‘Bring in the candles’

Portrait of Abraham Davenport by Ralph Earl, 1788.

According to a ridiculously incoherent Internet rumor, an alignment of the planets will cast the entire earth into darkness for 15 days, starting tomorrow. That’s not going to happen, but it reminds us of a time when something like it really did happen — New England’s Dark Day, on May 19, 1780. The sun failed, the sky grew dark at noon, and no one had any idea why. [Read more...]

White evangelical church-goers think their ‘science’ is better than the science those stupid scientists say is science


The Pew Research Center says a new survey shows “Highly religious Americans are less likely than others to see conflict between faith and science.” But the survey doesn’t show that at all. What it shows, rather, is that Real, True Christians also imagine they alone possess the Real, True Science. [Read more...]

We laid ourselves the best of plans


In theater, you never use a prop gun that’s capable of shooting live ammo, you never allow live ammo anywhere near your prop gun, and you never stage a scene so that even a prop gun loaded with blanks is pointing directly at any actor or audience member. An Arizona troupe just got all three of those things wrong. Plus: Reading the Bible as it is; young-Earth creationism and pool filters; and my state’s awkward practice of electing its Supreme Court justices. [Read more...]

That’s no moon. That’s a …

I figure it's OK to steal this image because it steals Steve Martin's joke.

We really need a better, catchier name for this star than KIC 8462852. Not just because that would be more convenient, but also because there’s a very slim chance that future data will strengthen our suspicion of intelligent life there enough to prompt us to attempt to contact or communicate with them. And if it ever came to that, we’d need some better way to address them than as “People of the KIC 8462852 system.” [Read more...]

Each night I wait to get caught

Screen shot 2015-09-25 at 4.42.42 PM

Speaker of the House John Boehner is stepping down and resigning from Congress next month to take what surely has to be a better job. Any job would be a better job than trying to lead a governing party that hates the idea of governing. Plus: Theology in Chicago, style guides for the apocalypse, and NASA’s live-stream above the clouds. [Read more...]

If nothing is sacred, then everything is for sale


“Sacred” does not mean that something “is beyond question.” It means that something is beyond price. To say that nothing is “sacred,” then, is to say that everything is for sale. This is not just a deeply cynical thing to say about the world, but a bitterly cynical thing to say about oneself. [Read more...]

We dig our heels in and wonder who’s gonna win


“He was anti-abortion. … Rusty had an issue with feminine rights. He was opposed to women having a say in anything.” Or, in other words, the pattern continues. Also: Still calling bal tashhit on an illegal occupation; Operation Rescue liars make up quotes from RBG; and a fossil from the Garden of Eden. [Read more...]

Should the dragons on ‘Game of Thrones’ have feathers?


Back in 1993, scientists hadn’t yet learned what they know today about feathered dinosaurs. So the filmmakers of “Jurassic World” had a choice. They could incorporate this new information and change the look of the dinosaurs from that of the first film, or they could opt for continuity in the sequel even though that means sticking with the misrepresentation of the velociraptors from the original “Jurassic Park.” They’re not the only storytellers struggling with this new scientific information. [Read more...]