Archive for the ‘Science’ category

Is America as dumb as it appears?

October 1, 2008

I’m no expert on the historical influence of religion on the politics in America. From what I’ve read the founding fathers were dead set against the church, any church, having the power to  bully political figures and shape political policy. Freedom of religion was encouraged, including the freedom to not be bound by any religion at all. The church had its function, and it was an important one, and the government had its function and they did not overlap.

Back then, because science and scientific methodology were truly in their infancy, most folks believed in a spiritual superbeing of some sort. There was no good evidence otherwise. But over time, as we discovered more about our planet and our universe, as we unearthed and were able to date fossils, tools, even entire civilizations, it became apparent that our little ball in the sky was much, much older and more complex than the good book would have us believe.

With the emergence of technology, our ability to apply the scientific method has exploded and the results have been truly astounding. Discoveries in meteorology, biology, anthropology, chemistry and geology have left no doubt about the true age of the earth and its early development. Fossil finds of prehistoric and prehuman creatures, some millions of years old have become commonplace. The advancement in these areas, just in the last half century, are incredible.

Given this indisputable data, which continues to accumulate, it is unbelievable that a supposedly educated and intune population in a modern country would insist on clinging to ancient ideas that simply  cannot be supported by any evidence at all except what was written by old superstitious men nearly 2000 years ago. It boggles the mind. It’s not only unreasonable, it’s dangerous.

Now, in the 21st century, it seems that the power and influence of the hard core religious believers is greater than ever. So great in fact that our leaders, whether they actually believe these myths or not, must present a public front showing their allegiance to these fairy tales. I don’t think they do it because they truly buy into it – i can’t accept that any knowledgeable person who has taken the time to study the science would – I think they  do it simply because they realize that to do otherwise dooms their political careers. In other words, they must act as if they are as ignorant of the truth as the people who vote for them.

McCain and Obama both fit into that category. Saying they believe the malarky so the dumbest segment of the public will vote for them is required. Palin is different. She really is dumb and does believe it. As comical as it is every time she speaks, I don’t laugh at her. I find myself sitting there with my  mouth hanging open in disbelief.

I don’t know how, in this age of new found wisdom and scientific discovery, the ultra conservative religious fanatics have emerged as such a powerful force in America. It must have something to do with the people yearning for and searching for some peace and consolation in the highly  stressful times that we live in. Religion always thrives among the needy and the desperate.

But I do know that it is a formula for future social disaster. If we continue to live in the past, if we are satisfied to pray and hope for a better future instead of work for one, if we are so frightened and ignorant that we frantically read a fairy tale over and over in the hope that it will somehow bring about the changes in our lives that we desire instead of facing the hard facts that we have to get off of our butts and work for that change, then the US will continue to crumble, the ultra rich will continue to steal from and rape the poor, and the empire, like others throughout history, will disappear into oblivion. I for one am betting that will happen.

Er, Um, What He meant to say was…

June 27, 2008

I’m just bursting at the seams with anticipation of more and better evidence that Mars may have actually supported life at sometime in its past.

Nasa scientists are “flabbergasted” at the current results from the probe which has found not only evidence of water (ice) but the soil contains the necessary ingredients to support plant growth.

“It is the type of soil you would probably have in your back yard, you know, alkaline. You might be able to grow asparagus in it really well. … It is very exciting for us.”

As I write this, the scholars and propogandists at the Vatican are busy as little bees trying to rewrite reinterpret the scriptures (in which God never mentions any other planets at all, let alone life on them) to cover their holy arses.

“Let’s see…we can say that a Bible day can really mean years and the Bible Earth can really mean the whole universe! Yeah, that’s it! that’s the ticket! That’s our story and we’re stickin’ to it.”

It is a time of almost orgasmic joy and glee because I may actually see the truth be told, once and for all, in my lifetime.

Just one more thing to worry about

June 27, 2008

Being the gluttonous and greedy consumers of everything luxurious that we are, it took a press release from Haagen Dazs Ice Cream to bring this potential disaster to the news media. I’m talking about what that company and others are calling the shocking and dangerous decline of honey bees.

Honey bees mysteriously began to abandon their colonies in 2006, destroying about a third of U.S. hives. The rate of decline is accelerating, reaching 36 percent last winter.

90% of plant life on our planet depends on pollination for survival and honey bees are the single biggest vehicle to make that happen. Bumble bees, moths, butterflies and even bats also contribute to the process and are also declining in astounding numbers. But as the honey bees disappear and fields begin to disappear with them, food prices are expected to soar.

Fruits, nuts, seeds and many vegetables are the foundation of California’s $34 billion agricultural industry, the nation’s largest, and the basis of a healthy human diet. About a third of human food requires pollination. The plants cannot grow without it.

While scientists have not yet proven the reasons for the problem, research so far has shown what one might expect. Reduced habitat and pesticides, even non-lethal pesticides seem to be the culprits.

…one study of 108 pollen samples revealed 46 pesticides, as many as 17 different pesticides in a single sample. Only three of the samples showed no pesticide residue.

There are 660,000 acres of just almond trees in California’s San Joaquin Valley and this massive area of a single crop is also making the situation worse. Seems that the bees, etc. need a more diverse diet to keep them around.

Visalia beekeeper Steve Godlin said 1.3 million honeybee hives are trucked in each spring from around the country to pollinate the California almond crop, which is fast replacing cotton in the Valley. The collapse of honeybee hives and the enormous demand for almond pollination has sent its price soaring.

Surveys have shown that half of the American people aren’t even aware that there is a problem. No surprise there. It’s not exactly a sexy news story. But it’s a real threat to farmers and ultimately to consumers. While comparatively rich Americans will be able to absorb the rising prices, at least in the short term, poorer nations that depend on California and other areas for their fresh fruits and vegetables may be priced right out of the market. Read the whole article for some tips on what you can do to help.

Sex Ed Dramatically Reduces Teen Sex

December 21, 2007

science1.jpg

[Reuters] Teens who have had formal sex education are far more likely to put off having sex, contradicting earlier studies on the effectiveness of such programs, U.S. condoms1.jpgresearchers said on Wednesday.They found teenage boys who had sex education in school were 71 percent less likely to have intercourse before age 15, and teen girls who had sex education were 59 percent less likely to have sex before age 15.

Teen boys who had sex ed in school were nearly 3 times more likely to use birth control the first time they had intercourse. But sex education appeared to have no effect on whether teen girls used birth control, the researchers found.

Black teenage girls who had sex education in school were 91 percent less likely to have sex before age 15.

Abstinence only does not work

Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

“At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners” among teenagers, the study concluded.

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having “positive outcomes” including teenagers “delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use.”

“Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavior effect,” said the report.

Bush has asked for $140 million for abstinence only sex ed funds. He refuses to fund child health programs. He is a religious fanatic, like his christian right supporters and if you want more of the same, stick Huck or Mitt in the White House.

The Climate Changes: Behavior Won’t

December 8, 2007

global_warming.gif

The debate has begun at the Bali climate conference and, as expected, it is getting nowhere. China is saying that only the wealthy countries should have to reduce emissions, not the “developing countries” like theirs. They contend that their economy must grow and people must be brought out of poverty first before they can participate in a cut back.

The arguement is sound as far as the developed nations leading the way, but to think that only they should participate is simply stupid and shortsighted.

It’s everyones problem and any country that is a significant polluter, like China,  is going to have to change their ways and do it soon. If not, there will be no growing economy to worry about.

head_in_sand.gifI have very little hope that any significant steps will be taken by this generation. We are far to greedy and self centered. We are not going to give up any of our comforts yet because we can’t see this crisis when we look out our window. We can’t feel this crisis when we open the door. And because we can’t see it or feel it, we can tell ourselves that it’s not really there.

We are certainly not going to vote for anyone who tells us that we have to start cutting back now. No, instead we will believe our leaders when they tell us not to worry, they have the situation under control. (The only thing they are interested in controlling is their campaign donations until they are out of office. Then it will be someone elses problem.)

Shortsighted, greedy, corrupt and wealthy. That is a description of our world leaders and those who they serve. And they have us, the people, right where they want us. Frightened, poor, distrustful of each other, and divided. As is always the case, any suffering, sacrifice, belt tightening, and additional economic burden will be ours to bear. We will do so gladly, and we will not demand that they do the same because, after all, it is they who are saving us.

But we wont have to suffer, sacrifice, or belt tighten quite yet. No action will be taken that could affect us this quickly. No, they will debate, they will schedule another “summit” for next year at another lush resort, they will take votes and compromise, they will discuss and argue. Then they will convince us, the people, that they are making substantial progress in the war on climate change. And we, the people, will believe them.

Chimps Outwit College Students

December 4, 2007

science.jpgmonkey_11.gif

 Scientists pitted chimpanzes against college students to see which group could demonstrate better memory skills using a simple numbers grid that would appear and disappear. The results? Chimps were twice as capable of remembering numerical orders. Interesting stuff. Read it here

Global Warming debate Heats Up

December 2, 2007

_44272057_co2_monitoring.gifI just lambasted another blogger in his comments about his ignorant post on global warming and why it is not a serious issue. This graph, called the Keeling Curve, shows the results of 50 years of research tracking carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. I’d say the trend is an increase, wouldn’t you? Article here.

In a related story, the House passed compromise legislation calling for gas emissions standards to reach an average of 35mpg by 2020. The key word is average. That not only means that commercial trucking will be immune but that all the rich people will be able to continue to drive their SUV’s while the little people will drive whatever they have to in order to reach the legal average. It’s all way too little too late and is bullshit.