Science and Religion: Escape From The Center of (Robert) Sungenis


Geocentrism: adding epicycles.

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Mr. Robert Sungenis and anyone who missed the memo about the sun being the reason they call this the “solar” system.

     I’d like to tell you a story, my fine, young readers. It’s a story that’s over two thousand years in the making, and one that needs to be told. You see, we as a race are nearing a fork in the road of our development, between enlightenment and ignorance. This fork in the road means that those of us who honestly care where we are going, need to be diligent enough to tell these stories repeatedly, so that others don’t forget all that we’ve learned. I tell you this story, because I love each and every one of you. But, I digress…

Claudius Ptolemy: 90 - 168 AD.

Claudius Ptolemy: 90 – 168 AD.

     In the last years of the third century BC, Greek mathematician Appolonius of Perga posited a geometric model that would explain the movements of the planets as they tracked across the sky. Observed from the Earth, planets such as Mars seemed to move in one direction for a while, then stop, move backwards a bit, then return to their original direction of motion. What Appolonius proposed, was that these objects moved in what came to be known as “epicycles” as they tracked across the night sky. Appolonius’s epicycles were subsequently expanded upon and adopted by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD, and became part of the Ptolemaic system of astronomy. (Ptolemy’s model was even turned into an ancient analog computer of sorts, in what is now known as the “Antikythera Mechanism.”) The Ptolemaic system would hold sway as scientific dogma for the next fifteen hundred years.

Nicholaus Copernicus: 1473 - 1543

Nicolaus Copernicus: 1473 – 1543

     Flash forward, to the year 1542. A man lies dying from apoplexy and paralysis. His name, is Nicolaus Copernicus. For the past few decades, Copernicus had been working on the problem of the Ptolemaic model, trying to answer various questions about its inability to make more accurate predictions of the motions of the planets. At the same time, the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation were spreading throughout Europe, challenging the long-held authority of the Roman Catholic church over what exactly the “truths of existence” were.

     Copernicus wasn’t an idiot. He knew that his observations and conclusions about how the heavenly bodies moved across the sky, would contradict church dogma. So, he waited until just before his death in 1543 to publish his observations in a book, “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.” (“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”) In this daring treatise, Copernicus posited that the sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the planetary system, and that the planets orbited the sun in circular paths.

Tycho Brahe: 1546 - 1601

Tycho Brahe: 1546 – 1601

     Three years later, another pioneer in the field of astronomy was born. Tycho Brahe was a headstrong young man, who even lost part of the bridge of his nose in a sword duel (in the dark!) with a fellow Danish nobleman, over a mathematical formula. Tycho was serious. Even more so, he was all about accuracy. Because of this, Tycho began to make meticulous measurements of the planets’ motions, using a device called a “quadrant.”

Johannes Kepler: 1571 - 1630

Johannes Kepler: 1571 – 1630

     By 1600, Brahe had compiled a massive amount of data. It was at this time, that 29-year-old Johannes Kepler met Brahe near Prague, at Benatky nad Jizerou, and became his assistant. Brahe didn’t entirely trust Kepler with his data. For that matter, he didn’t trust anyone with it, and guarded his data closely. He did, however, set his young protege a task; reckon out the motion of the planet Mars. (“Here, kid. Take these measurements and figure it out.”) Kepler already had his own view of the world around him, and since he wasn’t a Catholic, wasn’t as worried about crossing the “powers-that-be” as Copernicus had been.

     Tycho Brahe died in 1601. Immediately following Brahe’s demise, Kepler purloined his vast collection of observational data, and eventually published his conclusions in the “Astronomia nova” (“New Astronomy”) in 1609. “Astronomia nova” made compelling arguments for heliocentrism, and built on the Copernican model of planetary orbits, positing that instead of circular paths, the planets followed elliptical orbits around the sun.

Galileo Galilei: 1564 - 1642

Galileo Galilei: 1564 – 1642

     In the same year that Kepler published “Astronomia nova”, a 45-year-old Italian mathematician and astronomer, by the name of Galileo Galilei, built a device modeled after the “Dutch spyglass.” This device, which could magnify distant objects to about 3x, was the first practical telescope. Galileo turned his telescope skyward…and Galileo saw. Galileo sketched. Galileo discovered.

