So I had the great pleasure recently to present some of my latest research on creationism, science education and politics, in this case on the topic of astrobiology and young earth creationism. I was part of a fascinating panel at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Baltimore titled “Cosmic Quest, Cosmic Contact: Astrobiology, Astrotheology, Astroethics.” You can watch my narrated slideshow presentation here, or listen to just the audio below. It’s just under 20 minutes, and goes over the main findings of my research, with emphasis on public opinion and polling data around support for creationism, as well as a look at the emerging field of creation astronomy and some of the creationist discourses about extraterrestrial life in outerspace.
So I had the great pleasure recently to present some of my latest research on creationism, science education and politics, in this case on the topic of astrobiology and young earth creationism. I was part of a fascinating panel at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Baltimore titled “Cosmic Quest, Cosmic Contact: A...[more]Read more
Phew, it’s been a busy last few weeks. Where has the time gone? I feel like I haven’t had any time to stop and think or catch my breath. Between work and school and committees and events and more meetings and more work the nearly non-existent fall flew bye. In short, a lot has been going on. For example, last week I attended quite a few interesting events put on by the India China Institute, which is where I work. There was a very interesting Sustainability Day at The New School (photo at right), which included not only info about the Divest movement at The New School but also nationally. You can read a great post at 350.org by our friend Davis on the event.
On the social justice front, where I spend a lot of my time, we are slowly but surely making baby steps in the right direction. This week noted authors, activist and critiques bell hooks, Eve Ensler and Melissa Harris-Perry have all been-or will be later this week–at The New School. I’ve been to two of hooks’ events already this week, but will save writing about those events for their own separate post. I was also at an interesting meeting this past Friday organized by Students for Social Justice (SSJ), which is a New School student group that formed in the past year or two and has been trying to help raise the profile and level of discussion of social justice at The New School. There were about 25 people who showed up in response to efforts by the SSJ to bring together different members of the SJ student activists community. There were also a few staff members there whose work deals with social justice. Besides myself, there were four other members of the Social Justice Committee at The New School there, which is a small number, but still better than some past events. There were also a few members of the USS, which is the student government at New School. And at least two of the groups came out with concrete proposals for next steps and actions on student space and organizing, so all of this was very encouraging. It definitely made it worth coming into the city on a Friday night at 6pm for a meeting. Read More
No, it’s not just a rhetorical device to get you attention, this country is really screwed? Why, you ask fair reader. The answer is simple, and this story in USA Today captures why perfectly:
House leaders have said they will accept the Senate deal to end the 16-day partial shutdown and meet a Thursday deadline to raise the nation’s $16.7 debt ceiling.
“The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who reached the agreement with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“This has been a long, challenging few weeks for Congress and for the country. It is my hope that today we can put some of those most urgent issues behind us,” McConnell said.
Step 1: Pretend raising the US debt ceiling to $16.7 billion is a good thing. (Washington logic of more = better)
Step 2: Pretend raising the US debt ceiling to $16.7 billion will “provide our economy with the stability it desperately need.” (Democratic logic of stability through spending)
Step 3: Pretend raising the US debt ceiling to $16.7 billion will allow the country to “put some of those most urgent issues behind us.” (Republican logic of strength through unity)
Here’s my take on the 21 hour Obamacare vote “filibuster” in the Senate by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, which just ended last night (9/25). Hot off the digital presses.
Until next time…Sam I Am…
Well boys and girls, we’re finally to the final part III post for This Week in Our Universe, where I wanted to think about our universe and the question of whether or not there is an edge? If you missed the first two posts on “biblical rainfall amounts” (pt. I) and Voyager I leaving our solar system (pt. II), you can find them here (pt. I and pt. II). But first, I have to show off my new brass orrery, or solar system model, because I think it is really cool! So here it is below in all its glory.
Ok, so we’re talking about the universe. Before I jump into all this space talk, perhaps a little background to this post is in order. I’m currently working on a conference paper for the American Academy of Religion annual conference in a couple months. There I’ll be presenting a paper on astrobiology and creationist beliefs about the universe, including a case study of a public media campaign in 2009 that sent thousands of messages to the exoplanet Gliese 581d. Read More
Hello again. We’re back to our explorations of the universe in Part 2 of This Week in Our Universe. Last time I discussed the recent meme of “biblical rainfall amounts” happening in Colorado. So now I want to turn to the recent and exciting news about the Voyager I space probe, which NASA confirmed this week moved into interstellar space beyond our solar system.
According to a 9/12 press release from NASA, the “Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space.” Pretty wild. Another new first in space exploration for humanity. Go us! And once more, like the kismet of reading about Biblical floods while one is supposedly happening, Voyager I was also launched the same year as I was born, making for yet another example of serendipity.
So where exactly is Voyager I, you might ask? The short answer is really, really far out! The precise answer, according to NASA, is “12 billion miles from our sun.” Now if you are like me, that doesn’t really mean anything, so here’s a handy little visualization to give you some sense of what this scale looks like. Voyager I is on the far right, heading out of the solar system.
This week in our Universe: Leaving the Galaxy, Biblical Floods and the Edge of Space time. If I had my own tv show, this would be today’s episode. I don’t have a show, so you’ll just have to pretend. Come on, use your imagination, it’s good for you. I promise…and here we go. Part 1 takes us to the lovely state of Colorado.
1) Biblical Floods and the National Weather Service
In case you happened to miss the NWS discussion Thursday morning about the weather in the Denver and Boulder areas reflects, their conclusion was that it was one heck of a downpour! “Biblical” even, or at least so thought someone at the NWS on Thursday. And since then almost every news article on the flooding in Colorado contains the phrase “biblical rainfall amounts.” Read More
In my first post reflecting on my time in India and China I had started doing a chronology of my travels. But reading back through that post now it seems like there is just too much to cover in bringing things up to date. So rather than rehashing what I did over the past 1.5 months, I’d prefer to do more of a real comparison based on my travels.
I’m not sure that there is really a good place to start when undertaking such an endeavor, but since I’ve always been a fan of list, here’s my short India-China comparison list, highlighting both similarities and differences from my travels:
As anyone who knows my might have guessed, food is always at the top of my list, and this time is no different. I can definitely say that one of my favorite things about living in China for a short time was the food, and this is doubly true for Kunming, as it is home to so many diverse ethnic communities, each with their own style of cooking. So with a few exceptions, I felt like we were always trying new foods while in China. And even if we had the same ingredients, there was no guarantee that they would be prepared or taste even remotely similar. I think one of my favorites–which I would not have guessed from the outset–was the Salt and Pepper Shrimp, which I have since learned was originally a Cantonese dish. The versions they make in Kunming did not have any of the additions like those given in the recipe link above–it was just a big plate of shrimp with a bowl of extra salt–but in my opinion it was already plenty salty. Here’s a shot of what this dish looked like in a Kunming restaurant.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” (A Tale of Two Cities)
Hello world! What a long, strange trip it’s been, and it’s not over yet. Way back in the beginning of summer I had imagined writing all of the time about my travels in China and India. But alas, the work commitments of this job have left me with precious little time to write for pleasure. The upshot of all this work, however, is a plethora of new stories that I am slowly digesting and will be writing about in the coming weeks and months. But before I get ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning–the beginning of the summer that is. Read More
Well I finally made it to mainland China. The train trip was long, about 23 hours, but mostly enjoyable. Sadly the initial arrival in Beijing left a lot to be desired, as we arrived to a grey and wet Beijing with no hostel or clue where to go. For the record, the Beijing West train station is amazingly confusing and terrible for someone with absolutely no Chinese competency. In fairness, there is no reason it should be, but as an international traveler not familiar with the city, it was a nightmare. Read More