Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Onward Christmas Scientists

with 2 comments

plastic_ants.jpg

Today I am going to cover some recent science news stories. First on a personal note, Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I have been shopping. And I am pleased to report that I stumbled upon a local retailer that carries one of my all time favourite products: artificial ants. The fine product in question is shown above, I’d link to the company but they hardly need more business, a product like this must fly off the shelves. So many practical jokes to pull, so little time.

Moving right along, mountains have been discovered on Titan, Saturn’s Moon. Since they are made of ice with methane snow on them, they should be good for skiing year round. It may seem like useless knowledge, but it’s not. Studying how mountains formed on other worlds and moons may give insight into how they were formed on Earth. Which ultimately may give insight into such mundane things as earthquake prediction. Basic research and exploration, especially the space program, is often very hard to justify to those who want immediate results from their science spending. In the long run though, basic research is the engine that drives all research, the payoff from the space program has been well worth the cost. Once again, another topic for future blogs.

Global warming news continues to get worse. Global warming skeptics have to continually re-focus their opinions on an ever shrinking band of evidence. Global warming skeptics are like pro-Iraq-invasion people in that respect, in order to maintain their world view they have to exclude more and more evidence from consideration. Um, same as “creation science folks” too. In fact I suspect that pro war, anti-evolution, anti-global warming views are frequently found in the same people for this reason. If you focus your view narrowly enough, you can believe anything you want and have “proof” to boot. Not even sure if it’s worth trying to debate people like this, for example literal creationism was dead scientifically and logically in the late eighteenth century. Alas, like the energizer bunny, the people who believe the Earth is provably only a few thousand years old just keep on going. In any event, more future blogs, because I really am interested in finding common ground with people whom I disagree with.

However, I digress. My local paper carried a long article on how animal behaviour and migration patterns are being disrupted globally by ever warming climate. A new study says that the amount of sea level rise that will occur in decades to come has been seriously underestimated. The amount of ice in the Arctic has been declining rapidly in recent years, another study predicts that the Arctic may be ice free in the summer by about 2040. And 2006 is well on its way to being one of America’s warmest years on record. Six of the seven warmest years on record have occurred since 2001, the top ten have occurred since 1995. I don’t know what else to say except that the evidence for global warming continues to accumulate. Is it written in stone that Earth will continue to warm? Of course not, in the final analysis the future in known to no one. I wouldn’t buy any beachfront property though.

In some good science news, more proof that laughter is the best medicine. A study showed that people who laughed easily and often had a 31% better survival rate that the sourpusses among us. No real surprise, laughter is very relaxing, and people that laugh a lot are going to be less stressed that people who don’t. So in the interests of the health of my readers, I will end with a Pope joke I thought was funny. No disrespect is meant towards Catholics, the Pope, or anyone. I just like humour that shows we are all human under our skin, or under our funny hats as the case may be:

A priest decides to take a walk to the pier near his church. He looks around and finally stops to watch a fisherman load his boat. The fisherman notices, and asks the priest if he would like to join him for a couple of hours. The priest agrees.The fisherman asks if the priest has ever fished before to which the priest says no. He baits the hook for him and says, “Give it a shot father”. After a few minutes, the priest hooks a big fish and struggles to get it in the boat. The fisherman says “Whoa, what a big son-of-a-bitch!”

The Priest says, “Uh, please sir, can you mind your language?” The Fisherman responds (THINKING QUICKLY), “I’m sorry Father, but that’s what this fish is called – a son-of-a-bitch!”

“Oh, I’m sorry”, replied the Priest. “I didn’t know.” After the trip, the priest brings the fish to the church and spots the Bishop. “Eminence, look at this big son-of-a-bitch!”

“Please Father”, said the Bishop. “Mind your language, this is a house of God.”

“No, you don’t understand”, said the Priest. “That’s what this fish is called, and I caught it. I caught this son-of-a-bitch!”

“Hmmm”, said the Bishop. “You know, I could clean this son-of-a-bitch and we could have it for dinner.” So the Bishop takes the fish and cleans it, and brings it to Mother Superior at the convent. “Mother Superior could you cook this son-of-a-bitch for dinner tonight?”

“My lord, what language!”, said the Mother Superior.

“No, Sister”, said the Bishop. “That’s what the fish is called – a son-of-a-bitch! Father caught it, I cleaned it, and we’d like you to cook it.”

“Hmmm”, replied Mother Superior. “Yes, I’ll cook that son-of-a-bitch tonight.” Well, the Pope stops by for dinner with the three of them, and they all think the fish is great. He asks where they got it. “I caught the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Priest.

“And I cleaned the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Bishop.

“And I cooked the son-of-a-bitch!”, said the Mother Superior.

The Pope stares at them for a minute with a steely gaze, but then takes off his hat, puts his feet up on the table, and says, “You know, you fuckers are alright”.

God Bless Everyone.

Written by unitedcats

December 15, 2006 at 10:42 am

2 Responses

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  1. Global Warming skeptics..yes totally choosing the evidence to ignore. And I mean, just look outside. I’m in Montreal, Canada, eh, you know, snow and cold and we’re good at hockey. And they’re saying there might be no snow this Christmas.

    Today I ended up in the middle of a thunderstorm. And it’s mid-December.

    Ick.

    Dmitri Marine

    December 16, 2006 at 12:56 am

  2. Hi Doug!

    First, I just want to give a heads up that I am largely going to speak in a macro or general sense (Stereo-type alert!!). I believe in exceptions, but won’t particularly address those. Now that I have made that disclaimer…(ha!)

    I would be kind of an anomaly, but fit some of your description in the third paragraph. While I am not a Genesis account believer, I subscribe to the the Ruin Reconstruction theory, which could account the universe and the earth possibly being billions of years old. That’s not to say I discount the Genesis account as a rebuilding or earthly “refurbishing” or that it could possibly be figurative. For where I would come from on this issue you can find at http://www.kjvbible.org. Of course I believe in evolution and devolution in a sense, but find Darwinism hard to swallow–largely because I am a purist when it comes to science, and have not yet accepted theory as fact like most people do today. I’m not denying that there aren’t valid points to theories of natural selection, etc., just that evolution, just like creationism has become an exclusionary and narrow-minded science.

    Additionally, I am a global warming sceptic. Very much so. Guess one could tell that if they visited the News Snipet. Scepticism, I guess, comes with age, and I have seen so many contrived crises in my lifetime that one can’t help but tend to ignore the latest “Chicken Little” (it may have EVERYTHING to do with my age:). I am one of those who believes that the “global warming” debate is primarily fueled by two factions. The first, is the politically motivated (and loudest voice), the other is the emotionally labile (their victims). The latter group is essentially our Chicken Little, while the former are those who want to exploit fear for political gain. (Think throughout history how many times government has contrived crises to justify its actions, rise to power or reason for existing–WMD’s, oil shortages, Y2K, etc.,). The current political debate is simply a struggle for control of the earth’s natural resources–and this can also be broken down into two factions–those who want to see them in private hands, and those who want to see them under government control. I believe this because its simply true and has been since ancient times. It has been decades since we had politicians that had an interest in anything other than themselves, and to credit them with such noble aspiration as they are concerned about the welfare of humanity or thier constituents beyond their short-term private gain is an insult to average intelligence. It breaks down to capitalists-who think that resources should be controlled, used and utilized by the private sector, and socialists who believe that resources should be controlled, used and utilized by government. Contemporary environmentalism has been a hallmark of socialism (Check out the German Greens, British and Australian Labor Parties, and of course our own Democrat and Green Parties).

    Now if someone wants to find real science on the topic then they will check out things like, the Greenland Ice Core. This core indicates the cyclical nature of our climate spanning millennia, and is often ignored by the quacks who point to some glacier in Iceland that has less ice than the year before. We have had global warming and global cooling since the dawn of time, and it is a part of the nature of the earth. Only recently has self-loathing become vogue. Why not blame it on the cows that produce more CO2 than all automobiles combined? No, I believe the study of climate, like most sciences is in its early developmental stages, and I have a hard time reacting to the often immature conclusions it puts forth based on inconclusive data. Its going to take more than “before and after” pictures (ala Al Gore) to convince me that my Jeep is turning Iceland into Greenland. Just recently the U.N. downgraded the importance of man’s impact on the global warming issue, and for a good informative read, check out:

    http://newssnipet.blogspot.com/2006/12/will-it-make-difference-to-chicken.html

    and

    http://newssnipet.blogspot.com/2006/12/sceptics-guide-to-global-warming.html (of course, many on the left will dismiss this outright as it was put together by a committee chaired by a Republican…)

    Remember the scientists worldwide who believed that the entire earth’s atmosphere would vaporize if the first atom bomb was touched off? The scientists who believed that sucking the blood out of someone was the way to treat illness? I say give it time, and we may make some progress, some real scientific progress, but as it is, there is too much emotion or politics to give it the degree of credibility it needs.

    So I believe, like you, Doug, that the pro-evolution, anti-war and environmental activists have their religious acolytes who burn with absolute faitha nd devotion, and their religious leaders who utilize that to their own increased power and ends.

    The question is, are rational thinkers like you and I going allow ourselves to be influenced by them or are we going to continue to question?

    Take care,

    -Jack

    bereans

    December 18, 2006 at 6:19 am


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