Wednesday, May 27, 2009

See the light

We Won't Back Down - Repeal Prop 8!

In a 6-1 ruling the California Supreme Court declared it legal for the majority to impose tyranny on a minority and effectively strip rights away from any population it chooses. Prop 8 may stand today, but the cracks are getting deeper and the voices are getting louder. We must remain steadfast in our opposition to marriage inequality and fight for justice and equality for all!


On the Supreme Californian Court's decision on Prop 8

That court, as you know, decided that ballot voted Prop 8 banning same sex marriage was not unconstitutional, but that it couldn't be retroactive: previous gay marriages remain valid.
Disappointed as I am by the first decision (but a bit consoled by the second),obviously I know that the story isn't over, yet! And I think that the infamous prop 8 ballot will be, in the near future, overthrown by another ballot.And it will be a much greater victory!
Never lose heart!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lake Love

A bit taken at the moment

Lovers 2


Ok, I'll look at your car, and what else?

‘Deviant’ Sikh preacher shot dead in Austria

Barry Duke on May 25th, 2009

THERE are fewer than 3,000 Sikhs in Austria –but even among this tiny number there are bitter sectarian differences that led to the killing yesterday of a preacher in a temple in Vienna.

Guru Sant Rama Nand, 57, died from gunshot wounds after an emergency operation. A second, Guru Sant Niranjan Dass, 68, is in a stable condition. He too had been shot.

At least 15 other people were wounded when six armed men attacked the two preachers visiting from India with a gun and knives during a ceremony in the temple.

According to this report, four of the attackers were severely wounded, two of them critically, when they were overpowered by worshippers. The other two were only lightly wounded and are in police detention.

At least some of the attackers were Austrian residents, who had previously been given asylum in Austria.
Sikh's priotesting in the Punjab over guru's murder

Sikh's priotesting in the Punjab over guru's murder

As a result of the attack, thousands protested in the Indian state of Punjab today, torching a train, vehicles and shops. Authorities imposed a curfew on parts of the state, and the army was put on standby after members mainly of the Dalit community protested.

Austrian news agency APA quoted temple officials as saying members of rival temples had threatened violence if the guru was allowed to preach in Austria. Police denied they had been warned of a possible attack.

The guru who died was said to be from the Dera Sach Khand, a religious sect which draws large support from the Dalit community and is considered separate from mainstream Sikhism. It differs from mainstream Sikhism on several religious points – a source of annoyance to pious Sikhs, analysts say.

Dr Parmod Kumar, a political scientist, explained:

Sects like the Sach Khand broadly follow Sikhism but make their own diversions and as such cannot be included in Sikhism. The Dera Sach Khand follow a living guru which Sikhism cannot accept at all. Sikhs react strongly to this and that is why the clashes between the Dera followers and mainstream Sikhs occur.

Religion, any religion, is hazardous to health. Away from it!


Androgyne beauty

Thursday, May 21, 2009


‘We did not know that child abuse was a crime,’ says retired Catholic archbishop
Barry Duke on May 21st, 2009

YESTERDAY it was the damning report on abuse of children by Catholic institutions in Ireland.

Today we learn that a retired Catholic Archbishop in the US is claiming in a soon-to-be-published memoir that he did not comprehend the potential harm to young victims or understand that the priests had committed a crime.
Rembert G Weakland

Rembert G Weakland

Said Rembert G Weakland:

We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature.

Weakland, who retired in 2002 after it became known that he paid $450,000 in 1998 to a man who had accused him of date rape years earlier, said he initially:

Accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it’.

Weakland’s critics allege that, when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee, he had tried to cover up some of the widespread abuse that had taken place in the diocese – in particular by overseeing an evaluation in 1993 of Father Lawrence Murphy, one of those prosecuted for abuse.

A 2003 report on the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that allegations of sexual assaults on minors had been made against 58 ordained men, who were under the direct supervision of the Archbishop of Milwaukee.

By early 2009, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee had spent approximately $26.5 million in attorney fees and settlements to victims.

Weakland’s words are contained in his memoir, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church – and have infuriated those who suffered at the hands of the clergy.

Said Peter Isely, Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP:

It’s beyond belief. He’s either lying or he’s so self-deceived that he’s inventing fanciful stories … These have always been crimes.

