Quantum levitation, how does that work?

I’m not nearly clever enough or learned enough to explain this myself, but then again, neither is the Insane Clown Posse, who’d rather attribute it to miracles. So I don’t feel so bad.

Luckily, Ethan Siegel is smarter than the average Juggalo.

This is super cool(ed). Shame it would take far too much liquid nitrogen to make quantum levitation trains feasible, if you could even produce the lift needed to pull off such a feat. Would any of our resident physics geeks like to napkin-calculate how strong of magnets and how much liquid nitrogen it would take to use this tech for moving whole trains? If not, I don’t blame you.

ACLU: FBI engaging in wide-scale racial profiling

Over the years since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, tensions between civil liberties organizations and domestic security agencies charged with preventing additional attacks have steadily increased. The same period has included a series of incidents in which alleged Muslim-American terrorists – particularly so-called “lone wolves” – have been thwarted in their attempts through the use of paid informants posing as fellow jihadis.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has filed numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests – some backed up with lawsuits – to find out how the FBI is using racial and ethnic data as part of its investigations.

“The documents we have started to receive confirm our worst fears,” ACLU officials wrote to Attorney General Holder. “Although often heavily redacted, these documents, obtained from a number of different field offices, demonstrate that FBI analysts are using improper and crude racial stereotypes regarding the types of crimes committed by different racial and ethnic groups and then collecting demographic data to map where people of those racial or ethnic groups live.”

The result, charges the ACLU, has been “racial profiling on an industrial scale.”

Read more at Yahoo News.

I am disturbed by the idea that the FBI think that the only people worth watching are the Muslims, but not at all surprised. Meanwhile, white folks shoot Democratic (and pro-gun) politicians like Gabrielle Giffords, and nobody saw it coming.

Our newest Canadian import: flu vaccine scaremongering

The Agora Cosmopolitan, a.k.a. The Canadian, has a piece up about the flu vaccine that gets pretty much everything about them wrong. It’s no surprise, mind you, considering the article is copied wholesale, verbatim, in its entirety, from a crank website that it links at the bottom of the page as the “internet site reference”. Lazy beggars. They begin:

Thimerosal is a widely used vaccine preservative that is present in the majority of flu shots and other vaccines. Thimerosal is 49% mercury by volume, an extremely toxic chemical element that wreaks havoc on the nervous system, neurological function, and overall biological function [1]. Each dose of flu vaccine contains around 25 micrograms of thimerosal, over 250 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s safety limit of exposure.

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Market report: gold is down, human embryos are up

This is the stuff of urban legends. Clones of babies to harvest stem cells. Lists of body parts harvested from murdered babies, with prices attached. Never mind the huge and glaring difference between an embryo and a baby — the latter being about a few thousand times the size, what with the former being a lump of indistinct cells incapable of viability outside the womb. You have to see this tightly and professionally packed stupidity to believe it.
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On the Role of the Middle Class in Occupy Wall Street

I’ve been involved in a conversation with Juniper Shoemaker these past few days about the Occupy Wall Street movement, the worry that the middle class will eventually co-opt it, and that the concerns of the less-privileged will be subsumed into returning the middle class to the status quo. It’s also been a conversation largely about language, and it’s covered a good deal of territory that we’ve already been over. At the same time, I think the conversation exposes a lot of nuance that we haven’t discussed, so it’s worth continuing in a new post. I’m answering this comment primarily, but there are other bits of the conversation in the “Clue this dude in” post and it touches on something martha said as well.
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Newt Gingrich Says 50 Million Americans Can’t Be Trusted

Via the Secular Coalition for America:

Gingrich, a former U.S. Representative and 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said an atheist has no business in the White House. “Does faith matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” He continued, “the notion that you are endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary of what we mean by America.” Gingrich said that Americans should value religion first, above morality and knowledge.

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Pastors want more say, from pulpit, in 2012 election

From CNN’s Belief Blog:

Garlow’s sermon was part of a wider effort by the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization that since 2008 has hosted Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a day when they encourage and promise to protect pastors who willfully violate the Johnson Amendment and endorse from the pulpit.
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The movement is growing. While it started with 33 churches in 2008, 539 churches participated in 2011.

“We basically see Pulpit Freedom Sunday as a means of protecting a pastor’s right to speak freely from the pulpit without fearing government censorship in any way,” said Erik Stanley, ADF’s senior legal counsel and organizer of Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

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Donors Choose – Matching Dollars, Today and Tomorrow Only!

Today’s the Rapture Mk. III. What do you need your money for, if you’re going to be bodily swept away to heaven? Leave it to a good cause! For instance, the various causes I’ve added to my Donors Choose challenge. And today and tomorrow only, the good people in charge of the Science Blogs Challenge are matching all donations. That’s right — until Saturday at midnight EST, your dollars will have double impact.

It seems other bloggers have offered real things as incentive, rather than intangibles like the title of “Honorary Canadian”. I don’t have much I could offer you kind folks, though. I mean, I’ve got a dead computer power supply with bad capacitors… some old grocery receipts and other various scraps of paper. Oh, I DO have a can of Campbell’s harvest minestrone with real parmesan(!!), with reduced sodium. I suppose if people really really want the can of soup, I could skip lunch today, if it means some kids in significantly underprivileged areas have a chance to learn how amazing our world is. Would you offer your donations in exchange for a can of soup?
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