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Cold Warrior

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: London, UK
Member since: Sun Aug 24, 2014, 06:49 AM
Number of posts: 14,029

Journal Archives

Wow! Lots of important stuff going on at DU today! Good we're kept well informed

NASA's Mission to the Sun: PARKER Probe Will Help Scientists Understand How Our Star Works

Eugene Parker was puzzling over this and other mysteries when he got his big eureka moment: The sun, he realized, emits a steady stream of hot particles that causes the northern lights and occasionally fries power grids and communications satellites. This “solar wind,” as Parker called it, didn’t exactly explain the campfire conundrum, but it earned the 30-year-old grad student a Ph.D. and a reputation as one of the foremost astronomers of all time.

The same year Parker published his work, in 1958, a group of scientists drew up a bucket list of 14 robotic space missions to various destinations in the solar system. Over the next 60 years, NASA sent ships to 13 of those places—the moon, the asteroids and every one of the known planets, from Mercury to Neptune, and even the dwarf planet Pluto. They explored the entire solar system, except the biggest, brightest and arguably most mysterious object at its center: the sun.

NASA is now making amends. On August 11, if all goes according to plan, a Delta IV heavy-lift rocket will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a squatty probe the size of a Volkswagen in its nose cone. A special third-stage booster will push the probe out of Earth’s orbit and send it zooming toward the sun at speeds of up to 430,000 mph, making it the fastest spacecraft ever flown. Its seven-year mission: to give scientists the closest look yet at the flaming enigma at the heart of our corner of the universe.

The mission is expected to help scientists understand how our star works and, by implication, the stars in distant reaches of the galaxy. “The sun is a natural lab that we cannot reproduce on Earth,” says Nicholeen Viall, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We can see other stars and observe the light they emit but cannot send a probe to measure them.” But we can measure the sun with Parker.

I gots me some quotes too

Daddy Yahweh was a pretty mean dude (more like Cactus Jack than Dude Love) in respect to his creation. I mean with that whole Highway 61 bit, and what with turning on his boy Job just to win a bet, and with that whole Sodom and Gomorrah “rape my daughters” thingie, and how can we forget when he decided to destroy everything by flooding his entire creation. But, once you were dead, Yahweh was pretty much done with your sorry ass.

But not meek and mild Jesus!

Matthew 13
49: This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous
50: and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51: "You mugs capeesh?" Jesus asked. "Yeah, Boss," they replied.

I just have been notified of an impending $5M! I'm going to Disneyworld (with Joe)!!

Attention Dear Friend.

Please accept my apology for not contacting you earlier before now due to
My tight schedules. I am very happy to inform you about my success in
Getting that money under the cooperation of a new partner from Paraguay;
Presently I'm in London with the partners for some new projects. And Take
note this Bank Draft Check is 100% Genuine And Legitimate enough to receive.

Contact my Priest in United States of America, because I have left all the
instruction with him on your behalf. and instructed him where to send the
($5,000,000,00.) to you. Without any further delay for your compensation Payment.

Remember that the ($5,000,000,00.) Is in draft, not cash, so you need to
send to him you’re full Information where the draft/check will be
posted/delivered. I appreciated your efforts at that time very much. so
feel free to get in touched with him. As at the time I was leaving
United States of America. he was the only one I could trust with that kind
of money, he is a very simple and understanding person. His name is Rev Father Dr Ugorji Email (

Well, at least their spelling and grammar are improving, somewhat. Since he's in London I'm thinking of setting up a meeting.

Creationism defined

Ten non-fiction books that most impacted your life

I have always been a reader. In HS I read all of the extant plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, for example (unlike our learned RC colleague, I was forced to read them in translation). As I originally majored in English Literature & Languages, I obviously read very large amounts of fiction -- poetry, plays, short stories, and novels.

