Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
A Ouija Board Just For Her
It has always been mysterious. It has always been mystifying. And now the OUIJA Board is just for you, girl. With 72 fun questions included, you'll never run out of things to ask. Who will call/text me next? Will I be a famous actor someday? Who wishes they could trade places with me? Gather your friends around, draw a card, place your fingers on the planchette and ask your question. Concentrate very hard and watch as the answer is revealed in the message window. Make up your own questions, and let the OUIJA Board satisfy your curiosity in virtually endless ways. OUIJA Board will answer. It's just a game - or is it?
You can check out the game at this link:
Toys R Us
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Alien Life May Be on Earth: Scientist : Discovery News7:50 PM 0 Comments Links to this post
Monday, January 25, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Egyptian cat god's 2,200-year-old temple unearthed in Alexandria
The ruins of the Ptolemaic-era building were discovered by Egyptian archaeologists in the port city founded by Alexander the Great around 331BC. Alexandria was the seat of the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic dynasty, which ruled Egypt for 300 years until the suicide of Queen Cleopatra.
The council's statement said the temple was thought to belong to Queen Berenice II, wife of Ptolemy III who ruled between 246BC–222BC.
Mohammed Abdel-Maqsood, the Egyptian archaeologist who led the excavation team, said the discovery may be the first trace of the long-sought location of Alexandria's royal quarter.
The large number of statues depicting Bastet found in the ruins, he said, suggested that this may be the first Ptolemaic-era temple dedicated to the cat god to be discovered in Alexandria. This would indicate that the worship of the ancient Egyptian cat-god continued during the later, Greek-influenced, Ptolemaic period
Statues of other ancient Egyptian deities were also found in the ruins, he added.
Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist, said the temple may have been used in later times as a quarry as evidenced by the large number of missing stone blocks.
The temple was found in the Kom el-Dekka area near the modern city's main train station and home to a Roman-era amphitheatre and well-preserved mosaics.
You can see a picture and read the original story at this link: Cat
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Perry Noble Exegetes the Book of Maps1:15 PM 0 Comments Links to this post
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Atheists Set Up 'Religion-Free' Fund for Haiti Relief
Dawkins has joined 13 other groups to create the Non-Believers Giving Aid. Donors are told that when they give they are "helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans."
"[W]e do not hide behind the notion that earthly suffering will be rewarded in a heavenly paradise, nor do we expect a heavenly reward for our generosity: the understanding that this is the only life any of us have makes the need to alleviate suffering even more urgent," the atheist and freethought groups say.
The Non-Believers Giving Aid was set up in response to the devastation from Tuesday's 7.0-magnitude quake that left more than three million people in need of aid. Current estimates place the death toll between 50,000 to 100,000 people.
The atheists' appeal comes amid an increasing number of ad campaigns, books and debates touting morality or goodness without God.
The New Atheists, who are more outspoken than previous humanists and non-theists and endeavor to make belief in God socially unacceptable, have widely put out writings and oral arguments making the case that one can live a good moral life and know right from wrong without God.
Creating a fund for Haiti victims is just one several ways they are demonstrating their point.
"Non-Believers Giving Aid is not a church (that’s putting it mildly) but it does provide an easy conduit for the non-religious to help those in desperate need, whilst simultaneously giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good," the groups behind the fund maintain.
Though adamant in their argument, New Atheists have provided no objective foundation for their belief, says Chad Meister, director of philosophy at Bethel College and contributor to God is Great, God is Good: Why Believing in God is Reasonable and Responsible.
"No one is arguing that atheists cannot utter ethical statements or live good, moral lives. Of course they can," Meister writes in God is Great. "Believing that something is right or wrong and justifying one's belief that something is right or wrong are two very different matters."
He argues that the New Atheists confuse an epistemic (knowledge) issue with an ontological (foundational existence) one, or in other words, they believe in morality without justifying morality.
Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, has argued that moral action is rooted in biological evolution.
"On Dawkins's schema, one is kind to his neighbor because he's been preprogrammed by his genes to do so (at least some individuals have been so preprogrammed; others perhaps not), and he's been so programmed because acting this way confers evolutionary advantage," Meister summarizes. "It's not that it is a universally binding moral value to be kind. We simply call it 'morally good' because our genes have, through eons of evolutionary struggle, gotten us to believe that it is so."
Meister goes on to note that he has several friends who adopted children and he doesn't suspect they would agree with Dawkins's explanation for why they did so.
"In order to have a consistent and reasonable objective moral stand – a moral view in which you can substantiate a claim that this is right and that is wrong, this is good and that is evil – you need to have an objective moral basis," Meister argues. "I don't see how one can have an objective lawgiver with anything other than a transcendent God. Surely from the physical perturbations of the big bang, moral values didn't spew forth.
"And indeed nothing in biological evolution ... is capable of providing the foundation necessary to ground unconditionally binding moral values" such as compassion, dignity and respect.
The Non-Believers Giving Aid participants include Atheist Alliance International, Atheists Helping the Homeless, Atheists United, The British Humanist Association, and The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, among others. Dawkins has vowed to cover up to $10,000 in PayPal fees so that 100 percent of donations could reach Haitians in need. The groups have chosen to direct donations to two aid organizations "that do not have religious affiliations" – Doctors Without Borders and International Red Cross.
Link to the original story: Atheists
Monday, January 18, 2010
Some 390 tons of U.S. ground beef recalled
Some 390 tons of ground beef produced by a California meat packer, some of it nearly two years ago, is being recalled for fear of potentially deadly E. coli bacterium tainting, U.S. officials said on Monday.
The beef was produced by Huntington Meat Packing Inc of Montebello, California, and shipped mainly to California outlets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food safety arm said.
An initial problem, in ground beef shipped by the plant from January 5 to January 15, was discovered during a regular safety check, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said.
It said it had received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of the recalled products.
During a follow-up review of the company's records, government inspectors determined additional products produced and shipped in 2008 to be of concern because they may have been contaminated with E.coli, the service said in a notice on its web site.
This batch was produced from February 19, 2008, to May 15, 2008. It also had been shipped to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels within California, the notice said.
"While these products are normally used fresh, the establishment is taking this action out of concern that some product may still be frozen and in commerce," it said.
E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause kidney failure in the most serious cases.
The service said it routinely conducts checks to verify that recalling firms notify customers, including restaurants, of the recall and that steps are taken to make sure the product is no longer available to consumers.
Link to the original story: Recall
Here is my audio commentary on the story:
Sunday, January 17, 2010
World's Oldest Light Bulb Still Burning
The Z Machine could be the answer to the world's energy shortage
The Z Machine could be the answer to the world's energy shortage, a device that once sparked with a relatively small electrical input can produce 290 terawatts of power. That's equivalent to 80 times the world's total power output. Today that power can only be released in a pulse lasting 70 billionths of a second... but it's a start
Based at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, it is used to research thermonuclear reactions - for example, what happens at the heart of a hydrogen bomb detonation. Now it has a more productive application: finding a way to fuse heavy water atoms to create fusion power. Fusion is the Holy Grail of the power industry: cheap, clean, safe and unlimited. The downside is, with current technology, the reaction is difficult to control.
When the machine fires, 36 cables - each as thick as a horse's torso - spark simultaneously. The cables fire a pulse of 50 trillion watts into a target the size of a cotton reel. Inside the target is a can filled with wires finer than a human hair. The wires vaporise, creating temperatures as high as 3.5 billion degrees C, the highest ever created by man and an X-ray pulse in excess of 290 terawatts
Read more: Z
A Christian View of the Haitian Earthquake
But what happens if you get sick of all those messages on your Facebook wall? If you just can't stand the chatter anymore?
Now one Web site is encouraging you to end it all — virtually.
