The Last Word on the Ark Park

| 174 Comments

The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, in a unanimous vote, gave preliminary approval to $18 million in tax incentives for the Ark Park.

In what you might call an unusual piece of reverse evolution, Lawrence O’Donnell last night made a monkey of Ken Ham, Biblical literalists, and the Tourism Authority. The “tape” is 8 min long and worth every moment.

Unfortunately, it will not be the last word on the Ark Park.

174 Comments

Kentucky: The state that pays millions to be embarrassing.

Glen Davidson

Last word? Would that be “amen”?

Or maybe “omega”?

Ummm - I thought that Ark park had failed to raise enough money via their bond offering, the remainder of the investors’ money got refunded and the project didn’t have enough money to proceed.

Am I just confused?

stevaroni said:

Ummm - I thought that Ark park had failed to raise enough money via their bond offering, the remainder of the investors’ money got refunded and the project didn’t have enough money to proceed.

Am I just confused?

Having server problems so I apologize if this is a duplicate, but IIRC AiG bought up the outstanding bonds on the last day.

Religious conservatives will no doubt take O’Donnell’s opinion as evidence of the nation’s war on Christianity… ignoring that the tax breaks themselves are material proof of just the opposite problem.

Seriously, can you imagine an atheist organization asking for millions in tax incentives? or even a non-Christian religion? What a joke.

mattdance18 said:

Religious conservatives will no doubt take O’Donnell’s opinion as evidence of the nation’s war on Christianity… ignoring that the tax breaks themselves are material proof of just the opposite problem.

Seriously, can you imagine an atheist organization asking for millions in tax incentives? or even a non-Christian religion? What a joke.

But see, to the fundies, ALL secular institutions…museums, etc…are “atheist organizations”. Teaching their godless evolution claptrap! Egads!

mattdance18 said: Seriously, can you imagine an atheist organization asking for millions in tax incentives? or even a non-Christian religion? What a joke.

Actually I think this is pretty standard practice, and that many other toursim ventures and other businesses in KY (and other states) have received similar tax breaks, no include nonreligious ones. So the state is not giving the ark park particularly special treatment here (they may be doing so by other actions), they’re treating it the same way they’d treat some other toursit development business - a six flags or whatever.

What we can accuse them of is not looking carefully enough at what this business is selling, and happily trying to profit off of snake oil. But in terms of discrimination…the state is an equal snake oil profiter.

Grrr.…to include nonreligious ones. Stupid fingers…

eric said:

stevaroni said:

Ummm - I thought that Ark park had failed to raise enough money via their bond offering, the remainder of the investors’ money got refunded and the project didn’t have enough money to proceed.

Am I just confused?

Having server problems so I apologize if this is a duplicate, but IIRC AiG bought up the outstanding bonds on the last day.

I seem to recall that, too. But unfortunately for AiG, it doesn’t really improve their financial picture much.

They had only sold $27 million of their junk bonds prior to the Nye-Ham debate. That’s less than half of what they needed. AiG is playing the Ark Encounter finances very close to the vest, but in announcing that the funding had been secured, they said that AiG had purchased “some” of the bonds. In all probability, that involved using at least “some” of the $14.4 million in private donations given to the project to purchase their own bonds! – which might have been a way to save the junk bond effort itself, in the short term, but which would not be an actual improvement in the project’s finances.

This is all speculation. AiG has not yet released the relevant financial records. But I think it’s very clear that this whole project remains in deep financial doo-doo.

And not just the ark project: AiG itself has financial problems, as does the Creation Museum. In fiscal 2010 (ending 6/11), AiG reported a $540K loss, followed by a $400K loss in fiscal 2011 (ending 6/12). More recent info may be available, but I haven’t seen it yet. Meanwhile, the Creation Museum, even in its heady early days of fiscal 2009 (ending 6/10; it was the last year AiG hasn’t run a deficit), cost $8.4 million to operate… and brought in just $5.4 million in revenue. Attendance figures have declined every year since.

