Reimagined and Revamped. Fighting the spread of nonsense often feels like a Sisyphean task. However, the joy is in making the information available, not the hope of conversion.

New Batteries

Toshiba has a new battery coming out next year. And you can already see all the hyperbole like form their data sheet

"a breakthrough rechargeable battery"

or from Engadget

"How does this sound: a battery capable of recharging to 90% in under 5 minutes while remaining useful (i.e., 5,000+ recharges) for 10 years or more? Sounds like the stuff of jetpacks and food replicators right?" [my bold]
Well lets get the story straight for a second. When a company says "Better" your first question should be "than what?". There is no doubt that this battery technology has some really great properties, however does it solve the problems associated with the normal consumer in terms of battery life? Lets see.

The major benefit that they are touting is the ability to charge quickly. Very quickly. The graph they are showing in the data sheet makes the following comparison: The SCiB battery can charge 6-24 times faster than other Li+ batteries.

There are two major applications that would love to see this benefit, handheld devices and electric cars. The technology, according to their data sheet says it can charge at 50 amps. They do not relate this statistic to the size of the battery, so I think it is suspect, but lets just take it at face value.

For handheld devices you will not be able to get the full benefit of this feature because most homes do not have circuits with 50 amp breakers on it (there are exceptions, but in general, trying to get 50 amps through a normal outlet will make the circuit breaker go). There are other reasons why this is not a good technology for handheld, but we will get to that later. The idea that you may go to an airport and plug in for 5 minutes to charge your laptop, doesn't seem likely.

For electric cars, that have large batteries, this is truly a boon. The possibility of having electric-only service stations are possible. Installing a 50 amp circuit in your garage is completely viable, and you may already be wired that way since many people have big tools like air compressors, saws and so forth in there.

But alas, while they have solved one issue, other features of have been made worse. Take a look at the chart to the right. The energy density of the new SCiB is far worse than current Li+ technology for handhelds. So while this may not be so much of an issue for weight and space insensitive applications, like cars, its pretty much a death knell for handheld and portable applications.

Lets examine a hypothetical device that uses this technology as a portable power supply like other ones that are currently available. From teh SCiB data sheet, we see that a single battery has the following specs

4.2 Ah
76.6 cubic centimeters
150 grams

This leads to volumetric energy density of 130 Wh/l (without any sort of enclosure) and 67 Wh/Kg. Just to take a reality check, lets compare to a product that we already know is bunk, the Medis 24/7. It has an energy density of 85 Wh/L and 130 Wh/Kg. So the SCiB is still better volumetrically (important for integration into handheld devices) but the Medis power pack, is better in a weight basis.

Of course using normal Li+ beats both by factor 2x. Regardless, other features that help this new technology is the low life cycle degradation, one of the key deficiencies of traditional Li+ batteries.

All in all, this new technology is not a boon to consumer electronics and hand held or computer applications, but looks quite good as a energy source for cars. To the credit of Toshiba, they acknowledge this and make no claims about handhelds:

In addition to applications that include battery-powered bicycles, motorcycles, automated guided vehicles, electric forklift trucks and construction machinery, which already use rechargeable batteries, the SCiB is also a promising candidate for emergency power sources, electric power regeneration in wind power systems and stabilization of electric power supply. Application in hybrid cars is also planned, with the intent of extending application to electric cars in the future, after advancing development of a high-performance SCiB cell.
And I fully agree with this assessment. Apparently its just the media and bloggers that are getting ga ga over it for handhelds.

Read More....

Atheist Charities

This is the season of giving, as they say. There are a lot of religions who use this time of year for reflection, charity and general goodwill. I dont see why atheists can't also use this time of year to be benevolent. Any time of year is good of course, but personally I find winter solstice to be one of the most uplifting days of the year, so why not?

I've been asked often why there aren't any atheist charities. Of course, as usual, people are just presuming or parroting things they heard. Of course there are atheist charities. And like in my videos post, I am considering charities that do not promote a specific religion to be an atheist charity.

I found most of these at the Internet Infidels discussion board (and copied descriptive text from there, apologies if that was a problem). But I thought a nice list would be better, plus I added a few more. There are useful sites like CharityNavigator to help you sort through all the charities out there. If there are comments proposing ones that I missed (and surely there are plenty), I will add them to this list, if they are highly rated (not that all of these are). So here goes:

UPDATE 2009: I apologize for not refreshing this list. No time this year. Please feel free to leave some more a-theist charities for me to include in future versions in the comments.Please read the comments for more and add your own! I know there are more good secular charities out there that I have missed. I also recommend donating so some of the excellent critical thinking podcasts out there.

Secular Charities and Aid groups:
a simple way to provide students in need with resources that our public schools often lack.
lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world.

The Union of Concerned Scientists
The leading science-based non-profit working for a healthy environment and safer world.

American Red Cross
The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, guided by its Congressional Charter and the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross Movement, will provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. The USA's premier emergency response organization, over 91% of Red Cross spending is on charitable services.

American Civil Liberties Union
The mission of the ACLU is to preserve all of constitutional protections and guarantees relating to First Amendment rights, including the freedom to practice religion and the freedom not to have religion rammed down our throats, equal protection, due process, and right to privacy.

