Friday, September 7, 2007

Leaving on Vacation with a little Song

Rammstein is one of my favorite metal bands and I cannot think a more perfect send off song, as I leave for my vacation.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

This IS a web site dedicated to Mount St Helens

I recently found this on You Tube and I found it very entertaining!


Another fun video!

I enjoyed this video so much that I must share it!


Friday, August 17, 2007

A little humor in your day.

This one of the funniest videos on the Anti-Museum I have found so far!


Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Minnesota Bridge Tragedy

This is a time to give those who lost loved ones, or who were severely injured or simply those who were lucky to survive the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota as chance to grieve. Rescuers still need to undergo the difficult and gruesome task of recovering the bodies of those who are still listed among the missing. As a people, we join in the call for prayer and reflection. Eventually, this tragic incident too will be investigated. A cause identified. There is a new bridge that will need to be engineered and constructed. And hopefully, we will finally learn a few lessons from the tragic event that unfolded on August 1, 2007.

I would agree that now is not the time for political recriminations, but someone should have told this to our increasingly out of touch president.

This morning, while crossing my own bridge to reach to work, I made a rare listen to the President of the United States, speaking from the Rose Garden. The news station had interrupted their regular broadcast invite George Bush to speak to the nation, about the tragedy in Minnesota.

It is appropriate when a major national tragedy to occur, for the President to say a few words of condolences. We want to hear from the President that all is well in the world and he is taking proactive measures to help those directly impacted by the tragedy. And this morning, George Bush began in his stammering manner by saying, “I spoke to Governor (Tim) Pawlenty and Mayor (RT) Rybak this morning . . . I also told them how much we are in prayer for those who suffered. And I thank my fellow citizens for holding up those who are suffering right now in prayer.”

Okay, there is nothing wrong with the President’s opening. But then he said, “By the end of the week, members (of Congress) are going to be leaving for their month-long August recess. And by the time they will return, there will be less than a month before the end of the fiscal year on September the 30th, and yet they haven’t passed one of the 12 spending bills that they’re required to pass.”

Huh? Did I just hear this correctly? Once again, the President had the nation’s attention looking upon him for leadership and guidance and instead, he spends most of his speech complaining about Congress budget dispute with the White House. It seemed as though he had learned nothing after his bungling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

What was George saying? Had Congress adopted the Transportation budget for 2008 sooner, we could have avoided the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis from collapsing?

This is one time when I will not place direct blame on Bush and his Administration of crooked thieves, at least not immediately. But the statement was simply shameful.

The fact is; highway administrators and civil engineers have been raising the alarm over the failing national infrastructure for nearly three decades now. According to a 2005 report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, 160,570 bridges out of the nations 590,750 bridges were declared to be structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. In another ASCE report published during the same year claimed that it will take $1.6 trillion to repair the nation’s infrastructure problems from aviation to sewer systems.

In simple truth, we have ignored in grand scale, our aging infrastructure that we have become very dependent upon for our daily lives. The collapse of the I-35W Bridge is but the latest representative of an ever increasing list of failures that is due to neglect, age and overuse.

There is no single individual to blame. Republicans and Democrats are equally guilty. Both have tried to govern on the cheap, whether the place is the hallowed halls of the federal government or in the planning department of a municipality. We have grown convinced that we can all enjoy the benefits of the commons (good roads, bridges, schools, fire, police, etc.) and at the same time allow for massive tax cuts that benefit corporations and the very rich, justify the unjustifiable debt and wonder aloud, when we too will benefit, while at the same time handout blank checks to continue a war that lost its reason and meaning a long time ago.

News reports indicated this evening that the problems with the I-35W Bridge had been known since 1990, but based on the rating scale engineers use to quantify bridge safety; the bridge had not fallen below the 50 percent margin requiring the bridge replacement. At the same time, there was a news report about Minnesota Governor Pawlenty had vetoed a five cent increase to the state gas taxes in May of this year that could have directed millions of dollars for road repair in Minnesota.

But perhaps the most obscene news item released today, was the postponement of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the Minnesota Twins brand new, $522 million (out of which, $392 million will be paid for by the taxpayers of Hennepin County) Baseball Stadium. This last item is especially obscene in face of the tragic collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge. The message it seems, it’s okay to spend millions of the public money (and break the "no new taxes pledge") for billionaire sports owners, to be played by millionaire spoiled brats and watched by the very elite, but heaven forbid we spend that same amount of money on replacing an aging bridge or building a new school.

