Tornado Warnings, Now And Then

It was just the other morning
When we heard the weather warning
And we tried to drag the pets downstairs, for shelter from the storm
I remembered, with a chortle,
I was young once, and immortal,
And defied the nearing twisters, playing Frisbee by the dorm
Ah, but real life can be frightening—
I’ve since lost someone to lightning—
So I run inside from thunder, though of course I know the odds
And I’m thankful to the science
Where it’s safe to put reliance
How much better than to fear we’re at the mercy of the gods

Unexpected Good News On The Cuttlefish Front

I have written before with bad news from Point Lowly, Spencer Gulf, in South Australia. That was from 2011; in 2012 the news was even worse, and last year things looked grim indeed.

Unexpectedly, this year, the numbers are up again!

Hundreds of giant Australian cuttlefish have swum into breeding grounds at the top of Spencer Gulf in South Australia, reversing a worrying decline of recent years.

It’s not a return to previously normal levels, but it’s the right direction. There has been federal support for cuttlefish research in the area over the past couple of years; I hope people were looking at the right variables to learn from this. These are beautiful creatures, and an amazing gathering. I still hope to visit some day… and I would hate to be the only cuttlefish showing up for the party.

Cuttlecap tip to Kylie, of course!

“A Greater Fool Than The Atheist”

There’s fools and then, there’s greater fools
Like those who went to fancy schools
For silly stuff like Kepler’s rules
And other science stuff

The planetary hows and whys
Show God at work—that’s no surprise.
You need to back your case with lies?
The bible is enough

So my aggregator threw a site at me I had not seen before. It put me in mind of arguments I have not heard since grade school (about which, more below). It began by slapping two groups with the same bible verse (how economical!):

In the Bible, Psalm 53:1 says “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good”. We last spoke of the willful blindness of the atheist, who refuses to acknowledge his Creator. They believe in the ridiculous concept of evolution, which has no explanation for the beginning of life, and how fruits, nuts, vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and herbs for our health were provided. As foolish as the atheist may be, there is a group that’s even more foolish: they are the Muslims.

So, yeah, we’re fools. This guy is gonna teach us.

Let’s start with the Moon, for it is what the Muslims worship. It is the largest relative satellite in the solar system. From when the renewed Moon (lower crescent) is sighted in Jerusalem, to the next sighting of the renewed Moon, is about 29.53+ days. During the months of October to March, the Moon is closer to the Earth, and has a shorter (smaller) orbit around the Earth.
During April to October, the Moon is farther away from the Earth, and has a longer (larger) orbit around the Earth, and increases its velocity. It does this in order to remain in sync with the Earth’s distance from the Sun,maintaining its apparent equal size with the Sun, as viewed from Earth. The Atheist thinks that happened by random chance. [italics mine]

No, the atheist thinks what you just said is not true. It reminds me a bit of a bit of God-evidence I heard as a small child. We could trust the Genesis account of Eden, you know, because of biology; it is a medical fact that men have one fewer ribs than do women.

Now, this was easily checkable, thought not so much for a pre-internet kid. Encyclopedias did not actually outright say that men and women had the same number of ribs (because their writers evidently never considered the possibility that someone might actually need that bit of information spelled out for them!), and the claim was verified by at least one teacher (who, in hindsight, I can see was more religious than scientific in background)

And Mr. Cummings’s claim about the moon’s orbit is likewise wrong. Not only is it wrong, it actually contradicts observations that had been made since well before Christianity began. The moon and stars were important; they were carefully observed. The moon was larger and smaller, the planets moved, sometimes apparently slowing down and speeding up, even moving backward (as observed by us, anyway–thus “mars in retrograde”–a claim that the moon goes faster the further it is from earth would not be made based on the observed moon. Rather, the attempt to have the moon prove God’s existence has actually forced us (well, Mr. Cummings, anyway) to actively ignore evidence and make shit up.

My comment there, just in case…

Mr Cummings, you might want to check your science.

Any satellite (including the moon) in its elliptical orbit does not move faster when it is at its apogee (furthest distance); its fastest speed is actually at its perigee (closest distance). This is, you will note, the exact opposite of what you claim here. So… which is wrong? Science, or you?

You might also want to take a look at the beautiful phenomenon of the annular eclipse, in comparison to the total eclipse. The sun and moon do not, as you claim, maintain an apparent equal size, but vary enough for a spectacular variation in eclipses, depending on whether the sun or the moon appears larger (for annular and total eclipses, respectively). Again, you will note, this is the exact opposite of what you have written here. Will you change your claim? Or will you deny the evidence of the very sun and moon themselves?

If I cannot trust you to speak the truth about these simple, obvious things, why on earth should I trust you on anything else? For instance, it is easy to check your “I have been told” story about Obama (http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/weddingring.asp). If you are so gullible when the evidence is easy to see, is there something about 2,000-year-old information that somehow makes it *more* reliable?