United Nations Children's Fund
UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries, ensure a "first call for children" and to build their capacity to form appropriate policies and deliver services for children and their families. UNICEF provides emergency and disaster relief.

Doctors without Borders
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, and exclusion from health care in nearly 70 countries.

Amnesty International
AI’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.
In pursuit of this vision, AI’s mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom from discrimination, within the context of its work to promote all human rights.

Oxfam International
Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice. The Oxfams operate in over 100 countries worldwide working with local partners to alleviate poverty and injustice.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the diversity of life on Earth. An environmental group that protects natural habitats and the wildlife within them. Focuses on "science-based" initiatives.

Population Connection
Population Connection is the national grassroots population organization that educates young people and advocates progressive action to stabilize world population at a level that can be sustained by Earth's resources. Works against faith-based policies that are supported by the Religious Right.

DefCon: Campaign to Defend the Constitution
DefCon is an online grassroots movement combating the growing power of the religious right. It includes a blog on religious freedom issues, action alerts, and in-depth articles on scientific, religious, and legal issues of the day.

The SEED foundation
National nonprofit that establishes urban public boarding schools to prepare students from underserved communities for success in college.

Project Peanut Butter
Project Peanut Butter is a therapeutic feeding program for malnourished children in Malawi and Sierra Leone, on the continent of Africa. It was founded by Professor Mark Manary, M.D., a pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a professor of pediatric medicine at Washington University School of Medicine.

Electronic Frontiers Foundation
When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

Mercy corps
Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.

Our programs serve people who have been economically, politically, or otherwise marginalized. We change our program approach to relate to their culture and circumstances, reaching out in very different ways, for example, to nomads in Tibet, women in Tanzania, or indigenous Mayans in Guatemala. Our aim is to build a bridge of compassion between our donors and the people we serve — people around the world who have the fewest resources.

International Peace Institute
The International Peace Institute (IPI) formerly International Peace Academy is an independent, international institution dedicated to promoting the prevention and settlement of armed conflict between and within states through policy research and development.

Issue-Specific Secularist Organizations

The ADSN Project.
The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia's Anti-Discrimination support network (ADSN) is collecting narratives highlighting instances of bigotry against the nontheist community.

Southern Poverty Law Center
SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.

The Alternatives to Marriage Project
The Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP) advocates for equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.

Pro-choice organizations
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Provides reproductive health care services, advocates for women's reproductive rights, and offers educational services for women.

NARAL Pro-choice America
Focuses mostly on the social and legal activism for women's abortion rights.

Womens Health Organizations
an international nonprofit organization that has been working for 60 years to make reproductive health services safe, available, and sustainable for women and men worldwide.

an international organization that works around the world to increase women's ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, and to reduce abortion-related deaths and injuries.

Teen Pregnancy Reduction
National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Sadly this charity is rated with only 2 stars due to low efficiency. However their goal is highly respectable and needed, to prevent teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults.

Treatment Action Campaign
campaign for treatment for people with HIV and to reduce new HIV infections. Our efforts have resulted in many life-saving interventions, including the implementation of country-wide mother-to-child transmission prevention and antiretroviral treatment programes.

U.S. Military
Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
Challenging the myth that "there are no atheists in foxholes." There certainly are.

Gay rights
A national non-profit gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT) agency dedicated to reducing homophobia, inequality, hate crimes, and discrimination by encouraging self-acceptance, cooperation, and non-violence.

Lambda Legal
The legal arm of the Lambda organization that protects GLBT civil rights through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Human Rights Campaign
Large organization working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights.

School vouchers
National Education Association (NEA) on school vouchers
Provides several arguments for the case against private school vouchers.

Pledge of Allegiance
Restore the Pledge
Support Michael Newdow in his quest to remove the phrase "under God" from the official Pledge of Allegiance, coercively recited by millions of schoolchildren every day.

Evolution/Creationism in the science classroom
National Center for Science Education
Great resource with current news and resources (including the famous "Project Steve" list!) on defending evolution and science against pseudoscience advocates.

Texas Freedom Network
The Texas Freedom Network advances a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the religious right

Boy Scouts of America discrimination against atheists, gays
Scouting For All
Composed of mostly former Boy Scouts, it is working to influence the BSA to include all participating youth members and leaders regardless of religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

Children in Poor countries
an organization committed to helping children, their families and communities in 49 developing countries around the world.

Internet tools
a multilingual, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia project. The name "Wikipedia" is a portmanteau (a combination of portions of two words and their meanings) of the words wiki (a type of collaborative Web site) and encyclopedia. Wikipedia's articles provide links to guide the user to related pages with additional information.

Church/state separation and secularist organizations

Americans United for Separation of Church and State
A national watchdog organization (with local chapters all around the U.S.---find one near you!) dedicated to preserving religious liberty. It is open to theists and nontheists of all kinds, and is headed by a minister with the United Church of Christ (Rev. Barry Lynn) who can be seen often in the national media and news stories centering on church/state separation issues.

