Is Neil deGrasse Tyson sexier than Stephen Hawking?

When you think of astrophysicists, you probably don’t think standing ovation.

But more than 1,000 people rose and cheered for Neil deGrasse Tyson on Friday night in Omaha — and that was even before he started speaking.

The response is another sign of Tyson’s status as a rock star scientist. He is known for his ability to share his passion and knowledge about science with everyday people, and this year hosted the award-winning Fox series “Cosmos…”

Tyson hit some serious topics during his talk, such as the importance of the scientific method. But he drew laughs and applause throughout the evening as he riffed on things, including People magazine once proclaiming him the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

“You don’t get big headed about that,’’ he said. “I don’t know who I beat — Stephen Hawking?”

During his talk, called “Science as a Way of Knowing,” he suggested there are some positive signs about science in the United States today.

He noted that “Cosmos” was a 13-part documentary, on network TV during primetime…“That told me science is trendy,’’ he said…

Scientists, he said, carry bias and other shortcomings of judgment just like everyone else. The scientific method provides important “checks and balances.”

“That’s how we roll,’’ he said.

He was opening night speaker at Apostacon, a conference for atheists and other nonbelievers.

Best reason I ever heard of for visiting Omaha. I don’t need to go to Nebraska to find peaceful and windy. We have plenty of that in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking jostles mundane culture –

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Nutball call for armed poll-watchers to confront Democratic voters

Voting-rights advocates have asked Wisconsin’s attorney general to investigate a Facebook group that has been calling for armed individuals to confront voters at the polls in November…

The Politicususa.com site posted an article about the group’s focus on African American voters and included a screen shot of a Twitter conversation between Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia and a user identified as Patrick Murray.

The Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militias said: “We prefer our people be armed. Some will be heading to some of Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit’s worst areas. We will be armed with a list of people to look for at each location.”

Patrick Murray replied: “Just so you are aware, I will not report Republicans. Only Democrats”.

Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia said: “We will be targeting heavy Democrat districts, so it is doubtful this will even be an issue…”

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, told the Guardian that such an exchange constitutes conspiracy to commit a felony – voter intimidation. “They call themselves a militia, although who knows, it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement,” Kaminski stated in a phone interview. Still, she said, “whether anybody will go to the polls or not, they’re already committing a crime because conspiring to commit a crime is a felony.”

Idjits are alive and well in Wisconsin – apparently including the most backwards variety of White Citizens Council scum who can’t abide our constitutional right to vote.

Now, the shit-for-brains “independent” who setup the Facebook account says it was just a joke to fool journalists and bloggers. Andrea Kaminski – from the League of Women Voters – original response to the post was, “it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement.”

Might turn out to be just one guy. Since he says he’s alone, I guess this is political masturbation he’s practicing.

Right-wing school board provokes the civil disobedience they consider unAmerican

This week some families in Arvada, Colo., are bringing one of nation’s founding principles, civil disobedience, back into vogue by supporting their kids in a district-wide student walkout in protest of a new school board curriculum policy that could keep teachers from sharing much of our nation’s history of acts of civil disobedience.

According to The New York Times reporting from Arvada, “A new conservative school board majority here in the Denver suburbs recently proposed a curriculum-review committee to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that ‘encourage or condone civil disorder.’”

In response, hundreds of students, teachers and parents from high schools across the Jefferson County school district, the second largest in Colorado walked out of school, the Times reported. “Sympathetic parents brought poster board, magic markers and bottles of water,” according to the Times…

It’s worth a look at what our nation would miss if the Arvada school board did get a chance to remove from the curriculum all events that inspired, what they describe as today’s “educational materials that encourage or condone civil disorder.”

First to go might be the Boston Tea Party (the original one, not today’s national conservative political movement of the same name) leading to the War for Independence…

However, since The Tea Party was also an act of “free enterprise” it might make the cut. If the Tea Party was kept, the school board might instead choose to remove all the anti-war movements involving acts of civil disobedience.

In that case, they could stop teaching the works of Henry David Thoreau, who famously went to jail for refusing to participate in the US war against Mexico in 1849…

Since “civil disorder” is how women got the vote, the board could zap away all references to the US Women’s Suffrage movement which lasted from 1848 to 1920, a time during which thousands of women marched in the streets and were arrested to gain the right to vote.

And one of the most important historical movements in recent history, the civil rights movement, most notably represented by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wouldn’t have a chance, because it was all about sit-ins and protests that chipped away at segregation.

Nothing new about conservatives burning books – or in the style of groups endorsed by the Koch Brothers [the Arvada School Board], preventing students from access to books and thoughts that encourage independence.

They want tidy obedient little minds to roll out of employee production units – instead of anyone with the potential to fight for human progress and free thought.

There were lots of obedient little minds in Nazi Germany. They were considered Good Germans by the Reichsführer.

Thanks, Mike

First electric biker to earn Iron Butt

When someone tells Terry Hershner that an electric motorcycle can’t do a certain feat, he immediately begins trying to figure out how to prove them wrong. Seriously, the man is on a mission to show the world that electric transport is superior transport, with the two-wheeled mode being his validator of choice. The most recent example of this obsessive compulsion has led to him acquiring an iron butt.

For those unfamiliar with that term, relax, it’s not a medical condition. Rather, it means that he has officially traveled 1,000 miles or more in less than twenty-four hours on a motorcycle. In this case, an electric 2012 Zero S that he’s extensively modified, including the addition of an aerodynamic body kit created specifically for him by Craig Vetter, bunches of batteries (now 21 kilowatt-hours!), and nine separate chargers…

According to Hershner, he’s been told many times that this trip, with its lengthiness and time constraint would be impossible on a battery powered bike. So, he decided that the first day of National Drive Electric Week would be a good time to surmount the insurmountable.

Starting at 1:00 PM at Chargepoint headquarters – he would use that company’s chargers for the entire trip – he headed towards the Mexican border, about 500 miles away to the south. After covering 1,047 miles in 22 hours and 57 minutes, making nine charging stops along the way, he pulled back into that same parking lot with a big smile and joined the 53,000-plus members of the Iron Butt Association (IBA). Yes, there is such a thing.

I’m tired and tender just from watching his achievement.