Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vacation Time!!!

No time to write, as the summer is here (not that it ever leaves Florida), and we are getting ready for a road trip: The Great Smokey Mountains, and then off to Toronto, Canada. It should be tons of fun, as exploring US roads always is. I got 16G memory card for my camera and it shows 4.4k photos available, so I'm planning on filling it up to capacity with all the great panoramas of the Smokies. I'll be posting them as soon as I get a chance...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday's Dose Of Rationalism...

It's Friday, and the long weekend (in the U. S.) is upon us!!!

Why not spend some time brushing up on your skeptical skills?
Brian Dunning's great intro to critical thinking, called "Here Be Dragons" is entertaining, funny and very, very informative. I keep coming back to it every so often, just to make sure I keep my sanity and to help keep any woo off my brain cells.
Watch it and spread the word to others!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speak Up... Even If It's Not Popular

The amount of woo (a.k.a. So-called Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, or SCAM for short) the we are being bombarded with is astonishing. I have noticed a few patterns in this area myself, but the indispensable Science-Based Medicine Blog comes up with the best summary, as always:

Hostility Towards Scientists And Jenny McCarthy’s Latest Video

It's always nice to have your own observations validated by someone much smarter :-)
As the crazy train keeps rolling, it is important to speak up, defend the reason, even if it means being expelled from some circles.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Anti-Vaccination Propaganda - Who's Guilty

I found a very interesting analysis of the current anti-vaccination propaganda movement, and its implications on the health of our children:

In the 1919 Supreme Court case of Schenck vs. United States, Oliver Wendell
Holmes, Jr. famously wrote "The most stringent protection of free speech would
not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." By
"falsely," Justice Holmes clearly meant shouting fire while not believing there
to be a fire. It goes without saying, shouting fire in the event of an actual
fire would never be a cause for punishment. It appears that shouting fire while
holding a mistaken belief that there was a fire, a terrible and possibly lethal
error, would likely be no cause for punishment, either. But what if that belief
was based on no good evidence?

Article: Shouting Fire

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

STS 125

We took a trip to the Kennedy Space Center last Sunday, mainly to see the two shuttles standing on the launch pads. The weather was great and we found out that the chance of Atlantis to go up on Monday was over 90%, so we decided to stick around and see the launch.
I don't have to say it was great!!! Watching the space shuttle take off from Jetty Park in Port Canaveral (around 10 miles away) was awesome. The thunder was amazing, considering the distance. Too bad we'll have a few years without any manned flights...

Some of my pictures from the KSC are available on line, as well as the video of the launch itself.

For some fun fact about the Hubble Space Telescome, check out the Bad Astronomy Blog:
Ten Things You Don’t Know About Hubble

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday's Dose of Rationalism...


There are two articles in the blogosphere that grabbed my attention today:

Giving vaccines a shot in the arm (by Phil Plait)


Flu Woo Hodge Podge (by Mark Crislip)

Great, to start your weekend...

Connerton Preserve

Recently, I discovered a nice chunk of wilderness right in my backyard. It's only a few miles from my house, and it's a great day hike destination. It's also brand new (dedicated only a few months ago), so the trails and amenities are not well developed yet. The main entrance is located a few miles east of Rt41, on Rt51 (between Rt41 and Ehren Cutoff). The first mile, or so, of the hike is in the open sun, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen, but once you get into the woods, it is very nice. Judging by the multitude of tracks on the sandy trails, there is plenty of wildlife around, but be careful venturing into the flatwoods, as there seems to be tons of snakes around too.

I took some pictures walking around with my son a few days ago: Connerton Preserve Hike

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Better To Be Quiet Sometimes

Why do people insist to expose their own stupidity?
I can't imagine brain processes that lead to the behavior exhibited by some of the politicians and legislators. Texas has been the best example lately, with the whole Board of Education hearings.

Phil Plait (my favorite Bad Astronomer) is blogging about this issue:

During the Texas State Board of Education hearings on science standards for
Texas schoolchildren, BoE member and staunch creationist Barbara Cargill decided that the age of the Universe was up for vote.

The article: Texas is only 6000 years old!

We have very similar problems in my own backyard, where our local senator Ronda Storms, keeps coming up with completely mind-numbing legislation to promote creationism:

How do those people get into the office??? That's a question that's beyond my understanding.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Homeopathy Kills!!! Really!!!

If you think that "alternative" remedies are harmless, and ignoring stupidity is a good idea, read the article below:

Dead baby's parents ignored advice: QC

Homeopathy (and other Woo) kills!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Info On The Huffington Post

If you want to see an overview of the quackery that's being promoted by the Huffington Post, read the (as always) great post on the Science-Based Medicine Blog:

The Huffington Post’s War on Medical Science: A Brief History

As I mentioned before, a mere two or three weeks after Arianna Huffington’s
little vanity project hit the blogosphere, I noticed a very disturbing trend in
its content. That trend was a strong undercurrent of antivaccination blogging.

This Is Just Heartbreaking

If you are not sure about vaccines, if you've ever considered not vaccinating your kids, read the post below, by Phil Plait, and see for yourself:

If you think Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey, and the rest of the ignorant antiscience antivax people are right, then read this story. I dare you. David McCaffery writes about his daughter, Dana, who was four weeks old when she died. Too young to get
vaccinated herself, she contracted whooping cough because vaccination rates in that part of Australia are too low to provide herd immunity. This poor little girl died in her father’s arms, and the blame rests squarely on the antivaccination movement. That’s not an anecdote, that’s data.

Read the whole post: Antivax kills.

It's heartbreaking!!!

Jenny Will Have Her Own Show

Jenny McCarthy is getting her own talk show???
Jenny McCarthy inks deal with Winfrey's Harpo

Good luck America... if this kind of nonsense just keeps spreading, we'll soon be back in the Stone Age.
Unfortunately, there is not much of a surprise there: Oprah has been spreading her own craziness for years now, refusing to even think about the harm she's causing. I guess the new show could add some significant numbers to Jenny McCarthy's Body Count.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Homeopathy: How Low Do You Go?

I have been watching some homeopathy "developments" in my own backyard, where a homeopathic "doctor" is milking someone I know from hard-earned cash, giving them expensive consultations and worthless sugar pills (or water in a bottle - same thing).

But, today, I've noticed something more worrisome: homeopathic practitioners are trying to cash in on the spreading swine flu scare. That's just plain scary and criminal!

Take a look here:

This is a serious concern, since taking sugar pills instead of real medicines for flu, could kill you.

Young (corrected!) Australian Skeptics have a nice poster: