Skin Turnover (Thank Science)

When I saw this Pickles cartoon about how much skin turnover we experience each year, I had to investigate. Forty pounds of dead skin cells just didn't sound right. Nothing against the cartoon strip, it's hilarious. I simply insist on accuracy. Maybe I'm a little OCD. Anyway, it turns out I was right about the figure being wrong, although it isn't as far off as I thought. The Internet is a wonderful thing. You can find whatever you are looking for, even if it's wrong. So I found when I Read more [...]
Posted in The Environment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Eternal Memories and Eternal Life

What would it be like to live forever? Would you run out of new things to do, new things to learn, after a few thousand years? Let's see if we can imagine it. Here's the setup: suppose, for the sake of argument, that we have been granted eternal life. We have some kind of “spiritualized” bodies that will never get sick or wear out, and our minds will remain sharp. What about our memories? Eternal Memories There are two possibilities: either we will be able to remember everything perfectly, Read more [...]
Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Homophobic Robert Jeffress

So when I saw this post about how Pastor Robert Jeffress is supposed to be homophobic, it caught my interest, and I had to investigate. I didn't know much about Jeffress, and I don't like to pass on incomplete or misleading information. The article linked to was inconclusive, in my estimation. Yes, I could see he holds a narrow view of marriage—one man, one woman—but that in itself doesn't make him a bigot. It could just be a difference of opinion. The question is whether he would try to enforce Read more [...]
Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Right to Offend

On January 12, Maajid Nawaz tweeted an image of a cartoon. The events that are still unfolding from that innocuous act deserve attention, and I can't phrase it any better than did Kenan Malik: on the importance of the right to offend ‘Thank you @Channel4News you just pushed us liberal Muslims further into a ditch’. So tweeted Maajid Nawaz, prospective Liberal Democratic parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, last night. He had every right to be incandescent. Channel 4 Read more [...]
Posted in Human Rights | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Global Warming Deniers Want Big Government

Really? Very odd, but it does seem that way. Global warming deniers—those who claim to know more about climate science than climate scientists do—make a lot of noise about the threat of big government. If they go so far as to admit the climate is changing,  they assert that the only way to deal with it would be overwhelming government control. Which, they assure us, would be worse than any ill effects from the changing climate. Bucket Argument The denial argument used to be “Global warming Read more [...]
Posted in The Environment | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Evangelizing, as a Hypothetical Christian

I think Christians generally do an inadequate job of evangelizing. I did poorly when I was an evangelical. That’s partly because Christian mythology is incoherent and confusing. If I believed in the Christian god now, and were trying to win over the unsaved, here’s what I would tell the potential convert: There is no hell. God is not bent on punishing people. Our version of the story of the Fall and expulsion from the Garden is badly composed. It is not meant to be about capital punishment for Read more [...]
Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

A Word to the Wise

In these pages, I offer my opinions and the occasional bit of wisdom I have acquired in my struggles. Sometimes I offer advice, particularly in responding to comments. What I say is never intended to be understood as psychological or spiritual counseling, much less therapy. I may make recommendations for your consideration. If I say something that helps you understand our world better, great! Whether you believe me to be wise or not is rather beside the point; even a fool may say something profound, Read more [...]
Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Sunspots and Climate Change

Originally published September 2013. Has solar output been causing global warming, and not human carbon dioxide emissions? Sunspot numbers in 2013 have been well below average for this point in the cycle. If we are now heading into a grand minimum of solar activity, will that reverse the changes in climate we have been experiencing over the past several decades? That would be great! The average temperature would start going down and we would go back to normal patterns of weather, like our grandparents Read more [...]
Posted in The Environment | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The New Era

Returning the U.S. to Democracy and Prosperity This new book claims to offer "remedies to restore democracy, improve economic equality, galvanize community and enable Americans to reclaim their constitutional political power." It's a big undertaking, but Hamdy El-Rayes has credentials. He grew up under the reign of Abdul Nasser in Egypt, and after moving to North America, became actively involved in social causes, later founding the El-Rayes Foundation. Much of what El-Rayes says is controversial. Read more [...]
Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bad Faith

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." If "hope" means trusting against the odds that the future will bring a desired outcome, and "faith" means believing something without good evidence of its veracity, then love definitely tops the list. Love is the only one that deserves to be on the list. Religion generally elevates faith to be the most important. Will we always suffer with the presence of this "blind faith" religion, or will Christianity go the Read more [...]
Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment