Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

DON’T PANIC it’s the SciSchmooze

from the desk of Herb Masters

HELLO TO MOMS WHO LOVE SCIENCE and to everyone who had a mom as well.

I hope that you have been having a unique Mother’s Day.  When I think back on the lessons of life on a day like this I realize that my mom didn’t teach me this about towels.  In two weeks that might be really relevant.  Have you ever wished you could learn from the future and be able to avoid it or make the best of it

I don’t know about you but I’m kind of tired of Covid-19 all the time.  I’m sure that you have seen plenty of resources and websites with info about it.  We have listed plenty of places to go for information and I’m sure you have seen plenty.  I would like to recommend one more that you may not have seen.  With the prospect of people not staying at home in the near future for whatever reason, we do need to have a personal plan based on good science and reason.  The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them seems to be an excellent article on this.  The author seems to be talking with us and not down at us with a bunch of rules.  Not only that but she provides links to the research that she is basing her suggestions on.  Look around at the other articles as well.  (Note that many of the articles are updated as new info becomes available and it’s noted in the header of each one.)  If you want more current information check out COVID Conversations: Where We Are with Testing and a Vaccine – Livestream on Wednesday.  If you read “The Risks” and have questions you can submit them ahead of the Wed talk and hopefully you’ll get a great answer. 

Have you found yourself looking at the sky lately?  We just passed a great full moon with the associated high tides just a few days ago.  There are several ways to deal with this.  Gaze out the window or at your computer, in the name of data.  Another option is to go on-line and watch some of the amazing things are doing on line now.  The calendar is full of them. 

This Wednesday 5.13 you can catch presentations from two astronomers that I am lucky to know personally.  They are both amazing educators. 

  1. Five Decades Since Our First Step: What Do We Know about the Moon? Many of you have probably attended the SVAstronomyLectures that have been curated by Professor Andrew Fraknoi.  He is an outstanding presenter of astronomy, science, and reason.  (Though it is awful early for an astronomer!)
  2. Alex Filippenko: Astronomer to the Stars – Livestream will be Wednesday afternoon!  He has been at the forefront of many discoveries about the universe.  He has worked with the Hubble Space Telescope with teams that have made major discoveries.

Even if you don’t want to draw, you will gain amazing observational tips for just sitting and enjoying nature by attending these classes.  Jack Laws is an amazing instructor and naturalist.  I can’t recommend these classes enough.
How to Draw Birds (3 part online workshop)  (Just in and not on the calendar!)  Nature journaling and bird drawing offer a fresh new way to experience birds and familiar scenes around you. No prior experience drawing is required! All you need is internet access, a writing implement, some paper, and the desire to learn.
Classes will take place over Zoom Webinars on Thursdays at 9 AM – 11 AM (PT) on the following dates. You will also have access to class recordings to replay at any time.  
May 14th – How to Draw Garden Birds  
May 21st – How to Draw Waterbirds  
May 28th – How to Draw Raptors

We really do need to pay attention to what is reported in the news so we can figure out both what is being said and also the validity and consequences.  The rush to open up business and get back to life as it was only a few short months ago is hard to resist.  Do be aware that there are dangerous people pushing dangerous ideas out there sometimes they are easy to recognize and sometimes they aren’t.   One of the underlying components of “flattening the curve” was that it would take longer to get through it.  It also included that roughly the same number of people would get sick but not all compressed together in time and hospital.  We’re happy that the curve was flattened, apparently successfully here in the Bay Area, but we are still under the curve.  Here are a few readings that might inspire some contemplation…

Keep in mind that science is a way of understanding.  It is constantly becoming better informed, but there are detours and risks…  science degenerates unless it is theoretically and experimentally progressive
How Science Trumps Denial
There’s No Such Thing as Common Sense 
Don’t Fear the Robot
100 Days Into COVID-19, Where Do We Stand?

For one last bit of mind exercise.  How far down have we gone?  How Deep?  This was only 60 years ago…

Hoping for The Great Realisation and that everyone stays safe and healthy in these trying times, don’t for get your towel.

herb masters

“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
“Why, what did she tell you?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.” 

-Douglas Adams
  11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001

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