Colorado Trip

(In which I talk about my personal life; if you don’t know me, you probably won’t be interested.)

I just got back from a trip to Colorado. J’s friend M got married on Friday, and we were invited to Silverthorne, Colorado for the ceremony.

We were (rightly, I think) concerned about the flooding in and around Denver, which probably explains how the car rental guy successfully upsold me a Ford Explorer. Pro: decent pickup, plenty of room, more features than I could count. Con: it’s the size of a battleship. I deliberately avoided visiting downtown Denver because I was afraid I’d have to maneuver it through an underground parking lot and scrape the roof off.

The trip out to Silverthorne went well. Bad traffic and rain, but no worse than some of the stuff I’ve seen on the Beltway.

Just for the record, Colorado is incredibly scenic. Even J, who normally doesn’t care for mountains, was enchanted, even if she had trouble breathing at ten thousand feet. I saw a moose outside our room, quietly ignoring us.

One highlight of the wedding was a replica TARDIS, built by the groom’s brother, and augmented with software written by the groom, that served as a photo booth. There was a table with silly hats, mustaches on sticks, and similar accessories. Guests could accouter themselves, then have their photo taken in the TARDIS, and these went into the wedding photo album.

The next day, we decided to avoid the floods in Denver by heading south into (more of) the mountains, via smaller-than-interstate roads, to Leadville and Colorado Springs.

It’s well known that Colorado Springs is home to the Air Force academy and NORAD, the Santa-tracking arm of the US military. But slightly less well known is the fact that Leadville is home to the Mining Hall of Fame and Museum.

The Hall of Fame part is eminently skippable, unless you’re in the mining industry and want to see plaques immortalizing so-and-so digging the first Germanium mine in Indiana or inventing a new drill or whatever, but the rest of the museum is more interesting than you’d expect, which is how it often goes with these things. It had some walk-through replicas of mines, to show you what conditions people worked in when the Colorado mines were first dug, as well as a section on the history of mining, which fits in nicely with the sort of westward-expansion history that I like.

There were also exhibits aimed at giving the visitor a proper appreciation for the role of mining in the world we inhabit. But I confess I only gave a cursory glance at the World of Molybdenum exhibit.

Most immature-giggle-producing item in the gift shop: the book Beyond the Glory Hole: A Memoir of A Climax Miner by James Ludwig. It probably helps to know that Climax, Colorado is a mining town, and that a glory hole is an opening at the top of a mine. But feel free to tee-hee anyway.

Having spent the night in Colorado Springs, we went to visit the Garden of the Gods park, but just as we were getting our bearings in the visitors’ center, they announced that the river through the park was rising due to the rain (see flooding, above) and that the park was being closed as a precautionary measure. We stuck around a bit to see if the sun would come out and make the powers that be change their mind, but it didn’t and they didn’t. So we moved on.

We did stop by Focus on Your Own Damn the Family headquarters. Apparently there are all sorts of activities that you can bring your Jesus-approved, one-man-one-woman family to, but on this Sunday they were observing the fourth commandment (or third, for you Catholic and Lutheran heathens) by being closed, so all we saw was a bunch of buildings in an office park.

Oh, except for one thing: a statue of three children, the eldest playing with and protecting the younger two, one of whom is reading a book that says:

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
A good shepherd always takes care of his sheep.
Sheep say

And with that, onward and northward. It turns out that Denver is far flatter than we had expected, what with it being the mile-high city and all. But it’s right at the junction between the boring-as-Kansas plains, and the totally-not-flat Rockies. So you get to pick the kind of slope you want to live on.

We found the Soundwalk, an art installation in Denver consisting of a series of grates that play water sounds on a loop. Or more precisely, J found it by being startled by what sounded like a toilet flushing under her feet. Either way, it’s cool.

The following day, we visited the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. I confess that the Smithsonian has spoiled me, and I was a bit taken aback at the thought of paying admission to a museum, but it was worth it. Especially if you have (or are) kids with a modicum of curiosity.

At the airport, I got a TSA Junior Officer from the first TSA inspector.

