A Microsoft Alternative

If you're looking for an alternative (and free) to Microsoft Office, give OpenOffice a try. It's completely compatible with Microsoft and works just as well as far as I can tell.

 Use OpenOffice.org

Northern Ireland Leads the Way

From GroovyGreen:

Now this is a little more like it. It’s amazing what can occur when an actual government gets behind renewable energy. In a step that’s sure to please environmentalists while making RE investors salivate, the ‘Government is proposing changes to the Building Regulations which will make the use of renewable energy compulsory in all new builds from 2008′ The new changes will apply to all new homes, company, and public buildings making solar hot water, roof photovoltaics, and small wind generation madatory in under two years.

Almost four thousand households will benefit immediately from the new systems. Those families on low incomes will also receive 100% grant assistance to install solar hot water systems for more than 500 homes. From the article,

‘Launching an £8 million renewable energy Household Programme, Peter Hain said that Northern Ireland is leading the rest of the United Kingdom in green energy. “I am fully committed to the use of renewable energy and I know how effective it can be. In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved. As a Government, we are also moving forward in changes to the building regulations to help and encourage greater use of renewable energy.’

(Original story found here.)



You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 8/8 correct!


You Know You're An Idiot If....

you buy a book by Kevin Trudeau. As soon as I saw his book title, "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About", I knew he was a joke. Yet people bought tons of it, despite the utter lack of scientific evidence to support any of this claims. He has another book out, "More Natural Cures", which is equally as bad. Both try to get you to pay for his website for more info. Trudeau is a true sleazeball. If you'd like to get an idea of what kind of crap he's peddling, and a scientific response, head over to Respectful Insolence.


Newly Christened

It turns out my elf name is Huor Linwëlin. My hobbit name is Popo Boggy-Hillocks. Want to find your names? Click here.

Life Up Close

Check out these photos of insects up close. Amazing!

(Via Evolgen)



The North Kitsap Herald published my letter to the editor. You can read it here. Will I get any replies?


Asking the Right Questions

Chris Matthews is on target:

MATTHEWS: I just wonder, Pat, about just the simple history. We know from looking at the Arab world as we've come to understand it, that there is this division there among the Shia who are on the outs and are becoming to be the ins, of course, in Iraq and certainly already control Iran. Taking on the Sunnis that's a world we are only vaguely understanding. That's a thousand year old war. Do you think we are creating another thousand year war by killing so many Arabs? I've been afraid of this war from day one because I've always felt, based on history, every time you kill somebody, you've got his brother, his mother, his family coming back to get you. We've killed 50,000 Iraqi's in a war that was supposed to be a two-day wonder. When are we going to notice that the neocons don't know what they're talking about. They're not looking at this country's long term interest. They're bound up in regional and global ideology and they have had no experience, I'll say it again, in even a school yard fight. They don't know what physical fighting is all about. They went to school and were intellectuals but they want our government to be their big brother. I don't get it. I don't know why we keep falling for it. And the president, you say, is he free of these guys or not?

And from Pat Buchanan:

Are these people nuts? You've got to ask yourself. I certainly hope the president is not listening to them because I really question whether they've got America's national interest at heart. They're calling for wars against people that never attacked us. I don't care how bad they are. There are wicked people all over this world but you don't go after people unless they come after you.

(Via Daily Kos)


Moving Up In The World

I was promoted yesterday to Lead Teacher of the 5th/6th grades. What this means is that for a small increase in wage I'll have more meetings and administrative duties on top of my regular work. Yay me! It will be a little strange as I am the youngest teacher in my school. I'm going to be optimistic and say that I'll get a lot of good experience out of this, not to mention a nice notation in my resume.

More Scientific Drivel

Our local newspaper, the North Kitsap Herald, published a letter to the editor with the typical misconceptions of a person who obtains her science information from a traveling pastor, Dr. Tony Hoyle. Her letter follows:

India has its Sacred Cow. The United States has its Sacred Ape. Few people remember the Scopes Trial didn’t prohibit teaching about life origins from creation, merely allowed local communities to include evolution, if desired. Now our tax dollars are used to censor research of scientists who believe it required intelligence to create this complex universe and its population.

Few people have read the Humanist Manifestos, which declare evolution to be the basis for the Humanists’ man-centered religion. Revisionist educators have failed to teach students that evolutionary beliefs were essential to both Communism and Nazism.

Are evolutionists united in how evolution happened? No! In 1980, the New York Times covered a four-day conference where leading evolutionists battled about how evolution took place.

They admitted there were very few, perhaps no examples, of one species gradually becoming another, or that “there seemed little agreement on how anybody could establish with some certainty that it happened one way and not another.”

One proposed alternative to Darwin’s theory was Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium, very reminiscent of another theory, which was laughed to scorn a few years ago.

Numerous evolutionists are now admitting there have been no transitional fossils found which establish their theories.

The late scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, penned the irony of evolutionist thought, “Thus, primeval unknown life forms which no longer exist were derived from unknown chemicals by unknown processes which no longer operate, in an atmosphere of exotic and unknown composition in contact with the primitive oceanic soup of unknown structure!” Pupils are taught this remarkable construct without one single scientific observation that it ever happened.

For open-minded or close-minded individuals, opportunity to learn what has been censored from the public debate was presented at the Poulsbo Nazarene Church July 16. Dr. Tom Hoyle presented Adam vs. the Apeman.

Using both humor and scientific accuracy, Dr. Hoyle has addressed public, private and home-schools, as well as radio and television, across the nation and abroad.

Isn’t it time to recognize we are not “Our Monkey’s Uncle,” and do away with the United State’s Sacred Ape? Darwin’s worn-out theory of “survival of the fittest” has created a jungle of our streets and homes.

The are so many things wrong and muddled in her thinking that it is hard to know where to begin. I fired off a reply. It says:

Ms. Shardelman’s letter to the editor perpetuates several misconceptions regarding evolutionary biology and demonstrates astonishing ignorance of science in general. What’s so unfortunate is that there are a number of excellent popular books on the subject, many by the man she quotes in her letter, Stephen Jay Gould, which could educate her on the subject. Dr. Hoyle, whose doctorate is in Christian Apologetics, not biology, is hardly a source of credible information.

Within the scientific community evolution is considered fact; the evidence is overwhelming. Sixty-seven countries national academy of sciences (including the US National Academy of Science) signed the Interacademy Panel’s Statement on the Teaching of Evolution in support of this. There is still rigorous debate regarding the mechanisms that drive evolution (i.e. the theory part of it). This is normal for any scientific enterprise. The result of this is a healthy level of research and investigation that continues to lend scientific support to modern evolutionary theory. Transitional fossils abound complementing our growing knowledge of genetics, development, comparative anatomy, and molecular biology.

Our students deserve to be taught the fact and theory of evolution, not substituting it for pseudoscientific and unsupported intelligent design arguments. Rest assured, the international community is sticking with the science.

I'm curious if they will publish it.


What He Said

Michael Greco, President of the American Bar Association (which represents 400,000 lawyers and judges) gave a damning speech condemning the Bush administration's tactics on the war on terror. This is a pretty big deal and I hope it gets picked up by the mainstream media.

(Via Daily Kos)


I'm So Going to Do This

What happens when you mix Diet Coke with Mentos? I'll be doing it with my students this fall.

Summer Upkeep

I've updated the ol' sidebar. New blogs added, some others updated. Give it a look over, you mind find something you like.


Alaskan Adventure

My buddy Paul is on a two month work trip in Alaska. He feels inspired and has started a blog to record his travels and experiences. Should be very interesting. He's a geoengineer (among other things) so he gets to use lots of cool toys and equipment. Go visit and see what he is up to.

Ark Found At Last?

A Christian archaeology team claims to have found the remains of Noah's Ark in the mountains of Iran. Why am I skeptical?