Posted by mattusmaximus on November 8, 2012
Wow… this was one hell of an election! I just want to point out a couple of notable races. In this post, I want to focus on Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat in Arizona’s 9th Congressional District who looks to be the first openly non-theistic (atheistic?) person elected to Congress! I say “looks to be” because 1) the race hasn’t officially been concluded (votes are still being counted, but Sinema has a lead which only seems to be growing), and 2) Pete Stark, Congressman from California, is openly non-theistic, but he didn’t originally run as an out-of-the-closet non-theist. Here’s more on Kyrsten Sinema:
… Election for Sinema would be no small feat in the state that produced U.S. senator and 2008 presidential candidate John McCain and Gov. Jan Brewer, whose exceptionally conservative immigration policies have regularly made national news. In many ways, Sinema, who is also an open nontheist and was raised Mormon and attended Brigham Young University, is an anomaly in Arizona politics. But she’s ahead in some polls in the final stages of her race against Parker, though it’s one of Congress’s tightest races. …
As I’ve stated before, this is the wave of the future, folks. With the rise of a more openly secular demographic in the United States, coupled with the inevitable decline (read: dying off) of the most religious demographic, the good ol’ U.S. of A. will move towards more diversity in both popular culture and political representation. And that includes non-theists
Posted in politics, religion | Tagged: 2012, 9th District, Arizona, atheism, atheist, bi, bisexual, congress, Congresswoman, Democrat, District 9, election, federal, gay, house, Kyrsten Sinema, lesbian, non-theist, nontheist, Pete Stark, politics, religion, secular, secularism, United States, US, USA | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 8, 2012
But don’t take it from me, take it straight from his mouth…
First, allow me to state the obvious:
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system… we see two things from this idiotic tirade from Rep. Broun:
1. He engages in the typical creationist fear-mongering about evolutionary science that it is inherently evil, etc (hence the “Pit of Hell” reference). I suppose we needn’t bother Rep. Broun with the annoying fact that many of his Christian brethren think evolution is just fine.
2. He, like far too many of his conservative colleagues in our government (I’m talking about YOU, Rep. Todd Akin), seem to have gone out of their way lately to declare war on any form of science they deem contrary to their ideology. This includes not only denying evolution and denying climate science, and apparently basic info on human reproduction, but also rejecting certain pesky historical facts along the way.
Folks, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people like this running my federal government. This is why I so strongly support efforts like Science Debate, and why I think you should, too. It is also why those of us who are defenders and advocates of science and skepticism should be involved in our political process.
Posted in creationism, politics, religion | Tagged: astronomy, atheism, atheist, belief, Bible, Big Bang, Christian, clergy, Clergy Letter Project, congress, Congressman, conservative, cosmology, creation, creationism, creationist, DI, Discovery Institute, embryology, evolution, faith, federal, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, Georgia, God, government, house, House Science Committee, ID, intelligent design, Jesus, Paul Broun, Pit of Hell, religion, Rep. Paul Broun, Representative, science, United States, YEC, Young Earth Creationism | 2 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 6, 2011
I just got the following action alert from the American Association of Physics Teachers. If you value not only scientific research but science education as well, I encourage you to contact your Senators and tell them to fully fund the NSF. As a physics teacher/professor, I cannot tell you how valuable programs like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are for reaching out to the public and promoting science. In addition, these and other similar programs are absolutely critical to helping insure that the United States has well-qualified science and math teachers in our schools; these programs also help to shuttle many students into science and engineering-oriented careers, which ultimately benefits all of us.
Anyway, read the AAPT’s press release below…
If you live in the United States, AAPT and the nation need your help. On Friday, September 16th, the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies reported a bill to Congress recommending a reduction of science funding for fiscal year 2012. Specifically, the bill recommends reducing funding for the National Science Foundation by an amount of $161,772,000 or 2.4% below the 2011 enacted level and $1,068,905,000 or 13.8% below the budget request.(See http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/ CRPT-112srpt78/pdf/CRPT- 112srpt78.pdf for the full bill). This is particularly disappointing because the House has recommended much higher funding amounts ($6,698,100,000 for the Senate versus $6,859,870,000 for the House and $7,767,000,000 for the 2012 requested). Particularly hard hit is the Education and Human Resources Directorate of NSF which has a recommended cut of $32,030,000 or 3.7% below the 2011 enacted level and $82,200,000 or 9% below the request. This Directorate funds many of the programs that support STEM education including many key AAPT programs such as the New Faculty Workshop, ComPADRE, and the SPIN-UP Regional Workshops.
