Christian Power Over Wind
Dec30

Christian Power Over Wind

Wind direction is determined by air pressure (which itself is affected by temperature). Wind direction is governed by the result of a change in higher air pressure in one location shifting to equalise into lower air pressure in another. There are a lot of air pressure changes taking place in the vicinity of a tornado as I’m sure you can imagine and probably can work out from an extremely basic – childishly basic, even – grasp of physics; the sort of stuff you probably learnt in your early teen years. Maybe if you don’t know about that you had a terrible education. Or maybe you’re a moron. But I digress. A tornado heading towards the city of Rowlett in Texas apparently altered direction not because of changing air pressure or temperature but because a group of Christians commanded the wind to do so as God had given them that power. Source “We actually went outside and started commanding the winds, because God had given us authority over the winds, the airways,” [Sabrina Lowe of Rowlett, Texas] said. “And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We spoke to the storm and said, ‘Go to unpopulated places.’ It did exactly what we said to do, because God gave us the authority to do that.” Let’s make sure we all understand this. The tornado definitely, definitely was going to hit Sabrina Lowe’s area had they not used divine powers. The tornado definitely, definitely was not going to just veer away due to atmospheric pressure and temperature changes such as you might find in the southern half of the United States near a body of water during a tornado. God definitely, definitely gave Sabrina and her Christian friends authority over the wind, something they’d be definitely, definitely willing to demonstrate if pressed. As I see it Sabrina and her Christian friends just admitted directing the tornado to an unpopulated area of the city where it caused vast amounts of damage rather than commanding it to stop where it was making them responsible legally since the destruction can no longer be classed as an act of God but one of malice. That’s a brave but potentially poverty-inducing move...

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KIC 8462852
Oct14

KIC 8462852

Reported elsewhere but I’ll link to Phil Plait’s blog about the story here: Did Astronomers Find Evidence of an Alien Civilization? (Probably Not. But Still Cool.) A star – the titular KIC 8462852 – has produced some very strange observations that are difficult to explain right now but do present some intriguing (with care) possibilities. Most likely, of course, are natural ones that we’re not able to observe thanks to the distance involved (around 1500 light years) but there’s an unlikely-but-appealing argument for something a little more unnatural too. The observations are dips in the star’s light output, the means by which we typically detect planetary transits. As a rule these are periodic and the drop in starlight is a tiny percentage as planets are considerably smaller than the solar bodies they orbit. In KIC 8462852’s case the drops are irregular, sometimes dip slowly then rise quickly, and in a few cases dip by huge amounts (22%). Look at our own civilization. We consume ever-increasing amounts of power, and are always looking for bigger sources. Fossil, nuclear, solar, wind… Decades ago, physicist Freeman Dyson popularized an interesting idea: What if we built thousands of gigantic solar panels, kilometers across, and put them in orbit around the Sun? They’d capture sunlight, convert it to energy, and that could be beamed to Earth for our use. Need more power? Build more panels! An advanced civilization could eventually build millions, billions of them. […] But it raises an interesting possibility for detecting alien life. Such a sphere would be dark in visible light, but emit a lot of infrared. People have looked for them, but we’ve never seen one (obviously). Which brings us back to KIC 8462852. What if we caught an advanced alien civilization in the process of building such an artifact? Huge panels (or clusters of them) hundreds of thousands of kilometers across, and oddly-shaped, could produce the dips we see in that star’s light. The odds are low, but it’s a big universe out there. More observations...

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False Widow Spider Invasion
Sep13

False Widow Spider Invasion

We are duly informed that Experts warn ‘invasion’ of false widow spiders likely in coming weeks! Invasion is, of course, in quotes, because spiders don’t typically plan these sorts of things. Anyway… as a person somewhat afeared of arachnids this story compels me to read this because forewarned is foreterrifiedofeverylittlebitofdarkfluffinthehousefromnowon as they say. Sightings of spiders often peak from September as males of many species reach adulthood and venture into homes in search of a mate, but we could be seeing a lot more of them than normal over the next month or two. Clive Boase Oh no! More than usual! Why? Why! Well, change in climate is one reason, and the fact that there are just more of them and they’re coming over here taking all our native spiders’ jobs is quite possibly the other one although it might not be. Spiders will have fewer places to hide if you keep clutter to a minimum, so I would say keep your house tidy and vacuum regularly. Rob Simpson Well, I think we can all agree that’s some somewhat obvious advice after some vague information from the experts that ITV sought out. Still, we should be a little bit grafteful that at least they sought out the advice of experts on this subject. Experts. Scientists, hopefully. Scientists who’ve studied spiders and spidery behaviour as well as population modelling of arachnids. Scientists that journalists approached when tasked with the story of whether we might be facing an upturn in mildly dangerous spider numbers. I mean, I’d hate to discover that Clive Boase was a pest management consultant or that Rob Simpson was some sort of manager at a pest controllers register and that this was little more than a “press release” for services most people don’t need glossed over as news. I would really hate...

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Invest In Bigfoot
Jan24

Invest In Bigfoot

Investing in the stock market always carries a risk. Your investment might work out but it might not. You might lose everything. You know this, though. Everyone knows this. And that’s why shrewd investors will do a bit of homework before considering sinking money into a brand new scheme. Let’s take a look at one such investment opportunity and then do some homework. The investment opportunity From the Wall Street Journal: Mr. Biscardi and his partners hope to raise as much as $3 million by selling stock in Bigfoot Project Investments. They plan to spend the money making movies and selling DVDs, but are also budgeting $113,805 a year for expeditions to find the beast. Among the company’s goals, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “capture the creature known as Bigfoot.” … Mr. Biscardi, who has trumpeted a number of Bigfoot sightings and captures that didn’t pan out, is a controversial figure among Bigfoot enthusiasts. In 2008, he held a news conference in Palo Alto, Calif., to detail his examination of what he said was the carcass of a male Bigfoot that checked in at 7 feet 7 inches tall and weighed more than 500 pounds. The Bigfoot, found by two men in Georgia, turned out to be a rubber gorilla costume stuffed with animal parts and outfitted with a set of teeth that may have been bovine in origin. That’s a hell of an opportunity. DVDs! And possible capture of the legendary creature that is Bigfoot! The homework In five years time DVDs may not exist. Bigfoot already doesn’t exist. Happy investing...

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Why Charlie Hebdo Was Attacked
Jan10

Why Charlie Hebdo Was Attacked

Charlie Hebdo was not a nice publication. But it had every right to be not a nice publication. People who don’t like not nice publications don’t have to read them, don’t have to pay attention to them. People who don’t like not nice publications have the right to petition to have them removed from circulation or persuade others not to buy them if they can’t avoid paying attention to them – this is what those of us who oppose dangerous garbage like What Doctors Don’t Tell You do – but there are some rights they don’t have and that obviously includes murder. The question is: were the murders really an Islamic terrorist response to supposed blasphemous images? Is it possible that they were instead opportunistic thuggery by cowards trying to fracture civilised people and boost terrorist recruitment? Juan Cole contends that without a declaration of the reason for the attack (and probably with one anyway because such disinformation is exactly what is desired) we should be sceptical of the motives and that it is the latter possibility in this article Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris: The problem for a terrorist group like al-Qaeda is that its recruitment pool is Muslims, but most Muslims are not interested in terrorism. Most Muslims are not even interested in politics, much less political Islam. France is a country of 66 million, of which about 5 million is of Muslim heritage. But in polling, only a third, less than 2 million, say that they are interested in religion. […] Al-Qaeda wants to mentally colonize French Muslims, but faces a wall of disinterest. But if it can get non-Muslim French to be beastly to ethnic Muslims on the grounds that they are Muslims, it can start creating a common political identity around grievance against discrimination. […] Most of France will also remain committed to French values of the Rights of Man, which they invented. But an insular and hateful minority will take advantage of this deliberately polarizing atrocity to push their own agenda. Europe’s future depends on whether the Marine LePens are allowed to become mainstream. Extremism thrives on other people’s extremism, and is inexorably defeated by tolerance. It’s not a long article and worth reading for the similar tactics carried out by Stalinists in the early 20th century as well as by al-Qaeda in Iraq which led to the sort of success that Daesh/ISIL/ISIS has achieved recently. If the article is right then the absolute worst thing that could be done is to further isolate Muslims or accuse their religion of not opposing terrorism; that to think in right-wing terms and...

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ColdZyme
Dec07

ColdZyme

I just saw an advert on television for Boots promoting ColdZyme, the spray that fights off the common cold. Somehow. When all other attempts to ward it off have failed for decades. My skeptisense tingled. I searched online… Pop along to Coldzyme: a result of real science being left out in the cold for a look at ColdZyme and its apparent ability to perform a feat no medicine can perform (not “no other medicine” because it claims not to be a medicine for probably legal reasons (remember kids, always treat your illnesses and afflictions with things worded to get around legalities to stick it to the man)). The article takes a look at the science behind ColdZyme (so it’s not a terribly long read, obviously) and finds its claims lacking, as I’m sure you’ve already surmised, you not being a moron and all that. What is this breakthrough, miracle product that will powerfully break down viruses? Well, an enzyme called trypsin. An enzyme that merrily and plentifully kicks about in your digestive system, breaking down proteins. An enzyme which, for the purposes of this product, is inexplicabl[y] being derived from cod (which has meant that I have had to resist the urge to refer to it as somewhat fishy.) An enzyme which should be stored at temperatures of between -20 and -80 degrees Celsius, to prevent autolysis. Now, I’ve seen some fancy medicine packaging in my time, but never a simple mouth spray bottle that can manage such storage feats. So, if trypsin really is present in this product, then it seems fairly likely that it’s going to be inactive, unless the manufacturers have found a way of warping room temperature. Okay. The “fishy” pun has been taken but I think I can still use the word “codswallop” to feast upon a free boost of the smugness hormone in my body, right? Take that cold virus! Tissue box photo courtesy of David...

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