Weekend Coffee: February 20

Coffee

• Last month, I wrote about Richard Dawkins being disinvited from NECSS for sexist comments. I’m disappointed but, in a sign of my cynicism, not overly surprised that NECSS has caved in and reinvited him. Needless to say, I won’t be attending. Ophelia has more, and a follow-up.

• In happier news, scientists at the LIGO detector confirm the existence of gravitational waves, a Nobel-worthy discovery if there ever was one. LIGO picked up the signal of two black holes colliding and merging, sending out a ripple in spacetime that stretched and compressed the entire Earth by an infinitesimal amount. Longtime readers may remember I wrote about LIGO in 2010, in “Cathedrals“.

• The Church of England’s own research predicts at least 30 more years of declining attendance.

The ongoing Great Disappointment: Somehow, all those end-of-the-world prophets just keep dying of old age.

• Catholicism’s deadly dogmas continue to endanger women’s lives, especially at religious hospitals where miscarrying women are denied appropriate medical care.

• Academic publishers like Elsevier charge ludicrous prices for subscriptions to scientific journals, pricing out countless poor and non-Western universities, and the scientists who actually do the research don’t see a penny of it. Here’s a report on Sci-Hub, a “Robin Hood for science” website that’s undermining the paywalls.

• “A Brief Visit to the End of the World“: A thoroughly humanist meditation on gratitude and remembering to appreciate the things you have.

• If you haven’t seen it, this zero-gravity music video by OK Go is amazing.

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