1. Earth: home to 8.7 million species – At least that’s the latest estimate. Two of each of them fit on Noah’s Ark. And if you believe that one, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.
2. Sam Harris corrects David Eagleman about atheism – I was unfamiliar with the term, “possibilianism,” but I certainly recognize the position. Eagleman thinks he’s found a position in between atheism and theism; he’s wrong. As Sam Harris says, what he describes is by any other name…atheism.
3. Bill Nye teaches climate science to Fox Business’ Charles Payne – Bill demonstrates in this clip what a superb science communicator he is. He manages to hold court and deliver a fairly lengthy speech without even once being interrupted by a Fox pundit. It’s remarkable! Even better, when Payne tries to move the dialogue away from the science towards a personal attack on Al Gore, Bill brilliantly takes a moment to first repeat his key message, that global warming is an indisputable fact, before giving a perfect political response that manages to neither “defend” Gore, who denialists like to pretend personally invented the “myth of global warming” nor falling into the trap of saying something that might be later taken out of context to portray Gore as some wacky alarmist. It’s a perfect performance and a solid win for science communication. That’s why we call him “The Science Guy.”
Ingred Newkirk and Glenn Beck are both beating up on Al Gore because of his doing more for popularizing global climate change science than possibly anyone else in the world. Beck hates Gore because he’s a liberal and according to Beck’s book, he seems to think Al Gore single-handedly made the whole thing up. Newkirk doesn’t like Gore because again, despite Gore doing more for popularizing global climate change science than possibly anyone else in the world, she claims to think that’s all invalidated by the fact that–gasp–he eats meat.
Apparently, according to Newkirk’s self-righteous and hypocritical philosophy (she uses insulin made from animal products for her diabetes despite passionately condemning the use of animal products in medicine), one can’t be an environmentalist without being a PETA-approved vegan. Because clearly she’s done sooooo much for environmentalism. In fact, REAL environmentalists don’t make a move without first going to Newkirk for advice. Who does that Al Gore think he is for tirelessly donating countless hours to drawing attention to one of the greatest threats to human society when he should just sit back and stop eating meat? Cause clearly if Gore simply sat on his ass and just stopped eating meat, that alone would solve global warming.
But I think the funniest part of this video is when Glenn Beck hypocritically announces how much of a meat-eater he is (2:50 mark). It’s okay because he’s not crusading for environmentalism. And it was okay for Charles Manson to kill people because he wasn’t crusading against killing people. The awkwardness of these two trying to exploit the other despite their obvious contempt for each other is worth the price of admission alone.
Terry Schiavo 2: Electric Boogaloo? – Everyone’s talking about Motl Brody, a 12-year-old boy who’s been dead since last week even though his body continues to function. I personally agree with the medical consensus that brain dead equals dead, but a whole bunch of science bloggers have gone into depth on this story, and those blogs are well worth the read: Orac, P.Z. Myers, and of course Neurologist Steve Novella.
But speaking of brain dead (Best segue EVER!)
Chuck Norris writes an open-letter to Barack Obama – The crux of the letter (no pun intended) is calling for Obama to compromise with the political Right, on the whole not terrible advice, except that of course he made no such demand to our King George at any time during the last 7 years when they made it abundantly clear that they had no interest in compromising with the Democrats. While I hope Obama does find some ways to reach across the aisle and reunite this nation, given the appalling uncooperative behavior of the ruling Republicans for the past 7 years and the rather decisive call for radical change that occurred this past November 4, I think Walker over here should try being less hypocritical and just less of a douche all around.
Al Gore on whether we’ll ever see an openly atheist president:
He probably could have phrased his answer better but it wasn’t god-awful. He at least knew his facts.
Rally in Support of Gay Marriage this Saturday – This Saturday, all over the country, there will be rallies held in support of gay marriage. There’s a great parody video addressing this issue here. Also Keith Olbermann knocks it out of the park:
To that end, the AGHS has not only called for an end to the practice, but also an undoing of the posthumous baptisms that have already occurred. I’m all for people of varying religions telling each other what to do, but itsn’t this like asking a kindergartener to remove the kootie serum from the circle, circle, dot, and dot he just drew on your arm?
More atheist bus ads, this time in Washington – Coming on the heels of the bus ads in the U.K. that read: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”, these new U.S. ads read: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.” Personally, I’m not a fan of either slogan and wish they’d opted for the far superior slogans used on billboards making their rounds across the nation: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
But in general, I don’t feel the need as an atheist to compete with Christmas. Obviously the American Fascist–err, I mean the American Family Association is not happy about this. But here’s how the story was covered on Faux–err, I mean Fox News:
Hell No, We Won’t Coal – Al Gore is calling on the nation’s youthful, unemployed, and unwashed to commit civil disobedience to stop construction of new coal plants that don’t install carbon capturing technologies. Coal is one of the most plentiful, non-renewable energy resources on the planet and 40% of our electricity comes from coal-burning power plants, but it’s terrible on the environment.
