Science in America — Neil deGrasse Tyson

April 20, 2017

A very powerful video that speaks for itself.


Robots, not immigrants, are taking American jobs

April 3, 2017

From the article:

On some not-too-distant day, it will become clear that our civilization has become so reliant on highly efficient, wondrously intelligent machinery that we simply do not need that many people to work in traditional jobs. There will be plenty of wealth to go around, but not that much work. Unless we want millions to starve or go homeless or riot in the streets, our society will need to guarantee a minimum income for everyone by letting all citizens share in the vast wealth created by robot labor.

Robots, not immigrants, are taking American jobs


De-Extinction: AMNH 2017 Asimov Debate – NdGT Moderator

April 1, 2017

Watch the 2017 Asimov Debate from the American Museum of Natural History. It was a great one. I did not expect the answer to the question of whether we can do this. No spoiler from me. Settle down for a couple of hours with a good drink for this one.

This debate discusses a wide variety of issues, including genetically modified organisms, agriculture, environmentalism, extinction, quality of DNA from preserved extinct animals, morality, animal welfare, legal issues, etc.

For a sample, just consider the question, if we brought back a mammoth (or mammophant) from extinction, is it automatically an endangered species? What is its “natural range”? What are its natural habitat and food? Is it moral to bring back a species adapted to the arctic in an age of climate change?

P.S. Neil is a bit out of his element on this first Asimov Debate that is NOT related to cosmology, astronomy, or astrophysics in any way. But, as he points out Isaac Asimov wrote about a variety of sciences, some of which did not even really exist at the time he wrote about them, such as robotics. So, de-extinction is perfectly within lines to honor the late Isaac Asimov who spent many hours at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Enjoy.


Why I Know There Are No Gods

March 22, 2017

Background:

Formally, I classify myself as a gnostic atheist, meaning I know there are no gods. Most atheists (from what I read online) appear to be agnostic atheists, people who are without gods but who do not claim to know there are no gods. Some people who fit this description simply call themselves agnostic. But, on formal forums, like reddit’s atheism subreddit, all who are without gods are atheists and agnostic or gnostic is a statement of whether they know or have doubt. Similarly, they allow for agnostic theists, those who believe in god(s) but have some doubt.

Regarding knowledge:

In no other area of discussion do we expect certainty or proof when we speak of knowledge. Nearly all knowledge, outside of mathematics, is empirical knowledge, gained by empirical evidence.

Empirical evidence, also known as sensory experience, is the knowledge received by means of the senses, particularly by observation and experimentation. The term comes from the Greek word for experience, ἐμπειρία (empeiría).

After Immanuel Kant, in philosophy, it is common to call the knowledge gained a posteriori knowledge (in contrast to a priori knowledge).

This is the type of knowledge we use when we say that we know that if we drop a ball on the surface of the earth, it will fall. I don’t hear a whole lot of people telling me, you can’t claim to know that because you can’t prove it. But, indeed we cannot. We know the ball will fall because it has done so the last gazillion times we performed the experiment.

For some reason, most people expect that if you say that you know there are no gods, that this one case of knowledge requires certainty. We do not require certainty from any other type of knowledge. Why do we demand certainty to state knowledge only when we are discussing knowledge of the existence or non-existence of gods?

Why this one?

Nowhere in the definition of knowledge does it ever specify that we must have 100% certainty.

So, when I say I know there are no gods, I mean it the same way that I know the ball will drop or that I know the planet on which we live will continue to rotate through the night causing the appearance of a sunrise in the morning, even if it is blocked by clouds. Night will become day as the earth rotates. I know it. You know it. We cannot prove it to 100% certainty. We only know that it has always done so before.

Classifying gods:

To begin our discussion, we have to classify gods. This way we can address different claims of gods individually.

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My Nightmare: What if it’s true that no one respects women more than Trump?

October 21, 2016

At the last debate, Donal Trump again reiterated that no one has more respect for women than he does. That got me thinking, unfortunately.

If all men had the same level of respect for women as Donald J. Drumpf, what kind of a world would we live in? Worse, what if some women had so little self-respect that they voted for someone who cared as little for women as Donald Trump?

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Remembering 9/11, with a twist

September 11, 2016

On this day 15 years ago, the United States experienced the largest terror attack in our history. It is a day that we will long remember. My heart goes out to the families of the victims.

