All posts by bill

About bill

I'm a 75-yo white man who should have been a scientist, but never finished college. Now I'm retired and disabled. I was born into a fundamentalist Independent Baptist family, accepted Jesus at the age of six, and took 36 more years to get over it. I've now been an atheist for about 33 years. Politically, I'm fairly liberal. Almost always vote Democratic as the lesser of the two major evils. I write about science, space, evolution, and occasionally politics or whatever seems important or interesting at the moment.

Just Another Brick in the Wall?

cigar illusion
Cigar Illusion

I love optical illusions because they tell us things about ourselves. And besides that, they’re just plain fun!

I saw this two or three times on FaceBook and that many more times on other people’s blogs and all I could see was a brick wall. Yes, I saw the little gray rock wedged between the bricks. I even learned that was supposed to be the key. It was supposed to be the ash on the end of a cigar. What cigar?

Idiots!

Then I saw it again at the Bad Astronomy site. I know Phil Plait isn’t an idiot. He runs a good blog over there, and I recommend it. If Phil says it’s real, it’s real. But what is there to see but a brick wall and a little gray rock in a crack between two of the bricks. There’s no cigar!

I read his instructions and looked back at the picture. Nothing!

I kept looking. Still nothing.

I looked again. Still nothing.

Then it slowly materialized.

No. There wasn’t any smoke.  No mirrors. No visual effects except inside my own head. But the cigar appeared. Now I can’t NOT see it.

Here’s Phil’s explanation:

The illusion is that it’s a cigar stuck in the wall. It’s actually sticking out at a 90° angle, but the shot is taken so that the body of the cigar is aligned with a horizontal gap in the bricks. Together with the cigar being dark, it just looks like the cigar is the gap in the bricks, and the ash at the end is a rock stuck in the gap.

Keep looking. You’ll see it eventually.

Let’s Stop Fixin’ Stuff and Create Some New Systems

It’s Bill Maher, so you know he’s going to be using some crude language. But this is worth watching in spite of it.

I really wish he wouldn’t use the kind of language he uses, because I like him very much otherwise. But we live in a free country. (Well, at least in theory.) So he can say whatever he wants to on his own show.

My problem is that I have to decide whether a particular video is important enough to post it on MY BLOG in spite of the language. Usually it’s not, but I think this one is.

Bill Maher is exactly right when commenting on the state of our country.

Help Bernie Sanders To Help You

Bernie starts off telling it exactly the way it was for my family and me 45 years ago. Then he tells it like it is now. Unfortunately, it’s about the same for many people now as it was then.

Four and a half decades ago, my wife — now my late wife — and I both worked full time; but we could not earn enough money to put nourishing food on the table for our children. We could not provide proper medical and dental care for our 5-yo daughter and our 4-yo son. We couldn’t keep our old car running.

Our children survived and now have grown offspring of their own, but I haven’t forgotten how my four-year-old son suffered with the crumbling teeth he had inherited from his father (Yes, me, of course!).

My son finally got a bionic mouth.

The “6 Million Dollar Man” was popular on TV. After we were eventually able to get my son some help from a charity group of dentists travelling through town in a bus, he joked that he had a “bionic mouth.” Nearly every tooth in his head had some metal in it.

I am well aware that many people were far worse off than we were. That didn’t make our problem any better! And the worst tragedy of all is that many people are still worse off now!

We have to help them. In the greatest country the world has ever known, it’s crazy that anybody should be willing and able to work forty hours a week, and still be poor.

Bernie is the ONLY candidate from either major party with a plan to stop half of every dollar earned in this country from going to the richest one half of one percent of us. That’s just crazy, and Bernie wants you and me to get our fair share of it for the first time in 85 years!

Bernie has a genuine plan to help the poor and the middle class, for a change. But he needs your vote in this election, and he’ll need your letters to Congressmen, Senators, newspaper editors, and others after his election.

Help me elect Bernie Sanders to be the next President of the United States. Only by standing together can we do it. If you qualify to vote in any state that hasn’t already had its primary, then vote for Bernie now. Stand behind him in this primary, again in the general election, and then for the next 4 or 8 years, as he fights for your rights and mine. While he struggles to keep ordinary people like nearly all of us from being constantly ripped off!

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t consider all rich people to be evil monsters. Neither does Bernie. We need rich people to create jobs for many of the rest of us. Besides that, some of the very richest have given away most of their wealth to help people less fortunate. I have nothing but respect for them.

On the other hand, it is ONLY banks and other exceedingly rich corporations (oil companies, automobile factories, financial institutions, etc.) and individuals usually made rich by them that have the power to pay their CEOs enough money every year to live on for the rest of his or her life and still funnel boatloads of money into offshore, tax-free accounts, while their employees and customers have nothing and cannot pay their bills or buy medicine when they need it. Rich people like those and rich companies like those are monsters gobbling up the economy and leaving far too little for the rest of us. It must stop, and Bernie is the ONLY candidate who will stand up to them.

Your vote won’t be enough. Bernie knows very well that he can’t fight the big banks and oil companies by himself. Not even as President. He’ll need your help and mine all through his term in office.

This is nothing less than  a revolution!

But it’s not a revolution against the United States. It’s a revolution against the big banks, oil companies, automobile factories, and corporations of all kinds that are “too big to fail.” The ones that pay their CEOs many millions of dollars a year, while their employees have to buy groceries with food stamps and do without whatever medicines they need. The corporations and the billionaires that have bought and paid for our legislators for the past 85 years.

We have to take power and money back from them, and Bernie Sanders is the only chance we have.

Feel the Bern!

Suscribe Form

Readers,

I owe you all an apology. I didn’t realize until today there was no easily available subscription form on the blog. I’ve long wondered why the number of subscribers was so incredibly low. Now I know.

Frankly, I don’t have as many readers as I’d like to have. That’s understandable. After all, most people disagree with most of the things I say. But there are plenty of you that I would expect considerably more than four subscribers!

I’ve fixed the problem now, and I apologize for letting it go for so long. At the top of the sidebar on every page is now a sign-up form for a FREE subscription to this blog.

Just enter your email address and press the button, and I’ll send you a notice with a few paragraphs every time I make a post.

You’ll never miss a post again.

Similies

PHILOSOPHY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
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METAPHYSICS is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
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THEOLOGY is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there, and shouting, “ I found it!”
 .
SCIENCE is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that may or may not be there . . . using a flashlight.
 .
From the Internet
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And that’s no joke. Sorry.

Happy Birthday, Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins

On this date in 1941, evolutionary biologist and freethought champion Richard Dawkins was born in Nairobi. His father had moved to Kenya from England during the Second World War to join the Allied Forces and the family returned to England in 1949.

Dawkins graduated from Oxford in 1962, earned his doctorate, became assistant professor of zoology at the University of California at Berkeley 1967-1969 and a fellow of New College in 1970.

The Selfish Gene, his first book, published in 1976, became an international bestseller. It and the award-winning Blind Watchmaker were translated into all major languages.

His other books include The Extended Phenotype (1982), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998) and A Devil’s Chaplain (2003). His 2006 iconoclastic book, The God Delusion, which he wrote with the public hope of turning believing readers into atheists, became a bestseller in both the UK and the U.S.

Dawkins has held the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science since 1995, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997. He is married to actress and artist Lalla Ward, who has illustrated several of his books and other works.

Dawkins has advanced the concept of cultural inheritance or “memes,” also described as “viruses of the mind,” a category into which he places religious belief. He has also advanced the “replicator concept” of evolution.

A passionate atheist, Dawkins has coined the memorable term “faith-heads” to describe certain religionists. Since his remarks in The Guardian (Feb, 6, 1999): “I’m like a pit bull terrier being released into the ring, as a spectator sport, to attack religious people . . .,” Dawkins is now affectionately known as “Darwin’s pit bull.”

Dawkins, a vice president of the British Humanist Association, was named Humanist of the Year in 1999. He is the 1997 winner of the International Cosmos Prize, and received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001. His column for The Observer (“Children Must Choose Their own Beliefs,” Dec. 30, 2001) pointed out: “We deliberately set up, and massively subsidise, segregated faith schools (Note: In the UK, where he lives). As if it were not enough that we fasten belief-labels on babies at birth, those badges of mental apartheid are now reinforced and refreshed. In their separate schools, children are separately taught mutually incompatible beliefs.”

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he eloquently warned in a Guardian column, “Religion’s Misguided Missiles” (Sept. 15, 2001): “To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.”

Photo by David Shinbone under CC 3.0

“My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the ‘Day of Prayer’ in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say ‘Enough!’ Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.

—-“Time to Stand Up,” written for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sept. 2001. See Dawkins’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

– See more at: http://ffrf.org/news/day/26/03/freethought/#richard-dawkins

This is exactly my position

When I say I’m an atheist, this is exactly what I mean. Simply that I don’t believe God is real. Any god.

I think many people don’t understand lack of belief. When I say I don’t have a belief in any god, that does NOT mean I think  there are no gods. That’s a different thing, and I may actually believe that. Or I may not. (In my own case, I do also believe there is no god; but that’s NOT what makes me an atheist.)

The prefix a means non or none or not. Therefore, an a-theist is simply a non-theist. A person without a god.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

Maybe it’s a subtle distinction, but it’s real. Atheism is not a belief; it’s the lack of a belief.

The quote he exposes says that an atheist is a “believer in fairy tales.” This is incredibly ironic, since we are the ones who do NOT believe the fairy tales.

To an atheist, God is as fictional as Zeus or Thor. Or the tooth fairy.

A piece of chocolate

Francine Christope-One amazing ladyWOW!!!!!!!! Seriously, stop what you are doing right now and watch this video. It’s not often that I post really serious stuff, but this woman is just amazing. Watch and share this, I promise you – totally worth it 🙂 ~ QC

Posted by I Do Not Need Anger Management, You Just Need to Shut Up on Saturday, October 24, 2015

It has nothing directly to do with the things I usually rant about on this blog. It’s just a really nice story about the aftermath of  terrible, horrible war.

Both my grandfathers fought in World War I. I don’t know many details, but they were both sent to France.

My maternal grandfather was injured and expected to die. The military hospitals in Europe were overwhelmed with injured soldiers, so they were forced to do triage and spend their time on those who could be helped.

My grandfather was placed in category 3 (“going to die no matter what we do”). So he was placed to die with others in category 3 in a bed on a covered porch, out of the way, so hospital people could spend their time working on those they expected to be able to help.

Grandpa fooled them. Eventually, he got enough better to come home; but he was in pain and unable to work for the rest of his life. It was said that his lungs had grown to his backbone while he lay helpless there in the military hospital, refusing to die. I don’t think that’s actually possible, so I  don’t really know what happened. I just know it was bad.

Hitler had to be stopped then. Now ISIS must be stopped. Occasionally other evils must be defeated. As long as there is evil in the world, it will sometimes require violence to overthrow it. But war and fighting and violence must always be our last resort. Never our first choice.

Protecting Women’s Health in Texas

Warning: This is John Oliver, so most of you will know there are a going go be a few “naughty” words in the video. Sorry about that, but he tells it like it is. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Abortion Laws (HBO)

Published on Feb 21, 2016

Abortion is theoretically legal, but some states make it practically inaccessible. Texas is one of the worst offenders at making abortions almost unavailable in the name of “protecting women’s health.” It’s a lie, folks.

I’m very strongly in favor of protecting a 6 or 7 month old fetus against abortion in most cases, but a cluster of cells that has been developing in a womb for a few days is not a person. It’s exactly the equivalent of a mole or a wart.

Any pregnant woman who wishes she wasn’t shouldn’t have to be, and it ought to be legal for qualified doctors to remove a new fetus quickly, easily, cheaply, and without undue complications.

What the Texas legislature is doing to women, while claiming it is to protect them, is atrocious. Only you and I can correct the situation by making our voices heard now and voting for better legislators and governor when the time comes.

Protect the young women of our state. Tell the legislature you are against this nonsense, and tell Governor Abbott he should not ratify any more laws making it harder for women to get safe early abortions in our state. Unnecessary laws already on the books need to be repealed quickly.

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