I wish this was an example of Poe’s law

I think I’ll skip this one
[Via Pharyngula]

Teach the controversy! Who would have thought geocentrists would still be around? They’re having a conference even: Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right, the first annual Catholic conference on geocentrism. They’re also arguing that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. No word yet if any flat-earthers will be in attendance.

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Poe’s Law – Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing. This certaianly started out looking like an example of Poe’s Law but it really does seem to be legit.

A Catholic Symposium on whether the Catholic Church made a mistake in apologizing for its treatment of Galileo because he was really wrong.

Some of the speakers will be discussing ‘Scientific Experiments Show the Earth is Motionless in Space’, ‘Scientific Evidence: The Earth is the Center of the Universe’, CArbon 14 and Radiometric Dating Show a Young Earth’, and others.

The organizer is the founder of Catholic Apologetics International Publishing. It does appear to be a real organization and a real conference. I wonder who will show up?

Posted in Science. Tags: . 4 Comments »

[Updated] The real Ground Zero Mosque was destroyed on 9/11

prayer rug by Bob Richmond

The Ground Zero mosque that used to exist
[Via AMERICAblog]

Business Insider:

It turns out there was a Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, where Americans and other traveling Muslims prayed every day.

On September 11th, 2001, when a handful of terrorists flew planes into the towers, some of the folks who used the room evacuated in time. Others probably didn’t.

In other words, there already was a “ground zero mosque”–used by Muslim Americans who were murdered just like everyone else.

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This is why the whole discussion is so stupid. There was a prayer room, one similar to the one that is being discussed right now in the Cordoba House project, in the South Tower. Read the NYT article which has interviews with Americans who used that prayer room every day. These are people who had friends die that day. Friends who were Muslim.

I would not be surprised to see that a prayer room was planned in the new tower that is being built on Ground Zero. And I would expect the same people clutching their pearls right now about the Cordoba House project will do what they can to prevent that from happening

Are they gong to stop Muslims from praying in the stairwells? Because, as was shown in the World Trade Center, they can do that also.

As Fekkak Mamdouh, former head waiter of the restaurant at the top of the World Trade center said:

Sometimes I wake up and think, this is not what I came to America for. I came here to build this country together. People are using this issue for their own agenda. It’s designed to keep the hate going.

[Update: The whole point of this post is that the World Trade Center had a prayer room and so will the Cordoba House Project (now called Park51). If one is going to be called a mosque, than the other one should be. Continuing to call Park51 a mosque, when it has been stated that there will be a prayer room in the community center, is misleading. Carrying this misleading information to its logical conclusion means that the World Trade Center should also be called a mosque. This makes little sense, as does continuing to call Park51 a mosque.

The important thing to remember is that Americans use these prayer rooms. Telling Americans where they should worship is pretty un-American to me.]

My governor believes in science

Why I’ll Never Vote for the GOP Again, Exhibit C for Creationism
[Via Little Green Footballs]

The San Angelo Standard-Times interviews Texas governor (and GOP candidate) Rick Perry about his views on education, and out comes the ugly anti-science fanaticism again. Perry thinks the Texas State Board of Education is doing a terrific job, and he’s “a firm believer” in teaching creationism in public schools.

Do you think the role of the State Board of Education should be revised given the recent controversy over curriculum and textbook selection?

The State Board of Education is an independently elected body that is charged with developing college- and career-ready curriculum standards for our state. As elected officials, they are accountable to their constituents for implementing curriculum standards that will ensure the best education possible for our state. I have repeatedly stated that the curriculum adopted by the SBOE should be rigorous, grade-level specific, and contain college- and career-ready standards, and I believe we have the right system in place to determine our school curriculum.

Explain where you stand on evolution-creationism being taught in school.

I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution. The State Board of Education has been charged with the task of adopting curriculum requirements for Texas public schools and recently adopted guidelines that call for the examination of all sides of a scientific theory, which will encourage critical thinking in our students, an essential learning skill.

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Of course, any effective critical thinking curriculum would show the barrenness of creationism and intelligent design and the richness of evolution.

Luckily Christine Gregiore feels that science is a better route to understanding our world than religion. From 2008:

Gregoire says she opposes teaching abstinence-only sex education in the classroom. She also opposes teaching creationism in schools, saying “I want science-based education in our schools.”

I guess it is no wonder that the Texas BOE permits non-scientific approaches to be taught as science. We may be lucky that California is fighting back hard. Check out legislation that just passed and is waiting for a signature – SB1451.

California wants to know what changes the Texas BOE decisions have on textbooks, especially ones that go against its own education standards. As the legislation states:

The proposed changes in Texas, if subsequently reflected in textbooks nationwide, pose a serious threat to Sections 51204.5, 60040, 60041, 60043, and 60044 of the Education Code as well as a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California.

Looks like a battle between Texas and California for the textbook industry’s focus on science is shaping up. Hope California wins. As a few of our earlier leaders in America stated:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. Thomas Jefferson. 1816.


Science apps for my iPhone/iPad

science iphone by tristanf

Mobile Science Apps
[Via MacResearch - Online Community and Resource for Mac OS X in Science]

It seems a little quiet around here so I thought I’d mention a web page I’ve been putting together.

Finding scientific applications on the AppStore is not trivial so the Mobile Science page is intended to provide a list of iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch applications that might be useful to scientists.

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A very handy page to have. So many nice apps for the lab, so little time.

I wonder how much it’ll cost Google to have music?

Cost of running iTunes estimated at $75 million/month
[Via Edible Apple]

Apple has for sometime stated that it doesn’t generate significant profits from the iTunes Store and that it is, for all practical purposes, a break even venture. That notwithstanding, the addition of apps into iTunes has led to an enormous increase in the total number and bandwidth of downloads from iTunes. So while Apple may still be breaking even, the costs of operating the iTunes Store in its entirety seems to be on the rise.

Asymco recently broke down some of the financials associated with iTunes and arrived at a number of interesting figures. First up is how much Apple takes in from app and music sales on a monthly basis. Apple has stated before that the average selling price of an app on iTunes is about $0.29, of which Apple receives 30%. Meanwhile it’s been estimated that Apple enjoys about 10% margins on songs sold on iTunes.

This shows that what is left after paying the content license, Apple “keeps” about $50 million every month to run the App store (iTAS) and another $30 million to run the Music store (iTMS).

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Apple makes $80 million a month but has to spend about $75 million. Given the uncertainties, they may just be breaking even on the music and app stores.

But Google will have to make money on the service itself, as it does not have any other products that will see increased revenue due to the music store. Apple supports a break-even iTunes store because it can then sell lots of hardware – even though the iTunes store is pretty agnostic regarding hardware.

Seems to me that Google will have to use an entirely different model. Because it is hard for me to see how music sales can directly lead to increased revenue at high enough levels to support the store.

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