     He discovered that Saturn had rings. He discovered that Jupiter had moons of its own. He noted that Venus went through phases, much like the moon. Galileo published his findings in “Sidereus Nuncius” (“Starry Messenger”) in 1610, and in “Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo” (“Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”) in 1632. It was the latter book, which directly challenged established church dogmas, that would result in Galileo being tried for heresy by the Inquisition, and placed under house arrest until his death in 1642. The damage, however, had been done. The great man, Galileo Galilei, had dealt the death blow to the Ptolemaic system of geocentrism…or so it seemed.

Sir Issac Newton: 1642 - 1727

Sir Issac Newton: 1642 – 1727

     In the centuries after Galileo turned his telescope to the sky, science has made advances that Galileo would have found astounding. Issac Newton refined Galileo’s work, developing a new system of mathematics (Calculus) to explain the motions of the planets, as well as the reasons why they move the way that they do. His “Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica” (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”) was a virtual watershed in the fields of mathematics, physics and astronomy.

     During the 1800’s, the sky was indeed the “greatest show on Earth.” Before the age of motion pictures, radio and television, people found entertainment and wonder in simply gazing up at the sky, identifying the stars and constellations, and acknowledging their place within the wider realm of existence…but then, that all changed.

     It is the year 2014. A recent poll by the National Science Foundation finds that 1 in 4 people in America don’t know that the sun is at the center of the solar system. America ranks 25th in science and math scoring of high-school students worldwide. (China, Finland and South Korea rank in the top three.) This spring, mail-order Ph.D. documentary producer and Holocaust denier, Robert Sungenis, is releasing a film based upon his book, “Galileo Was Wrong The Church Was Right”, titled “The Principle.” Sungenis is an adherent of the Ptolemaic model of geocentrism; the same model that was proven to be wrong almost 500 years ago.

     I can only hope that someone reads this story, and understands. I ache with the desire for someone to digest these words, and to be imbued with a child-like curiosity about science and the sky. Oh, God. If I had the money, I would gladly buy each and every one of you, my fine young readers, a brand new Celestron telescope, so that we could gaze together on the wonders of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, the rings around Saturn and other “awesomesauce” out there in the night sky, if for no other reason than to honor Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and others for their hard work and sacrifices. Sacrifice, they did, all in the name of making our world a better and smarter place to be.

Faith and Religion: A Flood That Doesn’t Hold Water

Comparison between the Ark and the HMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of / PZ Myers.

Comparison between the Ark and the RMS Titanic. Graphic courtesy of / PZ Myers.

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers, including Mr. Ray Comfort and our friends at Answers in Genesis.

     It seems like the older I get, the more skeptical I become regarding things that, for the longest time, I held to be unquestionably true. A young Earth, the Genesis story, the story of Jesus, and the Noah’s Ark story. I grew up with things like the flood story, being told by my Sunday School teachers how Noah built this gigundous boat, and brought all of the animals in the world onto the Ark by twos, male and female, because God was going to flood the Earth. God made it rain for forty days and forty nights, they said. God made the rainbow, they said.

     I guess I started questioning things the minute I discovered that I could make rainbows, (a la the prism or a sprinkler!) and the questions only multiplied from there. I learned about dinosaurs in school. When I asked about them in church, I was told that they died in the flood. I took that answer, and ran with it for quite some time…but no longer. You see, the accumulation of knowledge and a greater understanding of things like cause and effect does something funny to a person’s perception of reality. It shatters illusions, and places certainty solidly within the realm of testable theory, evidence, and proofs.

     Look around for evidence of a global flood. There is none, despite the fact that something on that massive of a scale would leave indubitable evidence behind, in the form of sedimentary layers. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami left sedimentary evidence everywhere in its impact area. (1) Evidence of earlier tsunamis has been unearthed in places such as Japan, the Cascadia subduction zone, and elsewhere. No uniform layer of ocean sediments, however, has been unearthed that would support a global flood having happened.

     Dinosaurs. According to young-Earth creationists such as the Hovinds, Ray Comfort, Ken Ham and the nice folks at Answers in Genesis, they lived alongside early man, from Adam to Noah. Where did they go? Wasn’t Noah supposed to have taken them aboard the ship as well? Let’s look and see what the ol’ King James says about that in Genesis 6, verses 19-21:

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

Elephantitis is a pain! Graphic courtesy of Desktop Nexus / LivePencil.

     So God said every living thing. Of all flesh. (Sounds pretty definitive to me!) This begs the question; was Noah an obedient man? According to the Bible, he was. That’s why God hand-picked him to preserve life on that overblown raft of his. So if that’s true, then again, where are the dinosaurs? I’ve gotten a few different answers from the “answer” folks on this. Either they died in the flood, or they went extinct after. If they went “glug glug,” then that would have to mean that Noah was disobedient to some degree. If they went extinct afterwards, then why didn’t other reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes, turtles and lizards go extinct? T-rex and Velociraptor were apex predators, for Christ’s sakes! So, I guess we wait for the creationists to come up with a better excuse.

     Where did all of the water go? There’s only a finite amount of the “wet stuff” on this planet, and it’s not nearly enough to have covered the Earth deeper than Mount Everest is high:

19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
(Genesis 7: 19-20, King James Version.)

     “Ah! But what about all of the frozen water, locked up in polar ice?” you may ask. Here it is; if we melted every glacier, every iceberg and every ice sheet, global ocean levels would only rise about 220 feet. (2) The tippy-top of Everest sits at a whopping 29,029 feet above sea level. Maybe if we added all of the ice cubes out of everyone’s freezers, we’d add a few more inches to that previous 220 feet number.

     I’d like to know something. At what point did Noah stop off in Australia, and drop off the Marsupials? Kangaroos. They’re endemic to just one continent on this, God’s green Earth; the Land Down Under. How did they get there, especially when there’s no land bridge between New Guinea and Queensland? The interesting thing about this one, is that the YEC’ers have pulled a new explanation out of their posteriors; a post-flood ice age. Intriguing…proof, si vous plait? Conversely, why are they only endemic to Australia? If the ark landed in Turkey somewhere, then why don’t we see them in Africa? In South America? In India at least?

     For that matter, how did Aboriginal Australians and Native Americans get across the Torres and Bering Straits? Once again, post-flood ice age. Right, sure. Ya bet’cha.

     Supposedly, the flood happened around 2350 BC, according to the folks at AiG. (3) At Creation Ministries, Dr. John Osgood fixes it at 2304 BC. (4) In 1650, Irish Archbishop James Ussher fixed the date of the flood at 2348 BC. What’s a few (or 40) years, right?

     Centuries of research by the best and brightest scholars, have narrowed the date of the building of Khufu’s pyramid on the Giza plateau to sometime between 2560 BC and 2470 BC. (5) So, what gives? Were the pyramids built pre-flood then? (AiG makes an attempt to answer this question, albeit rather poorly. They fail to offer a date of their own for Khufu’s pyramid being built.) Young-Earth creationists have come up with a theory of their own with regards to the movement of land masses, which they’ve termed, “Catastrophic Plate Tectonics.” (6) If that theory was true, and the pyramids were built before the flood, then they surely would have been destroyed, don’t ya think? Again, YEC’ers can’t answer with a firmer date for the building of the pyramids, so…?

     Come on. We know that the Earth’s plates are drifting at about 2cm/year average speed. If we push “stop” on the global VCR, and then press “rewind,” it would take far longer than a mere 6k years for the landmasses to rejoin. We know about how long it takes for rocks to form. We can measure plate movement via GPS, and can prove subduction via Seismology. Science has yet again jumped in where religion has fumbled the ball, and taken it down the field and toward the end zone of understanding the physical processes that have shaped the planet. (A gratuitous football reference there, in anticipation of Sunday’s big game!)

     To sum all of this up, the global flood story has more holes in it than the colander in my kitchen cabinet. So, what are we disillusioned believers now supposed to believe?

The Chaser: Of Asteroids And Dinosaurs – More Musings on Young-Earth Creationism

"Brian, you said Chixulub was a great vaca...dude, if we live through this, I am SO unfriending you on Facebook!"

“Brian, you said Chixulub was a great vaca…dude, if we live through this, I am SO unfriending you on Facebook!”

     Every now and again, I find myself revisiting that ages-old question: why are we here? How did we get here? How long did it take? Now, I have a pretty good idea, and a lot of the time I find my own beliefs and hunches about these things, bringing me into direct conflict with established, organised religion. I guess that’s why I haven’t found a church where I can fit in, because those topics always come up, and I get the usual, “Oh, you’re letting Satan confuse your mind,” or some such codswallop.

     There are more than a few areas where religion, specifically young-Earth creationism, falls short in explaining the existence of things, but I’d like to focus on just a few here…

Asteroids. Why?

     Between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, lies the main asteroid belt. It’s strewn with the debris of failed planets, “planetesimals” and even a few dwarf planets. Even farther out, beyond the orbit of Neptune, lies the Kuiper Belt, where the “trans-Neptunian objects” make their home. Even farther than that, about 1ly out, astronomers have hypothesised the existence of the Oort Cloud, home to what are known as the “long-period” comets. In other words, there’s a lot of debris flying around out there in space. Why? Did God get the solar system, six-thousand years ago, as a kit, with “some assembly required,” and after putting it all together, find that he, like all other guys who put project kits together, had some extra left-over parts? I don’t buy it.

     If God created the entire universe, planets and all, fully-mature as the YECs insist, then why did he leave all of these rocks lying about? These are the proverbial “Lego pieces on the carpet in a dark room,” but in the case of asteroids and comets, they come flying at us. Sure, comets are great to look at through a telescope, but meteors aren’t so great, especially when they impact our planet in places like Tunguska and Chelyabinsk. (1)

     Comets, asteroids and meteors don’t serve any real, stabilising purpose within the solar system, as near as the brightest minds in the fields of Cosmology and Astronomy can tell. No, actually they’ve caused at least one ELE (extinction-level event) that we know of, and may have played a part in at least one other, the Permian-Triassic extinction, which by the way, brings me to my second musing…

Dinosaurs. Where’s my Velociraptor?

     No proponent of young-Earth creationism has come up with a solid, convincing argument that can explain the conundrum of dinosaurs. No, YECs such as Eric Hovind and Answers in Genesis have tried to sell us on the idea that before the “great flood,” man walked the Earth alongside carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Velociraptor. Then, the story gets a little fuzzy, depending on the YEC that you ask for answers. Some will tell you that God allowed the dinos to die in the flood, which then creates a conflict with Genesis 6:19, where God commands Noah;

“And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.”

     Now supposedly, Noah was a righteous and obedient man, the only one of those left on the whole planet, which was why God chose him to save man and animal-kind. So, if Noah was obedient, and he did what God told him to do, and dinosaurs were walking the Earth alongside of Noah and his fam-bam, then where’s my Velociraptor? I’d like to have one as a pet, let it run around the back yard. So help me though, I can’t seem to find one of those nifty raptor eggs down at my local PetSmart.

     No, this conundrum, combined with the pseudo-quasi scientific misconceptions that Hovind et al. have about how rocks form, makes for some cringe-worthy reading. According to these guys, the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary either doesn’t exist at all, or is something other than what it actually is. Luckily for Christendom, theirs isn’t the mainstream view. Even Pat Robertson, that verbally inept “700 Club” stalwart, has admitted that young-Earth creationism is alack in its explanation of the “dino dilemma.” (2)

     I haven’t given up hope though, that there’s a convincing explanation for all of this out there, one that would solidify the young-Earth argument. So, I guess I’ll keep asking the questions, in search of the truth of the matter, and annoying the hell out of those poor young-Earth creationists!

Space and Science: Alone, Are We

In the absence of new material, I thought I’d try reblogging a few articles…

The Cybersattva

     TLDR ADVISORY:This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     Ah, the title. The title, the title the title. See, whenever I compose one of these pieces, I endeavor to come up with a catchy title, in the hopes of snaring those few extra readers by virtue of the title’s interesting nature. In this case, I drew upon the downwards, backside-up-speak of the venerable Yoda. Depending upon both the order of these three small words and the placement of punctuation marks, the title can become a question…or a statement. As to how these three words should read, that all depends on who you ask.

     There seem to be not one, not two, but three major schools of thought on the subject of whether we are alone in the universe. The fundamental, religious types will tell you that, since God created the heavens and…

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Space and Science: Alone, Are We

"BILLIONS, upon BILLIONS..."(Carl Sagan)

(Carl Sagan)

     TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     Ah, the title. The title, the title the title. See, whenever I compose one of these pieces, I endeavor to come up with a catchy title, in the hopes of snaring those few extra readers by virtue of the title’s interesting nature. In this case, I drew upon the downwards, backside-up-speak of the venerable Yoda. Depending upon both the order of these three small words and the placement of punctuation marks, the title can become a question…or a statement. As to how these three words should read, that all depends on who you ask.

     There seem to be not one, not two, but three major schools of thought on the subject of whether we are alone in the universe. The fundamental, religious types will tell you that, since God created the heavens and the Earth, and created us in His image to be upon the Earth, then surely we are at the center of his creation and must be alone in the universe. (I shudder whenever I get this response, because one would think that this school of thought would, and should have died out at the same time that Copernicus’s heliocentric model of the solar system was proven as being correct. In point of fact, we’re not even at the center of anything universe-wise! In our own Milky Way galaxy, we actually reside about halfway out, on one of it’s spiral arms. If we were in the galactic center, we’d be devoured by the super-massive black hole that’s there. (1))

     The hopeful romantics out there, a group which includes various conspiracy theorists, MUFON, some that are involved with SETI and others who “believe”, will reply that it is a foregone conclusion; we are not alone, and the truth is out there! The third school of thought, held by those with a pragmatic bent on scientific observation, will tell you that the possibility, while being rather remote, cannot be entirely dismissed due to the myriad of unknown variables in the universe. It is along these lines that I want to proceed and discuss with you, my fine young readers, a few of the variables that the scientific community considers when contemplating this ages-old question.

     First of all, let’s look at what we know about our own home, this “third rock” from the sun (maybe I should have also titled this article “Things You Might Not Have Known”);

  •      We’re in what’s referred to as the “habitable”, or “Goldilocks” zone, a comfortable distance from our star where things like liquid water can form, given the right atmospheric pressure and conditions. (2)
  •      Speaking of atmospheric pressure, we have an atmosphere comprised of mostly Nitrogen, Oxygen and Argon, with other trace gasses thrown in for good measure. Because of the mass of our home planet, a comfortable 5.97219 × 1024 kilograms, there’s an equally comfortable 101.325 kPa (kiloPascals) of air pressure exerted. If our planet had considerably less mass, things would be a lot different!
  •      Our planet has a hot, two-stage core comprised of iron and nickel, which rotates. This “geodynamo” provides our planet with its geomagnetic field, which protects us from otherwise harmful solar radiation. This geomagnetic field also prevents our atmosphere from being stripped away by solar winds, which is a good thing for us. (We like to breathe, don’t we? Most of us are pretty good at it!) It is thought that this is what happened to the Martian atmosphere long ago, as geological processes like plate tectonics and core spin ground to a halt. (3)
  •      Our planet is part of a system of planets which orbit a single star, a relatively small G-type main-sequence star known as a “yellow dwarf”. While most other stars in the observable galaxy are part of binary and ternary star systems, our yellow dwarf seems to be in the small minority of systems with only a single star. (4)
  •      Our blue marble spins on an axis, at about a 23° tilt, which gives us our seasons. We spin around once every 24 hours, which gives us our days and ensures that most of the planet is equally bathed in life-giving sunlight. (The polar regions get far more or far less sunlight at certain times of the year, also due to the axial tilt, and the manner in which we orbit the sun.)

     In other words, the conditions here are like Baby Bear’s porridge; just right. Any closer to the sun, and we would bake. Any farther, and we would freeze. If our core stopped spinning, then our magnetosphere would collapse, and that nice, breathable atmosphere would be whisked away by the solar winds. If our planet did not spin, then half of the planet would always be hot, the other half, always cold. This would change only gradually, over the 365-day period of orbit around the sun.  There are several conditions that have to be just right, for life to not only develop, but to thrive.

