Thinking about a new ukulele

I’ve been thinking seriously of adding another ukulele to the herd. A tenor resonator, or resophonic, like the Kala shown above. That’s the re-designed 2014 model. I’ve played earlier models, including the 2013 version with the strings attached to a tailpiece (see photo below, left). The 2014 design (shown above) anchors the strings back into the cover plate, which I expect will be a better design; … (more–>)

Litter, litter, everywhere

Pop cans. Coffee cups. Candy bar wrappers. Fast food wrappers. Cigarette packages. Cigarette butts. Dog feces. Bags of dog feces. Flyers. Cellophane package wrap. Water bottles. Juice bottles. Chip bags. Beer cans and bottles. Disposable lighters and pens. Cardboard beer boxes. Discarded newspapers and junk mail. Plastic grocery bags. I just don’t get littering. I’ve never gotten littering. These are just some of the items I’ve … (more–>)

Feb. 12: Happy Darwin Day

February 12 is international Darwin Day, the day when we collectively celebrate science and reason. And, of course, we recognize Charles Darwin’s birthday: February 12, 1809 (the same birthdate as Abraham Lincoln, by the way). If Collingwood made such declarations, I would propose we recognize the day in our municipality. Other Canadian municipalities have done so. Maybe we could raise a flag with Darwin’s face on … (more–>)

Psychics 2013: the silly, the scams, the failed predictions

Action News, an ABC affiliate, ran a late-year story with the headline “Psychics interpret pets’ thoughts.” No, it’s not April Fools’ Day: this was December 26. Yet the reporter treated it seriously; just like it was a real story; actual news, rather than a steaming heap of superstitious dung. That reporters for any media outlet treat would such codswallop as “news” calls into question their ability, … (more–>)

American belief in evolution is growing: poll

A new Harris poll released this month shows that Americans apparently are losing their belief in miracles and gaining it in science. The recent poll showed that American belief in evolution had risen to 47% from its previous poll level of 42%, in 2005. True, it’s not an overwhelming increase, and it’s still less than half the population, but it is an improvement. Belief in creationism dropped … (more–>)

We have heading up for your net

I have to admit that I frequently read the spam comments WordPress traps for my moderation, and I often do so with a smile. The clumsy, crazy constructs, the awkward English, butchered punctuation and the twisted word use just make me laugh. Yes, like everyone else, I detest spam, and I quickly delete the comments into whatever digital wastebin they descend to. But I often chuckle … (more–>)

Anti-Intellectualism: The New Elitism

There’s a growing – and disturbing – trend in modern culture: anti-intellectual elitism. The dismissal of art, science, culture, philosophy, of rhetoric and debate, of literature and poetry, and their replacement by entertainment, spectacle, self-righteous self ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. These are usually followed by vituperative ridicule and angry caterwauling when anyone challenges the populist ideals or ideologies. As if having a brain, as if having … (more–>)

Survival of the Fittest

Charles Darwin has long been associated with the phrase, “survival of the fittest.” For a century and a half people have used it to refer to their understanding of his explanation of how species evolved. But it wasn’t his. And it has obscured the understanding of Darwin’s own theory. It came from a contemporary, Herbert Spencer. Spencer was a contemporary of Darwin – an English polymath:  philosopher, biologist, … (more–>)

Infestations, Microbes & Parasites

Staphylococci, Corynebacteria, Actinobacteria, Clostridiales, and Bacilli. They’re the most common, but they’re not the only ones. Bacteria. Microbes. Yes, even parasites.  Living in your belly button. And on your skin. Your hair. But the belly button flora and fauna fascinate me the most.* We’ve known ever since the microscope was invented that we had a population of hitchhikers living on our skin, scalp – and even inside … (more–>)

From 7 to 29. Should I be worried? Or just keep monitoring?

Seven cents per hour. That’s what the energy monitor was showing me a moment before I plugged in the kettle. Then it jumped to 29 cents. Wow! And this is mid-peak time, too, my new energy monitor warns. Should I be worried? Better cut back on the tea if I want to conserve energy. It did the same last night when we turned on the microwave … (more–>)

We are Stardust… and Viral Genes

In her classic song, Woodstock, Joni Mitchell ended with the chorus: We are stardust Billion-year-old carbon We are golden Caught in the devil’s bargain And we’ve got to get ourselves Back to the garden Which most people assume is merely poetic licence. Well, Joni wasn’t wrong: we – and every living thing on our planet – are made of stardust. As we learn at Physics Central: … (more–>)

Why Creationists Don’t Win the Nobel Prize

Looking at the list of Nobel prizes awarded in 2013 for science, we see three prestigious entries: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “For the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and … (more–>)

Hijack the Starship

Nineteen seventy. A great year for music, and a sad year, too. The death of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin.* Many of the great acts were kicked off their record labels and would struggle to find new publishers.** The great psychedelic band, Jefferson Airplane was breaking up, but before it did, Paul Kantner and Grace Slick put together a new band, named Paul Kantner and … (more–>)

Why do so few Canadians get a flu shot?

That’s the headline for a recent Toronto Star story. It suggests that as few as one third of Canadians get a flu vaccine, and in some place the number may be as low as 20 percent. This despite Ontario having the world’s first universal free flu shot program, introduced in 2000. The 2013-14 vaccine is on its way to doctors’ offices now. It’s also available at … (more–>)

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