Friday, December 31, 2010

Quote for the Day

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

--Elbert Green Hubbard (1856-1915), an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher. He and his wife Alice Moore Hubbard died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Dragon Spaceship Successfully Launched and Recovered

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the first Dragon spaceship into orbit today. After making two orbits of the Earth, it splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast. This is the first time a non-government spaceship has accomplished this.

In addition to its contract with NASA to resupply the ISS, SpaceX has contracts with Iridium to launch new satellites and with Bigelow to launch space station segments.

Initially, the Dragon spaceship will be used only to carry cargo. Eventually, it will be able to ferry 7 astronauts into orbit.

An inside look at SpaceX's Dragon capsule that will fly to the International Space Station on the Falcon 9 rocket.

Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Quote for the Day

The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that none has passed here
In a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."
Stephen Crane, The Wayfarer, from War Is Kind and Other Lines(1899)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Quote for the Day

"Always remember that it is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood: there will always be some who misunderstand you."
--Karl Popper, Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Historical Perspective

When someone tells you that political campagins are nastier now than they've ever been before, just laugh. They need some historical perspective:

You should also laugh if anyone talks about "the good old days" or suggests things are worse now than ever before, or that the world is getting worse and worse.

Again, a little knowledge of history is a wonderful antidote.

Monday, October 11, 2010

SpaceShipTwo - VSS Enterprise, First Crewed Free Flight Video

On the morning of October 10, 2010 VSS Enterprise (SpaceShipTwo) conducted its first crewed glide test.

Here is a video from Virgin Galactic by way of YouTube:

Friday, October 08, 2010

Quote for the Day

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger, Speech in the House of Commons (November 18, 1783)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Earthlike planet?

Astronomers have discovered a planet around the red dwarf star Gliese 581, 20 lightyears from Earth, which is perhaps comfortable for life. It is slightly larger than Earth, but is apparently located in a zone around the star which would make it habitable: that is, water could exist in a liquid state on the surface.

MSNBC has the details:

Alien Planet Looks "Just Right" for Life

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kodak 1922 Kodachrome Film Test

This footage is eighty-eight years old. The people who made the film and the people in the film have most certainly passed on. We expect films of this era to be in black and white, and seeing it in black and white we can imagine that distant past to be somehow less real than our current moment. Color makes an interesting difference in how we relate to an old picture or film. Memento mori.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Apparently the Ice Skating Rinks Have Opened in Hell is reporting that Fidel Castro was asked by Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic Monthly, whether or not Soviet style communism was still worth exporting to other countries. Castro replied that it wasn't--and that it wasn't even working in Cuba any more.

Castro has also reportedly criticized Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his anti-Semitism and for denying the Holocaust.

Then Fidel Castro, according to, criticized his own actions during the Cuban missle crisis.

Read the whole article:Fidel Castro: Cuban model no longer works or the article by Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic Monthly.

The last time I felt this weird was when the Berlin Wall came down, Poland joined NATO, and the Soviet Union collapsed--and then I read Russia had started broadcasting anti-communist propaganda at Viet-Nam.

Perhaps this is one of those moments in history when something is shifting dramatically.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quote for the Day

"How are you feeling?" her aunt Misti asked.

"I feel like a rainbow is hugging me!"

--my middle daughter, Toni, about a half hour after awakening from surgery on her ankle.

Apparently they gave her some really good drugs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote for the Day

Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.

--Isaac Asimov

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sufficiently Advanced

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistiguishable from magic." That's called Clarke's Third Law. Gehm's Corollary to Clarke's Third Law is "Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced." I have a Nexus One Google phone running Android 2.2 (Froyo). Google just released a new application for it, Voice Search.

I tried it out. My phone is now sufficiently advanced. Check out the video:

Apparently There Aren't Enough Nuclear Weapons to Destroy the World

We commonly hear that we have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world five times over. Apparently, there are enough to only destroy a tiny fraction of it once, if these statistics are accurate:

Check out How I Learnt To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (Kinda)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quote for the Day

If it was easy, everyone would do it rather than going around telling you their ideas and saying how they could be a writer if they had the time.

--Arthur M. Jolly, interview with Write On Online (2009)

Monday, August 09, 2010

CultureLab: The faith that underpins science

An interesting and short review of the book, Why Beliefs Matter: Reflections on the nature of science by E. Brian Davies, Oxford University Press appears in New Scientist Magazine:

CultureLab: The faith that underpins science

The description of the book from

This book discusses deep problems about our place in the world with a minimum of technical jargon. It argues that 'absolutist' ideas dating back to Plato continue to mislead generations of theoretical physicists and theologians. It explains that the multi-layered nature of our present descriptions of the world is unavoidable, not because of anything about the world but because of our own human natures. It tries to rescue mathematics from the singular and exceptional status that it has been assigned, as much by those who understand it as by those who do not. It provides direct quotations from many of the important contributors to its subject, and concludes with a penetrating criticism of many of the recent contributions to the often acrimonious debates about science and religions.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

On this Day

On this day many will recall the fate of Hiroshima, when up to 140,000 were killed and 69 per cent of the city was destroyed. It may be useful to put Hiroshima's destruction into its sad context.

The Japanese Empire is responsible for starting the conflict by its attempt to conquer and annex China and other parts of Asia. It killed millions of people in China (most notoriously, the Rape of Nanking in 1937-38, when at least 200,000 civilians were slaughtered). Later, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor because of economic sanctions the U.S. leveled in response to Japanese aggression in China. In all, the Imperial Empire of Japan was responsible for the deaths of 15.5 million people between 1937 and 1945. Far more Japanese died from conventional bombings by the United States over the course of the war. For instance, a single raid by 334 B-29s on Tokyo on March 10, 1945 resulted in the destruction of 25 percent of the city and the deaths of 100,000.

The Empire of Japan was militeristic and bent on conquest. It took two atomic bombs to barely convince the Emperor to surrender--and his military commanders then attempted a military coup to overthrow him so they could continue the war.

For those who fear atomic weapons, remember that they've only been used twice since their invention more than 60 years ago. Far more people have died--and continue to die--from conventional weapons. Eliminating atomic weapons will not bring about peace. We had war before they were invented and we've had wars since, without using them.

Estimates of people killed by Japan in World War II.

How Many Books Are in the World?


The Google Books blog has an explanation of how they attempt to answer a difficult but commonly asked question: how many different books are there? Various cataloging systems are fraught with duplicates and input errors, and only encompass a fraction of the total distinct titles. They also vary widely by region, and they haven't been around nearly as long as humanity has been writing books. "When evaluating record similarity, not all attributes are created equal. For example, when two records contain the same ISBN this is a very strong (but not absolute) signal that they describe the same book, but if they contain different ISBNs, then they definitely describe different books. We trust OCLC and LCCN number similarity slightly less, both because of the inconsistencies noted above and because these numbers do not have checksums, so catalogers have a tendency to mistype them." After refining the data as much as they could, they estimated there are 129,864,880 different books in the world.

An Overview of the ISS from

The International Space Station is the largest structure ever built in space. Its backbone-like main truss is as long as a football field and the station can clearly be seen from Earth by the naked eye, sometimes rivaling the planet Venus in brightness. Today, the space station is home to crews of up to six astronauts representing five different space agencies and 15 countries that built it. Construction on the $100 billion International Space Station began in 1998 and is expected to be completed by mid-2011. looks at the space station from the inside out to take a close look at orbiting lab.

The International Space Station is the most expensive object ever constructed by the human race.

Learn how the International Space Station (ISS) was constructed and developed to provide a permanent base for astronauts to live and work in space

Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Quote for the Day

"You fail only if you stop writing."

--Ray Bradbury

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Quote for the Day

Occasionally he stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.

--Winston Churchill, commenting on Stanley Baldwin. Cited in Churchill by Himself: The Definitive Collection of Quotations, edited by Richard Langworth, p. 322 (2008)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dimitar Sasselov: How we found hundreds of Earth-like planets

A TED talk: Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov and his colleagues search for Earth-like planets that may, someday, help us answer centuries-old questions about the origin and existence of biological life elsewhere (and on Earth). How many such planets have they found already? Several hundreds.

