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February 9th, 2009

Chastek's Test for How Religious Belief is a Testable Hypothesis

Chastek the thomist recently posted this:

A recent argument against the compatibility of “religion” and “science” centered around the claim that “religion” cannot give an answer to this claim:

In the end, then, there is a fundamental distinction between scientific truths and religious truths, however you construe them. The difference rests on how you answer one question: how would I know if I were wrong?

Oo! Oo! I know how “religion” (my least my religion) answers the question! It’s a super easy, totally certain test of all of religious claims that decides the question once and for all.

You die.

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Aeroflot Continues the Great Traditions of Stalinist Service

Sometimes an airplane pilot may be called upon to throw an unruly passenger off the plane.  The Russians take this to the next level:
Aeroflot acknowledged on Wednesday that it mishandled an incident where a pilot was removed from a plane after passengers accused him of drunkenness, and the airline offered an apology to passengers.

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Stemming the Tide; or Tiding the Stem

A columnist up Canada-way points out that what has impeded embryonic stem cell research has been the lack of any useful results.  www.canada.com/news/story.html  Government funding is necessary precisely because private money is not forthcoming.  Remember, there was never any ban on animal studies.  There was never any ban on human studies in Europe, Korea, etc.  And there was never any ban on human studies using pre-existing embryonic stem cell lines.  Yet with all the prophecies of how the lame will walk and the sick be healed, and of our new, transformed bodies -- it really does sound eschatological, doesn't it? -- the private companies who stand to make zillions off of new therapies and treatments are not stepping up to the plate. 

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Stop the Torture!

An English doctor who writes under the pseudonym Theodore Darymple had this to say about conditions "Over There" via a review by R.R. Reno of Darymple's collection of essays: Not with a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline

Dalrymple’s patients, he writes, “often had no words to describe what they were feeling, except in the crudest possible way, with expostulations, exclamations, and physical displays of emotion.” This puts them at a huge disadvantage in life, when the welfare state runs on regulations and memos and petitions for services. But even more painfully, this poverty of language exacts an existential penalty. “As Montaigne tells us, there is no torture greater than that of a man who is unable to express what is in his soul.

Ah, but hasn’t a great modern achievement, the publicly funded system of universal education, been the answer? Look more closely. Among our educational theorists a tender concern for justice trumps something so pedestrian as education. “Attempts to foster alleged grammatical ‘correctness’ on native speakers of an ‘incorrect’ dialect are nothing but the unacknowledged and oppressive exercise of social control—the means by which elites deprive whole social classes and peoples of self-esteem and keep them in permanent subordination.”

With this grand insight into the inner workings of oppression, our educational theorists inveigh against “standard English” and counsel respect for “alternative dialects.” Our tender postmodern consciences don’t want anybody to feel “unworthy, humiliated, and disenfranchised.” The result, however, is obvious: The people most in need of a rigorous training in the use of language are deprived of it.

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Feb. 9th, 2009

OK.  This is Kool

How much energy would the Death Star need to blow up Alderaan? 

Answer is here: scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/2009/02/the_physics_of_the_death_star.php

which is around 2.2 x 1032 joules for the Earth, which in case you're keeping track is A Lot.  


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