Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crying persecution

click to enlargeFreethunk cartoon
(I love Freethunk!)

Stardust in Perseus

Explanation: This cosmic expanse of dust, gas, and stars covers some 4 degrees on the sky in the heroic constellation Perseus. Centered in the gorgeous skyscape is the dusty blue reflection nebula NGC 1333, about 1,000 light-years away. At that estimated distance, the field of view is nearly 70 light-years across. Other reflection nebulae are scattered around, along with remarkable dark dust nebulae and the faint reddish glow of hydrogen gas. These dust and gas clouds lie near the edge of a large molecular cloud. Themselves telltale signs of star-forming regions, they tend to hide the newly formed stars and young stellar objects or protostars from prying optical telescopes. Collapsing due to self-gravity, the protostars form around dense cores embedded in the molecular cloud.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Government sponsored prayer

Ellen Johnson: American Atheists Update 11-21-07

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Zen Sarcasm

I just happened to "Stumble Upon" this today:

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.

3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.

4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.

6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.

14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

17. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.

20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

Monday, November 26, 2007

Moon Over Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Click on image to enlargeCredit & Copyright: Tyler Westcott

Explanation: This spectacular sky is mostly human-made. Once a year, the Light Station at Pigeon Point near San Francisco, California, USA is lit as it was over 100 years ago. During this time, light generated by five kerosene lamps pours through 24 rotating Fresnel lenses, warning approaching ships to stay away. Early last week, light emanating from the Pigeon Point Lighthouse was particularly picturesque because of a thin fog, also blurring the distant Moon. During the latter 1970s, the lighthouse was guarded by an 800 pound pig named Lester. In modern times, the light house is still active but has been supplied with a more efficient flashing aerobeacon.

More religious obsession with sex

So now they are going to censor people's names??? WTF? A reverend in South Dakota wants a street renamed that was originally named after a Civil War general named Hooker. There are many "Hookers" listed in the phone book of many towns across the country, and even in other parts of the world . Will these religious folks who find the word "hooker" offensive want all these people named Hooker to change their family name? What about folks with the last name Hell, Butts or Dick and other names that might be "offensive" to others? What about those like this man named "Woodcock" who was refused a Microsoft Passport account because his last name was "too offensive"? These people really need to get their minds out of the gutter!


South Dakota town may rename Hooker St.
WHITEWOOD, S.D. - If the Rev. David Baer has his way, the Whitewood City Council will change the name of one of the northern Black Hills town's streets.

Hooker Street doesn't quite lend itself to a family atmosphere and is offensive to some residents in the town of about 800 people, according to Baer.

It's actually named after a Union general from the Civil War, but Baer said that even renaming it to General Hooker Street might not be much better.

Any renaming would affect one resident and six water bill accounts, said Brenda Lindstrom, Whitewood city finance officer.

The council is expected to discuss the request its Dec. 17 meeting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

40,000 visitors!

I know that isn't much compared to many blogs out there that are far better than mine, but when I started this I didn't think anyone would bother. Thanks to all my regular readers who take the time to come by and read, and comment.

The Medusa Nebula

Click on image to enlargeCredit & Copyright: Don Goldman

Explanation: Braided, serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggest this nebula's popular name, The Medusa Nebula. Also known as Abell 21, this Medusa is an old planetary nebula some 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Gemini. Like its mythological namesake, the nebula is associated with a dramatic transformation. The planetary nebula phase represents a final stage in the evolution of low mass stars like the sun, as they transform themselves from red giants to hot white dwarf stars and in the process shrug off their outer layers. Ultraviolet radiation from the hot star powers the nebular glow. The Medusa's transforming hot central star is visible in the detailed color image as the small blue star within the upper half of the overall bright crescent shape. Fainter filaments clearly extend above and to the left of the bright crescent region. The Medusa Nebula is estimated to be over 4 light-years across.

Freethunk Thanksgiving cartoon

Freethunk.net

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Pleiades and Stardust


Explanation:
Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the lovely Pleiades or Seven Sisters star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae. This remarkable wide-field (3 degree) image of the region shows the famous star cluster at the right, while highlighting lesser known dusty reflection nebulae nearby, across an area that would span over 20 light-years. In this case, the sister stars and cosmic dust clouds are not related, they just happen to be passing through the same region of space. But astronomers using infrared detectors have recently found a dusty disk that really does belong to one young Pleiades star -- HD 23514. Surrounding HD 23514, the disk is estimated to be comparable in size to the terrestrial planet zone in our own solar system and likely represents the debris from the process of rocky planet formation.

Thanksgiving Day Funnies



Cagle's Professional Cartoon Index

Ancient sea scorpion was bigger than a human

I have an unusually extreme fear of insects, so this makes me really shiver to think that these things actually existed.

Creationists would probably say this 390-million-year-old creature actually co-existed with humans and the dinosaurs, or make up some story to make this giant bug fit into the whole creationist "theory". But real scientists can explain this based on real scientific research and evidence. Here is the story from Reuter's:

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have found the fossilised claw of a 2.5-metre (8-foot) sea scorpion, a nightmarish creature living before the age of dinosaurs.

The discovery of the 390-million-year-old specimen in a German quarry suggests prehistoric spiders, insects and crabs were much larger than previously thought, researchers at Bristol University said on Wednesday.

"This is an amazing discovery," said university researcher Simon Braddy.

"We have known for some time that the fossil record yields monster millipedes, super-sized scorpions, colossal cockroaches, and jumbo dragonflies but we never realised, until now, just how big some of these ancient creepy-crawlies were."

The find was described by Braddy and colleagues in the journal Biology Letters.

The claw of the sea scorpion Jaekelopterus rhenaniae measured 46 centimetres (18 inches) long, indicating the creature was half a metre longer than previous estimates of the ancient arthropods.

Just why prehistoric arthropods -- creatures with external skeletons and segmented bodies -- grew so large is unclear. Some scientists believe they may have become giants because of the higher levels of oxygen in the atmosphere in the past.

Another theory is that they evolved in an "arms race" alongside their likely prey, the early armoured fish.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Robert Woodward)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who does the atheist thank?

Austin Cline has a great entry about atheists and a “godless” Thanksgiving.

Last part of Cline’s article at About.com:

A Godless Thanksgiving, Because Gods are Irrelevant:


There are an awful lot of people to whom we should give thanks, all because of their responsibility in helping us either to live at all or to simply live better. A common thread in all of these cases is precisely the fact that it is humans who are responsible for that for which we should be thankful, and therefore it is humans whom we should be thanking. At no point are gods involved in any way. Gods are irrelevant because, even if they exist, they aren’t responsible for that for which we should be thankful, thus there is no point in thanking them.

We find something similar in other situations where people thank god. Sports players thank gods when they should be thanking their parents, coaches, and teammates who have helped them develop their skills and thus made their victories possible. People thank God when they survive an accident when they should be thanking the engineers who have designed planes and cars to help people survive accidents. People thank God that their child has survived a medical condition when they should be thanking the doctors and nurses who created the treatments and spent hours using skills developed over a lifetime.

Thanking irrelevant gods is ultimately an insult to the humans who are genuinely responsible for what happens to us. It suggests that all the time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears we expend in improving ourselves and in improving the lives of those around us are ultimately wasted because the outcome will be determined by God, regardless of what we do. Whether for good or for ill, our fates lie in our hands รข€” whether a problem is caused by us or by circumstances beyond our control, we must take responsibility for solving them.

Next Thanksgiving, don’t waste time with prayers, poems about gods, or empty religious rituals. Instead, do something meaningful like talking to your children about all the human beings who work (generally anonymously) to improve our lives. Stop to reflect on these people and how your life has benefited.

