Daily Archives: September 13, 2011

Has NASA discovered aliens? Again?

i-536b557b10f0df6a73917844e1a08e82-ET_photo_from_wikipedia-thumb-300x217-69128.jpgProbably not, but they are cagily announcing a rather unusual press conference that has a certain familiar ring to it.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA will host a news briefing at 11 a.m. PDT, Thursday, Sept. 15, to announce a new discovery by the Kepler mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson auditorium, building N-201, at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The event will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website

The Kepler mission is focused on finding Earth-size planets in the Goldilocks Zone, where, say, alien life could live. But of course it wouldn’t be alien to themselves, you understand.

Interesting and potentially strange but it gets stranger:

A representative from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), a division of Lucasfilm Ltd., will join a panel of scientists to discuss the discovery.

Which can only mean one thing, right?


No Disaster Relief for Hurricane Vics

From the Raw Story:

A package of disaster relief funding worth $7 billion was blocked from coming up for a vote by Senate Republicans on Monday, drawing sharp condemnation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who lambasted the conservative party for abandoning Americans in need.

“Last night, Democrats tried to move forward on a measure that would have granted the Federal Emergency Management Agency additional funding to help communities devastated by natural disasters,” Sen. Reid said in an advisory.

The vote was 53-33, with Republicans uniting against measure that would have brought the aid package to a vote and put a rush on some emergency funds.

Unbelievable. Or, more accurately, totally predictable. And if you think this is going to make teabaggers in the affected areas change their politics, forget it. Not smart enough.

The reason these funds are being withheld is because a fairly large amount of damage was in places like Lee, Massachusetts which is well known to be the geographical center of the Communist Plot for World Domination now that China is not into that thing as much

For example:

I once had a cat born of Arlo’s cat, actually acquired at “Alice’s.” Being only about 6 and lacking imagination, I named it Arlo. Didn’t live long. I’m pretty sure it was flushed down the toilet by … well, someone. Funny that I don’t have more trust issues.

Too Pretty for Homework and Allergic to Algebra

As you know, JC Penny recently offered a shirt that said “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me” My solution was to offer an alternative tee shirt that said “Testosterone killed my brain” or words to that effect, but the Skepchicks went after JC Penny more directly and got the shirt shelved. Or should I say unshelved.

Now, Forever 21, which is apparently some sort of retailer, has an Allergic to Algebra shirt, also for girls.

This really pisses me off. I know smart young women who could have easily killed math but were culturally derailed by a combination of this sort of destructive iconography, teachers who shared this sexist and incorrect view with the evile marketing mavens at JC Penny and Forever 21, and other related factors. This sort of thing causes damage. This has nothing to do with free speech. It has everything to do with causing real social damage to make a buck.

JC Pennys and Forever 21 have a right to do this asinine thing. And the rest of us have a right to complain loudly, not shop there, and do other things that they may not like.

Make me a promise: If you are in a family that exchanges gifts for the holidays, including gift cards, and there is any chance that someone might shop at either of these stores, please put the word around that you would strongly prefer that you and members of your family not receive anything from those establishments this year, and of course, don’t go there yourself. I’m not talking about a boycott here (though that would be fine). I’m just talking about letting your friends and relatives know that you have a conscience and that they should check in on theirs as well, and send a little business in a somewhat different direction.

Michele Bachmann FTW!!!

Michele Bachmann! We thought you were out of the race, but then you went and WON the Tea Party Debate by telling Rick Perry that he was a fascist. Then, you went ahead and joined the Anti-Vax movement!

I’m pretty sure the anti-Vax movement does not overlap much with the Tea Party, so this is a major boost for Minnestoa’s Own Michele Bachmann!

(Click to see video)

Michele, I truly hope this keeps you in the race and advances you in the polls. Seriously. I want that very very much.

The Species Seekers: Free Book Chapter!!!!

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth sounds like a cool book, though I’ve not read it yet. From Publisher’s Weekly:

Until about 1834, the word “scientist” didn’t exist. According to naturalist Conniff (Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time), it was likely at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science) where a member, following the model of “artist” and “atheist,” coined a new term–“scientist” reflecting the transition of the nascent study of plants and animals from self-educated hobbyists to a new breed of professional. The author blows the fusty dust of centuries off an exhaustive bibliography of almost 300 books, many published in the 1800s. Conniff tells a fresh story that begins with Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus’s creation of a species classification system in 1735, through Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution–and of how, then as now, it was a challenge to religious orthodoxy–to the present as new species continue to be discovered, including in this decade a striped rabbit in the Mekong Delta. Conniff’s parade of pioneers whose colorful exploits are recounted is at times overwhelming, but this history of the “great age of discovery” is spellbinding.

The NCSE is giving away a chapter which you can get by clicking HERE [PDF file]

Lee Cronin: Making matter come alive

Before life existed on Earth, there was just matter, inorganic dead “stuff.” How improbable is it that life arose? And — could it use a different type of chemistry? Using an elegant definition of life (anything that can evolve), chemist Lee Cronin is exploring this question by attempting to create a fully inorganic cell using a “Lego kit” of inorganic molecules — no carbon — that can assemble, replicate and compete.

Continue reading Lee Cronin: Making matter come alive