If I sound harsh or impolite here, please understand, I am responding to a post that A) calls me a fool, and B) does so based on clearly false information, which C) is very easily checkable.

The title of the post is The Truth of Genesis: The Muslim Is A Greater Fool Than The Atheist – Part 1B No, really.

Two days late to be an April Fools Day joke.

“The Squid’s Embrace…”

Down in the depths
Of the salty Atlantic
A seaglider measured the signs of the sea–
Monotonous work,
And it isn’t romantic,
At least, I’d be bored if the glider were me

Up to the surface
And down to the bottom
Again and again, that was all that it did
No chance for a hickey,
Yet, somehow, it’s got ‘em!
A gift from the hug of an amorous squid

Of all of the stories
That science discovers
The saddest of tales that I’ve ever heard (yet!)
Is the tragic ordeal
Of the two star-crossed lovers
The Romeo Squid and his fair Juliet.

Over at Deep Sea News, evidence of the tragic end to a classic Romeo & Juliet story (with very very cool pics!). They came from different backgrounds: she was a scientific instrument measuring the temperature and salinity of the ocean depths, and he was a squid. But their love was as true as it was brief–they shared an embrace, he shed tears (which she collected and measured), and they parted forever. Still more moving than that silly scene in Titanic.

How do I know it was love, rather than a battle (as DSN suggest is a possibility) or ecoterrorism (as PZ’s post might suggest to a conspiracy theorist)? Simple–how else would you explain this? (that link is “The Anachronism”, a beautiful short film that is well worth your watching, but you should know it is 15 minutes long. When you have that amount of time available, watch–you will be very glad you did!)

Extra points for anyone who knows the context of the title without looking it up!

Nonhuman Rights On Trial

An octopus solves puzzles;
A chimpanzee can add
An elephant expresses
When it’s happy or it’s sad

A finch that’s after grub-worms
Uses twigs and thorns as tools
We thought them foolish animals
They showed us we’re the fools

A honeybee has language, and
A cunning corvid plans—
Though different in important ways
From those we know as Man’s

The differences grow smaller, though,
So don’t yet raise a cup;
Today’s report is sobering….
The apes have lawyered up.

From the NYTimes article:

The Nonhuman Rights Project, an advocacy group led by Steven M. Wise, filed writs of habeas corpus in New York last week on behalf of four captive chimpanzees: Tommy, owned by a Gloversville couple; two at Stony Brook University; and one at the Primate Sanctuary in Niagara Falls. The lawsuits were dismissed, but Mr. Wise said he planned to appeal.

I was going to make a snarky comment about how we can surely afford to give animals all the rights and courtesies we give one another, simply because humans are so terrible to each other already… then I remembered the last circus I went to. And the last local “animal park”. And it took all the snark right out of me.

My New Neighbors, The Angels Of Death.

Well… they’ve got wings and they are looking over me, anyway.

I discovered this morning that I have new neighbors. I had suspected them earlier, but they keep to themselves. But less than 100 meters from my front door, high in an oak tree, is a family of turkey vultures!Neighbors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think these ones are juveniles; one did his best to look all scary:
Scary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And did his best Angel Of Death imitation:
wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But he couldn’t fool me–I saw what a sweet, sweet face he has:
face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the neighborhood, flying dinosaurs! (Click pics to embiggen!)

This Time, The Apocalypse Is For The Birds

Predictions of apocalypse
Are found in some religions
This week, for something different, it’s
The end of days… of pigeons

In Moscow, birds are dying—
Ah, but that is not the worst—
The pigeons don’t just die; they’ve been
Becoming zombies first!

They fall to earth as if possessed,
Their muscles strangely weak
They’re listless, twisted, twitching,
And they’re foaming at the beak

It’s probably a virus,
Or so the signs portend,
But others see a different sign:
The world’s about to end

So for the birds afflicted
With a tortured torticollis
Consider your predicament
And maybe take some solace:

Rasputin said the world would end
This August twenty-third…
You’ve only missed a little time,
You poor, infected bird

And if it is apocalypse,
And if it is the worst…
We’ll all be dead by Friday, but
The pigeons got there first

The video is in Russian, but the footage is very creepy indeed. Pigeons are falling from the skies in Moscow, twisting their necks around, seizing, foaming at the beak, and dying. It’s probably Newcastle Disease, according to researchers (viral, and contagious to humans), but it also turns out that the Mad Monk, Rasputin, predicted the end of the world… this Friday. So, clearly, it could be that.

Sure, we’ve seen end time predictions before–I think we’ve lived through 3 or 4 since the inception of this blog–but if you can’t believe Rasputin, who can you believe?