My Zunivers

31 October 2005

No Papers?

Oh My!

Instant Messaging is the New Way to send around viruses, especially particularly nasty ones.

What a fricking surprise!

Who would have expected it!

What a great reason for a paperles society!

Royalty

Prince Charles had some good things to say. Go read about it.

For the record, I talk to my plants.

30 October 2005

Why No Zunivers Counter?

The answer is simple. There are too many hits that are not from people reading the blog. In fact, I think that only about 30% of the pageloads are legitimate readers, and except for the occasional guest who browses I know everyone's computer stats well enough to know who is who that reads here. In fact, there is only one regular reader, let's call this "The Canadian," who I don't know in person.

Since I think a counter should reflect readership, like my friends and The Canadian, not simply pageloads by any source, I don't have one. If the number of crap pageloads would be smaller, then maybe I'd put up the numbers, but until then there won't be one. For you snoops who want to know, I get about 100 total hits per week.

If you want a counter, though, you can get a free and easy account at StatCounter. There are other counting services, but when I looked over them I found that StatCounter was the best choice for me.

And some of you are still running old versions of Firefox....

The Chorus Boy, Part II

The chorus boy has finished his first set of concerts. It all takes me back to my last singing experience, better known as Freshman Choir at Wheaton, where they sucker all the freshmen into getting on stage and singing at the communion service the day before classes begin. Only that time I was in the front row. (Wheaties, you can find me, the Snoopy on my tie a noticible speck, in a picture of the event in the 1998 Tower). This time I was near the back.

I remember a guy crowd surfing there... and I ate dinner with him and walked to the chapel with him that night... he explained to me that a french person saying someone has mustard in his nose is using an idiom... and now I look to my right and there's a picture of him less then two feet away from me on the desk right now... he's going to work for Wycliffe as a nerd missionary, and I'm part of his launch team... and one of our regular readers was his roommate sophomore year. Good times, college days.

The concert went well tonight, and better than last night. The Mascagni piece was smoothed out in pitch by having monitors placed under the risers to play some notes, and the timing went better becasue the brass section didn't screw up again. (The director, not used to working with monitors, was slightly baffled that the sound level in the monitors could be controlled form the mixing console. Silly classical musicians!) Vowels and consonants were in better balance. The sopranos were tame. When in doubt, blame the sopranos, that's my motto. And before the concert, someone was kind enough to be playing Debussy's Arabesque no. 1 on the piano in the room where we lined up. Can anyone guess what is my absolute most favoritest piano piece of all time?

(Actually, I fell in love with the song not played on piano, but as performed by Isao Tomita on the album Snowflakes Are Dancing. I didn't have the album, but Jack Horkheimer did, and this song has been the theme song for the PBS spots Star Hustler, now renamed Star Gazer, since before I was born.)

I was much cooler tonight than last night-- still sweaty in the tuxedo but not as much. I certainly smelled fresher, but sadly in a theme song form Fresh Prince of Bel-Air way. Hopefully my alto sidekick didn't mind too much, seeing as her face is at about my chest level. She sang so well that I hope I can stand with her again next concert. Standing next to her and some low altos got me thinking about why people always get the impression that choirs of angels sing tenor and soprano. And what of the guy on my other side? He's too cool a character to notice if I smelled. Heck, he's the only guy I know who stopped by the lobby bar for a little hit during intermission. And if any of you out there have tips for freshening up a wool suit (besides dry cleaning-- I know about that but I'm cheap) e-mail them to me. Right now I'm planning to try the "turn it inside out in the closet so that it goes form locker room oder to stale oder" technique.

During the Humming Chorus from Madama Butterfly, the best ever Italian opera about America and Japan, I couldn't help but smile. It was a good piece, and it's the kind that should make anyone smile, but that wasn't what made me smile. Rather, I heard in my mind, in a French accent, of course, "There was a blueberry who lived in a tree...." I may be misquoting, but the even funnier part is when you suddenly start thinking "Scuba-dooba doobey doobey dooba! Here we go Scuba! Come on!" in time over the pizzicato.

My voice is now tired. I wasn't breathing properly during some parts of the concert, and that puts tension in the voicebox. This is the reason I'm singing baritone instead of tenor, though. If I were singing tenor and breathing that way, I would hurt myself. (I actually did that earlier this semester, during some high notes in one of the rehearsals. We were sitting down, and I can't breathe properly sitting down. Until that day I had never understood that hurting yourself from singing does actually hurt. A lot.) Best to err on the side of caution until I'm ready to use that end of my voice range.. or maybe forever, if I'm feeling lazy.

