From September 2008

Sarah Palin: “The Flintstones was a Great Documentary!”

Flintstones: Fact ot Fiction
The Flintstones: Fact or Fiction?

Does Sarah Palin believe that human beings and dinosaurs lived side-by-side a few thousand years ago? Palin is not answering that question now; of course, right now she’s not really answering any questions without John McCain by her side to moderate. However, she is on record as wanting Creationism to be taught in American science classes. Creationism puts forward a “theory” that the universe is much younger than the figure of 12-14 billion years widely accepted by scientists and then has to do a lot of fancy foot-work to make the physical evidence fit their theory.

However, if Palin is being tight lipped on the issue, where can we go to find out about what she believes about Creationism? The Creation “Museum” was set up as an alternative to the secular museums to give fundamentalists a place to go and learn the truth about the history of the Universe. Through its exhibits, this museum puts forth the pretense that it uses the same data as secular scientists, but comes to a different conclusion:

Everyone has the same facts, but we don’t all have the same starting points. Using the Bible as your starting point, prepare to travel back 6,000 years to the dawn of creation as you enjoy the Six Days Theater. Witness the true time line of the universe unfold through the 7 C’s of History [Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, Consummation].
Creation Museum Web Site, Plan Your Visit

If the Republicans had put forward a candidate that did not accept that the Sun revolves around the Earth we would assume that she was a quack. Yet the same science that tells us that the Sun is only one star amongst  70 sextillion stars in the Universe also tells us that the Universe must be billions–not thousands–of years old to explain how we can see stars that are billions of light-years away.

Why do Christian Fundamentalists have to believe in a 6,000 year old Universe? They believe that their Bible is the literal truth (and I will not point out here all the inherent problems with that line of thought), therefore everything that has happened since the beginning of the Universe is in that Bible. The Young Earth Creationists (as they are known) take this one step further, claiming they can compute the age of the Universe by using that Bible as a time-line.

So, why does our best (secular) science tell us that the Universe is billions of years old? According to the Young Earth Creationists, God just made it look that way. Think about it: they are saying that the God they believe in is intentionally trying to trick us by creating a Universe that looks much older than it actually is simply to test our faith.

This is what Sarah Palin believes too, whether she will now publicly admit it or not. If she believes in the literal truth of her Bible, then she believes in a 6,000 year old Universe, she believes that dinosaurs and humans lived side-by-side, and she believes in a Universe run by a God who would deceive its creation just to prove a point.

And John McCain believes in Sarah Palin.

First Commercial Spaceship Launched – Commercial Media Ignores

A milestone in human achievement took place yesterday at 4:15 PM (PDT), but the popular press seems to have all but ignored it. Oh, I know that we are facing the greatest financial crisis this country has seen since the 1929, but surely the launch of the first privately owned space ship into Earth orbit (something that will make money in the future) is at least as worthy for reporting as Scarlett Johanson’s Canadian wedding nuptials.

With the Launch of Falcon 1 into orbit, SpaceX has fundamentally changed the playing field of space exploration. But the popular media (CNN, Fox News, Networks etc..) seem to be giving a collective yawn. This might be because the mass media outlets were caught off-guard by the success because, as Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides pointed out in her Wired Science blog, of the previous failures to launch.

However, I can’t begin to fathom this oversight running into today. Even CNN’s tech page doesn’t mention it anywhere, instead focusing on the failure of NASA to launch the shuttle and where to get free ringtones.

End the War (on Science)!

Who will end the war on science?
Who will end the war on science?

ScienceDebate2008 is committed to discussing today’s most important scientific issues and the candidate’s stand on each. To go even further and allow for public feedback, ScienceDebate2008 will allow you to read each position statement and then rate McCain’s and Obama’s responses with a letter grade from A to F. There are 14 topics and a 15th open discussion topic where you can post your own question for the candidates.

With all of the events of the past few weeks in the U.S. economic markets, many vital issues  are being overlooked by the majority of voters thinking about who they want for President. Although the collapse of huge multi-national investment firms may seem important now, where the candidates stand on scientific and technology issues will have a greater impact on on your daily life in the long run.After all, Wall Street might collect wealth, but it’s science and technology that makes it.

There is little debate amongst scientists that the Bush administration has waged a war on science. This Republican administration is infamous for ignoring or undermining scientific consensus and cherry picking scientific results that support their ideology. The next administration will have to correct this trend for the US to remain a leader in the 21st century.

We need to know what the candidates say now on these issues so that we can hold them accountable later for their actions. ScienceDebate2008 places both McCain’s and Obama’s position statements side-by-side for easy comparison.

Go, vote now, and let me know what you think, and if you posted a 15th question (mine is the third in the list) tell us about it here.

The 14 topics covered are:

  1. Innovation
  2. Climate Change
  3. Energy
  4. Education
  5. National Security
  6. Pandemics/Biosecurity
  7. Genetics Research
  8. Stem Cells
  9. Ocean Health
  10. Water
  11. Space
  12. Scientific Integrity
  13. Research
  14. Health

Yuri’s Night 2009: Be a part of the Future

Yuri's Night 2009: New Site Coming Soon!
Yuri's Night 2009: New Site Coming Soon!

2009 is going to be a great year for Yuri’s Night. This will be my 4th year as the “Internet Strategist” for The World Space Party, and every year the group I work with keeps getting better. I’ve just put up the “Coming Soon” page -previewing the 2009 site design- and we will be launching with a new Web strategy in the coming months. But, we need your help!

Yuri’s Night is a volunteer and grass roots organization committed to evangelizing the importance of manned space exploration by throwing parties every April 12th to celebrate two of the pioneering events in our history: the first manned space flight of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961 and the first Space Shuttle launch in 1981.

In 2008, we had almost 200 parties world wide, ranging in size from very small to very large. Check out the Photos from Yuri’s Night 2008 to see what I mean.

If you want to work with this great organization, check out the open positions for the Global Executive Team to see what we need. For the Web support team, I especially need help this year:

  • News Editor: Someone to write and edit the news stories posted to the main site.
  • Web Developer: Someone with MySQL and PHP experience who can take on the creating a better online experience for setting up and finding parties.
  • Web Cast Manager: Someone who can find and manage the best solution so that parties around the world can broadcast their video feed.

You can apply on the Yuri’s Night Site, or email me (jason at yurisnight • net) wih any questions.

Should McCain be Able to Use a Computer? has answered the question “Is McCain unable to use a computer because of war injuries?” with a NO. McCain can use computers, although, because of his injuries, it is uncomfortable. As someone who works with computers and the problems of accessibility, I know that a lot of disabled persons find ways around their discomfort with using computers (using speech synthesizers, voice recognition and other non-keyboard devices) so that they can interact with the world around them. The computer is a fundamental communication medium in America today, and anyone not participating is showing a deaf ear to that fact.

Is this a compelling political issue? Probably not.

Whether McCain chooses to use a computer or not will not change how you view his stand on major issues. But it does speak to the candidate’s day-to-day life experience, further showing his distance from most Americans. It also tells us a lot about how he views innovation and technology. As Marshall McLuhan said,  “The medium is the message.” How we communicate directly affects how we think about problems and how we express our ideas. Can John McCain really understand the problems and promises of a future he seems to stubbornly refuse to participate in?

Is Chrome a Web Browser?

Google Chrome: Browser or Stealth App?
Google Chrome: Browser or Stealth App?

I’ve had a little over a week now to play with the new Web enabled application from Google, known as Chrome. Some, including Google, call it a Web browser. I respectfully disagree.

As a browser, Chrome leaves a lot to be desired.  Despite promised improvements (like the basic ability to organize your bookmarks), this stripped down interface would have a long way to go to compete with the feature sets of Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. But, then, it may not be Google’s goal to create an application for browsing the Web.

Consider it’s name: Chrome. In the world of user interface design, the presentation layer (the buttons, backgrounds, and icons and other graphic bits of the interface) is called the “chrome.” And that’s exactly what Google’s Chrome is: it is the chrome ( lower case “c”) for Google’s current and future Web based applications.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. I remember just ten years ago when Marc Andreesen had the same idea and threw down the gauntlet, stating that Netscape would replace the operating system as the vector for users interacting with applications. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but maybe Google will be able to pull it off.