Monthly Archives: January 2017

Highland Education Committee Church Appointee blames gays for bullying

The Strathspey Herald reports that:

‘A clergyman has used his position on a Highland Council education committee to criticize the alleged promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Alexander MacLean, a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, also suggested that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people are bullied because they are “overt” and attract attention.” … Mr MacLean is one of three religious representative on the committee who have full voting rights under UK legislation.’ [Emphasis added]

The Strathspey Herald has grasped the central  point. The issue, as always, is not whether Mr Maclean’s comments are acceptable, but whether it is appropriate for him to have a legally assured privileged position on the Education Committee from which to advance them, over and above any support his views may have in the community and among the elected Councillors.   He holds that position as the result of legislation imposed from Westminster before devolution, even though education is itself a devolved area. So the Scottish Parliament can change this anachronistic and undemocratic law, and we are asking them to do so.

The episode illustrates more clearly than any words of mine the need to remove the Church nominees from their unelected positions of power. Mr MacLean is entitled to his views, but he is not entitled to a privileged platform at the heart of local government from which to promote them.

Some of my geology photos

If there’s interest, I’ll post more. Click and select “View full size” (below image, R) for full resolution. I lack formal training in geology, and would greatly appreciate comments on my proposed interpretations, but find structures such as these, on every scale, at once fascinating and beautiful.

The Betic-Rif arc of Spain and North Africa is in the news, here are some things I saw in the area:

img_6161Left: schist exposure near Benalmadena, Western Malaga province. These Permian rocks have been metamorphosed at a depth of some 40 km. Recent exposure caused by westward extension of Benamadena promenade

img_6162Above, detail; Euro coin for scale (camouflaged; sorry) slightly below and left of centre. This and nearby exposures show strong deformation, white hard (silica) intrusions, with later pinkish soft (calcite) intrusions cutting across them.

img_6164

Detail from above, while spectacularly deformed boulders of the same material (see below) are used to form the breakwater:img_6063

Go some 500 km NE by E and we are in the Alboran sea extension zone, with the tilted and faulted Neogene marine calcite rock of Alicante (al-Lucente, the shining one), on which stands the Castle of Santa Barbara, on a promontary now raised 500 ft above the sea:img_8190

img_8223

And the boulders on the coast beneath the castle, coarse limestone with shell fragments, show deformation and aggregation, as the result of recent (and ongoing) tectonic movement in this very active area.

Images by author

Not waving but drowning

Adventures in the Anthropocene

Not all the news is bad; but strange times, when we have to welcome leadership from China.

Wandering Gaia is Gaia Vince, author of the award-winning Adventures in the Anthropocene, part of the emerging literature that welcomes the challenge of positively managing the planet.

 

See also Scientists’ March on Washington and Geneticist launches bid for US Senate

Wandering Gaia

If, like me, you wake everyday with a stone of foreboding in your belly, check the news to discover the world is a little worse, and stumble through your day under the heaviest pall of despair, then you’re not having the best 2017 either – I’m sorry.

Is this a new Dark Ages, this deliberate political, cultural, societal regression?

I’m sure there have been a thousand analyses of how we got into this darkly farcical horror show – and I mean the Trump presidency and Brexit disasters specifically, rather than the continuing awfulness happening to people Yemen, Syria, Nigeria, etc etc – but to be honest, one of my few comforts at the moment is my social bubble made up of kind, intelligent people who are also appalled by this new “post-fact”, mean era.

So what hope, can I give? And, yes, there is always hope!

Even though these recent…

View original post 197 more words

A Creationist Speaker Comes to Town

Long but detailed; updated resources include rebuttals to creationist claims, including dinosaur soft tissue, and teaching exercise on Lucy. I have mined this for links. There is also a discussion of bible-basd arguments, for those (like the author) to whom such thngs are important.

Letters to Creationists

By the early 1800s European geologists (many of them devout Christians) realized that the rock layers they observed had to be far older than the 6000 years allowed by a literal interpretation of Bible chronology. For instance, as discussed here , angular unconformities like that shown below could not been formed in the course of the one-year-long Flood of Noah.

Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”) Angular Unconformity at Siccar Point, Scotland. Siccar Point, Scotland (Photo: Wikipedia “Hutton’s Unconformity”)

Numerous other evidences for an old earth have been observed by scientists over the past two hundred years. These include fossil soils, and massive deposits of salt and of limestone in the midst of sedimentary rock layers, and tens of thousands of annual layers in lake bottom deposits (“varves”) and in glaciers (see Some Simple Evidences for an Old Earth). We can trace, in reasonable detail, the movements of the sections of earth’s crust over the…

View original post 10,854 more words

An Inauguration Day compilation

From Against the Logicians: This has never happened before

From The Upside-down World: You Gotta Fight to Win

From Pandaemonium: LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN (Langston Hughes and others)

From Patheos: 20 Ways to take action

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing (misattributed to Edmund Burke)

From Robert Reich: “Trump is the ultimate price our political establishment pays for doing almost nothing to improve the plight of the bottom 60 percent of Americans for over thirty years” (more here); the relevance to the UK under successive governments, many of them Labour, is obvious.

And, inevitably, Goya: The sleep of reason produces monsters

sleepofreason

Young Earth Creationists arguing in circles

Relative dating from sedimentology dates back some 200 years, as beautifully explained here by my friend, field geologist and Anglican priest, Michael Roberts, with illustrations from what he has seen himself, while we have now had absolute radiometric dates for over a century. Index fossils are used only to establish that rocks are the same age, and the way creationists manage to forget this fact is indeed miraculous.

This piece gains added interest because of its first-hand accounts, both of geological exploration, and of attempts to persuade creationists to accept the results.

Peddling and Scaling God and Darwin

This incredibly duplicitous meme appeared on my twitter feed today. Fri 13th Jan 2017icrevolution

Evolution is wrong as it is a circular argument from the age of fossils worked out from evolution

Yes, it is the old chestnut of Young Earthers that the age of rocks is based on a circular argument from evolution. It took me back to 1971 when I made the felicitous mistake of going to L’Abri to sit at the feet of the evangelical guru Francis Schaeffer. I arrived ther all bright-eyed and bushy tailed thinking of all the wondrous things I would learn in the next four weeks. I learnt much but not what I had expected.

On my first morning i was sent to Shaeffer’s son-in-law Udo Middlemann to discuss what I would study. I explained that I was going into the Anglican ministry and had just returned from 3 years working as an…

View original post 1,825 more words

A campaign to thank international NHS staff, in memory of my daughter-in-law Nikki two years on

While NHS Scotland is devolved, immigration policy is reserved to Westminster.

In memory of his wife Nikki, who died two years ago come March of complicated leukaemia, despite expert care from a multinational team and international cooperation to find a suitable bone marrow donor, my son Geoff is launching this campaign, to enhance awareness of the massive contribution made by immigrants to health services throughout the UK, and without which the NHS would collapse. He writes:

nikki-and-geoff-braterman-and-their-two-children

Nikki, Geoff, and ther children Phoebe and Oscar, a few months before she was diagnosed with leukemia

On 21st March it will be 2 years since Nikki died and I want to enlist your help in a campaign I’m working on partly in her memory.  In our first year since losing Nikki we raised over £10k for leukaemia and cancer care and research charities, and nearly £2.5k for Cruse Bereavement Care (who were a lifeline for me when things were at their most difficult).  However, I’m not doing any fundraising now because, whilst this generated public interest, most donations have come from family and friends.  I am well aware that I can induce compassion fatigue amongst everyone I know.

I want to do something else that I see as a fitting memorial to Nikki, and that is a campaign called the United Nations of the NHS, to thank and celebrate our international workforce.  The idea is to thank and celebrate our international NHS staff, to pass on messages to show that they are both needed and wanted and to pass on these messages to their employers and, via the Secretary of State for Health, the government.

This arose partly because of increasingly xenophobic rhetoric amongst politicians (across the political spectrum I should add) that we have seen since the Brexit vote last June.  I was particularly incensed by remarks that suggested that we should somehow aim to phase out foreign doctors in the NHS.

First off, 26% of NHS medical staff are non-UK born and 11% of the NHS workforce as a whole is foreign born.  We cannot recruit enough GPs and consultants as it is, so how can we have a  functioning health service drawing from a much smaller pool of suitably qualified staff?  Even if we were to expand medical education substantially it would take 10 years for a new medical student to become a GP (and there are arguments for making a GP training longer) and longer for a consultant.

Second, there is a moral argument.  After the Brexit vote I have had many EU born friends in tears because the message is “You’re not welcome.”  This, despite the fact that people have been living here for years, have been in jobs, started businesses, paid taxes, had relationships and families and participated as fully in UK national life as anyone who was born here.

Third, and this is why it relates to Nikki.  Nikki’s case was extremely medically complex.  Not only was the particular sub-type of her leukaemia complex and high risk, the nature of her relapse was rare, even for the most specialist haemo-oncologists to have seen.  The consultants leading her care are involved in international research and clinical collaboration, the search for a stem cell donor was international.  The NHS team was international too.  There were Indian doctors and nurses from Spain and Ireland.  Given that the team would also have included scientists, cleaners, caterers, porters, managers and administrators and many others (not all of whom we would have seen) I am sure that other nations were involved in Nikki’s care – hence, the United Nations of the NHS.

Where you come in

This is a web-based campaign (it is still embryonic).  You take a sneak peek at [under construction] and let me have any comments.  We will also be including a page for international NHS staff to share their stories about how they came to be working in the NHS.  But we need patient and carer stories now.

If you have a story of NHS care, where part of that care was provided by or depended on someone foreign born, I really want to hear so we can start with your story.

We will launch initially in Brighton (my adopted home) in March.  There are three reasons for this timing:

  1. The NHS will have a difficult winter and stories about such pressures will be fresh in people’s minds.
  2. This will be around the time that Article 50 will be triggered.
  3. As I said above, this is also the second anniversary of Nikki’s death and I want to do it to commemorate her too. As you probably know, Nikki was mixed heritage and both her parents were immigrants.  She was also very internationalist in her outlook and I know she would approve of this campaign.

If you could help, particularly if you could provide a story before we launch I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you so much.

Geoff

 

I just informed on myself to The Professor Watchlist. My US teaching colleagues, consider doing likewise

trumpI just took action with the American Association of University Professors and if you are a  Professor at a US University I think you should too.

The Professor Watchlist maintains and circulates a list of professors whom it considers to be using their academic positions to advance left-wing causes. In the belief that left-wing causes include regarding the views of Vice-President Elect Pence on evolution as garbage, maintaining that human-caused global warming is established fact, and rejecting claims (still accepted by half of Republican voters) that Saddam Hussein presented a threat  because of weapons of mass destruction, I wish to claim my right to be included in this list. I continue to hold the title of Professor Emeritus from the University of North Texas, and while I was actively teaching there was a member of the American Association of University Professors, who have provided the link below for those who wish to take similar action.

Here is the indictment that I brought against myself:

Repeatedly told students that the Earth was undeniably old, that creationism and Intelligent Design were incompatible with the scientific evidence, that global Pandaswarming due to human CO2 emissions was established fact. Ridiculed House Science Committee for disputing this, and Rep. Rohrabacher for continuing to question the link between CFCs and ozone depletion. Described “Of Pandas and People” as scientifically incompetent to students while Kitzmiller was still sub judice. Queried in lectures  the adequacy of evidence for WMD in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the buildup to 2003 invasion. In social media, has cast doubt on the veracity of some of President-Elect Trump’s statements, and on the excellence of his temperament. For all these reasons, I assert my claim to be added to this Watchlist.

coverfrontI might have added that I subsequently repeated my remarks about CO2 emissions, CFCs, and Iraq in my book, From Stars to Stalagmites.

Link: https://actionnetwork.org/forms/add-my-name-to-the-professor-watchlist?sp_ref=256509679.374.177497.o.1.2&source=other

AARP writes:

The Professor Watchlist, which purports to expose faculty who “advance leftist propaganda in the classroom,” poses a threat to academic freedom. Such lists have been used to harass and intimidate faculty and have a chilling effect on academic freedom and free speech. Please join me in standing up for free speech, academic freedom and higher education.

 

%d bloggers like this: