Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Recently, there has been a bit of a controversy over the movie "Expelled" and a certain college professor being expelled from a screening event at the Mall of America. Apparently, he had signed up on the expelled RSVP website and included some guests. While waiting in line to see the film he was told by security that he had to leave the theater or be arrested. Ironic that a person who made a movie about exclusion would choose to exclude someone they interviewed for the movie from seeing the film. That is second rate public relations at best.

From what I understand, Dr. Myers and Dawkins were conned into participation by being deceived into thinking it would be a neutral documentary about evolution vs. Intelligent Design. Instead, it's an awful creationist film that tries to claim that academics are behaving like fascist. In my humble opinion, the creationist are the ones behaving badly now. They should just own up to having made an awful film and having wrongfully excluded a genial participant from the free viewing.

You might have noticed the Expelled ads running on my blog. These are because of Google ad words that I signed-up for a long time ago.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Have we forgotten about nature?

Some of my fondest childhood memories didn’t involve movies or video games, they were much more fun and interesting than that. They were visits to the outdoors, mainly fishing and day-hiking. One summer was mostly spent doing one of these two things. We lived near a river and just on the edge of an forest preserve in southeast Missouri. Going fishing was just a matter of digging up some worms, grabbing a fishing pole and walking a few miles to the river. There was a nice hiking trail just behind the house that went on for several miles into the forest. I would often spend half the day just hiking through the woods seeing what little creatures I could find. Those were some good times.

These days, our enjoyment of nature is on the decline. More children are playing on their Xboxes instead of playing on swing sets or riding bicycles. Their idea of a nature hike is taking the shortest path possible through the neighborhood to a friend’s house. If we want to instill in our children a good sense of what nature is, then we need to take them to see it in person. Parks and zoos are nice but they are nothing compared to witnessing the wilderness up close.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

White House ignored air quality advice

For many researchers, the Bush administration will be best remembered for the way it has manipulated scientific advice for political ends. The latest evidence of this tactic is a controversial proposal to change the way US air-quality standards are set, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in Washington DC.

When the Environmental Protection Agency said last week that it would beef up air-quality controls by cutting ground-level ozone limits from 80 parts per billion to 75 ppb, it seemed like good news. Ozone can trigger respiratory problems and heart attacks. The new rules should save lives and, by cutting pressure on hospitals, might create financial benefits that outweigh the cost of implementing the changes.

However, around a year ago the EPA's own scientific advisers told the agency that there was "overwhelming" evidence that an even tighter limit of 70 ppb would save thousands more lives. The decision to ignore that advice has angered public-health groups.

Now worse may be to come. The administration wants to reform the process for setting air-quality standards and may allow political appointees to help draft the advisory reports, a job that is currently in the hands of researchers. The UCS fears this will allow the White House to suppress this kind of independent scientific advice in future.

"The interference in science has been a consistent theme of this administration for many years now," says Tim Donaghy of the UCS. "The administration has changed the rules along the way so that, when the next administration gets into office, the role science plays in setting regulations will be greatly diminished."

Focus on America - Delve into the science and technology questions facing the USA in our special report.

From issue 2648 of New Scientist magazine, 21 March 2008,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke's Last Message to Earth

The golden age of space is only just beginning... Space travel and space tourism will one day become almost as commonplace as flying to exotic destinations on our own planet.

I hope that we have learned something from the most barbaric century in history -- the twentieth. I would like to see us overcome our tribal factions, and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalization.