Daily Archives: May 13, 2012

The Great Comet of 1861

Today is the anniversary of the discovery, by John Tebbutt of New South Wales, Australia, of the Great Comet of 1861. Tebbutt was an astronome.

The comet was initially visible only in the southern hemisphere, but then became visible in the northern hemisphere on about June 29th. I find it interesting that word of the commet spread slowly enough that it was sen in the north before it was heard of.

It has been suggested that this comet had been previously sighted in April of 1500 (that comet is now known as C/1500 H1). The comet will return during the 23rd century.


Babies, Brains and Boobs

Recording live today on Skeptically Speaking:

This week, we’re looking at some of the ways motherhood changes the brain and the body. Kayt Sukel, author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex, and Relationships, returns to explain the neurological effects of pregnancy and motherhood. And on the podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Katie Hinde, Director of Harvard’s Comparative Lactation Laboratory, to discuss the biology of lactation and breastfeeding.

We record live with Kayt Sukel on Sunday, May 13 at 6 pm MT. The podcast will be available to download at 9 pm MT on Friday, May 18.

For details go here.

Targets that look like Trayvon Martin?

This target was intended to resemble the murdered young man, Travyvon Martin. The manufacturer of the target has stated that Trayvon is a "Thug" and therefore should be depicted on a target like this. However, the real thug is the manufacturer of the target, because using a person's image without permission is illegal in Virginia. Plus, the guy is an unmitigated ass for doing this.

Apparently, a person described as a “George Zimmerman Supporter” (read: Person who likes persons who shoot black kids in cold blood) is selling targets, for target practice, meant to resemble the young Trayvon Martin, who was murdered early this year. The targets show a person wearing a hoodie and carrying iced tea and Skittles, as Trayvon was the night he was gunned down in cold blood. (Details here and here.)

Apparently the targets, available at Gun Broker Dot Com, sold out very quickly. (Gun broker has taken down the page, but you can probably contact them through their customer service department.) Continue reading Targets that look like Trayvon Martin?

Does the Internet need an HR Department?

Image from Reddit posted by user Lunam with the text "What my super religious mother got me for Christmass..."
When a young girl put a picture of herself, holding a book she had just gotten as a present, on the social networking site reddit, she was immediately subjected to intense verbal sexual assault by reddit readers who aptly demonstrated how awful it can be when boys and young men are left to say and do what they want without the social control of anyone knowing who they are. When Skepchick founder Rebecca Watson casually tossed out some relationship advice for clueless young men attending conferences they mistook for meat markets, she and anyone perceived as a friend, colleague, or ally of hers were subjected to relentless pounding with misogynistic language and faux threats of sexual violence. These are two relatively spectacular recent (and ongoing) examples of behavior that is widely considered unacceptable in our society. This behavior was probably much more common in the past, in workplaces, schools, and other places where humans gather willingly or not. But over time, most institutional and commercial settings have made rules against harassment and implemented systems to monitor and detect poor behavior of this sort, then deal with it. Human Resources (HR) departments, training programs, and diversity-aware hiring practices have reduced (but certainly not eliminated) this kind of horrible behavior. Our society is changing, and hearing men blurting out overt sexual come-ons, carrying out verbal sexual assaults, or haranguing others who do not subscribe to their particular set of behavioral rules is now rare. Young men still shout obnoxious things from passing cars (I just witnessed an example of that last night at the local grocery store’s parking lot) and there are probably workplaces where bad behavior is still much more common than it should be (dog fighting matches, certain locker rooms, and all male dinner parties in private rooms with certain senators come to mind as possible examples). But for the most part our society has moved beyond times when obnoxious, sexist, and misogynistic behavior is the norm
Continue reading Does the Internet need an HR Department?

Settling Conflicts: Guns and Homeschooling

There was a time when I blogged regularly about homeschooling, though I have not done so in a long time. A while back I started to blog about gun ownership. I engaged in each of these topics for similar reasons. I have a political and professional interest in homeschooling (as a science educator) and a complex culinario-political interested in guns (as a political progressive who likes to eat wild animal but does not like people shooting each other). But the reason I blogged about these issues was more narrowly defined. I wanted to see if it was possible to achieve détente among people with dramatically different perspectives on a specific issue.
Continue reading Settling Conflicts: Guns and Homeschooling