Monday, January 31, 2005

One Foot in Eden: a Novel


Ted's Book Review of the Month:

One Foot in Eden, by Ron Rash

This is our current book selection (Litwits Book Club, San Luis Obispo Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, SL0, CA).

I think I put this one in the pot for our annual selection effort, and boy did I luck out. A haunting tale of folks living in the Appalachian Mountains ( Oconee county, in the most mountainous corner of South Carolina, located along the South Carolina border).


A tale of a farmer and his wife living a tough life on hard soil with not enough of anything except hope. The farmer caught polio as a child and (perhaps because of that event) has no live sperm.

His beautiful wife gets "sage" advice from the strange elderly woman living far back at the end of Wolf Creek: the wife should get naked in the sight of the young neighbor who works the adjacent farm and is a wild and troublesome Korean war veteran who lives with his mother and welcomes a good fight in a honk-tonk in the evening.

Sure enough, the neighbor has no problem getting the 20 yr old beautiful wife pregnant, but then as the pregnancy becomes apparent, will force the couple to split up and the young wife to become his wife.

The husband correctly infers this will never turn into a good scene, hence the murder and coverup.

The story is told in first person in successive chapters by the County Sheriff, the wife, the husband, the son, and the Deputy Sheriff.

The writing takes you into the hill country dialects and hill country superstitions of plain, hard working country folk. The sense of place lingers long after you finish this book. The characters are just as conflicted as people generally are, and just as vulnerable to tragedy.

This one gets my five star award.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

on not watching the inauguration

Since I am not watching the inauguration, I have no idea what Dubya is saying about one's duty to die for the sins of the Iraqi people. If they (the Iraqis) had their act together, it would be a lot easier to belong to the world's lone superpower.

People generally get the government they deserve, and the most popular books in Baghdad bookstores (pre-liberation) were books about Adolph Hitler.

I would feel a lot better about our President's urges to save the world from godless incompetence if his daughters (and V.P. Cheney's) were in our front lines in uniform and flak jackets.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Oklahoma Biology Lesson


Charles Darwin

Daniel Dennett, in Darwin's Dangerous Idea:
Let me lay my cards on the table. If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone has ever had, I'd give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton & Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning, and purpose, with the realm ... of physical law.
Despite Darwin's great pathbreaking ideas on the evolution of all living matter via natural selection, and despite the fact that 99.99% of biologists consider these ideas as the best explanation of the evidence available, Creationists in the U.S. persist in pushing an alternative explanation, currently called "Intelligent Design".

P.Z. Myers at is a university biologist who maintains an active and powerful blog presence.

His "Oklahoma biology lesson" post is so good, I am going to repost it here, to help increase its visibility among the few lost souls who land (surely by accident) on my blog.
A lesson plan for Oklahoma

Hi, kids! Today, in our 8th grade life sciences class here in the beautiful state of Oklahoma, we are going to learn all about Evolution. Evolution is a powerful scientific tool to explain the wonders of the world around us, and a famous scientist once said that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. We're going to learn that it is even more powerful than that, and that evolution also helps us understand politics, religion, and economics; the light of evolution will show us the brilliance of our representatives in Oklahoma City, the enlightening faith that guides them, and that you lucky children will have a bright, happy future as Wal-Mart employees.

Everyone, open your science book to the inside front cover. Let's read this nifty little guide to biological science that we can thank Representative Bill Graves for. We will have to correct a few minor errors in it, but otherwise, it's very helpful.
This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory, which some scientists present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants and humans.
Yes! This textbook does discuss evolution. That is correct. Rep. Graves is off to a good start. There is a mistake in the next part, though: he really shouldn't say it is a controversial theory. It is accepted by nearly every biologist on the planet. Could everyone scratch out the word "controversial"? Thanks.

Uh-oh, we still have some problems. "some scientists"? That's kind of misleading, I think. Scratch out "some", too.

And "present as a scientific explanation"? It is a scientific explanation. I'm not clear what he's getting at, but let's simplify. Draw a line through "some scientists present as" and write "is" above it. Good work! Let's move on.
No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.
Yes, Danielle? You have a question? "What about God?"