Like I said, what the more recent records will show is speculative. But I would not be at all surprised if, over the next couple years, there comes a… what’s the metaphor I seek?… oh, yeah, a FLOOD, a DELUGE of very, very bad financial information from a few interconnected creationist organizations and projects in northern Kentucky. And materially, this package of tax incentives does little to change that.

eric said:

What we can accuse them of is not looking carefully enough at what this business is selling, and happily trying to profit off of snake oil. But in terms of discrimination…the state is an equal snake oil profiter.

Point well taken. The tourism board may not be discriminatory in any way.

The finances, though, are just stupefying. AiG, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter all have serious problems, as I was just discussing. “Snake oil,” indeed – and not only in terms of creationism itself.

Not that I mind if Ken Ham’s little fiefdom comes crashing down around his ears, of course.

For what it’s worth, AiG’s financials show that while the group ran nearly a million dollars of deficits in fiscal 2010 and 2011, Ham’s annual salary increased by more than $30K over those two years. Speaks volumes about his managerial skills, his financial wisdom, and simply his integrity.

No, not that I mind in the slightest.

The museum itself was originally pretty slick. Very modern, very nice-looking.

But they aren’t doing any actual science, so they can’t update it, so it’s just stagnant. No one wants to go more than two or three times. Everyone in the central KY area has run out of relatives to take.

Here is one source of info on AIG.

Just type in Answers in Genesis in the window.…

mattdance18 said: The finances, though, are just stupefying. AiG, the Creation Museum, and the Ark Encounter all have serious problems, as I was just discussing. “Snake oil,” indeed – and not only in terms of creationism itself.

The tax breaks in question are for things like ticket sales. The state isn’t putting any money in right now; Ham has to actually complete the park and open it, and then how the tax breaks work is that the state basically doesn’t make as much money off of Ark Park’s revenue as it otherwise would have.

Here is one source of info on AIG.

Surprising that they get a 3-star rating. Click the “IRS” tab to see their Forms 990. You may have to log in. You can see the 990’s at Guidestar as well, again probably provided that you log in. They can be more illuminating than the Charity Navigator synopsis.

Well, AiG has usually been pretty WYSIWYG. They’re not the most transparent, but they’re unapologetic about what they do.

david.starling.macmillan said:

Well, AiG has usually been pretty WYSIWYG. They’re not the most transparent, but they’re unapologetic about what they do.

I thought they were all about apologetics?

ksplawn said:

david.starling.macmillan said:

Well, AiG has usually been pretty WYSIWYG. They’re not the most transparent, but they’re unapologetic about what they do.

I thought they were all about apologetics?

**snicker**

If they’re apologetic, does that mean they’re sorry for what they do?

They don’t apologize for their apologetic claptrap.

Not the only ironic aspect of creationists.

Glen Davidson

Calling all engineers! (not me!)

This turkey is supposed to be 510 feet long, 85 feet tall and 55 feet wide.

The biggest Amish barn that I could find with a 5-minute Google search was about 30 feet tall, but it was tiered, that is, not a straight wooden box. It had a big “first” floor and a smaller second story.

There must be severe engineering problems to building a structure to the Ark’s stated dimensions. I would think that a stationary structure with those dimensions would have lots of problems with wind alone. It seems to me to be too tall and narrow such that the Big Bad Wolf could blow it down.

As for holding 10,000 people and a petting zoo, it wasn’t clear from the article if that was the capacity of the park or the Ark.

Clearly, for public access to this structure it would have to meet building codes and that means concrete, steel, electricity, accessibility ramps, plumbing, etc.

It would be fun, I think, to get some back o’ the envelope opinions from our civil and structural engineers, and architects out there on what Hambo is really going to build.

Personally, I think he’s really going to declare bankruptcy at some point having banked the money offshore.

Doc Bill said:

Calling all engineers! (not me!)

This turkey is supposed to be 510 feet long, 85 feet tall and 55 feet wide.

