January 2008

From Meigs:

This Friday, Jan. 25th, 2008, 11:30a.m.

Our own Axel Lohrish is presenting a lecture “Daily Life Under a Stalinistic Dictatorship” at Selby Public Library. 1331 First St. Sarasota, FL, in the Auditorium. 11:30 am – 1:00 PM. Free and open to the pubic. Alex presented his lecture on this theme concerning life in East Germany to the Humanists of Sarasota last winter. Not only was it interesting —his remarks permanently deepened my understanding of life and politics in such places. (No reservation is needed; you can just walk into the lecture.)

The brand new, long awaited official video.

You can get 12 free tracks from their new album here: http://thebastardfairies.com/

Talk about a woman who likes to rant, check out this interview with the band’s lead singer:

From XKCD:

Bar Chart

From from the New York Times:

In June 2006, Peter Hopkins, a civic-minded and idealistic 2004 Harvard graduate, trekked up to his alma mater from New York for a meeting with Lawrence H. Summers, the economist and former Treasury secretary. Mr. Hopkins, who finagled the appointment through his friendship with Mr. Summers’s assistant, had a business idea: a Web site that could do for intellectuals what YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, did for bulldogs on skateboards.

The pitch — “a YouTube for ideas” — appealed to Mr. Summers. “Larry, to his credit, is open to new ideas,” Mr. Hopkins recalled recently. “He grilled me for two hours.” In the age of user-generated content, Mr. Summers did have one worry: “Let’s say someone puts up a porn video next to my macroeconomic speech?”

It took awhile, but a year after that meeting, Mr. Summers decided to invest (“a few tens of thousands of dollars,” he said, adding “not something I’m hoping to retire on”) in the site, called Big Think, which officially makes its debut today after being tested for several months.

Big Think (www.bigthink.com) mixes interviews with public intellectuals from a variety of fields, from politics, to law to business, and allows users to engage in debates on issues like global warming and the two-party system. It plans to add new features as it goes along, including a Facebook-like application for social networking, and Mr. Hopkins said he would like the site to become a popular place for college students looking for original sources.


Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil? and
Can you be Good Without God?

In this debate on what are arguably two of the most important questions in the culture wars today — Is Religion a Force for Good or Evil? and Can you be Good without God? — the conservative Christian author and cultural scholar Dinesh D’Souza and the libertarian skeptic writer and social scientist Michael Shermer, square off to resolve these and related issues, such as the relationship between science and religion and the nature and existence of God. This event was one of the liveliest ever hosted by the Skeptics Society at Caltech, mixing science, religion, politics, and culture.
WATCH the debate for FREE online

From the Junkfood Science blog:

The new report “Science and Engineering Indicators 2008” has just been released. This is that biannual report by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Science Resources Statistics under the National Science Board that reveals the state of science education, research and development trends, health of the science and technology industry, and the understanding of science among children and adults in the United States. The chapter on public attitudes and understandings about science and health always offers interesting surprises about what people think.

Reposted from:

Unlikely as it sounds, an extinct Canadian fish with foot-like fins is set to make a serious splash in the U.S. presidential race.

Tiktaalik roseae — a 375-million-year-old fossilized “fishapod” discovered on Ellesmere Island in 2004 — has been hailed as an “evolutionary icon” because it represents the crucial transition from sea to land for some of the Earth’s most primitive creatures.

The discovery was announced amid global fanfare in 2006, and Tiktaalik is now the showcase species in a report released last week by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to promote the study of evolution and counter calls for U.S. schools to teach creationism.

That issue has dogged Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and an ordained Baptist minister, who publicly rejects the idea that humans came from apes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Article in Herald-Tribune on Congregation for Humanistic Judaism:

Humanistic Jews reaching out
Group believes in responsibility for actions and other people

Irv and Sim Lesser, co-presidents of the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, are accustomed to being described simply as people who do not believe in a supernatural being. Sometimes, they even describe themselves that way.

But the Manatee County couple prefers another way to describe their belief system, of which Southwest Florida’s congregation is one of only 35 such centers nationwide. To Irv Lesser, being a humanistic Jew is really about “taking responsibility for your own actions.”

“We feel a responsibility for other people,” his wife said.

Southwest Florida’s Congregation for Humanistic Judaism is the second-largest such congregation in the country, and one of only two such centers throughout all of Florida. Members are not only from Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties but as far away as Orlando and Naples. With more than 300 members, the center recognizes Jewish history and some Jewish traditions, but does not follow any spiritual dogma.
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From Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:

The Florida State School Board is holding public hearings to talk about changes to science standards.New standards were written by scientists and educators, but some evangelical Christians want Creationism and Intelligent Design taught as well.

Clearly, this is an issue that concerns us. Are there any Pastafarians in Florida willing to give us a first-hand report?

They’ve held a meeting in Jacksonville already. There’s a meeting in Fort Lauderdale next week.

You can read the article from First Coast News, though it does not say much.

A more informative article: here


The meeting in Ft. Lauderdale is scheduled for:

JANUARY 8TH from 5:30-7:30pm

Can anyone make it? A prize to anyone who shows up in pirate regalia and asks – respectfully – if the new standards will be inclusive of the beliefs of Pastafarians.

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