     Here’s another thing to consider; when we talk about “life on other planets”, people’s minds always jump to the idea of “little green men”, “the greys” and other concepts of sentient, developed lifeforms. What about the smallest forms of life, microbial life? What about plant life? There could very well be life on other planets, just not the kind of life that people are expecting!

     Now ask yourself; what is the likelihood of there being an extra-solar system somewhere out there, with a single sun, with a planet in its habitable zone possessing a two-stage metallic core, which spins on an axis and has the right mass, and an atmosphere at just the right pressure, that liquid water can exist with some modicum of stability? Out of all of the exoplanets discovered so far by the Kepler mission, how many of them meet these criteria?

     It’s easy to dismiss or to take for granted, the several things that make our home a home. At the end of the day however, they all still figure in to the equation. Given all of this, coupled with the vast distances between the stars, is the idea of “contact” a likelihood? Are we alone / alone are we / alone we are  / we are alone…?

Lex et Scientia: Bang and Blame?

First Responders at Laquila 2009

First Responders assist the injured at L'Aquila, 2009

    A court in Italy is trying a panel of scientists for manslaughter. No, the scientists didn’t go out for a night of hard partying, and then kill someone. Their crime, according to prosecutors, is failing to predict the April 6th, 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, which registered 5.8 on the Richter Scale and claimed 308 lives. According to a Fox News article on the case, “hundreds” of tremors had been felt in the area in the days and weeks prior to the event. Those prosecuting the case state that residents should have been warned to evacuate their homes.

     Talk to any Geologist or Seismologist worth their salt, and they will tell you without any ambiguity that it is nearly impossible to predict when and where a major quake will occur to a degree of certainty. Oh, there are signs and indicators that things might get bumpy, however exactly when it will get bumpy cannot be narrowed down to a finite schedule. For decades now, seismologists at UCLA, UC Berkeley and the U.S. Geological Survey have been attempting to gain a better idea of when a major event might strike on California’s San Andreas Faultline, to no certain avail. Seismic stations costing millions of dollars have been set up in places along the fault that have a history of seismic activity, such as the one at Parkfield, California in an attempt to predict quake activity.

     The March 11th, 2011 Honshu, Japan event measured 8.8 on the Richter. (You, my fine young readers might remember that one a few months back; tsunami warnings, nuclear power plants failing and all of that?) It was preceded by two days of events averaging 6.5 to 7.5 on the scale. Before that, not a peep. At least, nothing over a 5 if anything. (I just looked through all of my ENS alerts for the year preceding the quake, and nothing.) What these Italians should have realized by now is that quakes, especially major quakes often strike without much warning, in spite of our best efforts to predict them.

     In this writer’s own (sometimes less than) humble opinion, this is a clear-cut case of the Italian prosecutors looking for someone to blame for the loss of lives when in fact, they should be looking at themselves. All that time before the quake hit, they should have been pressing for better construction standards on housing, proper zoning of land, and alleviating overcrowding.

     The L’Aquila event occurred at approximately 03:32 A.M. local time, when most people would have been asleep in their beds. Collapsing homes, falling debris and even secondary causes such as shock and stress-related heart attacks are probably the main culprits in the lives lost in L’Aquila. What bugs the hell out of me is that we have quakes of that magnitude here in California quite often, with nowhere near the loss of life seen at L’Aquila in 2009. Another problem is that the mainstream media often sensationalizes the event, focusing on that “oh, so big number” on the scale and the number of lives lost, without even touching on the factors that led to those heavy loss statistics.

     In closing, the Italian people need to stop wasting court time and money, trying an impossible case. Instead, they need to gain a better understanding of the geologically-active ground on which they choose to live. Ask any Californian, and they’ll tell you that we’re aware of the risks. Do we take seismic events seriously here? Yes, but with a grain of salt and acceptance.

“L.A. town is falling down,

while the ground, moves around.

We won’t let it get us down;

We’re Californians!”

(Animaniacs, from “A Quake”)