The biggest Amish barn that I could find with a 5-minute Google search was about 30 feet tall, but it was tiered, that is, not a straight wooden box. It had a big “first” floor and a smaller second story.

There must be severe engineering problems to building a structure to the Ark’s stated dimensions. I would think that a stationary structure with those dimensions would have lots of problems with wind alone. It seems to me to be too tall and narrow such that the Big Bad Wolf could blow it down.

As for holding 10,000 people and a petting zoo, it wasn’t clear from the article if that was the capacity of the park or the Ark.

Clearly, for public access to this structure it would have to meet building codes and that means concrete, steel, electricity, accessibility ramps, plumbing, etc.

It would be fun, I think, to get some back o’ the envelope opinions from our civil and structural engineers, and architects out there on what Hambo is really going to build.

Personally, I think he’s really going to declare bankruptcy at some point having banked the money offshore.

That is exactly correct.

Weight scales as volume, but strength and rigidity scale as the cross-sectional area. So if a structure is scaled up in size while retaining the same proportions, it gets weaker in proportion to its linear dimensions. Another way of putting it, strength goes as the reciprocal of the length.

Even if this structure were supported all around by water, they would have severe problems with sagging and buckling inside. And putting it in water would add severe maintenance problems with wood rot and water proofing. It becomes impossible to keep a vessel of that size water tight.

But this is going to sit on land. It will have to be supported by buttresses from the outside and by structural support beams on the inside. Wooden expanses of that size will sag and split under their own weight; and this one will do so even before it is finished. If they are to use wood throughout, then they will be filling much of the internal space with support structures which add to weight and take away storage capacity but don’t keep the structure from sagging toward the outside.

And they will also have to account for forces due to wind pressures during thunderstorm gusts. The largest face against wind which wind would push is going to be 510 ft x 85 ft. Just that alone calls for external and internal buttressing.

Even large steel ships are supported by buttresses and keel supports when in dry dock. And large wooden sailing vessels have to be supported in many strategic places while they are being overhauled in dry dock.

This ark can’t possibly be a “replica” (replica of what?) and meet construction standards for public buildings. I don’t know how strict Kentucky state construction standards are for public buildings, but there are very likely some national standards that will apply to at least parts of the construction.

If that thing is going to stand up and have the shape shown in their advertising, there will most certainly have to be steel and concrete throughout the major parts of the structural supports. Just making a wooden keel for a boat that is over 500 feet long is not possible with the lumber they have available.

Maybe they can get it certified as a “carnival ride” instead of a building. Going from second-hand experience, I’m sure the regs are much more lax (or the inspectors much more relaxed).

…and yet somehow people believe this was a true story. Loony. Just loony.

Of course, this is where the Theory of Divine Magic comes in. “Poof!” And it be so.

Seriously, even Whitcomb & Morris acknowledged that there is no real way to explain the flood or the ark without some invocation of the supernatural. Unfortunately, Ken Ham and his lot aren’t deemed worthy of similar miracles today.…

Take a look at the contractor bidding process for this project.

Clicking on the link at that site gets you to his page.

For the construction of a large wooden structure that the public will be walking through, it all seems pretty informal and non-transparent.

Mike Elzinga said:

Just making a wooden keel for a boat that is over 500 feet long is not possible with the lumber they have available.

There is no mention of a keel in the Bible.

And I’m sure that they will not rely on any “historical science” about what boats had to have. After all, they weren’t there.

It would be really amazingly ironic if building inspectors make them use steel and concrete on the grounds that a wooden building of that size would be unsafe to the public.

What does the relevant laws and regulations say? That is what has to guide the decision and not how ignorant Ken Ham is. If it were me we would stop all these subsidies nationwide. That is not the world we live in. I am sure the standards are supposed be something like would it bring bucks to the state, employ people, etc. That needs to be determined by economists. It would not surprise me if it did bring the state tourism. The fundies have a lot of sheep to be sheared. I am damn sure that it would bring in FAR more money than say a Bass Pro Shop to use an example of a business that got subsidized in OKC, OK for the tune of 19 million bucks especially since that was merely favoring one outdoors store over its competition while Ham’s monstrosity would be a bit more unique.

_If_ one accepts their economic arguments, then about the objection might be that it will result in more ignorant people a generation down the road. Do the rules for subsidies have anything that can be used here? If not, I doubt we have a case _providing_ they are treating this “amusement” the same as they would a secular equivalent.

It sucks. But if governments are going to give subsidies to any idiotic thing that might bring in tourist bucks or little bit more sales tax then this can be expected.

One thing about the capabilities of the antedeluvians, the creationist is typically basing it on the extremely fast technological advancements purported by Genesis, not by anything realistic. So it’s just a few hundred years at most and Tubal-Cain is working iron and bronze, like he woke up one day and decided that hematite would produce good iron and he set about finding how to make the temperatures necessary for iron smelting. A few day later (maybe a few years, really), he’s making great bronze and iron. The “explanation” being that they were more intelligent then, being closer to God’s creation of Adam and Eve.

So it took almost no time for humans to learn to work metal, then why not progress to steam engines and what-not in roughly a couple thousand years before the flood? Why not indeed, except that technology didn’t really proceed as told in Genesis?

Start with the Bible, instead of facts, and it makes a kind of sense.

Glen Davidson

Nitpick…

Heyerdahl’s trip across the Pacific was on a balsa raft (NOT a reed boat), the Kin-Tiki. His much later attempt to cross the Atlantic was a reed boat (the Ra).

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Start with the Bible, instead of facts, and it makes a kind of sense.

Glen Davidson

It only makes sense if you are allowed to add a lot of stuff that nobody would have considered until a few hundred years ago at the earliest. It makes about as much sense as Fred Flintstone driving the dinosaur in the quarry.

It also makes me wonder how YECs think the Bible was interpreted through most of history.

callahanpb said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Start with the Bible, instead of facts, and it makes a kind of sense.

Glen Davidson

It only makes sense if you are allowed to add a lot of stuff that nobody would have considered until a few hundred years ago at the earliest. It makes about as much sense as Fred Flintstone driving the dinosaur in the quarry.

It also makes me wonder how YECs think the Bible was interpreted through most of history.

Insufficiently.

david.starling.macmillan said:

I firmly believed there were antediluvian airships.

Actually Babylon Airship could be a band name. Maybe do Creation-themed rewrites of Jefferson Starship lyrics. The copyright issues would be a hassle, but significantly easier than building a seaworthy ark out of wood.

Editorial comment on nitpick: Kon-Tiki.

Matt Young said:

Editorial comment on nitpick: Kon-Tiki.

Thanks for catching my typo.

I wonder how many people here ever read Heyerdahl’s _American Indians in the Pacific_ (I got part way through it) or even “Kon-Tiki”? Or, for that matter, “Aku-Aku” (his book about Easter Island)?

(Four years ago I could not spell “Engineer”. Now I are one. In reality, more like 40 years ago and the intervening time was spent as a programmer.)

“WARNING: This Property Protected By Trained Utahraptors. Trespassers Will Be Chewed.”

Cretaceous Park?

W. H. Heydt said:

Matt Young said:

Editorial comment on nitpick: Kon-Tiki.

Thanks for catching my typo.

I wonder how many people here ever read Heyerdahl’s _American Indians in the Pacific_ (I got part way through it) or even “Kon-Tiki”? Or, for that matter, “Aku-Aku” (his book about Easter Island)?

(Four years ago I could not spell “Engineer”. Now I are one. In reality, more like 40 years ago and the intervening time was spent as a programmer.)

I read Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki and wrote my second term-paper-length book report on it, back in middle school. My first, on Moby Dick, did less well.

david.starling.macmillan said: “WARNING: This Property Protected By Trained Utahraptors. Trespassers Will Be Chewed.”

“Trespassers Will Be Masticated” has more of an official ring to it.