“10 trillion Turkish lira to anyone who produces a single intermediate-form fossil demonstrating evolution” – a sum roughly equal to £4.4trn.
PZ Myers calculates that to be $8,010,890,000,000. Eight trillion, ten billion, eight hundred and ninety million dollars. Of course creationists have tried this gambit before. The trick is that they’re asking for a single fossil that will prove evolution because they believe (or profess to believe) despite being corrected many, many times that evolution means that individual fossils should resemble some sort of hybrid or chimera like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort’s classic straw man, The Crocoduck. Evolution can’t be proven with a single fossil because the very nature of evolution requires the comparative analysis of many fossils:
“In terms of advance sales, Cameron’s Fireproof, an ultra-low-budget marriage-minded family drama opening on about 800 screens, has smoked LaBeouf’s $105 million, opening-everywhere thriller Eagle Eye.
Fireproof accounted for a whopping 40 percent of all advance sales this week on Fandango, the ticket service said today. Eagle Eye was a distant second, representing 17 percent of sales. Through Wednesday, Fireproof was leading the week with 23 percent of all advance sales. No other movie, “Eagle Eye” included, was even in double digits.”
Of course many of the commenters on Ray’s blog pointed out the problems with this so-called victory. Kirk’s little movie got terrible reviews. One commenter reported that “Eagle Eye still made $29.2 million in its opening weekend, compared to Fireproof’s $6.5 million, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations.” Another commenter wrote: “Just what are “advance sales” for films? I’m picturing an organization (an evangelical church perhaps) buying up reams of tickets and telling members to go.” Another wrote, “Why exactly should advance ticket sales through Fandango mean anything? . . . That puts Eagle Eye at $8,305 per theater, and Fireproof at $7,764 per theater. Without even taking into consideration whether Fireproof opened only in areas where it was more likely to do well (and not in those in which the opposite was true), Eagle Eye still did better on a per-theater basis. All you’ve really said is that more people chose to buy advance tickets through Fandango for Fireproof than for Eagle Eye. I assure you, this holds significance for no one except Fandango”
Can tithing hurt you during a financial crisis? – Some Christians are continuing to tithe (give 10% of their income to church) despite not being able to pay their mortgage, once again proving that belief in religion and superstition does great harm.
“If you don’t like the way your tax dollars are being spent, or not spent, on autism research, this is your chance to speak up and take action. The strategic plan (SP) for autism research will guide federal spending on autism research for the next five years, subject to annual updates.”
Everyone who is even the slightest bit concerned about autism, the hosts of virtually extinct diseases that could return if enough people stop vaccinating, and the idea of medical science being directed by scientifically illiterate quacks should find this proposal absolutely frightening.
Crackergate launches a revolution on TouTube – Once again Catholic outrage over something has drawn far more attention to it than existed prior to their outrage. Now YouTubers are making their own videos “desecrating” the Eucharist. Good job. Way to fail, Catholics:
“His videos began two months ago with the user saying into a webcam that he denied the Holy Spirit, then splitting a host in half and eating it with disrespect.”
Please somebody tell me how one eats a cracker with disrespect, because I’ve got a Nabisco cracker that has pissed me off the last time. Then I got to get me a communion wafer of my own to defile. If anyone can get me a communion wafer, please let me know. I will defile it worse than any god made of crackers has ever been defiled before. Here is one YouTuber cited in the article who’s really going to town on these wafers. I particularly like this one where the body of Christ gets nailed:
AND NOW A MOMENT OF SCIENCE:
Solar Cell Sets World Efficiency Record – “Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.”
Brain Disorder Leaves Patient Always ‘Lost’ -“Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute recently documented the first case of a patient who, without apparent brain damage or cognitive impairment, is unable to orient within any environment. Researchers also believe that there are many others in the general population who may be affected by this developmental topographical disorder.”
Dark Energy: Is It Merely An Illusion? – “Dark energy is at the heart of one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics, but it may be nothing more than an illusion, according physicists at Oxford University.”
NASA’s Dirty Secret: Moon Dust – “The Apollo Moon missions of 1969-1972 all share a dirty secret. “The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust,” says Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee. Fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused ‘lunar hay fever,’ problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space.”