Weakland’s handling of the Milwaukee clergy sex abuse scandal is just one chapter in the wide-ranging memoir that recounts his childhood in the coal-mining region of Pennsylvania, his life as a Benedictine monk, his struggles with his own homosexuality, his strained relationship with Pope John Paul II and finally his public fall from grace in Milwaukee.

Ingorantia lesis non excusat

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Edilson Nascimiento

17 May: international day against homophobia

Homophobia is a moral and mental disease, like racism. Bashing an harmless minority only because its sexuality is different from yours is like bashing people for the color of their skin, their language, their race.. it's just as bad.
Religions do not help, with those old books supposedly inspired by a God. I've words for you, the Declaration of Human Rights has superseded that old bag of laws for an ancient desert people called leviticus, and even that ol'homophobe of Paul from Tarsus! There can be no sin in LOVE!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh, yeah?

Laid back

Crowded Universe

The Crowded Universe
By Michael Schirber

Artist's impression of a three super-Earths that were detected around the star HD 40307 in 2008.
Credit: ESO
Planets, planets everywhere. Many have been detected in our cosmic neighborhood, but none of them resemble our own. One planet guru thinks that is about to change. He argues in his new book that we are on the verge of uncovering a universe crowded with Earths.

Alan Boss, a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is well-known for his work on theories of planet formation. He has been in the thick of NASA's planet search for over 20 years, and has become a frequent commentator (and widely-read blogger) on scientific developments in this field. His book, "The Crowded Universe," provides a play-by-play analysis of the planet detections, mission design decisions and theoretical breakthroughs of the past 15 years.

"A new space race is under way," Boss says at the outset of his book. The contestants in this race are NASA's Kepler mission and Europe's CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Planetary Transits) mission, both of which have the potential to detect the first Earth-like planet around a distant star. Boss is betting that together these spacecrafts will find not one but many Earths. He writes:

"If this bold assertion is proved correct by Kepler and CoRoT, the implications will be staggering indeed: it will suggest that life on other worlds is not only inevitable but widespread. We will know that we cannot be alone in the universe."

Mission control

Artist's impression of the Kepler spacecraft, which launched on March 9, 2009.
Credit: NASA
Despite Boss' confidence in their success, Kepler and CoRoT did not start out as sure things. After the watershed detection of the first extrasolar planet in 1995, "the exclusive club of planet finders became increasingly crowded," and space agencies began seriously considering missions that would extend the planet search into space. However, the transiting method that Kepler and CoRoT rely on was dismissed early on as being too impractical. Because the transit method of detection tracks the reduction in starlight when a planet passes in front of its star, the method requires that the orbital plane of the planet be lined up nearly perfectly with our viewing angle from Earth. Because this is so rare, one would have to look at tens of thousands of stars to have any hope of seeing a habitable planet.

The astronomy community instead preferred those methods that could see planets in a wider range of orbital inclinations. The basic strategy focused on the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) and the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF). SIM would detect a planet by the sideways wobbles in the host star's position that are induced by the planet's orbit. The TPF would attempt to view planets directly by either canceling out the light from the parent star with a coronagraph (TPF-C), thereby making it easier to see the light reflected by the much fainter planet, or by radically increasing spatial resolution with a multi-telescope interferometer (TPF-I), creating clearer and more detailed images.

Artist's impression of the CoRoT spacecraft, which launched on December 27, 2006.
Credit: CNES
In the beginning — according to Boss' telling of the story — there was a great deal of enthusiasm for SIM and TPF. But budget troubles and agency politics soon soured this optimism. As Boss reports, it was the modestly-priced Kepler mission that made it through the NASA gauntlet first:

"October 31, 2006: Nearly all of NASA's astronomy budget would be needed to support just three programs: Hubble, [the James Webb Space Telescope], and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). There was no room for anything else… Planet hunting seemed to have disappeared from NASA's agenda, with the exception of the Kepler Mission. It was looking as though NASA headquarters might decide to rename Kepler TPF-K and forget about TPF-C and TPF-I altogether."

It is still not clear if NASA will ever build SIM or TPF. Their fate partly depends on what Kepler and CoRoT find. If Earths turn out to be rare, it may not be worth it to send more hardware up into space. Currently, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are considering combining TPF-I and a similar ESA mission. If it flies, it would be called Emma Darwin, but Boss isn't holding his breath.

Artist's impression of the SIM Lite Astrometric Observatory (formerly called the Space Interferometry Mission).
Credit: JPL
"Emma Darwin would now have to hope for a launch in 2025-2035, a time frame that seemed impossibly distant for someone of my age who had been involved in NASA's planet search efforts since 1988….[I]t was becoming evident that Emma Darwin would need young astronomers and engineers to be involved in her development if they were to have a good chance of living long enough to enjoy the discoveries that Emma would surely make."

Top dog for top-down

Boss's interest in planet searching is not solely wrapped up with the possibility of life on other worlds. He is also hoping to vindicate the disk instability theory of planet formation, of which he is the most vocal supporter. He explains how this "top-down" mechanism could form gas giants like Jupiter.

Artist's impression of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph (TPF-C).
Credit: JPL
"Clumps of gas and dust [form] directly out of the planet-forming disk as a result of the self-gravity of the disk gas. The clumps would result from the intersections of random waves sloshing around the disk, waves that look much like the arms in spiral galaxies such as the Milky Way. When two spiral arms pass through each other, they momentarily merge to form a wave with their combined heights, just as waves do on the surface of an ocean. Such a rogue wave might rapidly lead to the formation of a clump massive enough to be self-gravitating and so hold itself together against the forces trying to pull it apart."

This contrasts with the more widely accepted bottom-up method for making planets, called core accretion. Here, Jupiters start off forming like Earths through the coalescence of dust grains and other rocky material. The difference is that a Jupiter core grows big enough to pull in large quantities of gas from the surrounding disk. Boss thinks this mechanism is not likely to form many Jupiters.

"The first step of core accretion might be so slow that the disk gas would be gone by the time most cores grew large enough to accrete the gas, resulting not in gas giants but in "failed cores." Disk instability does not have this problem. If disk instability worked, extrasolar Jupiters would be the rule rather than the exception…"

Jupiters are considered vital for the habitability of Earth-like planets, since they swat incoming comets out of the way like "the batsman protecting the wicket in a cricket match." Computer models have shown that the number of habitable worlds might be 50% higher if Jupiters form rapidly rather than slowly. "Disk instability seems to be not just compatible with, but also highly supportive of, the formation of habitable worlds," Boss writes.

Life lessons

Artist's impression of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (TPF-I).
Credit: JPL
Boss devotes almost the entire book to the notion of habitable planets without addressing whether any might actually be inhabited. But in the final pages he argues that, with so many available planets to choose from, life has almost certainly arisen on more than one. Although we all may hope that this alien life is intelligent, Boss would settle for something simpler.

"Even if life surely exists elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy and throughout the universe, the closest habitable worlds are likely to be in a phase of the development of life that is either pre-intelligence or post-intelligence. But this likelihood by no means detracts from our strong desire to search for such life. The former will tell us about our past, and maybe about how we originated and evolved, whereas the latter may tell us about our future. Finding a world of methanogenic bacteria would be just as mesmerizing as finding an Earth-like planet that has been repopulated by a thermophilic species better adapted to the runaway greenhouse heating caused by the short-sighted inhabitants who went before."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What have alien species in common with us?

Different from us as can be, an alien intelligent species (expecially if technological) should have
-Receptors for electromagnetic waves (eyes). It can see infrared or ultra-violet, but very probably it has eyes
-Receptors for sound wavs (ears). Always useful, they can be in any shape and position
-Means of communication. Communication by ultrasounds, ecolocation, flashes of color and smell emtted have been postulated. But sound waves are probable.
- A brain that processes informations from the senses (eyes, ears, chemical receptors, electricity, temperature, pressure, all you can think) and coordinates action.
-Means for manipulating objects. Any numbe of fingers, retractile tendrils,tentacles, they should be able to handle objects. Many SF stories imagine energy or telepathic beings tat control creatures who have hands. Improbable.
-Means of locomotions, I.E. legs and feet, any number, though more than three will be a nuisance.
So they will resemble us? Not at all! A Tripod, saay,with three eyes, three series of appendages abd three heads with am abdominal brain will be very different from ours. But some basic features it will share with us.

It can reproduce sexually or asexually. It can be hermaphrodite or they may have up to three sexes. Why up to three? Well,it's difficult for two mates to encounter, still harder for three. Imagine four! No, Three sexes is probably the limit.