"It doesn't make your life better," an introductory video on the site coaxes. "You always think you're missing something. And above all, it makes you more stupid."
The idea of the "Web 2.0 Suicide Machine" is to abandon your virtual life — so you can get your actual life back, Gordan Savicic tells NPR's Mary Louise Kelly. Savicic is the CEO — which he says stands for "chief euthanasia officer" — of SuicideMachine.org.
The site is the work of group of artists, designers and programmers based in the Netherlands who wanted to create a way to let people destroy their social networking accounts.
"Basically, we try to remove as much content as possible," Savicic says. "We change the profile picture and the password so you can't log in anymore."
Once you've decided to go through with it, all you need to do is give the Suicide Machine some information and hit a little button that reads "commit." Then you can sit back and watch as your virtual life flashes before your eyes.
Bye-bye, former friends and followers. So long, profile pictures and passwords. Hello, real life 2.0.
The Suicide Machine boasts around 900 users, more than 58,000 friends unfriended and nearly 231,000 Tweets removed. It's so deadly, in fact, that Facebook blocked the service last Sunday.
In a statement earlier this week, Facebook said the Suicide Machine violates their rules of user interaction. The company says it is "currently investigating and considering whether to take further action."
"They basically didn't like the idea that we are unfriending other people's accounts," Savicic says. "We still have to decide how we react on that."
Here is the link to the original story: Npr
Here is my commentary on the story:
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Book of Eli
Faith and Confession, Prosperity - Style
4.5 Aftershock Strikes Haiti
There are mounting security concerns in Haiti's earthquake-hit capital as distribution problems continue to hamper getting aid to survivors.
Days after the quake devastated Port-au-Prince, killing tens of thousands, there are some reports of gangs preying on residents and looting.
Officials say thousands of prisoners are unaccounted for after the main prison was destroyed.
Relief has been arriving, but little has moved beyond the jammed airport.
Damage to the seaport, roads and other infrastructure has prevented the speedy distribution of food, water and medical supplies.
AT THE SCENE
Matt Frei, BBC News, Port-au-Prince There are quite a few diggers in town moving debris, sometimes even bodies. But if you reach a pile of rubble, and there's any evidence of life, what you have to do is pick that pile of rubble brick by brick, glass shard by glass shard.
The story that we've heard time and time again is that of lack of bright lights to continue working through the night.
A part of the tarmac looked like a hospital ward on Friday with patients on drips waiting to be moved out. But that is a tiny proportion.
At an outdoor hospital in town there was not a single doctor or nurse, and people were dying in front of our eyes unnecessarily.
If you have lost a leg or foot and you are lying out in the open at these extraordinary temperatures without water, and medicine, often without any shade for four days, you are not going to live very long.
There is no reason why some of the dozens of doctors who have arrived in the past two days should not go there to treat these people. The roads are clear and it's only a 20-minute drive from the airport.
On Saturday morning, a magnitude-4.5 aftershock struck close to Haiti's capital, the US Geological Survey said, forcing people to flee buildings.
US President Barack Obama met two of his predecessors in the White House, George W Bush and Bill Clinton, to seek their support.
After the talks, Mr Obama said the two men would lead the US' fundraising efforts through the Bush-Clinton Haiti Fund.
"America is moving forward with one of the largest relief efforts in its history," Mr Obama said, warning that recovery would take a long time.
President Bush urged Americans to send "cash", and President Clinton said Haitians "can escape their history and built a better future if we do our part".
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is travelling to Haiti on Saturday to assess the damage and convey to the Haitian people "our long term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies".
A spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said aid workers were dealing with a disaster "like no other" in UN memory because the country had been "decapitated".
"Government buildings have collapsed and we do not even have the support of the local infrastructure," Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.
Ms Byrs said the situation was even worse than the devastation wrought by the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh province.
"It's worse than the Indonesian earthquake where at least we could get the support of some local authorities," she said.
