Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

Blog of the real Xenophilius Lovegood, a slightly mad scientist

Archive for September 20th, 2010

Pope’s astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

Brother Guy Consolmagno, the Pope's AstronomerAliens might have souls and could choose to be baptised if humans ever met them, a Vatican scientist said today. The official also dismissed intelligent design as “bad theology” that had been “hijacked” by American creationist fundamentalists.

Guy Consolmagno, who is one of the pope’s astronomers, said he would be “delighted” if intelligent life was found among the stars. “But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it’s probably not a practical question.”

Speaking ahead of a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham tomorrow, he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.” Would he baptise an alien? “Only if they asked.”

Consolmagno, who became interested in science through reading science fiction, said that the Vatican was well aware of the latest goings-on in scientific research. “You’d be surprised,” he said.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which Stephen Hawking is a member, keeps the senior cardinals and the pope up-to-date with the latest scientific developments. Responding to Hawking’s recent comments that the laws of physics removed the need for God, Consolmagno said: “Steven Hawking is a brilliant physicist and when it comes to theology I can say he’s a brilliant physicist.”

Consolmagno curates the pope’s meteorite collection and is a trained astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican’s observatory. He dismissed the ideas of intelligent design – a pseudoscientific version of creationism. “The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn’t originally mean at all. It’s another form of the God of the gaps. It’s bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.” …

via Pope’s astronomer says he would baptise an alien if it asked him | Science | The Guardian.

I’d like to see a movie where we meet aliens and our ideas end up destroying their entire species.

Posted in Aliens, Religion | 1 Comment »

Moral search engines squeeze out sin on Internet

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

Sjewogleeek and ye shall find. A number of new Internet search engines created by Christian, Jewish or Muslim entities aim to filter out queries from Web users in a way that is more relevant to those users and keeps them from temptation, alcohol and pornography.

“We think that the other search engines are way too ‘main street’ oriented. We wanted to provide a solution to explore the Web in a safe environment, where you won’t bump into explicit content or immoral websites, like pornography,” said Reza Sardeha, the Amsterdam-based founder of the Muslim-oriented search engine I’mHalal.

If one types the world alcohol into imhalal.com, the search engine produces results that explain the Muslim viewpoint on drinking. Type in “pornography,” and the search engine produces… nothing.

The 21-year-old Kuwaiti says the site attracts users from places like Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates as well as the United States.

“Actually we know that our users are not only Muslims, and once a week we get an email from non-Muslims as well saying that they like the content of our safe search engine and they allow their children to search knowing they won’t bump into offensive content.”

For Christians, SeekFind offers “a research tool for people who are looking for biblical and theological content from an evangelical Christian prospective,” says founder Shea Houdmann, who operates from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to the seekfind.org website, the search engine functions by “only indexing websites that are Biblically-based, theologically-sound, and in agreement with our statement of faith.

“That way, you can have confidence that you will find content which will be God-honoring and spiritually encouraging,” it says.

For the Jewish community, the niche is filled by another engine called Jewogle, which bears a passing resemblance to Google.

Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of SearchEngineLand.com, said none of these website has “taken off and caught fire” but that “it doesn’t mean to say that they can’t be good, profitable businesses.”

via Moral search engines squeeze out sin on Internet – Yahoo! News.

Search engines for the willfully ignorant. Try searching Jewogle for “evolution” or “age of the earth” and you’ll see what I mean.  How about a search engine where all results are consistent with the world view of Santa Clause? “Ho ho ho.  Santa has never heard of that, but wouldn’t you like a shiny new Fizbin from Parker Brothers?”

Posted in Religion, Strange, Technology | 1 Comment »

Fossil of giant bony-toothed bird from chile sets wingspan record

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

A newly discovered skeleton of an ancient seabird from northern Chile provides evidence that giant birds were soaring the skies there 5-10 million years ago. The wing bones of the animal exceed those of all other birds in length; its wingspan would have been at least 5.2 m (17 ft.). This is the largest safely established wingspan for a bird. Other, larger estimates for fossil birds have been based on much less secure evidence.

The new bird belongs to a group known as pelagornithids, informally referred to as bony-toothed birds. They are characterized by their long, slender beaks that bear many spiny, tooth-like projections. Such ‘teeth’ likely would have been used to capture slippery prey in the open ocean, such as fish and squid.

“Bird watching in Chile would be thrilling if birds with more than five meter wingspans and huge pseudoteeth were still alive,” said Dr. Gerald Mayr of the Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg in Germany, lead author on the study

Fossils of bony-toothed birds are found on all continents, but such remains are usually fragmentary. This is because most birds have fragile bones that often do not survive the fossilization process. Only a single partial skeleton of a bony-toothed bird was known prior to discovery of the new Chilean specimen, and it is badly crushed. The new specimen, which is 70% complete and uncrushed, provides important new information about the size and anatomy of these strange birds. It is the largest bony-toothed bird discovered so far. It also represents a new species named after its country of origin: Pelagornis chilensis.

“Although these animals would have looked like creatures from Jurassic Park, they are true birds, and their last representatives may have coexisted with the earliest humans in North Africa,” said Mayr.

via Fossil of giant bony-toothed bird from chile sets wingspan record.

Posted in Archaeology, Biology | 1 Comment »

Oops! Police say men attempted to rob sheriff in Craiglist sale

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

Oops! Police say men attempted to rob sheriff in Craiglist sale Authorities say two men attempted to rob a local buyer interested in purchasing a laptop computer off Craigslist.

Only problem? The buyer was Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney.

Garden City Police report Raney was looking to purchase a laptop computer and had agreed to meet the potential seller at 6650 Glenwood St. in Garden City. When Raney arrived, however, he saw the “seller” in a pullover hooded sweatshirt and other dark clothing sitting on a rock.

