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Evolution on Talk Radio August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in biology, Coast to Coast AM, Evolution, paranormal, religion, Science, Society, Uncategorized.
2 comments

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Before I continue, a disclaimer. I am not a Biologist nor am I an Anthropologist. My degree is in Mathematics with extensive coursework in Physics and Computer Science. And for most of my career I have been working with computers. Needless to say, I have a firm grasp of the principles Logic and of the Scientific Method. I have taken courses in Biology and Anthropology and have been very fortunate to have good friends and a few roommates who were anthropologists and have had many discussions with them on this subject. Sometimes, the best education one can get is having a lively discussion with knowledgeable people in a field over beer and pizza. The point I am making however is that one need not be a PhD candidate in a field in order to understand concepts that are fundamental to that field.

The other night I was listening to an overnight national radio show that specializes in the Paranormal, UFOs and other things that go bump in the night. They had a small piece on new hominid fossil finds that seem to put the time lines of the emergence of certain hominid species into question. The host was interviewing an individual while a biologist, did not seem to be one that agreed with Sir Darwin. The host seemed very excited and was eager to know if this discovery signaled the final death knell for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. To be honest, he never used those words, but the tenor of hos voice iimplied he was hoping it was so. He also wanted to know that since this discovery totally invalidates Evolution (which it doesn’t) does it mean that Intelligent Design is the only theory left that makes any sense.

Normally, I try to ignore these comments and questions. I understand that they are frequently made out of ignorance and are usually designed to generate interest amongst the listeners which leads to higher ratings (ie more money). But for some reason, this interview was, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Is it so hard for a nationally broadcast program with one of the largest listening audiences in US and Canada, if not the world, to find an accredited expert in the field of Biology to explain WHAT Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is? Especially when they like to make the claim they are trying to enlighten the minds of the listening audience. I also wished that they would interview their guests more aggressively.

This scientist they were talking to made a statement that was patently false and it went unchallenged. He claimed we have NEVER seen new species evolved. Well, where the heck are all these drug-resistant strains of bacteria coming from? How did AIDS arise? Is it just a coincidence there’s a similar virus that affects the other species of primates?

It’s clear that there are many critics and doubters of Darwin and his theory. It’s also clear that many of these people have no idea what his theory is, yet they oppose it just the same. And a lot of these people vote as well. Although I am sure that they decide ballot issues with more thought than they oppose Evolution.

I just find it particularly, well, immoral, for this radio program to do this. They claim that they want to inform and educate their listeners. (How is educating a person different than informing them?) Yet, they don’t seem to educate themselves on what they are talking about. I don’t care if they support Evolution, Intelligent Design or full blown Creationism. They can say and support any theory or no theory. All I ask is that they get reasonably informed on a subject before they attempt to trash it.

Ain’t America Grand? August 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Society, Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

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America certainly has some unusual place names. I wonder if the name of the town is an indication of what the nature of the town. Do you think Coatesville really is full of coats?

Star Light Star Bright….. August 11, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Enviroment, Science, Uncategorized.
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During the next three weeks, we will be treated to, hopefully, two rather impressive meteor showers.

First are the Perseids. This is one of the two most prominent and dependable meteor showers of the year. This year the peak of the Perseids, Aug 12-13, corresponds to a New Moon. This means the moon will not interfere with the observing of any meteors since it wont be in the sky. The rate at which metewros are expected tofall will build over the weekend: 30 per hour on Saturday morning; 45 per hour on Sunday morning and 80 per hour on Monday morning.

Best results are in the dark skies after midnight. Don’ t be discouraged if you can’ t stay up past midnight. They will be observable all night long. The hourly rate won’t be as high as it is before midnight as it is after midnight. But it should be higher than a typical night. If you are clouded out on these nights, the Persieds are a meteor shower that persists for a week or so so you should be able to see some decent displays for the whole week.

The second meteor shower, however is not as dependable. It is called the Alpha Aurigids an will peak on September 1. This is a rather sporadic, ie unpredictable, meteor shower that has only made an three impressive showings in the last century, in 1935, 1986 and 1994. The scientist who has studied the comet from which these meteors come from has determined this should be a good year for them, in fact the best for the next 50 years. It is expected they will appear at a rate of 200 per hour and will be green in color.

It turns out the pre-dawn skies of North America on September 1st will be the best place to see them. So if you live in a place with dark skies, like rural Alabama or some such place, then you can expect a nice show on this night, as well as on the Aug 12-14.

You’re afraid of what???? August 1, 2007

Posted by psmc in humor, Language, Uncategorized.
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The other day the subject of phobias came up. If your phobia is severe enough, you can get disability for it. The discussion arose because someone we know seemingly develops phobias for no apparent reason then gets over them to be replaced by another. I did a little research, partly to be prepared with the next phobic problem and to see if maybe there is one we can get disability for. There are a LOT of phobias out there. Here are but a few.

Allodoxaphobia- Fear of opinions. I know a lot of people like this
Androphobia or Arrhenphobia- Fear of men.
Atomosophobia- Fear of atomic explosions. this one seems sensible
Autodysomophobia- Fear of one that has a vile odor.
Automatonophobia- Fear of ventriloquist’s dummies
Barophobia- Fear of gravity. I suppose these people prefer to fly off into space
Bromidrosiphobia or Bromidrophobia- Fear of body smells.
Coitophobia- Fear of coitus.
Coprastasophobia- Fear of constipation.
Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks.
Coulrophobia- Fear of clowns.
Defecaloesiophobia- Fear of painful bowels movements. seems reasonable
Eurotophobia- Fear of female genitalia.
Geniophobia- Fear of chins. I bet they dont watch Jay Leno
Genophobia- Fear of sex. I bet they DO watch Jay Leno…a lot
Genuphobia- Fear of knees. Is genugenohobia fear of sex on your knees?
Gynephobia or Gynophobia- Fear of women. Gynogenogenuphobia fear of sex on knees with women ??
Helminthophobia- Fear of being infested with worms. again seems reasonable
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia- Fear of the number 666. This be a good scrabble word
Kolpophobia- Fear of genitals, particularly female.
Logizomechanophobia- Fear of computers. I bet they won’t be reading this
Luiphobia- Fear of lues, syphillis.
Medomalacuphobia- Fear of losing an erection.
Medorthophobia- Fear of an erect penis.
Menophobia- Fear of menstruation.
Nucleomituphobia- Fear of nuclear weapons. again seems reasonable
Oneirogmophobia- Fear of wet dreams.
Paraskavedekatriaphobia- Fear of Friday the 13th.
Parthenophobia- Fear of virgins or young girls.
Phallophobia- Fear of a penis, esp erect.
Proctophobia- Fear of rectums
Rhypophobia- Fear of defecation
Urophobia- Fear of urine or urinating Okay these last two are just down right silly
Soceraphobia- Fear of parents-in-law.
Venustraphobia- Fear of beautiful women.
Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.

We Have met the Enemy and He is Us July 29, 2007

Posted by psmc in America, Bush, Coast to Coast AM, economics, Freedom, money, Politics, Society, Uncategorized, war.
2 comments

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To fund a new Iraqi economy and government after the March 2003 invasion, the U.S. Federal Reserve shipped 484 pallets of shrink-wrapped U.S. currency, weighing 363 tons, totaling more than $4 billion, and, according to a House of Representatives committee staff report in February, most of the cash was either haphazardly disbursed or distributed to proper channels but with little follow-up tracking. By March 2007, The Times of London found bank records revealing, for instance, that two unremarkable Baghdad small-business men (appointed to the defense ministry) eventually deposited over $1 billion in private accounts in Jordan, and that U.S. efforts to buy state-of-the-art equipment for the Iraqi army were seriously undermined because middlemen purchased only cheap, obsolete Polish munitions and pocketed the savings. [ABC News-Reuters, 2-6-07; The Times (London), 3-11-07]

I always loved Pogo. Well I guess we shouldn’t complain. It is only $4Billion. It’s not like it’s some major amount of money.

The face of God July 15, 2007

Posted by psmc in Uncategorized.
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Hubble Pic

To me, this is one of the most awe-inspiring photos ever taken. Every smudge of light is a galaxy. In the original, there are about 3,000 galaxies. This one is not as detailed due to memory restrictions. The brightest ones are only a BILLION light years away. The dimmest and furthest away are about 12.5 billion light years away. Or rather that was how far they were when the light from those objects started on its way to us. By now the furthest ones are on the order of 20 billion light years away.

Most of the galaxies are similar to our own. Our humble galaxy is average size; an assemblage of approximately 100 billion stars. And now it seems than planetary systems are fairly common. Assuming half the stars have planets and that half of them have a planet like Earth then we are looking at approximately 25 billion Earth-like planets. And if 1 percent of them have intelligent life then we probably have 250 million planets full pf critters like us. And that is just our galaxy.

This Hubble photo is of a very, very small part of the sky, about a quarter degree by a quarter degree in area. I am sure that this means very little to most of you. Another way to look at this, it would take 16,500,000 snapshots like this to cover the entire night sky.

Looking at this you realize how vast the universe is. If that isn’t a humbling thought, then not only do you really need to see a psychiatrist, you are probably very obnoxious as well.

Live Earth July 14, 2007

Posted by psmc in Uncategorized.
2 comments

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Yeah, I know this is basically the same one I had written in another blog, but I like it and I thought I would put it in a space where it might get more notice.

A weekend or two ago was the multi-city, 24 hour-long Live Earth Concert. The purpose of this event was to make everyone aware of Global Warming and the dire situation the planet is in. I have just one problem with this, who DOESN’T know about this by now? The changing climate has been front page news now for awhile and Global Warming is being blamed for every meteorological event. I think the only ones who aren’t aware of the situation are remote tribes in the Amazon, New Guinea and the Amish. And I am pretty sure the Amish have some inkling of what’s going on. They may live simply and plainly but they aren’t stupid. I doubt if many of these people will be going to any of the concerts. Except for a few rebellious Amish and Mennonite youths.

It also seems hypocritical to host rock concert which by its very nature is energy intensive. What’s wrong with folk music or chamber music, besides the fact that they aren’t as profitable as rock music. Also, a lot of the people who performed have life styles with rather large carbon footprints, large estates, private jets, etc. Yet they expect us to adopt changes and make sacrifices that they clearly are not doing.

Let’s not overlook Al Gore, former US vice-president and inventor of the Internet, who helped to organize this concert. Another person with a rather large carbon footprint. I can’t help but think he is using this more for political mileage and photo ops than saving the environment. He would do better in the long run if he would stay away from assigning blame and concentrate more on possible solutions. I like Al Gore, but I think he is wrong on ascribing the cause of Global Warming to primarily man’s activities and I object to his part in politicizing this whole debate. That won’t help anyone when the day is done.

How much energy was used to put on these concerts and to transmit his holographic to the masses? (When I heard tis was done my first thought was that of Emperor Palpatine talking to Darth Vader.) Supposedly they used green energy to supply electricity for this concert, but as far as I know there are not many windmills, tidal generators or solar cell arrays in NYC. At least not enough to supply enough to put on a rock concert. How much was used to broadcast it and how much was used by the people watching or listening to it? And I highly doubt if everyone who viewed it had green energy readily available.

I don’t mind the global concert, the good intentions, but I do mind the hypocrisy.