Meteor detonates over Russia, or This is why we need NASA

“After the flash, nothing happened for about three minutes. Then we rushed outdoors The door was made of glass, a shock wave made it hit us,” said Yekaterina Melikhova.

Later Friday, an asteroid known as the 2012 DA14 as due to come within 17,100 miles of Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, a record close-approach for an asteroid this size.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

We don’t have a way to stop planet-killers (although 2012 DB14 isn’t). Not that people don’t have good ideas, but most—if not all, still the most viable solutions—we can’t put into motion. We don’t have a heavy-lift space platform, because we retired the Shuttle.

And even still, the Shuttle wasn’t the most powerful, that title is still held by the Saturn rocket. The preeminent vehicle mankind has ever endeavored was the Saturn, which was designed with slide rulers.

A while back I read “Space Chronicles” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an interesting albeit somewhat repetitive collection of essays. Tyson makes four very strong arguments for why people should be willing to give a latte’s worth of money a year to NASA and why NASA needs to build a new heavy-lift platform.

  • We need to go to Mars. With people. If we ever expect to understand life, answer the question, “How did we get here?” it’ll be on Mars,
  • You can thank NASA for pretty much everything. All your Walkmans and airplanes and microwave ovens can trace a near-direct lineage to the space program, and if we want new science, we need to spend money on it
  • If an asteroid is out to get us, we can’t do jack about it. Russia is keenly aware of this today,
  • A fourth point I can’t ever remember. It was a while back, I read the book right when it came out.

Anyway, shit got real today, this is a stark reminder of how fragile things are. Hug a loved one today, we all got lucky for the trillionth time.

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In the name of Jesus, I fuck you the fuck up!

2242124815 18340447e6 450x239 In the name of Jesus, I fuck you the fuck up!

That was a mistranslation. The original says to punch people in the other cheek. (img by Ricardo Hurtubia)

Despite the realism of the Flying Spaghetti Monster officiating the fight between the Almighty and his Divine Progeny in the image above, I’m pretty sure it’s not real. There’s no way Christ would have done that kind of damage to Yahweh. We’re talking about the guy who’s famous for being nice, telling everyone else to be nice, and then letting people kill him so that his Father doesn’t send them all to Hell for eternity for doing things like wearing polyester blends or eating tasty tasty pigs.

I’ve probably pissed of some Christians now. And yesterday, I would have scoffed about them, since everyone knows that Jesus told his followers to turn the other cheek and just love and pray for people instead of beating the shit out of them in His name (everyone but the crusaders, anyway… and Westboro Baptist Church… and all these guys). But today, I’m worried. Because there’s a new set of evangelicals in the US… evangelicals that train to fuck people the fuck up.

Yes. There are evangelical church pastors who love mixed martial arts fighting and promote it in their congregations. What does that even look like? In the words of one dude: “The hope is that through the fight, I can create a relationship with the person I’m fighting and extend Christ to him.”

Yes. This is real. And there’s a documentary coming to prove it: Fight Church. You have to see it to believe it.

“Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?” I guess we’ll find out…

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Priest Removed From Ministry Due To Sex Abuse Allegations Now Airport Security

TSA 450x252 Priest Removed From Ministry Due To Sex Abuse Allegations Now Airport Security

I just needs to check your asshole. (img by South Park)

tl;dr gropers gotta grope.

@CBS:

The CBS 3 I-Team has learned that a Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over sex abuse allegations now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport.

The security checkpoint between Terminals D and E is a busy place where thousands of people – including lots of kids – pass through every day. But you might not believe who the I-Team observed working as a TSA supervisor at that checkpoint this week: Thomas Harkins.

Until 2002, Harkins was a Catholic priest working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls. Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of Harkins’ victims. (more…)

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Hebrew National hot dogs not kosher, lawsuit claims

2224843728 7363ac6f48 z 450x337 Hebrew National hot dogs not kosher, lawsuit claims

A delicious abomination. (img by sheeshoo)

@Reuters:

ConAgra Foods Inc has been sued by consumers who contend that hot dogs and other products sold under its Hebrew National brand are not kosher.

The lawsuit alleges that meat processing services provided to ConAgra by privately held AER Services Inc fell short of the standards necessary to label Hebrew National products as kosher. As a result, they said, ConAgra misled consumers and was able to charge premium prices.

Eleven individual consumers filed their complaint in May in Minnesota state court. ConAgra moved the case this month to a federal court in St. Paul. The lawsuit was reported last week by American Jewish World, a publication based in Minnesota. (more…)

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Watching a snake-handler die

Pastor Randy Wolford 450x340 Watching a snake handler die

Donald Dover, left, of North Carolina and Jamie Lloyd of Sidney, Ohio, right, support Pastor Randy "Mack" Wolford after he was bitten by a venomous snake. He later died. (img by Lauren Pond)

You may have heard that the somewhat-renown Pentecostal pastor Mack Wolford recently died, having succumbed to a rattlesnake bite. And while my first instinct is to chuckle, ’cause come on, this guy, for all his beliefs, is going to be remembered as a Darwin Awards candidate.

Not that he shouldn’t be remembered for that, but after reading this editorial by the photojournalist who sat by his side and documented his death, expands on what it means to die, slowly, for something you believe in, and what it means to watch it happen…

Mack’s family has accepted his death as something that he knew was coming and something that was ultimately God’s will. The pastor believed every word of the Bible and laid down his life for his conviction, they said. For them, his death is an affirmation of the Signs Following tradition: “His faith is what took him home,” said his sister Robin Vanover, 38.

Some of the people who attended last Sunday’s service have struggled with Mack’s death, as I have. “Sometimes, I feel like we’re all guilty of negligent homicide,” one man wrote to me in a Facebook message following Mack’s death. “I went down there a ‘believer.’ That faith has seriously been called into question. I was face-to-face with him and watched him die a gruesome death. . . . Is this really what God wants?”

That’s a good question.

I know many photojournalists have been in situations similar to mine. Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Carter photographed an emaciated Sudanese child struggling to reach a food center during a famine — as a vulture waited nearby. He was roundly criticized for not helping the child, which, along with the disturbing memories of the events he had covered and other factors, may have contributed to his suicide. As photojournalists, we have a unique responsibility to record history and share stories in as unbiased and unobtrusive a way as possible. But when someone is hurt and suffering, we have to balance our instincts as professionals with basic human decency and care.

I can’t say I know what I would do in a similar situation. Read the whole thing here. Also die less by not handling snakes. Durr.

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Religious people are less motivated by compassion than non-believers

Buddy Christ by phreezer 450x342 Religious people are less motivated by compassion than non believers

"Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me," Robert Frost (img by phreezer)

“Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people, @Medical Xpress:

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the July issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.” (more…)

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