The day the sun stood still and the birth of religion

Some meta-news, I have a new job starting this week and the hilarious thing is, since it’s the holidays, I get a bunch of days off over the next two weeks. It’s a grassroots environmental activism role that pays mediocre. But at least a lot of it is outside, healthy work, with like-minded mostly, young idealistic progressives. I don’t get my first partial check until mid January, so pleeease consider a small holiday donation to Paypal at the email darksydothemoon-at-aol. Thanks!

Today is the December solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest day down under. But it’s not the earliest sunset or latest sunrise in the north. How could that be? Follow below the fold for a visual explanation. [Read more…]

Does Mars harbor a hidden gift just in time for holidays?

This image illustrates possible ways methane might be added to Mars’ atmosphere (sources) and removed from the atmosphere (sinks). NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has detected fluctuations in methane concentration in the atmosphere, implying both types of activity occur on modern Mars. A longer caption discusses which are sources and which are sinks. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAM-GSFC/Univ. of Michigan)

Two possible ways methane might be added and removed from to Mars’ atmosphere. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has detected fluctuations in methane concentration in the atmosphere, implying both types of activity occur on modern Mars. A longer caption discusses which are sources and which are sinks. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAM-GSFC/Univ. of Michigan)

Curiosity phones home with some interesting news on Mars that has some scientists scratching their heads: it detected methane. The substance is common in the outer solar system, but the methane detected on Mars came in “whiffs,” apparently from the ground. And while that’s not a smoking gun for life, it is consistent with the kind of microbes that might theoretically eek out a living under the cold, dry surface of the red planet in spots thought to be warmer and wetter: [Read more…]

Who could’ve predicted Sony would get hacked?

Who could’ve predicted Sony would get hacked? Answer: EVERYBODY. They’ve been hacked in the past and so have a lot of other large companies, this is nothing really new outside of the successful blackmail part. There are a lot of reasons why corp IT security is so easy to breach. But a big part of the blame lies with stingy mega-corporations and senior management, who got lazy and greedy, used to getting expertise on the cheap during the recession, and are not adjusting well to the recovery. For my part I can attest that network admins are often outsourced to the cheapest third-party provider a company can find. Even in the US these skilled employees often start as low as $12/hour with no benefits, pure temp pay. That’s for a pretty complicated job where you also have to work nights and all holidays.

So newsflash to the S&P 500: you get what you pay for and you are not paying anywhere near enough. Companies managed to slide by since 2008 because IT employees were desperate like everyone else, they’re not as desperate anymore and unemployment is probably going to get better, which means this situation will get worse. Because if there’s one thing you can count when it comes to post recession corporations, mid level execs will keep reassuring one another and gawking at the senor exec/emperor’s new clothes as long as their direct deposits arrive on time and in full. Sadly, it’s going to take more than this to change that entrenched sense of entitlement to other people’s smarts and sweat.

Speaking of employment, I actually have a new job starting soon. And it’s not in tech support, but won’t get paid for a few weeks and the pay is mediocre anyway. Any holiday contribs you can throw my way are appreciated. Paypal email address is darksydothemoon-at-aol. Thanks again!

Texas is not a good place to get cancer

One of the other things I’ve been busy with the past few days is helping a dear, old friend who was struck with cancer exactly a year ago. She was given a fifty-fifty chance of surviving a year and a much lower chance of living any longer than that. I’m sure many readers here have been privy to the harsh, roller-coaster ride that is a cancer patient’s life. And while no cancer is good, this one was about as bad as it gets: aggressive glioblastoma, better known as brain cancer. After round after round of chemo and radiation, multiple issues with meds causing horrible side effects, and four separate invasive brain surgeries requiring months in the hospital, she was literally death’s door more than once. But the tumor shrank dramatically, encapsulated and shows no sign of metastasizing. It’s now an inert bag of tissue the size of cherry with no blood flow in or out as best the docs can tell. In short, she may well turn out to be among the lucky five to 10 percent of patients who survive this deadly form of the disease. But it still came at a terrific price. [Read more…]

Pope & President clear way for breakthrough in US-Cuba relations

I’ve had a couple of job interviews the last few days keeping me busy. The job market has noticeably improved. I can’t quite pick and choose among plum jobs, but there are offers on the table starting as early as Jan 5, 2015, for stuff that will keep the lights on and none too soon. In the meantime, I thank those of you who found the generosity and holiday spirit — despite your purportedly cold, immoral atheist hearts — to send some paypal or snail mail bucks my way. If you haven’t yet contributed and are able to, the blog bucks I receive from the annual Christmas bleg are vital to the continued operation of this site and my ability to stay in the lifestyle in which I have become accustomed, i.e., food, water, and Internet. My Paypal email is Darksydothemoon-at-at AOL, thanks!


