Showing posts with label getting a grip. Show all posts
Showing posts with label getting a grip. Show all posts

19 May 2017

Ammonites, Dinosaurs, and Us

Today's world is remarkable for a lack of dinosaurs. Big ones, anyway. Those critters would have been among the first things someone would notice here for upwards of 200,000,000 years.

Then, about 66,000,000 years back, something awful happened. The only dinosaurs left are those little tweeting, chirping, and cawing critters we call birds.

Ammonites had been around for even longer, but whatever finished the 'thunder lizards' wiped them out, too. We showed up much more recently, and are learning that there's a very great deal of our past, and Earth's, that we don't know. Not yet....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

5 May 2017

First Americans?

Scientists used new DNA screening tech to study caves in Belgium, Croatia, France, Russia, and Spain. What they found wasn't a big surprise. What's exciting about the news is that we now have another tool for unraveling our family history.

We've been pretty sure that nobody lived in North America until about two dozen millennia back. That may change, if scientists who say they found 130,000-year-old tools in San Diego County, California. Quite a few other scientists are dubious, understandably.

I took a longer look at what we've been learning about Homo naledi. They're folks who don't look like humanity's current model. We found their remains in a cave they probably used as a crypt.

Since you may be reading my stuff for the first time, I'll review why I think truth is important. All truth, not just the bits I grew up knowing about. Also why I take the Bible seriously, but not 'creation science.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Apr 2017

The Speckled Axe



I'm a perfectionist, a frustrated one. Somewhere between childhood and adolescence, I felt that if adequacy had a numeric value, it'd be greater than two and less than one; or something equally impossible.

More accurately, I felt as if that was the standard imposed on me. I realized that it wasn't possible, and that there was no point in trying to reach it. Like I said, frustrated.

That goes a long way to explain, I think, why results from aptitude and intelligence tests showed that I should be getting stellar grades: and I wasn't.

Autism Meets Perfectionism


Academics interested me, and I was paying attention. I just didn't see a point in "good grades." Besides, there was a whole universe full of things not being covered at any particular moment: including some inside the classroom.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Apr 2017

Pesticides in the Water



I live on Earth, so caring about what happens here makes sense. I've talked about enlightened self-interest, Yeats, Ehrlich, and getting a grip, before. Often, actually. (February 17, 2017; January 20, 2017; September 16, 2016; August 12, 2016)

A news item about scientists finding a particular sort of pesticide in America's drinking water got my attention. So did what they said about it: which made sense.

Whether or not this becomes a hot news item, like the "Flint Water Crisis," depends partly on how badly editors need something to angst over. My opinion.

What happened in Flint, Michigan, was real enough. There's a pretty good Wikipedia page on it. Briefly, Flint's drinking water was okay until the city started drawing from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron and the Detroit River.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

31 Mar 2017

DNA and Cancer

Apparently quiet a few sorts of cancer 'just happen,' no matter how much fiber we eat, how much we don't smoke, and how far we run each day.

Or exercise, in my case. Thanks in part to now-replaced defective hips, my running days never really happened.

That doesn't mean that we're all gonna die from random cancer. I think it means we should think about paying more attention to testing before symptoms appear....

After talking about oddly-under-reported 'cancer' news, I kept going; mostly about mutations, and why being healthy is okay...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Mar 2017

The Past: What We Know, What We Don'’t



I was writing about cancer and medical knowledge we've accumulated over the last few millennia, when I realized that I'd gotten more off-topic than usual.

For me, that's saying something.

When I catch myself rambling I've got options. Sometimes I delete and start over from where I was making sense; or copy and paste the ramble into a text file for later use, delete and start over.

Sometimes I delete, get up, make myself a cup of coffee, and try desperately to remember what, if anything, I had in mind....

...Like the title says, it's about what we know and what we don't about the past: and why we're not all that certain about so much....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Mar 2017

Earliest Life: Maybe

We're not sure how skulls found in central China fit into the family tree. They're a bit like Neanderthals, a bit like folks still living in that part of the world, and not quite like anyone else.

Other scientists found what may, or may not, be the oldest evidence of life found so far. That's in Quebec, Canada.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Jan 2017

Gems, Metal, and Earth's Core

The Fire of Australia, a whacking great chunk of opal, isn't particularly interesting from a 'science' viewpoint.

But I'm human, which is probably why anything big and shiny gets my attention: including that rock.

Wrenching myself back on-topic, scientists found a stream of liquid metal flowing at the edge of Earth's core. Studying it may help us learn why Earth's magnetic field flip-flops at apparently-irregular intervals. What we'll learn is beyond me: we didn't know much about geomagnetic reversal when I started school.

We still don't, for that matter. As I keep saying, there is a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Jan 2017

Climate Change Continues

Climate change is still in the news. So is a growing crack in an Antarctic ice sheet, and a Ladybird Book co-authored by England's Prince Charles.

The book, "Climate Change," is a Ladybird Expert Book: written with adults in mind....

...This post has an afterword, mostly my take on climate change and being human....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Dec 2016

SETI: What If?

Contacting extraterrestrial intelligence, meeting people whose ancestors developed on another world, has been a staple of pulp fiction for generations.

