Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

Supporting Your Local Life Science Teacher

Here is a way you can support the Life Science teachers in your local school. Give them a poster or a hat or a T-shirt or a book or something. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

First, you have to find the teachers and start up a relationship with them. I have various relationships with various teachers around the Twin Cities area, but strangely enough my efforts to strike up a relationship with the Life Science teachers at Coon Rapids has led to nothing. The school is very close to my house. I go by it every day to do one thing or another. But when I’ve emailed the staff there I’ve never received a reply, so I’m guessing that maybe they are really busy. I’ll try again. I’ll let you know how that goes.

But never mind that.

Continue reading Supporting Your Local Life Science Teacher

Skepticism is a cultural phenomenon

Skepticism is a cultural phenomenon. I know that many self-declared skeptics prefer to … ah … believe otherwise, or as they would perhaps say, they have deduced from pure principles using sound logic that Skepticism is rational behavior and there is nothing cultural about it. But they are wrong, and that is trivially easy to prove.


Sarah Moglia is the event specialist for the Secular Student Alliance1 and has written an interesting piece on “Why [she doesn’t call her]self a Skeptic” in which she asserts that there are people who call themselves “Skeptic” who are not, at least sometimes, and there are those who are rather “skeptical” (as we like to define it) most of the time but don’t bother with the label. She does not name names; I’ve made the same observation and I’m not going to name names either either. But we both have had plenty of opportunity to observe, and even a practicing Skeptic would not toss aside our unattributed observations.

Unless, of course, said practicing Skeptic simply does not want to accept our shared conclusion and wishes to use the lack of naming names in favor of their argument. It’s a matter of choice, really: Believe Sarah and Greg, and maybe make a few of your own observations, or insist on clearly enumerated cases as evidence within the same blog post that makes the assertion. You can call it either way. Demand the highest level of proof or assume that well meaning observers who prefer not to name names but may have made valid observations. It’s your choice, as a skeptic, to pick one way or another.

And the fact that it is a choice is evidence that skepticism has a cultural aspect.
Continue reading Skepticism is a cultural phenomenon

The Sombrero is Two Galaxies in the Same Spot in the Universe

The Sombrero Galaxy’s Split Personality: The infrared vision of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed that the Sombrero galaxy — named after its appearance in visible light to a wide-brimmed hat — is in fact two galaxies in one. It is a large elliptical galaxy (blue-green) with a thin disk galaxy (partly seen in red) embedded within. Previous visible-light images led astronomers to believe the Sombrero was simply a regular flat disk galaxy. Spitzer’s infrared view highlights the stars and dust. The starlight detected at 3.5 and 4.6 microns is represented in blue-green while the dust detected at 8.0 microns appears red. This image allowed astronomers to sample the full population of stars in the galaxy, in addition to its structure. The flat disk within the galaxy is made up of two portions. The inner disk is composed almost entirely of stars, with no dust. Beyond this is a slight gap, then an outer ring of intermingled dust and stars, seen here in red. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

From the Press Release:
Continue reading The Sombrero is Two Galaxies in the Same Spot in the Universe

Helium-filled, high-altitude wind turbine prototype unveiled

An American company, Altaeros Energies, recently launched a prototype helium-shelled wind turbine that can be used at high altitudes. While the test run took place at 350ft above ground, the ultimate goal is a height of 1,000ft. Tethers send the converted power back to the ground. Compared with traditional wind turbines, the prototype garners twice as much energy, as wind is stronger at higher altitudes.

Sources: Green Tech Media, Smart Planet

What? Me? A torturing monster?

Former CIA Deputy Director Jose Rodriguez, now an executive with National Interest Security Company. He is a felon, but he appears to have something on the DOJ so he will not be prosecuted.

“I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled ‘torturers’ by the president of the United States,” when all we really did was to strap people to a board and pour water into their noses and mouths to they felt the sensation of drowning, for several hours a day every day for months, and stuff.

That is the sentiment of Jose Rodriguez’s new book, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives. Continue reading What? Me? A torturing monster?

The Gop-Spin Game

I’m trying out a new feature on The X Blog. I give you a news story and you provide the Republican Spin for the story.

In today’s story, some Pabst Blue Ribbon swigging hipster spilled frozen yogurt on the President of the United States. From the Washington Post:

During an unscheduled stop at a restaurant and bar here late Tuesday, President Obama ordered a pizza, shook hands, posed for pictures, bought some t-shirts — and got some yogurt spilled on his pants by an enthusiastic fan. … On his way to a speech to about 10,000 people at the University of Colorado, the president wiped his pants clean with a towel, made a quip about the Secret Service and said to the woman responsible for the spill: “Getting yogurt on the president, you’ve got a story to tell.”

Go …