Drifting a bit off topic, kind of like the Kon-Tiki, but there is recent genetic evidence that the yams of the West coast of South America are genetically related to yams that originated in Asia and dispersed throughout the South Pacific, implying at least some level of contact, albeit in the other direction than Heyerdahl’s notion.

Kevin B said:

david.starling.macmillan said: “WARNING: This Property Protected By Trained Utahraptors. Trespassers Will Be Chewed.”

“Trespassers Will Be Masticated” has more of an official ring to it.

Byers thinks that’s dirty.

Just Bob said:

Kevin B said:

david.starling.macmillan said: “WARNING: This Property Protected By Trained Utahraptors. Trespassers Will Be Chewed.”

“Trespassers Will Be Masticated” has more of an official ring to it.

Byers thinks that’s dirty.

I was contemplating a postscript on those lines (though without the troll reference) but your statement is the epitome of succinctness.

Mind you, anything that Byers thinks would benefit from a hot wash with a good stain remover.

Americans United wrote a piect on the Ham/KY fiasco,

https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-se[…]-propping-up

and of course Ham in return had to attack the AU piece:

https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-se[…]u-s-ark-park

Not sure if anyone will see this.

SOURCE: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/08/17/[…]t-apply.html (I’ve copied only a small portion of the article)

Non-Christians need not apply By Daniel Phelps.…August 17, 2014

QUOTE: .……The job description included this statement: “Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.”

When Ark Encounter was originally approved for much larger tax incentives they were required not to discriminate in hiring.….……

.….The ad has specific religious requirements for employment. These include a salvation testimony, a “creation belief statement” and a requirement that applicants agree with the organization’s “statement of faith.” This required statement includes articles that imply that fundamentalist Christianity is the only acceptable religion and that denigrate non-Christians non-fundamentalist Christians, and homosexuals (regardless of their theological views).….….……

Charley Horse said:

Not sure if anyone will see this.

QUOTE: .……The job description included this statement: “Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.”

I saw that too.

call me an eternal optimist, but I forsee an endlessly embarrassing legal morass as Lexingtons fearless leaders have to spin an ever more convoluted story about how giving Ark Park tax breaks raises no religious issues at the same time Ken is proudly, openly, - and, frankly, for someone who probably already has an employment law expert on staff at his museum, bafflingly - hanging up “only Christians need apply” posters.

For such a skilled snake-oil salesman, Ken is sometimes amazingly stupid.

Charley Horse said:

Not sure if anyone will see this.

SOURCE: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/08/17/[…]t-apply.html (I’ve copied only a small portion of the article)

Non-Christians need not apply By Daniel Phelps.…August 17, 2014

QUOTE: .……The job description included this statement: “Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.”

When Ark Encounter was originally approved for much larger tax incentives they were required not to discriminate in hiring.….……

.….The ad has specific religious requirements for employment. These include a salvation testimony, a “creation belief statement” and a requirement that applicants agree with the organization’s “statement of faith.” This required statement includes articles that imply that fundamentalist Christianity is the only acceptable religion and that denigrate non-Christians non-fundamentalist Christians, and homosexuals (regardless of their theological views).….….……

I smell legal action brewing. Make sure to bring this up the next time some numb skull starts whining about “discrimination”.

Too bad they already know I flipped on them…I could get a job there and tell everyone coming through each exhibit what hogwash it all is.

I smell legal action brewing.

You are not the only one. In addition, an ad here advertises for a technician to work at Ark Encounter, but Mr. Ham dissembles and says, “Apparently AU’s [Americans United] letter referred to an employment position available at Answers in Genesis.” Ark Encounter, as a for-profit entity (or at least an entity that characterizes itself as such), would apparently have to abide by anti-discrimination laws. AIG, I take it, is a “ministry” and may discriminate in favor of its coreligionists. It effectively owns Ark Encounter. So will this technician be assigned to work in the Ark Park? Is that the gimmick?

CAD Technician Designer, Ark Encounter

Reports To: Lead Technical Designer, Ark Encounter

Sure does look like the new employee will be working for the for profit park. Would like to hear what a CPA/ attorney would think of the co-mingling of the funds meant for a nonprofit with a for profit business. Necessity of some ‘creative’ bookkeeping comes to mind.

That study that the state is waiting for will be a very persuasive study. Just like the last time. Predicting a flood of visitors and cash. No problem…

Matt Young said: but Mr. Ham dissembles and says, “Apparently AU’s [Americans United] letter referred to an employment position available at Answers in Genesis.”

Yes, Ham goes on at great lengths about how the job is at AIG, which is a ministry, not ArkPark an, um, “for profit entity”.

But the ad itself refers to a decidedly secular position

* Produce and check 2D fabrication detail drawings for production in a fabrication shop.

* Work with fabrication shop personnel to answer questions and/or solve problems encountered during the manufacturing process.

* Create Bill of Materials including prices and sourcing vendors.

* Maintain CAD workstation, AutoCAD licenses, and subscriptions. etc…

Now, while it’s always dangerous to try to predict how much courts will allow churches to bend the anti-discrimination laws, it was my understanding that discriminatory restrictions had to have some basis in the furtherance of the “mission”.

You can’t just hang up a poster that says “Help Wanted - no Jews, blacks, or My Little Pony fans need apply”

For example, a church affiliated college might “reasonably” demand that it’s single female professors refrain from getting pregnant out of wedlock because that’s a biggie on the sin scale and those professors come into direct contact with the students every day.

But the courts would be much less lenient about policies that fire, say, a cook for getting married to a Hindu, because that’s getting pretty far from anything affecting the mission and getting into grounds that are pretty peripheral to religious liberty.

But, frankly, even if the legal answer is that you can have that kind of requirement in your contract, and even if Ham actually relishes the opportunity to argue about it in public, it’s still really fucking stupid tactically to have this argument when you’re in the middle of a delicate negotiation about whether your organization is too religious to get 18 million dollars in tax breaks.

Dan Phelps just directed me to a letter in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader. The author, who may or may not represent AIG, implicitly charges Mr. Phelps with viewpoint discrimination – a great, new Constitutional principle that the far right discovered when they found that they could not get into science classes any other way. He does not note that Ark Encounter is putatively a for-profit corporation and consequently is prohibited from discriminating.

Matt Young said:

Dan Phelps just directed me to a letter in today’s Lexington Herald-Leader.

From the letter:

Unlike Ark Encounter proponents, Phelps shows no tolerance for points of view different than his own, and rabid hostility towards those who disagree…

Mike Johnson

Chief Counsel, Freedom Guard

Shreveport, La.

So… um… Let me get this right… Ark Park puts up a job ad that says, essentially, “Only Young-Earth Creationist Christians need apply - please attach your personal testimony about your faith in Jesus”, Phelps says “Um… that sounds a tad discriminatory”, and Phelps is the one being “hostile to those who disagree”?

I’m confused.

Especially since a few seconds of Googling seems to show that “Freedom Guard” is apparently a religious non-profit law firm from Louisiana which seems to exist solely for opposing abortion access.

Which apparently has some bearing on theme parks employment in Kentucky for some reason.

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial yesterday: No more state aid for Ark Park; Don’t endorse discriminatory hiring policy. Their bottom line:

Kentucky is willing to give up tax revenue to subsidize a project that will create few good jobs (218 of the 265 jobs projected will be part-time), that’s constitutionally questionable and that’s backed by an organization with discriminatory hiring practices.

And they are not fooled by the claim that AIG is not in charge:

The wiggle around this offered by backers of the project is that Ark Encounter is not Answers in Genesis but a distinct, for-profit entity.

A glance at the corporate structure makes that a little hard to swallow,

Ark Encounter is a wholly owned subsidiary of Crosswater Canyon which is a wholly controlled affiliate of Answers in Genesis, according to the tax incentive application.…

[T]here’s no getting around that profits from the Ark Encounter will flow to Answers in Genesis.

By extension, then, the tax incentives subsidizing the Ark project will enrich the discriminatory parent organization.

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