“ The whole country has been decapitated ”
Elisabeth Byrs UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Desperation among survivors of Tuesday's earthquake has led to rising fears over security in Port-au-Prince.
"Men suddenly appeared with machetes to steal money," resident Evelyne Buino told AFP news agency.
Up to 4,000 prisoners are unaccounted for, with many believed to have escaped from the central prison.
"There are thieves coming out," Haitian police inspector-general Jean-Yonel Trecile told Reuters news agency.
"To make sure this does not spread, we have taken a number of these people off the streets. We have arrested about 50 people."
There is little police presence in the capital, although some Brazilian UN peacekeepers are patrolling the streets.
UN Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Alain Le Roy told the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network on Friday: "There have been some incidents where people were looting or fighting for food. They are desperate."
But he added that overall the situation remained under control so far.
The BBC's Nick Davis in Port-au-Prince says the only convoys he has seen are people leaving the city, in search of food, water and medicine.
The UN is reporting a rise in the number of people trying to cross into the neighbouring Dominican Republic, and an influx into Haiti's northern cities.
Overnight the crippled port received its first supply ship since the earthquake, a boat carrying bananas and coal, AFP reports.
Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said 50,000 bodies had been collected, but the total number of dead could be "between 100,000 and 200,000".
The UN said about 300,000 people had been made homeless.
US authorities have taken temporary control of the airport to help distribute aid more quickly.
Meanwhile, details are emerging about the extent of the damage beyond Port-au-Prince. Up to 90% of the buildings have been damaged in Leogane, a town about 19km (18 miles) to the west, the UN said.
"According to the local police, between 5,000 to 10,000 people have been killed and most bodies are still in the collapsed buildings," Elisabeth Byrs said.
The UN has launched an appeal for $562m (£346m) intended to help three million people for six months.
A total of about $360m has been pledged so far for the relief effort, but only part of this sum will be included in the emergency appeal.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is due to visit Haiti on Sunday, said distribution of food and medicine was under way.
The US has already sent an aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, to Haiti and the USS Bataan, carrying a marine expeditionary unit, is on its way.
A hospital ship and more helicopters are due to be sent in the coming days, carrying more troops and marines, with the total number of US troops to rise to between 9,000 and 10,000.
Aid groups say it is a race against time to find any more trapped survivors.
Plane-loads of rescuers and relief supplies have arrived or are due from the UK, China, the EU, Canada, Russia and Latin American nations.
Have you or your family been affected by the earthquake? Are you taking part in the relief effort? If you have any information you wish to share with the BBC you can do so using the form below:
You can also send your pictures or videos to firstname.lastname@example.org, text them to +44 7725 100 100 or if you have a large file you can upload here .
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Story from BBC NEWS:
Proof of Life in Three Martian Rocks May Come This Year
Scientists have been reexamining the controversial Allen Hills meteorite since it sparked reaction from both NASA and the White House in 1996. But now better instruments have turned up possible Martian fossils inside two more meteorites, including a chunk of space rock that has sat inside the British Museum of Natural History in London for almost 100 years.
The scientific teams are "very, very close to proving there is or has been life [on Mars]," said David McKay, chief of astrobiology at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, in a Spaceflight Now interview.
Such life would have likely come from a planet-wide underground network of microorganisms that first emerged 3.6 billion years ago on Mars, scientists say. That development would have paralleled the simple life forms emerging on Earth at around the same time.
New tools for the investigation include a nifty Ion Microprobe that can fire streams of ions onto micro-fossil samples. The ions transform the sample into plasma that can be analyzed via spectrometer for each chemical or mineral part.
If positive confirmation comes, it could dramatically shift NASA's focus from "follow the water" to "search for evidence of life" on Mars and elsewhere. The U.S. space agency's upcoming Mars Science Laboratory rover may get a new landing spot and additional instruments tailored for the hunt. Positive proof of Martian life could also push NASA to seriously investigate Jupiter's moon of Europa and other locations for life.
People on Earth have already begun wrapping their heads around the possibility of extraterrestrial life. It looks like we might not have to travel all the way to Avatar's Pandora after all.
link to the original source: life
Here is the News In Focus audio commentary:
Friday, January 15, 2010
Avatar and the faith instinct
You probably don't need a long synopsis of James Cameron's half-billion-dollar epic, "Avatar," in part because even if you haven't seen it, you've seen it. As many reviewers have noted, Cameron rips off Hollywood cliches to the point you could cut and paste dialogue from "Pocahontas" or "Dances with Wolves" into "Avatar" without appreciably changing the story.
In short, "Avatar" tells the tale of a disabled Marine, Jake Sully, who -- through the wonders of movie magic -- occupies the body of a 10-foot-tall alien so he can live among the mystical forest denizens of the moon world Pandora. Sully is sent in mufti, like a futuristic Lawrence of Arabia, to further the schemes of the evil corporate nature-rapists desperate to obtain the precious mineral "unobtainium" (no, really). Jake inevitably goes native, embraces the eco-faith of Pandora's Na'Vi inhabitants and their tree goddess, the "all mother," and rallies the Pandoran aborigines (not to mention the Pandoran ecosystem itself) against the evil forces of a thinly veiled 22nd century combine of Blackwater and Halliburton.
The film has been subjected to a sustained assault from many on the right, most notably by Ross Douthat in the New York Times, as an "apologia for pantheism." Douthat's criticisms hit the mark, but the most relevant point was raised by John Podhoretz in the Weekly Standard. Cameron wrote "Avatar," says Podhoretz, "not to be controversial, but quite the opposite: He was making something he thought would be most pleasing to the greatest number of people."
What would have been controversial is if -- somehow -- Cameron had made a movie in which the good guys accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts.
Of course, that sounds outlandish and absurd, but that's the point, isn't it? We live in an age in which it's the norm to speak glowingly of spirituality but derisively of traditional religion. If the Na'Vi were Roman Catholics, there would be boycotts and protests. Make the oversized Smurfs Rousseauian noble savages and everyone nods along, save for a few cranky right-wingers.
I'm certainly one of those cranky right-wingers (wanna see my decoder ring?), though I probably enjoyed the movie as cinematic escapism as much as the next guy.
But what I find interesting about the film is how what is "pleasing to the most people" is so unapologetically religious.
Nicholas Wade's new book, "The Faith Instinct," lucidly compiles the scientific evidence supporting something philosophers have known for ages: Humans are hard-wired to believe in the transcendent. That transcendence can be divine or simply Kantian, a notion of something unknowable from mere experience. Either way, in the words of philosopher Will Herberg, "Man is homo religiosus, by 'nature' religious: as much as he needs food to eat or air to breathe, he needs a faith for living."
Wade argues that the Darwinian evolution of man depended not only on individual natural selection but also on the natural selection of groups. And groups that subscribe to a religious worldview are more apt to survive -- and hence pass on their genes. Religious rules impose moral norms that facilitate collective survival in the name of a "cause larger than yourself," to use a modern locution. It's no wonder that everything from altruism to martyrdom is inextricably bound up in virtually every religion.
The faith instinct may be baked into our genes, but it is also profoundly malleable. Robespierre, the French revolutionary who wanted to replace Christianity with a new "age of reason," emphatically sought to exploit what he called the "religious instinct which imprints upon our souls the idea of a sanction given to moral precepts by a power that is higher than man."
To read the rest of the article follow this link: Avatar
The article mentioned the following book:
You can read about the book at this link: Faith
here is my commentary:
Haiti earthquake had been predicted for years
When South Florida residents heard about Tuesday's catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, most of us probably said: ``What? They have earthquakes in the Caribbean?''
But it was no surprise to geologists. For years, they'd been predicting a quake in Haiti -- possibly as powerful as magnitude 7.2. The problem was they couldn't say when.