Something is very wrong in this country. What is the use of a multi-million dollar baseball stadium, when the freeways and bridges needed to bring people to the games is falling apart?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

When lies goes deep.

The photograph shows Step Canyon as it nears Johnston Ridge Observatory. "Engineers" Canyon (bottom left) is seen merging into Step Canyon.

Since Clues 3 and 4 are nearly identical, there is really no need to write a separate column. Here are to two clues for a recent creation offered at the AiG Creation “Museum:”

Clue 3 - “Looit” (the word should be Loowit) and Step Canyon –
Mudflows cut canyons out of solid rock in just a few years – A miniature example
of rapid erosion immediately during and after the flood.

Clue 4 - Engineers and Little Grand Canyon – Mudflows cut soft sediments in hours – A miniature example of rapid erosion immediately during and after the flood.

“Clue” 3 and “Clue” 4 is just plain silly. First, I would hardly call Loowit and Step Canyons, true canyons, both of these “canyons” average between 40 to 60 feet deep and they are as wide as a street. So-called “Engineers” Canyon was established by the US Army Corp of Engineers in 1982 as they began efforts to pump water out of the still dam up Spirit Lake and that “canyon” too is only 40 to 60 feet in depth. Finally, the “Little Grand Canyon” does not actually exist (not at least on any official map of the national volcanic monument). That name was developed by ICR geologist Steve Austin to describe erosional features located near Coldwater Lake about eight miles west of the volcano.

But, there is no denial that the “canyon” system in the Toutle River Valley, beneath the feet of Mount St Helens developed within a few years after the 1980 eruption. What AiG is implying though in Clues 3 and 4 (and at other displays in the so called “museum”) that events observed at Mount St Helens are common to canyon systems around the world, including the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This is just plain silly!

There were several contributing factors that lead to the rapid erosion at Mount St Helens after 1980, none of which are especially unique for a landscape that was substantially altered by a recent volcanic eruption. At the outset of the eruption of May 18, 1980, 0.6 cubic miles of the mountain went tumbling into the Toutle River Valley. It was the largest landslide in recorded history. Near the base of the mountain, the valley was buried to an average depth of 600 feet. Further away and as far as 14 miles down the Toutle River Valley, the debris avalanche added an average of 150 feet. 120 feet of the deposit at the base of Mount St Helens, consist of loosely consolidated pyroclastic flow debris. At least 32 pyroclastic flows were observed on May 18, 1980 and even more documented during the five other explosive eruptions that occurred during that year, which extended as far north as the shores of Spirit Lake, five miles northeast of Mount St Helens.

Now let’s add into the equation the following: steep terrain, no vegetation, loosely consolidated volcanic and avalanche debris and an average annual precipitation total of 130 inches per year. What do you get? Erosion and a lot of it! Long after Mount St Helens finally does return to a prolonged period of dormancy, erosion will remain as the mountains greatest hazard for decades to come for the people and communities which hug the shores of the Toutle River.

But does the “canyon” system at Mount St Helens compare to the Grand Canyon in Arizona? This is what Steve Austin and the AiG “museum” wants people to believe. If a canyon system can rapidly develop at Mount St Helens, so the logic goes, why not the same thing occurring at the Grand Canyon?

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, approximately 1 mile deep and as much as 18 miles wide, at the Canyon’s widest point. I had the privilege of hiking the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim and I can speak first hand that crossing the “canyons” of Mount St Helens is nothing when compared to trekking across the hot and difficult terrain at the Grand Canyon.

What should be immediate apparent to a visitor to the Grand Canyon is the substantially different geological conditions at the Canyon, as compared to Mount St Helens. The walls of the Canyon is composed of limestone at the rim and alternates between limestone, sandstone, shale and metamorphic granite to the bottom of the Canyon, where the Colorado River can be found flowing through the Vishnu Gorge. The sedimentary rocks that comprises most of the walls of the Canyon, is easier to erode, but the metamorphic rock that is found towards the bottom of the Canyon is much more resistant to erosion.

Now it is true that a great debate continues throughout the geologic community on how the Grand Canyon was developed, especially across the Kaibab Plateau which sits higher then the neighboring Marble Canyon to the east. There are several good hypotheses floating around, but none are definitive because much of the evidence to support the hypothesis long ago eroded away or is buried somewhere. Austin and the AiG “Museum” has hitched their wagon to one popular hypothesis known as “headwater” erosion of the Kaibab Plateau, but this is about as close to making a scientific observation I have found from Austin or AiG.

The real challenge facing YEC geologists is the rate of erosion at the Grand Canyon. Although sedimentary rock are easier to erode, the rates observed today remain slow and certainly based on modern observations that the rate of erosion at the Grand Canyon it would be impossible to cram the development of the Grand Canyon into the 4,350 year old time frame developed by YECers.

Austin and his compatriot at ICR, John Morris, attempted to account for the problem of erosion at the Grand Canyon by claiming in the years after the “flood,” the freshly deposited “flood” debris (which will eventually make up the limestone, sandstone, shale and more) had yet to solidify, creating a condition that is similar to (where else?) the loosely consolidated landslide and volcanic debris found at Mount St Helens, where erosion after the “flood” would be relatively “easy.” But this claim too is extremely problematic because based on the conditions described by Austin and Morris to work, the sediments at the Grand Canyon would have the consistency of a slushy and gravity simply could not sustain the walls of the Grand Canyon that we see today.

Morris recently came up with an answer to this problem too, when in May of 2007, he claimed that the pyroclastic flow debris and landslide debris at Mount St Helens has “hardened” into solid rock, creating another comparison to conditions found at Mount St Helens and the Grand Canyon. But, this is a complete fabrication. The pyroclastic debris has not “hardened” because the temperature of the flows were not hot enough to weld the volcanic debris together and what rocks are found in the landslide debris, were rocks BEFORE the eruption because these rocks are the broken up remnants of the formally 9,677 foot edifice of Mount St Helens.

In the end, the actual value of using the “canyon” system at Mount St Helens is to establish a red herring to support a common straw-man argument to attack the geological age of the Grand Canyon.

At a minimum, the Grand Canyon is about 1.3 million years old, based on the dating of basalt flows that enter into the Canyon near a point called Torroweap on the western edge of the Canyon. The start of the actual formation of the Grand Canyon could have occurred between 6 million to 12 million years ago and perhaps as much as 35 million years ago (depending on which hypothesis is looked at). And the reported ages of the Grand Canyon actually does not address the timeframe it took the Colorado River to actually slice through a mile of rock for 277 miles. Regardless, the timeframe needed to develop the Grand Canyon is far greater than the 6,000 year or 4,350 year timeframe permitted by YEC theory.

So when a geologists say it took “millions of years” to form the Grand Canyon, the AiG museum will throw up a photograph of the “canyon” system at Mount St Helens and say that it does not take that much time, without really bothering to explain the differences between both places. It might a convincing argument for the ignorant and the gullible, but for anyone with half brain can quickly recognize the AiG is being less than truthful.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bad Dates or Bad Intentions?

AiG’s Second Clue from the Mount St Helens Eruption goes like this:

Lava Dome – When 11 years old, a new lava dome dates greater than 350,000 years old by potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating – An example of radioisotope dating difficulties.

In 1648, Irish Prelate, Archbishop James Ussher concluded the date of creation occurred on October 23, 4004 BC. Now Ussher was not the first and he certainly would not be the last to determine the age of the planet following biblical genealogies, but Ussher’s date became the best known. This is perhaps due to publishers of the King James Version of the Bible inserted Ussher’s date in the annotated section of the bible after 1701.

Dispensationalist’s theology insists on a young-earth being true. The problem YECers face, the rest of the world had moved far and beyond our understanding of the age of the Earth once dictated by Ussher. And thanks to the discovery of radioactive decay during the turn of the twentieth century, it is now well established that the age of the planet is 4.55 billion years old, a timeframe which most mainline denominations and the Roman Catholic Church has accepted.

