Monday, August 31, 2009

Religion is about Love???

You must stop and think:
"What is religion really about?"
Not love for sure... Phoenix Pastor Draws Protests After Telling Church He Prays for Obama's Death
I don't care if you like politics, or not, if you are on the left, or right side of the political spectrum, whether you like this president, or not, or prefer the last, or not. If you wish death on anyone, you are not practicing religion, it's just another hateful nonsense and stupidity!!! Too bad, more and more "religions" drift that way.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

STS-128: Midnight Launch

Discovery just went up in a beautiful midnight launch, as seen from my backyard.

More images: STS-128 - Discovery Goes Up

Friday, August 28, 2009

2012... It's Coming

2012 is surely coming, like any other date out there. It is amusing to watch the doomsday chatter increase as we near the date, especially in light of the movie that will be out in a few months.
Internet made it easy for any crank to promote any idea, no matter how crazy it is, but what strikes me in this case is the fact that so many people actually believe that the world will come to an end in 2012 with so little facts. Why 2012 you ask? Because the Mayans said so... Great! They knew when the world would end, but did not see their own coming demise in the 16th century? But their calendar ends in 2012? If that's not enough to convince you, I don't know what would??? Oh, but our calendar ends every year too, and that does not seem to end our world?
As I see more and more people around me actually worried about this, I wonder what drives people who exploit scenarios like this one, and manufacture the facts. I guess it's always the greed, because I can't imagine someone being that stupid to be able to write a book (or make a movie) and really believe this crap.
However, in case of the new movie, due in a few months, this greedy scenario has been taken way too far. The producers actually created a web site for so called Institute for Human Continuity, that looks very slick and real. I hope there is nobody out there, who really freaks out and does something stupid, being influenced by this site, because I know way too many people who are easily influenced by nonsense like this.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Intelligent Design, Online Edition

This is a nice piece from Barret Brown on William Dembski, whose name I got thrown in my face in the past in some intelligent design vs. evolution debate... it's a bit funny, so I recommend it highly:

Intelligent Design, Online Edition

Science on Trial... Again

When I heard it on Fox's Hannity last night, I figured it must be one of the stupid things he says from time to time (more, and more often recently), however this does seem to be a real news:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to ward off potentially sweeping federal
emissions regulations, is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency to hold a
rare public hearing on the scientific evidence for man-made climate
change.Chamber officials say it would be "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st
century" -- complete with witnesses, cross-examinations and a judge who would
rule, essentially, on whether humans are warming the planet to dangerous effect.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks trial on global warming

I'm not surprised Hannity jumped on this news, as he's been promoting nonsense like this forever, but the idea that a respected (or so I assumed) organization like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is attempting to put itself into this crazy position, is troubling to say the least.
No matter how much trust we have have in the justice system in this country, it is not fit to evaluate scientific matters, which are decided by scientists and hard facts, not judges and juries.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Book From Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth

Richard Dawkins' new book "The Greatest Show on Earth" is coming out very soon, and I think it'll be a treat, given the author's track record.
Here is a short teaser: Creationists, now they’re coming for your children

For me the idea of evolution being right or wrong (not that I dispute it in any way) is a secondary discussion, being just the most glaring example of the anti-science approach taken by a huge chunk of our society. This approach will cost the US its lead role in the science and technology community soon, if we don't do something radical about it. Our society has this weird "negative" view of science, almost to the point of hate. At the same time, we all have no problems using the fruits of scientific and technological research in our everyday lives.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Great Job Mr. Crist

It's great to know that we have competent politicians running our great state of Florida:

Crist told a group of real estate agents Friday that he's had prayer notes
placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem each year and no major storms have hit

Crist's wall against hurricanes is in Jerusalem

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Herbs and Vitamins Can Hurt You

If you one of the millions, who take herbal medicines without even thinking about side effects and dosage, read this story on CNN: Herbs, vitamins that can hurt you

Carole Grant doesn't really trust medical doctors. She never has. Whenever
she has had a health issue, she has headed straight for an herbalist,
acupuncturist or other "natural" healer.


A few weeks later, Grant, a geriatric care manager, was closing up an
apartment for an elderly client who'd died when she started feeling strange
sensations in her toes.

It always amazes me that people take those herbal medicines, mix them up with each other, add some supplements, and they never think about any consequences. It's not a secret that most of our real drugs (I'm not sure about exact numbers) either come from natural sources, or are results of researching a natural process and repeating it in a lab. The catch is: drug companies do their research, analyze active ingredients, extract them, and study their effects and dosage. Herbal remedies don't follow this standard, so when you take something like that, you have no control over dosage, side effects and interactions. Do you really want to take that risk?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creation Museum Science Fair

I saw news about this: Creation Museum Science Fair going around the blogosphere... but you really have to read the Guidelines to appreciate the stupidity of the whole thing...

The Stupid, It Burns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Vaccines and Autism - Reference and Index of Resources

If you are looking for information about research and its outcomes on vaccines/autism, then here is your first place to check out:

Vaccines and Autism

This indispensable resource comes as a courtesy of the great Science-Based Medicine Blog

It should make it easier for us to confront all the rumours and lies spread by the anti-vaccination movement.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Political Dilemma

Oh... you read my mind: Why scientists are seldom Republicans
Republicans have been so successful in driving out of their party anyone who
endeavors in scientific inquiry that pretty soon there won't be anyone left who
can distinguish a periodic table from a kitchen table.

After years and years of trying to balance myself between the two parties, I still don't know which way to hop. I voted both ways in the past, but it is getting harder and harder to justify one side of the equation. Granted, with only two parties in the picture, both of them have to include a rather wide range of views, but for someone like me, who at least attempts to live by reason, following Republican claims, increasingly means going against it! Does being Republican really have to mean being stubborn, close-minded and plain stupid? Because, I can't imagine using your brains and sticking to their ideology.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Do We Want To Indoctrinate Out Children In Public Schools

This news item comes from my neck of the woods (well, a bit north of me, but still in Florida), and as a parent of a soon-to-be student, I find it very interesting and extremely important.

His school of more than 1,800 students was known by some as "the Baptist
Academy." His teachers and staff delivered prayers, or invited students or
outside leaders to lead prayers, during sporting events and other activities.
Teachers offered Bible readings or biblical interpretations and talked about the
churches they attend. They assigned religion- oriented work to students and
encouraged them to attend religious clubs.

Read the whole article: A principal's principles

Now, don't get me wrong... I applaud people for standing up for what they believe, however, I do have a big problem with someone pushing their beliefs (even when they might be compatible with mine) on my kids in a place like a public school. Our public schools should be giving our children NEUTRAL point of view. Teach them values, respect towards each other, history (facts, not interpretations), science (again, FACTS), and they will be able to do well in life.
I always find it funny, when people try to justify their ideology just because they think it is the correct one. Yet, I wonder, what do other people think, who have the same notion: my religion is the correct one? Who wins? Who gets to teach indoctrinate our children.
Just keep it out of our school system and if I want my son to become a religious person, I'll send him to a Sunday school.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creation "Museum" Trip Report

For any one who follows PZ Myers blog "Pharyngula", this was a treat long coming. While I might not always agree with his views, his recent trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky was a hoot... just because (as expected) loads of nonsense presented there.

Have a peek and read his account of the excursion:

The Creation “Museum”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vaccinate Your Children - Info From Down Under

This information needs to be popularized as broadly as possible:

Not enough parents are vaccinating their children. And groups like the AVN
spread misinformation about vaccines, spread it like a foul odor on the wind.

Article here: The AVN is reaping what they sowed

More information:

Today, a Dick Smith funded advertisement appeared in The Australian warning
parents that the Australian Vaccination Network is wrong in its claims of
various toxins in vaccines. A formal complaint regarding the behaviour of
the AVN has also been lodged with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission.

... with the article: Vaccinations – no, they don't cause autism

Thursday, August 6, 2009

How Homeopathy Works... or Doesn't

Watch this short, but very to-the-point video on how homeopathy works and is it any different than placebo (by Ben Goldacre):

Ben Goldacre on Homeopathy from science TV on Vimeo.

Books And Such...

I have been reading heavily in the recent months, with a few books that I would highly recommend:

  1. "The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution" by Richard Dawkins - this one should be on every one's list, especially during the Year of Darwin. It's a bit heavy on science, and you get a lot of facts in a short time, but the way it presents the topic is just amazing. When you see the timeline flowing backwards, it all makes so much more sense!
  2. "Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End . . ." by Philip Plait (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer) - you have to love this one... especially when you are bombarded all the time with all kinds of doomsday scenarios: from TV, to movies, books, and people that claim the world would end soon (and in 2012 for sure). It gives you a nice perspective on what could really happen, what did happen in the past, and what are the chances we see any of that on our lifetime. Very entertaining too!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More From St. Pete Times - Editorial

It's nice to see that St. Pete Times is following on their investigative Scientology report with an editorial (in print on Tue, 08/04/2009):

Scientology calls itself a religion and claims to offer purpose and meaning to
its members. Yet for some who worked in the church's militaristic Sea
Organization, Scientology provided something different: physical punishment,
humiliation, beatings, sleep deprivation, and long and ruinous separation from
loved ones.

Follow the link below to read the whole piece:

Scientology's ugly truths revealed

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another Article On Scientology

Another good article from St. Petersburg Times on Scientology, its abuses and complete nonsense:

They are stepping forward — from Dallas and Denver, Portland, Las Vegas, Montana
— talking about what happened, to them and their friends, during their years in
the Church of Scientology.

Strength in their numbers: More Church of Scientology defectors come forward with accounts of abuse

Keep up the good work St. Pete Times!!!
We need more articles like this one. Scientology is a cult, not a religion, plain and simple. Maybe we should follow the Germans (they banned Scientology a while ago).