Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dumbell Nebula

M27: The Dumbbell Nebula
Image Credit & Copyright: Bill Snyder (Bill Snyder Photography)
Explanation: The first hint of what will become of our Sun was discovered inadvertently in 1764. At that time, Charles Messier was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. The 27th object on Messier's list, now known as M27 or the Dumbbell Nebula, is a planetary nebula, the type of nebula our Sun will produce when nuclear fusion stops in its core. M27 is one of the brightest planetary nebulae on the sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) with binoculars. It takes light about 1000 years to reach us from M27, shown above in colors emitted by hydrogen and oxygen. Understanding the physics and significance of M27 was well beyond 18th century science. Even today, many things remain mysterious about bipolar planetary nebula like M27, including the physical mechanism that expels a low-mass star's gaseous outer-envelope, leaving an X-ray hot white dwarf.

In Memory of Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Atlantis' Last Approach

Image Credit: ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA 
Explanation: For the last time, the US Space Shuttle has approached the International Space Station (ISS). Following a dramatic launch from Cape Canaveral last week that was witnessed by an estimated one million people, Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-135 lifted a small crew to a welcome rendezvous three days ago with the orbiting station. Although NASA is discontinuing the aging shuttle fleet, NASA astronauts in the near future will be able to visit the ISS on Russian space flights. Pictured above, Atlantis rises toward the ISS with its cargo bay doors open, showing a gleaming metallic Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module. Over 200 kilometers below lie the cool blue waters of planet Earth. The much-anticipated last glide back to Earth for the Space Shuttle is currently scheduled for next Thursday, July 21.

Thousands of hate mail and death threats to atheists in one thread on Faux News

While some of these threats may just be trolls, there are many god botherers who really believe that atheists are deserving of being killed for our non-belief. I have seen people raised in rational, loving homes turn into gay-phobic, gun-toting, literal Bible-believing crazy ass lunatics who seem like they would love to shoot the people who refuse to have an imaginary friend called God. I have lost count of the number of posts and threads I have read which contain  these sentiments from those who call themselves “true Christians.”  Some “moderate” Christians in these threads point out that the violence promoters represent only a small minority of so-called Christians who make verbal death threats to non-believers and others who they deem (based on their ancient book of barbaric stories and fables) deserving of harsh punishments and death. But the moderates believe in the same book, and many believe in the same hell and that we are deserving of eternal torment as much as the fundamentalists do.

Here is the article that sparked a recent, very heated FB thread on Fox news' FB page:

FOX News Facebook Page on 9/11 Cross Generates Death Threats Against Atheists

FOX News readers on Facebook started going off after Blair Scott, Communications Director for American Atheists, appeared on America Live with Megyn Kelly. Blair reports that when he returned home from his local FOX station for the interview that his voice mail was full of messages and his inbox had almost 200 hateful messages. “I can always tell when someone from American Atheists is on FOX news, because my Inbox explodes with hate email,” said Blair.
We can talk about the issues about this, but our friend William Hamby has put it well over at the Examiner.
Moderators on FOX News’ Facebook page had been trying diligently to delete the violent threats, but not before they were screen-captured by a diligent American Atheists member named Robert Posey.
Here are the screen captures of the death threats and threat of violence posted against atheists. We have left their screen names in place. If you’re devoted enough to make the death threat then you should be devoted enough to have your name attached to your hatred. How many did FOX News delete before they could be captured? There are over 8,000 comments on their post related to Blair’s appearance on FOX News.
Fox News can hardly keep up with deleting the vitriol. Moderates state that they denounce the death threats and verbal or any violence against atheists and others, however, they still believe we are deserving of some sort of violent repercussions from their imaginary friend….for simply not believing in it/his/her existence. All believers in the God of Abraham learn from a young age that those who hold beliefs different from their own are somehow flawed, evil, to be pitied and “prayed for”. They are taught that there is a place of eternal torment and torture and suffering for us. And by believing such nonsense is one step away from supporting the folks who would have us killed and justified as some sort of “supreme justice”.

These threats are not to be shunned or taken lightly, especially in these times when there are so many “Tea Baggers” and fundamentalist nutjobs working hard to seize control of our democratic society and turn it into an oppressive, hateful, bigoted, unreasonable, theocracy. Just look at the “war” that is going on in our government as of right now. Call me a pessimist, but I have a bad feeling things will only get uglier before they get better.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fundie watch

While catching up with recent news in the atheist circuit, I found this article at The Daily Beast and it brings up a good point that Michelle Bachmann is an extreme “true believer” and that makes her very dangerous and her political clout should not be underestimated. While we may find much to laugh about with the likes of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann, Palin we can assume safely that she is just plain ignorant of many things and her stupid comments are genuine. However, there is a difference with Bachmann…she knows exactly what she is saying and to whom she is saying it. And many people…too many of the radical Christian right love her.
Belief is the key to understanding Michele Bachmann, who announced her presidential candidacy during Monday’s Republican debate. Herimpressive performance, which catapulted her close to the front of the presidential pack, surprised some, who perhaps expected her to be as inarticulate as Sarah Palin, to whom she’s often compared. But in Minnesota, even those who don’t like her politics say she shouldn’t be underestimated. “The fact that she’s not a heavy lifter, the fact that she’s relatively unconcerned about the substance of legislation, does not mean that she’s not crafty, that she’s not intelligent and she’s not fast,” says former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, a Republican. Her ideological radicalism should not be mistaken for stupidity.
On Monday, Bachmann didn’t talk a lot about her religion. She didn’t have to—she knows how to signal it in ways that go right over secular heads. In criticizing Obama’s Libya policy, for example, she said, “We are the head and not the tail.” The phrase comes from Deuteronomy 28:13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail.” As Rachel Tabachnick has reported, it’s often used in theocratic circles to explain why Christians have an obligation to rule.
Indeed, no other candidate in the race is so completely a product of the evangelical right as Bachmann; she could easily become the Christian conservative alternative to the comparatively moderate Mormon Mitt Romney. “Michele Bachmann’s a complete package,” says Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition wunderkind who now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “She’s got charisma, she’s got an authentic faith testimony, she’s a proven fighter for conservative values, and she’s well known.” She’s also great at raising money—in the 2010 cycle, she amassed a record-breaking $13.2 million in donations.
And this incident reconstructed in the article shows just how devious she can be:
In April 2005, Pamela Arnold wanted to talk to her state senator, Michele Bachmann, who was then running for Congress. A 46-year-old who worked at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Arnold lived with her partner, the famed Arctic explorer Ann Bancroft, on a farm in Scandia, Minnesota. Bachmann was then leading the fight against gay marriage in the state. She’d recently been in the news for hiding in the bushes to observe a gay rights rally at the Capitol. So when members of the Scandia gay community decided to attend one of Bachmann’s constituent forums, Arnold, wanting to make herself visible to her representative, joined them.
A few dozen people showed up at the town hall for the April 9 event, and Bachmann greeted them warmly. But when, during the question and answer session, the topic turned to gay marriage, Bachmann ended the meeting 20 minutes early and rushed to the bathroom. Hoping to speak to her, Arnold and another middle-aged woman, a former nun, followed her. As Bachmann washed her hands and Arnold looked on, the ex-nun tried to talk to her about theology. Suddenly, after less than a minute, Bachmann let out a shriek. “Help!” she screamed. “Help! I’m being held against my will!”
Arnold, who is just over 5 feet tall, was stunned, and hurried to open the door. Bachmann bolted out and fled, crying, to an SUV outside. Then she called the police, saying, according to the police report, that she was “absolutely terrified and has never been that terrorized before as she had no idea what those two women were going to do to her.” The Washington County attorney, however, declined to press charges, writing in a memo, “It seems clear from the statements given by both women that they simply wanted to discuss certain issues further with Ms. Bachmann.”
This is a dangerous woman who appeals to a group of people who are a threat to our secular government,  human rights and freedoms, and anyone who does not adhere to “Christian values.” She is one for us to keep on our fundie watch list.

Biblical irony. . . .