The science of geochronology is well established and had been for at least the past sixty years. This is a science that is able to measure the radioactive decay rates of certain elements trapped in certain crystals (zircons) that formed inside (mostly) igneous rocks to obtain an absolute age. The concept is relatively simple. Determine the ratio between parent isotopes to daughter isotopes, which the half-life of the isotopes is known to obtain an absolute age of the sample being tested. There are some limitations to geochronology like most techniques will not provide accurate results for recently formed samples and errors will sometime occur because the sample was not properly processed, nor can one obtain accurate results from samples obtained from sedimentary rocks or metamorphic rocks. Tens of thousands of samples are worked on each year, with highly accurate results, despite YECers attempts to pull out the odd Irish pennants.

Geochronology is a form of positive evidence that the earth is old. But, YECers insist is very young. ICR will allow for a time frame of 6,000 to 10,000 years old, however AiG accepts only the chronology established by the seventeenth century Irish Anglican cleric. However, if God truly made the planet 6,009 years ago, surely nature can reveal some form of positive evidence – beyond the scholarly writings of Ussher – to confirm Ussher’s timeframe. Despite several half-hearted attempts like focusing on magnetism and amount of salt in the seas, YECers have no positive evidence to support their position, none whatsoever.

So if you cannot produce positive evidence to support your position, do what you can to discredit your opposition. And this is where Mount St Helens comes into the picture.

In the mid-1990’s an ICR geologists name Steve Austin submitted a sample he obtained from the 1980-1986 lava dome to a laboratory to be dated using the Potassium-Argon technique. The laboratory Austin had sent the sample clearly indicated on the form that they were unable to obtain an accurate result for samples younger than 2 million years old (actually material as young as 6,000 years old can be dated using the K-Ar method, but this particular laboratory Austin chosen, lacked the equipment to do this type of dating to that high degree of accuracy), which Austin reported in his paper. Austin also reported that he deliberately did not mention where the sample came from. Not surprisingly, Austin got the result he was looking for when the laboratory reported indicated the age of the Mount St Helens sample to be about 350,000 years old. Austin’s little misdirection’s did not seem to matter. Instead he widely publicized through the YEC bible tracts of yet another example of where radiometric dating cannot be trusted.

So what did Austin’s little experiment show?

When you put bad science (B.S.) in, you get B.S. out!

Monday, July 16, 2007

“Clue” 1 - Ash Cloud: A single ash cloud cools the earth a fraction of a degree – A miniature example of the earth cooling after the flood

It was Benjamin Franklin, while serving as a US Envoy to the French Court, who made the first connection between the impacts a volcanic eruption can have with the climate. In 1783, Laki on the island of Iceland had erupted, producing a tremendous amount of sulfuric acid into the atmosphere, which had deleterious effects over Europe the following year (over 7,000 people died, most due to starvation).

But perhaps the most famous attempt to understanding the impact volcanic eruption had on the climate came a full century later when the British Royal Society took on the task to study the global atmospheric conditions left by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia. Of course most recently, as climate scientists are attempting to understanding the complexities of our climate and global warming, the role volcanoes play in climate change is given close scrutiny.

Let’s for a moment give AiG the benefit of the doubt and say there was a global flood. According to Michael Oard, a researcher with ICR, the flood would had been as much as a volcanic event as it was a water event (although a literal reading of Genesis 6-8 supports only the water version.) Oard states, when the water and drained away and Noah was permitted to leave the Ark, the global atmosphere was chocked full of volcanic ash, setting the condition necessary for an ice age to develop.

It is good at least, YECers are finally admitting there was an ice age and lots of volcanism, because there was a time when YECers refused to acknowledge an ice age. However, the clue has lots of problems.

While volcanic ash will deflect sunlight, ash is not the only thing they emit. In fact, for the ash to even reach the stratosphere volcanoes must also become a gas factory (and a lot of it!). Among the gases produce by an erupting volcano include sulfur, sulfur dioxide, sulfuric acid, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and water vapor. And if you had been following the debate on global warming at all, each of these gases are considered to be greenhouse gases.

Volcanic gases are really a double edge sword. Sulfuric acid for example is able to deflect sunlight, causing global cooling, but water vapor, sulfur and the other greenhouse gases traps heat, thus preventing the heat to escape, which is the factor for global warming.

Oard suggest there were as many as 50,000 volcanoes that erupted during the time of the flood. If true, many of these eruptions were so-called super-eruptions like those found at Yellowstone and Lake Toba in Indonesia. Just one super-eruption can emit enough gas to create a global cooling; lasting for months to years, but 50,000 volcanic eruptions will produce a tremendous amount of gases, which can actually set about the conditions for massive global warming, as well as suffocate all of the survivors on the Ark in volcanic gases and kill all of the surviving fish in the acid laden waters.
But why stop?

Heat is enemy for YEC is another way. During the course of the flood, there would be a tremendous transfer of heat produce by the waters flowing from the depth, accelerated nuclear decay (the YEC explanation for why radioisotope dating methods report ages greater than their accepted 6,000 year date), volcanic activity, meteorite impacts and other possible sources.

Heat is a form of energy. And based on the explanations provided by YECers in recent years to explain the flood, there would be enough heat generated to increase the global temperatures by a burning 1000 degree Celsius. Not only this would be enough for all of the water used in the flood to flash into steam, this would also destroy what remained of the planet atmosphere. God would certainly have gotten his wish; everything on the planet would be destroyed, along with everyone riding the Ark.

Perhaps the people at AiG should have thought about this a little further, before comparing the volcanic eruption at Mount St Helens to their global flood theory.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Silly World of AiG Creation “Museum,” Answering the Clues of Mount St Helens -- An Overview

As much as Mount St Helens and volcanology fascinates me, I must admit getting a little kick to learn what young-earth creationists are saying about my favorite little mountain.

As I explained in my last blog entry, there is a room inside the newly opened Creation Science “Museum” that is dedicated to explaining the world according to flood geology, as told through the eruption of Mount St Helens. For all of the world catastrophes to obsess over, it seems odd that little young-earth creationists “scientists” and organizations would be most fixated with the 1980 eruption. There had been much larger and more devastating natural disasters that wrought wreck and ruin over human lives, a few one would think, matches precisely with how would one expect to find in a world covered by a flood (like the 2004 Sumatra Earthquake and Indian Ocean Tsunami), but if YECers wish to build their world around the eruption of Mount St Helens, I am the more happier to knock it down for them.

In the flood geology room, there are 10 “clues” from Mount St Helens which a person can draw from to lead to the conclusion that the world is a product of a recent flood, instead of vast periods of time for an ever changing earth. Over the next several days and weeks, I will post commentary on each of these “clues” and why they don’t lend themselves well towards explanations of a recent earth.

These 10 “clues” are:

  1. Ash Cloud: A single ash cloud cools the earth a fraction of a degree – A miniature example 0f the earth cooling after the flood.
  2. Lava Dome – When 11 years old, a new lava dome dates greater than 350,000 years old by potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating – An example of radioisotope dating difficulties.
  3. “Looit” (the word should be Loowit) and Step Canyon – Mudflows cut canyons out of solid rock in just a few years – A miniature example of rapid erosion immediately during and after the flood.
  4. Engineers and Little Grand Canyon – Mudflows cut soft sediments in hours – A miniature example of rapid erosion immediately during and after the flood.
  5. Pyroclastic Deposits – Pyroclastic flows (fluid hot ash) deposit 25 feet of finely layered sediments in a few hours – A miniature example of rapid sedimentation during and after the flood.
  6. Coldwater Delta – Hundreds of feet of delta form in just a few years – A miniature example of delta formation during and after the flood.
  7. Elk Recovery – Thousands of elk killed in the eruption are replaced within a decade – A clue about how animals refill the earth after the flood.
  8. Plant Recovery – Ecosystems develop in years rather than decades – A picture of the rapid development of ecosystems after the flood.
  9. Vertical floating logs – Uprooted trees float vertically and sink to the bottom of Spirit Lake. A clue about how petrified forests and polystrate fossils formed as a result of the flood.
  10. Bark Peat – Bark rubs off floating logs and accumulate at the bottom of Spirit Lake – A clue about how coal layers formed as a result of the flood.

Most of these “clues” are just plain silly. A few really does a disservice to educating visitors on geological and biological processes. It should be fun debunking them.

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Two cents on the Answers in Genesis Creation “Museum” and why YEC gets Mount St Helens wrong!

