Now what?


NASA has announced the discovery of a distant earth-like planet, Kepler-452b.

Kepler-452b is 60 percent larger in diameter than Earth and is considered a super-Earth-size planet. While its mass and composition are not yet determined, previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.

While Kepler-452b is larger than Earth, its 385-day orbit is only 5 percent longer. The planet is 5 percent farther from its parent star Kepler-452 than Earth is from the Sun. Kepler-452 is 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion years older than our sun, has the same temperature, and is 20 percent brighter and has a diameter 10 percent larger.

“We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment,” said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, who led the team that discovered Kepler-452b. “It’s awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent 6 billion years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth. That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

[Read more…]

Answers in Genesis explains “Were you there?”


One of the common tactics of believers in Young Earth Creationism, and devotees of Answers in Genesis, is to reply to statements about evolution with the question, “Were you there?” Ken Ham has been pushing this approach since at least 1989, and it’s dishonest horseshit, as I’ve explained at length.

It really is a stupid question, but now my eyes have been opened, as Roger Patterson of AiG explains exactly what the question is intended to do.

[Read more…]

Creepiest item on Amazon

I don’t want one. It’s an Infant Circumcision Trainer, and what it is is a plastic baby torso, with a collection of little disposable rubber baby penises that you can plug into it and practice snipping bits off.

No, don’t click the link. It will haunt you, and the FBI will put you on a list, and Satan will appear in your living room and make an offer on your soul. As another curse, every time you visit Amazon you’ll get offered the strangest stuff. Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed Nicolas Cage Pillowcase Covers, Sperm in Testis of a Rat Peel and Stick Wall Decal, and Look And Feel Canadian Breath Spray.

But hey, if you’re in the market for the kind of tchotchke that will scare all the neighbors away and make them whisper warnings to their children about you, it’s only $192.

We shall find reconciliation


For those of you who are concerned about my wife’s apostasy, we shall overcome. We have booked flights to Seattle for mid-August! We’re going to take an actual vacation!

So we’ll spend a few days with friends and family in the Seattle area, and then we’re going to vanish into the Olympic Peninsula. Mountains! Oceans!

A few sea stacks and tide pools might be just the thing to allow me to forgive the abomination of a Windows 8 computer.