be in a year or two.


I mean, where do you even begin?

Do you start with their confusion of "theorist" and "theory"? Do you correct their claim that Lamarckianism was the "first" theory of evolution? Do you ask for a self-styled "encyclopedia" to, you know, give his dates?

Do you point out that scientists don't actually give any thought at all to M. Lamarck - let alone treat him as "an object of derision"?

Do you start with criticism of a theory of causality that thinks that "God wanted it to be so" is an actual explanation for anything?

Do you start a betting pool on the verifiable prediction they make?

Really, now: how much stupid is it possible to pack into one short paragraph? I think Conservapedia is going to show us.


#53 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Bob #52:

And then there's the use of "clearly," because Lamarck wasn't just wrong, but he was screaming in the face of common sense, I guess.

#54 ::: Q ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:29 PM:

Now... the most hilarious thing of all really... their own "Commandments" for writing an entry...

1) Everything you post must be true and verifiable.

2)Always cite and give credit to your sources, even if in the public domain.

3) Edits/new pages must be family-friendly, clean, concise, and without gossip or foul language.

4) When referencing dates based on the approximate birth of Jesus, give appropriate credit for the basis of the date (B.C. or A.D.). "BCE" and "CE" are unacceptable substitutes because they deny the historical basis. See CE.

5) As much as is possible, American spelling of words must be used.

6) Do not post personal opinion on an encyclopedia entry. Opinions can be posted on Talk:pages or on debate or discussion pages.

I especially like 1 and 6 ... because, you know... none of the entries I've read violate that at all... /sarcasm_off

#55 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:35 PM:

The site seems overloaded, but this from the Bill Clinton page:

"Clinton also signed into law the Violence Against Women Act, which opened the federal courts to claims of domestic disputes between men and women, which had always been handled under state rather than federal law. A key provision of this law was later ruled unconstitutional in United States v. Morrison."

reminds me not just that conservatives are nutty (or, really, batshit insane) but that the things they are nutty about are also nutty. Vaccines? Evolution? Violence against women? (They appear to be for it.) British-English spelling of words? Relativity? It's crackpot stuff.

You'd think conservatism was about, you know, traditional values, and not making radical changes in society too fast, and self-reliance. But when you dig, it always seems to be about the outright denial of consensus reality. I thought Terri Schiavo was an excellent case of that, where a whole political party seemed to think that by believing really hard they could make their own medical facts.

"Reality has a liberal bias" never seemed so true. Have they always been like this? My experience of conservatism started with Thatcher & Reagan, who were pretty wingnutty already.

#56 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:36 PM:

Not for the first time, I'm reminded of John Rogers' Theory of General Crazification,
his explanation of why approximately 27% of the American public are functionally insane:

Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification -- either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.

#57 ::: bi ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Did someone say truthiness?

When it comes to truthiness, you can't go wrong with Wikiality. :)

They have an entry for Ayn Rand too (in fact, I wrote part of it). and how can anyone forget Michael "Because Michael Moore is Fat" Moore? Bring on the fracts!

#58 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 04:06 PM:

#45: Teresa, it's not my joke. It was on the site, according to the Kos thread on this thing. (I haven't checked it myself; the site was slashdotted). Here's what the text is alleged to have been:

"Ayn Rand was a Russian conservative philosopher, considered by her followers to be the greatest philosopher of all time, and by ignorant Marxists to be a fool. Other contenders for the title of greatest conservative philosopher are Kant and Aristotle. Rand believed she had rediscovered Aristotle after centuries of neglect (she was apparently ignorant of the whole of mediaeval scholastic philosophy), and conservative science fiction author Norman Spinrad wrote The World of Null-A, imagining a nightmare scenario in which Rand had not rediscovered Aristotle. Rand's nickname was "Avida Dollars", because (contrary to Christian morality) she believed that making money for yourself was the supreme good. This led her to reject Kant's categorical imperative, opposing it on the grounds that Aristotelian logic made synthetic a priori statements meaningless. Rand called her philosophy "objectivism", because she didn't know the name was already taken for another philosophical concept."


#59 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 04:42 PM:

pardon me if I'm barfing stupid up all over the internet here, because I'll admit to not being that widely read when it comes to Kant, but was he really that conservetive?

His essay Toward Perpetual Peace calls for a federation of nations and an abolishion of standing armies. To me, that sounds kinda like the opposite of conservetive.

I realize that the Rand entry is on crack for a veriety of reasons. I'm just wondering if it's on crack for that one, too.

#60 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian-born philosopher, screenwriter, and novelist, who used her novels to promote her philosophy, known as Objectivism. Her best-known novels are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

And the latter was turned into one hilarious movie.

#61 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 04:46 PM:

One of the comments on the Kos thread indicated that some pages still had assignments listed at the bottom to fill out terms. So the initial, um, "content" was probably produced by kids or perhaps college students, which explains the writing quality and minor errors of fact. Like putting Japan off the west coast of Asia. The kind of stuff only nitpickers really care about.

Truth in advertising, at least: the main page says you'll like the "concise" entries. And sure enough, if you value concision highly enough to ignore the rampant inaccuracy, the D-grade book-report writing style, the wingnut lunatic viewpoint, and the complete lack of, well, all detail about everything, you'll be super-happy.

#62 ::: LinD ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 04:59 PM:

I've stayed away from MakingLight because I've been working to get my own company started. I can spend hours reading ML. But PJ sent me email, quoting stuff, and I couldn't stay away.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

The thing is, even batshit has its uses. In this case, making my sides ache from laughter. ohdearohdear.

#63 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:04 PM:

Aha. They caught the Spinrad-Rand text. It's marked as "silliness removed", but here it was.

#64 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:06 PM:

"silliness removed"

As opposed to all the silliness that will remain.

#65 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:11 PM:

TNH@48--LOL, literally

Bob@52--Stephen Jay Gould wrote an extended article on Lamarck; the man was much different from what we usually hear of him.

I wonder what their entries on Tolkien and Lewis will be like.

...what about Catholicism?

#66 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:13 PM:

TNH@48--LOL, literally

Bob@52--actually, Stephen Jay Gould wrote an extended article on Lamarck; the man was (as usual) much different than the popular accounts.

I wonder what their entries on Tolkien and Lewis will end up like?

...what about Catholicism?

#67 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Although her philosophy differs in many respects from Libertarianism

mostly in that none of her heroes have tenure at public universities.

#68 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:21 PM:

An entry for Lewis, but not for Tolkien. The Lewis entry is...not very good, consisting mostly of an incomplete bibliography with a few comments. C'mon, folks, couldn't you have cited Carpenter and Wilson?

I was truly weirded out by the insistence on "AD" in dates, since year 1 "AD" was probably about four years after the birth of Jesus--surely there is no need to enshrine an ancient calendrical error as revealed truth?

Sample quote: "Plato was a great Greek philosopher from 428 to 347 BC, after which he was not so great."

...and did you know that faith is a uniquely christian concept?

#69 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:28 PM:

After reading these quotes, all I can do is quote Patrick: "Now I've got stupid all over me."

#70 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Currently, searching Conservapedia in Wikipedia gets you to Schlafly's Eagle Forum entry. Good move.

#71 ::: Paul Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 06:57 PM:

FYI all you Randy spirits:

Norman Spinrad didn't write The World of Null-A, A.E. Van Vogt did.

But why no mention of her long-term affair with her disciple (best-selling author) Nathaniel Brandon?

#72 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:17 PM:

Paul @ 72:
Written by Van Vogt? Surely you must be thinking of the famous Belgian painter, Vincent Van Vogt.

Worlds of Null-A was of course written (under a pseudonym) by the famous proponent of General Semantics, and California legislator, Samuel I. Korzybski.

(In other words, I see you are unused to the fine art of Internet trolling.)

#73 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:40 PM:

"Samuel I. Korzybski". Wasn't that a Kuttner-Moore pseudonym?

#74 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:54 PM:

I fully expect their edit wars, should they ever be free to have them without any liberal interference, will be truly astounding to watch.

There's already been an edit war over atheism, but I think some satirists were involved, so maybe that doesn't count.

Anyway, conservative edit wars will last only until an admin bans one side of the argument. None of your wimpy dispute resolution procedures for *them*, by golly.

Oh, and anyone who hasn't seen it yet needs to see this article. Don't be distracted by the obvious stupidity - see the *subtle* (by conservative standards, anyway) stupidity that has eluded the administrators for over six weeks!

#75 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 07:59 PM:

Chris @ #75,

To quote Atrios in other contexts: "The stupid. It burns!"

#76 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Good lord.

Well, I suppose they now need a page on Energy Conversation - "Let there be light", "I am the Word and the Light", etc.

#77 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Chris@75: The stupid. It tickles! I'm still laughing.

It's a bit stunning to see to see the denial of physical reality expressed in that entry, though. How, I wonder, do these people account for nuclear energy? Must be Satanic.

#78 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:17 PM:

I've been brooding all day about the "Lamarck" entry I found this afternoon, and about the kind of mind that thinks that this is an explanation:

clearly (giraffes) got long necks because God wanted them to be long..

The obvious snark is that the Conservapedia would be a LOT shorter if they simply used that "explanation" throughout: "Why is the sky blue? Because God wanted it to be blue."

But more seriously, I'm wondering if that's the key to the entire conservative enterprise:

Things are the way they are because that's the way God wants things.

It would explain a lot about how conservatives think about the world. And it would go a ways toward explaining why their positions generally remain incomprehensible to me.

#79 ::: Chaos ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 08:42 PM:

Thanks for pointing me at the funny. Alas, the site no longer seems to be accepting new accounts, so I'm unable to help them improve the accuracy of their little encyclopedia...

#80 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:18 PM:

You know, this "Conservapedia" gets my little Sillicon Valley brain a-spinning. Everyone is trying cash in on the "social" web, desperately trying to think of new things that you can share on the web and new demographics to exploit. Well, what about the crackpot demographic? I sure don't see any hipster coders in their SF lofts working on *that* market. Hmmm.

#81 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:21 PM:

The domain is registered to an Andrew Schlafly with an address which has been used by "Andrew Schlafly, Esq., General Counsel, Ass’n of Am. Physicians & Surgeons". That partially explains the odd focus of the Bill Clinton article -- one of the AAPS's claim to fame is forcing the release of the membership list of the health care task force.

Phyllis Schlafly has a son named Andrew. I can't find conclusive evidence that they're the same Andrew Schlafly, but I know which way I'd bet. On at least one occasion, the AAPS and Eagle Forum filed a joint amicus brief.

Conservapedia user Aschlafly is a major contributor and editor, and reading his talk page is interesting; he appears to be able to ban users at will, and it sounds like most of the other early contributors are students of his of some sort. This could be the "Eagle Forum University" mentioned on the Eagle Forum wikipedia page, but it sounds to me like these students are younger than University age, and (anybody surprised?) home-schooled.

#82 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:25 PM:

me, #82: ... all of which Jon Swift already posted, with more detail and better sourcing... so, um, nevermind.

#83 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 09:31 PM:

I've been laughing all day over the title of this post.

#84 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:12 PM:

Please may I plead for conservatives, here? These people are not conservatives. They're bug-eyed out-of-their-tree radicals. They want to change the world profoundly. What they want is theocracy (not found in the West since the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, at least, and arguably never found at all) based on literalist Bible interpretation (Augustine of Hippo put the skates under that one, c500 CE). Above all, they want to destroy a whole tradition of philosophy going back five hundred years, based on the notion that the material universe can be explained by theorising from repeatedly observed fact. They want the death of science, nothing less.

This is not conservatism. These people are for a revolution. And just like every other revolutionary, they will say that the end justifies the means, that the innocent must suffer with the guilty, and that God will know his own.

Yes, they're fools. Yes, it's laughable. Yes, they're losers. No, they don't give a toss about reality. But that's their short-term strength. What they want will never fly, but their underlying despair and fanaticism makes them very useful shock troops. They're impervious to reason, unimpressed with fact, and their certainty can't be dented, in the short term. Never underestimate how dangerous they are.

But conservative, they're not, no matter what they call themselves.

#85 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Are the home-schooled required to meet the 'No Child Left Behind' testing standards?

#86 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:31 PM:

Rob, 86: According to their own holy texts, no child will be Left Behind...in teh RAPCHER! Duh-duh-duh!

#87 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:35 PM:

#85: But this spirit does seem to pervade the modern Republican party and, for example, the right-wing pundits, right-wing blogs, and so on. Or at least, defending it rather than condemning it as garbage thinking. Defining conservatism as something that most modern self-described conservatives aren't isn't all that useful either.

I've been amusing myself reading random pages (usually quite quick! one sentence!), reported a few blatant copyvios, all good fun stuff. Here's another of my favourite passages from the World War I page:

"World War I consisted mostly of trench warfare. This method of waging war was very slow and messy. Soldiers might wait in their trenches for weeks, only to advance a few feet and wait in a new trench. It is not hard to guess why trench warfare has not been used since World War I."

Not hard to guess at all! I mean, all that mud! And you hardly made any progress at all! Really boring! Everyone agreed it was a big waste of time. That's why the well-known Treaty of Bognor Regis in 1928 banned trench warfare. They also banned bayonets (dangerously sharp!) and cavalry charges (too much horse poo). And then everyone had a nice round of tea and scones. The End.

#88 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 10:54 PM:

Dave@85: The problem is, they've stolen the name. It's happenned over and over again in political history.

Bob@79: "Things are the way they are because that's the way God wants things." Well, yes, these are authoritarians--they want an authority. The problem with referring everything to the authority of a diety, philosophically, is that it's always true and of no value--to get something useful out of the explanation one has to begin to think about what God wants and why he wants it and there you are, thinking again.

#89 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:45 PM:

Rob@86 - not only are homeschooled kids not covered by NCLB, private schools aren't either.

Public schools are given impossible standards, private schools aren't tested this way, and there's pressure to support vouchers to subsidize private schools. It's almost like someone is trying to sabotage the whole concept of public education (well, more than it already has been. Buffy was right, hell is high school).

Of course, the way to meet impossible standards is to cheat, so I suppose the students are learning something about the real world.

#90 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:52 PM:

How does "truthiness" differ from "versimilitude"? When I learned the word "versimilitude", it had the connotation of seeming but not being.

***

And the About page is LOL funny "rapidly becoming one of the largest and most reliable online educational resources of its kind." Then there's four lines on "Canada", a one-liner on France, another on "Middle Ages", another on "money". It's like "The Encyclopedia of Adrian Mole, aged 13 1/2".

#91 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2007, 11:58 PM:

On Sir Isaac Newton: "The majority opinion holds that Newton was a unitarian (one God) and an Arian (Jesus was divine but did not exist eternally and was created by God at some point before coming to Earth). Both are commonly regarded by conservative Christians as the foulest of heresies, and Newton's adoption of them illustrates the folly of adopting personal religious beliefs rather than submitting to lawful authority."

Wow. I guess I'm just not up on my heresies.

#92 ::: Jacob Davies ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:19 AM:

"rapidly becoming one of the largest and most reliable online educational resources of its kind."

Well, to be fair, you know that next time the New York Times does a story on Wikipedia, they'll devote an equal amount of column-inches to Conservapedia. You know... for balance.

I wish I was joking, but after the Grand Canyon story, it's not quite so funny.

#93 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:22 AM:

As an example of the sort of vandalism I simply cannot condone, I offer up the entry for Cthulhu. Really, people— we should not be helping them.

p.s. I think I'm going to insist on spelling it with the ligature just to spite them.

#94 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:28 AM:

This is via Pandagon, but I checked myself to see if it was true:

1984
1984 was a book by George Orwell. 1984 describes an alternate history in which Oceania (Australia) is at war with Eurasia. It is a utopian book because it talks about a place where everyone is watched over by Big Brother, who makes sure people are doing what they are supposed to.
The protagonist is Winston Smith. Thre is something about rats at the end, but it is confusing. The end is probably supposed to be ambigous.

Good Heaven, I don't know if this is side-splitting funny (the end is supposed to be ambiguous!) or really, really scary.

#95 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:37 AM:

Randolph Fritz at #89: there's that. It'll be interesting if the contending wingnuts are forced to think about their various flavors of wingnuttery.

But - if they believe that the status quo is divinely arranged, then they're likely to view change as downright sacrilegious.

clearly (giraffes) got long necks because God wanted them to be long. (There. That settles that.)

So that's given me some insight into the wingnut worldview. Thanks, Conservapedia!

#96 ::: bi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:56 AM:

Henry Troup: "Verisimilitude" is what you read from a book, "truthiness" is what you feel in your gut.

So, now we have so many realities to choose from! Isn't freedom great?

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:04 AM:

94: That really reminds me of the free term paper, free term paper, free term paper.

#98 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:40 AM:

Bob@96: "But - if they believe that the status quo is divinely arranged, then they're likely to view change as downright sacrilegious."

Well, they do. Why do you think they're so upset?

#99 ::: Alexey J. Merz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Currency is a unit of money that facilitates the purchase of goods or services. Each modern nation has one currency, such as the dollar in the United States, the pound in England, and the euro in many countries in the European Union on continental Europe. Many liberals hope for the establishment of a single world currency, which would, of course, undermine the sovereignty of the United States and bring about the Antichrist. Also, Ireland uses the Euro.

Hypothesis: any addition, deletion, or change would destroy the crystalline perfection of this entry.

#100 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:01 AM:

Analee@60: The Kant reference in the (now-deleted) Rand entry is a subtle joke -- you need to know that Rand hated Kant.

#101 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:06 AM:

#95, Anna, re _1984_

That entry was written in its entirety by one user, who's been contributing since December 19th. None of his other contributions I've looked at are quite so out-there, so I'm inclined to think this is serious.

#100, Alexey, re Currency

The last two sentences of that entry, on the other hand, are by a new user most of whose edits seem to me to be parody.

#102 ::: Alexey J. Merz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:19 AM:

Todd, no surprise there. But it's that second beat, the unexpected punchline after the punchline, that had me nearly rolling on the floor.

#103 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Rob Rusick, #86:

Are the home-schooled required to meet the 'No Child Left Behind' testing standards?

No, thank God. I was already inclined to homeschooling before No Child Left Alone hit my town, but the Act has definitely decided me in favor of keeping my kids the hell out of public school. It wasn't just my school district having to drop Euclid's proofs because they weren't on the standardized tests; I could cover that subject over the summer. It wasn't entirely that expose on PBS that links the inspiration for the Act to a Texas school administrator who falsified test results so that his methods would appear more successful; after all, useful food crops occasionally grow from muck. The nail in the coffin, for me, was the result of my local high school being forced to cut the Baby Think-It-Over program because they needed more time to prepare kids for the tests.

Teen pregnancy rates rose. But their test scores were great!

#104 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:24 AM:

#102 Todd: I didn't think for a moment the entry on 1984 was parody, unfortunately. I mean, not deliberate parody. It's not funny enough. It has the ring of truth, and this is what makes it so scary. There are people (admittedly, people who appear to have limited reading comprehension) who genuinely think 1984 is an utopia. Even after the meaning of the word has been explained to them.

#105 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:30 AM:

#105: After reading all of OrelP.'s contributions, I'm actually having a hard time deciding. See in particular "Turkey" and "Predestination" ("God does not forgive some sinners, like pagans and foreigners.").

I honestly can't decide whether this is some poor free-thinking kid trapped in a situation where the most he can do to keep from going completely insane is push the boundaries just a little bit, or if he really is this...off.

#106 ::: platedlizard ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:04 AM:

Oh man. Their entry on George W. Bush is just embarrassing. Here's the current one it its entirety.

"George W. Bush
From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Is the president of the United States of America. Republican. Was elected in 2000 in a disputed election over Democratic candidate Al Gore. In 2004, George W. Bush won reelection by a popular margin of millions of votes, including a landslide victory in the State of Florida where the outcome had been so close in 2000. Democratic candidate John Kerry quickly conceded defeat the day after the election.

For many months after John Kerry conceded the outcome of the 2004 election to George W. Bush, some liberals continued to claim that the election had somehow been stolen by voter fraud. When Al Gore went on a speaking tour in 2006 to promote government controls over industry in the name of global warming, many liberal fans greeted him with the belief that he had somehow won the election in 2000.

Son of president George H. W. Bush.

The current Bush administration is a Divided Government"

Pathetic. I almost feel sorry for these guys. At the very least they could have listed who his wife is, what she did before she became First Lady. Who their children are, what sort of pet they had, and his previous job as Governor of Texas, or that he went to Harvard Business school. And that's just the non-controversial stuff I could remember off the the top of my head.

I would have that that entry was vandalized, but all of the older versions are as lame, or lamer. Very sad.

#107 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:28 AM:

Another from the "I can't tell if it's parody or not" category;

http://conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Velociraptor&oldid=16144

The velociraptor is a small, carnivorous dinosaur featured in the fictional movie "Jurassic Park". In the movie, they make a showing due to atheist genetic engineers tinkering with God's creation. Most of these scientists get eaten for their sin.

The velociraptor is currently extinct, due to the Great Flood [1]. It's not clear why they didn't make it onto the Ark, but it's possible that Noah worried that they would eat the zebras.

#108 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 06:43 AM:

The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland is a nation formed by the conquest of inferior races by the English, although its first King was the Scottish confirmed bachelor King James. As a constitutional monarchy, it enjoys the benefit of the most perfect system of government known to man.

#109 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:26 AM:

Dave Luckett said (#85):
... What they want is theocracy (not found in the West since the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, at least, and arguably never found at all) ...

Historical nitpickery: There have been small-scale, relatively short-lived theocracies in the West, such as Florence under Savonarola, or Geneva under John Calvin. Since the Papal States were ruled directly by the Vatican, they were arguably a form of theocracy as well. The Holy Roman Empire, on the other hand, was never a theocracy, despite its name.

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:45 AM:

Ken @ 109

its first King was the Scottish confirmed bachelor King James

This will be news to Charles I!

#111 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 08:47 AM:

Dave Luckett@85: And just like every other revolutionary, they will say that the end justifies the means, that the innocent must suffer with the guilty, and that God will know his own.

Wow. You should stick that in the Conservapedia. Maybe under the entry for Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or Jesus of Nazareth.

#112 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:41 AM:

#110 and #85 - they're ahead of you!

Theocracy

Government ruled by a divine means or by leaders considered to be divinely guided. Israel was a theocracy before King Saul.

Modern theocracies include Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan prior to the ousting of the Taliban by the military of the United States of America. With any luck, a new modern theocracy will be established within the United States by the end of the decade.

This has got to be a parody.

#113 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Self-follow-up re #113:

Wait a minute - Turkey is a theocracy?

#114 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:02 AM:

#94: Anna, that scares the hell out of me.

#100 and #108: I'm laughing out loud and my son is looking at me like I'm insane. And I think that based on the chortles that keep popping out while I'm typing up this comment, I'm going to be laughing about that last bit on Ireland all day. And zebras!

Now, I'm cheery, and I'm ready to dry my hair.

#115 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Okay, I've been unable to get this out of my head since I first read "Things are the way they are because that's how God wants it": Does that also cover state-recognized gay marriage, legal abortion, separation of church and state, Democrats in control of Congress, and the lousy season record of their favorite sports team, or just the stuff they like?

#116 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:24 AM:

If I were able to create an account, I'd be tempted (!) to add an entry about the theological implications of the refrangibility of light. Or vice versa. Per M. Apollo, light could not have been refrangible before the Flood, etc. (Not technically true, now that I think about it; the evidence shows only that the amount of refraction could not have been wavelength-dependent.)

Andrew Schlafly seems to be very determined that the Theory of Relativity hasn't produced anything useful. I wonder if he thinks that GPS isn't useful, or that it doesn't really use relativistic corrections?

#117 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Conservapedia isn't the first politically motivated spinoff from Wikipedia. I haven't yet seen any mention in this thread of Disinfopedia (now Sourcewatch), a left-leaning Wiki reference that is specifically intended *not* to follow the "neutral point of view" editorial standard that Wikipedia aspires to. (They do aspire to be "fair and accurate", though, just as Conservapedia aspires to be "true and verifiable".)

Not that there's anything wrong with that per se. There are lots of useful sites that have a particular point of view. And SourceWatch at least doesn't seem to try to *prohibit* dissenting POV so far as I've been able to tell; but it does tend in a particular general direction due to the folks who are the editors and the folks the site tends to attract as active participants. That's generally true of most social online communities, including blogs like this one. (And I'm grateful to our gracious hosts for providing and cultivating such an enjoyable forum for discussion.)

Conservapedia's site is slow enough that I've managed to see very little of it so far, and the wingnut factor on the samples I have seen, or seen quoted, seems pretty high at the moment. But it'll be interesting to see how Conservapedia settles over the next few months. The content of any wiki is only partially under control of the editors, as we've seen already; it also depends on the folks who are attracted and stick with the site. Will this Wiki go off in various differnet directions? (An Ayn Rand conservative and a Pat Robertson conservative are rather different.) Will edit wars erupt, as those from the left or various factions of the right try to insert non-party line but "true and verifiable" content? Will the editors try to tighten control to keep the articles "in line"? Will more serious conservatives try to raise the level of the articles, or will it be left to the wingnuts? Will it build or lose an audience over time? It's all potentially catnip for folks who like watching and analyzing group dynamics.

#118 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:40 AM:

If it's any consolation, the current Conservapedia participants seem to be as unable to distinguish the parodies from the "real" content as we are... and they're getting twitchy about it. Citing "Removed liberal attempt to discredit Conservapedia with parody", one of the more... um... religiously-biased contributors just removed a passage that a well-informed contributor had included in his entry on the Theory of Relativity:

"Like most significant scientific discoveries, relativity has been widely adopted as a social analogy, but the comparison has little factual basis (the common quip about placing a hand on a hot stove has nothing to do with Einstein's theory). For example the idea of moral relativity exists independent of (and substantially predates) the theory of relativity."

They don't like having common errors debunked? They'd prefer to have people spouting party-line nonsense out of ignorance? ... Oh, right, never mind.

#119 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Aconite, I was using the word "revolutionary" as derived from "revolution" as defined in the Shorter Oxford as "... a forcible substitution of a new ruler or government". This is, true, its third definition, but nevertheless is quite reasonably respectable, and it was what I meant. By that definition, neither Ghandi nor King nor Jesus were revolutionaries. You would have been better citing George Washington.

But you could have cited Washington, so I am guilty of a loose expression. I'll recant "all revolutionaries" and substitute something like "all extremists who would force revolutionary change on the basis of doctrine, and in so doing deny the right of reasonable dissent". Would that meet your objection? And thank you for your vigilance.

#120 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:10 PM:

Dave 120: In a phrase, totalitarian extremists. Their justification is different from other, discredited totalitarian extremists, but their goals are indistinguishable (well, the targets of their genocide will be different, but who gives a flying fuck?).

#121 ::: D. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:24 PM:

#114--Ken MacLeod: Not unless one considers Kemal Ataturk as a divine--or unless one knows nothing of Turkish history. (Guess which I think more likely.)

I can respect having an ideological point of view--I grew up with virulent anti-Communism. I do not respect bending facts to fit one's ideology. (That was one of the lesser things the Stalinists get heat for.) The right-wing only holds itself up to ridicule, not that they don't deserve ridicule. It's not even proper brain-washing; it's, it's brain-creme-rinsing.

#122 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:28 PM:

Peter Erwin: Quite so. Definition of terms is vital, I think. A theocracy appears to be a state or nation that is said to be ruled directly by God (or the gods) through a representative or representatives whose rule is therefore divinely ordained and not to be resisted. Strictly, every absolute monarchy in Europe met that definition until the early modern period. On the other hand, all of them, even the Papal States, had practical examples before them that militated against their rulers taking the idea literally, and I really think that very few of them did. Which leaves us with Savaronola and Calvin, and maybe Cromwell after he dissolved the Rump and ruled, essentially, alone. Not lasting, in any case.

