Monday, June 30, 2014


Zygote worshipper definition: Someone who goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure a fertilized egg implants. After that if the parents need decent jobs, decent food, clean water, clean air and a decent place to live? Too bad, you're on your own. You should have thought of that before you got pregnant. Couldn't get access to reliable birth control? That's your problem not mine. (Do I sound cranky? Damn straight.)

We could also borrow a page from the zygote worshippers and the gun nuts.You know the ones. They publish home addresses, make threatening phone calls, spit on people, get in their faces etc. Well, I don't think we need to go that far.

 Research the folks who regularly show up to demonstrate in front of Planned Parenthood clinics and abortion clinics. See if you can find out where they go to church then show up on the sidewalks in front of the churches before services. Hey, they're public space, freedom of speech and all that. Better bring industrial strength ear plugs because I'm sure howls of outrage will be deafening. I'm also willing to bet that the cops won't look the other way the way some departments have been accused of acting when zygote worshippers cross the line.


I don’t believe it’s time to panic. Yet. There’s a not so funny thing about the fundies. It’s the assumption that what they want or believe in is always going to win.

You have opened a can of worms that you’re really going to wish had stayed closed. For most of the history of this country we operated on the I’ll protect your rights in order to protect my own plan. Between the Tea Party, the radical libertarians, the fundies and five highbinders on the Supreme Court that’s been turned upside down.

Yes, the court rules on what is the law. However, that law holds only as long as the rest of us choose to obey. And yes we risk anarchy, I’m not sure if that would be worse than what we’re facing now.

The court ruled last week that Massachusetts law mandating buffer zones around abortion clinics stifled free speech. That public sidewalks were just that, public. Well from where I’m sitting that means that anybody can demonstrate as long as they’re on a public sidewalk. Since so called pro life groups have been known to shout, spit, scream, physically block and generally try to make access impossible it could be argued that the rest of us have the right to do the same thing. Picket Hobby Lobby and any other business that pulls the same stunt. Shopping malls are private property so your pickets may be stuck half a block away on “public” property but get out there anyway.

Next up is the right to discriminate based on “deeply held religious convictions.” Man oh man, you did not want to open that can of worms. What’s to stop the rest of us from returning the favor?

Picture this. Potential employee or renter is being interviewed. “Are you a Southern Baptist?” “Do you belong to the local Four Square or Open Bible Standard churches down the road?” “Any chance you belong to that mega church on the other side of town that keeps posting those anti gay signs?” “Too bad, no place for you at this table because_______” Then sit back and wait for the screams of outrage.

Folks you opened the door. Don’t be surprised if some of the rest of us choose to walk through it. The pro slavery supporters in the 1850’s kept pushing. Bleeding Kansas, civil war on the Missouri border long before Fort Sumpter, the Dred Scot decision, the call for a federal slave code, the Freeport Doctrine (Stephen Douglas’ admission that slave owners could take their slaves anywhere they wanted but couldn’t keep them if their neighbors chose not to cooperate) finally knocked so many holes in the body politic that four years of bloody war was just the beginning.

Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Klan, and lynchings. We still not only have politicians like Rand Paul who argue that telling a business owner he/she has to deal with anyone with the price of a widget that they have to be served violates their rights but cops that operate on the idea that BWB (breathing while black or brown) is cause to open fire.

Do I want to another civil war? Good god/dess no. Do I believe that it’s long past time to grab some folks by the short and curlies, sit them down and point out a few facts of life? Damn straight. The most important fact is that their rights are protected when EVERYONE’S rights are protected. Incidentally several groups were already floating the idea that no matter how the court ruled if they didn’t’ like the results they just might choose to ignore the laws on the books.

Time for another reality check. That door swings both ways too. You aren’t the only ones who get to choose which laws to obey and which ones to ignore. That’s the road to anarchy with no guaranty that your ships won’t get sunk along all the other little boats.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Fallacy: Argument from adverse consequences

Type of Fallacy:
Argument from adverse consequences

Saying that because of the implications of a statement being true would create negative results, it must not be true.

“If we allow people to believe the evolutionist doctrine that they are nothing but animals, human civilization will be destroyed in a tidal wave of immorality.”

I really hope this is rationalwiki overstatement. If it’s not, the idea that I will be ‘allowed” to believe anything, especially to do with science, in this country is way beyond the pale. A similar argument is the “if gays can marry traditional marriage is doomed.” Which of course it isn’t. Or this new one from a nutjob named Tony Perkins. If gay rights and marriage become acceptable the gays will start rounding up the Christians and put them in concentration camps.

There is so much bullshit out there that harks back to the Nazi era. Frankly it’s insulting to the real victims of the most recent holocaust. Jews, gypsies, communists, socialists, the opposition, freedom fighters and gays. I’m coming around to the idea that most of these so called fundie leaders are narcissistic psychopaths. For them everything in the world truly is all about them and they truly don’t care about anyone else.

Either that, or they truly don't believe the bile they're spewing but are modern day Elmer Gantries. In it for the power and the money; not caring what they do to get it. Frankly I'm not sure which is worse.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Got this off Facebook. Darn page didn't want to let me share so I save the picture and brought it here. The upshot is if you know who Ms. Double Frontage with a view really is and don't recognize at least some of the scientists on the left, well Houston we do have a problem. Especially since Tyson's smiling mug has been gracing the tube and the net for at least three months.

On the left hand side. Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Sigmund Freud, Nicolai Tesla, Marie Curie and Galileo Galilei.

On the right (and from a Russel Crowe comedy The Good Year Ms. Double Frontage with a View


Fallacy: Argument from Authority

Type of Fallacy:
Argument from authority

This type of argument relies on the identity of an authority rather than the components of the argument itself.

“Lastly, young earth Creationists believe that the Book of Genesis is historical in nature and that Bible exegesis warrants a six day creation with each day being 24 hours long.”

The argument cites and relies on implied authority. God (Zeus, Thor, the FSM) said so and it says so right here on page twleve. So it must be true. Right? Never mind that there are two Creation stories in Genesis and about they have in common is that they mention God.

Arguing from authority ranks right down there with the credulous supplements customers on the infomercials saying with perfectly straignt faces. “they said on TV that it worked  so it must be true.” After all nobody shown on TV ever lied or massaged the truth until it was unrecognizable.

Friday, June 27, 2014


This looks like it'll be a multi parter. Just not sure how far it's going to go. The basic information comes from the RationalWiki entry "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection." Which is based in part, on Carl Sagan's work.

OK, before anyone gets overly offended most of the arguments have to do with evolution vs. young earth Creationism. Probably because that's what's in the news the most. But once you recognize the arguments you can fight back against all sorts of baloney. Sagan was too kind. I tend to substitute bullshit for baloney, because frankly most of what we're hearing out there is bullshit. Prize for today. Candidate for congress from the cheese state of Wisconsin regarding gay marriage. "They can get married. Just not to each other." Face palm etc. Getting married to EACH other is the goal. What do you suggest? That they marry other people and have an affair behind their backs? That slope isn't just slippery. It's covered with six inches of ice.

Anyway here goes.

Type of Fallacy:
Ad hominem

An ad hominem argument attacks the messenger not the message. Also known as “don’t kill the messenger.” The argument may be true. It may be false. The quality of the argument doesn’t depend who is carrying the message.

“The secular geologist can’t see or hear the message about Creationism because of their academic indoctrination in anti-biblical uniformitarian assumptions. The reason that most Christian geologists can’t see it is the same, plus the fact they have believed the scientific establishment more than the Bible that they claim to believe is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.”  Oh, that pesky secular education.

This doesn’t say anything about the argument of Creationism, but rather the scientists. And the assumption that because you happen to be a geologist and a believer you are also going to share the fundies belief that the theological library in a book is inspired, without error and to be taken literally There are believers in the sciences, they just don’t share the beliefs of the Ken Hamms and the guy who owns Hobby Lobby. They read the textbooks, read the papers, listen to the arguments and MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS.

Can't have that now can we?

