If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s a cheater. No, I’m not talking about using a cheat code so you can blow through the last stage of Doom 3 to beat the end boss and see the ending sequence after a long weekend of slagging your way through demons the old fashioned way — I mean, cheating where it counts, where cheating affects another human being negatively. And where those internet-keyboard-brigade creationists are concerned, while all of their actions are objectively negative, those actions that can safely be described as “cheating” are especially deplorable. This is the story of how those same creationists are cheating at Youtube.
Check this out, Unix / Linux / Mac users. You know how Unix time is measured as the number of seconds since January 1, 1970, Coordinated Universal Time? Throw this in a terminal to see what Unix time 1234567890 equates to… it’s today. For you Windows users, ignore this post. It’s not only too geeky for your likes, you can’t do this anyway since Windows doesn’t measure its time in the “standard” manner.
perl -e 'print scalar localtime(1234567890),"n";'
This should be scheduled to post at the exact time, in fact, give or take a few seconds, depending on how my web host syncs their time.
(Hat tip to Phil Plait for the Perl code, saving me the effort of writing it myself. Wow… And I thought I might scoop HIM on something for once. Very sad. Shoddy, Jason, shoddy.)
The finches are nailed to the mantle, the Tree of Life is set up in our living room, and the halls are decked with toy tortoises in preparation for the grand day of feasting, debauchery and licentiousness! Look on every street corner, and you’ll see a young lad or lass singing praises to Our Exalted Chuck, with their hearts filled with the joy of the knowledge that all life is related and every piece of it is but a small piece of one long chemical reaction that started some four billion years ago.
Except, that’s not how science works — that’s how religions work, and you know it. Jodi and I are celebrating today, Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of On the Origin of Species, by watching the BBC series The Voyage of Charles Darwin on Youtube. I’ll try to embed the full playlist, so you can watch, and get an idea of the real story (or as close as anyone’s ever gotten on camera, at least), behind Charles Darwin’s journey of self-discovery, wherein he stumbled across the idea that would become the foundation of the theory of evolution. While his ideas were obviously flawed, having not been formed with the benefit of the hundreds of thousands of fossils that have since been discovered, nor the advances in geology that have since been uncovered to adequately date these fossils, nor any concept of inheritance via gene theory, nor plate tectonics to explain population separation, nor epigenetics to investigate the punctuated equilibrium observed in speciation, he sure did get a lot right — enough that the theory of evolution was cobbled together and has since been able to make predictions regarding what would be discovered after the fact. Long story short, no matter what problems people have with his ideas because his findings contradict their faiths, he got it pretty close to right, as close as anyone could have come given the knowledge of his day.
Despite religions coming around to evolution finally, obviously the concept that a four-thousand-year-old book written by a bronze-age Middle Eastern tribe might not contain the absolute canonical story of the creation of the Earth is threatening to some backward-minded individuals. This led a particular creationist by the name of Elizabeth Hope to make stories up about his deathbed conversion, a completely spurious claim that is parrotted to this day despite being discredited even in Answers in Genesis (probably the only time I’ll ever link that site). In actuality, he started out studying theology, and eventually, bit by bit, came around to a rational mindset. He simply opened his eyes to the evidence all around us of the real story behind our wonderous planet.
Join us in watching this, and if you’ve got it, drink a dram to Our Sainted Chuck.
Carbon is awesome.
No, seriously. We’re made of it, all our relatives (e.g. every other living thing on the planet) is made of it, it can take all sorts of crazy forms, and it can be used to do all sorts of crazy things. I mean all sorts of crazy things, well into the realm of science fiction. Read below the fold.