so comparatively i guess death threats against atheists are not that bad, stem cells from urine

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist


-The annual “freedom of thought” report from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an advocacy umbrella group that represents and seeks to protect non-religious people, details laws and practices around the world that punish or restrict atheism. The group presented the report to the United Nations today.

The seven countries where the state can execute you for being atheist

larger map


The report tracks, among other things, which countries have laws explicitly targeting atheists. There are not many, but the states that forbid non-religiousness – typically as part of “anti-blasphemy” legislation – include seven nations where atheism is punishable by death. All seven establish Islam as the state religion. Though that list includes some dictatorships, the country that appears to most frequently condemn atheists to death for their beliefs is actually a democracy, if a frail one: Pakistan. Others include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, the West African state of Mauritania, and the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. These countries are colored red on the above map.-

Actual death sentences are rare, but obviously such blasphemy or heretic laws, have a tremendous oppressive effect on religious freedom and intellectual freedom. So I guess one should be grateful that we live in a country where being atheists will likely get you some death threats, will automatically disqualify you from elected office ( there have been some rare exceptions), may get you fired and keep you from getting a job ( though employers are generally clever enough to cite other reasons).

reach and grasp

reach and grasp

We’re all peepee heads now, From Urine to Neurons

-Chinese scientists have found a way to transform cells from human urine into neural progenitor cells that can become several different types of functioning brain cell. Published this week (December 9) in Nature Methods, the research offers a quicker and relatively easy way to generate neurons and glial cells that will be useful for studying neurodegenerative conditions, like Alzheimer’s, and for testing related therapies.-

I have my fingers crossed about breakthroughs in neruodegenerative diseases related to aging. I have issues with getting old, but none of them matches the dread of being severely cognitively impaired.

1950s city collage

1950s city collage


The Dave Brubeck Quartet “St Louis Blues”


Einstein and Schrodinger letters hint at discovery of dark energy, daffodil wallpaper

Old letters between Einstein and Schrodinger hint at early discovery of Dark Energy

“In 1917 Einstein published his Cosmological Considerations Concerning the General Theory of Relativity. In it was the first use of the cosmological constant. Shortly thereafter Schrodinger presented a note providing a solution to these same equations with the cosmological constant term transposed to the right hand side thus making it part of the stress-energy tensor. Einstein commented that if Schrodinger had something more than a mere mathematical convenience in mind he should describe its properties. Then Einstein detailed what some of these properties might be. In so doing, he gave the first description of Dark Energy.”

Block quotes do not seem to be working today. Anyway, Einstein said that not seeing that the universe was constantly expanding at an accelerated rate (the cosmological constant term transposed to the right hand side) was one of his biggest mistakes. It seems that  Schrodinger did and Einstein would have included early on, if Schrodinger had produced more evidence. Einstein did change his cosmological constant later. The quote is from the introduction to the paper, and it is one of those times where the researchers were good enough to make the full paper available for download for everyone.

daffodil wallpaper

daffodil wallpaper.

Yesterday was the 182nd anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s birth.



Bill O’Reilly is lucky the Pinocchio effect is just a fairy tale otherwise he’d need a dump-truck just to take his nose to work, Bill O’Reilly Does Not Understand The U.S. Tax Code. Usually what average Americans struggle with are allowable deductions. The basic tax rates, shown in your tax return booklet are relatively easy. O’Reilly and Fox News constantly repeat the zombie legend that lowering taxes and deregulating will allow corporations the income needed to create more jobs – the whole concept of demand gets lost. And reports like this keep coming along, CHART: Corporate Profits Skyrocket While Corporate Taxes Plummet, which means that corporations will not hire people as long as they are making huge profits without hiring.

This, Filed under Cinema / Forgotten Classics O Lucky Man! reminded me of If…. the movie, released in 1968 ( you have to have the four dots).

There has possibly been no better point in Britain’s political history to reinvestigate Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 film, If….  With the ‘ruling elite’ in Britain back where they think they belong, ie ‘ruling’ (but with no particular aim other than protecting their own god-given career trajectory), If…. is a brave and singular attempt to explain why this self-proclaimed elite are so out-of-touch with anything outside of their sheltered little realms (As is stated at the start of the film “Town is out of bounds”).

There is an overall 1968 anti-establishment vibe, but it has a larger appeal than just that. That part of us that gets into a mood and is contrarian about the social order and politics, everything is screwed up. They take verbal and literal shots at an establishment liberal ( a Tony Blair of 1968), the sadistic and authoritarian upper level boys ( who hand out the brutal corporate punishment), the worshipers of tradition for tradition’s sake – the conservative headmaster and other professors. If…. is available on DVD.