Stephen Colbert cares about children

Reason #18 why the Madison School Board should name the new school Stephen Colbert Elementary. Stephen Colbert cares about the children.

And not just in the "used child soldiers to fight his CIA backed, drug money financed war" way.

Colbert regularly uses his nationally televised show to help educate children. He has even featured a segment specifically directed at children, "Balls for Kids." The first segment taught our youth to fear bears, a very important message children need to hear. Other segments have taught about the dangers of gambling, and carnivals.

So, if you oppose the movement to rename the Madison School after Stephen Colbert, then you hate children.



During the discussion at the last Madison Blogger Roundup, I had an idea. Madison (or just the UW) should have a central blogging hub. Now, I know, there are already several blog aggregators. But those aren't quite what I envision.

I would like to see a site set up where local bloggers could submit links to their own posts. Ideally, non-bloggers could write their own posts through the site and submit them. All readers could then leave comments and discuss the post.

What would make the site different than the other aggregators is that it would take the idea of ranking posts from sites like Digg, Reddit, and the like. Newly submitted posts would go to a page where readers would read them and add or deduct points. Anyone could submit posts, but the readers would decide which were good enough to make the front page.

It would be a great place to post breaking news. The various newspapers could post articles, breaking stories immediately and updating them as things developed. Sure it may hurt print sales, but it would increase online ad revenue. It would be a way for the two (and a half) campus papers to directly compete with each other (as Brad had suggested), and compete equally with the larger papers. Whoever got wrote the better article or posted it first would have a better chance of making the front page, and getting seen by more readers.

If developed properly, it could become a city- or campus-wide forum for discussion of local issues. It would be an easy place for the average person to voice their opinion and get it seen by those in power. And the point system would show how many others agree.

I would set something up right now if I had the website development skills to do so. Since I don't, I thought I'd just throw the idea out for consideration.

Money Trail

Just a reminder, Saturday night is the deadline for second-quarter fundraising. Five of my competitors were out on the campaign trail yesterday attending fundraising events. I think I've got them worried, though they'll never admit it.

While I'm not going to beg and pander for money like the other candidates, I certainly won't turn any of you away if you wish to contribute. My campaign chest is currently at $10. Thanks for the birthday card last week, Grandma.

Mitt Romney Hates Animals


Wednesday Hodgepodge Tuesday

MSNBC asks "Will science render men unnecessary?" As usual, they completely ignore my warnings. Apparently Brian Alexander is incapable of basic statistics.

Researchers are planning an expedition next month to the UP to search for Bigfoot. As someone who has done extensive research on the subject, I suspect the Department of Homeland Security will suppress any evidence they find.

The Supreme Court recently issued their rulings on the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case and the Wisconsin Right to Life case. Before I get into the White House, I'd like to know, is court-packing still considered a bad thing?

And now, some actually useful links. More than you probably need. TIME's 25 websites they can't live without. MSN's 100 blogs they love and 25 Web Sites to Watch. Sadly, both fail the "link to me" test, but you're already here, so I clearly don't need them.


Hodgepodge Tuesday: Expanded

Occupational Hazards

As if there wasn't enough build up and backstory to this year's Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. First, last year's runner up, Joey Chestnut, set a new world record of 59 1/2 hot dogs on June 2 (video proof), breaking the record set by Takero Kobayashi, who has been unbeatable at Nathan's the past six years. Now, in an unexpected turn of events, Kobayashi has developed "jaw arthritis" while training. On his blog, he said, "I feel ashamed that I couldn't notice the alarm bells set off by my own body. But with the goal to win another title with a new record, I couldn't stop my training so close to the competition." Really. A man who regularly eats 50+ hot dogs in 12 minutes and still holds world records for eating rice balls and cow brains, did not notice the alarm bells his body was sending? So, does this mean that we won't get to see the long awaited rematch of Kobayashi vs. Chestnut this Fourth, and that Kobayashi's reign is over, not with a bang, but with a whimper? Or is this just a feint? We'll find out soon enough.

Tom Cruise ist offiziell verrückt

Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defense Ministry said on Monday. Defense Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the film makers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult." I'll agree with them that Scientology is just a money-making cult. But not allowing them to film because the lead actor has some irrational beliefs? That sounds a bit crazy too.

Reapproprating Chimp Culture

Further proof that altruism is an evolutionary trait inherited from our primate ancestors. Many researchers have claimed that such altruism emanates from a species-unique psychology not found in humans' closest living evolutionary relatives, such as the chimpanzee. In favor of this view, the few experimental studies on altruism in chimpanzees have produced mostly negative results. In contrast, we report experimental evidence that chimpanzees perform basic forms of helping in the absence of rewards spontaneously and repeatedly toward humans and conspecifics. I'm not sure who's argument this hurts more, the Theists who claim morality is unique to humans and is created by God, or the Randians who claim altruism is evil and runs counter to our logical biological desires.

Update: And the studies keep poring in. Apparently, our minds, our emotions, our morals, literally our souls, are products of evolution. The idea that human minds are the product of evolution is “unassailable fact,” the journal Nature said this month in an editorial on new findings on the physical basis of moral thought. A headline on the editorial drove the point home: “With all deference to the sensibilities of religious people, the idea that man was created in the image of God can surely be put aside.”


Artificial Independents

A Newsweek poll from last week found that 57% do not think the two-party system does a good job of addressing the issues that are important and presumably the same 57% would like to see a third major political party. I agree that there is plenty of room for improvement in our current system, and I think adding a third party, which would prevent both Democrats and Republicans from having a majority, would be better. What frustrates me more, though, is that despite the previous numbers, only only 31% of those polled considered themselves Independent or had no party affiliation, with a fraction of a percent choosing a third party.

Of course, it doesn't help that there is no viable third party candidate to get behind. Many have speculated that billionaire NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg may run as an independent, but I'm not so sure now. A TIME article, Why Bloomberg May Not Want to Run, suggests that he does not plan to run, but encourages speculation to get the national attention to promote a few of his key issues. Plus, he is too short to win.

George Will further argues that Bloomberg can not win. I agree with Will that a third party would need a key issue or a focused agenda to rally around. However, Will fails in Economics when he states that "The two major parties are sensitive market mechanisms: What makes Bloomberg think they are failing to supply something the public strongly demands?" The two main parties are in collusion to maintain their oligopoly over politics.

It seems clear to me that most people recognize that our current system is flawed, and should be changed. It also seems clear to me that no one else is going to step up and get it done.


Balls for Kidz

The Madison School Board recently decided not to name a new elementary school after controversial Hmong leader Vang Pao. The board will now reopen the naming process sometime after their meeting on July 9th.

I am going to pose a challenge to my fellow local bloggers. We need to spread the idea of renaming the school the Stephen Colbert Elementary School. Not already convinced? Compare Colbert's bio with Vang Pao's. Not only is Colbert the Greatest Living American, and not accused of past drug trafficking, war crimes, and plotting to overthrow the Laotian government, but Stephen has shown a genuine effort to help kids. The man has Big Brass Balls. I can not think of a greater role model for our children than Stephen Colbert, and I can not think of a better word to describe Madison Schools than "truthiness".

This isn't about getting recognition. This isn't about demanding that the school board go along with a vocal minority. This isn't even about Stephen Colbert. This is about doing what is best for the children. Won't somebody, please, think of the children?

So what can you do, as a mere blogger, who likely would be happy to get 50 views a day? Lots, my friend. Using tactics inspired from Colbert himself, we can use the power of the Internet to help achieve our goal. Write your own posts (write many if you can) describing why Madison should rename the school the Stephen Colbert Elementary School. Link to this URL - http://dorshorst08.blogspot.com/2007/06/balls-for-kidz.html
Use anchor texts of "Stephen Colbert Elementary School", "Vang Pao Elementary", "Madison School Board", and "Renaming Madison School". If you want, feel free to just copy the html here and repost this on your site. Your posts will spread the idea around the local Blogosphere, and your links will spread the idea to anyone Googling the above phrases.

When the board reopens the naming process, we need to flood them with submissions for Stephen Colbert (link will come when available). We need to write letters to the board members (contact info here) explaining why Colbert is the best choice. We need to write letters to the editor to all local papers. And if this ever gets read by Mr. Colbert, your support would be tremendous.

So go now and spread the good word. Together, we can make the Stephen Colbert Elementary School a reality for the Madison School District.

Reason #18: Stephen Colbert cares about children.



