Monday, February 27, 2006

Respect behavior, not belief

From ... This is nicely said.
Respect behavior, not belief By Steve Vallee

A Pakistani cleric has offered a million dollar contract for a whack job on a Danish cartoonist. Oops, excuse me, criminals issue a contract for a hit; holy men issue a Fatwah. I guess that I am just not religious enough to understand the difference,

This latest call to murder is about a cartoon. Another call to murder was about a novel, a piece of fiction, by Salman Rushdie that sought to stimulate discussion. These exhortations to murder raise a question. Is the Islamic faith of these people so fragile and delicate that it cannot bear questions or examination?

There are calls from the Middle East and elsewhere to respect Islam. I cannot. Nor can I respect any belief system. I can, however, respect some adherents to many belief systems because of what they do and how they treat others. Their behaviors earn my respect, not their creeds, dogmas, folklores, superstitions or delusions.

It is said that one's behavior defines more clearly than one's words. Perhaps it is time for everyone, Muslim, Christian, Wiccan, Hindu, Agnostic and Asatru to put aside the beliefs for a while and concentrate on an analysis of behavior and determine if one's behavior is that of a criminal or a decent human being.

Extremism is no virtue; moderation is no vice.

Steve Vallee, Fort Collins

Originally published February 24, 2006

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Why Dubai Ports 'Deal' is So Bad: U.A.E. and the 9/11 Commission Report

Holy Crap! Via Michael Smerconish's radio program this morning, I have heard yet one more thing that makes the Dubai Ports deal sound absolutely lousy. Apparently, in 1999 (one year after Bin Ladin's fatwah against Americans, but plenty of time before the 9/11 attacks) U.S. agents were tracking Bin Ladin in Afghanistan. But they were hampered in their efforts to nail him because he was hanging with "an Emirati prince or other senior [U.A.E.] officials" and the agents were worried about killing or injuring a UAE representative or causing other "collateral damage." That info is lifted directly from the report. Smerconish simply wondered if the UAE warranted a mention, so he flipped to the index in his copy of the 9/11 Commission Report. And he found several citings to point to page 138. From the report:
Page 138 | 9/1 Commission Report The United Arab Emirates was becoming both a valued counterterrorism ally of the United States and a persistent counterterrorism problem [emphasis added]. From 1999 through early 2001, the United States,and President Clinton personally,pressed the UAE, one of the Taliban's only travel and financial outlets to the outside world, to break off its ties and enforce sanctions, especially those relating to flights to and from Afghanistan.(165) These efforts achieved little before 9/11.
Smerconish has posted the pertinent passages from pages 137 - 139 of the report on his website his Must Read of the Day. I don't know how long it will be available at this link, so check it out now. You can buy a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report pretty cheaply, either at your local bookstore or from Oh, and here is the big money question: Why am I hearing about this from a radio host as opposed to one of my elected officials?! Why hasn't a member of the 9/11 Commission come forward to denounce the Dubai Ports deal!?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wet Hands

There is a zen koan that says:
In the sea of Isé, ten thousand feet down, lies a single stone. I wish to pick up that stone without wetting my hands.
How beautiful. How utterly poetic, right? Well, I'm sorry. But the only response I have for this statement is, "Good freaking luck with that one, pal!" Which is pretty much my reaction to the whole ports issue. I cannot believe that Preznit Bush and his administration would put major U.S. ports under the control of a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates. When I first heard about this, I assumed that either it was a mistaken report, or that the Bush Administration would come to its senses -- or at least back off this deal -- after enough objections were raisd. So now I am even more outraged that Bush is so committed to this move that he will actually "veto any bill Congress might approve to block the agreement." What is up with this?! Is this a case of rampant political correctness? Is Bush trying to invite a catastrophe so that he has "proof" for going to war with another Muslim nation (read: Iran)? In this course of action, Bush is indeed trying to lift a stone from the ocean floor without getting his hands (or his political career) all wet. But it cannot be done. His hands are going to be sopping wet. And, unfortunately, when he pulls his hands out of this one, they could very well be drenched with blood. For more on this story: Hopefully that is enough of a sampling to get you informed ... and enraged.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Another update over at Confessions of a Serial Theater Lackey. I got word that the Algonquin Film Festival has a special retro treat for all of you. Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Bed Bandit Strikes Again!

Otis is an equal opportunity bed bandit. I've already posted a photo or two showcasing him usurping my sleeping space. Well, on Tuesday morning of this week, he slipped into Mrs. Brainwise's side of the bed. And she captured the moment:


"Could you hit the snooze button for me? I can't quite reach it from here."

""Dude, go back to the Weather Channel ... I need to see if it's worth getting out of bed today."

It's amazing how much this numbnut looks like a little person in these shots!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.


I posted a link to a review (and a few pics) for the current Montgomery Theater production of Psychopathia Sexualis. Go check it out at my theater blog: Confessions of a Serial Theater Lackey.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sidebar Updates

In case you didn't notice, there have been a few additions to ye ol' sidebar at the right:
  • Støt Danmark! -- Added the flag banner because I couldn't find a small banner that says "God hates cartoons." And if you think Yahweh, Allah, or Mohammed have a problem with the funny pages, go talk to Thor about Stan Lee's work.
  • Blogroll Updates:
    • The Cranky Professor
    • Who has no problem using 4,500 years of written history to show you that you're wrong
    • impetus java house by Ricia, an "Artist for Social Change" who resides in Calgary, Alberta Canada
Visit them often, but don't forget your first love, Prophet or Madman. And with that, we now return to your regularly scheduled surreality.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hamming it up for ID

Here at Prophet or Madman, we -- and I mean "we" in the strictest of editorial senses -- do what we can to keep you dear readers informed and entertained. And from time to time, we feel the need to give a great big Prophet or Madman salute to an individual -- or even an organization -- who has gone beyond the call of duty in either brilliance or inanity. Today we must make the time for such a salute. As anyone in the blogosphere no doubt knows, there is a vigorous creationist movement right here in the United States. For those of us living in or near Philadelphia, the movement struck quite close to "home" last year in the form of the Dover school board trials. And it looks like the debate rages on. I don't know how recently this occurred, but a writer from the Los Angeles Times was present to record a small taste of Ken Ham, the Australian-born leader of the movement (he co-founded Answers in Genesis in Australia in 1979), as he trained 2,300 elementary students to reject much of geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology as a sinister tangle of lies. In Wayne, NJ.

Their Own Version of a Big Bang   
By Stephanie Simon
LA Times Staff Writer 
Feb. 11, 2006 | WAYNE, N.J. — 

Evangelist Ken Ham smiled at the 2,300 elementary students packed into pews, their faces rapt. With dinosaur puppets and silly cartoons, he was training them to reject much of geology, paleontology and evolutionary biology as a sinister tangle of lies. 

"Boys and girls," Ham said. If a teacher so much as mentions evolution, or the Big Bang, or an era when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, "you put your hand up and you say, 'Excuse me, were you there?' Can you remember that?" 

The children roared their assent. 

"Sometimes people will answer, 'No, but you weren't there either,'" Ham told them. "Then you say, 'No, I wasn't, but I know someone who was, and I have his book about the history of the world.'" He waved his Bible in the air. 

"Who's the only one who's always been there?" Ham asked. 

"God!" the boys and girls shouted. 

"Who's the only one who knows everything?" 


"So who should you always trust, God or the scientists?" 

The children answered with a thundering: "God!" [...] 

[Ham] urges students to offer creationist critiques of their textbooks, parents to take on science museum docents, professionals to raise the subject with colleagues. If Ham has done his job well, his acolytes will ask enough pointed questions — and set forth enough persuasive arguments — to shake the doctrine of Darwin. 

"We're going to arm you with Christian Patriot missiles," Ham, 54, recently told the 1,200 adults gathered at Calvary Temple here in northern New Jersey. It was a Friday night, the kickoff of a heavily advertised weekend conference sponsored by Ham's ministry, Answers in Genesis. 

To a burst of applause, Ham exhorted: "Get out and change the world!" 

...Ham's daily 90-second broadcasts — on themes such as life in the Garden of Eden — are heard on more than 1,000 radio stations worldwide. He's building a $25 million Creation Museum near the Cincinnati international airport. 

...Several Imax theaters in the South — including a few in science museums — have refused to show movies that mention evolution or the Earth's age. 

Bills that would allow or require science teachers to mention alternatives to evolution have been introduced in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah. State boards of education in Kansas and Ohio adopted guidelines that single out evolution for critique. The governor of Kentucky used his State of the Commonwealth address to encourage public schools to teach alternative theories of man's origins. 

At the very least, Ham considers the notion that one can be a Christian and still accept evolution as treasonous. He insists that the Bible be taken literally, and that means God created the universe and everything in it in just six 24-hour days (and then took a 24-hour break), and that this occurred roughly 6,000 years ago. He is so adamantly against teaching evolution that he places it "at the root of all social ills: abortion, divorce, racism, gay marriage, store clerks who say 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas.'" 

Phew. I gotta admire the man's devotion to his cause. But anyone who claims that the theory of evolution is responsible for divorce ... well, that's just plain nutty. But do not discount the man. He has too much support. Both here and in his own nation. That makes him not only nutty ... but dangerous. Science education is already at risk in the United States. I don't care if folks teach religion to their kids at home, that is the way things should be. But do not throw science out of the classroom just because it seems to threaten something written in a book, thousands of years ago, by a person or persons who had a limited world view.

Chuck Norris Doesn't Sleep

First of all. I would like to thank all the folks who have added to the list of Chuck Norris facts that I originally posted here. I am not the author of said list. I, like all of you, am a mere admirer of the work. Well, as it turns out, Chuck Norris himself admired the work as well. So much so that he has teamed with to bring you ...
Use it often ... use it wisely!

"Special" Valentine's Day Cards

Ahhhh. Today is V-Day. And if that "V" stands for "victory", it's only a victory for Hallmark and all their competitors. But wait, you don't have to succumb to sacharine sentimentality on this day. You do have a choice. And if you still want to send that special someone a special message, well i-Mockery has a full selection of "special" Valentine's Day cards. Be forewarned, however. Do not read these cards if you are squeamish, if you are easily offended, or if you have no sense of humor. I, for one, have been quite tickled by their fare. For example:

Special card from -- CLICK FOR MORE!

In case the image is too small for you to read the message, it states:

Valentine: nothing says 'Be Mine' Like our Suicide pact.

See? Isn't that special? Disclaimer(?): The sentiments expressed by i-Mockery's cards may or may not reflect the views of Prophet or Madman. And if you ask for further clarification, I will still be quite vague about the whole thing!

Monday, February 13, 2006

500: The New Middle Aged?

This post has nothing to do with the Middle Ages of history, though there are plenty of news stories that claim our society is regressing back to the strictures and ideologies of those times. Nope, I am reporting on a story of individual age and aging. In the story cited below, a university professor claims that aging is a fools game and that there is no reason people can't be alive -- and active -- well into their 900s. Now, I don't know about you, but this story is kind of depressing. I mean, if 500 becomes the new middle aged, exactly how far back will Congress push the retirment age? From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Fountain of Youth Closer Sydney Morning Herald Feb. 9, 2006 In 400 years, people will live to be a thousand years old. Michael Rose knows his prediction sounds ridiculous. To most people, it probably seems unbelievable. However, after working on ageing for 30 years, the scientist says we'll be playing golf in our 900s. The professor from the University of California-Irvine says ageing is not what most people think it is. It's not wear and tear. We've evolved to have robust bodies in youth, able to survive and breed. Natural selection cares less as we grow older... [Read More]
I just had another thought ... in this new centenarian society that Professor Rose envisions, what will be the median age of Olympic athletes?

I.D. Supporter Snubs Darwin's Birthday

On February 12, Charles Darwin turned 197 (or would have if he had not, you know, died 124 years ago). Many churches took the opportunity to reflect on his legacy. According to Jeffrey Tannenbaum at, however, at least one prominent scientist was making other plans:

Michael Behe and Darwin Day By Jeffrey Tannenbaum Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) One man who says he isn't planning to join in the fun on Darwin Day is Michael Behe, the 54-year-old author of 'Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,' a critique whose 10th anniversary edition will be published in March by Simon & Schuster's Free Press division. Molecular biology is 'irreducibly complex,' confounding Darwinism, according to the author. "I probably won't attend any Darwin Day event anywhere," says Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. "It's not simply meant to celebrate science or Darwin. It's an in-your-face exhibition, saying, 'Look what we have on our side, and you guys who aren't with us are a bunch of dopes.'"

Bitter much, Michael? Of course, Michael Behe is only considered "prominent" because of his 15 minutes of fame during the Dover school board trials. And, prominent or not, at this point I would think that ol' Charles has evolved to a point where he could care less whether Behe sends a card or has some cake.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Thought for the Weekend

Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking. -- Dean William R. Inge (1860 - 1954), author, Anglican prelate, and Cambridge professor

Friday Pet Blogging (Evening Edition) | The Cage

I tried to post this before leaving the office, but Blogger was uncooperative. Or maybe it was just my browser. Anyway, Prophet or Madman is proud to bring you this Friday Pet Blogging Vignette: The Cage! We join our story already in progress...

Otis believes he knows the way out .. Milo is not so sure.

Otis: "Maybe we can get out through here." Milo: "Yeah ... sure ... if we were made of spaghetti!"

Milo (at right): "You just sit there and look and nice and cute ... I'm going to try to pick this locking mechanism."

Milo: "You know ... this whole cage episode wouldn't be so bad .... if I weren't wearing this stupid lampshade, and if I weren't stuck with my idiot brother!"

Whoa, Milo ... tell us how you really feel.

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Friday Pet Blogging | Bed Bandit!

Otis stole my place in bed this morning. And then, as if in an effort to defuse any reaction on my part, he shot me this look:

Otis "Can't you see how cute I am?"

