Category Archives: Uncategorized
Why does such a tiny, tight-knit, arrogant elite hold so much power?
Yes, as I wrote in 2015, that’s Dave, “Boris” (Alexander Boris dePfeffel), and the rest of their Old Etonian pals, in purpose-tailored  getups, before the notorious Bullingdon Club dinner, which year after year ended in drunken rioting, invading and smashing up the rooms of ordinary students (who were referred to as “trogs” i.e. troglodytes), the occasional debagging (an old tradition; see Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall), and then moving on to more serious stuff like smashing up restaurants.
“Boris” you will have noticed, was already showing his talent for occupying centre-stage, and by all accounts was already exhibiting his incendiary sense of humour.
If you’ve forgotten about Dave (David William Donald Cameron, PM 11 May 2010 to 13 July 2016), his autobiographical For the Record is due for release in September, and he is said to have obtained an £800,000 advance on this from HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, which also owns Dow Jones (as in Dow Jones Index). Perhaps we should feel sorry for him; Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is said to earn that much every year.
1] According to Wikipedia, the price of this gear in 2007 was £3,500. Equal to some 600 hours work at minimum wage, or 49 weeks living allowance on benefits in Glasgow. But remember, that does include the special biscuit-coloured waistcoat. And you do get two more chances to wear it, if you make it into the Club in your first year.
Well, the first post didn’t quite have that name but that was kind of the message. In a nutshell, that post discussed research showing that a better basic understanding of science made for more intense partisanship. Now a short article in The Atlantic describes a somewhat similar exercise generated by More in Common, but this time directly addressing partisanship itself. Basically, this summarizes a study asking people questions about the beliefs of their political opposites. And once again, more education seems to make people misjudge reality.
Honestly, this is discouraging. But wait–it gets more bizarre.
Basically Democrats lacking a high school education had a pretty firm fix on the opinions of members of the Republican party, correctly estimating what fraction of Republicans agreed or disagreed with certain policy statements. But as you go up the education ladder, Democrats get worse and worse. Republicans, on the other hand, are pretty…
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More marvelous discoveries about the tsunami that marked the impact that finished off the dinosaurs
An outstanding account by Scott Buchanan, based on https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2019/03/27/1817407116.full.pdf and other sources, complementing my own earlier https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/how-to-kill-the-dinosaurs-in-ten-minutes/ regarding the impact site.
Scott also includes much general background, and detailed discussion of what makes this site special, and why this, like so much else, is incompatible with Young Earth and other creationist thinking.
Sequences of Fossils in Sedimentary Rock Layers
K-Pg Asteroid Strike
The Tanis K-Pg Event Site
More Findings from the Tanis Site
Other Dinosaur Finds: Tracks, Eggs and Feces
Location of Dinosaur Fossils in the Rock Layers: Is a Recent Global Flood Credible?
More on Paleosols and Vertebrate Burrows
Closing Thoughts on Significance of the Tanis Site
Sequences of Fossil in Sedimentary Rock Layers
When canal builders surveyed the rocks of Britain in the early 1800s, they noticed that certain fossils only appeared in certain layers, and that the order of these fossils from layer to layer was typically the same all over the country. The same tendency of a well-defined sequential order in fossilized species has been found to hold all over the world. For instance, rock layers containing trilobites are found below, never above, layers containing modern clam species. Rocks with horse fossils are found above, never…
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Carl Sagan said this decades ago. I think my friend John Zande actually says it better. If the end of brain activity is the end of an individual’s life, then before there is coherent brain activity, individual life has not yet begun.
How can you “kill” something that cannot “die”?
This is arguably the most significant question in any discussion concerning the legality of abortion, and because facts matter, the following seventeen words are critical in understanding that before gestational week 25, although more accurately week 28, there is no ethical dilemma in terminating a pregnancy because nothing is being killed—or worse, to use the careless language of some, murdered.
At no stage does life magically appear in a zygote, a blastocyst, an embryo, or a foetus.
Life began on earth 3.8 billion years ago and has not been interrupted since. There is no ‘divine spark,’ no ensorcelled moment when the inanimate abruptly transforms into the animate. A foetus was never inorganic and suddenly becomes organic. The egg and the sperm are already parts of the living system—a 3.8 billion years old system driven by chemiosmosis, where the rechargeable…
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This is for a planned wide-audience writing project on evolution, in which I pre-empt (rather than respond to) creationists’ counter-arguments, such as their downplaying of historical science. I would greatly value comments on this approach.
There are sciences, such as physics and chemistry, where we can perform experiments. There are other sciences, such as the science of planetary motion (and astronomy in general) where we cannot do this, but we can still carry out repeated observations in well-controlled circumstances, and devise theories with whose help we can make definite predictions. All of these are what I will call rule-seeking sciences. At the other extreme, we have sciences such as palaeontology and much of geology, which one might call historical sciences.1 With these, the aim is not so much to establish general rules, as to unravel and explain the specifics of what happened in the past. It is usual to regard the rule-seeking sciences as the most rigorous, to which the others should defer. This shows a deep misunderstanding of how science works, and, time and time again, when historical and rule-seeking sciences have come into conflict, it is historical science that has triumphed.
So I opted out. But how I now appear to them still includes my device IP address, so I don’t know if that really achieved much.
The email led me to the revised terms of service for Yahoo mail,and much much more (see their illustration) now part of the conglomerate formerly known as AOL-Verizon:
“Hi, we’re Oath
Oath is home to the sites and apps you know and love, such as HuffPost, Tumblr, Yahoo Mail, TechCrunch and many more.
Our stories and services connect with 1 billion people around the world every day.
Our technologies make sure you have experiences that reflect your passions, interests and goals.
So you feel like one in a billion.”
Which is exactly how I do feel right now. One billion bought and sold.
Continuing on the Oath website,
“It takes a team
Sometimes it takes teamwork to bring you the experiences that you expect and want. We may provide information to our parent company Verizon, our partners and other parties for product improvements, research and analysis, and to help them provide you with more relevant experiences and ads.”
1: Transcript of discussion following Draper’s initial presentation, from Oxford Chronicle and Berks and Bucks Gazette, 21 July 1860, with Athenaeum account for comparison, as reported by Richard England, with my own paragraphing for ease of reading, and with the most relevant Athenaeum alternatives for comparison; 2: Full transcript of Athenaeum accounts of this meeting, including Prof. Draper’s presentation, preceded by its account of the meeting of 19th July, where Huxley had been goaded into participation by remarks from Richard Owen
1: Saturday session, Section D.—Zoology and botany, including physiology (Oxford Chronicle)
—Professor HUXLEY, being called upon by the chairman, declined entering into the subject, alleging the undesirability of contesting a scientific subject involving nice shades of idea before a general audience, who could not be supposed to judge upon its merits.
The discussion was then commenced by the Rev. R. GRESWELL, who denied Read the rest of this entry
The Grumpy Geophysicist is too kind. “It is hard not to look at these actions and them as ostrich-like in trying to avoid hearing things you don’t want to hear.” No; the target is not what they get to hear, so much as what we get to hear. they just don’t want scientific advances that generate news stories about inconvenient facts like global warming or pollution
Some time ago, GG suggested that what many were taking as a “war on science” was more a war on particular parts of science, that the offenders were in fact exploiting science where it was financially remunerative and opposing it where it wasn’t. But actions at the Environmental Protection Agency really look like outright war on science, period.
Consider these actions:
- Reconstituting science panels to only have “committee members [who] will be financially independent from the agency.” Um, so experts who are interested in pollution and are supported by…who is left? maybe industry? If this isn’t the fox watching the henhouse, GG doesn’t know what is. Why would the EPA not use the science that it has paid for, or trust the scientists that it funded? EPA grants are to determine if…
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Rocks! -a brief illustrated primer. A superb, richly illustrated, survey from geologictimepics with detailed inks to an extensive gallery of rock types and formations. And,of course, incidentally proof of the absurdity of Young Earth “geology”
click on any image to see a larger version
Seems like most people I know like rocks. They bring home unusual rocks from vacations; they admire beautiful facing stones on buildings; they frequently ask “What is this rock”? Considering that the type of rock you’re looking at reflects the processes that caused it to form, some basic rock identification skills can go a long way to understanding our planet!
Of course there are thousands of different rock types —But! they ALL fit into one of three categories: igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic. Here’s a brief, illustrated summary of each.
Igneous rocks are those that form by cooling and crystallization from a molten state. Consequently, they consist of crystals of various minerals that form an interlocking mosaic like the rock in…
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I just informed on myself to The Professor Watchlist. My US teaching colleagues, consider doing likewise
I 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. Read the rest of this entry