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Saturday, March 20th, 2010 |
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Monday, November 24th, 2014 |
From The Conversation:
November 5 2014, 6.10am EST
Is your religion ready to meet ET?
How will humankind react after astronomers hand over rock-solid scientific evidence for the existence of life beyond the Earth? No more speculating. No more wondering. The moment scientists announce this discovery, everything will change. Not least of all, our philosophies and religions will need to incorporate the new information.
Searching for signs of life
Astronomers have now identified thousands of planets in orbit around other stars. At the current rate of discovery, millions more will be found this century.
Having already found the physical planets, astronomers are now searching for our biological neighbors. Over the next fifty years, they will begin the tantalizing, detailed study of millions of planets, looking for evidence of the presence of life on or below the surfaces or in the atmospheres of those planets.
And it’s very likely that astronomers will find it. Despite the fact that more than one-third of Americans surveyed believe that aliens have already visited Earth, the first evidence of life beyond our planet probably won’t be radio signals, little green men or flying saucers. Instead, a 21st century Galileo, using an enormous, 50-meter-diameter telescope, will collect light from the atmospheres of distant planets, looking for the signatures of biologically significant molecules.
Astronomers filter that light from far away through spectrometers – high-tech prisms that tease the light apart into its many distinct wavelengths. They’re looking for the telltale fingerprints of molecules that would not exist in abundance in these atmospheres in the absence of living things. The spectroscopic data will tell whether a planet’s environment has been altered in ways that point to biological processes at work.
If we aren’t alone, who are we?
With the discovery in a distant planet’s light spectrum of a chemical that could only be produced by living creatures, humankind will have the opportunity to read a new page in the book of knowledge. We will no longer be speculating about whether other beings exist in the universe. We will know that we not alone.
An affirmative answer to the question “Does life exist anywhere else in the universe beyond Earth?” would raise immediate and profoundly important cosmotheological questions about our place in the universe. If extraterrestrial others exist, then my religion and my religious beliefs and practices might not be universal. If my religion is not universally applicable to all extraterrestrial others, perhaps my religion need not be offered to, let alone forced on, all terrestrial others. Ultimately, we might learn some important lessons applicable here at home just from considering the possibility of life beyond our planet.
In my book, I investigated the sacred writings of the world’s most widely practiced religions, asking what each religion has to say about the uniqueness or non-uniqueness of life on Earth, and how, or if, a particular religion would work on other planets in distant parts of the universe.
Let’s examine a seemingly simple yet exceedingly complex theological question: could extraterrestrials be Christians? If Jesus died in order to redeem humanity from the state of sin into which humans are born, does the death and resurrection of Jesus, on Earth, also redeem other sentient beings from a similar state of sin? If so, why are the extraterrestrials sinful? Is sin built into the very fabric of the space and time of the universe? Or can life exist in parts of the universe without being in a state of sin and therefore without the need of redemption and thus without the need for Christianity? Many different solutions to these puzzles involving Christian theology have been put forward. None of them yet satisfy all Christians.
Mormon scripture clearly teaches that other inhabited worlds exist and that “the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrines and Covenants 76:24). The Earth, however, is a favored world in Mormonism, because Jesus, as understood by Mormons, lived and was resurrected only on Earth. In addition, Mormon so-called intelligences can only achieve their own spiritual goals during their lives on Earth, not during lifetimes on other worlds. Thus, for Mormons, the Earth might not be the physical center of the universe but it is the most favored place in the universe. Such a view implies that all other worlds are, somehow, lesser worlds than Earth.
Bahá’í without bias
Members of the Bahá’í Faith have a view of the universe that has no bias for or against the Earth as a special place or for against humans as a special sentient species. The principles of the Bahá’í Faith – unifying society, abandoning prejudice, equalizing opportunities for all people, eliminating poverty – are about humans on Earth. The Bahá’í faithful would expect any creatures anywhere in the universe to worship the same God as do humans, but to do so according to their own, world-specific ways.
Light years from Mecca
The pillars of the faith for Muslims require the faithful to pray five times every day while facing Mecca. Because determining the direction of Mecca correctly could be extremely difficult on a quickly spinning planet millions of light years from Earth, practicing the same faith on another world might not make any sense. Yet the words of the Qu’ran tell us that “Whatever beings there are in the heavens and the earth do prostrate themselves to Allah” (13:15). Can terrestrial Muslims accept that the prophetically revealed religion of Muhammad is intended only for humans on earth and that other worlds would have their own prophets?
Astronomers as paradigm-shatterers
At certain moments throughout history, astronomers’ discoveries have exerted an outsized influence on human culture. Ancient Greek astronomers unflattened the Earth – though many then chose to forget this knowledge. Renaissance scholars Copernicus and Galileo put the Earth in motion around the Sun and moved humans away from the center of the universe. In the 20th century, Edwin Hubble eliminated the very idea that the universe has any center at all. He demonstrated that what the universe has is a beginning in time and that, bizarrely, the universe, the very fabric of three-dimensional space, is expanding.
