Episode 11

A little bit later in the week than I’d like to be publishing, but I hope everyone will bear with us while we work around my new schedule.  We went a bit long again, but I promise, we’re trying to keep it down to around an hour moving forward.

News Items:

Marvin’s Martian Microbials

Researchers from universities in Los Angeles, California, Tempe, Arizona and Siena, Italy have published a paper in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences (IJASS) citing the results of their work with data obtained by NASA’s Viking mission.The twin Viking 1 and 2 landers launched in August and September of 1975 and successfully landed on Mars in July and September of the following year. Their principal mission was to search for life, which they did by digging into the ruddy Martian soil looking for signs of respiration — a signal of biological activity.

The results, although promising, were inconclusive.

Now, 35 years later, one team of researchers claims that the Viking landers did indeed detect life, and the data’s been there all along.

We talk about how cool this would be, how it’s not really conclusive as yet, and tie it in to the religious angle in that we both assume the fundies will brush it off as lies or insignificant.

Romney’s non-polygamy and the Race for President

Conservatives have criticized [Montana’s Democrat Governor Brian] Schweitzer for bringing up Romney’s religion in this way, pointing out that President Obama’s Kenyan father was married to more than one woman at a time. “Both Romney’s parents and grandparents were monogamous, so tying him to the polygamous practices of his great-grandparents is a nasty piece of business and no more relevant to the 2012 campaign than an investigation into the marital practices of President Obama’s ancestors in Kenya,” writes Jonathan Tobin, senior online editor of Commentary magazine.

I resist briefly, but Brian brings me around to the conclusion that this has no real good side to it.  It was a crap, low-brow move, and he deserved the pundit pud-slap.

Moderate Christians are following REM’s suggestion

WASHINGTON (RNS) A growing tide of young Americans is drifting away from the religions of their childhood — and most of them are ending up in no religion at all.One in four young adults choose “unaffiliated” when asked about their religion, according to a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

Some bad reporting, but still interesting numbers.

NY State Exam Questions not quite redux

We almost reported a couple of weeks ago on a list of words the NY State school board was prohibiting from standardized testing.  We didn’t because, contrary to many reports I heard on the story, this only applied to standardized test word questions, and seemed designed to avoid inflaming emotions in students taking these tests.  Now, the test itself is out, and one of the questions has a whole bunch of people wondering WTF?

Items of interest:

Matt – http://thewaterproject.org/

I just heard about this charity the day of the recording, and after a quick look, really wanted to help spread the word, especially if it can help with the fundraising campaign started by Seth over at The Thinking Atheist Radio Podcast.  Click the big blue link in the center of the home page if it’s soon, if you’re finding this later, you may need to go directly to The Water Project’s site.

These guys are extremely efficient, and work to provide clean, safe water to those in need.  This saves lives and ends suffering.  Go now, and give till it feels real good.

Brian – Planetary Resources

[Today], a new company called Planetary Resources announced its existence at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. It’s not clear what the firm does, but its roster of backers incudes Google cofounders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, filmmaker James Cameron, former Microsoftie (and space philanthropist) Charles Simonyi, and Ross Perot Jr., son of the former presidential candidate…the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

The Game:

This is a stretch again, but we bid a slightly premature farewell to the Newt.  Stop the madness, please!

Listener Feedback / Follow Up:

The Porn Science teacher is being dismissed, but is fighting the administrative action. This week, the Oxnard School District board voted to fire Halas, saying her presence in the classroom would cause a significant disruption to the schools and student learning. Halas, who has yet to be served with dismissal charges, will have 30 days to contest the decision and seek an administrative hearing. Her attorney plans to do so.

Also, we respond to more feedback from friend of the show, CWebb, including some wise advise about ‘evergreen’ content.


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