Monthly Archives: April 2012

Are bills regulating fireworks there to protect stupid people from themselves?

Yes. But don’t assume you know a stupid person when you see one.

Our governor just vetoed a bill passed by our Pointy Headed Republican Legislature which would have significantly reduced regulation on dangerous fireworks in the state, allowing everyone access to explosives that are currently banned.

Which reminds me of a story.
Continue reading Are bills regulating fireworks there to protect stupid people from themselves?

I reject your reality and I substitute my own

I don’t know if this phrase …

… originally from Adam Savage or if he’s quoting someone. I think it might be his.

Today, I was in an internet argument with someone (can you believe how many people on the internet are WRONG???) and I used a phrase like that. Then I instantly lost the argument. Here’s how it went:
Continue reading I reject your reality and I substitute my own

Would you like the USGS to place a seismograph in your home?

So you can help them collect data????? OMG, this is so cool!

The USGS is trying to achieve a denser and more uniform spacing of seismographs in select urban areas to provide better measurements of ground motion during earthquakes. These measurements improve our ability to make rapid post-earthquake assessments of expected damage and contribute to the continuing development of engineering standards for construction.

To accomplish this, we developed a new type of digital seismograph that communicates its data to the USGS via the internet. The seismographs connect to a local network via WiFi and use existing broadband connections to transmit data after an earthquake. The instruments are designed to be installed in private homes, businesses, public buildings and schools with an existing broadband connection to the internet.

Go here for more details, and click through to sign up.

They are mainly looking for people in Hawaii, and the West Coast, plus Utah, so I’m out of the loop. But maybe you are not!

Bear in The Cities

For the second time in six months, a wild black bear was found wandering around deep in the urban zone in Saint Paul. I’m not sure what happened to the last one, but this one was killed by Saint Paul police under advisement of the Department of Natural Resources. To give you an idea of the location, here’s a view of the cities with the bear marked:


This image represent an area that is approximately five miles across.

There are a lot of bears in Minnesota, but it is a little surprising to see one get this far into the city. It could have come down train tracks and/or via any of several lines of lakes and parks that grace the region, which in turn are a function of there being ancient river channels that are now filled with drift and kettle lakes. There is also plenty of parkland along the riverside.

Details here.

Forty Eight Hours of Interesting Discussions for YOU!

Staring tomorrow morning, if you are in the Twin Cities, there is Lynn Fellman’s talk at the Hennepin County Library downtown.

Lynn Fellman creates art that combines genetic data with creative imagery. Fellman will discuss basic genetic concepts, how art can uniquely express science concepts, and why many of us may find Neanderthal genetics in our DNA. Q&A session will follow.

Click here for more details on Lynn’s talk.

Then, on Sunday Morning, listen to Richard Fortey on ATT:

“Living fossil” is a term that might well have been calculated to drive evolutionary biologists insane. Evolution has stopped for no organism on Earth–except those that have gone extinct. However, some plants and animals have proved resilient enough that they still live on our planet in roughly the same forms they wore millions of years ago.

Richard Fortey is a distinguished writer and a BBC presenter. He is also a palaeontologist who is fascinated by the idea of seeing ancient history in our modern world. His latest book, Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms: The Story of the Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind (in the UK, Survivors: The Animals and Plants That Time Has Left Behind) details and communicates that fascination, as does the BBC series Survivors: Nature’s Indestructible Creatures, which Fortey presented.

Click here for more details on Fortey’s talk.

One of my favorite people to talk to is Debbie Goddard, and she’s going to be on a call-in radio show later in the day on Sunday. Debbie will be talking about the Freethought Movement:

Debbie Goddard is the campus outreach coordinator at the Center for Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, NY. She is also the director of African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with progressive issues and LGBT activism.

Debbie’s first experience with organized freethought was in 2000, when she traveled to Amherst, New York, for a Center for Inquiry Student Leadership Conference. Inspired by the experience, she began attending freethought, humanist, atheist, and skeptic group meetings in the greater Philadelphia region, including in New York City, New Jersey, and central Pennsylvania. She also started a CFI-affiliated campus group at her college.

Click here for more info on Debbie’s radio chat.

Then, believe it or not, later that evening there is going to be a very interesting edition of Skeptically Speaking with Desiree Schell:

#162 The Science of Belief

This week, we’re talking about the perspective of science on the mechanisms of belief. We’re joined by science writer Jesse Bering, to discuss his book The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and the Meaning of Life. And on the podcast, we’ll dive into the neurology of religious faith with Dr. Andrew Newberg, author of How God Changes Your Brain.

We record live with Jesse Bering on Sunday, April 29 at 6 pm MT. The podcast will be available to download at 9 pm MT on Friday, May 4.

Click here for details on this episode of Skeptically Speaking

That’s a pretty darn interesting weekend coming up!