Website lets you look deep, deep into your family tree

Website lets you look deep, deep into your family tree
JISHOU, HUNAN — If you feel as if your dog or cat is a member of the family, you’re right. You and your pet are very distant cousins. Very, very distant cousins. The Timetree of Life allows you to find out how long ago any two organisms had a common ancestor, also known as the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). You and your dog, Fido, have a common ancestor, a mammal that lived about 95 million years ago in the Cretaceous period. Fido and his feline pal, Fluffy, have an MRCA, a carnivore that was alive 55 million years ago. Humans’ closest cousin in the animal kingdom is the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Our MRCA lived about 6.3 million years ago. Its descendants also included other members, now extinct, of the genus Homo and the genus Australopithecus. When he first proposed the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin surmised that every organism on Earth was descended from a common ancestor. Time, isolation and environmental pressures led different populations to diverge into new species. Until the development of genetic analysis, biologists relied on anatomical and behavioral similarities, as well as the fossil record, to judge how closely related two organisms are. Genetic research ...

Alabama has ancient cypress forest — 60 feet underwater!

JISHOU, HUNAN — Fishermen found it, then tipped off researchers. There’s a 50,000-year-old bald cypress forest just off the coast of Alabama, 60 feet underwater, which Hurricane Katrina apparently uncovered. Now, marine researchers have to race the clock before marine life colonizes the long-buried trees and destroys the otherwise pristine state of the site. Here’s a video of the underwater forest. (Link at Mobile Press-Register/www.al.com) Details are at livescience.com. Carbon dating places the age of the trees around 52,000 years old. The changing shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico probably covered the forest with sand about 18,000 years ago, cutting off oxygen and halting the rotting process. Now that the trees are exposed, they are again rotting and being used as food and shelter by marine life. I await the Young Earth Creationist explanation of how these trees sprouted 46,000 years before God created the Earth.

Get Ben Stein’s movie

JISHOU, HUNAN — Want to buy a propaganda film really cheap? Now’s your chance. Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is now available to the highest bidder. Expelled was the 2008 embarrassment that tried to prove once and for all there was a vast conspiracy to teach evolution while suppressing Intelligent Design and other “explanations” of life on Earth, and putting Hitler in power. Or something like that. The New York Times called it “one of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time.” Narrated and hosted by the riveting Ben Stein, it tanked at the box office, so badly it seems, that its production company, Premise Media, is in bankruptcy court. According to a document (PDF) filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, on May 31, 2011, the trustee of the bankruptcy estate is seeking to auction “[t]hat certain feature-length motion picture (‘Picture’) ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ and all collateral, allied, ancillary, subsidiary and merchandising rights therein and thereto, and all properties and things of value pertaining thereto.” The auction is scheduled to take place on-line from June 23 to June 28, 2011. As awful as the movie was, I reckon ...

The Christine O’Donnell Comedy Hour 3

[UPDATE: More late breaking unintentional humor from the O'Donnell hour: her dad was once a part-time Bozo the Clown in Philly. I am thinking of apples falling from trees here. ] JISHOU, HUNAN — My favorite bloggers have been having a field day with the Republican Senatorial candidate from Delaware, Christine O’Donnell. The woman is a veritable treasure trove of nonsense. There are two of her gems I can’t help but ridicule. China has a secret plan to take over the USA. And she knows all about it, because an unnamed non-profit organization gave O’Donnell the complete low down. Apparently, missionaries working with this mysterious group uncovered this top-secret plot. In the linked AP article, O’Donnell says this: “A country that forces women to have abortions and mandates that you can only have one child and will not allow you the freedom to read the Bible, you think they can be our friend?” she asked. “We have to look at our history and realize that if they pretend to be our friend it’s because they’ve got something up their sleeve.” Wrong, wrong and wrong. China does not force women to have abortions. But abortions are easier to get here than ...

Forget subterfuge, how about creationist chutzpah? 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — A Christian group plans to hand out 1,000 copies of “The Charles Darwin Bible” to teachers attending the National Education Association (NEA) convention in San Diego this week. The Charles Darwin Bible is a copy of the New Testament, with annotations referring to Christian and creationist beliefs. It’s the latest attempt by creationists to wiggle their religious non-science into the public schools. There is also a creationist edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species available. Since the original text of 150 years ago is not copyrighted, evangelist Ray Comfort slapped a 50-page “special introduction” onto the work and is selling it for a mere 99 cents. Comfort’s plan is for fellow believers to hand the bastardized copies of Origin of Species to their teacher and professor friends. The Charles Darwin Bible is another brainchild of Comfort’s. It’s being distributed by Holman Bible Outreach, which is selling the curiously named book for $3.99 (or $1.75 by the case). Someone ponied up the money to hand a thousand of them out to NEA members. The NEA is one of two professional organizations that represent public school teachers. Its annual convention began June 26 and runs through Friday. Here’s a ...

And speaking of thought control … how about creationist subterfuge? 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — It takes a certain amount of nerve, and intellectual dishonesty, to appropriate the text of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, write a creationist “special introduction” to it, then reissue the mangled tome as a legitimate copy of Darwin’s work. The creationist outfit, Bridge Logos Foundation, of Alachua, Florida, has published an abridged 150th anniversary edition of Origin of Species, complete with a 50-page introduction calling into question practically every conclusion Darwin makes in the rest of the book. Living Waters Publications, is peddling the book as a way to undermine the teaching of evolution in schools and universities. Both organizations are masterminded by Ray Comfort, a noted anti-evolution, fundamentalist writer. Here is the squib describing the book: This special 280-page edition not only contains an abridged Origin of Species but also has a 50-page Introduction that reveals the dangerous fruit of evolution, Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, and his disdain for women. It counters the claim that creationists are “anti-science” by citing numerous scientists who believed that God created the universe—scientists such as Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Pasteur, and Kepler. It has many original graphics and (as it says on the back cover) ...

Kentucky’s Creation Museum, a young Earth propaganda tool 5

JISHOU, HUNAN — The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, is NOT a science museum. It is a tool to publicize a narrow religious view of the world and our place in it. Thus, I found this comment by a Kentucky State Department of Education official particularly disturbing. [From the Louisville Courier-Journal] Kentucky Department of Education spokeswoman Lisa Gross said nothing in state law would bar public schools from visiting, if it were part of “a lesson” on “how some perceived the world’s beginnings.” Kentucky does not require the teaching of evolution or creationism (or even science at all) in private schools. And public-school science teachers aren’t prohibited from mentioning creationism, but lessons often include concepts behind evolution, Gross said. Maybe Ms. Gross was tiptoeing around the religious bias of Kentucky’s bureaucrats, legislators and population. Maybe she has never been to the Creation Museum. Maybe she is just plain stupid. Whatever the case, there should be no reason to bring any public school group to the museum, unless that purpose is to indoctrinate the students in an overtly religious world view. If a high school teacher, having done a LOT of preparation, intended to use the museum as an example of ...

The new rightwing CO2 meme: CO2 is safe and natural

JISHOU, HUNAN — Do people forget basic science when they become Republicans? I’m not talking about understanding complex questions like global warming, stem cells or genetic engineering. I am speaking of really, really basic stuff, like knowing carbon dioxide is not safe. A couple of weeks ago, the shining star of Minnesota Republican dumbness, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, expounded on the House floor that there was no need to tax and cap CO2 emissions, because CO2 is a safe and natural gas. Humans exhale it every day, after all, she said. Now, the Mr. Big of the the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, has repeated the same meme on his ridiculously popular radio show. WTF? Sure, we exhale CO2, for a good reason. Our bodies can’t use it! It’s basic biology: breath air in, extract the oxygen, expel what our bodies don’t need. I learned this in elementary school, for pete’s sake! I thought everyone did. Logically speaking (I know, I know, considering who I am highlighting here, I am asking way too much) … Logically speaking, any idiot, if he or she took time to consider the question, would realize if humans (and other animals) could use CO2 we would NOT exhale ...

Deep in the heart of Texas …

JISHOU, HUNAN — Texas is a big state, with about 6 million schoolchildren. When the Texas State Board of Education speaks, textbook publishers listen. After all, if the publishers can sell their texts to Texas, it’s a big deal. It means money. So, when the Texas BOE met in March to discuss controversial changes to the state’s proposed science standards, science educators all over the USA were worried. Would the BOE, chaired by an unapologetic creationist, introduce language into the standards to allow the teaching of creationism and and its clone, Intelligent Design, in the Texas schools? To do so would be seriously damage science education in the Texas public schools. It would also likely influence textbook publishers’ treatment of evolution in biology texts, thereby affecting schools all over the USA. The Texas BOE is nearly evenly composed of creationists and more sensible members, so the results were by no means predictable. In the end, the original changes, as proposed by the openly anti-evolution chairman and board members, were rejected. Instead, the BOE passed more coyly worded standards that still could be used to introduce pseudo-science and religion into Texas classrooms, but did not exactly trample science teaching. Whether the ...

Catalonian teens launch balloon, take photos from 30 km up

Four students and their teacher in Cataluña, Spain, sent a Nikon Coolpix digital camera into the upper atmosphere recently, and captured some impressive photos. Here’s one: More photos and a complete report of their experiments are at their blog and their flickr page. The Big Picture at the Boston Globe also has the photos. Incidentally, the team’s blog is in Catalan, the language of Cataluña, but they have thoughtfully provided an instant-translation link for the Catalan-challenged.

Powers of ten and the media

This pretty much says it all.

Iowa ‘academic freedom’ bill dies a quiet death 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Yet another attempt to weasel creationism/Intelligent Design into public schools has died after an “academic freedom” bill failed to leave a subcommittee in the Iowa legislature yesterday. The bill purportedly would have protected instructors from punishment or job loss if they presented “scientific information relevant to the full range of scientific views regarding chemical and biological evolution.” In fact, it was a ploy to enable suitably minded instructors to teach creationism or ID alongside evolutionary theory. Wording that is almost identical appears on a web page sponsored by the Discovery Institute, a pro-ID “thinktank.” Full details are at The Panda’s Thumb. Lest you think the bill might have had merit, allow me to provide a brief introduction to “creation science.” ID is just a variation of creationism, accepting an older age of the universe. Creationism holds that: The account in Genesis is literal and true. God created everything in six days, about 6,000 years ago. Before Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, all animals were vegetarians, death was non-existent, and predation/parasitism were unnecessary. God got pissed at Adam and Eve, and that wily serpent in the Tree, and cursed ...
Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com

The forecast for Jishou, Hunan, China by WP Wunderground