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Happy New Year

Well, Happy New Year to everyone! I’ve made the same resolution as last year: try to speak more Irish. There are a few places in Galway where you can do that: one is Club Aras na nGael on Dominic Street, and some of the shops and cafes have started putting services in Irish. Maybe I’ll head in there some day. Now, if only I could figure out how to write those damn accented characters on this Italian keyboard…

Bliain Maith ar chách! Rinne mé an resolution cheanna a dhearna mé an bhliain seo caite: chun iarracht a dhéanamh, níos mo Gaeilge a labhair. Ta cúpla áiteanna i nGaillimh gur feidir liom é sin a dhéanamh, cosúil le Club Áras na nGael, agus i cúpla siopaí. Rachaidh mé ansin le linn an semester. Agus má thuigeann aon duine cad a scríobh mé: rinne mé dearmaid ar cúpla focal. Ta sibh saor chun aon freagair ceart ar chur anseo.

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“Saved”

Camels With Hammers over at Freethoughtblogs embedded a clip of an Australian singer named Shelley Seagal singing a piece called “Saved”. It’s brilliant.

I don’t use MySpace or anything like that, but here’s her profile. Well worth following…unless you’re a religious fundamentalist, in which case just listen and think about it.

16 Clarifications About Atheists

Another thing found via Pharyngula: 16 Things Atheists Need Christians To Know. Of course, you could swap members of any other religion for “Christians” in that – but the point still stands.

Brand new supernova

The Beeb reports that a new supernova was spotted by astronomers at Oxford University, and it’s only 21 light years away (which is 9.461×10^12 km – still quite a distance at human scales).

A supernova, for those who don’t know, is a star that has exploded and is briefly more luminous than a galaxy (only for a few weeks or months). Over this brief lifetime, they can radiate more energy than the sun will over it’s entire lifetime. They can also be a prime source of elements heavier than oxygen because, like all stars, they undergo nuclear fusion. One may even have triggered the formation of our solar system.

Extreme tourism…

A nuclear power plant in the Philippines is now open to tourists, partly to pay for the costs of running a $2bn power plant that hasn’t generated a watt of electricity. The main reason it hasn’t is because it was built while Marcos was in charge, finished just after he was deposed, and because it’s right next to a fault line – wrong place, wrong time!

Declaration on Religion in Public Life

From atheist.ie, here comes the Dublin Declaration on Religion in Public Life that was discussed last weekend at the World Atheist Convention. There’s two Declarations: one is a rewrite of the other.

There’s a lot here I agree with. Declaration A is IMO more positive, but Declaration B is a lot clearer and to-the-point. Either way, I agree with the general thrust of both – religion and politics should NOT mix, and science should remain free from religion.

Of course, if somebody decides to believe in a divine being or beings, they’re free to do so. Just as long as they don’t expect ME to. And as long as they aren’t a complete dickhead about it.