Raney said he quickly became suspicious.

“The (dark clothing) is what we call a clue,” Raney said.

Police say they believe the dark-clothed man planned to rob Raney once he got there.

However, Raney called police and – when they arrived – the “seller” took off on foot. He was apprehended almost immediately. A second suspect also was later arrested.

After an investigation, Garden City Police say two suspects, 20-year-old Dominic Hinton and 19-year-old Roman Nazarko, intended to commit an armed robbery.

“The only thing better than laughing at arresting criminals,” Raney said, “is laughing at arresting dumb criminals.”

This is not the first time these suspects attempted a similar crime, officials say. Earlier this month, police say the suspects attempted to rob a Nampa man during a bogus iPad purchase.

“We had tremendous response in our call to the community for tips and information following the robbery last week,” said Boise Police Sgt. Mark Bennett. “Citizens in the community were anxious for us to find the suspects, and today we can thank all involved who helped make that happen.”

via Oops! Police say men attempted to rob sheriff in Craiglist sale | KATU.com – Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News – Portland, Oregon | Local & Regional.

Posted in Crime | Leave a Comment »

Last ‘sin-eater’ celebrated with church service

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

The Reverend Norman Morris at Richard Munslow's grave The restored grave of the last known “sin-eater” in England has been at the centre of a special service in a Shropshire village churchyard.

Campaigners raised £1,000 to restore the grave of Richard Munslow, who was buried in Ratlinghope in 1906.

Sin-eaters were generally poor people paid to eat bread and drink beer or wine over a corpse, in the belief they would take on the sins of the deceased.

Frowned upon by the church, the custom mainly died out in the 19th Century.

It was prevalent in the Marches, the land around the England-Wales border, and in north Wales, but was rarely carried out anywhere else.

Believers thought the sin-eater taking on the sins of a person who died suddenly without confessing their sins would allow the deceased’s soul to go to heaven in peace.

While most of the sin-eaters were poor people or beggars, Mr Munslow was a well-established farmer in the area.

The Reverend Norman Morris, the vicar of Ratlinghope, a village of about 100 residents on the Long Mynd near Church Stretton, led the “God’s Acre” service at St Margaret’s Church.

Mr Morris said: “It was a very odd practice and would not have been approved of by the church but I suspect the vicar often turned a blind eye to the practice.”

Locals began the collection to restore the grave, which had fallen into disrepair in recent years, believing it would be good to highlight the custom and Mr Munslow’s place in religious history.

It took a few months to raise the £1,000 needed to pay for the work, carried out by local stonemason Charles Shaw.

Mr Morris said: “This grave at Ratlinghope is now in an excellent state of repair but I have no desire to reinstate the ritual that went with it.”

via BBC News – Last ‘sin-eater’ celebrated with church service.

Posted in Strange | Leave a Comment »

Guinness Picks World’s Longest Nose

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

According to Guinness World Records officials, Mehmet Ozyurek has the world’s largest nose. Measuring 3.46 inches from bridge to tip, the Turkish national’s schnoz has earned its spot in the hot-off-the-presses 2011 edition of the record book.

I have purposely refrained from picking on this guy’s nose, despite having some rather juicy jokes just hanging there, waiting for me to pluck them. It’s probably a good thing. though; nose-related humor is rather congested and is on par with crusted-over humor best left under seats or countertops.

via Guinness Picks World’s Longest Nose.

Posted in Biology | Leave a Comment »

Quadruple amputee plans swim from Europe to Africa

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

Just days after swimming across the English Channel, quadruple amputee Philippe Croizon is already dreaming of a new challenge: crossing from Europe to Africa in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Croizon, who swims using leg prostheses with fins attached, also has an inspirational message for anyone discouraged or facing difficulties.

“You only need to want something, and then it becomes possible to go beyond your limits,” he told Associated Press Television News on Monday, two days after crossing the English Channel, which is 21 miles 34 kilometers at its narrowest point.

Croizon, 42, had expected his weekend swim from Britain to France to take up to 24 hours. Instead, he reached the cliffs of Wissant in northern France on Saturday night after only 13 and a half hours.

He uses specially designed leg protheses, which end in fins, to propel himself through the water. His truncated upper arms go through the motions of the crawl, and he breathes through a snorkel.Upon reaching the French shore, a wave threw him into the rocks, before being pulled out of the water.”The guys on the boat were shouting, ‘Get out of there!’ The waves were huge,” Croizon recalled. Then he saw his two sons up on the cliff above, cheering him on.

“I broke down in tears … it was pure happiness,” he said.The swimmer’s arms and legs were amputated after he suffered an electric shock in 1994 as he stood on a ladder adjusting his television antenna, which touched a power line.

While he was recovering, he saw a news report about an English Channel crossing.

“I watched the TV screen and said to myself, ‘Why not me?'” he said. “So 16 years later, the ‘why not me’ became a reality here.”

via Quadruple amputee plans swim from Europe to Africa.

Posted in Sports | Leave a Comment »

Lady Gaga VMA Meat Dress Outfit

Posted by Anonymous on September 20, 2010

YouTube – Lady Gaga VMA Meat Dress Outfit.

There’s only one question we’ve been debating this morning: was Lady Gaga’s meat dress real or fake? And, if it was in fact a prime cut of beef, is it art or just plain gross?

It’s certainly got PETA up in arms (and put us off our breakfast).

‘Meat is the decomposing flesh of an abused animal’, said a PETA rep, ‘who didn’t want to die, and after time spent under the TV lights, it would smell like the rotting flesh that it is and likely be crawling in maggots—not too attractive, really.’ – gd

Posted in Music, Strange | 1 Comment »

 
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