Me: Look what I got!
J: How’d you get that?
Me: Um, I asked for it.

The tram station at Denver airport has a series of posters of local celebrities. On one, I first saw the Hugo. Then I looked up and saw the face of Connie Willis. Then a pile of her books. And only then did I notice the text that said who the face belonged to. Yes, I successfully made my fanboy roll.

All in all, lots of fun. We need to go back, some time when it’s less floody. If things go as well as this first time, I might even get J to hate snow a little less.

But ID Isn’t Creationism, Nosirree!

IDists’ favorite pastime, apart from slagging evolution, appears to be distancing themselves from young-earth creationists, even though the differences are legion:

Age of the Earth:

YECs: 6,000-10,000 years old.

IDs: No comment.

Identity of the designer:

YECs: Jehovah, god of the Bible.

IDs: No comment.

Scientific merit of ideas:

YECs: Evolution is just as much grounded in faith as the belief in a magic man in the sky, so the two are equally valid.

IDs: ID is just as scientific as evolution, if not more so. Is too!

Does evolution occur?:

YECs: Only to a limited extent.

IDs: Only to a limited extent.

Common descent?:

YECs: Only to a limited extent. But there’s no way humans can be related to any other species.

IDs: No comment, though humans almost certainly aren’t related to any other species.

Resolving difficulties: how do you explain X?:

YECs: Evolution doesn’t explain X!

IDs: Evolution doesn’t explain X!

See? The two are worlds apart! There’s no way anyone could see any similarity between the two, unless maybe they had a few pounds of pattern-matching circuitry between their ears.

So anyway, a few days ago, the ID the Future podcast promoted a new edumacational web site, TrueU.

Which seems like the right time to bring up Dr. Sidethink’s corollary to Murphy’s Law:

Anything Labeled “Truth” contains more bullshit than stuff labeled “Bullshit.”

At any rate, the reason IDtF was promoting TrueU is that Stephen Meyer is one of the authors, in addition to being the director of the Disco ‘Tute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture, ID’s main faith tank.

If you poke around TrueU, you’ll see that it’s mainly concerned with kids heading off to college and losing their faith (and selling DVDs in the process).

Oh, did I mention that it’s also a project of Focus on the Patriarchy, an explicitly-Christian, right-wing, homophobic organization?

Yeah, this is the sort of thing that makes it really hard not to crack up when IDiots claim not to be creationists, so I won’t even try. It’s like they’re saying “Sure, he’s fucking me in the ass, but he’s standing on the floor, so technically we’re not in bed with each other.”

Focus on the Family Lies to Children

Focus on the Family,
James Dobson’s right-wing nutsoid organization, obviously isn’t above
lying to kids:

Q. Hi, Average Boy!

I need some advice on evolution. Everyone is talking about it, and I just don’t understand why people think we came from monkey people. I hope you can answer my wonders.

Parker D.

A. Hey, Parker.

Great question! I’ve actually had people tell me that it looks like I may have come from a monkey family. However, if evolution did work, wouldn’t my ears be smaller by now?

Animals do adapt to their surroundings. For instance, my cat has developed a nervous twitch that lets him know when Billy walks in the room. That’s a survival adaptation. But the main evolution chart that most scientists go by was actually made up. The guy who presented all the facts threw in an extra step — that hasn’t even been discovered — to link men to apes.

Not to mention, if monkeys evolved into men then why do we still have monkeys? Wouldn’t they be men, too? That’s a good question to ask your friends the next time you are talking about evolution. Now if you will excuse me, I want to finish my banana.

Your friend and mine,
Average Boy

Elsewhere on the same site,
there’s a retelling of
Big Daddy
for children:

“Uh, Mr. Jemison,” he stammered, “You mentioned the Earth is billions of years old and began with a big bang. How can scientists know this as fact when they weren’t there?”

Cole looked down. “Sir, evolution and the big bang are theories based upon the idea there is no God, so doesn’t that make them a type of religion? I can’t agree that these theories are facts when the Bible has never been proven wrong.”

If it isn’t obvious why this is a load of dingo’s bollocks, ask in the comments.