Creationists never give up

There are two things I have learned about creationists and intelligent designers. One is that many of them will never give up their beliefs whatever the facts. The other is that they crave acceptance by the scientific community and will try any means to give their ideas even the slightest veneer of scientific credibility. In pursuance of these goals, they managed to stealthily secure a venue at Michigan State University to hold one of their meetings this coming Saturday.
[Read more...]

The Daily Show on the Ebola panic

Jon Stewart looks at how easily Americans are made fearful about everything and asks wonderingly, “What’s wrong with us? I thought we were the home of the brave.” While that sentiment may provide a rousing end to the national anthem, it is just another case of pandering to the self-image of people that they and their nation are possessed of some virtue not held by others. Such self-aggrandizing conceits are hard to erase. The hardest thing for people to accept is that they (as individuals and collectively as nations or ethnic groups) are pretty much just like everyone else in their basic human qualities.
[Read more...]

Visualizing the physics in the film Interstellar

Although I like science, or maybe because of it, I tend to get irritated with films that casually break the laws of science merely to achieve a cheap solution to a plot problem. I don’t expect perfect fidelity but gratuitous violations of laws (such noisy explosions in space or the presence of Earth-like gravity on spaceships) are annoying. This is why I liked 2001: A Space Odyssey and to a lesser extent Gravity, because they tried to stick as closely as possible to what may be actually possible.
[Read more...]

The person who brought Snowden, Poitras, and Greenwald together

Micah Lee has a fascinating account about the role he played as an intermediary in enabling Edward Snowden to contact Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald and thus breaking the huge story. He was the initial contact for Snowden who had been unable to communicate securely with Poitras and Greenwald. Lee was a staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the chief technology officer of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, his public encryption key was available and had solid digital signature guarantees. Snowden thought that Lee could be trusted and would know the public key for Poitras, which he did
[Read more...]

Abusing the power of government

I am not a reflexive foe of government. I believe in government and that it can and should serve individuals and communities by providing the kinds of services that can only be done collectively, and protect individuals from the power of bigger entities like corporations by creating and implementing regulations that protect workers, keep our water and air clean, and doing all the other things that only a government can do such as maintaining the necessary infrastructure. The Tea Partiers’ goal of eliminating government except for the police and military is something I vigorously oppose.
[Read more...]

Down memory lane with Carole King

Here’s a performance of that lovely song It might as well rain until September by the highly gifted singer-songwriter Carole King, creator of so many wonderful songs, alone and with several co-creators including as in this case her one-time husband Gerry Goffin, It was originally released as a single in 1962 and is a song that brings back pleasant memories of my childhood, it being a staple on Sri Lankan radio.
[Read more...]

Second whistleblower identified?

When reports emerged back in August that there was at least one other whistleblower, motivated by Edward Snowden’s actions, who was revealing secrets to the investigative team at The Intercept that has broken most of the stories, I was sure that the government would put all its resources into identify and throw the book at them. I was surprised that so much time had passed without this happening, given the extensive nature of their surveillance apparatus.
[Read more...]

“We must fight over there so that we don’t have to fight over here”

The above statement is the excuse given by warmongers in the US to invade, bomb, or otherwise engage in wars in distant countries. It is argued that if we do not suppress whatever the perceived threat is on its home turf, then those same people will invade our shores and threaten us at home, ignoring the counter-argument that it is our war making that is either causing or exacerbating the problem.
[Read more...]

Slick tracking shot in the new OK Go video

The group OK Go performed at the opening of my university’s academic year back in late August and the lead singer said that they had just returned from Japan. It looks like they spent some time while there creating the video to accompany the release of their new single I won’t let you down. The group has developed a reputation for creating highly choreographed complex videos that are done in a single take and the new one follows that pattern, with a lot of people engaged in high-precision maneuvers on nifty little motorized unicycles that I had not seen before, though they seem like they are way cooler than the Segway.
[Read more...]