Curiosity Aroused

I’m in the process of an overnight for work and can’t put together any new content at the moment. Instead, go check out Curiosity Aroused, a brand-new podcast hosted and edited by Rebecca Watson, with the Skepchicks doing stories/interviews. I’m going to listen to it while I’m doing my reformat tonight.

Topics seem interesting as well — this week, the ladies are apparently going to take on the myth that you can greatly extend your life (we’re talking almost doubling it, to 168yrs!) by reducing your caloric intake. Never mind that we’ve already tripled our lifetimes through science, now we’re going to double it again through pseudoscience! Yay!

Science Victorious

The past thirty days have been rife with excellent science news, which for various reasons I’ve been unable to blog on. Rest assured, I’m very grateful to those of you that submitted links to these pieces of good news! I’d love to encourage you all to continue submitting such victorious tidbits, as every submission proves you’re thinking of me, and, as I’m a blogger, I’m also therefore a huge egotist. Also, every one of these links made me cheer, and the more cheery, the better, I say.

The first and obviously biggest victory we skeptics can celebrate, is the retraction by The Lancet of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s spurious study linking autism and vaccination, a campaign he evidently started out of reprehensible self-interest, having previously patented a “safer” MMR vaccine. That’s right, he sought to destroy the existing vaccination schedule not because it was actually unsafe, but because he had the alternative and would have stood to make a shit-ton of money.

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I’m sorry, Lori

I know, I shouldn’t apologize for linking you, but I’m compelled to do so.

But did you know that in some provinces in Canada, bills have been passed allowing people to apologize without fearing legal liability?

Seriously. Now, if you fuck up, you can say, “I’m sorry” without fear that it will be seen as an admission of guilt in some way, and no one will be able to sue your ass for the act of apologizing.

This would only happen in Canada.

We apologize for everything.

Go apologize to her too.

Tyson on abiogenesis

Please note that he does not talk about evolution *at all* until after life has formed. That’s because, as Neil de Grasse Tyson put it, abiogenesis is chemistry, not biology, and only becomes biology after the chain reaction starts. Yes, abiogenesis was once called chemical evolution (as chemicals do have a process by which they will become altered given certain specific catalysts), but just as stellar evolution is a wholly different use of the word evolution, so too is chemical evolution a total misuse of the word which means (and ONLY means) the process by which life has diversified over time.


An interesting addendum on the Miller experiments is that years later, when scientists figured out the initial conditions of life were much different than Miller anticipated, the experiment was redone with even better results, indicating that abiogenesis can occur in a variety of conditions. And the results from the original experiment were revisited fifty years later, and some totally brand new and wholly unexpected amino acids were discovered. Isn’t that fascinating? Don’t the implications boggle your mind?

Greta Christina on Atheism & Sexuality

Jason and I started watching this wonderful lecture last night, and I tweeted about it then but I wanted to make sure everyone saw it.

The sexual morality of traditional religion tends to be based, not on solid ethical principles, but on a set of taboos about what kinds of sex God does and doesn’t want people to have. And while the sex-positive community offers a more thoughtful view of sexual morality, it still often frames sexuality as positive by seeing it as a spiritual experience. What are some atheist alternatives to these views? How can atheists view sexual ethics without a belief in God? And how can atheists view sexual transcendence without a belief in the supernatural?

Video embedded below the fold.
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No excuses

Well, I say that, and yet I’m going to give you excuses anyway. I’ve been slack lately, as between my newlywed duties and work’s ramp-up reaching its climax, I really haven’t had it in me to do any sort of proper blogging over the past few days — even when I have enough spare time. I actually broke my post streak yesterday, and the only reason I had for it was, I was playing Bioshock. I’ve already played it through once, too, so even that excuse is lame.

I’m at work presently, and I have to be at the top of my game, so I wanted to put up a short blog post to let you folks know why I’ve been uncharacteristically silent lately. Since this was weighing on my mind, it’s cathartic to put SOMETHING up here, if only to explain why I’m ignoring you fine readers.

I ought to put up a post at some point in the near future about Bioshock and objectivism / libertarianism (and yes I know all the objections to the comparison and the use / “misuse” of objectivism and libertarianism interchangeably). It will be fun, and probably get under a lot of people’s skin, which is doubly fun for me. I also have part 3 of the Christian Video Games post series about one-third written, and I started a draft about superstition and religion though I haven’t made very much progress on it. It’s kind of a shame I can’t really talk about work, because I’m sure I could probably fill a novel with the adventures I’ve been having over the past month. Suffice it to say that I’m stepping up and kicking ass. And I still have a ton of stuff in my Too Many Tabs extension, enough to make several RCimT posts. I just need… more time. And more coffee. And more conversation in person with cool people like Jenny and Aaron, who I’m finding I’m starting to miss.

And no, blog-stalker, this doesn’t mean I’m shutting down my blog. For what it’s worth, I just renewed for three years.

Valentine’s Day: video of our wedding ceremony

I finally have video to share, and on the traditional day-to-buy-things-for-your-loved-ones at that! Sorry it took so long. I didn’t really do any editing for the sound quality, and I certainly can’t edit out Dave’s back through the first part, though luckily someone was smart enough to move it halfway through the vows. After the march is over, you’ll have to crank the volume.

Rumor has it that there’s a second video of the ceremony proper floating around amongst Mark’s family. If I can get my paws on it, I’ll upload it as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day. Remember, there’s nothing special about today outside the commercial drive to buy chocolates and flowers — every day with people you love should be a day you celebrate. (And Scicurious points out, tomorrow is the day smart people celebrate chocolate-buying, since it’ll all be half off!)

Bacterial light show

This is awesome. Absolutely beautiful.

Bacteria genetically altered to bioluminesce at a regular interval, and yet they exhibit emergent properties not specifically designed for in their synchronization. It gives you an idea about all these properties we biological entities have that SEEM designed, but are much more probably emergent properties of the existing and not-quite-random effect of natural selection.

Hat tip to Christina Agapakis at Oscillator.