Lately, it's become a matter for serious discussion. I'll be looking at an op-ed's take on how learning that we're not alone might affect folks with various religious beliefs. I'll also share what I expect: and what I don't....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Dec 2016

Mars, Aliens, and SETI



I'd love to be talking about unambiguously artificial signals picked up by the Allen Telescope Array, or reports of a ship from beyond the Solar System settling into orbit around our moon.

But that hasn't happened, and probably won't. Not in my lifetime.

Instead, I'll talk about why I don't "believe in" extraterrestrial life; and do not assume that we are alone in the universe. That puts me in the third of folks who aren't sure, and I'll get back to that.

My 'Friday' posts are usually about more-or-less-current 'science news.' That won't happen this week. I've read a few interesting articles, and will be talking about them — after the Christmas-New Year's gymkhana is over.

This week I'm using material that didn't quite fit into an earlier post. I'll also talk about the Great Moon Hoax, Nicola Tesla and Martians; and what I think about life in the universe.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Dec 2016

God, Angels, and Belshazzar

I don't know why encounters with angels,1 and God, aren't all alike.

Sometimes, like Abraham's meeting with the Almighty and two angels, described in Genesis 18:2, or Habakkuk's getting airlifted in Daniel 14:33-37, it's apparently much like meeting another human.

Other times, like Daniel's interview with Gabriel, it takes days to recover. I suspect that it depends on the personalities involved, and on just how much unshielded power we're exposed to.

"The writing on the wall" is still an idiom in my language, meaning "the likelihood that something bad will happen." (TheFreeDictionary by Farlex)

It comes from a reality check Belshazzar experienced....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Dec 2016

Jesus and Expectations



Pip's Christmas doesn't have much to do with Christmas, or Advent, but I figured this post should have something that looks 'seasonal.'

"...Blessed is the One Who Takes No Offense at Me"


We'll be hearing Matthew 11:2-11 this morning. The readings still aren't particularly 'Christmassy.'
"2 When John heard in prison 3 of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him "4 with this question, 'Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?'
"Jesus said to them in reply, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see:
"5 the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. "And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.' "
(Matthew 11:4-6)
Our Lord balanced that rebuke with a reminder of the Baptist's great function in Matthew 11:7-15, and a complaint about folks who wouldn't listen to John or Jesus....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Nov 2016

Hate, Justice, Forgiveness

Islamic centers in California got hate mail recently. At least one of the letters was addressed "To the Children of Satan," and started with "You muslims [!] are a vile and filthy people...."1 Details are new, but the attitude is all too familiar.

Hating Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, or other 'outsiders' may be easier than coming to terms with personal issues. I don't know why those letters were sent.

I also don't know why a Somali refugee drove into a crowd at Ohio State University and hurt some folks with a knife this morning.2 He had been a student there, and now he's dead. I'm not happy about that, but I think he shouldn't have attacked those folks.

I do not think we should deport all Somalis, lock up college students, or ban knives and automobiles. I'll talk about what I think would make sense, after explaining why I'm not upset about Americans who don't look and act exactly like me.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Nov 2016

Satan Didn’t Make Me Do It

Gustave Doré illustration for Canto XXXIV of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri; via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.

Depending on who you listen to, Satan prowls Earth's surface, lives in the White House, lurks in Hell, or doesn't exist.

About Satan and devils in general, I think C. S. Lewis made a good point....

...I like most of Gustave Doré's work. That's his illustration for Canto XXXIV of Dante's "Divine Comedy," Inferno....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Nov 2016

8 Nov 2016

Numbers and Nero

From Wiley Miller's Non Sequitur (December 31, 2011); used w/o permission.

I don't have the 'I'd rather be dead' attitude of the deceased in that 2011 Non Sequitur strip. My viewpoint is more like Edison Lee's dad in yesterday's comic.

From John Hambrock's The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (November 7, 2016); used w/o permission.

I figure that someone will win the 2016 American presidential election. It'll probably a candidate from one of the two major political parties.

I think which candidate wins matters. But I also think that whoever gets the job — America will keep going. There's a great deal more to this country than the national government.

That's not what this post is about, though....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Oct 2016

Authority, Superstition, Progress


(From Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

Authority, superstition, and misapplied technophilia (it's a real word) rate at least one post each: but that'll wait until another day. Days.

This time I'll take a quick look at all three, and then say why I don't believe in Progress with a capital P — and don't yearn for the 'good old days.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Oct 2016

Right-Handedness and Evolving Jaws

At least one Homo habilis was right-handed, about 1,800,000 years ago. It's the earliest evidence of handedness in humanity's history. So far.

Our jaws may have started out as armor plate, not gill arches. Paleontologists found a second Silurian placoderm species with surprisingly familiar jaws....

...Before talking about Homo habilis, and new evidence showing how jaws evolved, I'll do my usual explanation for why science doesn't upset me....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Sep 2016

The Minden Monster, What Killed Lucy

The 'Minden Monster,' a whacking great carnivore that lived about a hundred million years before T. Rex, is in the news again. Studying it will help scientists work out details of megalosaur development.

I'm fascinated by that sort of thing. Your experience may vary.

Other scientists think they know what killed Lucy, our name for a famous Australopithecus afarensis skeleton. It looks like Australopithecus afarensis was a little more at home in trees than we are.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

On Spending

            Occasionally I watch the television show Pawn Stars , shown on the History Channel. It can provide a fascinating look at hi...