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“If I had to describe myself to an alien I’d say I was bigger than the average human, enjoy a drink or two with a good meal and have a bigger head than most. I’d also say I’m really handsome — especially if they were a female alien.” -Dwayne Johnson The Earth, to the best of our…

July Pieces Of My Mind #2

Los Alamos means “the poplars”. A friend lent me J.P. Hogan’s 1980 novel Thrice Upon A Time. It’s set in 2010 but has pre-PC “mini” computers the size of fridges, with text terminals and command-line interfaces. Four years before Neuromancer… 1970s computer designers: “What? You folks run your screens in graphics mode all the time?…

The Director General Responds

It seems that my comments yesterday on the small issue of signage at Ales stenar touched a nerve regarding something bigger, having to do with the National Heritage Board’s overall societal role in relationship to archaeology and public outreach. Lars Amréus is the Board’s Director General, an archaeologist and Qaisar Mahmood’s boss. He has kindly…

The ubiquity of quackery and pseudoscience of the sort epitomized by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire can be depressing if you’re a skeptic. Sometimes it feels as though it’s not worth refuting the nonsense she peddles. But it is. Just maybe not in the way you think.

In what New York Magazine is calling the most-read article in the publication’s history,  David Wallace-Wells writes about what will happen if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels soon. In a nutshell: the climate “will now go to war with us for many centuries, perhaps until it destroys us.” This has made more than a few climatologists rather…

“Lord of Light! Come to us in our darkness. We offer you these false gods. Take them and cast your light upon us. For the night is dark and full of terrors.” -Melisandre, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice Imagine a world where you know that winter is coming, but you don’t…

Bob Lind has yet again managed to get the National Heritage Board to abdicate its responsibility at Ales Stenar, a beautiful 7th century AD burial monument near Ystad in southern Sweden. Bob has self-published odd interpretations of the site that have found no traction among professional archaeologists. He has kept vigil at Ales stenar for decades, lecturing…

A new study by Leigh Turner has found that dubious stem cell clinics are registering even more dubious “clinical trials” under ClinicalTrials.gov in which they charge patients to enroll. In this unethical practice, they are merely following the trail blazed by cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski.

Dr. Michael Tobler and Dr. Zach Culumber at Kansas State University examined 112 species of live-bearing fish (Poeciliidae) and have made some interesting discoveries about their evolution. Their analyses included information on body shape, fin size, where the species are found and information on global climate. What they discovered is that the evolution of female fish is…

“It’s like an oven in there”: preventing work-related heat illnesses

Business lobbyists in California claim proposed worker safety rules for heat illness prevention are on too fast a track. They might think differently if they set up their desk in a warehouse or laundry without air conditioning.

“We really expect the mission to be transformational. This is the capstone of the original visits to the planets. It takes us 4 billion miles away and 4 billion years back in time.” -Alan Stern When the Hubble Space Telescope discovered additional moons of Pluto, beyond Charon, it was speculated that New Horizons might find…

A little fan feedback

Sometimes, Orac’s fans call him. When he doesn’t have anything to post, sometimes he posts the audio of fools who leave him messages.

How many kids should you have? Used to be the answer was “none of anyone’s damn business.” But that’s not the approach a pair of sustainability experts took in a new paper that concludes the single-most powerful thing anyone can do about climate change is having fewer offspring. In “The climate mitigation gap: education and…

Two global unions, four labor rights organizations and 23 apparel brands and retailers agreed in late June to extend the ground-breaking Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety that has led to safer working conditions for 4 million garment workers. The legally-binding agreement came about following the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,138 workers in Dhaka.

“The design of the universe…is very magnificent and shouldn’t be taken for granted.” -Charles W. Misner One of the more puzzling aspects of our Universe is that, no matter which direction we look in, no matter how far away we check, its properties appear to be practically identical. This is surprising, since no signal can…