29 Dec 2008 @ 8:40 AM 

When I was 8 years old, I had two chemistry sets.  I went through all sorts of experiments, producing acids that I used to clean/destroy small objects, color-changing things, etc. I’ve seen several times over the past few years stories about the new chemistry sets, which apparently don’t contain any chemicals more interesting than tannic acid (tea extract). We don’t want our young people to grow up curious about science, obviously.

And then there is the curious case of Lewis Casey, who was arrested on suspicion of making meth in his garage. When it was proven rather easily that his chemistry lab was merely a chemistry lab (he’s a college chemistry major), the Canadian government charged him with making bombs instead. Have you ever heard the term “chilling effect” before?

Casey is no longer allowed to engage in chemistry experiments except under supervision in school labs. 

That’s insane.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 29 Dec 2008 @ 08:44 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (2)
Tags
Tags:
Categories: Civil Liberties, Geek, Science
 24 Dec 2008 @ 10:52 AM 

Lou Dobbs (not the most unbiased fella on the tube) had CNN meteorologist Chad Myers on the other day, and the weatherman claimed that global warming is not man-made because that would be arrogant, or something of the sort. This has been one of the various anecdotes that are being touted as proving that global warming is not happening, and even if it is, the problem is not humanity’s fault and we can’t fix it so we should just keep fiddling.  It’s sad that this comes up so frequently.

The meteorological year, December 2007 through November 2008, was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis of surface air temperature measurements. It was the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880. The nine warmest years all occur within the eleven-year period 1998-2008.

Arctic sea ice has not, in actual scientifically verified fact, improved extent over previous years. It was, indeed, 220,000 square miles more ice cover than last year in November. However, it’s still 260,000 square miles lower than the average 1979-2000 coverage. Furthermore, the extent of coverage has peaked and stopped its rapid growth. Look at the graph linked above – we’re now seeing that the sea ice extent will likely drop below last year’s already-sad numbers by the end of 2008. Air temperatures above the ice remain unusually high, and this will cause a slowing of the ice growth. You may be familiar with warmth and melting.

Yes, it’s a blizzard. No, that doesn’t mean the climate is cooling, it just means there’s a blizzard right now. The plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Dec 2008 @ 04:30 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
 09 Apr 2008 @ 8:28 PM 

The movie Expelled is coming out in just over a week. According to every reviewer who isn’t an right-wing fundamentalist, it sucks. Of course, I assume it will play here in San Angelo (as seen on “FLDS Watch”!), because we always get that stuff. Have fun with the reviews on Expelled Exposed – the reviews are pretty entertaining. Heck, even Fox News didn’t like it; I’m pretty sure that’s the target demo.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2008 @ 08:28 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (4)
Tags
 26 Mar 2008 @ 5:59 AM 

My most linked-to post ever, yesterday’s denialists missive, has attracted the usual suspects. Not surprisingly, Akismet’s spam filter blocked them and I don’t feel like unblocking them. Typical tactic of the denialists – overwhelmingly loud shoutdowns instead of actual scientific evidence. In lieu of opening up my blog to becoming another nutjob-infested place, I will address the “issues” that denialists like to throw out in defense of the lack of action toward anything like good stewardship of the planet.

More ice is forming in the Antarctic than is being lost. This is actually a predictable effect of the current warming cycle. More warmth equals more evaporation equals more precipitation, particularly at the poles (more at the South than North for other reasons). It also equals less precipitation in the tropics. These things are predicted, and they have happened.

Antarctica is cooling. No. It had a cooling trend over 60% of its mass, several years ago. It’s a lot more clear now, as the warming trend has become much more widespread. Also, Antarctica is susceptible to warming and cooling based on ocean temperatures, so it would be predicted to warm later than the Arctic region. This is predicted, and it is happening.

It’s cold in BC right now, so global warming is a hoax. Local temperature variations do not change a global multi-decade trend. See also, “it’s been a cool year all over” for more nonsense. Yes, it has been the coolest winter since 2001. But, it’s still the 16th warmest year on record. So, “cooler” than “really hot” is not much to go by. The warmest years on record are 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2007.

The arctic sea ice came back big time this winter. Yes, it did. But, there are two types of ice pack in the arctic – perennial and annual. The annual ice made a nice recovery. The perennial ice, though, is still much decreased. The perennial ice covers about 30% of the arctic, where is had covered 50-60% of that area in the past. Perennial ice (which lasts 6 or more years) covered 20% of the arctic as recently as the 1980s, but now accounts for a mere 6% of the coverage. One year does not make a trend. In the past twenty years, 17 of them are the top 17 hottest in 150 years of records.

Sunspots are to blame for the warmer temperatures. Sunspots have not increased in 20 years, so how could they be to blame? NASA says solar increases do not have the ability to cause large global temperature increases.” The Sun is approaching solar minimum, yet global warming continues.

Calling people who deny the incredible mass of data about global warming “denialists” rather than “skeptics” is an ad hominem attack and I should be ashamed of myself. I am a member of the Skeptic Society. Skeptics don’t believe things contrary to masses of evidence, willfully denying the vast majority of experts and all the research, cherry-picking bits of contradictory evidence to support a tiny minority opinion. Nope. Doesn’t happen. I’m amazed that people can call themselves “skeptics” and yet retain such unwavering belief in something.

What are the denialists afraid of? If the global warming “conspiracy” has its way, we’ll get cleaner air, cleaner water, less dependence on hostile governments, more wildlife returning to their habitats, and a booming economy based on renewable rather than finite resources. Oh, please don’t throw me in the briar patch!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2009 @ 09:07 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (1)
Tags
 25 Mar 2008 @ 8:19 PM 

When the Larsen B shelf collapsed in 2002, melting a block of ice the size of Rhode Island, global warming denialists said that a 12,000 year-old stable feature was just due to collapse anyway.  Nothing to see here.

Now, the Wilkins shelf is about to calve a block about the size of Connecticut.  Want to bet how the denialists will react? Liberal media conspiracy, anyone? Maybe a nice ad hominem attack on Al Gore? Pick your logical fallacy, and handicap the race for yourself!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2009 @ 09:11 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (26)
Tags
 11 Jan 2008 @ 7:40 PM 

How’s this for wacky? Kat interviewed at a pet store to play with birds, and had to wear slacks. For mcjob. Her interview with the local university for an art professor gig – jeans.

She got both jobs, if’n you were wondering. My woman rocks.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 19 Apr 2008 @ 05:25 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, Personal, The Woman, Work
 27 Nov 2007 @ 8:45 PM 

Remember the chucklehead from martial arts class? I somehow couldn’t get it through to him by my reading while he was talking, that I don’t really care to hear his wacko far-right talk radio dittohead talking points. *sigh*

I’m reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest trilogy, which hasn’t a name yet that I’m aware of but we’ll call it the Climate Change Series, absent anything better. I’m about 30 pages into the second book, and I do rather like to read books that I have open to read. But, chucklehead decided to regale me with more of his tales from the conspiracy side. Global warming may or may not be happening, and if it is it’s nothing we can fix anyway, blah blah blah. Of course, he admits that he has never read anything on the issue, and only gets his information from talk radio. Personally, I try to read the occasional article from an actual scientist, but I’m sure Laura Schlesinger is very well-read on subtle issues of climatology.

Last time I talked with this man, he told me about the evil Law of the Sea Treaty, which was going to give our sovereignty to some group of UN bad guys (it’s not). Ever notice how the far right has some sort of paranoia about the UN? Considering how completely ineffectual the UN has been in almost everything they’ve ever attempted, how scared could anyone be of them? So, this time around, his UN conspiracy is surrounding the IPCC, which of course he doesn’t even know the name of but just calls “them scientists.” There are some people who wrote pieces of the IPCC-4 report who don’t agree with the totality of that report. Surprised? Of course not. How many people wrote that document? Look up Richard Lindzen; I’m certain that’s the most prominent person that fits his description. Chuckles says that there are a lot, well, maybe a few, at least a significant number, of IPCC signers who want their names removed from the document. Let me just say, every large group has some nuts and publicity hounds. Doesn’t mean that the entire organization is wrong. The lack of any coherent alternate hypothesis to the prevailing one does not imply that there is a conspiracy which is repressing information. There aren’t a lot of coherent alternate hypotheses to the Earth being an oblate ovoid either; doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy against Flat Earthers.