In the Flood Geology room of the recently opened Answers in Genesis Creation “Museum,” is a relatively recent photograph of Mount St Helens. Above the photograph is the header, “The Key: God’s Word, the present is not the key to the past.” Below the photograph is this explanation, “Noah’s flood and times following involved more violent catastrophism than anything known in the present. At best, only modern catastrophes provide only clues about those times.”

What a curious thing to say, because the Mount St Helens eruption was a geologic success.

The recently opened Answers in Genesis Creation “Museum” have all the outward appearances of your standard natural history museum. Inside you can find displays on dinosaurs, fossils and I even understand the place has a halfway decent planetarium. But, I also understand you do not need to tread very far to discover the true purpose of the $27 million, 60,000 square foot complex. The message of the “museum” isn’t to advice science, but rather dispensationalist theology.

You perhaps noticed I did not say “Christian” just now. Yes, AiG like to present themselves off as the true Church and defenders of the faith, but to use the term “Christian” to exclusively define the purpose and mission of the AiG “Museum” would be insulting to other Christians, including this one. Frankly, I am tired of the far religious right hijacking Christianity and the true gospel message of Jesus Christ. So I prefer to describe AiG and other YEC organizations by the theology they advocate, dispensationalism.

Young-earth creationists’ fixation on Mount St Helens began, almost as soon as the dust had settled after the 1980 eruption. During the early 1980’s, Steve Austin with the Institute for Creation Research and Harold G. Coffin with the Seventh Day Adventist Geosciences Research Institute obtained permits to study the debris field at Mount St Helens. While Coffin remained fairly focused on the trees that had washed into nearby Spirit Lake (in 1979, Coffin wrote a paper proposing that petrified trees at Yellowstone National Park had floated to their location), Austin took a more generalist approach (Austin would later claim that the Spirit Lake study was his idea, even though there is not a single paper with his name on it, except from Coffin expressing his appreciation to Austin for his assistance).

Coffin’s study of the Spirit Lake trees did find its way into two peer reviewed (Geology and Palios) geologic journals (only because Coffin was careful to not associate his work at Spirit Lake to his YEC beliefs), which stirred some controversy. Austin’s paper, Rapid Erosion at Mount St Helens though, read more like a tourist field trip guide, than a paper that had any real study quality to it. The problem with the YEC movement since Austin’s paper, they really have not attempted to expand on the “findings” Austin made and just about everything published since then (Austin, Morris and Sarafarti) had been merely a regurgitation of Austin’s 1984 paper. So I was not surprised, when reviewing photographs taken at the Creation “Museum” to find another regurgitation of Austin’s 1984 St Helens “study,” plastered along the walls and displays in a room dedicated to flood “geology.”

The Flood “Geology” room seeks to convinced the visitor that the planet was completely inundated by a global flood and it is the by products of this flood and not a prolonged time span of an ever changing Earth that we see in the geologic record today. The use of Mount St Helens is not so much as to establish positive evidence that favors a flood “geology” theory, but rather a series of negative arguments against modern geologic sciences.

The room begins with a display titled, “The Key to Understanding God’s Word.” In this case the flood.

Mount St Helens becomes “a clue,” to establish evidence that there was a flood. In two panels, AiG lists 10 “observations” from Mount St Helens, based somewhat on a 1991 video Mount St Helens: Explosive Evidence for Catastrophe, where Austin declared the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens as the defining moment that placed a death nail to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Gradualism Geology in a single stroke. The 10 so-called observations, except for one, appeared in other YEC publications (including a book written by Austin and ICR President John Morris Footprints in the Ash, the Explosive Story of Mount St Helens).

Typically, AiG does not place the “observations” drawn from Mount St Helens into context with other volcanic eruptions that take place around the world. The accumulation of sediment from the massive landslide and pyroclastic surges, the subsequent erosion of the volcanic deposits to form canyons, the deposition of trees into Spirit Lake and even the discovery of wood bark at the bottom of Spirit Lake are each presented as a “surprise” to mainstream geologists and beyond the mental capacity of those trained in gradualism geology. In turn, we are expected to accept that each “observation” represents a “miniature” example of how Noah’s Flood caused rapid accumulation of sedimentary rocks on a global scale, the rapid formation of canyons, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona and how peat and coal could rapidly develop in a post-flood world.

There is really no effort made to demonstrate how the “observations” drawn from St Helens can become expanded to explain a global flood.

AiG’s treatment of Mount St Helens at the Creation “Museum” is really disingenuous, misleading, if not downright false. Considering the importance AiG and other YEC organizations emphasis on the St Helens eruption, one needs to wonder why they have not established their own version of a volcano observatory or created an institute dedicated to catastrophic geologic research. And even assuming they did establish a volcano observatory, similar to the Cascade Volcano Observatory the United States Geological Survey established, one would wonder AiG’s capability to keep people safe.

Most volcanic eruptions are relatively minor and their impact is limited to a localized area. Thankfully, the type of eruptions on the scale that Mount St Helens demonstrated occurs on average of about 1 per decade. But, large or small, studying volcanoes is an important function for geologists because of the potential for the lost of life and property damage will always be present. This is one reason why we study volcanoes.

However, volcanoes also represent a fascinating geologic process. Since Pliny the Younger, who gave us the first eyewitness account of a volcanic eruption when he provided very vivid detail of the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, through the 1883 eruption that destroyed Krakatoa and killed over 36,000 people, to Mount St Helens today, volcanism continues to amaze us and challenge us to learn more.

Mount St Helens was a geologic success story. It was through the experiences of volcanologists and geologists for the past 150 years that allowed us to anticipate the dangers Mount St Helens might pose in 1980 and prepare for the eventuality of a major explosive eruption in time.

And after 1980, the study of Mount St Helens did not stop. Mount St Helens is just one of 13 potentially active Cascade Volcanoes between British Columbia and California. Recognizing the ongoing danger, the United States Geological Survey established the Cascade Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington in 1981 to monitor all of the Cascade monsters. And through the CVO, experienced geological teams had assisted with the monitoring of other potentially dangerous volcanoes around the world.

None of this would have been possible if, as AiG and other YEC organizations insisted that geologists were somehow befuddled by the eruption. Worst, by failing to properly educate people about volcanoes, their wonders and their dangers, they place lives at risk.

In the end, the Creation “Museum” is really wrong!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Who said that crime doesn't pay.

It was not that long ago when Republicans couldn’t wait to haul Bill Clinton in front of the US Senate to face articles of impeachment for obstruction of justice and for committing perjury. The claim then, no one – including the President of the United States was above the law. Of course, the concern Republican had had little to do with national security or cases of government corruption. Instead the issue involved a statement the President gave in a deposition hearing, on a privately initiated sexual harassment law suit, who’s the party only claimed injury was, then Governor Bill Clinton had skipped her when he was passing out flowers on Secretary’s day. But that did not matter. Bill Clinton violated his oath of office claimed the Republicans and he ought to be punished for what he had done.

I wonder where are those same virtuous Republicans now?

It really comes as no surprised that George W Bush, the successor to President Clinton did, what he had been unable to exercise after so many opportunities came up while he was Governor of the State of Texas and for what he has done so sparingly since arriving to the White House, more than six years ago. Tonight, he commuted the prison sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, I Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Before anyone takes issue, I will concede the point that the President had every right to commute the sentence of a person convicted of a federal crime. I will even concede the point that past Presidents, including Clinton had issued questionable pardons and commutations of prison sentences issued to friends and political allies. Although in these past cases, the President had the good graces of waiting until the end of their terms before exercising the most blatant round of favoritism. However one does need to wonder now, is exercising a presidential power an act of obstruction of justice?

Conservatives may disagree, but last March guilty verdict in the case of the United States versus I Lewis Libby was fair and just. The case was born out what had been obvious to some, of an effort by this White House to discredit political friends of the President when it became apparent they will not play ball and support some of the lunatic affairs committed by this White House. In this case, the issue went to the very heart for why we went into war in Iraq. Among the claims this President gave for justifying a war was alleged evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to secure “yellow cake” uranium, which could possibly be used for building a nuclear bomb.

“Not true,” said Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador to Iraq and an ally with the Bush Administration, who was sent to Niger to investigate the claim by the Central Intelligence Agency. Not long after Ambassador Wilson wrote an opinion piece on this very issue in the New York Times, word came out about Ambassador Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame, who was then a covert operative with the CIA and whose job it was, to monitor the development of weapons of mass destruction in Iran.

Federal law prohibits the disclosure of covert CIA operatives and for very good reason. If you want to discover what your enemies are doing, then you need covert CIA operatives to do the dirty work to find out. Exposure can mean the death of the operative and the loss of a vital source of intelligence, like truly finding ourselves one morning waking up with a mushroom cloud over one of America’s cities. By exposing Valerie Plame’s identity to the world, the United States loss a vital avenue of intelligence tracking the activities of the Iranian government and their quest to develop nuclear weapons; a government that this Administration stressed in 2002 as one of the members of the so-called “axis of evil,” and a country which this Administration is giving every strong indication of attacking within the next 567 days when this nightmare is finally through.

A two year long investigation followed the leak, which the neither the Administration nor the Press were overly willing to cooperate. It was evident from the testimony given during the Libby trial that had instigated the leak, which showed that the actual source came from Karl Rove and the Vice President Dick Cheney himself. It was also apparent that Libby was the preverbal fall guy, who was taking a bullet for the team. But, none-the-less, the evidence also showed that Libby had lied to prosecutors about his involvement in the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity and as a result of that leak, he had obstructed justice.

As a part of Libby’s punishment, he was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison, which is fair when considering what Libby had done. And today, Libby lost his appeal to stay out of prison, while his criminal conviction was appealed.

It was hoped that as reality finally sank in and Scooter Libby was about to share a prison bed with Kent Hovind, a young-earth creationist charlatan who decided that he did not need to pay taxes to the federal government and sentenced in 2007 to serve a 10 year prison term that Libby will finally give up his co-conspirators. You see this sort of thing on Law and Order all of the time. You go after the small fish, knowing they will lead you to the big fish on a promise on a reduce sentencing.

The real problem, this Administration has taken obstructing legitimate investigations into its behavior into a fine art form. Whether it is discovering who in this administration was actually responsible for the firing of eight US Attorney’s whose commitment to the law did not match with this Administration’s desire to suppress Democratic votes; or discovering the scope of warrantless domestic spy program that this administration was so determined to continue, they had to disturb the US Attorney General who was recovering in a Washington, DC intensive care unit; and a Vice President who claims on one day that he is a part of the Executive Branch of Government and therefore not obligated to disclose anything and the next day he is a member of the Legislative Branch and therefore not subject to disclose anything.

So here is a President who laughed on the day when he declined to issue clemency to Karla Fay Tucker as she was led to the Texas Death Chamber, despite appeals from Jerry Farwell, Pat Robertson and Pope John-Paul II. And here is a President who snickered when he refused to grant clemency to a great-grandmother who killed her husband after years of abusive treatment, as she too was lead to Texas Death Chamber. And here is a President who has detained American Citizens and Foreign Nationals incommunicado, denied them access to the writ of habeas corpus and whose solution to the detainees problem is to established kangaroo courts that does not make any pretenses to following the rule of law. And here is a President, who has issued fewer pardons than his predecessors, has found it in his heart to issue clemency on behalf of Scooter Libby.

I suppose it pays to be friends with this administration.

And so much too, for the moral authority asserted by Republicans as they sought to impeach the previous President of the United States.

Good night and good luck.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Giant Leap Forward

For three years, I have bugged my family and friends with a newsletter that I called the Mount St Helens Watch.

Mount St Helens had been a long time fascination of mine and when the Cascade Volcano awoke again on October 1, 2004, I started the Mount St Helens Watch to report news and information on the eruption and interesting tidbits on the mountain. As this dedicated quest continued, I soon expanded the newsletter to include family information, my travels and even my political interest (just about everything under the sun).

This service is now being expanded to the blogoshpere.

Although I have studied geology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR, I am actually an occupational safety and health specialist (an OSHA type of person). For about nine years, I applied my trade with a environmental and geotechnical drilling company located in Tualatin, OR. For the past year, I have served as the Safety Specialist for a non-profit organization that provide job training and jobs for the disabled in Portland, OR.

What to expect from this blog?
  • News and views on Mount St Helens
  • My views and commentary on young-earth creationism, especially their false claims on the eruption of Mount St Helens.
  • Progressive leaning politics
  • Anything impacting Portland and the Pacific Northwest
  • Photographs
  • And more

So for anyone who read this, welcome aboard.

Lance Wilson