Quote for the Day

"Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life."

— Sir Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series of fantasy novels

Friday, July 09, 2010

Another Quote for the Day

I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

--Attributed to Abraham Lincoln in 1917 in How to Get What You Want, by Orison Marden

Quote for the Day

Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

--Sir Fred Hoyle, British astronomer and science fiction author who coined the term "Big Bang." He never liked that theory.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Things Aren't as Bad as They Say

From the Huffington Post (by way of Instapundit), Down with Doom: How the World Keeps Defying the Predictions of Pessimists, by Matt Ridley:

When I was a student, in the 1970s, the world was coming to an end. The adults told me so. They said the population explosion was unstoppable, mass famine was imminent, a cancer epidemic caused by chemicals in the environment was beginning, the Sahara desert was advancing by a mile a year, the ice age was retuning, oil was running out, air pollution was choking us and nuclear winter would finish us off. There did not seem to be much point in planning for the future. I remember a fantasy I had - that I would make my way to the Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland, and live off the land so I could survive these holocausts at least till the cancer got me.

I am not making this up. By the time I was 21 years old I realized that nobody had ever said anything optimistic to me - in a lecture, a television program or even a conversation in a bar - about the future of the planet and its people, at least not that I could recall. Doom was certain.

The next two decades were just as bad: acid rain was going to devastate forests, the loss of the ozone layer was going to fry us, gender-bending chemicals were going to decimate sperm counts, swine flu, bird flu and Ebola virus were going to wipe us all out. In 1992, the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro opened its agenda for the twenty-first century with the words `Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.'

By then I had begun to notice that this terrible future was not all that bad. In fact every single one of the dooms I had been threatened with had proved either false or exaggerated. The population explosion was slowing down, famine had largely been conquered (except in war-torn tyrannies), India was exporting food, cancer rates were falling not rising (adjusted for age), the Sahel was greening, the climate was warming, oil was abundant, air pollution was falling fast, nuclear disarmament was proceeding apace, forests were thriving, sperm counts had not fallen. And above all, prosperity and freedom were advancing at the expense of poverty and tyranny.

Matt Ridley, the author of the article, has written a book, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Quote for the Day

You can’t make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago “Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world’s music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don’t have to die of dental abcesses and you don’t have to do what the squire tells you” they’d think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say ‘yes’.

--Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series of fantasy books.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Quote for the Day

If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?

--Benjamin Franklin, letter to an unknown recipient, December 13, 1757

Monday, July 05, 2010

Quote for the Day

"The wise know their weakness too well to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows."

- Thomas Jefferson, The Proceedings of the Government of the United States, in maintaining The Public Right to the Beach of the Missisipi, Adjacent to New-Orleans, Against the Intrustion of Edward Livingston (1812)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Stem Cells From Blood

According to an article at, Stem cells from blood a 'huge' milestone by Laura Sanders:

Blood drawn with a simple needle stick can be coaxed into producing stem cells that may have the ability to form any type of tissue in the body, three independent papers report in the July 2 Cell Stem Cell. The new technique will allow scientists to tap a large, readily available source of personalized stem cells.

Because taking blood is safe, fast and efficient compared to current stem cell harvesting methods, some of which include biopsies and pretreatments with drugs, researchers hope that blood-derived stem cells could one day be used to study and treat diseases — though major safety hurdles remain.

The findings “represent a huge and important progression in the field,” stem cell biologist Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan and the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, Calif., writes in a commentary appearing in the same issue of the journal.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Quote for the Day

"What really is the point of trying to teach anything to anybody?"

This question seemed to provoke a murmur of sympathetic approval from up and down the table.

Richard continued, "What I mean is that if you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else. That forces you to sort it out in your mind. And the more slow and dim-witted your pupil, the more you have to break things down into more and more simple ideas. And that's really the essence of programming. By the time you've sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you've learned something about it yourself."

--Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Quote for the Day

A sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not be endured with patient resignation.
--Bertrand Russell

Using a Computer to Help Decipher Ancient Texts

By way of a misleadingly titled and not always entirely accurate article on the science fiction website,, Computer program deciphers a dead language that mystified linguists, I ran across a fascinating paper: A Statistical Model for Lost Language Decipherment by Benjamin Snyder and Regina Barzilay of CSAIL at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Kevin Knight of ISI at the University of Southern California:

Dozens of lost languages have been deciphered
by humans in the last two centuries. In each
case, the decipherment has been considered a ma-
jor intellectual breakthrough, often the culmina-
tion of decades of scholarly efforts. Computers
have played no role in the decipherment any of
these languages.[sic] In fact, skeptics argue that com-
puters do not possess the “logic and intuition” re-
quired to unravel the mysteries of ancient scripts.
In this paper, we demonstrate that at least some of
this logic and intuition can be successfully mod-
eled, allowing computational tools to be used in
the decipherment process.

If you're interested in Ugaritic and in computer translation and decipherment, check it out.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Christian Science Fiction

Interesting article on, a website devoted to science fiction:

Christian readers demand more science fiction books. Why won't Christian publishers listen?

As a Christian who reads and writes science fiction, it is a bit of a puzzle. On the other hand, my very secular, small press editor for my novels Antediluvian, Somewhen Obscurely, and Inheritance had no problem with the Christian and religious elements in my stories. So even if Christian publishers won't handle science fiction, there are plenty of mainstream publishers who don't mind Christian or religious themed science fiction. For instance, religion plays a role in many of Robert J. Sawyer's novels. His publisher is Tor, one of the biggest names in science fiction publishing. His novel, Calculating God, is a fascinating book. I don't know his personal beliefs, but his novels nevertheless do not fear to examine seriously a variety of theological and religious topics.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quote for A Saturday Morning

“There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” Douglas Adams

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Synthetic Life

This is a good summary of what Craig Ventner and his team announced regarding the creation of synthetic life. It is taken from Jerry Pournelle's website, Chaos Manor:

On May 19. Craig Venter announced that his team at the Venter Institute in La Jolla had succeeded in creating synthetic life. Why has this attracted so little attention?

Venter became famous a decade ago because he was frustrated with the slow progress and high cost of the NIH Human Genome Project, which began in 1990. In 1997 he founded Celera Corporation, which did the job in 3 years at a cost of $300 million. The government-funded effort took 13 years, finishing in 2003, and cost $2.7 billion.

What Venter et al have now done is as follows:

(1) They sequenced the genome of the bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides (which causes lung disease in goats). Its DNA has 1.08 million base pairs.

(2) Starting with the chemicals adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) which make up the genetic code, they synthesized stretches of DNA corresponding to segments of the M. mycoides DNA and then managed to get them all to hook up in the right sequence. Thus they constructed from scratch a copy of the bacterium's DNA.

(3) They inserted this synthetic DNA into a different bacterium, M. capricolum, which had had the genes for its restriction enzymes removed (which means that it had no defenses against foreign DNA). The synthetic DNA took over, and the cells started reproducing and behaving just like natural M. mycoides.

A good way of looking at this is that they have taken the cell machinery ("hardware") of M. capricolum and replaced its software (the DNA), which tells it what kind of creature it should be. Having a cell "boot up" with entirely artificial software is an astounding achievement.

There is now a live bacterium in La Jolla whose genetic code was not determined by evolution but by typing it on a computer. This is the first unequivocal example of Intelligent Design – but the Intelligent Designer was Craig Venter, not God.

In my opinion, there have been five major revolutions in human society: the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the breakout into space, the computer revolution, and now the creation of artificial life. This is HUGE.

In this first test, the team copied natural DNA, but now they can begin exploring variations, perhaps producing wholly new life forms. A major goal is to understand what features of DNA are essential for viable life. Venter's company, Synthetic Genomics Inc., hopes to start producing designer bacteria that can do things like making fuel from algae or cleaning up oil spills.

It is a long way from synthetic bacteria to synthetic differentiated creatures (e.g., living androids), but the way is now open. It will happen sooner than we expect. We need to start thinking about the ethical implications.

