Archive for August, 2008

I’m Alive, FYI

Thing is, not only has school just started but also mum didn’t pay the wireless Internet bill because they over-charged us so I’m struggling with Internet-withdrawl right now. Sorry that I haven’t written anything but I’m planning (if I follow through with them and find the time) to write a post on some of the interesting/crazy stuff the DNC has brought to Denver and hopefully I’ll fit something in for the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards. I missed the last one.

In the meantime I actually have something awesome to say about school…

AP BIOLOGY IS AWESOME!

Considering the fact that my Chemistry teacher last year was a biology major who had never heard of punctuated equilibrium nor Stephen Jay Gould the fact that my biology teacher knows practically everything is a really really great contrast which I am absolutely thrilled about.

We collected pill bugs to study animal behaviour with on the second day and finished those up today (I was being really obsessive about isolating variables yesterday).

AP World History is also awesome (though not as awesome as AP Biology) though we haven’t exactly gotten into the material yet (we should be starting neolithic stuff tomorrow). I got a 6/6 on my first homework assignment and my teacher wrote good comments so I was really happy.

In short, AP classes actually rock… FYI…

Why I’m Proud to be Coloradoan

Ah… Colorado. The upcoming DNC, Focus on the Family, and Stan Romanek. A list of reasons why I am so fucking proud to be Coloradoan right now:

1. CBN is claiming that the Bible could be censored in Colorado due to Section 8 of Senate Bill 08-200.

Mmm… Legalese, I know. But it basically just says that you don’t get to publish things that would discriminate on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry if you work for a place that offers some form of public accomodation. The big question is if this means employees can’t do this in their private time or if they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business. If they’re only restricted to not doing it through the business then the worst that could happen would be the Bibles they leave in motel rooms would have to be removed but only if you could prove that it does discriminate against sexual orientation. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t keep a Bible on your shelf at home.

Via Skepchick

2. Oh, and you know how everybody’s hyped up about the DNC? The inter-faith panel won’t include the second largest religious group in America, those without faith. The Secular Coalition for America protested this and an opinion article appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette on the subject:

Yet an amazing number of atheists have taken to confronting and insulting believers of other religions. They pretend that atheist beliefs are proven true, while others are proven false.

It’s not so much that I am (or any atheist I know is) aiming to insult religious people as I am aiming to criticise their beliefs. I respect good people. Not stupid beliefs. If they don’t like me not respecting zombie Jesus then they don’t have to respect my belief in dancing pink unicorns on Neptune. At the end of the day, if they want to come with me to get some gelato or lunch and just hang out I’m fine with that… even if they believe in a 6,000 year old Earth.

I don’t believe that my beliefs are proven or that religious beliefs are disproven so much as I believe that religious beliefs aren’t proven and are highly improbable. I’m open to evidence like the Ten Commandments suddenly appearing on the moon in letters so big you can see them with binnoculars or something appearing magically.

Hitler imagined a world without Jews. The Freedom From Religion Foundation rented a billboard near the Colorado Convention Center that says: “Imagine No Religion.”

Ok, ok. John Lennon was Hitler and mass-murdered religious believers for saying those words.

Atheists might bring pseudointellectual proselytizers, who are intolerant, self-aggrandizing and rude. Atheists should fund universities and hospitals. They should feed and clothe starving kids. They should act more like Christians and Jews. If they do some of that – if they contribute to a diverse humanity – they might get better party invites.

That’s right. Atheists never volunteer for non-profit organizations, never send money to the Red Cross, and are involved in an evil eugenicist plot to murder starving black kids in Africa.

What a polite article!

Seen, ironically, at Friendly Atheist.

3. Oh, and yesterday I had the opportunity to see evangelicals waving a Christian flag with a sign saying “Support Amendment 48” which would define a fetus as being a person at the moment of conception. This would also mean that a woman who had a miscarriage could be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

4. And to top it all off, Denver might be the first city to have its very own Extra-Terrestrial Affairs Commission. I can’t think of a better way of spending tax dollars and time…

The good news is there will be a lecture at Auraria campus in Denver, CO on October 23 from 3-5 pm in the North Classroom building of University of Colorado Denver by science author and curator of astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, David Grinspoon on why astrobiology says we don’t need an extra-terrestrial affairs commission. I’ll post again on this later.

Why does Colorado feel more and more like the Bible Belt all of a sudden?

Mourning Blue Collar Scientist

After he first linked to me I’ve learned to get a sinking feeling whenever I notice an influx of visitors coming to this blog from Blue Collar Scientist’s blog. The first time when such a random influx happened was when he was first diagnosed with cancer. The next time when he finally passed away. Today I was reminded again of the loss of Blue Collar Scientist in a post on his final days of life, and damn it, what a splendid time it seemed he was having. But all good things come to an end…

So, we have lost a wonderful person. Someone who fought for better education and loved to teach kids himself. I know that I will miss him. Somehow, everything seems a little smaller.

But of course, I got to the sad sad end of the story and started tearing up. Once I had gotten my sobbing mostly under control, fellow skepchick Jill was able to lend me some sympathy over Skype which calmed me… but I was still in a rather disheartened mood.

I’ve always sort of had this strange assumption that all these bloggers would stick around, give me time to meet them in person at the next atheist convention or something. I think that if I had met Jeff in person I would have made a point to thank him for those kind words, but while he was still with us the thought never really crossed my mind. Even when I’d heard about when he got diagnosed with cancer I thought he’d make it. It wasn’t until after I’d heard the news when I felt the regret and shock at having a voice in the blogosphere fall deafeningly silent so suddenly.

See, when I get disheartened like that I like to play piano and I decided that this time I’d actually share some of my music with the world so I recorded some random songs and posted it on my Atheist Nexus profile where you can listen to it. The songs are:

  1. Für Elise by Beethoven – Like you’ve never heard that one before.
  2. Piano Sonata in C Major Movement 1 by Mozart – Movements 2 and 3 I butchered too bad to justify uploading.
  3. Sonatina and Romanza by Beethoven – I just really like it.
  4. Sonatina, Pastorale, and Rondo by Theodore Latour – I wonder why more people don’t know about him… and why I don’t know more about him.

I haven’t edited them so if you’re skeptical of my having made those choppy little versions of a few of my favourite pieces you can probably hear my numerable errors if you listen closely. If it’s that bad I would recommend banging your head against a desk with the rhythm until it ends.

I don’t really know if this is a tribute to him, and if it is I don’t know why it’s music that I have chosen to honour a scientist (after all, us scientists are just un-human heartless villains who can’t enjoy art in any form, right?), but if it is I think he deserved better.

Whatever the reason it helped me calm down about the blogosphere’s recent loss. I hope that… maybe… it will lighten up the hearts of others… despite the poor sound quality and dreadful errors that were inevitably made.

Name-Dropping Before Breakfast

Somebody I know is in Wired magazine!

Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

Ever been tempted to have your palm or your cards read? If you answered “Never!” then you’re the target audience for this weekly podcast, produced by the New England Skeptical Society. Neurologist Steven Novella and his team (including blogger Rebecca Watson, aka the Skepchick) debunk news stories, creationism, pseudoscience, and pretty much any attempt to pass off faith as fact. Featuring interviews with celebrity disbelievers like Walter Isaacson, Simon Singh, and Bill Nye, it’s a welcome relief for anyone who occasionally wonders whether they’re the last logical person left in the galaxy. (Statistically impossible, but still…)

And that is my daily dose of name-dropping for the day. Time for breakfast…

Ignunt Fool of the Week (Quantum Edition)

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…

lonelygirl15

Well, actually since lonelygirl15 is a fictional YouTube user can she really be an ignunt fool?

Anyway, here is the ignunt video titled “Proving Science Wrong“:

Description: Does science really have the answer to EVERYTHING? I don’t think so, and here’s PROOF! Enjoy 🙂

“The uncertainty principle states that no one can truly observe the universe in its present state because as soon as you look at it it changes.”

Lonelygirl15

What? Fictional characters can’t look up the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? I mean, I know that they don’t exist but the show’s writers could at least pick up a physics textbook or check Wikipedia, right?

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the more you find out about the location of a quantum particle (like an electron) the less you can know about its momentum, and the more you find out about the momentum of the particle the less you can know about its location. Hence, uncertainty.

Weird stuff, I know, but then… what about quantum mechanics isn’t weird?

For the record… This does not apply to things on the much larger scale of the universe we are currently existing at. It applies at a really really small level.

I would scream “straw man” but the show’s writers probably got their screwed up interpretation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle because of all the popular New Age stuff that uses the word “quantum”. “What the Bleep Do We Know?” similarly misinterpreted it to say that our consciousness is the only thing shaping the universe around us or something. But again, a lot of the principles of quantum mechanics don’t apply to interactions between big things like you, and me. Both the New Agers and this fictional character are making the mistake of testing quantum mechanical principles on the macro level.

It really, really, really annoys me when people say they’re using science even though they’re full of nonsense. It causes videos like this where people misunderstand what science really says. I mean, I haven’t even had high school physics yet and I know enough to bang my head into the desk when people define stuff like that.

A commenter on the video suggested that maybe she was talking about Schrodinger’s cat and confused it with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle…

I doubt it but I just wanted an excuse to put in my most favourite LOLcat EVER!!!

I commend lonelygirl15 on having disproven the premise of The Secret (quantum mechanics says wanting makes it so), and What the Bleep Do We Know? (positive thinking makes water crystals look prettier) which she had misinterpreted as a science. However, because lonelygirl15 is a fictional character her results in this experiment can’t be published in a peer-reviewed journal so somebody will need to do the experiment again in the real world.

Rainbows? NEAR THE GROUND?

This video has to be seen to be believed (fyi, those of you with Google Reader will have to click on the toast to watch it):

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Rainbows? NEAR THE GROUND?“, posted with vodpod

Parents, if you haven’t let your kids run through the sprinklers on a sunny summer day before let them do it now. Make sure they take elementary school science classes too.

Seen at Evolved Rational.

Evil Elles Hits 40404

Just a tad of miscellany…

When you Google “evil elles” I’m the first result. Aha! My godlessness has paid off. I am officially evil! Mwahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Oh, and…

Not only am I evil, but 40,404 people have been exposed to my evilness!

Woot! Time for an evil party!

Somebody cue lightning and organ music.