Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

Creationism vs. evolution: the meaning to our schools and society

NCSE policy director Steve Newton explores the evolution of American creationism and how anti-evolution activities have changed from the Scopes era to the present. Newton explains creationism’s many faces, from dinosaurs-lived-with-humans young earthers to “intelligent design” advocates to legislators promoting “academic freedom” legislation. Newton’s talk will examine why teaching evolution–and science in general–is so important, and suggest ways for the pro-science community to counter creationist assaults on science education. Where: Oakmont Sunday Symposium, Santa Rosa, CA. When: 2/15/2012

An Excellent Book on Energy: Before the Lights Go Out…

On Sunday, I interviewed Maggie Koerth-Baker, the author of Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us. The interview was live on radio, but you can listen to it here as a podcast.

Maggie is the science editor at Boing Boing, a journalist, and has had an interest in energy and the related science and engineering for some time. Her book is an overview, historical account, and detailed description of the energy systems that we use in the United States, outlining the flow of watts, CO2 emissions, methods of making more watts, what we use it all for, and more. Maggie focuses on the electrical power grid, which is actually responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than internal combustion powered transport (cars, trucks, etc.), but she does touch on the latter. She focuses on the US but she draws from overseas examples in discussing what is normally done, what is not normally done, and what we might do in the future. She develops compelling and sometimes startling imagery and provides interesting and lively metaphors useful in describing and understanding sometimes very abstract problems related to making, delivering, and using energy.

Here’s the bottom line. If you want to have an intelligent conversation about energy, especially related to current problems and needs in the US and especially related to the electrical grid, you have to either know all the stuff that is in Before the Lights Go Out, or read the book before you engage in that conversation, or, if you can’t manage either of those, then maybe you should just shut up. Seriously.

I’ve been engaged in conversations about energy at a significantly heightened pace over the last several months, for various reasons, and I’ve found that the stuff that comes out of people’s mouths (my own included) is very often either very out of date or was never very correct to begin with. Maggie’s book is a very engaging way of fixing that. If you read the book, you will be caught up.

I caution those of you who might listen to the podcast that we only touched on part of what is covered in the book! You can’t just listen to the interview and skip reading the source material! Having said that, I’m not going to go into great detail here either. Listen to the podcast, get the book, read it, and report back. You will probably have interesting questions and additions to add to the comment section.

GSA Chief Resigns cuz of a mindreader, a clown and a comedian?

Martha Johnson has resigned from her post as the chief of the General Services Administration. The GSA is a branch of the US government that, well, provides services of a general nature to the other branches of government. Until the Bush Administration, the GSA was generally supposed to be fairly non-partisan, but under Bush, was re-crafted to be more political with their head at that time (Lurita Doan) recommended by a special counsel for disciplinary action. There have been other controversies in the past as well.

Moments ago, Johnson announced her resignation and two other higher-ups, Robert Peck and Stephen Leeds, were fired. Other heads are on the block. The problem? It has something to do with a conference. According to the Washington Post Continue reading GSA Chief Resigns cuz of a mindreader, a clown and a comedian?

Oklahoma antiscience bill dies

Oklahoma’s House Bill 1551, one of two bills attacking the teaching of evolution and of climate change active in the Oklahoma legislature during 2012, is now in effect dead, according to Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education. Originally introduced in 2011, HB 1551 was rejected by the House Common Education Committee in that year, but revived and passed by the committee in 2012, and then passed by the House of Representatives on a 56-12 vote on March 15, 2012, and sent to the Senate Education Committee, where it died. April 2, 2012, was the last meeting of the Senate Education Committee in the present legislative session, and April 5, 2012, is the deadline for single-assigned house bills (such as HB 1551) to be reported from their senate committees.

Details at NCSE

Funny and disturbing Google Search Terms

why can’t i own a canadian
funny shit to post on facebook
milk in eyes for pepper spray
war is not cheap
why the pledge of allegiance should not be said in schools
should school children be required to say the pledge of allegiance
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ads that are true but questionable
chances of michele bachmann being reelected
limbaugh advertisers flee
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(I knew there would be the occasional problem with a blog named “X”)

Rosetta Stones

One of my favorite bloggers, Dana Hunter, who blogs with me at FTB.com, is now also blogging at Scientific American at a new blog called Rosetta Stones.

I was five years old, and Mount St. Helens was busy erupting all over my teevee. I made it a get well card. It looked like it hurt. Thus began an ongoing conversation between me and objects people tend to think of as inanimate until they explode, rip apart, or fall down.

Go check it out!