I urge you to contact your senators and ask them to support the full requested level of funding for NSF for the 2012 fiscal year. You might mention the legislated calls to double the NSF budget as a fundamental investment in our society, but we realize that goal will be difficult to meet in the current difficult enconomic situation. This is particularly urgent if one of your senators is a member of the CJS Subcommittee. You can find your senator at the US Senate website http://www.senate.gov/general/ contact_information/senators_ cfm.cfm and members of the CJS Subcommittee are listed at http://appropriations.senate. gov/sc-commerce.cfm.
In order to make the process easier, you can use the sample letter of support and insert the date, your address, your senator’s name, and your name and credentials. If possible, personalize the letter by adding a few sentences on the impact that a reduction of this funding will have on you and your students. Better yet, write your own letter emphasizing the impact the cuts will have on physics education. You can submit your letter directly to your senators via their websites to expedite the process.
Beth A. Cunningham, Ph.D.
Posted in science funding | Tagged: AAPT, American Association of Physics Teachers, budget, congress, educators, engineering, engineers, funding, government, house, math, mathematics, money, National Science Foundation, NSF, research, science, scientists, Senate, STEM, teachers, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on February 12, 2010
I recently came across a neat website which really does a good job of dissecting the various “ghost-hunting” TV shows that have been popping up like crazy over the last couple of years. Of course, I’ve written before about how ghost-hunters are essentially deluding themselves because they have no clue what they’re doing, but this website – What the Hell was That? – does a far better & more thorough job than I ever could. That’s mostly because if I took the time to watch that much stupidly bad TV, I think I’d have to drive a spike through my skull to put myself out of my misery.
As an example, check out the latest entry on a show called “Ghost Adventures” – ooh, sounds spooky
Fridays at 9pm
Of all the fake ghost hunting shows, Ghost Adventures probably qualifies as the most annoying.
Hosted by the ever-preening Zak Bagans, a film school graduate with a penchant for horridly overwrought prose like ”When darkness falls, we chase the darkness.” He must write the stuff himself because he delivers each painful line as though he is reading from scripture.
Zak is also one of the world’s worst actors, which is a shame since he does a lot of acting in each show. He approaches each case with an absurd tough guy act, constantly challenging ghosts: “Bring it on.” Zak loves to gesture, pro wrestling-style, putting his hands right into our faces when he is trying to make a worthless point. It all comes across as trying just a little bit too hard.
Zak often interviews people who have claim some experience on the site. His outrageously leading questions sometimes make even the interviewees squirm. Of course, like all the other shows, the events described as occurring on the sites vastly outstrip what the ghost hunters actually find. We hear of full body apparitions, glowing eyes, spectral faces, etc., etc. But never, never is anything like that ever actually found by Zak or his team. Sometimes the best he can manage is to feel cold spots, or spectral touches. These allow him to really stretch out his acting skills, to great comedic effect. He also often presents the standard lame EVP’s, dubious door slams, and unclear images.
Like many of the shows, recreated images and sounds are mixed in with the “real” stuff, making it impossible to determine what is being presented as “evidence”. We can see the heavy ham hands of the producers as they try to wring out the maximum oooga booga for their indiscriminate audience.
Ghost Adventures also uses tons of dubious gadgets (see my Bag of Tricks article for some examples). Since none of the little electronic boxes are documented or explained, I view all of them with great suspicion. As I documented, one of their gadgets was just a cheap flashlight.
Some questionable stuff from a recent show, set at an abandoned prison:
• Batteries were drained “instantly” from the wireless mics but NEVER from the cameras (then there would be nothing for the show!). There was some priceless overacting “What? What?…I just put new batteries in 5 minutes ago!”
• The crew claimed then claimed that the audio for the on-board camera mics went out, too. It’s hard to prove that they are lying but I would be willing to bet that they simply turned down the input for the drama. It is too convenient that the video never went out. The whole incident had all the earmarks of prearranged corny dramatic stunt.
• A supposed mist was shown behind Zak that was obviously just a reflection in the low quality night vision image.
Ghost Adventures is an example of lowest common denominator TV, cheap, dumb and patently false. The silly host makes this one particularly loathsome.
Not A Ghost.com Grade: F
Posted in ghosts & paranormal | Tagged: afterlife, death, Ghost Adventures, ghost hunters, ghosts, haunted, haunting, house, Not a Ghost, paranormal, pseudoscience, skepticism, spirits, Travel Channel, What the Hell was That | 4 Comments »