But however rare or commonplace theocracies might have been in the West (and I think that we can agree that they were rare) these loons would impose one, if they could. They can't, of course, but they might manage to do something almost worse: destroy democracy.

#123 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Xopher: Exactly. I can't think why the word "totalitarian" eluded me. Dementia, perhaps?

#124 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 12:41 PM:

Ken MacLeod (#114) and D. (#122):
It occurs to me that perhaps the writer was insinuating "Turkey as theocracy" based on the fact that the current ruling party is quasi-Islamist (in the sort of low-key, "we're religous, but not excessively so" mode of Turkish politics).

Of course, that's like saying West Germany was a theocracy in the 1950s and 1960s because the Bundestag was controlled by the Christian Democratic Union....

#125 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:07 PM:

D, @122: It's not even proper brain-washing; it's, it's brain-creme-rinsing.

This is possibly the greatest description of anything ever.

#126 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:21 PM:

Ken@113 "With any luck, a new modern theocracy will be established within the United States by the end of the decade."

This is what Dominionists advocate; it may be seriously intended.

"...Satire has come again."

#127 ::: Antonia P. Tigris ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:22 PM:

Unless there's some nasty browser dependencies, and since it claims to be using established Wiki software there shouldn't be, the procedure to open a new account isn't working. Going by some of the names, it may have been spammed to death by the frivolous.

My planned article on Tolkien is appended. It just goes to show how the facts can be presented.


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973): South-African-born philologist, academic, and novelist, latterly Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford University, England.

Remowned for his work on Anglo-Saxon and Middle-English texts, he was later to attain some slight notoriety as a novelist, this work being influenced by his experiences as a soldier in the First Wor;d War, and by his academic work on language and the history of England. In his retirement, he also worked as a part of a team translating the Holy Bible into modern English.

He was a devout Christian, an intensely loyal husband, and a loving parent. He is buried with his wife at Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford, where a short ceremony of remembrance is held each year, in late September, comemmorating his life and work.

#128 ::: pbg ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:35 PM:

I thought Ayn Rand got all her ideas from Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream...

#129 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:38 PM:

Antonia, 128: I believe you misspelled "reknowned."

#130 ::: Antonia P. Tigris ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:41 PM:

A mere corroborative detail, intended to lend verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

Or something like that, anyway.

#131 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 01:59 PM:

Ken@113, Randolph@127 --

I think it's satire/vandalism. The second paragraph was added by user Mrpiltdown (which itself should set the alarms off) but a perusal of that user's contributions shows a pattern. Consider Mrpiltdown's addition (in italics below) to the entry for gonad, which has already been reverted:

A general term for the organ that produces gametes. Gonads were created by God for the purpose of procreation only, and are meant to be used only for that purpose. Any other use of the gonads is abuse. They are not meant for pleasure. Severe abuse of the gonads has been linked to a medical condition known as manohirsutitis.

(Manohirsutitis? we should be able to do better than that. C'mon now . . .)

I agree with others that we should forgo the short term enjoyment of inserting satire. Let's allow the genuine craziness to come out on its own.

#132 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:02 PM:

Dave Luckett (#123):
More typically, I think, "theocracy"[*] is used to describe either direct rule by some kind of priesthood (hierarchical or not), or a regime intent on imposing and maintaining a particular religion or sect, so that enforcing that religion is a (or the) dominant policy.

It's certainly true that European kings usually claimed divine sanction, and the Holy Roman Empire officially started when Charlemagne arranged for the Pope to crown him in Rome. ("Holy" to emphasize that it was founded and run by proper Christians, unlike the original Roman Empire, which was run for most of its existence by icky pagans). So did Persian and Chinese emperors (the latter via the somewhat dilute "mandate of heaven"), and if wouldn't surprise me if the majority of pre-modern governments claimed some kind of divine sanction.

(I do agree with you that there are fundamentalists in the US who would like to transform the US into something like a theocracy.)

[*] A formal, etymological definition would indeed be "rule by a god or gods", but since we're not aware of any such governments in Real History,[**] it makes sense that people use the word to mean something else. (In fantasy novels, on the other hand, you could have literal theocracies.)

[**] Well, OK, there have been governments in which the ruler was declared to be a god...

#133 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:15 PM:

It does rather look as though the site has been infested by a band intent on emulating the sack of Rome perpetrated by their namesakes.

Some of the usernames....

Though I'm not sure I would allow a schoolchild under my supervision to use their real name on the net. There are all sorts of strange people out there.

#134 ::: Chris Tucker ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 02:31 PM:

""Samuel I. Korzybski". Wasn't that a Kuttner-Moore pseudonym?"

Nah, He's the fellow who said, "I have HAD IT with these motherfucking philosophers on this motherfucking plane of existance!"

Easy mistake to make.

#135 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Peter 133: The etymology of a word only gives clues to its meaning; its usage determines its actual meaning. You have no idea what kind of can of worms you'd open by insisting on a formal etymological definition for all words (not that you insist on any such thing in your comment).

Just to give two examples, you wouldn't call someone a gourmet unless he* were an assistant groom ('gourmet' is from 'gromet', which even in that form meant "wine merchant's assistant," which is somewhat divergent from its etymology, and was influenced by 'gourmand' into its current form), and a template would be strictly a small temple (modern form influenced by 'plate').

And even in our world there are several monarchs (none with autocratic powers AFAIK) whose claim to the throne stems from their supposed descent from a divine or semidivine being.

*And a female one would be a gourmette.

#136 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:43 PM:

I have been hitting the random page link. Oh my.

This has to be the work of 4th or 5th graders. I know it's not, but I'm going to keep repeating it until I believe it.

Circulatory System

#137 ::: DirtyEffingHippie ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Who is behind this?????

Out of curiosity I typed in Richard Nixon. Look what came up:

Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the Christian United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He was the 36th Christian Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961, in the administration of Christian Dwight D. Eisenhower. As a Congressman from California, he investigated communists and instigated the successful prosecution of Alger Hiss. Nixon served as Vice President under President Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961, and lost his first presidential race to John F. Kennedy by a tiny margin. In 1968 he won the election to president, and was reelected in 1972 by a landslide, but had to resign the following year due to a threat of impeachment by Congress for the Watergate scandal.
President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and was the first President to visit communist (Red) China. He appointed a conservative (William Rehnquist), two moderates Warren Burger and Lewis Powell) and a liberal (Harry Blackmun) to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nixon was from a Quaker family. His Christian foreign policy as president was marked by détente with the atheistic Soviet Union and the opening of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. His centrist domestic policies combined conservative Christian rhetoric and liberal action in civil rights, environmental and economic initiatives. As a result of the Watergate scandal, Nixon resigned the presidency in the face of likely impeachment by the United States House of Representatives. His successor, Gerald Ford, issued a controversial pardon that cleared him of any wrongdoing.

The Christian United States?????

Whoa! I smell sulfur.

#138 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 03:58 PM:

Xopher @ 136:
Oh, no argument from me at all on that score. I love etymology, but part of what I love is how the meaning shifts over time; and of course it's the present meaning that matters. I do have some idea as to what worms are in that can, and why it should stay closed.

Hmm... "formal (etymological) translation" would probably have been a better choice of words on my part. (It was more a matter of having fun with the idea -- "If you actually had direct rule by an existent, present god, then theocracy would seem to be an appropriate word"...)

Something like a formal definition was what I was trying to get at in the first part of my post.

#139 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Random links took me to Shiites.

Ready?

"The Shiites are the second largest denomination in Islam, and the most militant. They can be more violent and more hostile than the larger Muslim denomination known as Sunnis.

The Shiites control Iran."

This is as opposed to the entry for Shiite, which reads:

"The Shiites (or Shi'ites or Shia) is the more radical branch of Islam. A schism in Islam occurred in A.D. 660 after Muhammad had died. The Sunnis, the largest group, disagreed with the Shiites over who should be the successor to Muhammad.

To this day, the Sunnis and Shiites clash with each other, with the Sunnis considered to be more moderate and friendlier to western countries like the United States and the Shiites viewed as more extreme and hostile to western countries. The Sunnis are Arab and have ruled countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, while the Shiites have majorities in Iraq and Iran."

Ohdearohdearohdear. Even knowing it's a train wreck, my fingers itch to go clean it up, just to make the stupid stop.

#140 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:02 PM:

Re: Circulatory System, well, the woman who added that did also make a recent change to the entry on Homosexuality: 'Removed "Adam and Steve Argument" because, although I agree with it, the logic is somewhat faulty, and the material inappropriate for an encyclopedia.' Material removed:

The biblical proof that homosexuality is wrong is the fact that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Lesbianism is also wrong, because God created Adam and Eve, not Madam and Eve. However, lesbianism is less evil than regular homosexuality, because no penises are involved.
#141 ::: bleat my little gourmet meal bleat ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:10 PM:

It's not clear why they (the velociraptors) didn't make it onto the Ark, but it's possible that Noah worried that they would eat the zebras.

In order to get to the zebras, wouldn't they have had to eat their way through the whales and yaks first?

#142 ::: Steve M. ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:17 PM:

I see Ho Chi Minh is still under "M."

Idiots.

#143 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Because no PENISES are involved? Lesbianism...and "regular" homosexuality? Wow. New world record in pathetic ignorance.

#144 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:26 PM:

After a few more random page loads, I think I've seen enough. This is just a minor juvenile project, with high aspirations and low grammatical understanding. With enormous amounts of work, it could become something complex and worthy of serious criticism (though I have enough faith in humanity to think that it would right itself before then). But the odds are that its group dynamics will eat it alive, or lack of interest will cause it to die off, long before that point.

Right now? Looking for flaws is like looking for apples in an orchard.

Now, finding a really good article. That would be a challenge.

Unfortunately, I think I would rather rearrange my sock drawer.

#145 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:31 PM:

The other thing I've learned from Conservapedia is there there are a bunch of home-schooled kids who are going to encounter a fckton of cognitive dissonance when they finally get out and meet the 21st century.

#146 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 04:55 PM:

abi: There is no way to make the stupid stop.

#147 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:06 PM:

Winchester's Law: The sound of those as stupid as a bag of hammers will never stop.

#148 ::: Antonia P. Tigris ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:13 PM:

So all this stuff has been written by home-schooled Americans? Poor kids. It'd be cruel to submit my Tolkien piece. I thought it was something for the freakish adults who ought to know better.

I have cousins like that, who can be so embarrassing.

But I'm not going to mess with those kids heads. It's tempting to show them the results of a proper education.

No, not Sellars and Yeatman.

Well, not much.

#149 ::: jurassicpork ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:15 PM:

"In 1994, voters expressed their high disapproval of Clinton by giving a landslide victory to Republicans in Congress, where Republicans won 49.9% of the popular vote (compared to the Democrat's (sic) 44%). This event was tagged the "Republican Revolution," in which Republicans promised America reforms including term limits, persidential (sic) line-item veto, and a balanced budget."

Yeah, that reminds me, how did that all pan out?

#150 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 05:21 PM:

#135: Jet Blue Rasff award.

#151 ::: Tilly ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:21 PM:

Wow. The history pages are...nope, no word I can think of right now quite works. I think some words fell out of my head when I was reading it.
I'm going to cuddle some history books until I stop crying.

#152 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 07:34 PM:

My contrary self is saying, "You know, I think my side--is it my side?--is behaving very badly." There's some teenagers who can write encyclopedia entries, but not very many; if teen-agers educated out the textbooks of my high school days put together an encyclopedia, I think it would be pretty awful, too. I also think, that if the "conservatives" involved in the project were allowed to resolve their own disputes, with the occasional comment from people of other views, they might learn from the experience, even contribute something useful to the world.

...of course, says my contrary self, all this assumes that the editorial hand allows the process to work!

#153 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 09:54 PM:

One wonders when and if there will be an entry in the conservapedia that counters this Wikipedia entry

#154 ::: Chris Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: February 24, 2007, 11:57 PM:
('gourmet' is from 'gromet', which even in that form meant "wine merchant's assistant,"

Nick Park subthread starting in five... four... three...

#155 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:26 AM:

Ah. See what a little well-placed mockery can do? (The people at Conservapædia have now updated the Cthulhu entry for accuracy.)

Personally, I'm waiting to see the edit wars break out over Lucianne Goldberg. That should be fun to watch.

#156 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:30 AM:

The previous entry for Cthulhu is here. The log line describing the update was "removed amusing parody and replaced with stub."

A stub? Great. I can't wait to see what it will say when you fill it out.

#157 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 02:53 AM:

You know, it appears that ignorant Christians as a public relations problem for more informed ones is not a new problem:

I wonder if this quote from St. Augustine expresses some of what sane Conservatives and Christians feel:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience.

Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?

Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.


Of course the patronizing "EVEN a non-Christian", and referring to non-Christians as "Infidels", does not help separate St. Augustine from those he was criticizing quite as much as he would have liked. Then again he died in 430 C.E., so not worth making an issue over.

#158 ::: little light ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:11 AM:

Oh.

Oh, heavens to Betsy.
Oh, my.

I'll find words by tomorrow, I'm sure.

#159 ::: Lyle ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:16 AM:

#91 Henry Troup: "And the About page is LOL funny "rapidly becoming one of the largest and most reliable online educational resources of its kind." Then there's four lines on "Canada", a one-liner on France, another on "Middle Ages", another on "money". It's like "The Encyclopedia of Adrian Mole, aged 13 1/2"."

Me - ObSFAuthor: Philip K Dick wrote a book about that. It's "Confessions of a Crap Artist" (1959). Dick found an encyclopedia from the Dark Ages, the shortest ever written at 35 pages, by an Isidore of Seville. According to Dick this gave him "the idea of creating the most idiotic protagonist, ignorant and without common sense . . . a modern day Isidore of Seville, California and have him write [an encyclopedia] for our time like that of Isidore of Seville, Spain."
It seems real life just caught up with Dick.

#160 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:30 AM:

I have wasted more than an hour reading these comments, laughing so hard my danged cough came back, and hitting the random pages link at the source of all the hilarity.

This is extra-fine:

Communism

Communism is government in which the state owns everything and the wealth is divided evenly among the citizens. Communists believe that if they share everything, no one will ever have to work. It is an atheist government not believing in God and only in the "state" as the supreme thing on the earth. The most famous communist government was the USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an official government starting in 1922 and ending in 1991.

A relatively well-educated sixth-grader could do better than that.

To be fair, I remember fooling around with Wikipedia in its infancy, and it was pretty sparse--and some of the entries were equally lame.

#161 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:46 AM:

And somebody has been up to naughtiness (I suspect minions of the internet tube thingies' most ardent cephalopodophile). I'm posting the whole thing here because it is sure to disappear shortly.

http://www.conservapedia.com/Pacific_Northwest_Arboreal_Octopus

About The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip,) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are Amphibian, spending only their earliest life stages and mating seasons in their aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and their well designed skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming dried out for prolonged periods of time

Facts
Armspan: 2-2.5 ft
Habitat: Temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest
Diet: Insects, snails, frogs, occasionaly small mammals.
Colour: Mottled Greenish Brown, but may changes color based on moods
[edit]

Psychology

An intelligent and inquisitive being (it has the largest brain-to-body ratio for any mollusc), the tree octopus explores its arboreal world by both touch and sight. Adaptations designed for the three dimensional environment have been put to good use in the spatially complex maze of the coniferous Olympic rainforests. Being well designed for the challenges and richness of this environment means that the tree octopus shows very advanced behavioral attributes.[1]

Reaching out with one of her eight arms, each covered in sensitive suckers, a tree octopus might grab a branch to pull herself along in a form of locomotion called tentaculation; or she might be preparing to strike at an insect or small vertebrate, such as a frog or steal an egg from a bird's nest; or she might even be examining some object that caught her fancy, instinctively desiring to manipulate it with her dexterous limbs (actually closer to "sensory organs" more than mere "limbs",) in order to better know it.[2]
[edit]

Physiology

Tree octopuses have complex and well designed eyes, almost comparable to humans. Besides allowing them to see their prey and environment, it helps them in inter-octopus relations. Although they are not social animals like us, they display to one another their emotions through their ability to change the color of their skin: red indicates rage; white, fear; while they normally maintain a mottled brown tone to blend in with the background.

The reproductive cycle of the tree octopus is still linked to its roots in the waters of the Puget Sound from where it is thought to have originated. Every year, in Spring, tree octopuses leave their homes in the Olympic National Forest and migrate towards the shore and, eventually, their spawning grounds in Hood Canal. There, they congregate and find mates. After the male has deposited his sperm, he returns to the forests, leaving the female to find an aquatic lair in which to attach her strands of egg-clusters. The female will guard and care for her eggs until they hatch, refusing even to eat, often dying from her selflessness. The young will spend the first month or so floating through Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, and as far as North Puget Sound before eventually moving out of the water and beginning their adult lives.[3]
[edit]
Why It's Endangered
Although the tree octopus is not officially listed on the Endangered Species List, its numbers are at a critically low level for its breeding needs. The reasons for this dire situation include: decimation of habitat by logging and suburban encroachment; building of roads that cut off access to the water which it needs for spawning; predation by foreign species such as house cats; and booming populations of its natural predators, including the bald eagle and perrigrine falcon. The few that make it to the Canal are further hampered in their reproduction by the growing problem of pollution from farming and residential run-off. Unless immediate action is taken to protect this species and its habitat, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus will be but a memory.

The possibility of Pacific Northwest tree octopus extinction is not an unwarranted fear. Other tree octopus species -- including the Douglas octopus and the red-ringed madrona sucker -- were once abundant throughout the Cascadia region, but have since gone extinct because of threats similar to those faced by paxarbolis, as well as overharvesting by the now-illegal tree octopus trade.

#162 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 05:42 AM:

Maybe Conservapedia won't cement people's ignorance and prejudices, after all. Because of its digital wiki format, it can change and evolve (unlike a printed book).

So give it some time, and perhaps genuine dissent will emerge within Conservapedia.


BTW: Imagine, for a moment, if religious scripture had begun as a wiki... talk about edit wars!

#163 ::: ~~~~ ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 06:45 AM:

Achilles "was a big character in the Odyssey and Iliad by Homer, but he isnt in any other Greek plays, because he wasn't a king."

#164 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 10:06 AM:

The tree octopus... oh my word... must catch breath...

#165 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Gar at 158: thank you for that Augustine quote; it's wonderful! Would you be so kind as to provide citation details?

#166 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:06 AM:

There's sure to be fine articles on the Italian spaghetti harvest and the Australian dropbear, too.

#167 ::: punkrockhockeymom ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:15 AM:

I heart our tree octopus vandal with intensity, forever.

I cannot, cannot, cannot spend the day on the internets. I have a Christmas tree to take down! (Don't ask). But it's so fun to read! Why, do you think, it's so very hard to turn away from the stupid, wherever we encounter it?

#168 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:19 AM:

The Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus? Isn't there a Gilbert and Sullivan tune waiting for new lyrics somewhere?

#169 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Conservapedia wrote -
We apologize for the slowness of the site. Our average traffic amount per day last week was around 300 views per day. Over the past two days that number jumped to 89,000 a day. Please be patient as we work for a solution. Thanks. Conservapedia Webmaster 19:56, 22 February 2007 (EST)

If they can't handle 89k messages a day, what happens when Slashdot finds out about this place?

Or (shudder) 4Chan? (/shudder)

#170 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:40 AM:

Lizzy @ 166: The Augustine quotation is from De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim, translation by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41. (Per a bit of Googling.)

The final phrase, "they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertions", is from 1 Timothy 1.7 .

#171 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 11:59 AM:

Really, I am serious about how it will be very cool if the wingnuts actually devote the necessary energy to make Conservapædia into the alternative to Wikipedia they've always wanted. I realize it's a comedy goldmine now, mainly because it hasn't reached the critical level of participation to make it self-sustaining (and their policy about making it hard to get an account isn't helping their growth), but we should encourage their courageous and brave, public experiment to see if a useful encyclopedia can be written in an open documentation process without the namby-pamby liberal insistence on the neutral point of view.

Sure, they'll probably go splat, but... here's a scary, dystopian thought: what if it turns out they can?

#172 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:02 PM:

Joel at 171, thanks. I should/could have done the google thing -- but my default position when faced with a quotation like that is to look at the books on my shelves, and I always assume that the person next door is doing the same thing... Dinosaurs are us, I'm afraid.

#173 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Dave Luckett #85: I, on the contrary, am reminded of J.S. Mill's dictum that 'Stupid people are generally Conservative.' Which is not the same as saying that conservatives are all stupid.

#174 ::: Gar Lipow ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:30 PM:

Lizzy - sorry for the quotation without source. I actually got it from - um
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo, which seem appropriate given the thread topic.

#175 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 12:42 PM:

#169: The Pacific Northwest Arboreal Octopus? Isn't there a Gilbert and Sullivan tune waiting for new lyrics somewhere?

Oh, Mike, where ever you are, inspire us, please!!
(I can hear snatches of tune and lyrics -- Mike?? Give!!)

#176 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 01:50 PM:

Fans of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus should consult the Zapato Productions Intradimensional website at Zapatopi.net. You can place a tentacle ribbon on your website to show your support.

Mr. Zapato is also notable as the world's foremost authority on protecting your thoughts from spying and mind control intrusion via the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, with handy construction guide. (Especially note the note for student website evaluators.) Further, he is the author of the world's only mind control protection program for both Amiga and Linux users, Mind Guard.

P.S. Do not start exploring Mr. Zapato's website when you are short on time, at work, or in some context which requires you to appear serious and sober for more than a few seconds at a stretch.

#177 ::: Thursday ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Most of Canada's population is in the "more southern provinces", eh? Well, at least the writer knew there were provinces.

Better than some, I guess.

The Northern Territories are going too be pissed, though.

#178 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 01:56 PM:

The tree octopus is not new; it was invented as part of a study to test the gullibility of students using the Internet.

The students didn't do so well, as I recall; most thought the site was genuine. Somehow I doubt Conservapedia will do any better.

It's remotely possible they'll correct the erroneous "Category: Mammals", though. :D

#179 ::: Alexey J. Merz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 02:27 PM:

In order to get to the zebras, wouldn't [the velociraptors] have had to eat their way through the whales and yaks first?

To say nothing of the pygmies and dwarfs...

#180 ::: Esteban Colberto ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 03:10 PM:

Wikiality and Uncyclopedia both have pretty funny pages up for the site. My favorite editor on Conservapedia is the arcanely named Hiram Whickermeister the Third who wrote, among many things, the Law of Mass Conservation article.

#181 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 04:18 PM:

#178 Thursday, "The Northern Territories are going too be pissed, though."

Fortunately, according to the entry, there aren't many people residing there, so we can ignore their pissedness.

Now, if the Southern Canadian Provinces, like North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Maine, were pissed, that would be a tree octopus of a different color. But only because they're closer and we could actually hear them shout insults from that distance.

#182 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 04:21 PM:

*headdesk* *lots of headdesk* Just this year, I got into a fight with a student over the use of CE/AD. Student wants to go and teach at a Christian Academy, because they don't require that time-consuming teaching license! Can I just say that this kind of thing is why I'd be perfectly happy to see home-schooling banned? I know there are plenty of people out there who do a fine job, but the vast majority are the kind of people who want a Conservatopedia. Letting these people be responsible for anyone's education is just Anti-American. And wrong.

#183 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 04:28 PM:

#181 Esteban

Hiram Whickermeister III might have finally gone too far -- he's being questioned over an edit to the College of Cardinals entry which added "Unlike most colleges, admission to the College of Cardinals is limited to senior Catholic clergymen. The College offers only graduate degrees in theology, philosophy and church history, as all members have already completed an undergraduate education. The working language of the College of Cardinals is [[Latin]]."; see his talk page for the questioning, and Dpbsmith's for his response.

#184 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 05:24 PM:

And here I thought inspiration for the Tree Squids came from Discovery Channel's "Future Earth" and their proposed candidates for the next intelligent species to evolve on earth in several hundred million years: The aboreal squids who live in lush temperate rainforests and use their supersized brains and tool using to fight the mammoth predator squids of the forest floor.

#185 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 05:48 PM:

Medievalist@183: Hey, in Oregon we got public schools partly because the Klan wanted to weaken the Catholic schools.

#186 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 06:21 PM:

Xopher @ #144:
(Conservapedia on the lesser horrors of lesbianism vs. "regular homosexuality"
Because no PENISES are involved?

To be fair, I usually hear 'em called dicks when they're the classically styled mine's-bigger-than-yours variety or dildos when they're pastel-colored and shaped like cute animals.

#187 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:02 PM:
Me - ObSFAuthor: Philip K Dick wrote a book about that. It's "Confessions of a Crap Artist" (1959). Dick found an encyclopedia from the Dark Ages, the shortest ever written at 35 pages, by an Isidore of Seville. According to Dick this gave him "the idea of creating the most idiotic protagonist, ignorant and without common sense . . . a modern day Isidore of Seville, California and have him write [an encyclopedia] for our time like that of Isidore of Seville, Spain." It seems real life just caught up with Dick.

I thought I was the only person to be reminded of Isidore of Seville by Conservopedia.

Late antiquity (4th, 5th and 6th c. AD or CE, whichever you prefer) spawned many of these crappy little epitomes, chronologies, and onomastica or encyclopedias of classical learning.

Biographies of the Emperors in One Sentence Each (if Latin authors punctuated sentences) describes many of these. They're interesting for a classical historian, as they show you what people thought was worth remembering, but as a picture of the state of Latin learning c. 450 or 600 AD or CE, they're damn depressing. They're the nut clusters left behind in the chocolate box of classical authors.

The errors started accumulating, as the authors didn't often understand what they were writing about by the time it reached a second-order epitome. Isidore is often like this.

#188 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:18 PM:

DUHHHHHHH!!!!!

Go read what the Conservapedia says about the Moon. Go now.

Really, right now.

I cannot WAIT until Colbert and/or Stewart sink their fangs into this.

#189 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:27 PM:

Hiram Whickermeister III has been banned (but only for two weeks!). Pharyngula commenter Mrs. Tilton claims credit (for the edits, not the banning) at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/02/im_assuming_many_conservatives.php#comment-351281

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 07:37 PM:

Another Damned Medievalist @ 183

Can I just say that this kind of thing is why I'd be perfectly happy to see home-schooling banned?

How about making them meet the 'No Child Left Behind' standards? That should keep them out of our hair.

#191 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 08:45 PM:

*reads moon article*

*twitch*

o.O

#192 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 08:52 PM:

From the Moon article......That symmetry will not last forever."

Well, no. I knew that.

Pity the poor student in a public school who decides to use this article as the basis for a term paper.

#193 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 09:39 PM:

Noted without comment, but much anticipation for what might result:

No one has written up an article for Mars.

#194 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 10:00 PM:

And less there's any confusion -- the current moon article is in no way vandalized; it ws vandalized once, then locked down due to "too much vandalism on this page". The bulk of it was written by Aschlfaly and the rest by Dpbsmith. I think this is an article Andy Schlfly is particularly proud of.

#195 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2007, 10:02 PM:

Re: the Moon article, Schafly either hasn't read the article he references, hasn't understood it, or is hoping that nobody will bother going to check it out -- it refutes what he wrote about Mercury's rotational period not being influenced by tidal forces. The rotation-revolution relationship is 3:2, not 1:1.

That entry on Homosexuality which I quoted earlier, about "lesbianism is less evil than regular homosexuality", was added by "Whickermeister". I Have Been Trolled. Heh. I'm still amused that the item was deleted not because it's nonsensical tripe but "because, although I agree with it, the logic is somewhat faulty, and the material inappropriate for an encyclopedia."

#196 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:32 AM:

Fragano #174: But these are people who, by any reasonable definition, are very stupid. Stupid enough to be proud of their ignorance. Stupid enough to hold it up for public ridicule. Yet they are not conservative by any definition Mill would have recognised.

They are not skeptical of doctrine as the basis for organising a society; on the contrary, they would force human society into a doctrinal straitjacket. They do not desire caution and rigorous ongoing assessment of the effects of change to decide whether it is, on balance, just or not. On the contrary, they want what they want now, immediately, and the question of justice is moot to them.

Conservatives regard change as inevitable, if they've any brains at all, but plead for management to ameliorate the inevitable unexpected effects of change. This is because conservatives regard human societies as being complex beyond the predictive abilities of our thought. But these people are simpletons.

Conservatives regard the improvement of society as continuous and achieved by constant attention to the tedious detail of everyday justice and goodwill, not, generally, by grand sweeping designs. There is no goal to be reached, no target to meet and rest on, no paradise, workers' or otherwise, to enter. These people think that God is going to step down from His machine and resolve it all.

Conservatism requires a rigorous and principled examination of attitudes to every social institution, just as it does the same examination of change. It requires hard thought. It is not so simple as applying a one-size-fits-all principle. The devil is in the details. Circumstances alter cases. These people think it's simple. The Bible says it's so, and that's all they need.

I say again, they're not conservatives. They're radical fundamentalist totalitarians. They are the antithesis of conservatism. It's about time real conservatives started fighting back.

#197 ::: Thursday ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 01:29 AM:

Re: Isidore of Seville -

Not that bad, when you consider all of Earth's history gets a summation of "Mostly Harmless". (The "Mostly" was added by a later editor.)


#182 Steve Buchheit -

North Dakota, Wisconsin and Maine, eh? Hmm... Are those our only options for Provincehood? I was kinda hoping for Hawaii...

#198 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 03:30 AM:

A.R. Yngve @163: Imagine, for a moment, if religious scripture had begun as a wiki... talk about edit wars!

The editors got factional and each faction froze their preferred version.

#199 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 04:43 AM:

I admit that I feel kinda bad about mocking if most of it is produced by kids who are being subjected to a horrendously bad education. Some of what's being pilloried here is juvenile error: kids regurgitating what they've read or heard without really understanding it. Maybe the exceptionally intelligent people here never made that kind of mistake, but the great majority of learners do before they reach maturity.

Perhaps I'm too bleeding heart here, but I think that children who are homeschooled by fundamentalists are to be pitied more than mocked. For them, a lot might depend on putting authority ahead of truth. It's hard for any child to go against their community, but it must be especially hard if that community is highly authoritarian. And re-inventing critical thought by yourself is a pretty tall order, if you've never been given the tools.

#201 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:36 AM:

Or, for that matter, Guantanamo.

#202 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Antonia in 149: Sellars and Yeatman would be honestly educational compared to some of the things there - after all, I'm not even sure some of them realise Britain was ever Top Nation. This could only be a Good Thing.
Additionally, I'm trying to be good and let them make it funny all on their own, but one does wonder how long it would take them to notice a visit from n. molesworth chiz chiz teeching them fings wot any fule kno.

#203 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Ay me, Nigel Molesworth, the goriller of 3B and his grate frend Peason, who hav a face like a mad baboon. Who better to teach them things that eny fule kno, eh? For surely the fool may arsk questions that the wisest cannot anser (peotry).

#204 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 10:07 AM:

Wouldn't work. That ain't American spelling.

#205 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:47 AM:

It appears that getting user-access to the site is currently difficult.

The process described in the Help section refers to non-existent links.

#206 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:53 AM:

PJ Evans @ 191 -- I think most home-schooled kids, especially the ones from the Christian Right, can fulfill the requirements of NCLB. That's part of the problem. We've a whole section in our public library dedicated to home-school families. The stuff that is there is very much devoted to passing the state exams and not betraying one's faith -- without actually saying that. I think it's cloaked in that 'traditional values' language.

#207 ::: Pete Darby ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:03 PM:

Can I just harrumph here at the assumption that I must be some sort of religious nutter because I home ed?

HARRUMPH.

I'm a secular nutter, thank you...

#208 ::: graham ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:05 PM:

Please don't fuck with the consevapedia - they'll take some hideous revenge by buggering up wikipedia which, like reality, has a clear liberal bias. Let them constrruct their alternative universe in peace - it'll be funnier than anything you could do to satirise it anyway.

#209 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:11 PM:

ADM @ 207

It tends to show up somewhere in their stuff, though. I'm reminded of the people who were suing UC because the school wouldn't take a creationist science class in fulfillment of the high school science requirement. The school told them it would be okay for a religious studies or philosophy course instead. (I haven't heard how it came out.)

Not all home-based and private schooling is bad, but some of it is questionable.

#210 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 12:21 PM:

Dave Luckett #197: Yet they claim to be conservatives, and the claim has some credibility inasmuch as they seek to conserve (or to revive) a socio-economic and political order that (they believe) existed in the past and which permits some change (they're not going to call for the restoration of segregation, or for the reversal of Loving v. Virginia, or at least I think they aren't).

Mill's point was that while many conservatives are not stupid, people who are stupid attach themselves to the conservative movement (and party), with fascinating effects.

#211 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 01:05 PM:

After I did the Random Link thing for a while, I came to several conclusions.

1) It's extremely easy to tell the parody entries from the real ones. The parody entries are complete, in-depth, use correct grammar and spelling, cite sources other than "Exploring Creation..."

2) It's not really fair to mock the entries clearly made by elementary school children. (At least I hope they were in elementary school, not high school.) For the same reason, tempting as it may be, I don't feel comfortable with the idea of doing edits.

3) It is however reasonable to mock the idea of the whole enterprise being based on padding elementary school homework until you get an encyclopedia. The hope that this would work seems to rely on in-depth and powerfully willed ignorance of reality, human nature, the Internet, you name it.

4) The most ridiculous articles in the thing are the non-parody, adult-written articles like the Moon article. Fair game for mockery, say I.

#212 ::: Antonia P. Tigris ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 02:01 PM:

I tried to write them a polite letter, asking how I might get an account.

Well, I think it was polite, but there was maybe a little too much of Hermione leaking through. But I really do want to go and see a play at the Globe Theatre.

I didn't say it was Titus Amdronicus.

#213 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Dave@197: what you describe as "conservative" is moderate politics; it fits US liberals just as well. My problem with moderate politics is that we do not live in moderate times, and, if we are not prepared to become radicals, must end up as reactionaries.

#214 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:20 PM:

#212, Clifton Royston

Sadly, according to the site, the students working away at this are "collage bound". That says to me late highschool, possibly senior year.

And there's really nothing I can add to that to make it any better.

#215 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Joel 196: I love that. ...although I agree with it, the logic is somewhat faulty...

Do you realize what this person is saying about himself? I don't think he does. This is someone who was never taught consistency as a value.

James at 215 (sorry, couldn't resist): "collage bound," eh? That reminds me of a girl in my high school who used to ask, for every paper assignment "Can we make a c'lage?" She was parodied as Kathy Kwemakaklage at one point. One of my English teachers put on his syllabus at the beginning of the term "No, you may NOT make a collage."

I fear these kids really are collage bound...since their ability to think or write clearly is lacking, they'll have little choice. What was that William Gibson said about the stringtowners? "They don't know shit and they hate anyone who does."

#216 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 05:57 PM:

PJ Evans said (#210):
Not all home-based and private schooling is bad, but some of it is questionable.

This New Scientist article claims that home schooling in the US is now largely dominated by evangelical Christians:

Ironically, home-schooling began in the 1960s as a counter-culture movement among political liberals. The idea was taken up in the 1970s by evangelical Christians, and today anywhere from 1.9 to 2.4 million children are home-schooled, up from just 300,000 in 1990 (see Graph). According to the US government's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 72 per cent of home-schooling parents interviewed said that they were motivated by the desire to provide religious and moral instruction.

The article says that the spread of home schooling has been facilitated by legal battles and political lobbying waged by an evangelical group which forced the removal of certification requirements (i.e., parents needing to demonstrate they had the requisite education). This same group founded Patrick Henry College in Virginia specifically for home-schooled students. ("By 2004, PHC students held seven out of 100 internships in the White House, a number even more striking when one considers that only 240 students were enrolled in the entire college. Last year, two PHC graduates worked in the White House, six worked for members of Congress and eight for federal agencies, including two for the FBI.")

It also notes that some groups are promoting home schooling with the explicit aim of undermining the public school system:

Exodus Mandate is urging each home-schooling family to bring one new family into the movement. If they succeed, several million families could take to home-schooling over the next several years, Moore says. "If we could get up to 30 per cent of public-school students into home-schooling and private schools, the system would start to unravel and at some point implode and collapse," he says. "The government would be forced to get the states out of the education business altogether. It would go back to the churches and the families. It's a strategy for the renewal of society."

#217 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:13 PM:

"It's a strategy for the renewal of society."

Ah, yes. A return to the good old days, back when women and negras and papists and mohammadeans knew their place. When the sun revolved around earth, and pi == 3.

#218 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:15 PM:

Randolph Fritz #214. Have a closer look at your last sentence, Randolph, and tell me that you really aren't saying that the end justifies the means and that he who isn't with us is against us. Just to settle my mind.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:28 PM:

It would go back to the churches and the families.

I seem to recall from my history classes that government got involved with education pretty early on, at least to the extent of encouraging it. (I won't swear that this is correct, but, during the 19th century, almost the first thing built in every town was a school, even if they had to have raffles and bake sales to fund it.)

#220 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 06:54 PM:

Dave@219. Oh, dear. No, I haven't become a Stalinist. It's just...I'm old enough to just remember conservatives like Barry Goldwater and the previous generation of libertarians. And I didn't agree with them (reading them as an adult), but they weren't completely insane. Go forward 20 years, and here's the old guard, first supporting and then reviling Reagan. Another 20 years and their heirs are supporting--W. Bush? Another five years and here we are up to our eyebrows in the mud of the Fertile Crescent. What happened? I think they couldn't hold on to the past, so they ended up trying to recreate it by increasingly violent means; they became radical reactionaries.

The world is changing too fast, now. Global climate change, ecological destruction, new global spheres of influence, global information technology, the transformation of production (again!), and so on. It's not that whoever is not with us is against us--time and change will tear people willing to change from those unwilling. I do not believe we are going to be able to be moderates and live in the real world--we can either embrace change, or end up like those old-line conservatives I remember.

#221 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Peter quoted something I'd been thinking about:

Exodus Mandate is urging each home-schooling family to bring one new family into the movement. If they succeed, several million families could take to home-schooling over the next several years, Moore says. "If we could get up to 30 per cent of public-school students into home-schooling and private schools, the system would start to unravel and at some point implode and collapse," he says. "The government would be forced to get the states out of the education business altogether. It would go back to the churches and the families. It's a strategy for the renewal of society."

It occurs to me that, for this and other good reasons (like discouraging schools pushing kids to attend while sick), we should be pushing our respective state governments (us here in these United States, that is) to abolish funding by pupil/day calculations. Instead, we should fund by number of students in the district. I know this is difficult for various reasons, but still.

#222 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:44 PM:

Good heavens, Randolph, I'm old enough to remember Tail-gunner Joe and the reds under the beds. When it was seriously asked of Kennedy whether his religion should bar him from the Presidency. When segregation was alive and well in the United States, and, effectively, here. When 'procuring an abortion' was a criminal offence, bar none, and 'sodomy' was another. When there was a proscribed publications list that 'Outraged' of Moony Ponds could add to by petition, no questions asked. When a serious, heavyweight Hollywood movie could ask the unthinkable question: what should a white father do if his daughter wanted to marry a black man? When women worked for two-thirds the male wage for the same job, and were forced to resign if they married. When only a quarter of the population finished High School, and tertiary education was the preserve of a tiny elite. When divorce was horribly difficult, no matter what, and domestic violence all but invisible and unprosecuted.

Of course there are loons who don't like any of the changes. There are always loons. The point is, it has happened anyway, and will go on happening, so long as we all keep our heads, and keep managing with goodwill and persuasion as our weapons. The instant we try anything else - anything radical - we are fighting off our turf, and on theirs. It's not that they're better at kicking heads than we could be. It's that by choosing to kick their heads, we become them.

#223 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 08:45 PM:

Dave Luckett@120: Since there are other, just as valid, definitions for "revolution" and "revolutionary" that do not involve violence or force, but rather momentous change, I stick by my original assertion that Gandhi, King, and Jesus were revolutionaries. What would you call them, or any other members of movements whose goals are to bring about great change by methods not centered on force or violence?

#224 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 09:50 PM:

Dave@223. Did I say anything about violence? Anywhere? I've written opposing it often enough. I believe we are going to have to make large social changes very quickly in this century--that is, radical changes--, in response to environmental and social changes already on-going. I don't advocate violence; in fact one reason I have been talking about these things before anyone wanted to hear is that the sooner we start work, the less likely events are to spiral into violence.

#225 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 10:35 PM:

Aconite, I recanted the term 'revolutionary', and offered a more precise description of what I meant. This was, alas, prolix, and much more aptly put by Xopher - "extremist totalitarian". By 'revolutionary' I meant, specifically, those who would pursue revolution by forcible means, and who would not brook opposition in bringing it about. I realise that you have a different, and wider, understanding of the term, but now that I have offered a definition of what I meant by it, would it be acceptable to drop the question?

#226 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:15 PM:

Randolph, the devil's in the details. What changes do you propose, precisely? How do you know they won't lead to violence in and of themselves?

Here is the divergence between us. I wish to manage change to ameliorate its equally inevitable bad effects. Management requires feedback, measurement and observation. That's why I want to keep the pace down - so that this can be done. Anyway, I distrust planning on this scale of complexity. It's like trying to predict the weather accurately a week in advance.

Yes, I can cope with change, but I don't want to force it on anyone. That's hubris there. Let the people decide for themselves how they wish their society to develop, and let the managers cope with the changes the people want as they themselves make them. Let the job of the managers be to ameliorate, to improve efficiency, to help the disadvantaged, to watch for injustice, to remove bars to opportunity, to work for consensus. Forget this planning to introduce change. That requires seeing into the future. We have enough trouble dealing with the here and now.

#227 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2007, 11:32 PM:

Dave, think about New Orleans and Katrina. A bit of preparation, oh, just might have been a good idea. Especially considering that the city's engineers had known of the risk for decades. And Katrina was only the beginning; we're only starting to feel the effects of climate change. As for something radical we might try: a crash project to get the USA off fossil fuels would be a pretty good start. (I proposed that not long after 9/11; I later found that Al Gore got there first, in Earth in the Balance.) Now, we can handle these things democratically--at least provided our governments are actually working democracies--but we are going to have to do them. The real nightmare, of course, is when democratic processes break down. This failure could occur in one of two ways: nationally with denial, as with the USA and climate change, or internationally, with governments failing to agree. What do we do if, say, China or India insists on developing a fossil-fuel based economy? What does the rest of the world do if we in the USA insists on keeping ours? Of such stuff are wars made.

(Looking back over this, I think it's kind of lame, but I'm feeling ill & have to sign off for tonight, so I'll post it. To be continued...)

#228 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 09:25 AM:

I think planning to protect a low-lying coastal city from the predictable efects of a type of storm the area was know to be at risk for is within the sort of planning Dave Luckett talks about. It's like making sure the building codes in earthquake-prone areas are written so as to alleviate the potential damage--planning to cope with a predictable risk.

Introducing change just to change things is something else. There's "Let's make sure all our schoolchildren can go to university" vs "Let's make sure all our schoolchildren go to university". One makes it possible for those with the ability, inclination, and desire to have the opportunity; the other assumes that because it is desirable for some (those with the ability, inclination and desire) to pursue a higher academic education, all young people should do so, as opposed to obtaining technical training, learning a traditional skilled trade, or what have you, so as to ensure their future gainful employment and prosperity.
All schoolchildren need training that will enable them to become self-supporting adults; good planning takes into consideration the different abilities, ambitions, and desires of the students involved, while (in this example, anyway) bad planning takes a good, and assumes that it must be the best good for everyone.

#229 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 04:11 PM:

"I think planning to protect a low-lying coastal city from the predictable efects of a type of storm the area was know to be at risk for is within the sort of planning Dave Luckett talks about."

Then why did no conservatives put it into practice? It's in one of the most conservative states. Apparently it would have been too much change to the existing social order to undertake--what was conserved, in the final analysis, was racism and class division. So the local, state, and federal governments had choices: to protect the citizens, undertaking radical change, or to protect the social and economic order of the city (and the conservative tax cuts). And that's how conservativism turns into authoritarianism.

#230 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 05:22 PM:

Randolph, I believe that local conservatives were concerned about the maintenance and repair of the flood protection systems, including the levees. In that part of the world, it's not a conservative vs liberal issue. It's one of the things they all agree has to be done--even when they don't agree about what the best fix or new plan happens to be.
The fact that the money for a lot of this work was diverted to the Great War on Terror by the Bush administration isn't something that the people in the area could do something about, and I believe we have all agreed here by now that Bush and normal conservatives aren't on the same page. A lot of normal conservatives are, in fact, feeling pretty bruised by the results of having supported Bush, and Katrina/Rita are among the reasons why they aren't happy.

The issue of flood controls and storm protection in the lower Mississippi valley is a pretty complicated one, and it's not a place where ordinary categories like liberal and conservative are a good guide to which positions people will take. There is concern with protecting property, lives, and the ecosystem at play*, as well as a great deal of in-fighting among people like the Army Corps of Engineers, state and local flood-controls and levee boards, and contractors who hope to make money off of the work.
The conservatives down there were all for some planning, as well as some action. The fact that they wanted it doesn't mean that it happened.
The additional fact that they got screwed over by someone they saw as one of their own is going to be a sore point for a long time to come.


*and concern that protecting one puts another in danger--look at some of the links Teresa has put up on this topic in the past, as it's one of great interest to her.

#231 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 05:51 PM:

Dave Luckett@226: My question was genuine; I did in fact wish to know what term you would use. I retract it, however, since you do not care to have a conversation.

#232 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 07:32 PM:

Andy Schlafly has added a note to the tree squid page; he's under the impression it's a parody of environmentalism and it's all the liberals who aren't getting the joke.

#233 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 08:23 PM:

Aconite, rather I do not care to say something that might annoy you, and it would seem that I have trouble in predicting what would.

#234 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2007, 09:13 PM:

Randolph, perhaps we are the prisoners of words here. I would not consider planning for natural events to be radical, nor would I so consider the adequate provision of flood controls to protect a city, nor the appointment of competent managers to oversee properly resourced, prudent and timely measures to cope with a storm and a flood. There's nothing in any of that to upset a conservative. There's nothing radical about it.

Radical change, to my mind, means something like "complete transformation from the roots". What would be a radical change related to the New Orleans disaster? I haven't the engineering knowledge to answer. Build a levee system that can't be breached? (No matter how much it costs? Getting the money how? Managing the work by what methods, and by whom? What happens if the city spreads further? Do we extend and fortify the levees? Forbid more building? Wouldn't that hand a permanent profit to anyone who already owns real estate?) Permanently evacuate and demolish every area of the city that could be flooded if a class three or above hits? (Paying what in compensation, assessed how? Housing the displaced where? How? Expecting who to pay what, if anything? Dealing with squatters how? Policing it by what means? Doing what to curb speculation and profiteering? What about heritage and cultural issues? Where are we going to house the people who are going to administer all of this?)

The trouble with radical action is that its unintended and unexpected effects have to be settled on the fly, and the more the change, the more such effects, and the more unexpected they'll be. There is a real probability that the attempted solutions, especially if ad-hoc, will be counterproductive or actually catastrophic, and this probability is directly proportional to the size of the change. That doesn't mean "do nothing". It means, "give your attention to the tedious day-to-day management of the details, expect to advance by slow improvement, and forget the grand design."

But that, to me, is conservatism.

#235 ::: Liz ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 03:49 AM:

Andrew Schlafly on the Arboreal Octopus Page Talk Page:

http://www.conservapedia.com/Talk:Pacific_Northwest_Arboreal_Octopus

I took a screen shot.

Here is what he wrote:

I had no role in this prank. But I am amused by it. Apparently this entry is a conservative parody of environmentalists. However, liberal blogs intent on mocking this website failed to get the joke. They fell for it hook, line and sinker. Now, I don't like to fool anyone, and I wasn't behind this. But I can't deny being amused by thousands of liberal bloggers trying to ridicule Conservapedia based on a joke about themselves.

Their mockery rose to such levels that a Wired News reporter called me this afternoon to interview me about Conservapedia, and specifically about this entry. Really, this is too funny even to describe further.

When the Soviet Union fell and was auctioning off many things, I think Christopher Buckley circulated a (phony) news story about auctioning off the body of Lenin. One or all of the major news networks fell for the joke. Now perhaps that shouldn't be funny and there were angry words afterwards. But sometimes we all need to lighten up a bit.--Aschlafly 18:56, 27 February 2007 (EST)

I suppose I am a "liberal blogger" by ASchlafly's lights.

I observe that:

ASchlafly cannot, or will not, use a search engine to discover the real origins of the page (to teach media literacy to 6-12th graders).

ASchlafly cannot understand the disconnect between Conservapedia's stated mission with the continued, uncommented presence of the arboreal octopus page. OK, it is funny, leave it up and leave a clue as to the joke!

Peter Erwin: I am not sure that there is data to back up the New Scientist claim. I live in California and am an amateur school-data-collection geek. Comparing two crude instruments (estimates of school-aged children vs. public + private headcounts) -- the "school exodus is small.

What I will say is that the Exodus Movement folks are public relations geniuses.

And as far as Patrick Henry College and its ability to take over the world goes --it seems to have imploded in May of 2006

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/mayweb-only/120-12.0.html

A contentious debate at Patrick Henry College that began over theological differences, the interpretation of Scripture, and academic freedom has prompted 5 of the school's 16 full-time faculty members to announce they will not be returning to the conservative, Christian college next year. The announcements bring the total number of departing professors to nine in the past year, not including two adjuncts, as well as four senior executives who left in the past 18 months, departing professors say.v

As to the banning homeschooling.
While I am sympathetic to the *headdesk* response (let me tell about the k-5 teacher who was worried about the incoming Hindu student because "they worship the devil, don't they, Hindus?")

The right to homeschool in the US should be preserved on several counts:

1. Most importantly:

So some some homeschoolers are being taught worldviews and doctrines you (and I) don't agree with. In our country, they have the freedom to do so. Imagine the shoe on the other foot: would you not like to preserve the freedom to teach your children the doctrines in which you believe?

2. Saying "homeschooling" is like saying "vehicle". Are you talking about a coupe or a sedan? An SUV or a Prius? A 4 wheel drive or front wheel? A light truck or a commercial truck?

You want to ban them all because why? There is a problem with one?

I'm out here in Silicon Valley. I admit I do not have hard data, but my sense is that most of the homeschool families in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties are secular, come from families who cannot afford both a SV mortgage and private school tuition, and are homeschooling kids who just don't fit into the test, test, study for the test, test some more pressure cooker of contemporary schooling.

Most of the local highschool age homeschoolers I know (other than those with Down Syndrome or other intellectual deficits) are taking community college courses and/or distance learning courses.

Arggk. This response has gone on long enough.

#236 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 07:24 AM:

Liz, there are actually quite a few christian homeschoolers in the Bay Area; I knew one in my time, and my girlfriend knew one, too. There are a lot of conservative christians there; just not as many as in the the predominantly rural states.

#237 ::: Melissa ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 10:09 AM:

Hello,

Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on CBSNews.com today. Thanks!

If you want to take a look, here's the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/27/blogophile/main2519884.shtml

Thanks,

Melissa

#238 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 08:22 PM:

The original Conservapedia Rand entry (Null A and all) was written by "Burke," who made a number of interesting contributions before being Expelled from the Garden. Here's a nice revision he did on Ash Fly's entry on Thomas Hobbes.

#239 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 08:33 PM:

Ah. Here is the complete Conservapedia List of blocked IP addresses and usernames, through which, by clicking on the "contribs" links, you can see what changes the Vandal Hordes made.

#240 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 08:50 PM:

Re: arboreal octopus -- another member of hte phylum imaginata which is famously mentioned in (in this case) a medical dictionary is the Steinlaus (petrophaga lorioti).

Liz @236: would you not like to preserve the freedom to teach your children the doctrines in which you believe?

Unless the kids spend the school year in a boarding school and their holidays in summer camp, their parents or parent-substitutes will teach them their values or doctrines. Home-schooling is the alternative which makes sure that they are not taught anyone else's.

Homeschooling might save children with highly educated parents who have a lot of time on their hands (or children who have a real knack for book learning) from interminable boredom, though. (I'd have loved it, even with the the screaming-and-throwing-things part. And I wouldn't really miss being able to speak English or write stories if I never learned it.)

#241 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 08:55 PM:

Melissa @ 238 - What's your stance on the egregious dearth of hamster stories in the US press?

#242 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2007, 11:51 PM:

Homeschooling might save children with highly educated parents who have a lot of time on their hands (or children who have a real knack for book learning) from interminable boredom, though.

It does. Nobody is tapping her or her pencil waiting for the kid who's slowest at the current subject to hurry up and finish because if two children are learning out of the same textbook, the fast one can go on to the next subject right away. Nobody has to pretend to learn stuff they already know by heart just because it's in the lesson plan. And nobody has to beat his or her head against a wall because he or she learns best by X but the class is set up for learning by Y; if it isn't working, the teaching parent can change curricula in midstream with a minimum of fuss (and often a minimum of cost; a lot of homeschooling material is available online for free). The weakness here is that a lazy parent can avoid the subjects he or she doesn't want to get into, doesn't know well, or can't figure out how to teach.

As for time on one's hands, the average homeschooling schedule assumes that schoolwork will start after breakfast and be over by lunch, or cover an equivalent period in the afternoon. Interestingly, kids who learn at home on this type of schedule are on the same academic level as their peers in public school. (Of course, this assumes a broadly similar curriculum. Some homeschooling curricula are terribly restrictive and others are deeper and wider than public school. Teaching parents are limited only by their ideology and the requirements of state law.)

(I'd have loved it, even with the the screaming-and-throwing-things part. And I wouldn't really miss being able to speak English or write stories if I never learned it.)

I'm confused here. Are you saying that you would have enjoyed homeschooling even though it would have made you frustrated and angry? And why wouldn't you know how to speak English or write stories?

#243 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:46 AM:

Jenny Islander @243:

On dealing with differing levels of academic aptitude:
Germany has solved that by sorting kids into different schools at age ten (selection begins in 3rd grade, the kids have two years to prove their aptitude), and having everyone who can't keep up repeat the class or get sent to a lower school. Teaching all the kids together is widely considered unfair to the clever and well-socialized kids.

Of couse, with the PISA test results some years ago, the issue was up for debate again, but as usual nothing but hot air came out of it.

I'm confused here. Are you saying that you would have enjoyed homeschooling even though it would have made you frustrated and angry?

I wouldn't have enjoyed it, but I didn't enjoy school, either. What I hated most about school was having to rise at a quarter to six, gym class, and having to attempt to speak a foreign language in front of the class. OTOH, I have inherited my mother's temper and her tendency to go obsessive over details. When she supervised my homework it took six hours to finish, with two shouting matches in between.

Hard choices...

And why wouldn't you know how to speak English or write stories?

My mother and my stepfather both learned English from books. Neither of them can speak or understand a single sentence (but they used to beat me at grammar in their sleep). And had I never been bored out of my mind, I'd never have taken up writing.

So, two sides (at least) to everything. The best thing about school is that it's over.

#244 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 05:23 AM:

inge - that sounds great. For some reason selection like that is a huge, huge hot-button issue here in the UK; it's considered unfair to the slower children to put them in a slower class. The upshot is that smart kids learn to fake being less smart, and they learn it so well that it takes them years to unlearn it. (Of course, sports teams are selected by ability. Obviously. Sports are important.)

#245 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 08:39 AM:

Interestingly, kids who learn at home on this type of schedule are on the same academic level as their peers in public school.

Yeah, funny how that works--one might almost think that school's got two purposes, you know? Or even that the learning part is secondary to the "keep kids in one spot where they can't do any harm and teach them to do things they don't like for the sake of society" part.

I did not like school. I was one of those smart* kids who underperformed due to being bored out of my mind. College was only marginally better.

* I do wonder what happened to that brain, though--I don't feel as smart anymore, which kind of ticks me off.

#246 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 11:39 AM:

fidelio@231 "I believe that local conservatives were concerned about the maintenance and repair of the flood protection systems, including the levees"

Not, apparently, concerned enough to get the state and local governments which they controlled to act on it for decades. The war on terror is not an excuse--the problem existed long before. I'm sorry, no, I don't buy it. There may have been conflict among the people didn't actually have the power, but when it came down to the conservatives who had the power--they didn't use it. So the question becomes, "why not?"

-->

#247 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:04 PM:

Dave@235: "Randolph, perhaps we are the prisoners of words here. I would not consider planning for natural events to be radical, [..]"

Ah, but overturning the racial and class order, to do it--that was radical. I have a lot of sympathy with your faction of conservatism. The problem is, the leaders of your faction have got into bed with with the "preserve the existing social order at all costs" sorts of conservative, which in turn are symbiotic with the "keep us wealthy and powerful" conservatives.

You ask what the radical change that would have been needed in New Orleans. The answer is, to take care of the poor and the black as much as the rich and middle-class whites. The whole thing's a pretty classic problem of social order in US cities; the neighborhoods of the poor and powerless get fewer city services than those of the middle-class or rich. But one of those services was flood control, and in the end it affected the whole city. The problem has continued into reconstruction. Much of the city's underclass is probably not going to return because their homes are getting much less attention. The good citizens rejoice. Funny thing, though--the underclass were a big part of the culture of the city, and it's going to be a much lesser city without them.

"The trouble with radical action is that its unintended and unexpected effects have to be settled on the fly, and the more the change, the more such effects, and the more unexpected they'll be."

Sure. Now tell me how we could avoid this in the case of Katrina? One can't plan a measured response in the middle of a storm! People fell back onto unconsidered habit, instead--that became the plan. And the habits turned out to contain a big portion of keeping the poor and black down. In this instance and many others, realistic planning is blocked by a different sort of conservatism, the sort that conserves even the most unjust of social relations and most foolish of habits.

If we manage to conserve freedom and democracy in the coming century, it will be because we are able to respond realistically to radical change in our world, without clinging desperately to past practices.

#248 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:20 PM:

Randolph Fritz:

Ah, the 'We've Always Done It This Way' conservatives. They really hate change, don't they? (Other description, from my mother: the farmer who says 'My granddaddy burned his stubble, and my daddy burned his stubble, and if was good enough for them, then it's good enough for me', after the ag agent tells them that burning the stubble doesn't kill the bad insects or do anything else useful, and the EPA guy (and probably the ag agent too) has told them they'll need permits to burn and have to watch the wind direction also.)

#249 ::: Michael Bloom ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 12:53 PM:

#247: I doubt it was within the state's power to get the money allocated, no matter how badly the "conservatives" there wanted it. As you know, it was part of the Army Corps of Engineers' budget, which is (a) a federal agency (b) a political football. The money appropriated for levee maintenance and strengthening was roughly one third of what the experts asked for.

Also, seems to me there was some indication that even the work that was done wasn't done right-- something about how parts of the levee system that were supposed to have foundations in concrete turned out to just be sitting in silt, and nobody would have known the difference if they hadn't fallen over in the deluge. Where in the taxonomy of conservatives do we situate the contractors that cheat the public weal out of services they've contracted for and paid for?

#250 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 01:22 PM:

On the home-schooling issue: how many families can afford to have one parent stay home and teach the kid(s)?

I'm under the impression that it's hard to get along on less than two salaries now (and I have friends who are home-schooling, and struggling on one person's income.)

#251 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2007, 03:46 PM:

ajay @254: inge - that sounds great. For some reason selection like that is a huge, huge hot-button issue here in the UK;

I can imagine two reasons:
1: Segregation failed the PISA test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment)
2: It has been debated how well society is served by tagging 10 yo kids with the social status and job opportunities of a high school dropout.

OTOH, I'd have expected the UK to have less issues with class segregation than Germany.

For a kid who made it to the highest-rank school and is not in danger of failing, life becomes a lot more comfortable, though. I made the four-year elementary school in three just to avoid a new law which would have kept the kids in one class until age twelve...

#252 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 01:13 AM:

Henry, #91: How does "truthiness" differ from "versimilitude"? When I learned the word "versimilitude", it had the connotation of seeming but not being.

That's one of the dictionary definitions. Another, and the one with which I'm more familiar, makes it more or less a synonym for "believability" or "plausibility". Something that could be believed because it has "the ring of truth". In this sense, it's often complimentary, referring to a well-done imitation.

"Truthiness", OTOH, corresponds directly to the recent Russian usage of "pravda" -- that which you are required to believe because it's the Official Government Line.

#253 ::: Individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 03:23 AM:

Ajay and others, I'm generally in favour of selection in schools. But I think you're over-simplifying the issue when you sarcastically complain that "it's considered unfair to the slower children to put them in a slower class". Historically, the "slower" class was often a separate school altogether, and through most of the 20th century in the UK those separate schools were badly under-resourced compared to the academically competitive schools. That's genuinely unfair, and I would say at least as big a problem as the fact that bright kids are bored and socially excluded in non-selective schools.

My preferred solution would have been to divert funding towards the less academically able pupils, rather than prohibiting any academic selection whatsoever. But there is a good reason why selection is a "huge hot-button issue" in the UK. What actually happened under selection as it was practised was that 10 and 11 year olds were systematically excluded from most of society in a manner that was at least as much based on class as intelligence. If you're going to advocate selection, you need to do so in a way that is aware of that historical reality.

#254 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 05:05 AM:

Individ-ewe-al: true, all true. My take on it was a bit simplistic. But it's worth pointing out that the non-selective basis isn't working very well either - Britain is well up the functional illiteracy league table, for example.

#255 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 05:39 AM:

Carrie S. @ #246:

More charitably, one might acknowledge the possibility that for a given amount of stuff, it just takes longer to teach that stuff to a class of twenty than it does to teach it to a class of two.

#256 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 08:40 AM:

More charitably, one might acknowledge the possibility that for a given amount of stuff, it just takes longer to teach that stuff to a class of twenty than it does to teach it to a class of two.

Is there a reason both things can't be true?

Seriously, if school were strictly about learning, kids who could demonstrate they understood, say, fractions would be encouraged to do something else, so as to allow the teacher to focus more attention on the ones who didn't get it yet.

#257 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 09:43 AM:

Seriously, if school were strictly about learning, kids who could demonstrate they understood, say, fractions would be encouraged to do something else, so as to allow the teacher to focus more attention on the ones who didn't get it yet.

I had a second grade teacher who did just that. She acquired some third-through-fifth grade books for math, spelling, science, and reading, and assigned me (and, later, two other students) work out of those while she taught the rest of the class. Social studies, art, and handwriting we all did together.

She told me and my parents up front that she wouldn't be able to offer me help with the special work, since it wouldn't be fair to take her attention away from the rest of the class for just one student, but frankly, I was so relieved not to be bored all day that I didn't care.

I can see how self-directed learning might not work for everyone, but it was a great benefit to me. Well, until the following year, when I was once again stuck working at a lower level.

Actually, when I got to seventh grade, it was at a school that didn't offer any math higher than pre-algebra*, which I'd taken the year before in a different school system. After proving to the teacher that my transcript was in fact accurate by flying through all the chapter tests in the pre-algebra book, she borrowed an algebra I text from the high school and let me work out of that. So there really are individual teachers out there who see the benefit, even if the school systems themselves don't generally.


* The school was K-7, so I couldn't be put into a math class intended for a higher grade.

#258 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 02:21 PM:

On the home-schooling issue: how many families can afford to have one parent stay home and teach the kid(s)? I'm under the impression that it's hard to get along on less than two salaries now (and I have friends who are home-schooling, and struggling on one person's income.)

It depends on how you define your standard of living. Many American families define "getting along" as two cars, a vacation away every year, ordering out at least as often as they eat in, and a bagful of electronic gadgets for every child. If the wife can earn enough to cover the cost of child care and work clothes plus extra, she can go back to work within months of giving birth. This, plus being willing to carry several thousand dollars in credit card debt, can help a family "get along."

But a couple that decides not to go that way can still be quite comfortable. We have one car and we will replace it with one car. We vacation at home. I cook a lot (God bless crockpots!). We only have an MP3 player and a digital camera because my husband won them in contests at work; cell phones are not in the budget. This computer is called Frankenbox because it's built from parts of two computers that were dragged FROM THEIR GRAAAAAVES. Our children's clothes are all used or bought on clearance and Baby's First Laptop is a cloth book. We never carry more than a few hundred dollars in credit card debt from month to month. Everything we own is shabby. But we chose to live this way. (I also work about 5 hours per week at various little part-time jobs that let me take the kids along or go in when my husband is home. We would both feel embarrassed if I had to ask him for an allowance so I could buy underwear.)

Further down the economic scale are families who are caught in a bind. If they live on one income, they really do struggle. But if the wife goes back to work, she might bring home a measly $1.50 per hour after child care is paid for. Or she has to work the opposite shift from her husband, leaving him to take care of the kids after a full day of work. The lucky ones find something they can do at home or luck into jobs that have on-site child care. Everybody else has to make a lot of sacrifices.

#259 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 02:48 PM:

Many American families define "getting along" as two cars, a vacation away every year, ordering out at least as often as they eat in, and a bagful of electronic gadgets for every child.

That's more than 'getting along'. That's doing very well indeed. Some people who do that well: lawyers, middle management at financial companies of whatever kind, some government employees. The rest of us: not that well. I have trouble not laughing hysterically when they start talking about their lives: the $40,000 cars (leased, frequently), the $25,000 kitchen remodels ('any house more than 10 years old with no remodels isn't worth looking at' was one sentiment, wording not exact), the home entertainment centers with the wide-screen TVs, and (sometimes) the houses in gated developments.

#260 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2007, 10:55 PM:

I think I'm about to open a real can of worms, but I also think I need to ask this question regarding 259: Why isn't the partner staying home to do the work of child-raising entitled to underwear-money as part of shared family resources? Why must the funds for necessary personal things be separately earned?

And why is it somehow more awful if the husband has to watch children after a full day of work than the same for the wife? Why is it assumed that the wife's working is optional when there are children, but the husband's working is not similarly optional? It's one thing to make those choices; it's another to make those assumptions. I'm disturbed when people take it for granted that a woman's place is with the children, and men aren't held to the same standards.

#261 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Aconite, #261:

Why isn't the partner staying home to do the work of child-raising entitled to underwear-money as part of shared family resources? Why must the funds for necessary personal things be separately earned?

These are separate questions, and the answers are related but also separate. First off, the whole "getting an allowance" thing is heavily freighted with implications of dependence and helplessness; an allowance is something parents give to children. This part of it could perhaps be reframed by giving the caretaker parent a debit card and an agreement on how much household running money can be spent on it each week -- that would feel less like hubby doling out the money to the little woman, at least to me.

The second question starts getting into areas of what each partner considers "frivolous personal expenses" -- and that can be a very deep quagmire indeed when finances are tight. My ex-husband and I had different styles of handling money, and knew it; we dealt with this by having a yours-mine-and-ours system, whereby we each contributed a certain amount per paycheck to a joint account, out of which household bills were paid. What was left over in our personal accounts was ours to spend as we chose; this prevented a LOT of fights. IMO it's very important for each partner in a relationship to have some money which is entirely his or her own. And, realistically, if someone gets run over by a truck, at least that doesn't leave the survivor completely destitute.

And why is it somehow more awful if the husband has to watch children after a full day of work than the same for the wife? Why is it assumed that the wife's working is optional when there are children, but the husband's working is not similarly optional? It's one thing to make those choices; it's another to make those assumptions. I'm disturbed when people take it for granted that a woman's place is with the children, and men aren't held to the same standards.

Whoa -- I think you're reading some things into the original comment that weren't there. First off, no one said it was any worse for a man to look after the children after a full day's work than for a woman; single mothers do this all the time, and there's no reason for it not to be acknowledged that it's difficult. But what that does take a toll on is the marriage. I've known couples who worked different shifts and were lucky to get a couple of hours a night in the same bed. None of them were happy about it, and several of them ended up divorced. Financial stress is damnably hard on any relationship, and when you add never getting any partner time, that just makes it worse.

Secondly, it's still a reality in America (at least) that, especially in the lower economic classes -- the ones where this kind of pinch is the most likely to happen -- there is often simply no job the woman can get which can support the entire family, while the same is not true for the man. So yes, in a very real sense her working is optional while his is not. When things are bad enough, he can't get a job that will support the family either, and neither parent's work is optional. Mind you, I'm not talking about things like 2 cars and eating out and electronic toys here -- I'm talking about basic, subsistence-level food, shelter, clothing, and health care. More and more American families are caught in this bind every year.

So I don't think you can argue that the original commenter was making sexist assumptions; she was, sadly, facing the disturbing reality of living in a society in which sexism is still institutionally enshrined.

#262 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Lee@262: Thanks for the thoughtful response.

I agree that it's vitally important for each partner to have some money that is entirely their own. There's a certain amount of independence that's necessary for functional adults that you simply don't get when one is dependent on the other for every purchase. When we're talking about personal necessities...I live in one of those economically-depressed areas where jobs are hard to come by, and where a lot of women stay home to raise the kids, and it really bothers me that in many of those households, hubby's socks are joint-account purchases, but hers are something she has to do odd jobs to earn personal money for. The implications in that about status and what work is valued and why and who has rights to what upsets me greatly.

The sentence that implied to me that it was somehow worse for men to look after the kids after a day of work than women was this one: Or she has to work the opposite shift from her husband, leaving him to take care of the kids after a full day of work. Note that she would be doing the same thing, but that isn't mentioned. The implications there, to me, are that she is failing in her duty to keep him from being bothered with childcare. It's entirely possible that this is not what the OP meant; I hear it so much from women who do see it that way that maybe I tend to hear it where it's not meant. But the phrasing of that sentence implied otherwise to me.

I am fully aware of the economic realities of the lower classes, being there myself. I am also painfully aware that when a woman plans her future around not working for ten or twenty years while she raises the kids or does some other undervalued, non-paying work, and so doesn't have some sort of career plan or a current resume, she is quite horribly vulnerable to any number of things that she is not as vulnerable to if she has a way to support--fully or at least partially--herself and her dependents, if any. Every family makes their own choices. I just don't like to see choices come about on the basis of unexamined assumptions about what's normal, right, or good.

It's true that two parents' working puts a hell of a lot of stress on a relationship. It's true that, after childcare, you may not be bringing home much per hour for working, and maybe for some families the reduction in stress of having only one parent working works very well. This doesn't take into account how vulnerable having no resume, recent work experience, or opportunity to advance to a higher-paying position leaves the non-paycheck-earning partner, though. Spousal abuse rates are high in areas where a lot of women can't leave because they can't support themselves or their kids, for example. The place I'm living now has one of the highest rates in the country. It's so bad that there are public-service billboards explaining it's not okay for him to hit you, because violence is so prevalent that in many families it's just accepted as the norm. So that's where my response is coming from.

I'm in complete agreement with the voluntary simplicity movement; I've been living that way for years. I just think that certain tenets of it need close examination. There are benefits beyond the monetary for a person to work, and philosophies that don't take that into account reduce people to balance sheets.

#263 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: March 03, 2007, 01:42 PM:

When I referred to the strain of a man having to take care of the kids after a full day of work, I was thinking about what I would end up doing if my husband and I were in that situation.

Naturally, I wouldn't be able to find a night job that paid nearly as well, or demanded quite as much, as my secretarial jobs did before I became a full-time homemaker. I would end up as a concierge at the hotel just down the hill or working at the bingo hall. Judging from other families I know where one person does shift work, my husband would come home in the afternoon and take care of the kids, but I would come home in the wee hours and go straight to sleep. The mutual guilt and resentment would be hard to avoid no matter how much charity we tried to have towards each other. We've agreed that if, God forbid, something happens to my husband's job and I have to work full time, we'll arrange it so that one of us is home with the kids if at all possible, both because day care costs so much and because we decided that we should raise our own kids if circumstances allowed. We know that if we ever have to do this, it will be a hell of a strain.

#264 ::: staticbrain.com ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2007, 01:31 PM:

"Lunaticfringeapedia.".

They claim that wikipedia is biased, in their entry "Examples of Bias in Wikipedia."

However, all the bias I see is coming straight from Conservapedia.

Here is an example of bias taken from their own site:

"Conservapedia is an online resource and meeting place where we favor Christianity and America."

This obviously shows bias with statements like "we favor Christianity and America." If you favor swomething you admit that you have a preconcieved bias towards it.

Another huge example of the lunatic fringe bias:

"You will much prefer using Conservapedia compared to Wikipedia if you want concise answers free of 'political correctness'."

Concise answers free of political correctness? So they admit they are free of correctness?

The lunatic fringe goon squad tends to consistently place their misguided ideology over reality, remaining willfully blind to the fact that its ill-conceived from the start.

Of course, Conservapedia is hardly the only evidence that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Another giveaway is right-wing attack blogger Michelle Malkin, whose work has been repeatedly criticized for its cavalier attitude toward facts.

All this is bad news for the conservative movement, which will only become more marginal if it continues to embrace its lunatic fringe.

This does however bode well for the progressives who stand to gain the most from conservative's self-destruction.

While the lunatics are busy imploding we can get busy taking over running the country.

#265 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 06:00 AM:

Micheal@250 "I doubt it was within the state's power to get the money allocated, no matter how badly the 'conservatives' there wanted it. As you know, it was part of the Army Corps of Engineers' budget, which is (a) a federal agency (b) a political football."

I think you underestimate how many strings the wealthy and well-connected can pull. But regardless, I am trying to imagine the Army Corps of Engineers as a bastion of liberalism. Nope. The conservatives didn't build the dike--can't go round complaining it was the liberals fault.

#266 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Just to show what absence of bias means, here's the article on 'liberal' from Conservapedia:

The term "liberal" comes from the aftermath of the French Revolution, where it meant someone who advocated more powerful elected assemblies.

"Liberal" today means the disfavoring of individual responsibility in favor of collectivism or egalitarianism. Liberals tend to prefer equality in result rather than increased opportunities that can result in unequal results.

The term "liberal" is used often in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Examples of liberal beliefs include:

* gun control
* taxpayer funding of abortion
* prohibiting prayer in school
* distributing wealth from the rich to the poor
* government programs to rehabilitate criminals
* same-sex marriage
* amnesty for illegal aliens
* teaching of evolution
* increased taxpayer funding of public school
* protection of endangered species
* foreign treaties, especially for disarmament
* taxpayer-funded rather than private medical care
* increased power for labor unions

Liberals typically align themselves with the Democratic Party in the United States, and the Labour Party in Great Britain.[1]

An alternative definition of liberal is anything that is not conservative. For example, the American Heritage Dictionary includes this definition of "liberal":[2]

Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas ...

#267 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2007, 11:03 AM:

I wonder what would happen if you introduced the Conservapedia team to the concept "One Nation Tory"?

#268 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 08:00 PM:

I was browsing through Conservapedia when I came across this:

Postmodernism
From Conservapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Postmodernism refers to a range of currently fashionable notions popular among left-wing academics and sociologists, among them:

* Reality is a "social construct" rather than empirically provable
* Ones choice of language directs how this reality is supposedly constructed (see political correctness)
* There is no one superior culture; Western culture is no more advanced than any other
* Western culture is inherently oppressive against some groups
* This oppression is "systemic" and ingrained in the culture
* Because society is a "social construct" directed by choice of language, these "systems" of "oppression" can therefore be "deconstructed" by deconstructing the language used, and replacing it with different terminology
* The frequent use of irony and humorous wordplay to shift the meanings of words is encouraged as this causes people to rethink their assumptions about culture and language. This often takes the form of ridicule of anything deemed to be part of traditional values or mainstream American culture. American culture of the 1950s is especially ridiculed in this way with such epithets as "white bread". Postmodernism promotes a "hipster" culture in which motifs from pre-1970s America are used in such a way as to ridicule them.
* Gender and so-called gender roles are socially constructed, not inborn traits

How in the name of Jacques Derrida did this mish-mash get created?

#269 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: March 11, 2007, 11:22 PM:

Head-exploding sound comes from the direction of "The Liberal Party of Australia" - here's a short extract from their own history page, linked above:

Eighty men and women from 18 non-Labor political parties and organisations attended the first Canberra conference [in 1944].

They shared a common belief that Australians should have greater personal freedom and choice than that offered under Labor’s post-war socialist plans.

Robert Menzies believed the time was right for a new political force in Australia - one which fought for the freedom of the individual and produced enlightened liberal policies.
These is possibly the most loyally-following of Bush's Coalition, too — Prime Minister John Howard even made the USA newspapers a few weeks back, which is very rare, by attacking Mr Obama.

#270 ::: Bill Burns ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 05:57 PM:

All Things Considered has an interview with Conservapedia founder Andy Schlafly today.

#271 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 13, 2007, 06:27 PM:

#271: Hey, is that the Bill Burns who showed me his jaw-dropping collection of music machines about ten years back?

I should really digitize the tape I made of that visit...

#272 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 04:11 AM:

I know I'm the last one here still keeping an eye on C-pedia, but I just can't make myself look away.

This latest bit I just have to share, even if nobody ever reads this.

Here a user offers up some news items of interest, for possible inclusion on the front page. Ignore for the moment the question of whether these articles are accurately summarized (they're not) or the most interesting news of the day (they're not) and just focus on where the articles are from: the Detroit News, the Washington Post, ABC, the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and Forbes.

Then we have some back and forth between the contributor and Andrew Schlafly, C-pedia's head high honcho, before we get to this comment from Aschlafly: I think this is one of the most important things we do here - refer people to news items that they are not likely to see through traditional media outlets.

In comparison with some of the edit wars and insanity, this is minor, but...how can a well-educated person (Harvard law degree!) say that with a straight face? Can he possibly believe that ABC, the Washington Post and the New York Times aren't 'traditional media outlets'?

Please, someone, give me something new to obsess on.

#273 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 08:48 AM:

Todd Larson @ 272: Please, someone, give me something new to obsess on.

Have you tried Buffy, zombies, and/or knitting?

#274 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 12:08 PM:

Alas, Buffy's all used up for me, at least until the next comic. Knitting, I haven't tried...okay, it goes on the list. Just as soon as I finish catching up on C-pedia's latest changes...

#275 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 02:55 PM:

Aconite said (#273):
Todd Larson @ 272: Please, someone, give me something new to obsess on.

Have you tried Buffy, zombies, and/or knitting?

(Almost) all in one place: Buffy and knitting, with a link to zombies and knitting.

#276 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 05:50 PM:

Peter Erwin @ 275: re: Buffy and knitting: Oh, dear. And I was just getting things under control....


Todd Larason (apologies for previously misspelling your name) @ 274: Alas, Buffy's all used up for me, at least until the next comic.

So, you've really read all the fanfic? Wow. ::GDR::

#277 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 05:57 PM:

How about the creationist nutjobs in The Wikipedia Oort Could Discussion?

#278 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 06:05 PM:

Aconite @ 276:Todd Larason (apologies for previously misspelling your name)
No worries; nobody's quite sure how that extra 'a' snuck in there. It does make ego-googling more productive, though.

So, you've really read all the fanfic? Wow.
Wow, I've been so canon-focused I didn't even think about trying the books, much less the fanfic. There's probably enough out there to keep mee off c-pedia for months, isn't there? Any particular recommendations? If it helps any, I'm a big big Willow fan.

#279 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2007, 06:55 PM:

I'm glad this thread has revived, because I've just learned of the Wikipedia for true conservatives:

Ladies and gentlemen,

Vicipædia

#280 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Bob Oldendorf @ 279

Damn, I hate coming into a trilogy at the end! Does anyone know where I can find the first two: Venipedia, and Vidipedia?

#281 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2007, 07:36 PM:

Todd Larason, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. ISTR that several past threads had recommendations for good Buffy fanfic.

I do not--based on bitter experience--recommend wading into fanfic without some recommendations.* Your eyeballs will bleed. The wholesale slaughter of grammar and usage alone will keep you awake at night, and that's without even taking plot and characterization into account.

Anyone who's ever wondered what reading the sluch pile is like can get a good idea by plowing through an unedited multiple-author fanfic site.

*Fortunately, good writers tend to have links or other references to other good authors, and you can expand your search that way once you have some starting points.

#282 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 01:37 AM:

Hrm. I found several mentions of a Buffy novel (published or online, I don't know) that Patrick apparently recommended, but I haven't yet found anything more concrete.

I'll keep looking, but if anybody else has any suggestions, I'm open to them.

#283 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 02:15 AM:

I think it was Teresa who recommended it rather than Patrick; and online, not published.

#284 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 04:56 AM:

Thanks David!

#285 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2007, 09:34 AM:

Todd Larason:

You'll have to keep searching for the others, but I found these (in addition to the Sleeping Jaguars works) in the archives:

Deeds of Maidenly Unkindness

The First's Journal

All About Spike site (IIRC, one of the pieces here has a piece of amusing political slash as a throw-away)

I think some other writings were mentioned only by authors' names. I'm sure if you put out a call on the next open thread, you'll get a slew of reccomendations.

#286 ::: Consumer Unit 5012 ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Well, the inevitable seems to have occurred. The siege mentality of the Conservapedia sysops finally got to them, and they've been banning users like crazy, destroying all their edits, and deleting records Soviet-style in what the refugees are calling the "Night of the Blunt Knives".

Some of them are regrouping, forming http://www.rationalwiki.com/

#287 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2007, 01:08 AM:

Consumer Unit 5012, do I know you? I'm [[User:Jtl]]

#288 ::: Consumer Unit 5012 ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 06:00 PM:

Yep--[[Gulik]], here.

#289 ::: Conservapedia ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Gulik, jtl!

#290 ::: Xopher sees weird and pretty pointless comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 09:55 PM:

I think.

#291 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:03 PM:

Maybe it...nope. Doesn't mean anything in rot13.

#292 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:12 PM:

I don't think so -- I think they're just Conservapedia refugees saying hi.

#293 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 11:42 PM:

I agree with Jen...Conservapedia forgot to add "you're alive!" to his/her post, is all.

Welcome, conserfugees. But tread carefully; here be occasional dragons.

#294 ::: derek Johnson ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2008, 03:13 AM:

Have you seen Conservapedia's updated atheism article located here: http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism

#295 ::: fidelio ponders probable spamitudinizing post ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2011, 03:30 PM:

Yet another in the recent parade of drop-ins.

#296 ::: Xopher Halftongue sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: March 16, 2014, 08:01 AM:

spam

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