However, I've also always enjoyed non-fiction. With all of the discussions I've been in recently religion, invariably Dawkins is brought up. And, while I've read several of Dawkins works, I'm not sure how much they have influenced me (although I do include one on the list below). This line of thought resulted in me compiling a list of the top 10 non-fiction books that have impacted my life the most (not my favourites). I thought I'd share with some commentary and would be interested in yours.

1. Civilisation of Italy in the Renaissance, Jacob Burckhardt: Really awakened my interest in the Renaissance and humanism

2. From Ritual to Romance, Jessie Weston: An exploration of the relationships between Arthurian myth and human ritual and provided a guide for me to Eliot

4. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell: Mythology as interpreted through the hero's journey which awakened my interest in myth and its applications both to literature and the human experience

5. The Unexpected Universe, Loren Eiseley: A collection of essays (I could have cited virtually any one of Eiseley's collections) that fuses science and a sense of wonder and provided me with that bridge between science and the humanities

6. Godel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid, Douglas Hofstadter: Combining my interests in mathematics, art, and music, focused a lot of my graduate work in CS around issues of computability

7 Cosmos, Carl Sagan: While I first came to Sagan through the tv show, I went back and read his book as well. Inflamed my passion for the sciences

8. Balkan Ghosts, Robert D Kaplan: An exploration of Balkan history and its impacts on the modern Balkans just as I was about to spend two years in Sarajevo

9. The Clash of Civilisations, Samuel P. Huntington: A portrait of the post-Soviet world that has played out for almost three decades. Shaped my emerging world view regarding Islam and the values of the Enlightenment

10. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins: Probably his most straightforward argument against the hypothesis that a god exists

Note that all but two were published in the 20th century, Burckhardt and Dawkins. I think that's appropriate as we're discussing impact here, not enjoyment. I love the writings of John Ruskin on architecture, for example, but they have minimally impacted my life.

The Archaeologist

The archaeologist is the last grubber among things mortal. He puts not men, but civilizations, to bed, and passes upon them final judgments. He finds, if imprinted upon clay, both our grocery bills and the hymns to our gods. Or he uncovers, as I once did in a mountain cavern, the skeleton of a cradled child, supplied, in the pathos of our mortality, with the carefully “killed” tools whose shadowy counterparts were intended to serve a tiny infant through the vicissitudes it would encounter beyond the dark curtain of death. Infinite care had been lavished upon objects that did not equate with the child’s ability to use them in this life. Was his spirit expected to grow to manhood, or had this final projection of bereaved parental care thrust into the night, in desperate anxiety, all that an impoverished and simple culture could provide where human affection could not follow?
- Loren Eiseley, from The Unexpected Universe

Dozens of African migrants storm Spanish holiday beach popular with Brits stunning naked bathers

The migrants landed on the shore of Del Canuelo beach on the Costa del Sol in a huge dinghy before charging across the sand.

Nude sunbathers watched in confusion as the group of more than 30 migrants sprinted into a surrounding forest to evade the pursuing Spanish border guards.

The migrants had just crossed the strait of Gibraltar having sailed from the coast of Morocco.

Their arrival came as the mayor of the nearby port of Algeciras warned that his town, Tarifa, is at the centre of a "new migrant crisis" after 1,000 arrivals flooded it last week.

As usual with The Sun, lots of pictures at the link.

We are the Borg (NSFW)

One of my pet peeves with the modern world is its addiction to smartphones. Hundreds of millions of people are abandoning the real world for the cyber world to which they stay connected by their phones. I’ve written before of the London commuters who, when exiting the Tube, are desperately attempting to reconnect with the Borg after a separation of a few minutes. Just as bad is people’s obsession of recording every detail of their lives with their phone’s camera.

A couple of years ago my lady and I were in Florence and we could hardly move without encountering a non-Italian who wanted to sell us a selfie stick. And tge Piazza del Duomo was packed with tourists taking selfies of themselves in front of beautiful medieval and Renaissance building, rather than admiring the buildings themselves. As Maher notes in the video below, people don’t look at art or architecture any more, they take a picture of it and move on.

While Maher uses the Mona Lisa as an example, we encountered this on our most recent visit to Paris and one of my favourite spots, the Place de la Concorde. To me, the fountains are among the most unique and beautiful in the world. Yet, we watched one couple arrive, each in rapid succession take a picture of the other, and depart. That’s it. That’s all the time they had to spend out of their very busy lives appreciating these magnificent pieces of architecture!

Maher expresses it perfectly. WARNING: NSFW, Strong Language

Religion's negative impact on American Society

This was a post buried deep in the “OK to Mock Religion?” thread. I’ve cleaned it up a bit, added a specific example with citation to point number 1, added the Ken Ham video in point number 2, added the Bill Maher clip to point 6, and a few other minor enhancements.

The original proposition that this was in response to was that politics was fair game for mockery as politics was public and impacted society while religion was not as it is private and does not impact society as a whole. The intent of this refutation is, therefore, to show that religion impacts American society in many ways, all of which I characterise as negative.

Let’s go from lesser to greater significance:

1. Wasting scientific time and resources: As an example, YEC “scientists” regularly send fossils to laboratories requesting specific datings, typically C14, which they know are not applicable to the specimen. They then post some article showing the “errors” in radiometric dating. This not only wastes the lab’s time, destroys the specimen, but inevitably results in some researcher spending time to correct the record. An example. A Creationist obtained some dinosaur bones from the Carnegie Museum under false pretences in order to C-14 date them (given their age, an inappropriate test). The Museum’s director told the charlatan that shellac had been applied the specimens. The Creationist nevertheless assured the Director that would not impact his research and sent them off to the lab specifically for C-14 dating even though the lab also informed him the specimen was contaminated by shellac. Upon a false dating result, the Creationist published an article with the false dates which has been used in multiple other “Creationist research.”

2. Instilling an unhealthy disbelief in science and the scientific method: Science has created a world in which food production is capable of dramatically reducing malnutrition, in which smallpox has all but been eliminated, and in which we can watch pornhub on our iPads. Yet religion continually indoctrinates children to disbelieve science and to believe fairy tales. Here is a video of Ken Ham and a friend indoctrinating groups of schoolchildren to believe the Bible, not science.

And don’t get me started on “Jesus Camp.”

3. Repeated attempts to impose Intelligent Design into classrooms: Despite Kitzmiller, there have been persistent backdoor attempts (some successful) to teach ID along with Evolution. Given that none (?) the 2016 Republican hopefuls accept evolution, this has chances of succeeding further. As the US ranks 24 in science education, lagging behind most Western European countries as well as countries like Vietnam, spending time teaching fairy tales in science classes doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea. An objection to this in the original has been made that this is perhaps a result of the US teaching the standard scientific models (and not Creationism?). The implication is that those 23 nations do not? Really?

4. Impacts on public policy - Yahweh will fix it: As our politicians are representative of the population as a whole, often their public policy decisions are highly influenced by their faith. As an example regarding AGW and Climate Change, Republican Tim Walberg recently said that if AGW is real, God will take care of it. Whether or not you accept AGW, this is a wholly inappropriate response from a policy maker.

5. Impacts on public policy - Enforcing Biblical notions of sin: In 2001, George W Bush constrained research on embryonic stem cell research due to his religious beliefs as to when life begins:

“My position on these issues is shaped by deeply held beliefs,” he said. “I also believe human life is a sacred gift from our creator.”

Based also upon his religious views, Bush reinstated (as has Trump) the Mexico City Policy which makes as a condition for aid to international NGOs that they would neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations. The effects of this upon women in the underdeveloped world are comparable to the Catholic Church telling its flock not to use condoms.

6. Impacts on public policy - The Faith of Presidents: Yahweh told George Bush to go to war in Iraq. “President George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden's stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians.” However, for better or for worse we now have a president who doesn’t wear his faith on his sleeve:


So tell me again why it’s ok to mock the other tribe’s politics and not religion.
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