Clearly, when astronomers offer the world bold new ideas, they don’t mess around. Another such paradigm-shattering new idea may be in the light arriving at our telescopes now.
No matter which (a)theistic background informs your theology, you may have to wrestle with the data astronomers will be bringing to houses of worship in the very near future. You will need to ask: Is my God the God of the entire universe? Is my religion a terrestrial or a universal religion? As people work to reconcile the discovery of extrasolar life with their theological and philosophical worldviews, adapting to the news of life beyond Earth will be discomfiting and perhaps even disruptive.
Friday, August 8th, 2014 |
NAUGATUCK, Conn. (WTNH) – A creative invention, designed for kids with cancer by an 11-year old Naugatuck girl, after her own fight against cancer.
On a day like today, Kylie Simonds would be outside with sister Savanna, brother Mikey, and Mom Kelly, enjoying the warm days of summer.
Three years ago, she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer.
“I lost my hair and always used to get sick easily,” Kylie said.
A positive prognosis from her doctors now has her focused on something else, designed to benefit children with cancer.
“I used to have to use the I-V poles and I always tripped over all the wires,” she said. “It was hard to walk around, and I always had to have someone push it for me because I was kind a weak when I was in chemo.”
So Kylie came up with the idea of a pediatric I-V backpack.
“They are very light and they’re more convenient,” she said, compared to the poles normally used. “To have something small for them and not as big like when I first went into the office, I was like — whoa — those things are huge and scary.”
The prototype won a number of awards at the recent CT Invention Convention.
“The bag would have all the medicine that you needed for chemotherapy and this would be the drip and it would go through the machine on the front and you just put it on and you can walk around with it,” Kylie said, demonstrating how the backpack worked.
The young inventor was the only one who went home with the patent prize, and now has a provisional patent for the cool and comfy necessity.
Her own testing included: “I sat back with it a lot and it doesn’t hurt,” she said.
Kylie had good friends in mind when she created it.
“My friend Marik, he has a prosthetic leg and he has to, well he has crutches and he always has to have someone push it for him but if he had something like that he could just slip it on.”
For her other friend Brooke, “Well she had to sometimes go home with it and she had to stay overnight in the hospital, so I think she would have really liked something like this.”
She wishes that somebody would have come up with something like it for her.
“Yeah, it would have been so much easier and I can get around quicker. It usually prevented me, the bars prevented me from actually playing.”
Cancer free for two years now, play time is any time.
Kyle is a determined little girl.
She is now raising the capital to get the I-V backpack manufactured.
Click here to visit her GoFundMe page, and to donate.
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 |
The last time the Town of Fairfield did a property reassessment, it resulted in many homeowners, especially those with waterfront property, to become outraged at the increase of their property taxes. I know personally of one homeowner who put her house on the market and moved out of town because the tax bill went from $12,000 a year to $24,000. I myself am almost at the breaking point where it will make sense for me to do the same thing. I’m a lifelong townie who can no longer justify paying high taxes to live in a town that has become too tony for me. This next revaluation just may be my ticket out of here.
From Fairfield News:
7/7/2014 – Town Initiates Property Tax Appraisal Revaluation
It has been five years since the last appraisal and the Town is just beginning the process to update our valuations. To optimize the appraisal results, the Town will perform a full revaluation which includes a data collector visiting each property in Town.
The Town of Fairfield’s primary revenue source is property taxes. It is important that the Town have an accurate appraisal of all residential, commercial, and industrial properties to ensure taxes are fairly distributed.
Property values do fluctuate over time and by neighborhood. To maintain accurate appraisal records, the Town, in accordance with state statute, conducts a Town wide appraisal every five years.
The data collector’s responsibilities include visiting every property to document physical characteristics, noting a building’s location, size, age, quality of construction, improvements, a property’s topography, utilities, zoning restrictions, if any, and numerous other characteristics both inside and out.
The site visits will be performed by Vision Government Solutions, Inc., which has been contracted by the Town to assist with the appraisal process. Site visits will commence on July 14, 2014.
Data Collectors generally work between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. If the homeowner is unavailable at the time of the Vision Government Solutions visit, a letter with instructions on how to schedule an appointment will be sent.
Data collectors will carry badges and clothing identifying them as Vision Government Solution employees. They will carry written documentation from the Town stating their affiliation with the project. Vision Governmental Solution employees and their vehicles will also be registered with the Fairfield Police Department and the Assessor’s Office.
Homeowners are encouraged to ask for this identification prior to admitting anyone into their homes. If a homeowner has a question as to the identity of a data collector, they may call the Fairfield Police Department non-emergency number (203-254-4800). They are also encouraged to contact the Vision Government Solutions Office in Town Hall (203-256-3189), Vision’s Fairfield Project Manager (1-800-628-1013, Ext. 3634) or the Town of Fairfield Assessor’s Office
(203-256-3110) with any questions or concerns.
For additional information click here
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 |
It seems like parents can’t even look out and do what they think is in the best interest of their own children without the threat of blackmail looming over their heads. If they allow enough of them to opt out of the Common Core testing, then Washington (The Devil) could revoke the waiver to the punitive requirements of the No Child Left Behind law. It’s pretty sad when students and parents are put in a position where their option is to either capitulate, or feel the effects of the Federal Government’s blackmail. Our children’s educational agenda should not be based on threats of losing funds.
From Ct. Mirror:
Malloy: CT could lose money if many students opt out of standardized tests
By: Jacqueline Rabe Thomas |
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday that federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.
“From a guy that grew up with dyslexia and had real physical as well as perceptual difficulties, I understand people’s anxiety about testing. I certainly had my own,” the Democratic governor said Monday on “Where We Live,” a public affairs radio show on WNPR.
“I’ve given my read of what the law is, and we must be compliant with the mandates of No Child Left Behind as it is currently implemented, and that requires all of the states to be engaged in some form of testing,” he said.
Malloy said he is concerned that if too few students take the Common Core-aligned standardized test, the U.S. Department of Education may rescind the state’s waiver to the punitive requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.
As we start to implement Common Core Standards, instead of playing the blame game, we should concentrate on moving those districts that are behind in implementation forward.
When students start taking Common Core exams, the results will “expose that we have a middle-class crisis in this country,” said the CEO of a charter school network at Monday’s annual Yale School of Management Education Leadership Conference.
While 42 states have received waivers, Malloy pointed to Washington state, which became the first state to lose its waiver last week as proof that the federal government will not hesitate to revoke waivers and limit what federal funding can be spent on.
“I read over the weekend that at least one state is about to be defunded to the extent of about $40 million for their lack of compliance… I certainly don’t want to see our state fall into that situation,” he said.
Connecticut districts received $107.7 million this school year in Title 1 grants from the federal government that could be targeted if the state loses its waiver, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Education said last month.
The State Department of Education reported in December that a “greater number of parents [are] desiring to remove their children from participation in the statewide testing program.”
In previous years only a handful of parents statewide sought an exemption from the state and federal requirements that every student be tested in math, reading and writing in Grades 3 through 8 and 10th grade. Science tests are administered in selected grades as well.
As the new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards come on line this year, some parents and anti-testing advocates have been urging parents to pull their children out of taking the test.
But Malloy said he has no choice but to require students to be tested.
“I didn’t adopt Common Core. My predecessor did. Like handling the deficit, I was also handed the problem of seeing this implemented. Some districts are far ahead of other districts. Some districts folded their arms and said we’ll wait and see,” he said.
While former Gov. M. Jodi Rell entered the state into an agreement with other states to implement Common Core, the Malloy administration signed an agreement in 2012 with the federal government to implement the new standards and tests in order to receive a federal waiver to the No Child Left Behind law.
Monday, April 28th, 2014 |
There’s a good opportunity to send a message nationally that could impede the agenda to shove the controversial Common Core tests down students throats. In Greenwich, a controversy is brewing as to whether students can “opt” out of taking the test. By some officials own admission, there are no sanctions if students refuse to take the test.
From Greenwich Time.com
Can students opt out of new standardized tests?
Updated 11:08 pm, Saturday, April 26, 2014
What can Greenwich students do when the district gives the new Common Core exams?
Administrators say there is only one answer: Students must take the tests.
But others assert the question is multiple choice: Students can take the tests — or they can decide to sit them out.
With the arrival of the new assessments in town Monday, local debate is heating up.
Anonymous fliers calling on students to skip the exams have been circulating in the district, notably at Greenwich High School. One of them includes a form for parents to sign to authorize their children to opt out.
District officials have responded by dismissing the opt-out forms as fake and reiterating their intent for all students in the tested grades to sit for the exams.
“Let me be crystal clear: Per federal and state regulations, students do not have an `opt out’ option with the Smarter Balanced field test,” Superintendent of Schools William McKersie said in a letter Thursday to district families.
But that statement was contradicted recently by a top educational authority in the state — the chairman of the state Board of Education, who, ironically, is a major supporter of the new tests.
“There’s certainly no state law that says they can’t (opt out),” Chairman Allan Taylor, an attorney, said during a March 12 hearing of the state Legislature. “Therefore, residually, presumably they have that right. What the local district chooses to do about that is a local district decision … The state Department of Education will not be reaching down and sanctioning parents.”
This week, students throughout the district will start taking online “field tests” or pilot versions of the new exams, which were developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Aligned with the Common Core State Standards, the exams are replacing Connecticut Mastery Tests in grades three through eight and most of the Connecticut Academic Performance Tests in grade 10. High school students will take the new tests in 11th grade.
This year’s exams will not be used for school-accountability purposes or factored into teacher evaluations. The “operational” roll out of the Smarter Balanced tests will be in 2015.
But state education officials are adamant read more