Early Earthquake Warnings

It wasn’t all that long ago that the only system for early earthquake detection just didn’t exist. The best you could do was pray that if you were in an earthquake-prone area, God would look over you and help you survive.

Times have changed. We call that science.

So now we can actually do this.

The California Legislature has sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require development of an earthquake early warning system…

Scientists are already testing a demonstration system.

Can you image the story a hundred years ago?

By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, September 13, 10:39 AM

Hiram Johnson was governor of California and a...LOS ANGELES — The California Legislature has sent Gov. Hiram Johnson a bill that would require everyone to pray for an earthquake early warning system.
The bill moved forward in Thursday’s last hours of the legislative session and the governor has until Oct. 13 to act on it.
Pastors and religious leaders have been calling for such a system ever since the Great Earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. If God had simply alerted the City, the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California history could have been averted.


Hmmm. I wonder why that never happened? Perhaps because science and the technology it engenders had not reached this state, where we can now detect with precise instrumentation the first evidence of an earthquake, before the rolling waves hit populated areas, giving people time to protect themselves, stop medical procedures and allow transportation systems to slow down and/or stop.

God’s had a long time to provide something similar, but apparently he doesn’t think it’s very important.

And prayer only works after the fact.

Oh, wait…prayer doesn’t work at all.


Not All Atheists Are Alike

Recently there was a study that found that there were six types of atheists. Apparently, a disbelief in the supernatural is not a monolithic belief system, held  in equal measure by all atheists. Actually, anecdotally, I think we would all say that was somewhat true, though it’s nice to have it confirmed. I often find myself in disagreement with other atheists about matters I would expect to agree on, based on the fact that I know how I arrived at my atheism, and assume that their path to disbelief was at least similar. But, lo, it turns out that doesn’t really work out in real life.

I was reminded of this by a discussion I had recently on Facebook. As I said, I sort of expect other atheists to think like me, so I’m a tad bit surprised when they don’t.

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Societal Overhaul

“Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.”

Shakespeare ~ The Tempest

If it hasn’t become clear to most of you by now, it should have. We are in the middle of a blatant attempt by certain political elements  to completely and utterly overhaul society as it has existed for at least the last 100 years, if not longer. I call these elements by what they call themselves – Republicans. A little history is in order.

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IRS Profiling. Scandal? I Think Not.

Republicans are so transparent, so self-centered, so clueless, yet so stupid, that everything they do in Washington is getting to be…so tiresome. Now we have another minor administrative, bureaucratic glitch in one agency of Washington, and the dumb R’s are flogging it like they flog all the other dead horses they dig up, in the hopes that unlike all the other scandals that come and go, these will be remembered in the elections of November, 2014.  It turns out the election of Obama in 2008 ignited a  flurry of so-called patriotism. We elected a black man to the White House.

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Six Years

Uneventfully, last week marked the sixth anniversary of when I started this blog. Since then,  a lot has happened.

  • The Boston Bombers killed 4 and maimed scores in another “faith based initiative”, were discovered, one was killed and the other captured, and (finally) read his Miranda rights.
  • Congress failed to pass a weakened version of a bill designed to require people to get background checks when they buy a gun, despite overwhelming popular support.
  • A fertilizer plant in Texas, that had not been inspected in decades, blew up, killing scores (we think – it’s so bad, it’s hard to count the bodies).
  • Related to the last one, Texas legislators that voted against federal support for Hurricane Sandy relief came begging for federal support for West, Texas.
  • Anonymous hacked The Facebook page of the Westboro Baptist Church, and have been running it quite successfully, and humorously, since then.
  • Ricin-laced letters were apparently sent to President Obama and another US Senator.
  • Multiple countries are legalizing same-sex marriage. New Zealand and, it looks like, France are the latest.
  • A Pennsylvania couple, previously convicted of allowing their child to die by refusing medical care in favor of the power of prayer, apparently did it again.
  • The poor are still getting poorer; the rich, richer.

All in one week!

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Why I’m An Atheist (In 200 Words Exactly)

  • Because I was BORN an atheist. Two people I loved unthinkingly indoctrinated me into believing in something that didn’t exist. Key word – “unthinkingly”. The state of my knowledge at birth was the correct one.
  • Because religion, super-naturalism, has never explained anything. From the very beginning of civilization to the present, whenever religion has tried to explain  previously mystifying natural phenomena (from lightning through mental illness to the size of the universe) it has always gotten it wrong. Always. It has not been right yet, and the odds are it will never be right, if we ever get to the point in human knowledge where we know everything.
  • Because religion is an inherently anti-human phenomenon. I’m a human, not a spirit. Religion explains spirits. There are no spirits, and there’s never been any evidence of spirits. As a human, there is a natural, logical way to treat other humans, and it does not involve burning them at the stake, making them believe what I believe at the point of a blade, or flying airplanes into buildings. Religion is cruel and inhuman, in almost all aspects of its justifying rationalizations.
  • Because I don’t need religion to be a good person.

The End

Tea Party Thinking

Since I began this blog back in 2007, not a month has gone by where I have not written at least one post. So, this being January 31st, and having not written anything this month, I decided I’m not going to purposely ruin that record. It’s a meaningless record, but if it spurs me to write something, then so be it. I’ll write something.

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What’s It All About, This Christmas?

I’ve been drawn into an interesting discussion on a few other blogs. It started the other day while watching the TODAY show as I dressed for work. Matt Lauer had his panel of “experts” addressing controversial topics of the day, and one of them involved “outsourcing” Christmas obligations, like shopping, card sending etc, and the propriety of doing so. In the course of the conversation, Nancy Snyderman said she didn’t like the religious element of Christmas, in effect, it’s what ruins it for her. It was a short exchange, not well fleshed out, but it was clear there was a disagreement between Star Jones, who felt “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” while Snyderman did not.

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I Get (Snail) Mail

Real mail. Snail mail. It was delivered by the Postal Service.

Recently I wrote a column and submitted it to my local paper. The paper actually printed it. I received a lot of responses, and some were actually written and delivered the old fashioned way.  I though I’d reproduce one of them here, along with my response to my fan ( a term I use loosely). I know, this is a cheap and easy way to get another post up on the blog, but I did write it, so why not?

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My Endorsement

Here’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. Both of you. Who will SI endorse for President of the United States? I’m sure that if you’re a regular reader, you really have no idea, because I’m so obviously impartial in my politics,  and I clearly lean in both directions depending on the issue, that you are all scratching your heads, trying to tease some sense of who I will ultimately pick. Let me ease the suspense, and give it to you straight.

{drum roll}

Barack Obama.

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