Earthrise from Moon Orbiting Kayuga

Click on image to enlargeCredit & Copyright: SELENE Team, JAXA, NHK

Explanation: What does the Earth look like from the Moon? A new version of this space age perspective was captured by the robotic Kaguya spacecraft currently in orbit around Earth's Moon. Launched two months ago by Japan, the scientific mission of the Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), nicknamed Kaguya, is to study the origin and evolution of the Moon. Last month Kaguya reached lunar orbit and starting transmitting data and images. This frame is from Kaguya's onboard HDTV camera. An astronaut standing on the lunar surface would never actually see the Earth rise, since the Moon always keeps the same side toward the Earth. This Earthrise as well as the famous Earthrise captured 40 years ago by the crew of Apollo 8, only occurs for observers in lunar orbit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From www.godisimaginary.com

It is easy to prove to yourself that God is imaginary. The evidence is all around you. Here are 50 simple proofs (click on links to read more):
  1. try praying
  2. Statistically analyze prayer
  3. Look at all historical gods
  4. Think about science
  5. Read the Bible
  6. Ponder God's plan
  7. Understand religious delusion
  8. Think about Near Death Experiences
  9. Understand ambiguity
  10. Watch the offering plate
  11. Notice that there is no scientific evidence
  12. See the magic
  13. Take a look at slavery
  14. Examine Jesus' miracles
  15. Examine Jesus' resurrection
  16. Contemplate the contradictions
  17. Think about Leprechauns
  18. Imagine heaven
  19. Notice that you ignore Jesus
  20. Notice your church
  21. Understand Jesus' core message
  22. Count all the people God wants to murder
  23. Listen to the Doxology
  24. Ask why religion causes so many problems
  25. Understand evolution and abiogenesis
  26. Notice that the Bible's author is not "all-knowing"
  27. Think about life after death
  28. Notice how many gods you reject
  29. Think about communion
  30. Examine God's sexism
  31. Understand that religion is superstition
  32. Talk to a theologian
  33. Contemplate the crucifixion
  34. Examine your health insurance policy
  35. Notice Jesus' myopia
  36. Realize that God is impossible
  37. Think about DNA
  38. Contemplate the divorce rate among Christians
  39. Realize that Jesus was a jerk
  40. Understand Christian motivations
  41. Flip a coin
  42. Listen when "God talks"
  43. Realize that a "hidden God" is impossible
  44. Think about a Christian housewife
  45. Consider Noah's Ark
  46. Ponder Pascal's Wager
  47. Contemplate Creation
  48. Compare prayer to a lucky horseshoe
  49. Look at who speaks for God
  50. Ask Jesus to appear
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Idiotic atheist meets bear in woods fantasy

Have any of you received that dumbass “atheist and the bear in the wood story” that is being forwarded around cyberspace usually in the form on an email ? It’s also plastered all over the internet on Xian sites. I did a Google Search and it’s everywhere.

I have received the stupid and annoying atheist/bear forward a couple of times and merely deleted it without response, however, my husband is not one to let these provocations drop and sent back a response to a friend who sent it to him yesterday. His thought is, which I do agree with, if people send shit like this when they know you are an atheist, it is going to provoke a response. (It makes me mad that we are given the label “radical, crazy atheist” whenever we do speak up after being chivvied into some sort of response.)

Here is the story Xians made up that they think is so clever.

An atheist was walking through the woods one day admiring all that evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What a powerful river! What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking along side the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.

Turning to look, he saw an 8 ft. grizzly bear beginning to charge toward him. He ran as fast as he could down the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw the bear was rapidly closing on him. Somehow he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again and the bear was even closer. Heart pounding in his chest, he tried to run faster yet. But alas, he tripped and fell to the ground. As he rolled over to pick himself up the bear was right over him, reaching for him with it’s left paw and raising it’s right paw to strike him.

“OH MY GOD!”

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.

As a brilliant light shone upon the man a thunderous voice came from all around. “You Deny My Existence For All These Years, Teach Others That I Don”t Exist; And Even Credit Creation To Some Cosmic Accident. Do You Expect Me To Help You Out Of This Predicament? Am I To Count You As A Believer?”

As difficult as it was the atheist looked directly into the light and said “It would be hypocritical to ask to be a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?”

“Very Well”, said The Voice.

The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed …. and the bear dropped down on his knees, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke: “Lord, thank Thee for this food which I am about to receive.”

My husband had a good response to a friend who sent him this little childlike “fairy tale” yesterday.

For starters, there is NO GOD.

Secondly, BEARS CANNOT TALK.

Thirdly, anyone who goes hiking where bears live KNOW that you do not stop and chit chat with bears or try to be their friend. An atheist, unlike Xians who believe in magical protection, would know the rules of hiking concerning encountering wild animals and would “play dead” after tossing your backpack far away from where you are.

Therefore this whole little “joke” is kind of idiotic. This bear/atheist fantasy is a reflection of that programmed belief of xians that atheists are bad people who deserve death simply because they cannot believe in an imaginary friend. It’s a similar type of threat children are given via stories and movies about Santa Claus…if you don’t believe, he won’t visit you and bring you stuff! The non-believing child in films and books is always portrayed as lacking or a “misfit” when the fact is that most children of atheist families are quite happy and enthusiastic about life.

An interpretation about the bear story that a person in a post on another blog said that this only shows that some Xians would love to kill Atheists in the name of their god and shows just how “loving” and “tolerant” these people are of those who do not share their beliefs.

(The cartoon is stolen from a “loving Xian” website.)

(And here is a “lovely” Thanksgiving flash version,The Atheist and Thanksgiving Dinner, a Fairy Tale from the “For Jesus” website.)

Baby Jesus Prayer in "Talladega Nights"

Thanks to bernarda for pointing to this! Too funny!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I want this shirt


It really bugs me when people who know that I am an atheist insist on telling me "I"m praying for you". AND that's not all...they tell me that they have put me on their church prayer "networks" so strangers who don't give two shits about me can include my name in some incantations to a being that I do not believe exists! It's a total disregard for my non-beliefs. I resent being placed, even secretly on some "pity list" when it doesn't do any good anyhow...not for me anyway. (Even when I was a Xian and had problems I refused to be placed on the pity list.) My own attitude, and proper medical care can help me deal with things, my loving and supportive family and friends, and if doctors and medical science cannot help me, what happens is gonna happen and no magic words will change that.

I understand that people's intentions are good ones most of the time and if prayer maybe makes the people who are praying feel better, it's their freedom to do so . . . BUT I don't wanna know it! Since I was in the hospital in September, and struggling with chronic illness, I have had people who KNOW I am an atheist tell me "I'm praying for you"...well STOP PLEASE! Or at least stop telling me about it. I am glad you are thinking about me, and are concerned...but if you are truly concerned and care about me...then WHY tell me you are doing something you know is going to perturb me? Kindness can be shown without the added agitating comments.

For one, it's doing no good at all as shit keeps happening to me anyway, and secondly...telling me you are praying for me makes my blood pressure skyrocket because it's total lack of respect for me if you know where I stand on religion. I don't go out of my way to tell believers personally that prayer is pointless, I don't send email forwards with atheist content to anyone except fellow atheists, but I sure get an overload of forwards of god emails of the conversion types from people who know I am an atheist because they hope I will hop back on board the delusion train. I certainly would not tell a sick Xian that scientific studies show that their prayers just don't work. (In fact, research shows that those believers who know they are being prayed for actually do WORSE than those who aren't.) But while I was sick I was told "I'll be praying for you"...those who respect us tell me "We'll be thinking of you"...which is all it is anyway. We can only hope that the doctors know what the heck they are doing, and hope that the old body can bounce back from whatever.


Anway, I saw this shirt while browsing around the internet, and I might just buy it.

Heather Morgan: First Ladies as Dogs

This is a clip from The Dana Carvey Show

The history of prayer in a nutshell

The following is an excerpt which humorously explains the history of prayer according to Unencyclopedia. This whole entry on prayer is hilarious, and oh, so true. When I was a Xian, prayer in church was boring and many times TORTUROUS as the minister droned on and on, and people sat with heads bowed, and my husband nodding off to sleep and I had to keep him from falling out of the pew.

Prayer was a concept first proposed by the prophet (and late-scam-artist) John who created it to win the first “most pointless activity” competition which took place in 29BC. It remains to this day the 3rd most pointless activity known to humankind - coming a close 3rd to watching paint dry and doing SuDoku respectively.

The concept of prayer has since been adapted by many humanitarian control systems (colloqueally known as religions) in order to bore the pants off or just accutely annoy people who actually live in the real world. Prayer is practiced by millions of time-wasters across the world. Most developed forms of prayer involve aligning ones-self with East and using a purpuose built carpet.

Some more radical members of the various religious sects believe that some forms of prayer such as murmering words in your head (or occasionally really pissing off other people by saying them out loud) or bowing like a demented parrot can actively improve the quality of your/others lives in the long term. Such theories are under investigation.

Prayer is currently the 2nd seed for this coming years “most pointless activity” awards - and hopes are that it will beat staring competitions with stuffed owls.

This is video is hilarious. It’s similar to something one of my sons or husband would do if asked to say a prayer. (Everyone who knows us knows better than to even ask.)

“I wanna thank ya for chickin’!” LOL!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nebula

Here is a gorgeous video put together by JoesZone

Click on the full screen button for a better viewing.

Pat Condell - “The myth of Islamophobia”

Our friend Pat Condell has been taking a lot of heat lately for being “intolerant” and “Islamophobic” in his most recent YouTube thread.

Here in this video, Pat addresses these accusations and tries to explain himself.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Culinary Iconography - 2 for 1 sells on Ebay - Jesus AND Mary on a pancake!

I've been waiting for a new one to come along!

Holy Pancake sells on E-bay to some sucker for about $338.


When asked why she thought God would want to put a message on a pancake, Okane told WPBF reporter Amanda Burden, "Because it will get a lot of recognition."

Recognition, baloney . . . it will make Okane a quick buck off of some gullible idiot who is stupid enough to pay for it.

If the pancake is so "holy, and has a "godly" message, why is she selling it instead of just showing it off? Because it's all about HER getting recognition, and some extra cash for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NOVA | “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial” | PBS

I don’t know how many of you saw this last night, but it was a great documentary. My husband and I watched the whole two hours of it. We found it amusing by the attempts of the IDers to try to prove that ID is a “scientific theory” with absolutely ZERO evidence except for their assumptions based on some ancient texts. It was proven in this court case that ID is just “religion in disguise”. There is a discussion thread going on about it over at Panda’s Thumb.



Here is the link to the NOVA site where you can watch the whole documentary if you haven’t seen it yet. NOVA Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial

Edit:The Judge Speaks

The 2005 trial of Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. was the latest major bout in a long-standing legal battle over the teaching of evolution in U.S. public schools. The crux of the case was Dover’s newly implemented policy requiring biology teachers to read to students a disclaimer purporting that “gaps” exist in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and moreover, that there is an alternative scientific explanation called intelligent design (ID). The disclaimer suggested that students learn more about ID through a book called Of Pandas and People, 60 copies of which were available in the school library. (To read the statement in full, see Board vs. Teachers.)

Was Dover’s ID policy a covert way to introduce religion into a public school, and therefore in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? That is what Dover parent Tammy Kitzmiller and her co-plaintiffs claimed. Following six weeks of testimony from some of the country’s leading biologists, as well as arguments from the nation’s most ardent supporters of intelligent design, Judge John Jones issued a 139-page ruling on the case.

ID is not science
After a searching review of the record and applicable case law, we find that while intelligent design arguments may be true, a proposition on which the Court takes no position, intelligent design is not science. We find that intelligent design fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that intelligent design is science. They are: (1) intelligent design violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to intelligent design, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) intelligent design’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. It is additionally important to note that intelligent design has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

ID is the progeny of creationism
The evidence at trial demonstrates that intelligent design is nothing less than the progeny of creationism. What is likely the strongest evidence supporting the finding of intelligent design’s creationist nature is the history and historical pedigree of the book to which students in Dover’s ninth-grade biology class are referred, Of Pandas and People. Pandas is published by an organization called FTE, as noted, whose articles of incorporation and filings with the Internal Revenue Service describe it as a religious, Christian organization. Pandas was written by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis, both acknowledged creationists, and Nancy Pearcey, a Young Earth Creationist, contributed to the work.


Evolutionary theory is not antithetical to religion

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of intelligent design make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

The disclaimer Dover wanted read to students is flawed
The disclaimer written by the Dover School Board singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.

The goal of the ID movement is to foment a revolution
Intelligent design, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’ as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce intelligent design to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum. Moreover, intelligent design’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not intelligent design itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the intelligent-design movement is not to encourage critical thought but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with intelligent design.

It is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution
We do not question that many of the leading advocates of intelligent design have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that intelligent design should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

"Pray on the Church Steps, not the Capitol Steps."

LINK: Magical invocation for rain

As most of us know, the state of Georgia has been experiencing a terrible drought, and once again the religious fundamentalists believe their god is "testing" them or giving them some sort of sadistic tap on the shoulder because they are not paying enough attention to him. They automatically believe that anything that happens that they have no control over is some sort of test or punishment from some invisible overlord in another dimension who is capable of keeping track of billions and billions of people, choosing which ones he is going to allow to have plenty of money, good health and prosperity, happiness, etc. and which ones he is going to deprive, condemn, torment mentally or emotionally, inflict with poverty, illness...etc. every minute of every day just "get their attention". The puzzling thing is, that these catastrophes happen where people ARE giving their god full attention.


The governor of Georgia is resorting to drastic measures in the form of supernatural begging ON THE STEPS OF A GOVERNMENT BUILDING. That is the main point of objection by many people, many of whom are god believers but also believe in upholding our Constitution and what it mandates concerning the Separation of Church and State.

The prayer happened, it was protested by only a small group of about 20 people. 250 showed up to participate in the magical invocation for rain. Why not also organize a Native American rain dance, call a Voodoo queen to cast a few spells to ward off demons, call Penn & Teller to come up with some sort of magic trick? It's all going to end in the same results...Mother Nature cannot be manipulated. It's disturbing that so many people in the year 2007 still regress to magical, wishful thinking when things are not going their way, or when things happen beyond their control.

It's also frustrating that more people don't show up in protest against using the capitol steps as a religious pulpit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Man in India marries dog as atonement

I love these wacky stories I find in Odd News of Yahoo and other places. It boggles my mind that nutty and absurd religious beliefs of all kinds still abound in the year 2007.

Some Hindus think that by marrying a dog this man is going to undo the horrible act of stoning two other dogs to death. He married the dog in order to save himself from a lifelong curse he believes was placed on him by his imaginary friends as punishment for those actions. It’s just like others who think that by simply believing and saying some magic words that all the bad they ever do is forgiven by some invisible man who never, ever shows himself except in their own minds.

Religion relieves guilt, and that is not a good thing, as far as I am concerned. If one believes that no matter what they do, that their imaginary friend will still love them and forgive them, they will keep on doing those things with the assumption that they can perform a magical ritual, utter some magic words to some magical being and all the bad things they have done, all the poor choices, all the hurtful deeds they have done are simply “washed away.”

There are just some things we do in life that might be so awful that we can never forgive ourselves. That doesn’t mean that life can’t go on or that we should beat ourselves up every day for those errors in judgment or spontaneous acts we commit in heated moments. We can admit we did a bad or cruel thing and feel remorseful, but we can’t undo whatever has already been said or done. We can only realize our mistakes and bad choices and correct our behavior and never allow ourselves to make those choices or do those bad things again. Magical rituals, wishful prayers and believing in a magical being who forgives every bad thing we do is silly superstitious thinking.

This is just another example of how religion messes people up psychologically.Maybe this dude is truly remorseful, but it appears to me that the only reason this man wants “atonement” is to help rid HIMSELF of a curse he believes his supernatural overlords put on him because of his cruel actions. If he really wants to “atone” for his crime, it would be better to build shelters for stray animals, help to feed them, have them neutered, or something that would actually do some good.

I feel sorry for the dog.



I feel sorry for the dog.

NEW DELHI - A man in southern India married a female dog in a traditional Hindu ceremony as an attempt to atone for stoning two other dogs to death — an act he believes cursed him — a newspaper reported Tuesday.

P. Selvakumar married the sari-draped former stray named Selvi, chosen by family members and then bathed and clothed for the ceremony Sunday at a Hindu temple in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, the Hindustan Times newspaper said.

Selvakumar, 33, told the paper he had been suffering since he stoned two dogs to death and hung their bodies from a tree 15 years ago.

"After that my legs and hands got paralyzed and I lost hearing in one ear," he said in the report.

The paper said an astrologer had told Selvakumar the wedding was the only way he could cure the maladies. It did not say whether his situation had improved.

Deeply superstitious people in rural India sometimes organize weddings to dogs and other animals, believing it can ward off certain curses.

The paper showed a picture of Selvakumar sitting next to the dog, which was wearing an orange sari and a flower garland.

The paper said the groom and his family then had a feast, while the dog got a bun.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sun Montage - SOHO NASA

Thanks to TahitiPetey who compiled and edited NASA solar data & simulations from 1998. Absolutely awesome TahitiPetey and NASA SOHO Project! Our Sun is magnificent awesome.

An X Class Flare Region on the Sun


Explanation: Why does the Sun flare? Unpredictably, our Sun unleashes tremendous flares expelling hot gas into the Solar System that can affect satellites, astronauts, and power grids on Earth. This close up of an active region on the Sun that produced a powerful X-class flare was captured by the orbiting TRACE satellite. Clicking on the image should bring up a movie that shows the evolution of Active Region 9906 over about four hours. The glowing gas flowing around the relatively stable magnetic field loops above the Sun's photosphere has a temperature of over ten million degrees Celsius. These flows occurred after violently unstable magnetic reconnection events above the Sun produced the flare. Many things about solar active regions are not well understood including the presence of dark regions that appear to move inward during the movie.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More "Intelligent" design (snark)

LINK: Girl born with 8-limbs undergoes surgery
to correct "god's handiwork" (sarcasm)

And superstitious folks in India believe this is the handiwork of one of their supernatural beings:
By GAVIN RABINOWITZ, Associated Press Writer Tue Nov 6, 8:18 PM ET

BANGALORE, India - Revered by some in her village as the reincarnation of a Hindu goddess, a 2-year-old girl born with four arms and four legs was undergoing surgery Tuesday to leave her with a normal body.

The girl named Lakshmi is joined to a "parasitic twin" that stopped developing in the mother's womb. The surviving fetus absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the undeveloped fetus.

A team of 30 doctors was removing the extra limbs and organs, surgery that if successful would give her a good chance to live past adolescence. They have already separated the fused spines and the next step will be to remove the extra limbs and the rest of the "parasite," said Dr. Sharan Patil, the orthopedic surgeon leading the operation.

"As of now, the child has been responding very well," Patil said several hours into the operation.

Praise be to HUMAN INTERVENTION and MEDICAL SCIENCE!

Let's hope the team of 30 doctors are successful in
helping this little girl.

UPDATE...THE SURGERY WAS A SUCCESS!
The headless "twin" was joined to Lakshmi at the pelvis and had its own spinal column and kidney. It stopped developing in her mother's womb, while Lakshmi absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the twin. This is known as a very rare condition called isciopagus.

Doctors believe that without this operation the girl would never be able to walk or crawl, and would be unlikely to live beyond her teens.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Astronomers find system with five planets


By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor Tue Nov 6, 3:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NASA scientists said they discovered a fifth planet orbiting a star outside our own solar system and say the discovery suggests there are many solar systems that are, just like our own, packed with planets.

The new planet is much bigger than Earth, but is a similar distance away from its sun, a star known as 55 Cancri, the astronomers said on Tuesday.

Four planets had already been seen around the star, but the discovery marks the first time as many as five planets have been found orbiting a solar system outside our own with its eight planets, said Debra Fischer, an astronomer at San Francisco State University.

*snip*

"The star is very much like our own sun. It has about the same mass and is about the same age as our sun," Fischer told reporters.

"It's a system that appears to be packed with planets."

*snip*

They said 55 Cancri is 41 light-years away in the constellation Cancer, a light-year being the distance light travels in one year -- about 5.8 trillion miles.

The newly discovered planet has a mass about 45 times that of Earth and may resemble Saturn, the astronomers said.

HARBORING LIFE?

It is the fourth planet out from the star and completes one orbit every 260 days -- a similar orbit to that of Venus.

"It would be a little bit warmer than the Earth but not very much," said Jonathan Lunine, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona.

The planet is 72 million miles from its star -- closer than the Earth's 93 million miles, but the star is a little cooler than our own sun.

*snip*

"This discovery of the first-ever quintuple planetary system has me jumping out of my socks," Marcy added. "We now know that our sun and its family of planets is not unusual."

They have posted images of what the planets may look like on the Internet at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/telecon-20071106/.

LINK TO FULL STORY

Atheist Life vs Religious Life

From: FightingAtheist who is a father of two and a former christian.

I don't have much to add to this good video which answers lots of questions concerning atheism.


Text:
Some argue that religious life is the best way to live. They claim life without a god is sad and depressing. Statements like "I could not imagine my life without God", and "My life would be meaningless without God", are common defenses for a religious life. The following is a list of advantages atheists enjoy over a religious life. I invite the religious viewers to submit a response video with the advantages of a religious life.

1. Atheists can make moral decisions based on the specific context. Having absolutes like "Though Shall not Lie" stops people from thinking for themselves and making the right decision based on the situation at hand. In what situation would be okay to lie? Most religious people would say, never. Atheists would disagree. For example: If you were living in Germany hiding Jews in your attic during the holocaust, and Hitler's Nazis knocked on your door and asked if you were hiding Jews, would it be okay to lie to save the lives of the Jews in your attic? I believe trying to save their lives would the moral and proper choice. Atheists have the power to do what's right for all humanity, rather than the forced perspective of doing what is right for a god.

2. Atheists can experience healthy outrage at the outrageous without fear of questioning God's plan. We can be outraged when a friend dies of a horrible disease, or is killed in a car accident. It is okay to be upset at disasters and horrible events. It is not a part of any plan. It is just a horrible event. Atheists try to learn from them and not just chalk it up to God's Plan. We use science to understand catastrophic events like hurricanes, and tsunamis. This gives us the ability to save lives. If we think a magical plan is going to happen no matter what, then why try to stop the events or make things better. Atheists do not wonder if a god is punishing us. Yes, there is cause and effect, and our actions effect how we live, you should save for retirement, and if your diet is bad you'll end up fat, or sick, or both. But if an airplane part falls on your house, it is an accident. If you find a 5 dollar bill on the sidewalk, it is an accident. No magical intervention, no magical wrath, these are just accidents. Life has an element of chance. This may not seem comforting, but here is another way to look at it: Your loved one dies in a completely random car accident where nobody could possibly be blamed. Is it more comforting to know the accident happened because of bad luck or is better to think the accident could have been prevented by an omnipotent being that could have stepped in and saved them from an untimely death, but your god decided to just let them die? You don't have to be frustrated thinking "Was it because I didn't pray enough?" "Was God mad at me or them?" "Maybe I should have prayed more." Atheist take comfort in knowing there is no plan.

3. Atheist can be friends with everyone without having the thought in the back of their mind that this person's lifestyle may be evil. You have the power to accept people for what they are. Enabling you to enjoy their quirks rather than chastise them for being unique. Atheists can have relationships with people who have alternative lifestyles without feeling like they have to save them from some deity that is going to condemn them for being themselves. After all, if there was a creator, then he has made everyone the way they are. Atheists don't fear that a large part of the earth's population is going to hell for being true to themselves.

5. Atheists do not live with the fear of hell. This is one of the hardest things for religious people to shake and one of the best rewards. Religious people love the thought of heaven, but fear hell as a consequence. In order to lose the fear of hell, you have to let go of the false hope of heaven. Atheists have done both.

7. Atheists raise freethinking children; let them pick a religion, or none. What would you have picked? This is hard for parents. If a child wanted to be another religion, or even atheist, it would be devastating to most religious parents. Why not teach them about all religions and tell them why you believe the one you do, and then let them choose? Atheists do not force atheism on their children. We simple let them see the evidence for and against religion and let them make up there own mind. They may change there mind several times. This is okay. Atheists love their children no matter what belief they are drawn too. That is the beauty of free thinking. You can raise your children according to your values without feeling as though you have to defend Bible stories that even a child can see are fiction.