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Archive for October, 2011

Book Review: The Magic of Reality – Follow Up

I just wanted to add a few thoughts on how reading this book with my kids is working out…

  • The 10 year old is doing well with the book. I’m sure he’s not getting every detail, but he has the understanding of all the major ideas so far in the book and asks questions where needed.
  • What I’m really happy about is the 7 year old is really enjoying the book as well. Now to be clear, we are reading the iPad app. Reading the science part of the book as a whole is beyond him. However I can explain it to him simply in my own words using the book as a guide and let him play the mini games. That works really well for him.

My kids are ‘fighting’ now on who Daddy is going to read to tonight. If I didn’t have a kid age 10, I would have held off buying the book until one of the kids got older, but it’s great the what’s in the app is good enough right now to keep the 7 year old engaged. Thanks again to Richard Dawkins for a good book\app.

Watts up with Watts? Part 2

Video by greenman3610

You know I’m glad Richard Muller came around, but next time don’t talk out your ass. I have no problems checking up on researchers, but don’t throw stones until you have something to back you up next time.

Watts up with Watts?

I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. 🙂 Here is the link from TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Climate change deniers thought they had an ally in Richard Muller, a popular physics professor at UC Berkeley.

Muller didn’t reject climate science per se, but he was a skeptic, and a convenient one for big polluters and conservative anti-environmentalists — until Muller put their money where his mouth was, and launched the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, in part with a grant from the Charles G. Koch foundation.

OK, Muller has a right to be a skeptic. That’s what science is all about.

What makes this fun is the web site ‘Watts Up with That?’ which is a big denier blog. On this post Mr Watts says:

I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.

Cool. Now I just have to wait for the results. OK here we go!

After extensive study, he’s concluded that the existing science was right all along — that the earth’s surface is warming, at an accelerating rate. But instead of second-guessing themselves, his erstwhile allies of convenience are now abandoning him.

“When we began our study, we felt that skeptics had raised legitimate issues, and we didn’t know what we’d find,” Muller wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Our results turned out to be close to those published by prior groups. We think that means that those groups had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections. Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.”

Mr. Watts reaction? Well, now he says the paper needs to be peer reviewed. Well, OK, but don’t you think based on the results that you would hold back a bit and see what happens? Nope, 4 more blog posts about how global warming is wrong.

Not that Watts had much street cred with me to start with, but he just used up any he might have had.

Finding Life Beyond Earth

So I just watched the Nova program Finding Life Beyond Earth. As like most Nova programs, it was fun to watch. No doubt my kids will enjoy the images. I can’t say that there was anything new here, but I try to keep up on science overall. In short it’s getting harder and harder to believe that life is not everywhere in the Universe. Some places it may be are:

And of course some other solar system besides ours. Likely Enceladus will be checked first:

Enceladus

It doesn’t look like much but an ice ball until you see this:

Jets on Enceladus

That’s water jets shooting out of the moon. Enceladus could have a liquid ocean under it, heated by the pull of Saturn. These jets also have hydrocarbons in them which raises the possiblity of life in the water. Europa, which is a moon of Jupiter, could well have a similar setup. What makes us want to go to Enceladus first is we don’t have to dig to find out. We just need the right spacecraft to pass into the jets and get a better look at what Enceladus is spitting out into space.

What struck me today is the religious side of this. What is the reaction going to be when we find life somewhere else? If we can find it in our own solar system, it likely a given that it’s just about everywhere. The number of stars that exist is huge. We are finding planets around most of them that we have looked at. It’s only a matter of time. Hopefully in my lifetime.

I guess they will say God made them too. Did Adam have to name them as well? Why would God put them there? Just more hoops for those who believe in God to jump through. It’s too easy being a non-believer sometimes.

Categories: Atheism, Science Tags: , , ,

Moammar Gadhafi is Dead

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Wall Street Protesters = Nazis and Communists?

So first I read this piece By Peter Beinart this morning on Yahoo News about the Wall Street Protesters that I thought raised some good points on what has these people ticked off.

Next I saw this piece By Mark Whittington about how the Nazis and Communists like the protests…

The Nazis equate capitalism, which the demonstrators are opposed to, to their hallucinations of a Jewish conspiracy. This may be reflected in some of the anti-Semitic rhetoric coming out of the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

First of all, do I care what the Nazis think in this day and age? Um, no.

Next, who said the demonstrators as a whole are against capitalism? Oh I’m sure some are, but as a whole I doubt it is true. Let’s take a look at their demands:

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.

Now I’m not going to say I agree with all of those statements, because I don’t, however, there are a number of good points. I see nothing in this list that is worth equating the NY protesters with Nazis and Communists.

So what else does Mark Whittington say:

Unlike the tea party, the movement is geared toward demanding that the government give people things, such as free education, free health care and guaranteed employment because they have a right to them.

I don’t see where they say they want FREE education, but I do agree the cost of education is too high and it would help our country greatly to better education our people because knowledge is power.

FREE health care? Again, I don’t see where they are demanding anything for free. That said, I think a lot of people know that health care is a mess in this country. A lot of countries spend a lot less in health care and help a lot more people. I think health care is a basic right for everyone and tweaking the current systems isn’t going to work.

Guaranteed Employment? I don’t see that ANYWHERE.

I think everyone understands nothing is free, but it’s not hard to see that this country has a lot of things going backwards right now.

All I see is a movement of a lot of ticked off people and it’s one that big business, the Republican party and Fox News can’t control. When that happens, get ready to see the smear campaign go into full gear and I think Mark Whittington is ready to lead the charge.

Internet: The Hope of Atheism

So I’m watching a video from AronRa:

So the point of this video is (at least in part) to counter Thunderf00t’s point that religion is an ‘artifact’ that will die out from a new generation. So they take Thunderf00t to a megachurch, get lost in the parking lot because it’s so big and go into this huge church and talk about how much money it’s raking in.

And yet…

Look I can understand where AronRa is coming from since he is living in the belly of the beast so to speak, but on the other hand in every poll you can find like this one Atheism or at least being Agnostic is on the rise.

Think about that. All the money these churches pull in and use to try to change your mind about God and yet they lose ground. Why?

I agree with Thunderf00t that the Internet has changed the playing field. Knowledge is power and the Internet allows the sharing of that knowledge on a level playing field. I think, within a time quicker than people think a critial mass will be reached that can not be dismissed by the politicians of the day.