Wandering farther off the path, chucklehead then had the insane notion that one should “follow the money” to find out who is benefiting from the climate change folks. Um, if we were to follow the largest streams of money surrounding this “debate” (not really a debate in the scientific world, no matter what politicians may think), we’d find it leads to the anthropogenic climate change deniers, as backed by the most wealthy corporations in the world, the petroleum industry. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but if you want to throw around “follow the money” tropes, maybe you should have a clue what you’re talking about first.

I tried to explain thermohaline circulation, and the fact that its disruption took less than a decade but caused the 1300 year Younger Dryas period of intense cold (5 degrees Celsius drop in the North Atlantic region), but I’m sure it was pointless. He’s also oblivious to the fact that our instruments get better each year, and so do our predictive abilities. The concept that theories are refined and perfected over time is foreign to him, of course.

Somehow, he even worked abiotic petroleum into his meanderings. Remember, this is someone who quite openly admits he has read nothing about the science behind all this, but just goes with his instincts on things. Our instincts are great for catching balls and shooting at slow-moving animals; they aren’t much good at megayear musings and thousand-mile discussions. I find it interesting that the majority of abiotic petroleum believers are in Russia, which is famous for such scientific breakthroughs as Lysenkoism (Lamarckian evolution).

Seriously, it’s not hard to learn enough to be halfway cognizant of the underlying science. Chucklehead is one of a depressingly large number of people who are willfully ignorant of things that they form strong opinions about. Just because you wish something were true doesn’t mean reality must bend to your will.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 27 Nov 2007 @ 08:54 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (1)
Tags
 11 Mar 2007 @ 11:06 AM 

I realize that many ads are sent to newspapers with “camera ready” art and the paper merely places it on the page.  Still, the egregiousness of some errors makes you wonder if anyone who knows English reads the paper before thousands of copies are distributed.  In a supplement today, I learned that a man with a Masters in Education was the Principle of a school.  I also learned that Don Oscar’s restaurant was Formally Little Mexico.  I guess it’s informally Don Oscar’s.

The local signmakers are no better. There’s a billboard that has been up around town for a month or two now, in several places. It says that “Being a First Lady has it’s privileges.” No wonder our kids can’t spell – the adults aren’t even trying!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 13 Mar 2007 @ 12:09 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (2)
Tags
Categories: Education
 12 Dec 2006 @ 11:41 AM 

According to this new study by a couple universities and a national group, the North Pole may be underwater by summer 2040.  Hey, if global warming sinks the North Pole, how will we explain Santa Claus to the kids?

Save Santa Claus, stop global warming.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 12 Dec 2006 @ 11:47 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, Funny Stuff, News
 08 Dec 2006 @ 3:52 PM 
You paid attention during 97% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don’t get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Dec 2006 @ 03:53 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (1)
Tags
Categories: Education, Memes
 30 Aug 2006 @ 3:31 PM 

[K]ids don’t read for pleasure. And because they don’t read, they are less able to navigate the language. If words are the coin of their thought, they’re working with little more than pocket change.

Writing Off Reading

Kids are graduating with incredibly high GPAs and can’t recognize words like “advocate.” Ouch.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Aug 2006 @ 03:33 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (2)
Tags
Categories: Education
 06 Jan 2006 @ 8:36 PM 

The idiot governor of my adopted state says, Add intelligent design to teaching

From the article linked:

Marvin Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor who has written favorably on intelligent design

That pretty much says all that needs to be said about Intelligent Design. No scientist is behind any of this. The college professors trotted out to be the educators willing to back ID are all liberal arts types. Nothing against my liberal arts friends, but you’re not scientists.

When we need someone’s expert opinion on Chopin, we ask a music professor. When we need an expert opinion on Shakespeare, we ask an English professor. When we need an expert opinion on biology, we ask…a journalism professor?

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 11 Oct 2006 @ 05:35 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (1)
Tags
 09 Nov 2005 @ 10:57 PM 

Unsurprisingly, the “I hate gays” amendment passed overwhelmingly here in Red Neck Texas. If something is already illegal, why bother with amending the state constitution? Is it just a way to say, “no, really – we hate gays?” Of course, the way the Texas constitution is written, an insane number of things require amendments rather than laws – we’re up to 437 amendments, I believe.

California – what the hell is wrong with you people? You rejected every proposition, even the reasonable ones, just because Arnold liked them all? And, um…San Francisco banned all gun ownership? Damn, even the SFPD thought that was stupid. I realize that nobody needs a gun to go hunting on Fisherman’s Wharf, but that doesn’t mean the Second Amendment is irrelevant. What part of “shall not be infringed” is unclear?

If people don’t like a particular part of our legal framework, they’re perfectly welcome to attempt changing it. Just don’t circumvent it, eh? BTW, this applies equally to people finding legal loopholes to allow torture and indiscriminate imprisonment as it does to people who hate gays or guns. Some days, it’s hard to think of people as a group having anything like brains (Kansas, I’m looking at you!).

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 09 Nov 2005 @ 10:57 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
 08 Nov 2005 @ 7:07 PM 

You would think Kansas would wait until after the Dover case was settled before trying this, but the Kansas educational system seems to like showing off its ignorance.

Next on the hit list, Germ Theory and the Theory of Gravity. It’s all deus ex machina, man!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 08 Nov 2005 @ 07:07 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, News
 22 Oct 2005 @ 10:27 AM 

Our own local fishwrap, the SubStandard Times, has a brief article about the Intelligent Design debacle debate. One person quoted is a biology professor at Abilene Christian University:

”I see good evidence for evolution, but on the other hand, I see my body works almost perfectly. It seems to be a tremendous leap of faith to say this body is the result of total randomness.”

It’s not total randomness! To conflate evolution with purely random chance mutations is to deliberately mislead people. How is this guy a college professor? It’s not like you have just as good a chance to evolve something bad as something good – that’s the point; the bad mutations tend to die and the good mutations tend to out-compete the nonmutated organisms. Evolution is the only theory on speciation (not the origin of life – another common confusion thrown in) that has withstood the test of time and research. There has not been any serious debunking of evolution since Darwin’s time; it looks increasingly unlikely that there will ever be a legitimate failure found in the basic tenets of the theory.

Two other professors, from a non-religious university, say the same thing that every actual working scientist has said: ID isn’t science, it’s faith. If you want to believe in a deity or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, good for you. Just don’t try to use that belief to bring down science.

They also quote a Catholic Bishop, as the “other side of the debate” – there is no debate. If you want to have a theologian discuss his views on a subject that is not in his area of study, why stop there? How about if we use expert opinions on automobile maintenance from a grocery clerk? Why not take a biologist’s opinion about quantum physics as a legitimate counterpoint to an actual physicist’s research? Some things are not opinion – they are observed reality.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 17 Sep 2006 @ 07:54 AM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, News, Religion
 30 Sep 2005 @ 10:11 PM 

Something which strikes me on occasion is how, when I speak to my coworkers or others with any brains at all, and the topic drifts to politics or economics, there is a sameness. Almost everyone I converse with is generally reasonable, with a few blind spots (we all have them). Almost nobody claims that Tom DeLay is a good example, and almost nobody claims that Mike Moore is anything but a self-aggrandizing propagandist. Nearly everyone agrees that the unfettered capitalism of the late 19th century which led to the Robber Barons was a bad idea, and almost everyone also agrees that the total socialism practiced in Cuba is not exactly an economic boom.

Yet, all these reasonable people go to the polls every two to four years and vote for people who are anything but reasonable. How in the world do we get ideologues and idiots in office, when most people are basically decent human beings, with the minor difference in opinion about things like the proper role of government in our lives? It’s astounding, especially when you consider that the American governmental process is remarkably transparent compared to many other countries. If this is the best of all possible systems, I’m glad to be living in it.

Of course, another issue which recurs is a growing lack of personal responsibility among individuals. Blaming the government for the failures of the past month is easy. Now, what is that pesky phrase in the Constitution? Oh, right – We the People. We, the people, are considered to be the sovereign rulers of the United States. We, the people, should not be waiting for the government to Do Something when things go awry. We, the people, comprise the country and if our elected representatives aren’t doing something, we need to. This lack of personal responsibility spreads through the public school system as well, with the consequence that parents seem too willing to abdicate all requirements that they raise their own darned kids, preferring the strangers of a major institution to take care of that rather personal issue. Mystifying.

Good night.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 30 Sep 2005 @ 10:11 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (3)
Tags
 25 Sep 2005 @ 4:21 PM 

Dover teachers must read this to their students:

Because Darwin’s theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The theory is not a fact. Gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Yeah, evolution is a theory. Gravity is another theory. You may have heard of germ theory.

Theories in science are treated as fact, as the best available explanation of how things are. They aren’t just good guesses – that would be a hypothesis. If you don’t know the difference, you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a science advisory board.

The central tenet of intelligent design is that any mysteries in nature that we can’t explain today are the result of manipulations by some intelligent designer. This designer doesn’t fall under any of the rules of nature or science that we understand, and so is by definition “supernatural.” The very idea of teaching a science which is based on something that is inherently unexplainable by science must make your head ache, if you can wrap your mind around the basic absurdity of the whole enterprise.

Besides the silliness involved in invoking a magical invisible being to explain anything we don’t currently know, it is dangerous. If you decide that some things are just unknowable, scientific research stops. When research stops, progress in the sciences stops. When progress stops, society stops. See Dark Ages, a period where scientists were told that all which was knowable was known – 400 years of utter societal and political stagnation resulted.

Deus ex machina is no basis for a science program.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 25 Sep 2005 @ 04:27 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (2)
Tags
Categories: Education, News
 24 Aug 2005 @ 9:23 PM 

Alex began kindergarten this week. On the first day, his teacher told us about the Gifted and Talented screening in the spring, and how he’d probably go to the GT program next year. See? I told you all he was the smartest boy in the world!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Aug 2005 @ 09:23 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, The Boy
 24 Aug 2005 @ 1:15 PM 

University of Texas, in Austin, has decided to remove the books from their undergraduate library. Now, it’s filled with computers and chairs and barstools. It’ll have some kickass wifi, too.

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 24 Aug 2005 @ 01:16 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, Geek
 09 Aug 2005 @ 9:14 PM 

Kung Fu Monkey has a great post on The President and Intelligent Design

bq. Opinion has been enshrined as superior to fact. No longer need a person take into account the way the world works when forming their worldview — they can instead hunt down “facts” and “theories” which support their own comfort zone, and what’s worse, we can NO LONGER CALL BULLSHIT. Because if our leaders — pardon me, your leaders — don’t call bullshit, who will? They have undermined the very process by which we know WHEN to call bullshit!

Posted By: Gary
Last Edit: 09 Aug 2005 @ 09:14 PM

EmailPermalinkComments (0)
Tags
Categories: Education, Political

 Last 50 Posts
Change Theme...
  • Users » 3
  • Posts/Pages » 2,264
  • Comments » 895
Change Theme...
  • VoidVoid « Default
  • LifeLife
  • EarthEarth
  • WindWind
  • WaterWater
  • FireFire
  • LightLight

MythTV



    No Child Pages.

Who is Bunk?



    No Child Pages.