Archives for the month of: March, 2015

Clouds can be amazing!

Watts Up With That?

Unique clouds like you’ve never seen them before! I just thought I’d pass these along due to the unique “catch the wave” appearance of these. Time lapse video follows.

undulatus-asperatusThis video was taken with an iPhone 6 by Dr. Alan Walters from the University Hospital window in Augusta, GA. Walters, an anesthesiologist at the hospital, said he taped his phone to the window while he put an epidural In a patient.

“I guess I was finally in the right place at the right time,”

Walters said.

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Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Many of the scientists who signed an open letter have no problem with special interests influencing the world around them. They’re just trying to cheat by getting certain kinds of special interests banned from the playing field.

Ove_Hoegh-Guldberg_WWF Hypocrisy, thy name is Hoegh-Guldberg. Australian marine biologist who has long worked for WWF and Greenpeace thinks the integrity of a museum is compromised when it takes money from special interests. Click to enlarge.

I’ve been writing about a nakedly political document recently signed by dozens of scientists (here and here). It is worth noticing one more thing about that obnoxiousOpen Letter to Museums from Members of the Scientific Community.

Although these people claim to be “deeply concerned” that museums compromise their integrity when they accept charitable donations from “special interests,” some of these people are themselves closely aligned with special interests.

Australian marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is a…

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Grassroots Mom

Here in Florida, our public school students are engaged in what I like to refer to as The Testing Games. Based upon the recent blockbuster, The Hunger Games, I have taken to making comparisons between the battlefield in the movie and the school environment that we have established for our students. The similarities are uncanny.

The obvious comparison is the idea that education is some form of competition. We know this concept is a popular one, just based upon the fact that our own US President named his education reform, The Race to the Top. In this race, states are encouraged to create education policies based on test scores. Student promotion, teacher evaluations, and school grades are all based on test scores. Funding is then tied to the student achievement. In simple terms, how well the students race decides how much money the schools get in funding.

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Restricting my comments only to the US Census Bureau and its impositions, I encourage everyone to refuse anything from the USCB that is not obviously required by law.

Look for the word “voluntary” in any notice or form or survey you receive, and point that out to any nosy busybody who comes calling.

Contact your Representative and Senators. Demand the dissolution of the USCB.

A quick double-check of something on Google brought up this tidbit as a suggestion.

A tidbit that clearly shows the frivolous waste of tax dollars that the USCB is. It is worthless and harmful in all regards. End it.

Not to mention boondoggles like this:


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Central Oklahoma tornadoes.

March started out slow, real slow. That was good. Today, beautiful, until late afternoon. Then severe storms fired up north east of OKC. Then things settled down. Then BOOM. 70+ mph winds, hail, tornadoes.

It almost seemed like we just didn’t quite have enough energy in the system to get it going. But it found the energy, and it seemed to have a lot of momentum once it started. Fast moving, fast developing, and the bigger one went through Moore, Oklahoma again.

Nothing like 2013, but bad. Overturned vehicles. Gas leaks.

Pray for Moore.

In depth.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Jim Steele,

Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University and author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

In 2002, Scripps’ esteemed oceanographer Walter Munk argued for the establishment of an Ocean Observation System reporting, “much of the twentieth century could be called a “century of undersampling” in which “physical charts of temperature, salinity, nutrients, and currents were so unrealistic that they could not possibly have been of any use to the biologists. Similarly, scientists could find experimental support for their favorite theory no matter what the theory they claimed. ” Due to that undersampling MIT’s oceanographer Carl Wunsch (2006) likewise noted, “Among the more troublesome distortions now widely accepted, one must include the notion that the ocean circulation is a simple “conveyor belt” and that the Gulf Stream is in danger of ‘turning off’.”


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The referent article appeared last year on First Things. It is worth rereading.

I pretty much agree with the breadth of the article, but I cannot accept a role of the state, nor any interest of the state, in marriage. The state’s only legitimate role in anything is fair, even application of the law. We have messed up making marriage law. Commitment, contract, other obligation factors weigh, and the state has a role there, but the actual marriage, especially with its generational and religious connotations, is out-of-bounds for law and the state.

“The state rightly takes a particular interest in this type of relationship.” No! I strongly disagree. There can be no rationale for imposing the power and violence of the state on marriage. While the relationship may be far-reaching and generational, it may even be foundational to society, it is not justifiable to hang the sanctioned violence of the state over the relationship.

Society may have standing and interest, but it must necessarily be limited to normative influence. Society, institutions, religion, et al., must be nonviolent and noncoercive.

I suppose I am becoming convinced that the traditional view of marriage and family is foundational to what society has become. Marriage is certainly key to what our cultures are in Western countries. However, for better or for worse, we the people, as well as our government, must not impose upon individuals and partners any of our corporate ideals, even if our ideals are perfectly right. (And, of course, such is impossible, given that we are also fallible humans.)

We must allow for freedom and individuality. We must.

I always enjoy reading BioLogos. The site is an extraordinary resource in so many regards.

I shared this on my Facebook page without comment. Then I shared it again with a short comment.

Now, after reading it a second time, I just have to write more.

This young woman opens her story in a depression suffered six years ago. Her depression was at least part physical, but it seems clear it primarily arose from a lack of truth and understanding. She had never found sound teaching and solid information. She had been led to believe she had only one option, of accepting or rejecting fundamentalism. She described it as thinking her only options were a fundamentalism she could no longer believe, and empty agnosticism. While certainty is certainly absurd, claiming ignorance in the ultimate sense is, in my view, irrational. I consider agnosticism as the abandonment of all reason.

Our story-teller explains that her upbringing had been fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and settled. She said any questioning was simply not accepted. The truths were known. That was not much different from my own upbringing, but my Baptist grandfather was a man of science. (An eye doctor, but he could have been anything, from a machinist to a physics or mathematics professor. He was a practical engineer, inventor, tinkerer.) He helped me learn to question everything from my earliest years.

I forget how early I started. I never accepted any notions of a young earth. From earliest school days, the unimaginable age of the earth and universe were given. I would unreservedly rebuff any assertions regarding merely some few thousand years for earth. It was just not reasonable.

It took me longer to come to grips with evolution. Gradually, by about 20 years of age, I accepted that biological evolution and common descent were simply how God created man from the dust of the earth. I accepted it based on general science, but since some of the breakthroughs of genomics, there is simply no excuse. Nothing, absolutely nothing in any aspect of every facet of science having anything to do with life in any way, including human life, makes sense without a Darwinian evolutionary framework. Theodosius Dobzhansky made this statement in the early 1970s, long before I realized it. Theo was, and remains, right. It has only been recently that I became aware that people have been thinking like I do for so long.

These words of hers are particularly worth repeating:

Nearly every day for the first year or two after we moved, I prayed the words of the Roman centurion over and over and over again, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Sometimes it was all that I could manage, but over time I realized that I wasn’t clinging so hard to those words anymore, and I became more sure that even if everything else that I had ever believed passed away, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God, and that was enough. From there I began slowly and painfully and uncertainly reworking my faith.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever fallen so deep, but I’ve had similar times. Jesus is enough. Sometimes, that is all that matters, all that is real.

By the way, it has never been any aspect of science that has hurt me, only people, usually in betrayal of trust.

Impressive list of authors she found to help her learn truth: Matthew Paul Turner, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Donald Miller, Scot McKnight, N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, and Greg Boyd.

She mentions that questions specifically about evolution didn’t come up with her for a long time. She’s not specific, but I suspect it was after college and marriage. For me, it was early. I accepted it very young, but drew a distinction at the special dignity of humanity being in the image of God. I now can hardly even remember what my arguments were. I now see the miracle of in-breathed-ness as simply something God did at the right time, and science and biology will never be able to define it, much less pin down the when of it.

Mainly noting for my own mental processing, she indicates they had four children in the space of about six years up to last year, 2014. She mentioned being busy as a mother. Busy indeed. Blessed indeed. They thought to homeschool as an interim. Liked it. Kept homeschooling. Again, blessed!

Another quote-worthy comment:

As I began researching which curriculums I wanted to use next year, I realized that all of the Christian homeschool science curriculums were likely to be written from the young-earth creationist perspective. I did not want that for my kids, so I began researching other options. That’s when I discovered BioLogos. The BioLogos team helped me find a science curriculum, but much more than that, they helped me to practically and articulately answer questions of how faith and science can be reconciled.

To this, I relate! Ask my wife. She too.

Our family moves in fundamentalist and Wesleyan circles. It comes with the territory of taking one’s faith seriously and homeschooling, especially when raised that way.

I expect to run into young-earth views and antievolutionary views, and I expect some derision, but I don’t expect hate and viciousness. Sadly, that is exactly what we occasionally see. Sometimes first person, in the flesh. Other times, more secondhand. There are periodicals we used to get, but not anymore. We dropped/avoid such because of articles that call me sinner, or compromiser, or worse, because I don’t accept their take on a few bible verses that they interpret in nontraditional ways. (Yes, check the history. YEC is a modern, post-WWI phenomenon that was based primarily in fear, but also in racism–which included southern US racism, anti-German racism, and anti-Semitism.) It is hardly compelling, but it is noteworthy that the majority of Christians reject young-earth notions and accept evolution, at least in a general, nonspecific sense.

So, for our family, finding or assembling curriculum for our scientifically inclined boys has been a challenge. My elder son is as adamant about all things science, and more so than me, with the exuberance of youth. The younger cares less about all things controversial, but the intricacies of all of creation enthrall him. That includes most all scientific topics as well as all things artistic.

Many talk about “world view.” They use it as a code word meaning narrow fundamentalist dogma.

To me, worldview must be summed in commitment to truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus is truth. I cannot cotton to lying for Jesus. I’m certain Jesus doesn’t either. Clinging to a narrow interpretation of certain scriptures does not make a worldview. Simply refusing to accept obvious, demonstrable facts and processes is dishonest. In all practical aspects life, that is lying. I seem to remember scripture explaining that liars have their place in the lake of fire. Literalist somehow have a more liberal view on that than I do.

Our story-teller explains that her growth and realization was slow, gradual, even halting. She supposes it is that way for most of us. I suppose so too. I tend to forget, though, that I have been at this longer than she has lived. I literally have been building my faith, my views, my understanding of all things science for over four decades now. Hardly any time at all. I’m still such a novice. However, I have much more experience than most people addressing such issues.

Life is a nonstop journey, with scarcely time to rest. Thank God there is a rest in Him. Still, though life is often hard, and often challenging, even thrilling, it can be so ridiculously shallow if we don’t deliberately dig deep. There is more to everything. The ultimate question, why, is never completely answered. There is always more. There will always be more. Always.

If you didn’t click the link and read her article, you really should, especially those last two paragraphs.


From OK Ed:

If you’re interested in the latest developments regarding Oklahoma’s new standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics, there are two ways to stay updated:

[1] visiting the New Standards page (CLICK HERE) on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (OSDE) official site and

[2] following Amy Ford (@amyanneford) or the official OSDE (@oksde) Twitter.

Welcome to your hub for Oklahoma’s new K-12 academic standards. This page will connect you with applications, timelines and all other information about the process of developing new state standards in math and English language arts.

Under House Bill 3399, which was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in June 2014, Oklahoma must have the new standards ready in 2016.

Not only will the resulting standards ensure students are prepared for higher education and the workforce, they will reflect Oklahoma values and principles. This process is designed to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, encouraging the spirit of collaboration and a healthy exchange of ideas.

These standards are to be created by Oklahomans for Oklahomans.


The Daily Mush

Supposedly there’s this grave problem of racism in America. It shall now be discussed by coffee servers at Starbucks … Frankly, I don’t see it. What I see are the president, the attorney general, some of the richest and most popular entertainers, sports stars, musicians, actors, comedians and the like are of African heritage – all beloved by vast hordes of white folks. As I walk around I see people of all races mixing together. I play the piano in a hospital lobby – I see people of all sorts comporting themselves with friendliness and decency. I detect no tension. This is in Phoenix. I lived in Louisiana – all I saw were people of all races – almost ½ and ½ black and white – doing business, having fun, talking – leading lives. Not in decades have I seen much of anything improper between people of different races.


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It is important to remember this is just a cyclical fluctuation in the weather. The climate isn’t changing differently than it has always changed. There is no cause for alarm.

Still, be vigilant. We are unlikely to be hurt by severe weather if we stay prepared and watchful. In the mean time, let’s all be thankful for the nice weather.

Watts Up With That?

Looks like another “divergence problem” as tornadoes don’t follow the climatology


From NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center:

NORMAN, Okla. During a month when severe weather typically strikes, this March has been unusually quiet, with no tornado or severe thunderstorm watches issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center so far. And, National Weather Service forecasters see no sign of dramatic change for the next week at least.

tornadoes-NONESince the beginning of 2015, the SPC has issued only four tornado watches and no severe thunderstorm watches, which is less than 10 percent of the typical number of 52 tornado watches issued by mid-March. The approximately 20 tornadoes reported since January 1 is well below the 10-year average of 130 for that time period.

“We are in uncharted territory with respect to lack of severe weather”, said Greg Carbin, SPC’s warning coordination meteorologist. “This has never happened in the record of SPC watches dating back…

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Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, has aurora, like earth, and the aurora on Ganymede dance and wobble unexpectedly, unless one factors in under-surface water, ocean water, water with salt and minerals to give it characteristics that affect electro-magnetic characteristics; thus making the variations in the aurora different than can be explained by the atmosphere and Jupiter’s magnetic field alone.

So, is there liquid water there? Let’s assume probably at this point and wait for more evidence. Will we find life there? If there is liquid water, I expect we will find organic systems that we will have to acknowledge as living.

There is speculation of water and life on Saturn moons as well.

“Two of the latest discoveries come from scientists working with the Cassini spacecraft, a joint project of the European and US space agencies, which has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. One team found evidence of “hydrothermal activity” within the icy Saturnian moon Enceladus, reporting in the journal Nature that hot springs were active on its ocean floor.

“This finding is backed up by another research group using different Cassini instruments to study methane emerging from Enceladus. These eruptions of hydrocarbon gas may originate from interactions involving microbes on the moon’s ocean floor, according to a paper in Geophysical Research Letters.”

From: Planetary Science: Is there life in Jupiter and Saturn’s lunar oceans?
Clive Cookson

Here is a YouTube:
Worth the time. Good basic explanation. Its home is here:
She mentions a link for downloading the mentioned software, but I don’t find it at YouTube or their site. But, Google makes things easy.
“if you have access to a telescope and can take photos of the sky, you can upload these photos as long as they are in .FITS format.” .FITS is new to me. Google to the rescue again. It is open, which is why, I assume, they specify it. I’m surprised I never heard of it. Astronomers have been using it since I was in high school, however many decades ago that was.

Anyway, it looks like a great format, and I think the astronomers must have been pretty bullheaded to get such a useful and readable format back when computer geeks abbreviated everything to two and three letters.

Here is another take:

This article is about the same as the other NASA ones, but has a nice graphic of the expected Ganymede structure:

Here is another:

Possible configuration

Perhaps there will be more detail forthcoming. In the meantime, it is looking unreasonable to suppose our earth is the only place with liquid water.

Watts Up With That?

From NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has the best evidence yet for an underground saltwater ocean on Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon. The subterranean ocean is thought to have more water than all the water on Earth’s surface.

Ganymede In this artist’s concept, the moon Ganymede orbits the giant planet Jupiter. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observed aurorae on the moon generated by Ganymede’s magnetic fields. A saline ocean under the moon’s icy crust best explains shifting in the auroral belts measured by Hubble. Credit NASA/ESA

Identifying liquid water is crucial in the search for habitable worlds beyond Earth and for the search of life as we know it.

“This discovery marks a significant milestone, highlighting what only Hubble can accomplish,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has made many scientific discoveries in our…

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Work through the science, and remember, nothing is happening now that hasn’t happened many times before.

Watts Up With That?

 Guest post by David Middleton

Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s recent remarks on climate change at the Atlantic Council were so scientifically illiterate that I find it difficult to believe that he managed to barely get a D in geology at Yale University.  As a US citizen and geoscientist, I feel it is my patriotic and professional duty to provide Secretary Kerry with a few complimentary science lessons.

Let’s start with some basics

So stop for a minute and just think about the basics. When an apple falls from a tree, it will drop toward the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. Science tells us that gravity exists, and no one disputes that. Science also tells us that when the water temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it turns to ice. No one disputes that.

So when science tells us that our climate is…

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