Creationism legislation–Alabama (update 2)

Alabama’s House Bill 133, which would “authorize local boards of education to include released time religious instruction as an elective course for high school students”, cleared the Alabama House Education Policy Committee on February 29, 2012.  As discussed previously, this legislation is probably unconstitutional, violating the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution, mainly because the school boards would be responsible for setting the curriculum.  I didn’t realize this before, but each child could have access to studies about their own religion.  So there would have to be credit given for Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian (and which sect of christianity would be taught).  And what about atheists?  I guess those kids could actually study something real, like science.  Then get the great jobs.  And discover the cure for a disease.  Then the anti-science religious student will come begging for the cure. Continue reading “Creationism legislation–Alabama (update 2)”

Study confirms iPad’s shortcomings for diagnostic radiology

I’m a huge fan of Apple products.  This blog is being written on a MacBook Pro running WordPress.  I have an iPhone 4 running everything I need.  I don’t own an iPad, but I have had one for a few months a couple of years ago, and I was singularly unimpressed with it, and unless it has suddenly fixed some of its shortcomings, I remain unimpressed.  It’s not just the iPad, it’s the whole genre of computer. Continue reading “Study confirms iPad’s shortcomings for diagnostic radiology”

Major scientific book publisher is considering a creationist book

Recently, Springer, one of the largest scholarly scientific book publishers in the world, was considering publishing a book entitled, Biological Information: New Perspectives.  In a purely scientific context, a book with that title might be interesting, because there is so many new ideas in biology.  For example, though there is no dispute about the Fact of Evolution, there’s still a lot of discussion about the mechanisms of evolution, one of the most fascinating and vibrant fields in biology these days. Continue reading “Major scientific book publisher is considering a creationist book”

Volcano in Germany is definitely not going to erupt soon

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the Laacher See, a caldera lake and potentially active volcano in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.  The Daily Mail, a UK tabloid, published a story stating that the volcano was ready to erupt soon.  Though there is plenty of evidence that the volcano is still active and may one day erupt, there is no evidence that it’s about to do so anytime soon. Continue reading “Volcano in Germany is definitely not going to erupt soon”

Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand

I just blogged about giant fleas in the Jurassic.  Now, I’ve got to mention the giant Penguin that has just been reconstructed from fossils found in New Zealand.  The penguin lived about 26 million years ago and does not look like any modern penguins.  It was about 1.3 m tall (approximately 50 inches), and weighed about 60 kg (around 132 lbs), which is about 50% larger than the biggest modern penguins.

It also had vestigial wings, much larger than current day penguins, which might indicate an intermediate species between the common ancestor to all birds and the modern species.  Based on its body shape, it probably could go deeper and faster than modern penguins.

via Giant prehistoric penguin is reconstructed in New Zealand | Science | guardian.co.uk.

Super-sized fleas adapted to feed off dinosaurs

Scientists have found fossils of huge fleas that dined on dinosaur blood.  Modern fleas are about 1-10 mm in length, but Cretaceous fleas were between 8-21 mm (not really big, but a 21 mm flea would devour your pet dog quickly).  Also they have armored jaws, apparently to dig into dinosaur hide.

So the next time you watch Jurassic Park, think of those giant fleas that show up!

via Super-sized fleas adapted to feed off dinosaurs : Nature News & Comment.

Limbless amphibian family discovered in India

Although the animals in the picture look like the common earthworms, they are actually a new family of legless amphibians that live in the soil in India.  Researchers in India have discovered seven new species of the family deep in the soil.

Apparently, these rather ugly amphibians grow up to a meter long.  I’m not sure I’d want to find one in my backyard soil.

via Nature News Blog: Limbless amphibian family discovered in India.

Mormons baptize Mahatma Gandhi–offensive in so many ways

I just wrote about Mormon’s baptizing Anne Frank, the young girl who hid from Nazis trying to murder her and her family during World War II, and who eventually died in a concentration camp.  Now another proxy baptism is reported–Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the founder of modern India, a great believer in non-violent protest, and a practicing Hindu.  Again, this is offensive for the same reasons why it was disgusting to baptize Anne Frank–Gandhi is a great human and symbol of India.  He was not, nor ever would have been, a Mormon. Continue reading “Mormons baptize Mahatma Gandhi–offensive in so many ways”

Richard Dawkins and the existence of god

You’re going to be reading this story about Richard Dawkins and his doubts about the NON-existence of god.  The Telegraph, a British newspaper, wrote about a recent public discussion between Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the traditional head of the Church of England (known as Anglicans outside of the USA, and Episcopalians in the USA):

There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.

An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”

Continue reading “Richard Dawkins and the existence of god”

Mormons baptise Anne Frank–frankly, it’s disgusting

I lived in Utah during a couple of points in my life.  It is a beautiful state, with numerous outdoor activities available like hiking, fishing, rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking…I’m not being funded by the Utah Chamber of Commerce, so you get the point.  Living in Utah is an interesting proposition for someone like me who considers religion nothing more than myths carried from the Bronze Age (3000-500 BCE approximately), when human culture had barely left the last Glacial Maximum, and science was starting a fire.  Utah is essentially a theocracy, where government is mostly run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (known as LDS or Mormons).  If you’re a non-Mormon (whom they call Gentiles) living in Utah, you sort of learn about the religion just by osmosis.  And you mostly ignore them (there is a de facto segregation of neighborhoods between Mormons and non-Mormons for a lot of complex reasons). Continue reading “Mormons baptise Anne Frank–frankly, it’s disgusting”