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Hopefully this story will have a happy ending, heaven knows the family deserves it. At least a whole twenty four hours have gone by and there’s nothing to indicate they’ve been detained. Again.

But what caught my interest were the comments on the entry. The ones from the people crying crocodile tears about how Christians are persecuted in this country. Usually with no hard evidence beyond the hoary story about the bakers who claim that providing a cake or cupcakes for a same sex wedding would violate their consciences. There is a story making the rounds about a 5 year old in Florida who was told that saying grace wasn’t a good thing to do by the school lunch monitor. Trouble is the story is a they said, they said and I’m reporting it with full credulity and expected outrage. The school says it didn’t happen. I'm forgoing the links because frankly I don't find any of them very credible.

But there’s a video and how could a five year old make these things up? Rehearse the kid long enough and they’ll swear the man in the moon winked at them. In fact work at it well enough the kid will really believe it. Remember the school sex abuse scandals back in the seventies/eighties that turned out to have been created by the investigators crappy interview techniques. That's when we learned about false memory syndrome.

There’s another story about a twelve year old who was told to put away his/her Bible during a semi free reading period. It sounds like the school preferred that he/she actually spend time on the assigned reading materials. I grew up in the era before back packs and teens having their own cars. I had enough books, note books, library books, band music (and the flute) to hump back and forth without adding a Bible to the stack. I could read THAT at home. And to be honest? Huxley's Brave New World  or Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country were a hell of lot more interesting. Tolkien, Heinlein, Herbert, Asimov, LeGuin. I was like a kid in a candy store. Of course I realize that for a lot of kids growing up in fundie homes all these authors are off limits.

Also both stories are being pushed by the so called Liberty Institute and at this point my Baloney Detection Kit is at about ninety decibels and rising. Especially when I discovered that the group was originally incorporated as the Free Marker Foundation. Unh Hunh. A lot of these stories involve kids and frankly I have a hard time believing the kids came up with this stuff on their own.

Anyway, back to comments. Long on claims. Short on evidence. Yes, Christians are persecuted in this world. Belonging to an unapproved group can get you a prison sentence in China. A concentration camp in North Korea. Christian villagers in India have been blocked from using the village well. And beaten or worse if they try to use it anyway. Lack of access to clean water can be a death sentence. Especially for children. And the weekly litany from northern Nigeria would make anyone despair. The long sorry history of abuse in Central and South America in the seventies and eighties in the name fighting “subversion: has been documented by multiple sources.

What makes me want to scream is that the same fundie groups who probably applauded Reagan’s war on subversion in the south (although it started before Reagan and the first Bush president) or at the very least turned a blind eye are the same ones crying persecution now. If persecution means losing your privileged position and the ability to dictate to those who don’t share your beliefs, then I guess you are persecuted. And it’s long over due.

It’s been awhile since I hit the local Barnes and Noble but there was no lack of Bibles, commentaries, inspirational literature for sale. Now that I think about it. Everybody, and I mean everybody, else got about half a rack. Hmmmmmm. I know Amazon is overflowing.

Whenever any group, any group, has an agenda it's time to take their stories with about half a pound of salt. Especially when the story can't by verified by independet sources.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


It does help if you recognize the leaf the chicken is holding. It really does. And I want some right now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity" said the guy who, with his wife consulted psychics and astrologers while in the White House. At least according to fairly reliable rumors.  Ronald Reagan on the 1980 campaign trail. And I have noticed that the Reagan rose has been looking pretty wilted lately. Or more like poison oak or ivy.

 Well, Ronnie ol' buddy ol' pal (not). This is why. It's so that all of us can see that the emperor has no clothes and never did. All of us. Not just some kid who hasn't learned what happens to out spoken little shits who speak out of turn.

Honestly it's hard to find a shot of Carl Sagan from the eighties where he wasn't grinning like he'd just found the answer to all the puzzles in the universe and wasn't it fun to go looking for those puzzle pieces.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Another voice that was silenced far too soon. Even hard science science fiction is hard to come by these days.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


The Demon Haunted World is the title of one of Sagan's books. Basically a skeptics guide to keeping not your hold on reality but that of society itself. Can the Tysons and the Sagans hold the last bridges against the Palins, Limbaughs, Becks and Bachmanns before it's too late? 


An interesting if weird take on the new Cosmos series written before the bird was barely out of the nest. The author is the founder or affliated with something called Science 2.0. Which reads like a populist take on sharing scientific information. Which sounds good on paper but there's a damn good reason why research is published in peer reviewed publications.

Anyway. I'd have to rewatch the first episode sections on Giordano Bruno but they made it plain that the inquisition condemned him first for heresy (I'd be in a world of trouble if I'd lived back then) but he was also condemned for holding the belief that there are multiple worlds and with independent futures. Over the years he's been considered a martyr for both faith and science. I loved some of the comments on the article. There are few folks out there that seemed to thinkj the church had the right to condemn him. Oh and the inquisition didn't kill him the state did. Give a me freakin' break. So called heretics were turned over to the "secular" arm knowing full well what the penalties would be and punishments were presided over by the church.

Venus and her poisonous atmostphere. A lot of different events led to a fairly liveable world being turned into what amounts to an antechamber of Hell. But even Carl Sagan referred to a runaway green house effect on Venus. Mr. Campbell claims to have seen the original series. Seems to have skipped the Heaven and Hell episode.

Ah, the multiverse. The idea has been around for awhile. It was even used in a STNG episode as Worf went universe hopping. Each jump taking him further away from his original timeline. For something that doesn't exist there are certainly a lot of articles on the net. Including articles in Scientific American, Nattional Geographic and for starters. Just because you don't like an idea doesn't mean it's wrong and can be dismissed out of hand. Especially when you start accusing those who hold it of looking for a secular alternative to Divine Origins. At this point the jury is out. The idea can't be proved or disproved. Yet. And Dr. Tyson pointed that out in the series.

Yes, Mr. Campbell there is no sound or swelling music heard in space. Talk about picking nits. They're called special effects. It's a ship of the imagination, we're free to imagine that it rumbles a bit. Geez.

Back to Bruno. The new series is a companion to the original. Kepler and Galileo were convered very fully in the original series. Especially Kepler. Why recover ground already covered. I'm still bummed because he didn't explore the Ionian and Alexandrian scientists more fully. But, there we are. Sagan did it first.

And the final addition to the hand basket. The Cosmic Calender is a thought device. It compresses the history of the universe into one year as a convenient teaching tool. Each month is just over a billion years, each day approximately forty million years. Believe me by the time you get to that little square that represents December 31 you're starting to feel mighty small.

Oh, and Mr. Campbell? Carl Sagan didn't get the basic story of Hypatia and the Christian establishement of Alexandria wrong. The only question is whether there was still a daughter library in the temple known as the Serapeiam. A temple destroyed several years before Hypatia's brutal and I do mean brutal murder at the hands of a Christian mob. The only question is what did "Saint" Cyril know and when did he know it? If he didn't order the hit, and there are contemporary commentaries that suggest that he did, he sure as hell didn't grieve for her.

I know I've gone on about Hypatia, a woman who dared to speak and teach and think. Who was respected by pagans and Christians in Alexandria alike. She got in the way, and we've all seen far to recently what happens when an 'uppirty" woman gets in the way.

Well, this didn't end up where I expected it to. Again. Oh, well, read the article. Look the guy up. Check out the book he wrote with another author. I'll be honest. After sifting through half a dozen websites I can't find out what this person's qualifications are. His profile on the science 2.0 website is singularly uninformative. I've written this. I've written that. I've written about science, I guess this qualifies me as a science writer too? I don't think so.  


Saturday, June 21, 2014


And we wonder why the country is going to hell in a handbasket. A sampling of the “most popular” stories on the Huffington Post sidebar. And to be honest I did look up information on stopping the earth's rotation. I hadn't stopped to think about the atmosphere not stopping. Would put the world's worst hurricanes in the shade.

Glee star surprises Hillary Clinton at book signing.

Taylor Swift wears short shorts in the city.

THIS is what you wear to become queen. (Actually you are now queen of Spain because your father in law realized he’d lost the support of the country and had the rare good sense to step aside. You’d still be queen if you were wearing burlap and flour sacks.)

Real life Diagon Alley is a Harry Potter nerd’s dream come true.

And this must be mistake because it’s actually relevant and newsworthy. Scott Walker blasts “partisan DA” over probe.

Semi relevant. Learn how this couple explained their bisexual open relationship to their children.

YIKES: Here’s what would happen if the earth suddenly stopped spinning. (Hint the Mediterranean would end up somewhere beyond the Indian Ocean, the Pacific coast would be gone and since the atmosphere would still be moving at 1100 miles per hour everything on the surface from the oceans to your house would be blown away. The best argument for the sun not stopping above Jericho.)

Watch: Bravest guy in the whole wide world wears Mentos suit, drops into tank of Diet Coke. I have no idea who or what a Mentos suit looks like and who makes them. I don't drink Diet Coke but it sounds like a waste of time, energy and ingredients.

Millions of people make this mistake every day.

5 things you never knew about Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Honest here. I've never seen the whole movie. I did know that their electronic shark leaked a bit, the power caused the oxygen and hydrogen to separate and the "shark" started coming up tail first instead of head first. (the gas got trapped in the end of the fish)

The reason Game of Thrones left out that one big thing.

11 cats who loath weddings and aren’t afraid to show it.

And so on. Oh, and Michelle Bachmann believes Hillary should be disqualified from running for president. And, Ted Cruz blames the president for the wave of kids crossing the border, unaccompanied by adults, promptly picked up by the Border Patrol and stuffed into warehouse type conditions.

Oh, and Tiger Woods is back on the golf course and Kim Kardashian wants to stay on TV forever.
Oh be still my beating heart I simply couldn’t exist if I didn’t know about these things.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


this is the image for the Cosmic Calender used on the new Cosmos series. It's a lovely piece, but I think it's meant to be a poster or something because you can't read what happens on the various dates so here goes nothing. On both programs they put a tiny little lighted square at the bottom of the last day of the year to represent the last minute and last seconds. That little lighted square is where all human history happens.

The Cosmic calendar compresses the 13.8 billion year history of the cosmos into one year. Each month is just over a billion years and each day approximately forty million years.

Date      BYA                Event

Jan 1     13.8                 The Big Bang as seen through cosmic background radiation

Mar 1    5 11                 Milky Way Galaxy formed

Aug 31   4.57                 The sun turns on planets and our moon form soon after

Sep 16    4 0                   Oldest rocks known on Earth

Sep 21    3.8                   First life (organisms without a nucleus)

Oct 12     3.0                  Photosynthesis

Oct 29     2.4                  Oxygen in the atmosphere

Nov 9     2.0                  First cells with a nucleus

Dec 5     1.0                   First multicelled organisms

Dec 14   0.67                 Simple animals and ancestors of insects and arachnids

Dec 18   0.5                   Fish and ancestors of amphibians

Dec 20  0.45                 Land plants (no flowers)

Dec 21  0.4                    Insects and seeds

Dec 22  0.36                  Amphibians

Dec 23  0.3                    Reptiles

Dec 26  0.2                   Mammals

Dec 27  0.15                 Birds

Dec 28  0.13                 Flowers

Dec 30  0.065               At approximately 6.24 in the age of the dinosaurs ended

Dec 30  0.65                 The first primates

All early human and human evolution takes place on December 31. At 6.05 AM (15 million years ago) the first apes make the scene. At about 2.24 PM (12.3 million years ago) what can be identified as an early hominid. At about 10.24 PM (2.5 million years ago) primitive humans and the first stone tools.

In the last minute of December 31, less than a million years ago, we domesticated fire, modern humans appeared, the last ice age began and we started carving objects and painting.

In the last second of the last minute we learned how to make plants grow where we wanted them to. Learned how to harness water through dams and canals. Everything in the history books, all the people we know about. All the cities, wars, religions have taken place in the last seconds of the last minute of December 31 on the cosmic calendar including modern science, two world wars, other little wars, the moon landings and the Voyager missions. Humbling isn’t it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


This isn't exactly my nephew's little bulldog Georgia. When she flops the front legs go to the front and the back legs go to the back. But the tongue does fall out.

The well has run dry. Frankly I'm tapped out. Not because there's nothing to write about but because it's the same song, umpteenth verse. Louder and depressingly worse. More later. 

 But I think this shot is pretty cute. Frankly I think bull dogs are just this side of butt ugly, I'm more of a Heinz 57 when it comes to dogs myself, but she has a really sweet personality. And the cats have her completely buffaloed.


Saturday, June 14, 2014


This is how I feel when I watch some of the sequences on either Cosmos series. The Bible has never made me cry. These programs do. Especially in the third season ender as the projected "collision" of our galaxy and M31. As the stars do a billion year dance. Oh my.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


for science or just about anything.

Watched the last episode of the new Cosmos last night. Well, actually two nights ago, but what the hey. Tyson ended with the five, actually six rules of science. Actually, they’re good rules to follow just about anywhere.

One: Question authority. That goes for the Bible, philosophers like Aristotle, or your professors or even Neil deGrasse Tyson. Authority means power and nobody is going to give that up without a fight. Late nineties, early two thousands there was a huge forest fire in the Siskiyous in Oregon. The Biscuit fire.

Accepted practice is to go in and “salvage” the useable timber before it rots so the forest can “come back.” There were lawsuits to block the logging. This gave a certain grad student in the forestry department time to finish gathering data that showed that forests recovered just about as fast if we left them alone as they did if they were ‘salvaged.” That’s where authority stepped in. He marshaled his evidence, wrote his paper and submitted it for publication. His own school tried to block publication. Let me repeat this. His own school tried to block publication. The whole idea behind peer review is that outsiders to read your work, check out the evidence and either agree or suggest strongly that you really need to go back to the drawing board.
What kills me is that it ought to be freakin’ obvious that nature knows what to do with a forest that’s been burned. It’s been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years. It’s the last century or so of so called management that suppressed the little fires that cleaned out the underbrush and helped keep fires from being so catastrophic that have made the problem worse.

Two: Think for yourself. Don’t believe something just because someone says it’s so, Including me. Google the Biscuit Fire. Read a theologian or two. The more radical the better. Look up Climate Change and compare what the researcher say is going on.

Three: Question yourself. Why am I hanging on to certain ideas? What’s in it for me? Why won’t I at least listen to competing points of view? Have I tied my identity to certain beliefs so tightly that I’m afraid I’ll unravel if I change my mind? Am I in a position of authority that will be threatened? Scary isn’t it. I forget who said that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living but it’s so true.

Four: Test your ideas through observation and experiment. Most of us don’t have access to laboratories but we can think and read and question. Especially question.

Five: Follow the evidence wherever it leads. Wherever it leads. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you in the end to give up those cherished, hoary beliefs.

And finally number six. Always remember that YOU COULD BE WRONG. Can happen in the best of families and to the brightest scientists.

No wonder the fundies heads have been exploding since the series started airing. Follow these simple rules and you can cut the power right out from under them .

Monday, June 9, 2014


I'm not going to repost the picture, it's out there on the web. But, what Carl Sagan had to say about that small island in the Cosmic Ocean can't be said often enough. Neil Tyson used this quote in the finale of the final episode. That quote and his summing up are enough to get me to buy the series.

"From the Pale Blue Dot.

That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.
On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar. Every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, live there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing, our imagine self importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity-in all this vastness- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.

It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and if I might add, a character building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known..

 Carl Sagan.
Yes, it's the only home we have or will have in the forseeable future so we do we keep treating it like a garbage dump? Why do we treat our neighbors as if they were disposable trash? Why, oh why, or why. I was literally in tears at the end of the episode. We're capable of so much more. So damn much more.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I'm discovering a whole untapped set of fantastic quotes from the late Carl Sagan. I only wish that I had discovered this quote and made this marvelous graphic.

It's easy to be peaceful when there's nobody to fight with. Yes, our intentions were good. But, we all know which road is paved with good intentions.

Actually Neil Tyson brought up something interesting in last week's episode of the new Cosmos. Yeah, we were heading to the moon to beat the Russians. But those big Saturn booster rockets carried a dual message. The unspoken message was "look at the lunar payload and imagine WHAT ELSE we could put up there that's targeted just a little closer to home. Say Moscow or Beijing." I don't now how many nuclear warheads we have in storage now. Back when the original Cosmos was aired the combined inventory was in the neighborhood of between fifty and sixty thousand. That's not tens. That's not hundreds. That's thousands. Enough destruction to blast the world to hell in the length of an afternoon.

And when I listen to the Chickenhawks still littering the landscape I'm not sure we've learned anything since then. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014


For some peculiar reason fundies like to show up on science/tech oriented thread and start evangelizing. Some of the commenters ignore them. Some laugh at them. Some are a little rude. Global warming, Jesus loves you. Take a science program like Cosmos. If Tyson isn't actually proselytizing he's anti religion. It gets really old after awhile. Especially when they hint they have kids that' they're bringing up in the Old Time Religion it gets old really, really fast.

Let’s face it coming up, so to speak, to a group of half way well educated science geeks and starting out with “the Bible says so,’ spiel probably isn’t going to go over very well anyway. Proving you have absolutely, and I do mean absolutely, no understanding of the science you’re attacking is not going to win you any friends or influence anyone else either. Fish don’t turn into humans. Monkeys don’t turn into humans. Gorillas don’t turn into humans. Humans become humans, in one form or another, for a several million years.

And then when we follow the link to your page just might find you accusing those who don’t agree with of laughing at you. No, most of us aren’t laughing at you. We may just feel a little sorry for you the same way we’d consider someone who is tone deaf or color blind. There’s a whole wonderful universe out there and it seems that you can’t see or hear it.

There just isn’t room in your vision of the universe for this. Sapphires, rubies, topaz, amber and diamonds tossed on a blanket of black velvet. Ten thousand galaxies in a tiny slice of sky; thousands, millions, tens of millions of light years back in time. Awesome, a little scary, but awesome. And thank you Hubble telescope for your years of service.

Friday, June 6, 2014


This is a quick and dirty look at the five "terrorists" we traded to get Bowe Bergdahl beck. Faux is foaming at the mouth, of course. If one word in twenty that come out of their mouths is true it'd surprise the hell out of me. The forces of good have managed to mute the great RL. Anybody for a full courst press against the pants on fire folks over at Fox?

 I got most of the basic information from a Politifact article.  Dates of detention are from individual Wickipedia articles on each man.

Ok, before we hit the Taliban panic button let’s take a look at what we had. Mohammad Fazl. Military commander and acted as the Taliban’s army chief of staff. The UN would really like to talk to him about possible war crimes involving the deaths of Shiite Muslims. I suspect that, like al-Qaida, the majority of the Taliban are Sunni Muslims and their main power base at the time was the ethnically majority Pashtun areas of eastern Afghanistan.   Held at Gitmo since January 2002.
Norullah Noori is described as a senior military commander and one time governor of Balkh province. The UN would also like a bit of chat over possible war crimes. Held at Gitmo since January 2002.
Khairullah Khairkhwa was the governor of Herat province and was alleged to be one of the major drug lords. Opium is a major export product and both sides were selling it to buy arms during the Soviet occupation. Wonder how much of it ended up in the veins of Americans. All for the greater good of course. Detained since May of 2002. To make life just a bit more interesting he’s been described as a long time friend of President Karzai.

Abdul Haq Wasiq was deputy chief of intelligence. Alleged to have ties to al-Qaida. Held at Gitmo since January 2002.

Mohammad Nabi Omari described as a senior Taliban office who served in multiple leadership roles. Also had links to al-Qaida. Wasiq and Omari were both apprehended while claiming to be providing information to the US. Held at Gitmo since October of 2002.

Notice a common denominator here? The year 2002. These guys have been out of the loop fourteen years. I have no doubt that they were and may be dangerous. They may also finally get home and find that the world has passed them by if they’re in any shape physically or psychologically to take up the fight.
May I suggest that we all go find a cup of coffee, take a few deep breaths, wait and see what happens. I suspect that the reception, wherever that may be.  may just go along the lines of "brothers welcome home, you have finally been delivered. OK what did you tell the Americans?"

As I said this a quick and dirty entry with some basic information. I don't suppose anyone at Faux would be interested.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The theory behind carrying your long gun anywhere you damn well please is that you need to be able to protect yourself. Warning, I have a nasty, twisted sense of humor and I don’t mind sharing.

Heck the first time I drove up the Columbia Gorge to Eastern Oregon I had to pass several damns and their hydro power stations. Man, three or four guys in small planes or up on the hill with a SAM or bazooka could cause some serious damage. I understand that most of the Columbia Basin is a serious no fly zone for just that reason. And I assume that there’s some form of ground security that will keep the bad guys on the other side of the ridge and off the skyline.
OK, you’ve decided to blow away folks at your local bar, church, Home Depot. Whatever. You aren’t on anybody’s watch list. You manage to get your sticky fingers on three or four semi auto pistols and a butt load of ammo. You stroll into the sanctuary, pretend to check out the windows, visit the holy water font, whatever while scoping out your fellow targets, I mean worshippers.

I assume you’ve spent a little time at a firing range and can hit the broad side of a barn at oh, say twenty feet. You spot three people with rifles slung across their backs scattered among the worshippers. Now (just spit ballin’ here folks, just spit ballin’) who are you going to take out first? Right. The guys with the obvious guns. Them first, then blast away to your twisted heart’s delight until the cops show up, you flee the scene or a group of civilians take you down the old fashioned way in a free for all dog pile and beat the crap out of you.

Heck, 2009 Lakewood Washington, four count them four, cops in were in a coffee shop getting ready for their shifts. Four cops trained, in uniform and armed. A man walked into the coffee shop and murdered all four in seconds.

If you’re serious about trying to protect your fellow man/woman. Take the time and trouble to get a concealed carry permit and some training. Might cost you some time and money. Still might not help. I mean, police departments across the country spend a lot of time and money training their people how to react in emergency situations. But, there you are in a nice, quiet coffee shop with your radar turned off planning for what you assumed would be a normal tour of duty.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Ten thousand galaxies. A tiny fraction of the sky.A composite shot of countless Hubble telescope shots enhanced with various light wave frequencies from infra red to ultra violet. Scientists can measure the dominant wavelengths of the light coming from the galaxies and assign a false color to them. Bright blue indicates strong star formation. Red, possible redshift implying the galaxy is retreating relative to us. Bright jewels on black velvet. The article with the picture didn't go into the distances. I'm assuming hundreds if not thousands of lights years for each one. The only true time travel we have right now.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Outside a Home Depot in where else? Texas. The main excuse for carrying those guns around in public is to "protect myself." Ok lady. You've got a ten month old baby in each arm. What in the name of all that's holy and a few things that aren't are you going to do? It's going to take you a few seconds to put those kids down and then what do you do with them? Leave them screaming while you go play Rambolina? Or will you do what any normal mother would do. Look for a hunk of concrete to hide behind and hang on to those kids for dear life. It's getting so totally weird that even the NRA is asking these groups to back off. I mean the bad publicity they've been getting can be a real downer.  And NRA is getting just about the same support the GOP gets when they ask the Tea Party to play semi sane in the sand box. Almost none. In fact they're accusing the NRA of caving in.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Frankly, I'm almost speechless. I'm not really up on ALL the presidents, but I do know that Ben of the Almanac, lightning rod, stove and constitution fame was NOT one of them. He would have had a hard time getting elected since he died during George Washington's first term.

Ironically I'm much better at the kings and queens of England than I am on the presidents. It could be because I'm a history nut. It could also be that at approximately thirty seven, there have been fewer rulers of England between 1066 and now than there have been presidents of the US since 1789.

Headline yesterday that Herman Cain is considering another run if God gives him the good word. Bachmann, Palin, Cain, Perry et al. The blogging gifts that keep on giving.