Holiday alms for a poor blogger? Use

While that was going on we had a blockbuster and, in the opinion of many, long overdue development yesterday afternoon. Technically overseas but in reality closer than most US cities in neighboring states are to each other. Working behind the scenes with Pope Francis, the Obama administration secured the release of several American prisoners in Cuba and that’s just the tip of the iceberg: [Read more…]

The plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids


Holiday alms for a poor blogger? Use

It’s a brilliant icon of Cold War cinematography: Dr Strangelove, Or How I Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Where Air Force General Jack Ripper goes nuts and orders his bomber wing to nuke the Soviet Union. Hilarity ensues. At the heart of Ripper’s paranoia was his certainty that fluoridation was being used by communists to “sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.” He knew this because, as the years went by, he noticed a growing malaise right after the ‘physical act of love,’ which he correctly recognized as the loss of essence. Some classic Strangelove video below.

Fluoridation was actually picked by early model wingnuts back in the late 50s and early 60s as an example of evil Big Socialist Government robbing the people of their God given right to gaping cavities and early tooth loss. But it’s not just commies, Hitler was down with fluoridation, too: [Read more…]

Court upholds police discrimination of smart people?

The Internets are not always accurate! Here’s a little example and holiday bonus for you kind skeptics — and other people — who have brightened my holiday. Operators at Darksydothemoon -at- aol via Paypal are standing by if you wish to contribute this year. My finely tuned skeptic sense told me this report about a police department excluding applicants who score too high on the intelligence test had to be a joke. It turns out it’s not, but it’s also not quite what it seems. [Read more…]

Religious leaders condemn torture

I saw a snide comment where someone was flaming an atheist about the torture report, because atheists don’t have morals, so why would we care? Yeah, that old saw. Being an atheist is easy, if you’re quiet about it online and off. I’m not and this time of year I do ask for any holiday contributions you might have handy. This site would not be able to function without the generosity of readers and it’s the time of year I always ask. As we atheists and skeptics also celebrate the holidays.


Holiday alms for a poor blogger? Use

It’s true that there have been religious leaders who stood up against torture. Makes sense, in fact you’d think it would be all of them since Christian theology is based around Jesus being tortured to death! So it was nice to see, on the heels of a report released by the Senate, leaders from several denominations, including the Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic churches, issued statements deploring the use of torture. [Read more…]

Senate torture report confirms the worst

I don’t know much about national security beyond what is in the media. I’m probably naive on how useful secret and not so secret wars and off-the-grid prisons are to our safety. Just musing here. But my understanding is, when people say ‘torture doesn’t work,’ they don’t mean the victims won’t give info. They mean the victims give too much info, any info, to avoid more torture. The common anecdote is the ticking bomb scenario, where a bad guy in custody knows the location of an armed bomb that’s going to go off and kill a bunch of people. Surely if nothing else worked and time is short, torture might have to be used. Why can’t you bleeding heart libtards grasp this …?

Here’s some of what the newly released, declassified version of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report had to say: [Read more…]

Democrats reportedly taking bullet for conservatives in legal pot battle?

It sucks to be poor all the time, but especially this time of year. Store with gleaming gifts and online ads with great deals mean nothing but added stress and a reminder of circumstances, the focus is on keeping the lights on and food in the fridge. So thanks to those who have brightened my dreary days and stuffed a few bills in my meager Christmas stocking. Thanks to them I’m almost halfway to solvency for the month, please consider a small holiday donation to my Paypal account at Darksydothemoon -at- aol if you can. Later this month I’ll have a snail mail address available for anyone who prefers that.



The only way viable path to decriminalize marijuana, so far, has been by voter referendum. Any politician who sticks their lone neck out on the issue takes a big risk: It’s just too easy for a political opponent to paint them as soft on crime, pro-drugs, anti-family, etc. So a few states like Colorado and Oregon have made it legal, turning it into an industry and revenue base. Which so far has worked out well for everybody, with the possible exception of big organized drug cartels.

This last election day, the District of Columbia followed suit. Initiative 71 passed by a whopping 70%, small amounts of the drug could now be legalized, a source of prison overcrowding and life-ruining policies softened, the people have spoken and some sanity has prevailed! At least until democrats reportedly offer themselves up to take the bullet for conservatives and others who can’t stand the thought of legal weed: [Read more…]