On this day, I would also like for us to remember that Osama bin Laden who orchestrated the attack was of the house of Saud. 16 of the 19 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. In response to our attack by Saudis, we attacked Iraq in what is now considered to be an enormous blunder of epic proportions.

We still treat Saudi Arabia as a friendly nation in that region. I don’t know why. We still talk about selling arms to Saudi Arabia. I don’t know why. We still buy oil from Saudi Arabia. I don’t know why.

Further, if we assume that every 3,000 lives lost prematurely is “one 9/11” then we have ten 9/11s on our highways every year. We have another ten 9/11s every year as a result of lax gun laws and a nationwide obsession with the damn things (should we consider the NRA a terrorist organization? perhaps). We have sixty-five 9/11s every year as a result of air pollution which we might have reduced tremendously if we took action on climate change (is ExxonMobil a terrorist organization? perhaps).

So, will we do anything for safer roads, stricter gun regulations, and strong regulation of pollution to actually prevent some or all of these 9/11s going forward?

I am not hopeful.

I grieve not only for the 3,000 victims 15 years ago, but also for the 3.9 million lives lost prematurely just from these causes and from many other causes as well since then. And, I grieve for the 260,000 we will lose in 2016.

Perhaps I should subtract out the highway deaths? We do, last I heard, have the safest roads in the world. Maybe we are already doing as much as we can about that. But, the other 230,000 every year can certainly be reduced by at least several 9/11s, if we were to pretend to care.


NPR: Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

August 23, 2016

I’m glad to see this question becoming more public. Though it seems to still be considered radical. It is one of many factors that went into my (and my wife’s) decision not to have children decades ago.

Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

P.S. I should really correct my statement above. Neither I nor my wife ever really wanted children. But, while we were still of breeding age and before my vasectomy, when we’d hear a wailing infant, we’d make comments like “Reason number 837 not to have kids.” But, we’d also make comments on hearing about overpopulation or some environmental crisis, especially climate change and ocean acidification, like “won’t be our kids dealing with this.” Actually, we still make such comments.


IUCN Misses One Critically Endangered Species … Us

May 12, 2016

Some of my formerly radical views seem to be becoming more mainstream. Click this first link to read the main topic of this post.

ALERT: Critically Endangered Species: Homo sapiens

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You’re five times as likely to die in an extinction event as in a car crash

April 30, 2016

I’ve been talking about the Great Human Die-off for years and have felt like somewhat of a crackpot for doing so. I’ve usually qualified it as just my opinion based on hearing and reading a lot of environmental science.

Now, it seems that the idea of human extinction within the time frame of those alive today is no longer such a crackpot idea.

Human Extinction Isn’t That Unlikely

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Proof of Evolution in our Vestiges

March 20, 2016

I doubt I get many readers who doubt evolution. But, some of these are kind of cool and might help if you end up debating nutjobs who think we were created by God in our present state sometime after the actual human invention of agriculture.


40 Million Badass Birders Just Declared War On Oregon Terrorists

January 7, 2016

Woo Hoo!! Go for it my fellow birders. Wish I could join you!

40 Million Badass Birders Just Declared War On Oregon Terrorists

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New England Journal of Medicine Makes a Powerful Statement about Planned Parenthood

August 15, 2015

This article should be the end of this whole discussion.

Fetal Tissue Fallout

Unfortunately, I doubt that a write-up in a medical journal will get as much airplay as the guy with the dead orange tribble on his head or even as much air play as Jeb “my brother didn’t do it” Bush. Would this be called “hot air play”?

Anyway, The New England Journal of Medicine is solidly and squarely on the side of Planned Parenthood.

So am I.

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M*A*S*H Lyrics – Written by a 14 Year Old … In 5 Minutes!

June 9, 2015

First, here’s the suicide scene from the movie with a partial song, only 3 stanzas.

Alternately, here’s the complete song with lyrics.

Now here’s my take on the song. The lyrics make it one of my favorites of all time. I know all of the lyrics by heart. Though, I often get the verses out of order. I find the song hugely uplifting in the sense of knowing that when life is no longer better than the alternative, I always have a way out.

The song makes a great sales pitch for death with dignity.

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Holy Shit!! Literally. How to Persuade an Atheist to Become Christian. Yeah. Right.

April 15, 2015

I can’t believe people actually think like this. What a load of horseshit! Holy horseshit, that is. This is actually a serious page with step-by-step instructions for trying to convince atheists to become Christian.

This will convince no one! <== Click this for laughs.

How to Persuade an Atheist to Become Christian: Provide evidence. Hard scientific evidence.

Then, when you’re done with that, be prepared to convince that former atheist that your god is worthy of worship rather than contempt.

Good luck!


Secular Jews: Time to Speak Out Against Haredi Practices (the Ultra-Orthodox Jews)

February 11, 2015

We secular Jews do know that Jews have a long history of persecution. As such, we as a group are hypersensitive to the merest hint of antisemitism, regardless of how religious we are. This is why this message must come from Jews, so there can be no hint of antisemitism.

As an side, I also prefer when criticism of the Westboro Batshit Crazies and other Christian extremists comes from within Christianity. Though, clearly I’ll do my part criticizing them as well.

I should state that I fully believe that everyone, including Haredi Jews, is entitled to their own mishigas. I do not hate Haredi Jews. I hate what they are doing. There is a difference. This is about their actions, not about their right to believe, not about hatred for any human beings.

It’s about being moral and decent human beings in a modern world.

What I believe Haredis are not entitled to do is to be bad neighbors. When they leave their homes, they need to be members of modern society in the modern world. They must not expect others to give them special privileges. Nor can they require that others dress according to their standards. Nor can they take over public land. Nor can they vandalize public or private property.

What many of today’s Haredi Jews are doing in the modern world is unconscionable.

I hope that some Haredi Jews will read this and will not hate me for these opinions. I do not hate them for their opinions. I do not hate Haredi Jews at all. I do hate a lot of the actions of the Haredi community, especially the ones that make the news. These actions make me embarrassed to be a Jew.

I also hope that if non-Jews read this, that this will not be a cause of antisemitism. Remember as you read this, even if you find some of these actions as abhorrent as I do that not only are the people committing these actions Jewish, so is the author of this article. There are also many other actions taken by these same people that may be quite beautiful. I am merely criticizing a subset of the Jewish community for a particular type of interaction with the outside world.

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Farms No Longer Exist

January 10, 2015

How much more would you pay for humanely raised and treated meat?

(Sorry ECA, this is the sad state of farming today.)

Found on UpWorthy.


Missile Silo Condos: How to Survive Climate Change or Nuclear Holocaust, but not why

January 10, 2015

Apparently, if you have the cash up front to buy one of these things without a mortgage, you can survive whatever humans do to the planet, theoretically. I can’t personally really imagine how many years of food they could have stored in there.

For me though, I’m not sure life under such conditions, even in a luxury condo, is necessarily better than the alternative. I think I’ll stick with an overdose of insulin if it comes to it.

Here’s the link for these missile silo condos.

http://www.survivalcondo.com/

Here’s a write-up about them from AlterNet.

http://www.alternet.org/inside-underground-bunker-condos-where-1-percenters-plan-ride-out-apocalypse#.VLAUmQcp4iY.twitter

You won’t catch me buying one.


Of Purpose and Penis-Religion vs Science Debate Rages On

January 2, 2015

I love the graphic. Click the link below to read the article.

http://madmikesamerica.com/2015/01/of-purpose-and-penis-religion-vs-science-debate-rages-on/


Clickhole Says: All Religions Are Beautiful — Satire

December 4, 2014

For any who are unaware, Clickhole is a recent spinoff from The Onion.

http://www.clickhole.com/video/embed?id=222


Why Does God Kill So Many Children in Idaho?

November 17, 2014

As someone with type 1 diabetes, I can assure anyone who thinks otherwise that the effects of undiagnosed and untreated type 1 diabetes are beyond unpleasant. I ripped a hole in a lung and a hole in my esophagus from extreme vomiting.

These have healed, though my doctor still checks carefully 26 years later.

Once diagnosed, it took some time to get under control. I was on nothing by mouth for 2 more days after vomiting my guts out for a day or two prior to the hospital. I got motion sickness in a wheel chair on my way to radiology. I passed out quite thoroughly on a cold, hard, metal x-ray table.

26 years later, I am a healthy diabetic in tight control with no complications.

Children of the Followers of Christ, Christian Scientists, and other psychotic morons who believe they should prey on pray for their children rather than actually doing something to help them regularly allow children (yes children) to suffer far more than I did at age 25. It makes me physically ill to think that such people exist and worse, reproduce.

https://www.vocativ.com/culture/religion/faith-healing-deaths/?page=all

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