So, tonight I bid farewell to the music I've been singing for the past two months. It was all fun, as this was opera, and opera choruses, for the most part, are written with the chorus playing a group of characters in the story. I especially enjoyed singing "Dream of the Peasant Gritzko" from The Sorochintsy Fair. For one thing, this is a piece that few people ever get a chance to sing-- I had never even heard of it before the music was in my hands. It was lots of fun to be part of a dreamly demon horde that got beat down by the rising of the sun. There's theology in there, too. As the end of the dark sabbath comes, the demons, fading, express, even while crying out to Satan for help, that Satan is damnation and God is holy. Good stuff. Much better than Rimsky-Korsikov's insturmental arrangement, which most of you know by the title "Night on Bald Mountain."

My voice is taking a week off, and then it's on to spending six months learning Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. I've heard that this is one of several major choral works being performed in the Lehigh Valley next spring, with the largest being the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing Gustav Mahler's Resurrection symphony. And lets not forget the Bach Choir of Bethlehem's annual performances of the Mass in B minor. People, if you don't like clasical music, you should learn. This is all very good stuff.

Don't forget to set back your clocks. Heck, if you're reading this and you haven't set them, you've either got issues or you've got to let me know that you're up all night and lonely so that we can talk on the phone or something.

29 October 2005

The Chorus Boy

Our first concert over. Jesus got to heaven, but the ride was bumpy.

I promise that if tomorrow there is another botching of the rhythm of the Mascagni piece then I will try not to participate!

I've noticed a prolferation of rants recently, especially about intelligent design. I'll try to rant about some other things in the near future.

28 October 2005

So Many Possible Rants!

Here is an interesting little article, bringing together about five of my favorite ranting topics at once.

My comments:

The article misses the point that the anti-ID movement is not simply a debate about whether ID is science. The article does correctly accuse the ID people of wanting to inject religion into culture's thinking on science, but it fails to point out that many scientists are using the debate as a platform to do just the opposite. Ask any scientist who is against ID and has no religious beliefs, and they will tell you, directly or more roundabout, that the debate is a matter of keeping religion out of science and, usually, of getting religion out of people's heads. It is not merely, from their perspective, a debate about keeping philosophy in philosophy's place and science in science's place. The article says that ID is alienating people from science but it doesn't mention that popularizers of science have done their part to ask for it. The flames are fanned both ways, and this isn't new.

That's my main complaint about the article. My other is that it's trying to distill a very complicated matter, and in doing so it is distorting almost every aspect of it. There are so many cause and effect chains to work out here, from how teachers are trained to how the government supports science and education to what role churches play to what role scientists play to how all these issues became entangled in the first place. But the article chooses to focus on the ID and evolution part rather than the complexities. Politics are mentioned, but only to point out how conservative the governement currently is; there is so much more. Perhaps the article would be better if it explicitly said that the ID-evolution debate triggered their wanting to bring up the issues instead of making it out to be the issue... and doing a poor job of that.

At least it is correct when it says that dogmatism will destroy rational discourse.

A Landmark

Happy 201st post.

Some humor here.

27 October 2005

More on Intelligent Design

I've been thinking a lot about intelligent design recently. This hasn't been because of the media coverage as much as because I'm in science and seeking out how to be a scientist and a Christian. This not only means that I need to find contentment in how I work and what I believe, but it also means that I am a sort of ambassador for both science and Christianity. As an ambassador for a nation, one needs to be able to speak to others as the voice of his nation in the language of the others. I see Christians in science as a voice to the curious for Christianity and science. To be a voice, I need to be able to speak, and to even speak, I need to know in summary form what I think, even if it's tentative.

So here I give you my most recent thoughts on intelligent design. Some of you will recognize it more than others, as I've sent it along to different people at various stages over the past couple of months. I'm happy enough with it now, a few revisions after the first draft, that I figured it was time to post here. I do usually speak of God instead of a designer just because I am a Christian and see no reason to generalize God. Do so if you wish.

Thank you, by the way, to those of you who provided input along the way. Now let's go on...
____________________

At its core, intelligent design (ID) is different from the anthropic principle or the teleological argument. Intelligent design does not talk only about a designer, but also says that the designer has continually tinkered with living structures. For this reason, ID is applied only to the study of evolution of living things. I've never seen it applied elsewhere and still maintain this tinkering characteristic; in those cases, it might as well be called the anthropic principle, the teleological argument, or whatever is appropriate in the situation. The words "intelligent design" just serve to turn those tired old phrases into a new, catchy buzzword (like when my research group called protein crystallization the "self assembly of biological nanoparticles"). The only exception I can imagine would be progressive creation theologies that have God continually working everywhere, always creating.

Anyway, this tinkering gets into talking about "how" in an untestable way. I think it is this infraction, more than any other, that puts atheistic or agnostic scientists into a tizzy. The tinkering, it is postulated, is the only way to increase the information in living structures and the only way to form "irreducibly complex systems." If we were to speak of God only in ways that talk about the "why" of the universe then they will simply dismiss us as religious kooks who think the universe has a purpose. But if we talk about God in terms of God actually doing things we're a bit more nuts, and if we go on to call inquiries about what he does "science," scientists of many sorts will throw huge fits.

Many people that I know have embraced ID without realizing this bit about tinkering, including me initially. Honestly, I didn't know about it at first. There are two reasons I have noticed for why people I know jump to saying that they believe in intelligent design. There may be others, so this is the weakest point in my thinking.

First, some people believe that evolution occurred and God guided it, and they decide that ID is compatible with that stance. But God's guidance of evolution need not occur in the way that ID says the tinkering was done. ID makes the irreducible complexity argument-- there exist parts that appear in groups that have a function but do not by themselves have a function. That is more restrictive than saying that God guided evolution.

Second, people who embrace ID want to think about the universe as having a purpose. Random mutations and natural selection, the standard explanation of the evolution of living things, sounds purposeless. I think there some mistaken logic going on here, though. You indeed cannot have ID without purpose. But that's not the same as saying that without ID there is no purpose. Put another way, there can be purpose and meaning in a universe where the life evolved through paths other than the one laid out by ID.

A hypothetical (obviously) example comes to my mind. Can we conceive of a way that God could guide evolution, in a way different form what ID says, and give the universe purpose and direction? Consider the evolutionary pathway where God hides out in quantum fluctuations that lead to mutations, controlling those to make his living creatures. This is a God-of-the-gaps, for sure, but the gap is not a problem because have sufficient evidence that mortals and our science will be able to enter it. A fluctuation-guided universe doesn't necessarily require the irreducible complexity ideas from ID, but I know no argument to demonstrate that it cannot yield complex structures. God can be purposeful, his purposes, in this guidance. We could see increasing information in living things this way, too. But most of all, this path can look exactly like standard evolution; ID, or at least the irreducible complexity part, does not. I can't comment on the information part in this example, though, and whether that would be different from what ID says-- more in a moment.

You might have noticed that I said ID had two results form the designer's tinkering-- one about irreducible complexity and one about information. I've only picked on the former. As for the latter, I don't have many good things to say about it because getting a good explanation of what "information" is and is not in ID is extremely difficult. The best that I have found bascially says that information includes not only the quantifiable measure of information in the genes but also the "functionability" of the genes to operate living things. If two strands of DNA have the same information content mathematically, then if one belongs to a functioning organism and the other doesn't, the one belonging to a functioning organism has higher information content. This seems a bit circular to me; it also seems subjective in a Polanyi sort of way.

Although I've given up on irreducible complexity, a la Ken Miller and because I see some God-of-the-gaps-ness, I think that the concept of "information" (which Miller never seems to address that I know) is IDs best hope. But I will remain skeptical until the concept is explained better and can actually show some results-- scientifically, mathematically, or philosophically. Also, I don't see any reason why the ID form of tinkering is the only way to increase information. ID may not turn out to be the only way to get increasing information in living systems. Natural selection and mutation, or what appears as such but is guided by God, may be enough. This gets into Stuart Kauffman's work, and other places in theoretical biology that I've never had time to tread.

To that end, considering that ID as intended (not as mutilated in the media and general public) is only applicable to living things, its irreducible complexity arguments in living things fail, and it's version of tinkering is not necessary as the way that information can increase in living things, I've pretty much tossed the idea. I've definitely tossed it as science, and, although I do think it is philosophy, I am skeptical of it as philosophy in its current form. It's still hanging as an option, but its in a dark corner in the back coat closets of my mind. I won't get it out until it changes from its current state. Scientific work is probably not the way to make these changes, but discussions and revisions of ID as philosophy, by people who realize that it is not wrong simply because it is not science, could prove to be quite useful. This is probably the best way for the idea to go in the future.
__________________________

All said, I still hold to the anthropic principle. Just like with ice cream, I'm not sure which flavor is my favorite because I like most of them. But I eat it :)

Supreme Continuations...

Miers withdrew her nomination. Probably the best choice.

I wasn't bothered by her never having been a judge. Rather, I was bothered by her lack of demonstrated legal scholarship. (Judges have the chance to demonstrate scholarship, but that isn't the only way, which is why I don't think having been a judge is required to be qualified for the court.)

So, who will the next victim be?