He's a numbnut, but ya just gotta love him. I'll try to post a pic of Milo later today. I'm not certain how to talk about his post-surgery progress. Even with the collar (that cone shaped thing around his neck), he has been able to get at his incision area and even removed some stitches. Now, we don't think he has actually licked the wound, but we do think that the collar has rubbed against this region, thereby agitating it, when he is doing something innocuous like licking his tail or a front paw. This agitation has caused him to be pretty much a week behind. In other words, that state of the wound now is what we (the doctor) should have seen last week. But the agitation is slowing the healing process. We need one of those collars that not only comes up over the head, but also prevents the cat from bending at the neck. That would, I believe, effectively block Milo from getting to his nether regions even indirectly. Other than that, the boyz are OK.

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Zen Pastries

open quoteThree scholars on the way to a civil service examination stopped to buy refreshments from a woman who sold pastries. One scholar was calm and quiet while the other two argued over literature. The woman asked where they were going, and the latter two told her. “You two won’t pass the exam,” she said, “but the other man will.” The results turned out just as the woman predicted, and the two who failed went back to find the woman and ask her if she knew some mystic art to predict the outcome. “No,” she said, “all I know is that when a pastry is thoroughly cooked it sits there quietly, but before it’s finished it keeps making noise.” -- A Zen Story

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brief Thoughts on Super Bowl XL

I wanted to post this Sunday night, or even yesterday, but did not get to it. So, here are my late thoughts on the game. But, first of all, I must share with you the good luck charm that Mrs. Brainwise presented to me. A Pittsburgh Steelers Bear!

A Good Luck Charm (which worked better than this one)

So, right off the bat, you know I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. And you also get a sense of how creative my wife can be. This is a simple bear, decked in yellow and white football gear, to which she has added a small "Go Steelers!" flag. And that's not all. You see, this is an early wedding anniversary gift. We are coming up on Year Number Six, for which the gifts are Iron and Candy. Well, you can certainly see the connection between Iron and the Steelers (and if you don't, please check yourself into some basic science classes). And what could be sweeter than a little bear? Well, candy would ... and she gave me some candy as well. Oh, and she also presented a Steelers towel (for cheering on my boys) and an official Super Bowl XL program to me! Mrs. Brainwise is so clever and thoughtful! I wanted to briefly comment on the game, right? So here are my thoughts, such as they are. I knew this would be a difficult game for both teams. But I did not expect so many poor performances, both on the field and in the commercials. I might deal with the commercials in a separate post. Maybe not, so don't hold me to it. Now, as far as I see things, both teams had several chances to just run away with the game. But neither could effectively capitalize on breaks that seemed to be not only tailor made but practically handed to them. And don't try to bring up the officiating. Sure, there were a few questionable calls on both teams, but they were -- for the most part -- pretty well balanced. At any rate, it was nothing like the shoddy officiating we saw during the playoff games. In the end, the winning team was the one that -- as a whole team -- choked less often. Of course ... it's only a game. And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much. But it sure is fun when it's your own favorites who win it. ;) And I think it could not have happened to a nicer bunch of guys (oh, yeah, and Porter, too).

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging (Late Edition)

Milo is back home, and is more or less a model patient. For the first time ever, he is sitting on the couch with us ... I mean, he actually seems to want to be close to us:

You see, Milo is a fairly private individual. So Mrs. Brainwise and I think this new behavior is HUGE. And we hope he continues to be somewhat cuddly when his recuperation is over. And Otis is ... well, he's just Otis:

Sure is nice to have all the boys at home (even though we have to keep them a little separate for now). And our heartfelt thanks go out to all who sent well-wishes to Milo!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

Quotable | Moderates

open quoteWhen we have the courage to speak out -- to break our silence -- we inspire the rest of the "moderates" in our communities to speak up and voice their views. -- Sharon Schuster

Thursday, February 02, 2006


open quoteRemember: Today is just another day ... to be misunderstood. -- attributed to your humble Prophet or Madman blogger, Brainwise, who said it to a colleague this morning. Why did he say it? Because it has just been one of those weeks.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I Support Denmark...

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If you don't know what this is about, then read the CNN stories Cartoons spark violent protests and Papers reprint Islam row cartoons. And even view the cartoons for yourself.

Remembering Columbia

January is a hard month for space enthusiasts. Although I missed posting remembrances for the 1967 Appolo Pad Fire (January 27) and the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion (January 28), I tried to honor the astronauts' memories at least in real life. And February is not any easier. Three years ago today, after completing a 16-day mission, the space shuttle Columbia broke up during re-entry, fireballing across the Texan sky, and killing the seven astronauts aboard.
STS-107 Patch
Check out Marianne Dyson's REMEMBER COLUMBIA page. Ms. Dyson is a former NASA flight controller. See also's story and multimedia archive for STS-107 and CNN's timeline of the disaster. Remember the pioneers! They make it look so easy, but every moment of a mission is fraught with great risk, a risk they gladly take again and again.