My plan to get people to leave the Republican and Democratic parties is working.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg left the Republican Party on Tuesday and switched to unaffiliated, a move certain to be seen as a prelude to an independent presidential bid that would upend the 2008 race.

The billionaire former CEO, who was a lifelong Democrat before he switched to the Republican Party in 2001 for his first mayoral run, said the change in his voter registration does not mean he is running for president.The billionaire former CEO, who was a lifelong Democrat before he switched to the Republican Party in 2001 for his first mayoral run, said the change in his voter registration does not mean he is running for president.

"The politics of partisanship and the resulting inaction and excuses have paralyzed decision-making, primarily at the federal level, and the big issues of the day are not being addressed, leaving our future in jeopardy," he said in a speech Monday at the start of a University of Southern California conference about the advantages of nonpartisan governing.

This does not mean that he will be running for President as an Independent, but it is very likely. Although, he could just be planning on using his billions of dollars to support my bid. Either way, Phase 1 of the Master Plan is coming along just fine.



I had brought up the idea of a baked beans challenge at the last Madison Blogger Roundup. A few expressed interest, but there no definitive plans were made. If anyone actually wants to do this, I will need to know who and how many so I know how much beans to get. So if anyone was serious, and if anyone else wants to give it a go, please RSVP by leaving a comment here.

I was thinking doing this before or to start the Blogger Roundup 3.0 would be the best time. Brad had set a start time of 6:30 at Ians Pizza Annex. The bean eating could be done concurrently, as I doubt competitors will want to eat anything else afterward. I can bring the supplies needed, but I do need a suggestion for a good place to hold the event (and possibly someplace to cook the beans).

When I ate a 7lb pound can a while back, I ate the first half in under an hour, but the second half took me the rest of the day. So, in the interest of finishing this in a reasonable amount of time, I think we need to limit the competition to just a half-can (3.5 lbs, 7.5 cups, 13 servings) per person. If you want to eat more, you can, but I don't plan on waiting for you, or calling 911 when you die.

I am open to suggestions. If you really want to compete, but can't do it when I have proposed, I am still open to rescheduling at this time. And certainly, be sure to let me know if this whole idea was just half-baked. I thought I'd do this because a few wanted to make a competition out of it, but if no one else was serious I have no problem with eating my giant can of beans by myself.

ADDENDUM: I had figured that a speed competition to see who could finish 3.5 lbs first would take about an hour. I can see how some may not want to spend that much time on this. Another option would be doing a 'how much can you eat in 15 minutes' competition. Let me know what you'd rather do and I'll go with the consensus.

If anyone was wondering, the official IFOCE record for baked beans is 6 lbs in 1 min 48 sec.

And yes, I am aware that doing this Wednesday will result in a bit of a stink at the Blogger Roundup.

UPDATE: It's clear this needs a bit more time to get the details worked out. So let's postpone the competition for now. I imagine the Roundup tonight will be the best time to work things out if anyone can make it.



Things are not looking good for the Milwaukee Brewers right now. Sure, their 34-30 record stills leads the horrible NL Central by 5.5 games, but the team had led the League a month ago is in danger of dropping below .500 (they were 24-10 on May but lost 20 of their last 30 since then). And now this:

Detroit's Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter against the Brewers last night. Sure, Verlander deserves full credit for an amazing pitching performance. He stuck out 12. He was throwing great off-speed stuff and was still throwing 101 mph fastballs in the 9th inning.

I don't care how good the opposing pitcher is, though. A good team should not go hitless. Right now, the Brew Crew is not a good team. I'm hoping this was a wake-up call for them.


Evolution, Smevolution

Do you believe in Evolution?

This question has come up a few times in the Republican Debates (Huckabee's beliefs, Brownback's beliefs). It has not with the Democrats because we all know the Democrats are all fag atheist abortionists. I was not invited to either debate (thank you MSM blackout), so I will say it here: I do believe in the theory of Evolution. All of it.

"Wait," you say. "He admits evolution is just a theory." Yes. But for a theory to be adopted, it has to be able to explain past events and accurately predict future events. Gravity is just a theory. If you hold a rock up and drop it, you expect it will fall. You have no proof that it will, or even that there is such a thing as gravity that has made things fall in past situations. Yet, when you drop the rock, it does indeed fall, and your theory of gravity holds. [Sidebar: this is the Newtonian theory of gravity. Scientists have essentially proven it false. But I assume those of you not familiar with relativity and space/time curvature do not really care.]

The same thing goes for evolution. We don't know why living things are the way they are. Evolution and natural selection does explain things. It is testable on a small scale. We have no proof that it is definitely what brought about the species homo sapien, but so far, it has held up, with some minor tweaks and additions as we have discovered new evidence.

If you want to say that evolution is really the will of God, that He has guided it all, well I can't prove you wrong. Essentially, you are multiplying all terms by the same variable, which gets canceled out and can't be solved for. You're adding an unnecessary level of complication that doesn't explain things any better. And you are assuming the existence of God, something that has no scientific credibility.

The best thing about evolution is that it is just a theory. If new evidence surfaces that contradicts what evolution says should happen, then the theory has to adapt to explain the new evidence. It doesn't assume our knowledge 200 years ago (much less 4000) was perfect and does not need to be updated.

Religious Tests

Should a candidate's religious beliefs matter?

A while back, TIME's cover story brought up the question of religion, specifically about Republican candidate and Mormon, Mitt Romney.
John F. Kennedy's election in 1960 was supposed to have laid the "religious question" to rest, yet it arises again with a fury. What does the Constitution mean when it says there should be no religion test for office? It plainly means that a candidate can't be barred from running because he or she happens to be a Quaker or a Buddhist or a Pentecostal. But Mitt Romney's candidacy raises a broader issue: Is the substance of private beliefs off-limits? You can ask if a candidate believes in school vouchers and vote for someone else if you disagree with the answer. But can you ask if he believes that the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Mo., as the Mormon founder taught, and vote against him on the grounds of that answer? Or, for that matter, because of the kind of underwear he wears?

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg threw down the challenge after reviewing some of Joseph Smith's more extravagant assertions. "He was an obvious con man," Weisberg wrote. "Romney has every right to believe in con men, but I want to know if he does, and if so, I don't want him running the country." That argument, counters author and radio host Hugh Hewitt, amounts to unashamed bigotry and opens the door to any person of any faith who runs for office being called to account for the mysteries of personal belief. He has published A Mormon in the White House?, a chronicle of Romney's rise as business genius, Olympic savior, political star. But Hewitt has a religious mission as well when he cites a survey in which a majority of Evangelicals said voting for a Mormon was out of the question. If that general objection means they would not consider Romney in 2008, Hewitt warns, then prejudice is legitimized, and "it will prove a disastrous turning point for all people of faith in public life."

I am not one of those who believe the founding fathers were infallible, but I think they were right to prohibit any sort of religious test for elected officials. That doesn't stop individual voters from having their own religious tests.

If a candidate believes in God, should we say, "Eh, it really won't affect things," or say "Is he retarded or just crazy?" or say "We need him in power so our country has God on our side"? Most people are of the first, moderate opinion, as long as the candidate believes what they do. If his beliefs seem strange, then they go with the second and think he is crazy. If he is Wiccan, he's a godless pagan. If he's a Scientologist, we rightly call him out for belonging to a cult. If he's an atheist, then he has no morals. But there is no official religious test.

Why is it that people who hold religious beliefs can clearly see that all other religions are preposterous, yet they cannot see the flaws in their own beliefs? Let's examine a few religions:

Scientology [The Church of Scientology does not officially consider itself a religion]: Our problems today are because an ancient galactic ruler named Xenu trapped billions of aliens in a volcano, nuked them, and then brainwashed their ghosts, who now inhabit our bodies.
Clearly this is stupid.

Mormons [I know the religion is called the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints. That's just too long to write and LDS sounds like a mental handicap. Mormon sounds slightly less like a mental handicap]: God gave Joseph Smith a set of gold plates which said that the first man and woman lived in Missouri and that Native Americans came from Jerusalem, were visited by Jesus, and had their skin turned red by God when they rejected him.
Clearly this is stupid.

Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was literally his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil curse on your soul that is present in humanity because a rib woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magic tree.
Why isn't this clearly stupid?

But back to the original question. Should a candidates religious beliefs matter? Can we accept a President who admits he holds stupid ideas about cosmology? Isn't it more important that they know more relevant things like economics and foreign relations? I previously supported the idea of an Egghead for the Oval Office, but do we really need a President that can explain M-theory?

Yes, it does matter. A willful irrationality in one area is a good indicator of a willful irrationality in others. Faith is the absence of reason. If any religious beliefs could be tested or proven, they would be considered scientific theories. Unfortunately, most Americans are not entirely rational themselves, and they want the man representing them to hold the same superstitions.

"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. Q.E.D."

"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

"Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing. Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book, Well That About Wraps It Up For God.


It is well known that an Atheist cannot be elected to any significant public office. Fortunately, I already know I will not be elected. So I am not afraid to let you know that I am an Atheist (perhaps a pseudo Buddhist/Unitarian/Ba Hai/Catholic/Humanist in practice, but Atheist nonetheless in theory). This makes me more of a minority in the U.S. than being homosexual, or black, or a woman.

One common misconception about Atheists is that they don't believe in morals. This is Nihilism, and it isn't the only only type of Atheism. A Theist believes that morals come from God. A Humanist believes that humans just are moral. A true Atheist does not know where morals came from, but is open to the idea that morals came from non-supernatural origins. It is possible that morality is an evolutionary trait, as new research suggests; establishing a code of conduct helps humans survive. Many other animals exhibit various degrees of what could be described as morals. Not surprisingly, other primates show the most developed morals, next to ours. Morality could be encoded in our genes. Young children show some understanding of morality, but it does develop and mature with age, so there is probably an element of environmental/cultural influence to morality.

Another misconception is the idea the Atheists believe that they know God does not exist. This is false. There is no possible way to prove this. If you want to call that Agnosticism, that's your option; I don't feel the need to pussyfoot with the terminology. But, while it would be very difficult to prove definitively that Bigfoot does not exist, most people are willing to dismiss the idea because of a lack of evidence. We don't believe in unicorns, or fairies, or Flying Spaghetti Monsters. Atheists simply don't make exceptions.

A third misconception is that Atheists think they can know everything. The reality is, we have a greater appreciation for the vast mysteries of the universe, because we can't just explain things by saying "God made it so."

So why can't theists tolerate atheism? My theory is that their own beliefs are so fragile that they will unravel if any sort of doubt is entertained. Of course, I think that if you are unable to defend your faith to criticism, then you really shouldn't be following it.



Not just a movie.

From the New York Times:
Now Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University, has attracted notice for raising a pointed question: Do voters have any idea what they are doing? In his provocative new book, “The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies,” Caplan argues that “voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational — and vote accordingly.” Caplan’s complaint is not that special-interest groups might subvert the will of the people, or that government might ignore the will of the people. He objects to the will of the people itself.

So the question is, is it possible for candidates like this to get elected, as opposed to candidates like this? I know my campaign is doomed. But can't somebody else run that won't end up on the Must Not Be Elected List?


Cows and...

June is dairy month in Wisconsin, because apparently the dairy industry doesn't get any recognition the other 11 months. To start things off, the Dane County Dairy Promotion Committee will be holding the 29th Annual Cows on the Concourse.

Saturday, June 2, 2007
8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Rain or Shine!
Event Admission: FREE

Location: Capital Square, Madison, WI
Main Street & Martin Luther King Boulevard


Event Highlights:
- Visit three cow petting areas
- Ask our "Moo Experts" your bovine questions
- Tempt your taste buds with ice cold milk, cheese,
ice cream, cream puffs and yogurt
- Stay for lunch, visit our grilled cheese stand
- Enjoy live entertainment
- Visit with special guests

...More Cows

I can't think of a better way to end the Cows on the Concourse event than the "Running of the Cows" idea that came up during the last Madison Blogger Roundup. With a little planning, this could be a pretty good event.

Imagine, Saturday evening. Crowds lining State St. watching cows amble down it. Daring individuals could risk unlikely injury by walking in front of the docile beasts. We could put numbers on the cows, so individuals could make friendly wagers on which cow would make it to the end first, and everyone could cheer on their favorites.

Now to the name. This shouldn't be just a Pamplona knock off. Let's come up with a better name than "Running of the Cows" to 'brand' this event. My submission: Mad Cow Stampede. (My brother rarely comes up with ideas that are any good, but he gets some credit for this).