26 October 2005

Fireballs

Coming up on the 200th post, and being rather tired for the past week, probably fighting a mild infection, and thus not posting frequently or in depth, I was thinking "Wouldn't it be neat to build a flamethrower?"

The latter, by the way, is not conencted to the former.

Designs abound on the internet. Skills do not abound in me. And considering that my wife won't let me even play with the matches....

24 October 2005

Intelligent Journalism

CNN gives us this gem about the Dover school board trial. My favorite part--

"The trial pits Christian conservatives, who say nature is so complex it must have been the work of a God-like creator, against teachers and scientists who favor Darwin's theory of evolution."

Yes, exactly. There are no non-conservatives or non-Christians on the intelligent design side. Or is this the new litmus test for being conservative and Christian? Hug the trees, wave the Nader flag, treat the Bible like an allegory, but if you give intelligent design more than a passing thought then you're a right-wing nut?

At least this story, like all the rest about the trial, contains same filler material as four fifths of its content. Heaven forbid that we get a new flavor.

Good journalism at its best-- easy to eat, hard to swallow.

[10/28 Adding: In this case it is, I think, conservatives, so CNN is not erring in fact. Readers might, however, generalize the statement unless explicitly told that they can't. That's why I bring it up-- to say that you can't.]

Leave Me Alone

Most people I know appear polite, but when it comes to conversation they are complete crap.

I'm thinking particularly of the people I know who ask me "What do you do?" You see, I am an enigma. I am in graduate school studying physics. I am not studying physics education, "science," math, or any kind of engineering. I used to be a teaching assistant, but now I'm a research assistant. I used to take classes, but now I do only research. And, horrible as it sounds, since 2001 I've been paid to do this.

I don't mind explaning this to anyone-- the first time. When it becomes old is when I have the same conversation over and over again wiht the same people. This is why I say the people are crap. If they actually cared about the substance of the conversation, I would not need to have it with them every few weeks becasue they would remember more than the name of my school and that, since it's my school, I have something to do with that school.

Here's an example of the conversations I have.

"Hi, Nate."

"Hi." [Thinks "How do I get away?"]

"How is school?"

"Going well."

"You're enjoying your classes?"

"I'm not taking any."

"Oh, I thought you were in school."

"I am."

"So you are doing your student teaching?"

"No."

"But I thought you taught."

"I used to."

"But you're not student teaching now?"

"I am not, and I never will, student teach. I'm not in education, I am in physics."

"Oh.... So what do you do?"

"Research."

"Oh." [Pause] "So with your wife in school, how do you get by?"

"We get paid."

"To do what?"

"I do research, she takes classes."

"They pay you for that?"

"Yes. Didn't I just say that?"

"I don't unerstand. They pay you to research?"

"Yes, it's called a job."

"I didn't know people got paid to do science research. I thought they got paid to be professors."

"Many professors do research."

"So you're a professor?"

"No, I'm a student."

"But you're not taking classes?"

"No classes."

"Then what do you do?"

And so it continues... without end....

In my opinion, anyone who needs to ask more than twice is a dolt. I'm sorry if my life situation doesn't fit into what your limited little brains think of as a life. That's not my problem, so leave me alone about it.

21 October 2005

Shoot This

I was interested that the legislation to protect gun manufactureres was passed by the U.S. House today. I've heard a lot of uproar about this legislation-- or at least I did last year when it was actually in the news. That uproar has all come form people who think it supports firearms use.

But, I ask, if you are willing to allow firearms makers to be sued because their product was used unlawfully, would you also allow the same thing for manufacturers of other products? Should Boeing pay for the September 11 attacks because their aircraft were used for illegal activity? Should Chrysler be held liable for every crime in which one of their vehicles is used for the criminal to leave the scence? What about when someone drives recklessly in one of their cars and kills someone? If someone is injured in a fight at the bar because he was hit in the head by a bottle of Coors, do the Coors people need to pay for his injuries due their product being directly involved in illegal activity? In a place where cell phones must be used with hands free devices when driving who should pay for my car if someone talking on a cell phone, one fully able to operate with a hands free device but not connected to one, hits me and is found at fault-- the a cell phone using driver who is using the phone illegally or the cell phone maker who sold the product through legal channels?

For all of those situations we would say that a legal product is being used illegally, and that since the product is legal the manufacturer is not liable. The use, on the other hand, was illegal, so the user is liable.

Why different for guns? The only thing I've heard is that guns are different form other products because they are made for the purpose of injuring.

Red herring.

First, nobody makes guns with the desire that they be used illegally. Second, even if they know that their product can be used illegally, there are a lot of products that can be used illegally besides guns and nobody complains about those items. Third, and most important, product regulation and product use liability are separate legal issues. Regulation preceeds liability. You cannot talk about who is liabile for illegal use of a product without previously defining legal manufacture, use, posession, obtainment, and so on.

We have a constitution and subsequent firearms and weapons laws to talk about gun regulation, defining legal and illegal manufacture, sale, posession, and use of firearms. If these laws are changed then the liability laws would need to be checked to see if they need revision. Changing liability laws, on the other hand, does not require revising regulatory laws. This new legislation does not affect regulatory laws at all. That means that gun makers and dealers can still be sued for negligence, selling to people who are not allowed to have guns, replacement of bad products, and so on.

The new soon-to-be law simply gives gun makers what we explicitly or implicitly give everyone in America in almost every situation-- freedom from liability to those who are neither negligent nor otherwise doing something already determined illegal. You can support gun control all you want, as far as I care. I support some gun conrol measures. But don't confuse gun regulation with the issue of corperate liability for illegal use of legal guns.

20 October 2005

Evolution Is Not a Fact

I just took a gander at some information found in Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science by the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1998). In this little text, NAS sets up the definitions of terms like hypothesis, theory, and fact. I have one comment to make.

When scientists hear that "Evolution is a theory, not a fact" they often respond "No, evolution is a theory and a fact." According to the NAS definitions of "theory" and "fact," these scientists have corrected an error but they have also made one of their own.

Here is what the NAS gives us--

A theory is "In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses."

A fact is "In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.' Truth in science, however, is never final, and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow."

While evolution is generally accepted to be true, and as a theory it has been repeatedly confirmed, it is not itself observed. The word observation here is meant to be physical observations, not mental ones. As the book states "observations are gathered by our senses." I am not saying that we do not see evolution now so it never happened, because that's a standard creationist crap argument, but I am saying we did not see evolution so it is not something we have observed. We may observe the consequences of evolution, but those observations, and not the theory of evolution itself, are the things that the NAS definition is pointing towards as facts. As the booklet says at another point, "In science, theories do not turn into facts through the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the end points of science."

So evolution is not, in the NAS language, a fact. Of course, I don't think that they bother to actually say this anywhere because too many scientists would get ticked off at them. And I wonder how many people have read this book and conveniently not bothered to reason through this on their own. And, for that matter, how many just didn't reason through it.

Kudos to anyone who can figure out what, from the point of scientific realism, is wrong with my thinking... and the same thinking in the NAS book's definition of "fact." Of course, I never read the whole book, so perhaps it does a nice contradiction of itself somewhere (page 56 might be a good place to look). The resolution of one problem while making another that you hope people won't see-- a good tactic for debate, but a bad one for precise science.

And even more kudos to anyone who realizes that the NAS definition of theory is, from a philosophical perspective, utter crap.

19 October 2005

Behe's Black Box

On behalf of Christians eveywhere who don't want to be made to look stupid, I kindly ask Michael Behe to now shut up. For good.

The Political Future

This sort of story is probably going to become more and more normal over the next three years. I'm not unhappy, either. I envision an America where politics comes down to more than answering yes or no to "Are you a conservative Christian?" with yes meaning you vote Republican and no meaning vote Democratic. I have some plans not to vote for Republicans, or to vote for them only grudgingly and with much complainaing, for some state and federal seats in the coming years.

As well as Karl Rove's great experiment has worked (the one that has made the Republicans into God's Chosen Party), thirty years ago the lines betwen voters were drawn over matters that involve what the governement actually does from day to day rather than which elected officials pray to the right god before their meals and whether or not they talk about it in public. In the recent decades of religious babble I know that many conservatives, especially Chris
tians, have lost track of what the federal government is for and how it works. It's time to get that focus back, because without it, quite frankly, Christians look really stupid.

[Edited to undo the publishing process rearranging a line or two. Sorry about that!]

A New Kind Of Nazi

Some of you might be wondering "What happened?"

When I say "Huh?" you'll respond "The edge, man. That edge that you used to try and fail miserably to work up in your blog. Where did it go?"

Or maybe not.

The point is, my posts have recently been shorter and less thrilling, to me and probably me alone, for some time now. The reason isn't that I have nothing to write about or that I don't like writing. Rather, I don't like rehashing issues. Since there is less to vent over, there is less here.

But tonight I was thinking....

I do wonder very deeply about a rather odd but highly vocal and, dare I say, militant group in the United States. I call them the "Pregnancy 'Nazis.'" And here is why....

In the United States, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is forbidden. In France, where pregnant women drink wine all the time, the population is thoroughly deformed, both mentally and physically, because of the irresponsible drinking habits of pregnant women.

If you're pregnant, don't you dare eat deli meats. They may have listeria, and that would hurt your baby. But do continue driving around in your car. After all, assuming random distributions of auto deths and listeria infections, the chances of getting listeria from deli meats is only a puny 6% of your chances of dying in an auto accident. We want to avoid all the little risks so that we can be prepared for the more likely ones. And deli meats are obviously the only source of listeria, anyway, so keep eating all that safe stuff from the sushi bar.

I'm not even going to talk about epidurals. Okay, I will. There is only one kind-- the kind that makes you less of a wom... er, I mean, the kind that might hurt your baby. Right now doctors kind of think it's safe, but you just never know what it might do. Fouty years form now you may face a time when everyone's parents' medical records are checked epidurals. If you had an epidural, your children might be put to sleep by epidural-fearing masses who want to make sure that society stays pure. You're a real wuss for doing it anyway, so don't cry over losing your kid or they'll kill you, too. And of course there could be no benefits, only negatives, because natural must always be better. And taking a few dips into a plastic hot tub full of filtered water, and heated electrically, can really enhance any completely natural birth experience.

Pregnant women who garden should always, always, I said always wear rubber gloves. This protects your baby from contact with pesticides, which your obviously must use in your garden, especially when pregnant, and dirt, which you need to learn to dislike so that you can teach your children to avoid it. Contact with fungicides, on the other hand (or on either hand, really), is a subject that is never covered by bickering women on pregnancy message boards. That could only mean one thing-- feel free to drink as much as you want. It's perfectly safe. Along with a daily multivitamin, it will improve the health of your baby.

Speaking of vitamins when pregnant, make sure that you take only natural vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are obviously not the same chemical, even if they are USP approved. The difference between natural and synthetic/artificial, in chemicals and food ingredients, has absolutely nothing to do with how the chemicals are made and everything to do with the purity of the resulting product. If you take the synthetic vitamins and you miscarry your baby, it's all your fault and you are an eeeeevil woman and you could have saved the baby if you had taken the right stinking vitamins and you don't deserve to sleep at night you vitamin tinkering witch.

Keep in mind, while you are pregnant, that you'll soon be a mother. That means that whenever you look for advice you will find more experienced women who tell you to raise kids their way, which is the only right way, which is obvious because they are mothers. I recommend that you heed it all. This avoids all hormonally driven arguments with any other women. It even helps avoid those arguments that you otherwise wouldn't have but that definitely don't have anything to do with hormones, no not a bit.

And remember, when dealing with everyone, it's all about your baby and, after the birth, your child. Life doesn't continue as normal for anyone else. In fact, if you know another person who is pregnant or has recently become a mother, it is your solemn duty to make sure that you convince her that your way is correct. Mutual support is good, but forcing your ideas on other people is, in the end, life's main purpose. But of course it has nothing to do with you and is actually only about what is best for your child.

Most women I know who have been pregnant are not Pregnancy "Nazis," but they are out there. Watch out for them! They may not be able to catch up when you run, but if they do get you, you're in trouble!

15 October 2005

A Riot

Rioting in Toledo, Ohio. Ohio Nazis involved. Go figure.

Nothing interesting ever happens around here.

My Weather Rant

I'm going to rant about it again. It's not so much the current weather that I don't like, although I prefer cooler temperatures. It's how people, including television weather people, deal with the weather. Or should I say how they don't deal with the weather?

On October 15 the average high temperature (thirty year moving mean) is 63 degrees farenheit. Right now the airport (from where the average comes) is at 72 degrees. It is sunny, so I expect the temperature to go up a few more degrees. Today's high temperature will be at least ten degrees above normal. People think it is a beautiful day. That's why I'm choosing today to complain about the weather.

Now, let's imagine it is mid January, like January 17. People talk about how February is the coldest month but in most places in the US and Canada it is January. (Similarly, people talk about August being the hottest month when in fact it is July. It is no more humid in August than July, just as it is no more snowy in February than in January. I think this pattern of misunderstanding says less about the weather than it does about the human psyche.) Specificlally, January 17 is on average the coldest day here, at an average high temperature of 34 degrees. Imagine that, on this January 17, the high temperature is actually 22 degrees.

Hearing this news, many people would cry foul about the weather, giving as justification for their cries the fact that the temperature is more than ten degrees below normal.

Now let's imagine a hot July day, say July 22, the hottest day on average around here with an average temperature of 85 degrees. If the temepraure next July 22 were to be 97 degrees, people would also cry foul and appeal to the average temperature as justification. If the temperature were 73 degrees, people would love the weather, just like today.

Now, the fact that these quotes of averages never come with standard deviations is a problem, but I know where to find such data so that's not my real complaint. My complaint is that people are making unsound appeals to the mean value.

What do I mean by that? Well, it's simple, really. Most people want weather that is sunny, winds less than ten miles per hour, puffy clouds at 3/8 coverage but never blocking the sun, and temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees. That is the ideal weather that people want. When they appeal to the average they are not saying "Oh, look at how bad it is that the weather isn't normal. Here are normal numbers to prove it. If only the weather followed those numbers." They are instead saying "Oh, look at how bad it is that the weather isn't what we want it to be all the time. Here are the normal numbers that we also don't want. If we show these to you you will hopefully think that we have more than just a subjective reason to whine about how the weather isn't always just the way we want it."

People, if you're going to complain about the weather, at least do it with the admission that you are complaining because the weather just isn't the way you like it. And especially in times when even the average conditions are something you wouldn't like (which is most of the year here), leave the averages out of it. They don't give your whining any extra credibility.

You Know Your Life Is Pathetic When....

You are up in the middle of the night and, tired of always spending hours alone because you have a stupid sleep disorder and zero access to friends or family at three in the morning, you contemplete, and then actually begin, studying a general relativity textbook, just because you need something to break up the mind numbing boredom of looking at your apartment walls.

Yes, general relativity to break up the boredom. Only some physics people understand how odd that is. I'm not one of them.

I hate being a nerd. If my life is going to be rather lonely and unfulfilling I might as well have social skills, a normal sleep cycle, a desire for tidy surroundings, and a mind barren of life's most basic skills like reading comprehension and logic.

Life sucks.

Tony

I didn't post anything last night because I didn't have anything to say.

And I have nothing to say now.

Actually, I do. I was reading Tony Blankley's October 12 column (if it's after October 19 or so this link will give a newer column) in the Washington Times. He rants about big news, poll numbers, and why didn't anyone report on Bush saying the war on terror was a war on radical Islam?, and gives us a gem of a line to remember forever-- "One doesn't mind, so much, mainstream journalists being b*st*rds. It's being such dumb b*st*rds that one finds so irksome."

13 October 2005

Semolina in the Grindstone

I got to hear a talk by Ken Miller tonight. It was well executed, as the man is a gifted speaker. I think he handled the question time at the end rather tactfully, which I don't mean in the normal sense of tact as much as in making fun of everyone equally. During the talk we got to go over a few scientific bits, but all of them were presented on a level that any college student should be able to understand. It was quite accessible. And it was fun.

The only sad thing about it, I think, is that dispite his emphasis at several points that he is a practicing Christian, many people who were there will walk away ignoring that fact but satisfied that Intelligent Design has been refuted and, to keep from spoiling that part that they want to hear, will just put off the fact that Miller is one of those nutters who believes in God. Oh, well.

The good part is that the man was much more personally plesant with me than any young earth creationist speakers I've ever met. It reminds me of an old song that does not say "They will know that we are Christians by our bad attitude if they disagree with us" but rather "They will know we are Christians by our love." (80% chance that that's in the Bible somewhere and I'm forgetting.) When I talked to him I told him why I liked his book (not in great detail, as he had to get going and there was a small line behind me so I only took abotu fifteen seconds of his time; it was rather personal stuff, so if you don't know don't ask), and he happily signed it and thanked me for sharing. Pleasant.

Almost makes me want to get a job at Brown someday.

For those who are fans of Pastafarianism, I give you this. Enjoy.

12 October 2005

Maps

US Christians by county. From here.

Also from there, red states and blue states.

Honestly, though, I think the anti-religious liberals in America don't need this kind of fodder for their fires.

Apparently, they say, it's those dumb Christians who were stupid enough to vote for Bush, and without those dumb Christians we wouldn't have problems A through ZZZ that Bush has brought. I'll ignore the whole problem that you don't really know how much of what would necessarily be different but I'll agree that some undeterminable things would be different.

Actually, it was those religious people, who are overall about as dumb as the whole population, who were sucessfully targeted as a voting base by the Republican party. (Did you hear the passive voice?) If the Democrats had found large, dumb demographics to target over the past twenty years, including the Christians, then things wouldn't be so bad for them. As it stands, though, the "Who voted for Bush?" statistics don't tell you as much about who is more stupid in the general public as they do about who is less stupid on the matter of finding ways to gain power.

On Shrimp And Chopin

After getting a trifle upset at my wife I decided to go shoppping. There were some things I needed and some things I didn't need, all things that I had to get. It turned out to be a good time.