American Civil Liberties Union (click on the "Religious Liberty" link)
A favorite target of the Religious Right. The ACLU defends civil liberties on many fronts including church/state separation, personal privacy, and legal protection through due process. Look for a local chapter in your area to join.

People for the American Way
Progressive group that supports secular values in government. PFAW is an activist organization and PAC (political action committee) working to battle such groups as the Christian Coalition. Click the "Religious Freedom" link for action alerts and information.

Freedom from Religion Foundation
Great organization that defends the rights of nontheists in courtrooms, sponsors a fun-filled annual national convention, and publishes the popular "Freethought Today" (magazine written by and for freethinkers).

Godless Americans Political Action Committee
Endorses and supports U.S. political candidates that support secular values in government and the rights of "godless Americans." We will have our "seat at the table" in formulating public policy.

Atheist Alliance
Democratic association of various individual atheists and atheist organizations. It is a great all-around resource for all-things atheist.

Interfaith Alliance
Alliance of leaders of various religions, worldviews, and beliefs that includes Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, et al. It works to promote religious freedom for everyone regardless of religious beliefs as well as civic participation and civility. Nontheists can find theist allies here.

American Atheists
Controversial atheist organization started by the infamous Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Today it fights for the complete separation of church and state, as well as for the rights of atheists in America.

Secular Coalition for America
Vast coalition of secular and freethought organizations (including the Internet Infidels!) dedicated to sending lobbyists to Washington, D.C. to gain support for protecting the rights of nontheist Americans.

Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Explores the causes of religious belief, promotes science in public schools, maintains a list of public lecturers, sells pro-secularist books and other media, and facilitates the giving of humanitarian aid to organizations that are completely secular in nature.


National Secular Society
Supports secularism in the UK, as well as church-state separation.

Rationalist Association
The Rationalist Association is a focus for rationalist thought and debate in the UK and worldwide. The RA is the UK's leading freethought and rationalist book publisher.


Atheist Foundation of Australia, Inc.
Something for our friends Down Under -- lots of good information, book lists, humor, etc.

Organizations that promote humanism/Atheism

Center For Inquiry
The purpose of the Center for Inquiry is to contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of science and reason, and their applications to human conduct.

Council for Secular Humanism
Large organization that offers support for secular humanists through activities such as magazine publishing, conducting secular ceremonies (weddings, funerals, etc.), educational courses, and summer camps for kids that teach critical thinking skills and secular ethical values.

American Humanist Association
Promotes the spread of humanism and furthering of the humanist philosophy in the U.S. by working with and/or establishing like-minded organizations.

The Continuum of Humanist Education
Online courses available for humanists in areas such as law, science, ethics, and secular humanist philosophy.

The Institute for Humanist Studies (IHS)
A think-tank that offers news, opinions, information, and humor relating to humanism. It works to spread public awareness and acceptance of humanist principles.

British Humanist Association
The largest provider of humanist ceremonies in England and Wales. Offers services for weddings, funerals, and baby-namings as well as general resources on humanism and support for humanist organizations.

Humanist Association of Canada
Provides secular officiants, information, services, and support for humanists in Canada.

Positive Atheism
Comprehensive resource for positive atheists to learn about atheism, history, philosophy, religious freedom, and responsibility.

Unitarian Universalist Assocation
A popular "church" for atheists, agnostics, deists, very liberal Christians, etc. Check your local yellow pages for one in your community or use this website's handy Congregation locator.

The Brights
A movement endorsed by several prominent nontheists to adopt a new term ("Brights") with an accompanying philosophy to describe secularists, freethinkers, atheists, naturalists, etc. with the intent of putting forth a positive, and less-stigmatized, perception of ourselves. Many nontheists have encouraged its use, while many others reject it.

The Objectivist Center
A controversial philosophy founded by Ayn Rand that embodies particular principles on various philosophical, political, economic, and religious issues. Objectivists generally are atheists, but atheists are generally not Objectivists.

Skeptic Society
Learn how to live life free of nonsensical beliefs, and develop your own scientific and critical thinking skills. Also publishes a popular monthly magazine, SKEPTIC, which can be found in major bookstores.

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)
Investigates extraordinary claims from a scientific and rational perspective. CSICOP also puts out a popular monthly magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, found in major bookstores.

American Ethical Union (AEU)
The American Ethical Union (AEU) describes "Ethical Culture" as a humanistic religious and educational movement inspired by the ideal that the supreme aim of human life is working to create a more humane society.

International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
IHEU is the sole world umbrella organization for humanist, atheist, rationalist, secularist, skeptic, laique, ethical cultural, freethought and similar organizations world-wide.

Internet Infidels
A nonprofit educational organization dedicated to defending and promoting a naturalistic worldview on the Internet. They offer thousands of outstanding essays, reviews, and critiques, covering everything from articles of general interest to scholarly papers by prominent nontheistic philosophers, scientists, historians, and others. Unlike most of our opponents, we even publish responses to our own pieces to encourage readers to make up their own minds. In addition to such encyclopedic resources, other features of the site are outlined in the Secular Web pamphlet, which readers may download, print out, and distribute, as desired.

Read More....