That's a hard question. Some people don't believe in god, and would say he wasn't present when life first appeared. Others think he was. We don't know one way or another, and we don't have any evidence for either possibility. Rep. Graves really shouldn't be saying that. We don't worry about god in science class, anyway.

Would it make you feel better if we scratched it out? OK. Everyone, draw a line through the first sentence.

If no one was present, though, does that mean we can't ever figure out if something happened? Was anybody around last weekend when the second floor toilet overflowed and flooded the art room? No? I guess that means it didn't happen then.

Oh, it did happen? How do you know?

That's right: evidence. The broken toilet left evidence of the event. We'd be pretty silly if we tried to claim it didn't happen because no one was standing there watching the whole time, wouldn't we? It's a good thing we scratched that sentence out already, because it made poor Rep. Graves look awfully silly.

The second sentence also has a problem. When we started this unit on science we explained what a theory was. Does anyone remember?

Exactly! It's an explanation that is well-supported by evidence. Rep. Graves is correct when he says that evolution is a theory. It is a very, very powerful explanation, and as you'll learn once we get past the inside cover of your textbook, it is very, very well supported by the evidence.

What about "fact"? What is that?

You kids are so good. Yes, it is an idea that is accepted as true, until further evidence refutes it. All the evidence so far supports evolution, and it has not been refuted, so it's also a fact. It is both a fact, just like the broken toilet flooding the art room is a fact, and it is also a theory or explanation, just like the story that Chunk Jones tried to flush Dexter's underpants is an explanation for how it was broken.

Hmmm. The second sentence in this paragraph is wrong, too. Maybe you should just scratch out the whole thing.
The word evolution may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (White moths, for example, may evolve into gray moths). This process is micro evolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing into another, such as reptiles into birds. This process, called macro evolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theory. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things.
Now you get to learn some useful things. Evolution is about change, and there are different kinds of change, even more than just the two Rep. Graves mentions here. One kind of change is change that doesn't result in a new species, and we call that microevolution, because the changes are small. Another kind is called macroevolution, because it results in big changes between species. This part of the paragraph is correct.

There are some problems, though. Evolution is a theory about populations, not individuals. We really don't talk about a white moth turning into a gray moth; the white moths stay white and the gray ones stay gray. Could you write "Populations of" just before the words "white moths"? Very good.

Rep. Graves also has the definition of macroevolution wrong. Scratch out "change of one living thing into another, such as reptiles into birds", and replace it with "change above the species level".

There is a typo in the next sentence. Macroevolution has been observed; we'll talk about fruit flies and Rhagoletis pomonella and the Faroe Island mouse and Culex molestus and ring species and many other examples later. Scratch out "never". Also, where he says "theory"? That should be "fact".

The last sentence is a bit of a mess, I'm afraid. Do we talk about "proof" in science class? No! Save that for Ms. Johnson's geometry class. Do we talk about "beliefs" in science class? No! We talk about evidence and hypotheses and theories and experiments. Both of those words have to go. We'll learn later that evolution is also not random; bye-bye, "random". "Undirected"? Well, the evidence is compatible with that idea, but you know what? This sentence has so many errors in it, let's just draw a line through the whole thing.
There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life, which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: Why did the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record, known as the Cambrian Explosion? Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record in a long time? Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record? How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body? Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth.
I'm glad to see that Rep. Graves appreciates the many unanswered questions. Biology is an exciting topic, and one of the things that makes it fun is that there are so many new things to learn. I'm afraid some of his questions are wrong, though.

Your book does mention the Cambrian 'Explosion', like many general textbooks do. We have many hypotheses about how it happened, such as that it occurred as oxygen was becoming enriched in the atmosphere and making available new materials and greater metabolic rates, or that life evolved to a threshold of complexity that allowed for exploration of novel forms. We don't have nice, sharp, final answers, but it is an interesting topic. Since it's a good question, leave it in, but let's strike out "which are not mentioned in your textbook", OK?

I don't know what Rep. Graves was thinking of in his next question. Major groups have appeared much more recently than the Cambrian—flowering plants and mammals, just to name two we think are kind of important. Maybe you'd better scratch out this question.

The next question is also mistaken! We're going to show you lots of transitional forms from the fossil record: Basilosaurus, Homo erectus (calm down, Roger, or we'll be sending you to the prinicipal's office), Ichthyostega, I have a long list of really cool fossils to show you, and there are lots in your textbook. I think maybe Rep. Graves just forgot to read your book before putting in this question—so let's delete this one, too.

We do wonder how we got these specific, complex instructions that built your body, so that is a good question, too. As you'll see, we think the best answer is evolution.

The last sentence here makes me a bit sad. I'd like to think that someday you'll all be able to help learn new things about life, but some people in your state's government seem to be trying hard to make that difficult and confusing for you, and are making it difficult for me to teach you what you need to know. You're all smart kids, though, so I think you can overcome these obstacles. Let's leave that last sentence in and hope for the best.

So let's see how the revised textbook disclaimer looks.
This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory, which some scientists present asis a scientific explanation for the origin of living things, such as plants and humans.

No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any statement about life's origins should be considered as theory, not fact.

The word evolution may refer to many types of change. Evolution describes changes that occur within a species. (Populations of White moths, for example, may evolve into gray moths). This process is micro evolution, which can be observed and described as fact. Evolution may also refer to the change of one living thing into another, such as reptiles into birdschange above the species level. This process, called macro evolution, has never been observed and should be considered a theoryfact. Evolution also refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces produced a world of living things.

There are many unanswered questions about the origin of life, which are not mentioned in your textbook, including: Why did the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record, known as the Cambrian Explosion? Why have no new major groups of living things appeared in the fossil record in a long time? Why do major groups of plants and animals have no transitional forms in the fossil record? How did you and all living things come to possess such a complete and complex set of instructions for building a living body? Study hard and keep an open mind. Someday you may contribute to the theories of how living things appeared on earth.

Much better! We had to spend today fixing the mistakes of your state representatives, but maybe tomorrow we'll be able to start working on biology. I sure wish politicians would leave the textbook writing to the authors and scientists.

Michelle! Please do not use language like that, and I don't know why Rep. Graves is such a butthead. I didn't vote for him, why don't you ask your parents?


Charles Darwin

Monday, January 03, 2005

Creationism Is Not Science Part 5


The following website presents an approach to confronting a Creationist:

Scientific Evidence For Evolution and against Creation 'Science'

I like to think of Creation 'Science' as 'Armchair science' because it seems people who believe it have more opinion than fact. They look at it more of a debate of what happened than the science of what happened. I picture them smoking a pipe and pontificating on how God created the [all]. No one is stupid for believing this misapplied science. Only if people study for years will they know creationism is junk science.

It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Bible, Acts 20:35

I always thought how one sided creationist preaching's are. Some stranger armed with pamphlets and skilled in the evolved art of persuading minds to "Believe", against the average person and his/her common sense. If common sense were all you needed to fend off bad ideas there would never have been a "Spanish Inquisition," There would never have been Jews burned in ovens...

I always thought why not teach evolution to the creationist. They have no shame in knocking on your door and telling you "God wants YOU!" So why not turn the tables? I mean "It is more blessed to give than to receive" right? I made up my mind that whenever someone came to me preaching the bible (Or any religion) I would teach evolution. "Nature needs YOU!"


My first Saturday relaxing in my new home when I heard the door bell ring. I got up to see if it was a new neighbor needing a cup of sugar or welcoming me on the block. "Hello" I said with a grin "Can I help you?" They replied "No but I can help you." I looked up and down noticing the business suit and tie. The only people I know of that knock on your door on a Saturday morning, and dress like that is Jehovah's Witnesses.

A short man who looked like he was over dressed for an interview at K-mart asked in a quiet voice "What party do you vote for?" What did this question have to do with religion? I thought... I knew this was a loaded question but I answered quickly. "I vote independent." The man replied "Good! Very good... What if I told you you could vote for someone that could change you and your familys' life for the better right now... would you vote for him?" Knowing the trap which was laid in front of me, I answered "SURE!" He then pulled a pamphlet from his jacket pocket and said "By voting to put God in your heart you can change your life and your familys' life forever!"

My grin became larger as I tried to hold back my laughter. I couldn't help but note this was a beautiful way to introduce the idea. My next response was meant to ensnare my victim in the same way but also to make him feel in command. "How do you know there is a God?" This question is common, almost as common as the answer he gave. "You see this house? It didn't evolve from dust right? It was made by it's designer from the ground up. You are more complex than a house aren't you? You don't think this house could be put together by chance do you? So why would you believe you were?"

Yep, That was response # 1. The complexity argument. It's one of the easiest ways to trap an armchair evolutionist and convert them to armchair scientist. Just learning you came from an ape doesn't explain the complexity of the human anatomy. It seems as though everything is perfectly placed. The armchair evolutionist usually has no good answer to this question but a little open mind can go a long way.

"Isn't a God more complex than a human? Where did your God come from?" I said. I was ready for reply #2 and he didn't disappoint. "God didn't have to be made, he was here all along. He is eternal and infinite." To which I said "So why can't I say that the laws of Natural Selection/Evolution have always been here? At least there is evidence of evolution, and there is no evidence for a God."

The response was that glassy eyed "Yeah right!" as he told me of the ridiculousness of coming from an ape. "You believe you came from an APE!?", as he laughed. I replied while I pointed to the women helper with him: "And you believe you came from a spare rib?" ("Genesis:2:22: And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.) "Think about it... That wouldn't even fly as a Star Trek movie." There are mountains of evidence which support the idea that humans evolved from primates, but no evidence that suggests a women was created from a rib. It is a FACT that over 99.4% of human and primate DNA is the same. [1]

The woman quickly walked off my porch and looked at me as if she was looking at the devil himself. She actually wouldn't go back on the porch after that.

After about an hour, going back and forth, telling them the pamphlets they had are lying about things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics and transitional fossils, they left.

This site is dedicated to providing the armchair evolutionist with information needed to demonstrate to themselves and to others evolution that Darwin's idea of evolution by natural selection is the overwhelmingly best idea around to explain the evidence available to us about human origins.


Creationism Is Not Science Part 4


Excerpt from the following web site explores the connection between Creationism and Ecology:

The gospel truth, according to the book of someone said so.

Biblical Creationism presents a serious roadblock to ecological thinking. It is often used as an excuse to trivialize nature and promote human greed. Rush Limbaugh prefaces the chapter on ecology in his first book by proudly displaying his Creationist views, then proceeds to justify his arrogance toward anything non-human as part of a Biblical mandate. Many people mix Christianity with politics and force their beliefs on others via said politics. This violates the Constitutional separation of church and state (atheism is the lack of belief so it doesn't apply here). Creationism also contributes to scientific illiteracy and disrupts higher education. It clearly undermines biology, which in turn affects people's beliefs about nature.

At the core of Creationists' beliefs is an ancient book written by people who claim to have "spoken to God." This book only exists in an Earthly form and is no different than any other book except for its contents. It doesn't glow in the dark, and people who open it are not propelled upward on a beam of light. It's just a book (albeit with some wise advice in it) and it's clearly figurative in many areas. Creationists use a ridiculous circular argument which states that the Bible is literal because the "Bible says so" (which it never actually does). Don't bother pointing out the absurdity of this argument, because they have as many rationalizations as there are verses in the Bible. And they are willing to change the context of scripture to whatever suits the argument at hand. If science proves that Jesus couldn't have walked on water, Creationists will claim that the water was frozen, and so on.

Another Creationist tactic is to claim that the Bible is an "historical document," as if bits and pieces of reality prove that everything else in the Bible is literal. Is the fact that the Bible correctly describes the location of Jerusalem proof that Moses parted a huge body of water, that men lived to the age of 900, that stars fell to the earth and that all life on the planet was slapped down in seven days? These ideas would be laughed out of any courtroom but Creationists hide behind the notion that "anything is possible with God." They believe this absolves them from the need to prove anything through normal channels. It makes them impossible to reason with. The only thing that would give Creationism scientific validity is unbiased proof of a deity's existence, and this will never happen. They've already had 2000 years to come up with something concrete.

The Bible offers vague, supernatural explanations for phenomena like weather and earthquakes because the authors of the Bible had no means of understanding otherwise. Why is the topic of human origins the only scientific discovery that's so hotly contested by fundamentalists? It's because the origins of Man are considered far more personal than the workings of a storm cloud. Fundamentalists are hypocrites for accepting the scientific method when it gives them cars, computers and life-saving medicine. So-called "scientific" Creationism is just a religious crusade.

Christianity is not based on literal, universally accepted truths. Religion is generally passed down through families much the same way as speech patterns, mannerisms and the inclination to smoke or drink. One need only look at the geographical distribution of world religions to see this. If the Bible was a literal document containing universal truths, missionaries would not be needed to spread the gospel in foreign lands. The idea that all fundamentalists were "destined" to be believers is absurd. If there is truly one God watching over the entire planet, why are there so many different religions with multiple gods? How can fundamentalists know they're the chosen ones who've found the only way to live?

Creationism Is Not Science Part 3


The following web site presents a broad definition of Creationism:

Creationism by Keith Matthews

This is the easiest of the ‘fringe’ areas to deal with, as it is the one that early archaeologists had to deal with. Creationism, in its broadest sense, is the belief that the entire universe was created by a divine being. The term covers a wide range of convictions, although it is most often used in a restricted sense to refer to the beliefs of protestant fundamentalist Christians, especially in the United States of America. The full gamut of creationist beliefs cannot be described here and most are mutually exclusive (it is a peculiar arrogance of the protestant fundamentalist Christian creationists that they have set the agenda for the debate to be between their version of creationism and science). Creationist beliefs range from the frankly bizarre (one example of ancient Egyptian cosmogeny has the creation of the world proceeding from the masturbation of the god Atum) to the charmingly naive (a Finnish legend has it that a teal built her nest on the Mother of the Primeval Water’s knee and when one of her eggs broke after the Mother twitched, the earth formed from one half of the shell, and the sky from the other). There are few people today who would demand that these sorts of accounts ought to be taught in schools as part of a science lesson, yet the Christian fundamentalists have occasionally been able to persuade various American state legislatures to accept that their particular creation story should be taught in this way.

Protestant fundamentalist Christian creationism is the most prominent form in the western world (and in particular, the USA), because of the privileged position held by the numerous different forms of Christianity in these states. In some Middle Eastern states, fundamentalist Islamic creationism is also a major force (in Taleban-ruled Afghanistan, for instance, it was the only permitted account of the origins of the world), but elsewhere, it is not an important phenomenon (something that may surprise many Americans).

The more extreme creationists believe that divine creation took place as little as 6000 years ago (following the chronology established by James Ussher (1581-1656; Archbishop of Armagh, 1625-56), who calculated the date of creation as 4004 BC); so-called ‘scientific creationism’ has grown up in an attempt to provide evidence that this account is correct. Other creationists are more subtle; some allow the earth to be considerably older than 6000 years, even as old as 4.3 billion years—which is what conventional science says—and restrict their beliefs to a denial that the universe can exist without a creating god. The question of creationism is something that has exercised American educators for many years, with numerous controversies about what can and cannot be taught in schools; it is not taken quite so seriously on this side of the Atlantic.

Creationism Is Not Science Part 2


Excerpt from a good column by Massimo Pigliucci

Contemplating the meaning of life is one of humankind’s oldest occupations and we are peculiar for inventing all sorts of fabulous stories to make sense of our existence. One of the minimalist answers I run into puts the futility of such an effort in good evidence. It’s a cartoon with a series of living organisms, from simple creatures to more and more complex ones, ending, obviously, with humans. The caption says: “The meaning of life?” Every creature has a balloon that says “Eat, sleep, reproduce;” -- all except for the human’s, which asks: “What is the meaning of life?”

There is more to life than eating, sleeping and reproducing (though those are indeed fairly basic components). For example: writing columns or watching movies; being kind to your friends and relatives; and being at least decent to the rest of humanity. But, despite all our mythologies depicting an everlasting happiness in this or other worlds, we would condemn ourselves to a miserable eternity.

What then? Well, just make sure that your double role as director and star of your life’s movie is worthy of an Academy Award. It shouldn’t be that difficult…

Creationism Is Not Science Part 1


A fun set of "frequently asked questions" from the following website:


by Richard Harter

Q: What is the principle evidence for Creationism?
A: The Holy Bible, of course. After all, is it likely that the author of the Universe would be mistaken about its age?

Q: But isn't the Bible religion and not science?
A: Truth is truth. It's a poor sort of science that ignores truth.

Q: But isn't there a lot of evidence for evolution?
A: Not really, most of it is from university professors writing papers for each other. If they didn't write papers they wouldn't have jobs.

Q: How big was Noah's ark?
A: Big enough.

Q: But what about radioactive dating?
A: Hey, everybody knows that stuff is bad for you. Stick with good Christian girls.

Q: What about the fossil evidence?
A: The real fossils are university professors writing papers for each other.

Q: Is there any other evidence for creationism besides the Bible?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you give us some?
A: Yes.

Q: Could you give us a specific example?
A: Yes.

Q: What would be a specific example of evidence for Creationism?
A: I've already answered that question.

Q: What about the Antarctic ice core data?
A: Now I put it to you. Coop up a bunch of men in a Quonset hut in the worst weather in the world, with nothing to do but gather data and drink, and what do you expect?

Q: Did the dinosaurs coexist with man?
A: Look, the liberals were preaching coexistence with the Communists, and you saw what happened to them.

Q: Should Creationism be taught along with Evolution in the schools?
A: Creationism should be taught instead of Evolution in the schools.

Q: Doesn't the Geologic Column prove that the Earth is very old?
A: The geologic column proves that some things are on top of other things and some things are underneath other things. But we already knew that, didn't we.

Q: Hasn't evolution been demonstrated in the Laboratory?
A: Students are demonstrating everywhere these days. To their shame, many professors are demonstrating also.

Q: Aren't Hawiian wallabies an example of Evolution in action?
A: No.

Q: Why not?
A: Because they aren't.

Q: What is a kind?
A: A kind is cards of the same rank. Thus 4 aces and a king are four of a kind, but four spades and a heart are not.

Q: Doesn't genetic variation indicate that life has been going on a long time?
A: Let's be up front about this. That's deviation, not variation, and yes, there is a lot of deviancy out there. That just shows that there has been a lot of Sin since the garden of Eden.

Q: What about Neanderthal Man?
A: Hey, you take one of those geezers and put him in tweeds and give him a pipe and he could be a professor anywhere.

Q: Some scientists state that the earth's continents are drifting around on top of a molten interior which has shaped life as we see it now. Are they right?
A: As you well know the Bible says that beneath the surface of the earth is Hell where there is eternal fires and brimstone. If the continents appear to be moving around that is Satan's doing.

Q: Why do almost all of the scientists believe in Evolution?
A: The real scientists don't. As for the rest of them, that's a very good question, isn't it?

Q: Are you talking about a Satanic conspiracy?
A: Did I say anything about a conspiracy? You might want to think about the shape the world is in since the Evolutionists and the Liberal Humanists captured academia and how Evolution is hand in hand with Godless Communism and crime in the streets but I certainly wouldn't want to say anything about a Satanic conspiracy. I just want you to think about it with an open mind.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Polar Bear Dip Time


January 1 is the time for endless football bowl games on TV in the comfort of your warm home and, for the more adventurous, time for a dip in the whatever is the coldest water available.

The Lake Powell Polar Bear Club has a not very persuasive list of reasons you should participate:

1) Shocking the circulatory system can produce a warm afterglow and a transcendental state that one literally needs to experience to fully understand.

2) It is a spiritually uplifting ritual which can surpass any normal level of comprehension.


3) It can reduce wrinkles. Drastic temperature changes and shivering skin actually exercise shallow sub-cutaneous muscles that firm the skin.

4) You become part of history rooted in the European tradition of saunas and cold-water bathing.

5) Jumping in near-freezing water wearing little more than a pair of shorts takes a brave soul.


6) Participants build a sense of camaraderie and valued friendships that can last a lifetime.

7) It helps mentally by shortening the winter season and lifts bouts of depression.

8) It's a heck of lot cheaper and safer than walking on coals.