Mock The Movie: Mega Python vs Gatoroid

Another week, another Mock The Movie event. I’ll be running the Python scrape-bot so we can post logs at The JAYFK once it’s done.

When it comes to Mock The Movie, you can’t go wrong if you choose @SyfyMovies to mock!  They brought us our first Mock The Movie (‘Sands Of Obilivon‘) and we’ve chosen  @SyfyMovies  Mega Python vs. Gatoroid for this week’s viewing pleasure.

This movie stars 1980′s pop stars Tiffany and Debbie Gibson, is set in swamps, and will likely violate every scientific principle.

The rules for Mock The Movie are simple…

  1. Start following @MockTM on twitter.
  2. Start watching Mega Python vs. Gatoroid today, August 31st, at 9PM EST.  You can find it on Netflix.
  3. Once you’ve got Mega Python vs. Gatoroid going, tweet your snarky comments to @MockTM.  Directing our tweets to @MockTM will keep our followers from being overwhelmed with our snark!

I’ve seen the other two Syfy Mega-whatsit vs Giant Something-or-others, and they are… well… They are. They exist. That’s about the best I can say about them. If you’ve got some time, and an iron constitution, please join us!

Kirkby on cosmic rays and climate change

I’m posting this specifically for Klem, if he’s still reading. He asked that the cosmic ray forcing hypothesis be convincingly rebutted before he’d start taking the science proving climate change seriously. Well, since the hypothesis is predicated on Jasper Kirkby’s work, perhaps his words will help tip the scales. Kirkby built a damn fine experiment to try to measure how cosmic rays help create ionizing particles. Too bad it’s been misconstrued as feeding the denialists’ anti-reality predilections.

“People are far too polarized”, he says. No kidding. They’re polarized enough to completely get the results wrong. Climate Crock of the Week explains the study and how it pretty much shows that cosmic rays don’t account for the amount of forcing we see.

It might not get better after all.

I love the “It Gets Better” campaign, started by newspaper personality Dan Savage. The message he has to deliver though, that bullying and oppression that you might experience by coming out as gay or transsexual or any other non-hetero orientation will eventually wane as others mature and learn to embrace plurality, might be… shall we say, inaccurate? Via sinned34’s blog:

President Obama to gay victims of bullying: “It gets better.”

Family Research Council to those same kids: “No, it doesn’t, you goddamned queers!”

Yeah. Really. Hardly any exaggeration there.

I honestly wish I was joking about this, but here’s the mailing the Family Research Council sent out recently.

EGADS! A homosexual extremist! I fully expect Dan Savage to strap on his pink Hello Kitty AK47 and bomb churches with fragmentation grenades shaped like dildos now! And I’m sure his terrorist attire would match his pumps, too! Seriously, people on the right throw around the word “extremist” to mean “people who advocate things that we don’t believe in”. It’s a pejorative that’s lost all meaning today, such that when you point to religious fundamentalists who stockpile guns and bomb buildings and call them extremists, the word just doesn’t capture their extremism any more.

The Family Research Council is not an extremist organization by any stretch of the imagination, but they are a religiously motivated single-issue political organization built around the idea that the only Biblically-acceptable family unit is one of man and wife, and any other family unit is evil and immoral. The people making up any non-heteronormative family unit are equally evil and immoral according to these chuckleheads.

Homosexuality, despite all the bloviating by these fools, is probably genetic.

The Family Research Council is therefore casting as a “moral failing” something that these children can no sooner control than they can control their handedness or hair color. Sure, you could train yourself to write with your right hand despite your natural inclinations; sure, you could dye your hair; but neither action will change your genetics. The fact that some really old book can be interpreted as saying that homosexuals are evil, doesn’t mean that anyone with that particular confluence of genes is actually evil. There’s nothing immoral (in the sense of “objectively harmful to society as a whole”) for people to be attracted to whomever they’re genetically predisposed to be attracted to. The only argument I’ve ever seen that might make it objectively harmful to society is one where you extrapolate out homosexual behaviour to the populace as a whole — if everyone were to switch to homosexuality, the human race would stop breeding and would die after a generation.

But that’s not what anyone’s suggesting here; what we’re suggesting is that we accept that proportion of the population whose genes direct them to be attracted to the same sex. We’re suggesting that you just live and let live. Love who you want to love. Tolerate who doesn’t love what you love. Be intolerant of people who are intolerant of others for stupid reasons like what genes they happen to have. Treat homophobes the same way as we’d treat someone who called being left-handed immoral and sinful. It is incumbent upon us to achieve a more perfect morality than the morality handed down by some goat-herders in the Middle-East who knew less about genetics than they did about the shape of the Earth or the orbits of the planets. We’re better than those morals. We deserve better than those morals.

Unless we can stomp out this bigotry, this intolerance, this hateful adherence to really old prejudices, then it might not get better. It’s up to us. Do we want it to Get Better? Because if we let bullshit like this slide, then it might not get better after all.

Berkeley catches a supernova within hours of explosion

This is awesome. Within hours of it happening, Berkeley scientists observed a supernova in a nearby galaxy, a mere 21 million light years away. This is in relative time, naturally — technically, the light has been travelling 21 million years to reach us, so it happened 21 million years ago if there’s a way to measure a “fixed” time objectively. (That’s a topic for another blog post, though.)

This discovery was sheer serendipity — Berkeley just happened to be observing the Pinwheel Galaxy in the Big Dipper when a star now dubbed PTF 11kly went bang. Over the first three nights it’s already become twenty times brighter. Since this is the closest supernova we’ve ever been able to observe with modern-ish equipment, this unprecedented event has essentially put all hands on deck for observation. The Hubble’s being pointed at it now, and pretty much every earth-bound telescope too.

Catching supernovae so early allows a rare glimpse at the outer layers of the supernova, which contain hints about what kind of star exploded. “When you catch them this early, mixed in with the explosion you can actually see unburned bits from star that exploded! It is remarkable,” said Andrew Howell of UC Santa Barbara/Las Cumbres Global Telescope Network. “We are finding new clues to solving the mystery of the origin of these supernovae that has perplexed us for 70 years. Despite looking at thousands of supernovae, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

[…]

“The best time to see this exploding star will be just after evening twilight in the Northern hemisphere in a week or so,” said Oxford’s Sullivan. “You’ll need dark skies and a good pair of binoculars, although a small telescope would be even better.”

I happen to have a small telescope. Two, actually. Galileoscopes. Just wish I had a way of docking a camera to it to get pics of my observations.

This can only end in cruel and unusual punishment.

Via Mother Jones:

“We are not evacuating Rikers Island,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference Friday. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter’s question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.

New York City is surrounded by small islands and barrier beaches, and a glance at the city’s evacuation map reveals all of them to be in Zone A (already under a mandatory evacuation order) or Zone B–all, that is, save one. Rikers Island, which lies in the waters between Queens and the Bronx, is not highlighted at all, meaning it is not to be evacuated under any circumstances.

According to the New York City Department of Correction’s website, more than three-quarters of Rikers Island’s 400 acres are built on landfill–which is generally thought to be more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its 10 jails have a capacity of close to 17,000 inmates, and normally house at least 12,000, including juveniles and large numbers of prisoners with mental illness—not to mention pretrial detainees who have yet to be convicted of any crime. There are also hundreds of corrections officers at work on the island.

Read more. And remember what happened at Orleans Parish during Katrina.

Update: Compounding this questionable decision is this warning regarding potential electrical shutdowns throughout New York.

Hurricane Irene as seen from space

It may be a lumbering behemoth that’ll peter mostly out before it hits us here in Canuckistan, but it looks like there’s pretty much no avoiding this one. If you’re anywhere on the East Coast, you’re in this juggernaut’s way.

It’s very sunny and bright and cheery-looking here at the moment. Meanwhile, everyone on Twitter is exhorting that one another “stay strong” and wishing us all luck. It’s a bit disconcerting.

Via Time’s newsfeed.

Income disparity affects everyone — even the rich — detrimentally

The more unequal income levels are, the worse off everyone does in aggregate. While the rich have the levers of power and are busy installing new and more efficient money vacuums, to siphon money upward toward the top levels of income, the country as a whole suffers. Social systems break down, and the middle class erodes to the point where everyone who isn’t super-rich is working poor. Privilege accumulates at the top, by design.

The economy is driven not by the super-rich, whose wealth supposedly trickles down to the lower classes. The rich horde their money. What trickles down is not money. And when the rich have all the money, the economy stops. I mean, it STOPS. It grinds to a halt. Depressions happen. You know, like this one the US is still in now, reverberations being felt throughout the rest of the world — this crumbling economy whose recovery has been stymied by Republicans in the States at every turn.

Welcome to the new gilded age, ladies and gentlemen. If we don’t do something about it soon, we’ll be here for a very very long time.

If you are anti-science, you are anti-jobs.

Zing.

Joe Romm is absolutely correct — when climate denialists claim scientists made up climate change so they could be given money for projects, they neglect the fact that people like Rick Perry get a shit-ton of money from oil companies. Why do oil companies need to buy politicians to the tune of millions of dollars to fight against those evil, evil scientists who get tens of thousands of dollars in grants to study reality?

A vote for *any* Republican candidate is a vote to eliminate the EPA, to eliminate scientific research of the reality of climate change, and to generally eliminate science as a whole.

Baking with Jack Layton

This Hour has 22 Minutes, a Canadian half-hour political news satire show along the lines of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart sans the interviews, hosted Jack Layton quite recently to whip up some Canadian politicians’ favorite recipes. They had a bit of trouble with some of Harper’s redaction, but it seems they made out fine.

What a personable man Jack was. Another reason he’ll be missed.

(Heh. “Baking.”)

The Kalam Cosmological Fallacy

I thoroughly enjoyed this video’s thorough evisceration of the fallacious arguments predicated on human intuition made in today’s shoddy theology.

Well, except for the parts where William Lane Craig’s permasmirk face were shown. And where there’s a typo of “being” instead of “begin”. But I can overlook it because if I was making the video, I wouldn’t be likely to want to proofread that slide either, since the background is William Lane Craig’s face.

OOOH AD HOMINEM