Category Archives: art

Christchurch from space

This recent photo of Christchurch from Chris Hadfield now on board the International Space Station appealed to me. It seems to have quite wide coverage – but here it is for readers who have not yet come across it. (Click to enlarge).

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Hadfield’s comment accompanying the Twitter of his photo said:

“Christchurch, NZ, taken just after Earth Hour ended. The perfect grid system of the downtown core is clearly visible.”

Emotional time for Shuttle fans

Click to enlarge

There have been some great photographs online showing the last flight of the Shuttle Discovery  atop a modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Headed to its resting place as an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center.

This is one of my favourites.

Thanks to Astronomy Picture of the day (2012 April 19 – Discovery Departs).

Cascading books

This is the sort of public art installation I love. Years ago I spent a day in Hanover waiting for a train. The public art installations there impressed me. One that seemed to gather the largest audience was a simple bail of rubbish. People spent time just wandering around identifying the rubbish items in the bale.

I can see myself doing the same thing here – wandering around identifying the books. A bit like window-shopping in a bookshop – or wine store.

There are more photos of this installation at 5,000 Books Pour Out of a Building in Spain. Also some of the story behind it and the artist Alicia Martin and a video showing more detail (see below). The book pages even blow open in the wind!

Alicia Martin Biografias

Thanks to Adrienne Rewi (@AdrienneRewi).

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Get in line – who is the odd one out?

Picked this up from The freethinker (Caption this picture – and win a copy of ‘God Hates You – Hate Him Back’). Apparently it’s a genuine, un-Photoshopped picture. A fella in Darth Vader gear who fell into step with a flock of ecclesiastical coves out for a stroll.

Well, they are offering a prize for a suitable caption. Closing date for entries is February 8.

I am a bit slow today so nothing brilliant comes to mind. But I am sure there will be some great captions produced.

Actually, I just find the get-up of the five guys in front hilarious. Sillier than that one bringing up the rear.

Update:

Came across a video of the procession – “Darth Vadar joins a cult.” (Thanks to Exploring Our Matrix).

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This Hell would be useful!

Book Review: The Infernova by S. A. Alenthony

Price: US$11.21
Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Blackburnian Press (August 11, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981967892
ISBN-13: 978-0981967899

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This book is a real gem. Anyone with a science or sceptical bent will love it. Bloggers and commenters on blogs and other internet fora will especially appreciate it.

The book is based on Dante’s Inferno. But it is a secular reinvention. In this new hell we get a chance to choose the villains – and their punishment.

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Lamenting loss of funerals

atheist-heavenSo Ed Tomlinson, a UK Church of England vicar, has been ripping in to secular funerals. He himself is looking forward to the “gorgeous liturgy of the requiem mass. . . . Whereas the best our secularist friends (and those they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of resurrection.”

The TimesOnline says Tomlinson is the “vicar of St Barnabas’s Church in Tunbridge Wells, a ‘Forward in Faith’ parish that rejects the ministry of women priests.”

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Morality and politics

Jonathan Haidt has some interesting work on morality and politics. He describes it in the TED video below and in his recent paper (Liberals and conservatives rely on different moral foundations). It basically shows that conservatives and liberals give different weights to some moral intuitions.

Based on surveys and self declared political orientation individuals are scored for the intuitions of:lack_of_respect

1: Harm and care

2: Fairness and reciprocity

3: In group loyalty

4: Authority and respect

5: Purity and sanctity.

The surveys consistently show conservatives ranking their intuitions for Purity/sanctity, authority/respect and in group loyalty higher than do liberals. This suggests that liberals and conservatives have different moral perceptions.

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Defining natural and supernatural

I get frustrated with those who talk about “naturalism”, the “supernatural”, “materialism”, etc., without defining their terms. And this goes for both the supporters and opponents of science. Why talk about “methodological materialism” and “metaphysical materialism” if you don’t, first, make clear what you mean by this.

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Prostituting science

One thing that disappoints me is the way that some scientists prostitute their science. The way that some scientists use their academic qualifications or reputation to support unscientific messages. I realise that everybody who does this has their own reasons and these are usually related to ego, ideology or money.

This is something we should all be aware of when “experts” are rolled out to support questionable or controversial causes, as well as when they are used to advertise commercial products. A blatant example of this was revealed in a blog report on a recent debate about intelligent design (ID) (see ID Was Spanked In Fort Worth). The main speakers were Dr. Lawrence Krauss (opposing ID) and  Dr. David Berlinski (supporting ID). After the debate an audience member:

“heard Krauss ask Berlinski why he wasted his intellect advocating for intelligent design. To which Berlinski replied that he doesn’t believe a word of it, but is happy to cash the checks the Discovery Institute writes him. Strangely enough, this would be consistent with Berlinski’s odd statement early on in which he admitted that his own ethical orientation was focused on living as contentedly and as selfishly as possible. It was a weird aside at the time; realizing that he could be exercising that ethic by making chumps of the Discovery Institute seems somehow poetically appropriate.”

I realise that this is hearsay – and Berlinski may well deny these comments whether he made them or not. However, I think the report does illustrate the problem.

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Expelled – the movies

Intelligent design proponents are currently promoting Ben Stein’s film Expelled. There are campaigns in the USA offering financial inducements to get the film shown to students. And many religious web sites are advertising the film, even in New Zealand where 75% of the population accept evolutionary science.

While the film has not yet been officially released it is being shown to specially selected audience in the USA, usually at Churches. Anybody likely to review the film has to sign a non-disclosure “statement of confidentiality”. However, have a read of the review by Roger Moore who was invited to a showing by mistake and managed to avoid signing the agreement.

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