``It could have been the next day, it could have been 10 years, it could have been 100,'' said Miami geophysicist and earthquake expert Dr. Tim Dixon. ``This is not an exact science.''
Geologists had long warned about seismic pressures building up along the Enriquillo Fault Line that runs from Jamaica eastward through Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and into the Enriquillo Valley in the Dominican Republic. The fault line is part of the boundary between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates.
The earth is divided into about a dozen tectonic plates that float and shift, moving past each other at geologically slow rates. The North American plate, which includes the United States and Canada, moves west relative to the Caribbean plate, at a rate of about an inch a year.
And there was a chilling, if imprecise, prediction in a paper by a group of U.S. geologists presented at the 18th Caribbean Geological Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in March of 2008.
That inch-per-year movement had built up to six lateral feet of unrelieved pressure since the last major quake, in the south-central Dominican Republic in 1751. In a reference to Port-au-Prince, the conference report said: ``This means that the level of built-up stress and energy in the earth could one day be released resulting in an earthquake measuring 7.2 or more on the Richter Scale. This would be an event of catastrophic proportions in a city with loose building codes, and an abundance of shanty-towns built in ravines and other undesirable locations.''
As far back as 1998, Dixon, a professor of geophysics at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, says he and five colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research warning of seismic trouble brewing in Haiti. But again, they couldn't say when.
WAS ACTION POSSIBLE?
One geologist, Patrick Charles, formerly of the Geological Institute of Havana, called the danger imminent.
Even then, what could Haiti have done?
Long beset by poverty, political unrest, HIV and chronic hurricanes and floods, Haiti lacked both the technical expertise and the resources to study earthquakes, let alone take action to withstand them, Dixon said.
Dr. Amy Wilentz, professor of politics at the University of California at Irvine and author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier, agrees.
``A lot of the buildings are made of bricks and cement and tin roofs,'' she said.
``It's hard to envision programs like the ones we have in California to reinforce buildings and do earthquake stabilization, much less projects to make new buildings safe. It's hard enough to put up a building at all; the idea of making it perfect is Kafka-esque.''
Asked Susan Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami: ``This is the poorest country in the hemisphere; what are they supposed to do and with what resources? . . . Most of them are dirt-poor and living in makeshift houses.''
Richer countries can do a lot to mitigate damage from earthquakes, but even they can't entirely prevent it, experts say. In California, building codes have become stricter after each earthquake from the San Fernando quake in 1971, the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 and the North Ridge quake in 1994, says Jeanne Perkins, an earthquake consultant for the Association of Bay Area Governments in San Francisco.
Even then, insurance-company estimates say that if a 7.0 quake like the one that hit Port-au-Prince happened today in San Francisco, it would render 150,000 buildings uninhabitable and kill hundreds or thousands of people, Perkins said.
Another question arising from Tuesday's earthquake is whether it presages more damage in Haiti and elsewhere along the fault line in the Dominican Republic or Jamaica.
``It could increase the chances,'' said Dr. Paul Mann, senior research scientist for the Institute for Geophysics at the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas, and co-author of the study presented at the 2008 earthquake conference. ``The rupture in the fault line was only 50 miles long,'' he said. ``The areas to the east and west that did not rupture are under greater loading, greater stress accumulation.''
But he, too, can't predict a time -- even within 30 or 50 years. For what it's worth, Dixon, the Rosenstiel geophysicist, says the fault line that caused the quake in Haiti runs too far to the south to be a danger to Cuba or Florida.
``There's no chance of an earthquake here,'' he says.
But he adds a chilling thought: The years-long warnings of an earthquake in Haiti of magnitude 7.0 or greater -- which came true Tuesday -- were almost exactly the same as the current earthquake warnings for California.
Link to original story: prediction
You can listen to my audio commentary about the story here:
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The Earthquake in Haiti and God
When a tragedy like his occurs people ask where was God? Many Christians offer up some really bad answers. Wednesday night I spoke on this subject, you can listen to the message here: