If the Moon was 1 pixel: A tediously accurate map of the Solar System that will have you scrolling for hours

timthumb.phpThe usual posters of the Solar system miss out the largest, most significant part: all the empty space. This interactive page puts it back into correct perspective, and adds some thoughtful commentary along the journey to Pluto.

Further links: Author’s blog (via travellerev)

Game Over, man… Game Over! Three days until the Viking Apocalypse

From the Daily Mirror:

Viking warriors have begun to arrive in York in preparation for the end of the world.

‘Norsemen’ from across the UK and further afield are converging on the historic Yorkshire town as Ragnarok, the final bloody battle predicted in Norse mythology approaches on February 22.

Believers say that when the fateful day arrives Earth will split open, unleashing the inhabitants of Hel.

The wolf, Fenrir, son of Loki, will break out of his prison and the Midgard snake Jormungand will rise from the sea.

Nidhogg, the dragon of the underworld, will gnaw at the world tree, Yggdrasil, until it groans and wilts.

Then as the ice giants of Jotunheim come thundering over the horizon, the dead heroes of Valhalla will descend from heaven to fight them.


Our Reptilian Overlord

Wonkette: New Zealand Prime Minister claims he’s not a lizard person, which is exactly what lizard people would say

Some of the weirder comments:

# Key said, “I have no more comment on this matter. Now I have some basking to do.”

# As Key turned to walk from the podium, he caught an errant fly in mid-air with his tongue before scurrying up the wall and into an air vent.

# Well, when writer/musician/jokester Shane Warbrooke (really?) is found face-down in a ditch, killed by a kind of venom heretofore unknown to mankind, it will be far too late to worry then…

# BTW, John Key is a lassez-faire capitalist and climate change skeptic, only pulled leftward in recent years on that second point by the fact that his nation has pulled in that direction in recent years [WTF?!]

I guess compared to teabaggers, gun nuts, and the corporate crony infested White House you might say that. But we can reasonably infer that our bankster PM made his 50 million by attacking the NZ dollar in the late 80s, causing huge damage to the economy. He’s following the neocon playbook and making it much easier for his corporate pals and giant banks to extract as much wealth as possible from the 99% of suckers. Goofy antics like this lizard joke are the mask of the smiling assassin.

Key’s Apartheid Amnesia

Perhaps the most scathing and chillingly accurate article ever written about John Key.

Key might never have called Mandela a terrorist, but his 1980s apathy over apartheid is arguably more troubling for what it reveals about the shallow nature of his politics, and his very motivations for going into public service.

During the period when Key and others in the banking industry were making their fortunes, NZ went from being one of the most equal countries in the developed world to being one of the most unequal, a trend that is continuing under Key’s government. The OECD credits changes in taxation and labour law for the dramatic changes in the distribution of wealth.

Source: Huffington Post

No wonder Colin Craig is confused

There is a seriously paranoid subculture within Christianity that rejects science and embraces conspiracy theories in order to support a naive literal reading of the book of Genesis wherein the Earth is only 6000 years old, Noah’s Flood was a global deluge, and man walked with dinosaurs. No wonder Colin Craig is confused about climate change, chemtrails and moon landings (satire is hardly needed in this case). 

Young-Earth creationists actually embrace a philosophy that says nothing can be known about the world around us.

Appearances and measurements lie. Trees lie. Carbon lies. Bones lie. The stars in the heavens lie. And nothing at all can be trusted from what we deceive ourselves into imagining we’re learning from observation, study, experiment and measurement.

Their claim is even more audacious than that. It has to be. They want to say that they’re only disputing the honesty of “science,” but if that were the case, then we could easily test their claim by, say, switching on the light or looking at this page on the Internet. Science seems to work. And thus the epistemological anarchists of young-Earth creationism cannot simply be asserting the unreliability of science, they must also assert the unreliability of seeming. If a universe that seems ancient is not ancient, then both the universe and our seeming must be lying. Nothing we think we see, hear, touch or measure can be trusted. Nothing can be known.[...]

These folks are demonstrably untrustworthy when it comes to their claims about the universe. It seems unwise, then, to regard them as wholly trustworthy when it comes to their claims about the Bible. It seems far likelier that their approach to the Bible is as reliable, thoughtful and defensible as their approach to the universe is — which is to say not at all.

Facebook interaction with a Young-Earther

(My comment, 1 December 2013):

Teaching that “evolution is contrary to the Bible” is a roadblock preventing intelligent people who understand science from coming to faith in Christ. Creationist claims have been debunked time and again (see talkorigins.org/indexcc/ ), but outfits like AIG/ICR continue to spread errors and misconceptions. This is not the message of the Gospel!

(Creationist reply, 2 December 2013):

Sorry Rob you obviously are brain washed and didn’t do your studies enough, otherwise you would know that creationists are scientists too and aren’t an embassment. that evolutionists arguments have been debunked far more than creationists. True science matches up with what the Bible says not the other way round. I think you are in error, and seriously doubt your faith.

I was subsequently blocked from further conversation and could not retrieve the comments I had made critiquing the creationist’s propaganda… lots of weird stuff about dragons and dinosaurs and how evolution has ‘collapsed’ or something. A sad case of the Dunning-Kruger effect, I’m afraid, exemplified by a basic misunderstanding and even suspicion of how science is done (education and expertise, research, evidence, careful analysis, tentative theories, peer review, publication, circulation and more critiques, then hopefully citations). Lots of homework is required before zany new ‘discoveries’ like domesticated dinosaurs(!) could receive any credence. Creationism is pure zany stuff and no homework.

John Lennox on Bible and Science

A lecture entitled “Seven Days that Divide the World” by John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, at the Union Club in New York City on January 31, 2013. Dr. Lennox explores a method for reading and interpreting the first chapters of Genesis without discounting either science or Scripture. “Why didn’t I ever have any math teachers like this?” :)

A few highlights..

00:00 Lennox starts off with a cool story about attending a C.S. Lewis lecture

8:20 it is tragic that Christians fight over peripheral issues

9:20 if this was the 16th century, this lecture would address the question “does the Earth move?” when Scripture says it doesn’t move (Psalm 104:5, 1 Sam 2:8) contra Copernicus, Galileo

11:15 how is it that Christians came to believe that the Earth moves, when the Scripture says it doesn’t move?

12:15 we are not “fixed-earthers” any more… but this raises the question of how we interpret the Bible. The natural meaning should take precedence. Creation is not a metaphor. The Cross is not a metaphor. But there are many places where a literal meaning doesn’t work. E.g Christ said “I am the door”, not as a vague metaphor but as an illustration of how one approaches God. Our interpretation of anything depends on our experience of the natural world.

18:20 although there are parts of the Bible that talk about the physical universe, the Bible is clearly not a science textbook. I do not teach Newton’s Laws from Leviticus. Calvin wrote concerning the Creation account, “nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the Word. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere.” [ref.] Augustine wrote: “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions … Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn… If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven?” [ref.]

24:00 Scriptural dilemmas were resolved when people realised that although you can interpret these passages about a fixed earth literally, you don’t have to. And changing this interpretation didn’t affect any of the creeds! A very similar situation applies for the question of the age of the Earth.

38:34 Gen 1:1-2 Many different meanings available, the creation of the heavens and Earth occurred before day 1. So the Scripture is not making a definite statement of the age of Earth. There are several “world ages” we may consider: the age of the universe, the age of the earth, the age of life, the age of humanity.

The original Hebrew does not use the definite article for the first 5 days (yom)… linguistically that means a figurative day, not a literal 24 hour day.

44:00 finishes with an interesting observation that on day 3 “AND GOD SAID…” is necessary for life to be created (abiogenesis), and on day 6 “AND GOD SAID…” is necessary for humans to arise (history). Also “In the beginning was the word” (John 1:1 – how something came from nothing)… and an observation that the human genome is a billion-letter “word” whose complexity defies the action of chance and selection pressure.

Primacy of mass-energy, or primacy of mind to create a universe? Lennox avers that the answer is Mind.

Follows up with Q & A. Newton’s laws describe gravity but nobody knows what it is! Quote from Feynman: “Don’t let anybody fool you. Nobody knows what energy is.” Why do you believe in energy and consciousness when you don’t know what they are? Because of their explanatory power.

Here’s an erudite review of this talk by The Aquila Report.

UPDATE: Get the book…

Road Rage: A Catalogue of Near Death Experiences in Auckland

This list goes beyond the usual rudeness and inconsideration into actual danger where I have felt pretty lucky not to have an accident.

1. Nearly Squashed Vodafone Employee

Exiting a Carpark on Halsey St. : entering the stream of traffic, WTF a pedestrian running across the busy road right in front of me HIT THE ANCHORS. She couldn’t be bothered using the phased pedestrian crossing about 10 metres away. Then she yells at me. Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped after all. http://goo.gl/maps/0G6D4

2. Game of Chicken

Exiting Halsey St. to Fanshawe St., with green arrow on the right turn : WTF red light runners turn into Halsey directly in your path! Daily occurrence at those lights. Seen some close calls.. http://goo.gl/maps/0G6D4

3. Lanes, what Lanes?

Heading south towards the Harbour Bridge, left-centre lane : WTF crazy old Asian dude from Onewa Road is CROSSING ALL FOUR LANES WITHOUT INDICATING OR LOOKING … forced to pull a skid to avoid him. Asshole. Tempted to follow him to wherever and ‘advise’ him of the error of his ways. But gotta go to work. http://goo.gl/maps/AGCof

4. Blind Spot Inside Lane Dodgems

Heading south towards the Harbour Bridge, right-centre lane : indicated lane change to the left. Checked nobody was there. Moved left. Hello suddenly there is a boy racer honking at me? Must have just raced up into that spot to cut me off. Really awesome when people pull that kinda shit at 100 k’s http://goo.gl/maps/O9hKz

5. Death Wish Cyclist on a Rainy Night

Southbound on Sunnybrae Road, heading towards Porana Road lights on a rainy evening. I have a green, someone up ahead indicating a right turn has to give way to me. WTF he’s just gone for it. Touch the brakes. WTF!! THERES A FUCKING CYCLIST DOING ThE SAME THING NEARLY KILLED HIM HIT THE ANCHORS. Couldn’t really see him either. The dude is lucky not to be busted up. http://goo.gl/maps/dyfJC

6. Rolling the Dice in Rush Hour

Northbound on Northcote Road, rush hour traffic. Cruising up the right lane past the Shell station, stopped cars in the lane next to me. WTF THERE’S AN IDIOT COMING OUT OF THE GAS STATION IN MY ROAD HIT THE ANCHORS. Thank God for ABS, managed to stop about 1 foot before smashing the drivers door in. Oblivious fool gives me a wave. I would like to give her a “wave” back but I am too shocked to respond. http://goo.gl/maps/fWvI9

7. ‘Give Way’ is only for the Little People

Southbound on Hillcrest Ave, rolling down the hill at 40 or 50 past Holland Rd, WTF THERES A STONKING GREAT SUV COMING STRAIGHT THRU A GIVE WAY NO TIME TO DO ANYTHING. Phew the mad woman at the wheel hit the brakes and I can swerve around. http://goo.gl/maps/65nQA

8. ‘Stop’ means ‘Go without looking’ when turning left

Exiting driveway on Archers Rd., check all is clear then execute manoeuvre. WTF THERES SOMEONE RACING THRU THE STOP SIGN on Agincourt St. HIT THE ANCHORS!! They don’t stop they just drive around me. This happens DAILY. All the stop signs, school signs and children crossing don’t matter to some people. They turn left without even looking left, bloody dangerous sods in too much hurry. http://goo.gl/maps/d5KUv

9. Game of Chicken #2, ‘Keep Left’ is Optional

Southbound on Agincourt St., parked cars on the other side of the road WTF SOMEONE IS DRIVING TOWARDS ME ON THE WRONG SIDE PAST THE FRIKKIN PARKED CARS. Forced to stop, don’t want kill a boy racer playing chicken today… although it might be a useful lesson to him/her http://goo.gl/maps/WSqhs

10. Game of Chicken #3, ‘Keep Left’ Optional Especially When Driving Kids Home

Southbound on Blenheim St., parked cars on the other side of the road WTF SOMEONE IS DRIVING TOWARDS ME ON THE WRONG SIDE. Forced to stop, don’t want kill a MUM AND KIDS IN A PEOPLE MOVER today!! For fux sake lady. I have kids in the car too. Must control rage. http://goo.gl/maps/S0gTR

11. Game of Chicken #4, Narrow Road, No Visibility, Hazard Lights Make Illegal Parking OK?

Northbound over Poland road. Busy road, narrow, steep hill in the middle means you can’t tell if there’s oncoming traffic. Yellow lines both sides.. but WTF THERE ARE TWO HUGE TRUCKS PARKED AT THE TOP OF THE HILL. O SHIT ONCOMING TRAFFIC ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!! Faaark. Manage to avoid them, say some prayers and proceed slowly up the hill. The trucks had their hazard lights on.. I guess thAat makes it OK to park on yellow lines. Called the cops on *555 and got forwarded to a City Council IVR. I even took photos but obviously the police have better things to do than PREVENT HORRIBLE ACCIDENTS http://goo.gl/maps/FcLmT

12. The Road Is My Personal Racetrack

A friend of mine was unloading kids on Hillcrest Rd outside the Playcentre. She opened the kids door on the road side to unbuckle a child. WTF SOME DUDE IN A FANCY CAR JUST HIT HER DOOR when racing down the hill at 70 k’s. He damaged his wing mirror oh noes!! He reverses and yells at my friend AFTER HE HAS JUST RIPPED THE END OF HER FINGER OFF. He races off ignorantly. Wish I was there to ‘educate’ him. http://goo.gl/maps/y57gd

BONUS: Fun in Christchurch

Eastbound along Kilmore St. : Nearly wiped out a car load of teenagers who had run the lights on Fitzgerald Ave. Skidded to a stop and just missed smashing into a teenage girl in the back seat. Lucky kids, deserve a Darwin Award. http://goo.gl/maps/TaY2d