Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Not long after SCOTUS decided that marriage was an equal opportunity right for all, I saw a church sign. It got me to thinking and this post is the result. I meant to get a picture of it, but it was changed out by the time I got back with a camera. But the message was simple and I’m sure you have seen it before.

“Pray For Our Nation”

Seems innocuos enough at first glance, but when you examine this statement a little more closely you understand its true meaning, and it is twofold. First “pray for our nation” automatically excludes a great many countries of this world. A great many people of all color and belief. I find that obtusive, shallow and insulting to everyone that inhabits this planet.

Secondly with its timing this simple statement implies that our nation is somehow less than it used to be, because it no longer excludes the LGBT community from marriage. All I can say to that is “fuck you, and the donkey you rode in on.” I might add a schadenfreudial ha! ha! ha! to that as well.

Another one most of us have encountered is the “I’ll pray for you.” We all know what that really means! lol. For anyone that might be scratching their heads right now wondering my meaning, “I’ll pray for you” is a lowball sideswipe insult. Its true meaning is more along the lines of “screw you, you nasty heathen.” Oh the mighty goodness just oozes through doesn’t it?

Choose Life! Sounds like it is some obvious logical conclusion, right? Wrong. “Choose life” really means, “We think abortion is icky, and unbiblical, therefore we have decided that you have no rights over your own body, and we have made that decision for you.” And they (fundies, republicans, republican fundies) have gone to great lengths across the country pushing legislation that agrees with these sentiments. Nevermind that a great deal of women who get abortions are x-ians. Nevermind that unwanted babies born into this world are a taxpayer burden to feed, clothe, and raise to adulthood. Nevermind that many often go unloved and are caught in the state welfare system merry-go-round, in and out of adoptive homes and back to the group home. No, to have the Orwellian audacity to decide what is or is not right for a womans own body just takes the cake. “Choose life” comes from those who think they know better than we do about our own best interests. Those are the kind of people that bear watching.

I’m going to repeat a saying I made up all by myself, and am fond of using. “There ain’t nuttin that scares me more than a bunch of good (insert religion here.)”

So next time you are out there in the world, or cruising the internet, and you see a sign or a saying that seems innocent at first glance, don’t merely take it at face value. There might be more to it than you think.

I Guess That’s Not Such A Huge Surprise

A slew of major corporations are donating a total of 140 billion dollars to help fight the global warming issue. Oil companies have yet to show up. Doubtful they will. Short vid with a skippable commercial after 4-5 seconds. I hope this works, never tried to post a video, and the link was un-copypasteable (yes that’s a word I looked it up!) EDIT: Nevermind, the link will take you to the sciencedaily page, which I suppose is good enough. Go see the vid. While you are there check out some of the other articles on the page.

When I think about this problem it really ticks me off. Oil corporations are so greedy they would destroy the very planet that sustains us, for a profit. Not only that, they DO fund climate denying Tea Party types. Greed is the sin that will eventually get around to killing us all. I suppose it always has been…

Excuse me, I have a huge pile of tires I need to set on fire… (sarcasm folks, sarcasm)

There Is No Such Thing As Transitional Fossils

Except for maybe this 4 legged snake.


Granted I only see one in this photo, but the information looks good.

This looks like an artists representation:



This pic shows a better look at the hind legs:


Then there are these, while there are some duh moments there from creationist sites, many are very good :

And these:

And these:

Let’s not forget this one:


My Venus Transit Pics From 2012

Wow, has it been that long already? I have been meaning to go through my photos and get a write up or two out of them. I visited the transit pics this morn and applied a little contrast, a little noise reduction, and a little shadow enhancement to hopefully tease out more detail.

I was able to catch the Venus transit 3 years prior to the 2012 transit visually, but was not ready for taking pics. By the time 2012 rolled around I was a little better prepared, not by a great deal, but enough to snap some pics. I used my trusty Orion ED 80mm apochromatic refractor telescope, with an Orion full aperture white light solar filter. The scope was mounted on a Celestron ASGT (Advanced Series Go To) mount, and I used a home made camera adapter that attaches to the eyepiece in the telescope, and holds the camera centered over the eyepiece. This process is known as afocal shooting. The camera is a little Sony Cybershot DSC-W200, 12.1 megapixel. Nuttin fancy, but you use what you have, especially when a good camera will cost you an arm and a leg.

I predetermined a prime location for shooting, and was there setting up in plenty of time. I thought. In addition to being rigged up for pics, I also setup a solar projection rig, so the family could watch the transit there, as I was busy getting pictures with the other telescope. The projection rig was a 90mm Orion achromat telescope, on a cheapo EQ II tripod with manual controls. I had it projecting onto a whiteboard, and it works great for this purpose. When you are setting up two telescope rigs, keeping the kids out of mischief, making sure two cameras are in working order (the wife took pics of the transit on the whiteboard too), and trying to find a few seconds to scratch your ass, time flies. By the time I was finally setup and had taken a few practice shots, the transit was beginning.

First contact. Where Venus meets the limb of the sun, roughly around 5:30. Click these pics for full size shots:

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A little further along:

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The mouse hole:

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This one is known as the Black Drop, I was eager to catch this shot:

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Clear of the limb with some passing clouds:

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As the day progressed, I took around 130 pictures. How many pics of a black orb on the sun do you want to look at? The sun was soon getting low on the horizon and my transit time was running short, but some of the best shots of the day came with evening clouds moving in plus a lot of atmospheric distortion. The first two of the next six I call the Jupiter* and Venus** shots respectively:

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Next you get first contact with the trees on the horizon. Once contact was made with the horizon, you will notice I had to invert the pics to give them proper perspective, putting Venus on the other side of the sun:

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That wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed it.

* Looking at Jupiter through binoculars or using low power in a telescope, it will show two prominent equatorial belts, similar to what you see here.

** Venus is known for its wispy cloud cover, which is what that pic inspired in me. For some Venus clouds click here:

Quote of the Month

I believe in my laziness, I let last month get by me without a Quote of the Month, and this month nearly so. I got up this morn with the intent of doing something  with the blog today and QOTM is it. Most of my followers (I think that is a tad creepy, but glad to have you!) know that this series is about the x-ian revisionist history that claims our country was founded upon x-ian principles, but for the new guys/gals… It most certainly was not. A look at the founding father quotes which are easily available, will quickly confirm the founding fathers were at best deists. Which back in the day, with the limited tech, and the pervasiveness of the church, was a great step in the right direction.

I was browsing for a quote and this one by Ben Franklin hit caught my attention, as it captures perfectly well that which I see on a steady basis of creationists. This quote is quite elegant in its simplicity, and quite to the point, which is as relevant today as it was in centuries past. Without further ado:

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” Ben Franklin, from the Poor Richards Almanac.

Stupid Is…

…as stupid does.

Every 4th of July someone does something less than intelligent (I dislike using the word stupid a lot, but it just keeps coming up) with fireworks and loses a hand or an arm or worse.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the firework type known as mortar rounds, but they have a cylindrical launch tube maybe two inches across and they stand perhaps 16 – 18 inches high. The mortar is a bulbous little grenade looking thing that has a long fuse. You drop this round into the tube, leaving the long fuse hanging out the top. You then light it, and run like hell!

A moment later there is a large foomp! The round exits the tube with an enormous force you can feel, it accelerates high in the sky and explodes with a colorful display. I love these things, and if I’m buying fireworks, I always get some mortars. But…

I have never tried to light one off of the top of my head:

It killed him instantly. Like I said, these rounds exit the tube with an tremendous force, you can feel this force from many feet away. I can only imagine, but it must have been like getting hit sharply in the head with a 5 lb. hammer when it went off. I certainly feel for the friends and family, but damn! Darwin Award.

Please use your fireworks safely. I would like to still be able to buy them next year. Okay?

Deja Vu

Just a few days ago I did a piece on an unvaccinated kid dying in Spain. Today we have a woman from Washington state dying from the measles. Well, she developed pneumonia as a side effect from having the measles.

This woman apparently had a weakened autoimmune state and contracted the measles in a hospital. It is a shame, she was in the hospital for some medical reasons at the same time someone else there developed the rash associated with the measles, a fluke. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the person that had that case of measles had been vaccinated…? This woman would still be alive.

I don’t want to harp again, so soon, about the importance of vaccines, but dammit it is so vitally important to vaccinate. Vaccines save lives from unneccessary risk of dying from a preventable disease. Vaccinate! Vaccinate your kids! Do not listen to the crazy people that claim vaccines cause autism. They don’t. It was all a bogus story, by an asshole with an agenda, who had his work discredited, and lost his license. It was fraud!

One good piece of news most of you probably already know, California signed into law, the bill that requires all children that want to go to a public school must be vaccinated. No opt out clause. Needless to say this is a major step in the right direction. I hope other states take notice.

Oh, Jim Carrey, shut the hell up, save your stoopid for your movies.

The Big Rip

Not the chile, nachos, and beer, big rip many of you may be familiar with. No the fate of the universe has a few differing conclusions by the notable smarty pants scientists, physicists, and mathmeticians way above my pay grade, of whom I am greatly indebted to for their services. These conclusions fall into three main categories.

First there is the Big Crunch, where it is thought by some that the expansion of the universe will gradually slow, and then fall back in upon itself. Creating a big crunch calamity where all matter recondenses into, what I understand, an enormous black hole state, that may be able to repeat the singularity event that is believed to have started the universe as we know it.

Then there is the Big Freeze, where the universe expands so far that the gases needed for new star formation is spread so thin that star formation ceases, the universe grows cold, and dies a lonely death.

Finally we have the Big Rip, the Big Rip takes into account what is thought to be driving the expansion of the universe. This cause has been labeled dark energy. Dark energy is an as of yet, unproven entity, however it is almost sure to exist, we just haven’t exactly determined the how or why it exists, or how to detect it. The only way we can tell it is there is by studying how it infuences the matter we can detect, and measure the effects of the matter as it relates to the expansion we know is happening. Did that make sense? The Big Rip theory generally claims that over time the universe basically strectches beyond its capability to stretch and everything pretty much flies apart, even at the atomic scale.

A team from Vanderbilt University, right here in my home state of Tennessee, (thus lending some credibility to the notion that we aren’t all a bunch of bible addled hillbillies) released a paper earlier this year, the result being some new math that appears to favor the Big Rip outcome. I should note the key players involved with the paper, and I quote:

The new approach was developed by Assistant Professor of Mathematics Marcelo Disconzi in collaboration with physics professors Thomas Kephart and Robert Scherrer and is described in a paper published earlier this year in the journal Physical Review D.


This new math concerns itself with cosmological viscosity. Cosmological viscosity? Now admittedly, I am not familiar with cosmological viscosity. This viscosity is thought to have a similar effect on universe expansion as is expected of dark energy. This paper and its math takes into account this viscosity and its effects. I tried to do some research on this subject and quickly ran into info behind paywalls, although I did find this:

Click to access 00b495201c90cb1633000000.pdf

…but that quickly devolved into some chicken scratch math I have no comprehension of.

Then I found this page:

Where someone (who apparently had access to the paper, or payed for it) was trying to make heads or tails of this cosmological viscosity thing and asked a question there to see if he could get a clarification. One of the answers was thus: Protip: Just about anything on arxiv posted to gr-qc and cross-posted to astro-ph is pseudoscience. (Yes, this offends lots of people employed as “scientists.” No, I will not back down on this claim.) –  Chris White (end quote)  Note that this paper is available on if you would like to pay for it.

So I’m not exactly sure how seriously I should take all of this viscosity stuff, but let’s continue. I don’t like to stick my neck out and report on something I am not at least a little familiar with, but let’s assume for the sake of argument this cosmological viscosity thing is real and has a measurable effect on our universe. This next paragraph offers an interesting theory, quoted in full:

Most dark energy theories to date have not taken cosmic viscosity into account, despite the fact that it has a repulsive effect strikingly similar to that of dark energy. “It is possible, but not very likely, that viscosity could account for all the acceleration that has been attributed to dark energy,” said Disconzi. “It is more likely that a significant fraction of the acceleration could be due to this more prosaic cause. As a result, viscosity may act as an important constraint on the properties of dark energy.”

If there is anything to this possibility it does raise some interesting aspects to the dark energy problem. I’m not real sure yet if they are offering a solution to a problem, that may have its own problems just yet though. All I can say is they are pretty sure this new math poses a distinct possibility to consider. Here is a little more info from the article, relevant to cosmic viscosity, that might help.

The type of viscosity that has cosmological relevance is different from the familiar “ketchup” form of viscosity, which is called shear viscosity and is a measure of a fluid’s resistance to flowing through small openings like the neck of a ketchup bottle. Instead, cosmological viscosity is a form of bulk viscosity, which is the measure of a fluid’s resistance to expansion or contraction. The reason we don’t often deal with bulk viscosity in everyday life is because most liquids we encounter cannot be compressed or expanded very much.

Disconzi began by tackling the problem of relativistic fluids. Astronomical objects that produce this phenomenon include supernovae (exploding stars) and neutron stars (stars that have been crushed down to the size of planets).

Scientists have had considerable success modeling what happens when ideal fluids — those with no viscosity — are boosted to near-light speeds. But almost all fluids are viscous in nature and, despite decades of effort, no one has managed to come up with a generally accepted way to handle viscous fluids traveling at relativistic velocities. In the past, the models formulated to predict what happens when these more realistic fluids are accelerated to a fraction of the speed of light have been plagued with inconsistencies: the most glaring of which has been predicting certain conditions where these fluids could travel faster than the speed of light.

“This is disastrously wrong,” said Disconzi, “since it is well-proven experimentally that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.”

So, I take it that this new idea allows for a cosmic viscosity that doesn’t violate the speed of light. That would be an important hurdle to clear. Honestly I’ve been in over my head for a while now, but I can see the other side, and if I flail around a little longer I believe I can get to the other side. With that in mind I will quote the last few paragraphs of the article to offer further explanation as to how this new theory applies:

In reference to the Big Rip. “It is predicated on a type of “phantom” dark energy that gets stronger over time. In this case, the expansion rate of the universe becomes so great that in 22 billion years or so material objects begin to fall apart and individual atoms disassemble themselves into unbound elementary particles and radiation.

The key value involved in this scenario is the ratio between dark energy’s pressure and density, what is called its equation of state parameter. If this value drops below -1 then the universe will eventually be pulled apart. Cosmologists have called this the “phantom barrier.” In previous models with viscosity the universe could not evolve beyond this limit.

In the Desconzi-Kephart-Scherrer formulation, however, this barrier does not exist. Instead, it provides a natural way for the equation of state parameter to fall below -1.

“In previous models with viscosity the Big Rip was not possible,” said Scherrer. “In this new model, viscosity actually drives the universe toward this extreme end state.”

According to the scientists, the results of their pen-and-paper analyses of this new formulation for relativistic viscosity are quite promising but a much deeper analysis must be carried out to determine its viability. The only way to do this is to use powerful computers to analyze the complex equations numerically. In this fashion the scientists can make predictions that can be compared with experiment and observation.”

So, if you are still with me and haven’t fallen asleep, the new theory appears to harmonize with speed of light problems. Offers an explanation that either coincides with dark energy or perhaps removes the necessity of it. Lends some credence to the Big Rip, and may help adequetely describe the observations we already have. Admittedly there is a lot of work to do yet to achieve additional support for this theory. There is a lot of speculation, especially on my part, but it is an interesting side show for now. If you’re into that sort of thing.

I’ll be waiting for Sheldon to weigh in on the matter. 🙂

My initial source:

Stupid Creationist Argument Given A Dose Of Science

You know the one about the human eye being too complex to have evolved? Yeah, that one:

I’m making a short story out of an article well worth reading, so click the link if you want to see more.

Here we have a predatory single celled organism with an eye much like a human eye, an interesting quote: “The single-cell marine plankton, a predatory microbe, bears a dark purple spot known as an ocelloid. It resembles the multicellular eye of animals so much that it was originally mistaken for part of an animal the warnowiids had eaten.”

With further study they found:  “this eye-like structure contains a collection of sub-cellular organelles that look very much like the lens, cornea, iris and retina of multicellular eyes that can detect objects — known as camera eyes — that are found in humans and other larger animals.” How’s that for some cool beans? I do wonder how an eye so complex could have evolved in a single celled organism? The creationist argument says something like the human eye is too complex to have evolved these traits, therefore jeebus. Or some such shit.

Now here we have a single celled organism much with eyes like our own. I guess jeebus loves his special little single celled creations as much as he does humans? I didn’t see anything along those lines back when I took it upon myself to read the bible, maybe I missed that part?

Scientists are unsure exactly how these eyes work, they still have some difficult work to do, but I think we have another creationist claim laid to waste, by science. 1,000 stupid claims to go.

I will finish up with another quote from the article: “The work sheds shed new light on how very different organisms can evolve similar traits in response to their environments, a process known as convergent evolution. Eye-like structures have evolved independently many times in different kinds of animals and algae with varying abilities to detect the intensity of light, its direction, or objects.”  Yes, new light that sends the cockroaches scurrying along to look for another unsupported claim to bolster their attempts to appear scientific. Good luck with that…