April 15, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Itemized Deductions

Here are some free deductions to take the edge off Income Tax Day…. as long as one deduces correctly.

  1. Israel is picking a national bird.  So what feathered friend will represent the Holy Land?  “The nine finalists include the hoopoe, the owl, the spur-winged plover, and the griffin vulture, but no doves.”  Source: Science, Random Samples, 4/10/2008.  WWJD?
  2. Do I hear $700,000?  Step right and buy your own triceratops at the dinosaur auction.  Video at National Geographic.  Wouldn’t that be a conversation piece. (Science Random Samples, 30:5873 04/11/2008).
  3. An evolutionary biologist is coming to revitalize research at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  What are David Mindell’s goals?  “He wants to expand research in comparative genomics, strengthen ties with local university researchers, and do more public outreach–especially about evolution.”  (Science Newsmakers, 320:5873, 04/11/2008.)  Do they have a theater?  They could show Expelled nonstop.
  4. David Berlinski has answered the Richard Dawkins book The God Delusion with one of his own, The Devil’s Delusion (the identity of the devil is left as an exercise).  His book tour began on C-SPAN’s Book TV, and sounds to his critics like the raking of fingernails across Slate.
  5. Don’t tell the creationists: a biophysical complexity researcher has called into question the whole notion of fitness and natural selection, according to a Wired Blog.  “You always get into trouble if you say these things out loud with creationists around,” Maya Paczuski groaned.
  6. Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute has responded to the NCSE’s Expelled Exposed website with “Expelled Exposed” Exposed.  Could this be the start of an infinite regress?
  7. Richard A. Kerr gets the pun award for mixed metaphors: “An Early Big Hit to Mars May Have Scarred the Planet for Life” he said in Science (320:5873, 04/11/2008, pp. 165-166), calling the big show a “striptease.”  But if Mars put on a show and nobody was there to see it, would it be risque?
  8. Cassini got two years; NASA granted a two-year extended mission to the Saturn orbiter, reported JPL.
  9. The Israeli Antiquities Authority is in its third year of a trial accusing an Egyptian antiquities merchant of forgery for the famed James Ossuary and Jehoash Inscription, said Todd Bolen.  A speedy trial means something else in a land that boasts a 7,000 year history.
  10. Inconvenient facts?  Science Daily reported on a panel that praised Al Gore’s movie An Inconvient Truth for its visual excellence and persuasiveness – but not necessarily for its facts.
  11. All fired up: “Some scientists are urging Florida’s Legislature to reject a bill that would protect teachers from being fired if they present information challenging evolution,” reported ABC News SunCoast.com.
  12. Oh, the irony: critics of the documentary Expelled, which opens in theaters this Friday, have accused the producers of plagiarizing animations of the cell from a Harvard production (a charge Premise Media denies).  Of course to make this claim, the critics had to make an inference of intelligent design.  What message would it send to get Expelled expelled?

Exercise:  Is the IRS tax code a product of intelligent design?  (Hint: not all complexity is “complex specified information”.)  Caution: there are no simple answers.

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