All DNA has long stretches of base pairs ("junk DNA") with no known function. Although some of it surely does things we don't yet understand, it appears that you can add arbitrary segments without affecting viability. There are 256 ways to choose the 4 bases in a stretch of four, so you can use combinations of four base pairs to represent letters, punctuation, etc. Venter & co devised such an alphabet, and included quite a bit of text in their synthetic M. mycoides. The information includes the following quotes: "TO LIVE, TO ERR, TO FALL, TO TRIUMPH, TO RECREATE LIFE OUT OF LIFE." - JAMES JOYCE; "SEE THINGS NOT AS THEY ARE, BUT AS THEY MIGHT BE.”- J. ROBERT OPPENHEIMER; "WHAT I CANNOT BUILD, I CANNOT UNDERSTAND." - RICHARD FEYNMAN.

We need an international agreement about the code used to include text in synthetic DNA, and a requirement that it include info about its origin (so that any life that escapes control can be identified).

Incidentally, the human genome has 3.3 billion base pairs, and 96% of it is thought to be junk. This suggests that you could encode the St James Bible four times over in a strand of human DNA, and still have it work to create a human being.

Science fiction story: we find that human junk DNA is not random; we crack the code, and find a long message encoded in our genome. It could be instructions for interstellar communication, left by aliens who created us, or it might be a version of the Bible, in Aramaic…

Phil Chapman

Friday, June 04, 2010

SpaceX Falcon 9 Reaches Orbit on its Inaugural Flight

You can watch a highlight of the launch of the first Falcon 9 rocket on the SpaceX website:

Video Highlights of Launch

Details about the Falcon 9:

Like Falcon 1, Falcon 9 is a two stage, liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (RP-1) powered launch vehicle. It uses the same engines, structural architecture (with a wider diameter), avionics and launch system.

Length: 54.9 m (180 ft)
Width: 3.6 m (12 ft)
Mass (LEO, 5.2m fairing): 333,400 kg (735,000 lb)
Mass (GTO, 5.2m fairing): 332,800 kg (733,800 lb)
Thrust (vacuum): 4.94 MN (1,110,000 lbf)

Nine SpaceX Merlin engines power the Falcon 9 first stage with 125,000 lbs-f sea level thrust per engine for a total thrust on liftoff of just over 1.1 Million lbs-f. After engine start, Falcon is held down until all vehicle systems are verified to be functioning normally before release for liftoff.

In December 2008, NASA announced the selection of SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon Spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) when the Space Shuttle retires in 2010. The $1.6 billion contract represents a minimum of 12 flights, with an option to order additional missions for a cumulative total contract value of up to $3.1 billion.

The Dragon Spacecraft, launched by a Falcon 9, besides hauling cargo, was designed to be human crewed. Within three years it could be hauling seven people into orbit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

There is No Moral Equivalence

I'm very tired of the moral equivalence arguement that is regularly used to justify criticism of Israel. I'm tired of hearing that Israel's actions are solely responsible for all the problems in the Middle East, or that Israel isn't serious about peace. Let's see. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula, in which there were oil wells, the only oil wells Israel ever owned, back to Egypt in exchange for a peace treaty in 1979. In 2005, Israel withdrew entirely from Gaza, abandoned the houses they had built there, and forceably removed all the Israelis from the area. The people of Gaza responded to the complete Israeli withdrawl by putting the terrorist organization Hamas in charge and by launching rockets and morters.

But yet the critics insist that the only real obsticle to peace is Israel building houses, which proves Israel isn't interested in peace. Palestinian rockets, suicide bombers, and daily anti-Semitic ravings in newspapers, television and radio stations are apparently not obsticles to peace, since they never get mentioned as a problem.

Jordan and Egypt controlled those "Palestinian" territories from 1948 until 1967. Never once, between 1948 and 1967 did the "Palestinians" demand an independent state. No Arab nations urged boycotts of Egypt or Jordan. They never demanded urgent meetings of the U.N. Security Council when the Jordanians or Egyptians built stuff. After all, the Jordanians and Egyptians aren't Jewish.

Meanwhile, Israel's critics who condemn the Israeli's for buidling houses, were completely silent about the Palestinian government dedicating a public square to a murderer (who already has a girl's school in Hebron named after her). But of course, the critics have been silent for years about the bombings and shootings and anti-Semitic ravings of the Palestinian leadership:

Vice President Joe Biden took umbrage last week when Israel announced during his visit that it had approved new housing construction in East Jerusalem. But another contentious incident that took place during Biden's visit got far less scrutiny.

March 11 marked the 32nd anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history, and this year the Palestinian Authority decided to honor the 19-year-old leader of the attack, Dalal Mughrabi, by naming a square in a town outside Ramallah after her. The commemoration was scheduled for the anniversary.

The official ceremony was ultimately canceled to avoid antagonizing Biden during his visit, but the square was nevertheless named for Mughrabi, and several dozen Palestinian students from President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement gathered in her honor for an unofficial dedication.

So what was the deed that deserved this commemoration? On a Saturday in March 1978, the squad of Palestinian terrorists led by Mughrabi entered Israel by boat from Lebanon and made their way to the main road between Haifa and Tel Aviv. By day's end, they had murdered 38 innocent men, women and children.

The first person Mughrabi and her gang of terrorists encountered was Gale Rubin, an American photojournalist taking photos of birds near the beach. They killed her and continued on their deadly path.

They then hijacked a bus full of happy families returning from a Saturday excursion. On their way to Tel Aviv, the terrorists shot at passing cars and killed more innocent people.

The terrorists tied all the men's hands to the bus seats. When Israeli security forces stopped the bus, the terrorists ran out while throwing hand grenades into the bus, setting it on fire. The men inside were burned alive....

How does a society have a suicide-murderer waiting list of 500 young Palestinians wanting to kill themselves along with Israelis, as was the case during the worst days of the second intifada, when a terror attack occurred almost daily?

The answers lie in years of brainwashing, which starts at a very young age, through education and religious television channels, mosque prayers and lessons that make people believe that death is better than life; that killing innocent people, without distinction, will improve Palestinian life.

The answers are rooted in years of glorifying the murderers, putting their posters on streets, giving their families money and respect, and yes, in naming city squares after them.

Dalal Mughrabi came into Israel 32 years ago this month with one intention: to kill Israelis, randomly, as many as possible. In most countries, she would be condemned for eternity. In today's Palestinian society, she is a heroine.

Israelis want a genuine peace with our neighbors. But as long as Palestinian society glorifies terrorists and murderers such as Mughrabi and the ones who killed our three children, we cannot believe that Palestinians are ready to live in peace with us.

Read the whole opinion piece from today's L.A. Times: Why Glorify the Murderers?

Frankly, I wonder how many Palestinians or their boosters really want peace. I fear that they just hate Jews and are using the whole "Palestinian cause" as a way to justify their anti-Semitism.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Multiverse

An interesting article in New Scientist:
A measure for the multiverse
03 March 2010 by Amanda Gefter

Despite the many virtues of the multiverse, Ellis is far from alone in finding it a dangerous idea. The main cause for alarm is the fact that it postulates the existence of a multitude of unobservable universes, making the whole idea untestable. If something as fundamental as this is untestable, says Ellis, the foundations of science itself are undermined.

One of the guests at Ellis's party doesn't see it that way. Raphael Bousso of the University of California, Berkeley, has also been grappling with the multiverse, and in the past few months he has found a way round the troubling problem of unobservable universes. At a stroke, he has transformed the multiverse from a theory so problematical that it threatens to subvert science, into one that promises predictions we can test. His insights are steering physicists along the path to their ultimate goal of uniting quantum mechanics and gravity into one neat theory of everything.

Read the whole article at New Scientist.

A Year With God

My next book, A Year With God, is now available for pre-order from Paperback, 384 pages. List price is $15.99. Published by Thomas Nelson. It will be released on November 2, 2010. It's a daily devotional book with a quotation of God's own words for each day of the year followed by a commentary/devotional in my own words.