Chandra Celebrates the International Year of Light
The year of 2015 has been declared the International Year of Light (IYL) by the United Nations. Organizations, institutions, and individuals involved in the science and applications of light will be joining together for this yearlong celebration to help spread the word about the wonders of light.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory explores the universe in X-rays, a high-energy form of light. By studying X-ray data and comparing them with observations in other types of light, scientists can develop a better understanding of objects likes stars and galaxies that generate temperatures of millions of degrees and produce X-rays.
To recognize the start of IYL, the Chandra X-ray Center is releasing a set of images that combine data from telescopes tuned to different wavelengths of light. From a distant galaxy to the relatively nearby debris field of an exploded star, these images demonstrate the myriad ways that information about the universe is communicated to us through light.
In this image, an expanding shell of debris called SNR 0519-69.0 is left behind after a massive star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. Multimillion degree gas is seen in X-rays from Chandra, in blue. The outer edge of the explosion (red) and stars in the field of view are seen in visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope.
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Some of the readers of this blog who are not American citizens may, from time to time, wonder what makes us tick? What makes us sooooooo religiously fixated? Well, to answer that question, I am pulling a video out of the vaults. Standing outside the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, Kevin Booth and Bill Hicks speculate on the origins of a profoundly American psychosis.
As if the latvian bank that offers loans with your soul as collateral wasn’t enough…Jesus is Here To Make You Rich. Adherents of the prosperity gospel believe that faith in Jesus is rewarded with wealth. If you give mightily to the church, your faith will uphold you in times of trouble. Unfortunately, many who believe this are duped by the unscrupulous (big surprise).
Jonathan Walton, a religion professor from University of California at Riverside, believes that followers of the Prosperity Gospel were some of the most willing participants and victims of the current financial crisis. The gospel’s central promise is that God will make a way for poor people to enjoy the good things in life.
Anthea Butler, expert in Pentacostalism at the University of Rocherster in New York, says
“The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ”
“It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.”
The prosperity gospel is a twig off the branch of Pentecostalism that mixes in an element of supernatural positive thinking. Walton notes that
“the theology can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are ‘worthy of having more and doing more and being more.’ The economic boom ’90s and financial overextensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the Prosperity message”.
The Noble Lie Revealed
And that brings us to the ugly underpinnings of all of this. If you are poor or sick, it must be because you did not have a strong enough faith in God. The Family is an organization of elite political and business leaders who espouse beliefs like this. Formed in 1935, The Family (a.k.a The Fellowship) is a secretive cabal of christians, led currently by Doug Coe, that believe that God treats the elites differently. That the elite have a special role in history and should therefore be forgiven their sins. The Family teaches that christians need to infiltrate the government at all levels and promote the creation of a theocratic police state and imperial power. They were early supporters of Suharto, the genocidal indian leader.
These people, with their fantasy based “religion” are sick. Sick and evil to the core. Their Theological prozac merely keeps the masses distracted.
James David Manning is the head of ATLAH world missionary church of New York City. He is a black supremacist in that he believes that black people are the descendants of Ham. He calls them “the great light people”. ATLAH stands for All The Land Annointed Holy.
James David Manning, who was once convicted of armed robbery, wants to inform white people that they are going to rise up soon. Not black people, white people. Why? Because, Barrack Obama, that’s why! Barrack is “a house negro”, a “half-breed”, “trash”, and a “long legged mack daddy” in James’ point of view.
In the video below, Manning articulates this finely wrought social theorem blathers incoherently about illegal immigrants, socialism, the deficit, and general moral decay. I know it is hard to watch, but, toward the end, in the context of wondering whatever happened to Larry Sinclair, Manning just goes off the rails and begins singing. It is funny as hell!
During the coronation of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice, and amidst the media hype of Sonia as heroine du jour, Norma McCorvey (a.k.a “Jane Roe of Roe V. Wade fame) was arrested.
Apparently, some time back, Norma switched sides in the abortion debate. She became a born again (?) catholic. She now works for a world of “natural births and natural deaths”. Below is a commercial that she made some time in 2008.
While Senator Al Franken was in the process of giving his remarks, Norma apparently yelled something inflammatory and was removed from the proceedings, as shown in the video below
She was arrested for this “incident” along with three others. After perusing several news articles on this subject (links below), I am left with the following questions. What will she be charged with? Will she serve time in jail for this? Is this a misdemeanor or a felony? What actually happened? Could any of you hear yelling in that video? Will the ACLU or anybody else on the left stick up for her rights?
I have to admit that I am uncomfortable whenever I see someone arrested and charged with a crime for what amounts to being inconsiderate of others in the process of utilizing their free speech rights.
O.K. that was a nifty little bit of World of Warcraft Machinima. Three neighs for the Galloping Goddess! Just in case you think Her Pinkness is a false religion, here is a link you can trot on over to: Check out the Virtual Temple of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.
I love this little stickman cartoon. It shows, in brief, the history of the meme of evil from the medieval age to the present. I would like to point out that, in the stone age, the words used to describe “evil” largely referred to illness. The word “Ill” itself is an archaic term for evil.
In modern times, the term evil has come to mean a kind purified supernatural energy that can possess an individual and cause the individual to bring harm to someone or something. Meanwhile, the leaders manipulate the masses to exorcise evils which the leaders have conveniently identified and, in that process, promote a good deal of evil themselves.
In a stunning victory for the American intelligenstia, the US Supreme Court on February 28, 2009 ruled that the Casper, Wyoming City Council was not obligated to accept donations by the Westboro Baptist Church. The Church sought to leave a “memorial” to Matthew Shepherd that indicated the date and time they believe that he was sent to Hell. The City Council, which famously accepted a stone sculpture of the ten commandments from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles (yes…the 70′s rock band are a group of hooded freemasons…tee hee hee) could not bring itself to endorse the memorial. Fred Phelps, the infamous preacher with tourrettes that heads the church claimed that the City Council violated his free speech rights and took them to court. He lost.
This comes on the heels of another setback. Last week, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have trademarked the phrase “God Hates Fags”, were drowned out by counter demonstrators at the memorial service for the victims of the Flight 3407 plane crash. On Board that plane was a human rights advocate Alison De Forge, one of the crashes fifty victims.
Three members of the church showed up to demonstrate and were quickly over run by over two hundred members of OUTspoken For Equality, a gay rights advocacy group, who had their members dress as angels and cover the signs of the Church with their wings.
The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV’s bull Inscrutibili Divinae. It’s mission was to promote the spread of catholic doctrine in the midst of the ascendancy of protestantism and the Dutch and English empires. It continues it’s mission to this day, despite having been renamed in 1982.
It bears mentioning because it is the first recorded use of the term propaganda. The Church preferred propaganda by the deed to indoctrination although they did print many catechisms. The missionary work tended to focus on the soft bribery of charity. This work was often considered subversive.
What follows is the story of a “miracle”: A lebanese girl cries crystal tears and prophecies the return of Maitreya, AKA the second coming of Christ (according Benjamin Creme and Share International). It is a fascinating example of how organized religion can take an already poetic and mysterious story and pervert it into a fraud. I expect everyone who finds spiritual meaning in the story that follows to understand that I simply mean to describe what I think are the facts of the story. Make of them whatever you want.
In March 1996, twelve year old Lebanese girl Hasnah Mohamed Meselmani began crying crystals. It began when she was in school one day, she felt something strange behind her eye. When she went home, her family noticed a second crystal had formed. Her father took her to the city of Chtaura to see Dr. Araji, an opthalmologist, who could not diagnose the condition.
Local news media heard of the story and produced this video.
Hasnah subsequently became a local celebrity. She claimed that a white clothed man visited her in the night and told her he was a messenger from God and that the tears would stop “when God wills”.
The story was then “investigated” by Share International, a website and magazine devoted to the worship of Maitreya. Their involvement may have inspired the girl to make some things up. Despite the fact that the girl has since admitted to fraud, Share International continues to report that her experience is a “sign”.
Benjamin Creme personally investigated this story on Share International’s behalf.
Benjamin Creme is a Brittish author who, for the last fifty years has promoted himself as a prophet. He has written twelve books and he lectures extensively around the world. He has predicted the apocalyptic return of Maitreya multiple times. Needless to say, Maitreya has never come. Benjamin believes in a number of strange things. Among them, UFOs and that the Age of Aquarius is upon us.
Other famous promoters of Maitreya include L. Ron Hubbard
I am not a doctor so I cannot diagnose disease. This phenomena is not completely unknown to medical science. There is a rare disease, called Late Onset Nephropathic Cystanosis, which could account for the crystals that come out of her eyes. So I do not think the video is a fake.
I wrote this post because it is a fascinating archetypal example of how something strange and poetic, but scientifically explainable can be hijacked by hysteria, media coverage and demagoguery until it is perverted into a fraud. The way I see it, the story went like this. Girl contracts strange, but interesting disease. Incompetent opthalmologist is unable to diagnose it properly. Local media get wind of story. Girl embellishes story to please media. International con man publishes story in magazine as evidence of said con man’s cult. Am I wrong?
The Israeli Supreme Court has approved the building of a Jewish museum of tolerance over an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. This is the latest in a series of legal and physical assaults on Islamic holy places since 1948.
The verdict is the culmination of a four year old struggle by Islamic authorities inside Israel to stop development at the Mamilla Cemetery, which lies in the shadow of Jerusalem’s old city walls close to Jaffa gate.
Muslims are enraged by this verdict. After the judgment, Jerusalem’s mufti Sheikh Mohammed Hussein called the building an act of aggression against Islam.
Many Israelis view this sentiment as an attack on their national sovereignty. That may well be true, but certainly it is also an attack on the science of archaeology itself, to say nothing of Muslim history and culture.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles is the primary motivator behind the museum.
This may be part of an overall effort to obscure all indications of a pre-1948 Muslim presence in the western part of Jerusalem. State archaeologists have even admitted to trying to secretly move skeletons interred at the cemetery in the intervening four years. Are they trying to erase Islamic history in the region? Or is that a paranoid, agitated reaction to a good faith effort on the part of Israelis to promote tolerance?
I do not think of this as part of any greater conspiracy to deprive Muslims of their heritage. However, it is an iconic example of how one archaic paradigm (we could call it Israeli Patriot 1.0) can completely misunderstand another (Fundamentalist Muslim, Inc.) The real tragedy is the insult this represents to the future and to science.