First stop, Borders. I wandered books for a while, but I planned to pick up some music. In the end, I walked out with four and a half hours of Chopin. The first is a two CD set with the complete Nocturnes and Impromptus. The second is a two CD set wih tthe second and third piano sonatas, the ballades, and the scherzi. Mix in a few CDs of Waltzes and I will own just about all of Chopin that anyone actually knows about. I was hoping to get some Debussy, as I like his piano music immensely, especially the Arabesque no. 1 (used as the theme song for Jack Horkheimer's PBS bits). I didn't see any good deals on any quality recordings, so I just took the Chopin. I paid for it when I took it, of course.

Next stop, Wal-Mart, that evil corporation. They're all evil, really, so I simply chose to shop at the one that I was driving past. I picked up a bottle of fuel injector cleaner, three pairs of black dress socks, and some new underwear. No, I will NOT show you the underwear. I almost bought a beta fish, as they had a whole bunch of them. They were out of the cool purple light up beta aquarium balls, so that stopped me.

Final stop, Giant. My wife accidently made a half portion of beef for dinner, and dinner was all that I had eaten all day, so I was just hungry enough to be grocery shopping. I've had a hankering for shrimp for quite some time now and I was able to get two pounds of 41-50 count for $10.00, which isn't bad. I also picked up some cereal. At some point I realized that I didn't know what I was excactly going to do with the shrimp, so I made up a quick recipe in my head and picked up the ingredients that I didn't have already. Perogies were on sale, as well as muffins, so I got some of those. It was, overall, one of those really bad bachelor shopping trips, but I enjoyed it.

All this on the day that I figured out why the car's gas milage is dropping. The car isn't always making its final upshift at highway speeds. I hadn't noticed this for the past few weeks, but I always had my window rolled down, making noise and vibration. Sylvia doesn't have tachy, so sound and feel are my only sources to notice shifting. On the way home from school she did just fine, shifting later than I'd like (around 60 instead of 50) but there's enough lost miles each tank of gas that I suspect this shifting thing is causing it. The only solution steps available are, in this order, reprogram the transmission, partially replace the fluid, replace the solenoids, replace or rebuild the transmission.

The cost will range from ten minutes of my time up to $1300 or so. $1500 is the upper end of what I'd pay to keep our car running, given the value of equivalent vehicles. It sounds like a lot for an old car, but the engine is in really good shape, so I'd rather drop that much money to fix up this one than the same amount for a possibly worse-off twin. And even if we made that repair, we still would have spent less per mile on our car in the time we've owned it than most people pay per mile jsut on their loan payments.

Some people would wonder why, given that the less efficient use of gas doesn't cost a whole lot more, people in our situation can't just leave thigsn alone and run the car with lower gas milage. The answer is simple. We do a lot of our driving at highway speeds. If the upper gear on the transmission is gone then it will be running in the lower gear, and then the engine will be running more cycles at same vehicle speeds. Tha tmeans more internal motion, more heat, and so on. And the engine is more torquey in the lower gear, which means more fluctuation in speeds as you try to get your foot seated so as to give the car a desired speed. And because it's possible to simply blow something the engine if you forget that your transmission won't let you actually go 75 in the 75 zone.

Bother. Now I play the waiting game, waiting for the transmission to die.

And I can listen to Chopin as I wait.

On the bright side, I have ordered up, form the school's library storage (one of the two libraries is closed for renovations) a copy of Lord of the Rings with illustrations by Alan Lee. The brightness was slightly dimmed by the e-mail saying "your order is delayed due to the volume requiring repairs" but hopefully it's still in okay shape.

I also ordered a choir folder this week. I shopped around and couldn't find anything that I liked and that would meet my needs (in terms of size especially), which was really discouraging me. I honestly didn't want to take time in the machine shop modifying a three ring binder. I finally did a google search that eliminated a few of the more popular brands, and I found the J. W. Pepper model 901. It's perfect. Padded. Holds 8 1/2 by 11. Neat hand strap on spine. Really neat, in fact. It's clear vynil instead of something black. Cute brass corners. Gusseted pockets. Nice cloth bit to hold the book open for you and act as a shelf. Pencil pocket. Not much over my budget ($12). I only found one model that I liked more, which come from Montana, of all places, but the prices were too high ($20).

A chorus boy must have the proper tools. Sexy men in sexy tuxes deserve sexy music folders. My normal sex appeal is magnetic-- only chunks of certain metals find me sexy. With my new folder, I may be able to attract some nice brass.
__________________________

Recipe--

Shrimp on a Salad

20-25 raw medium shrimp (8 oz.)
Romaine lettuce
1 ripe tomatillo
2 oz feta cheese
1 oz shredded coconut
Italian salad dressing
dab o' butter
lemon juice
salt n' pepper

1) Get shrimp to cleaned, thawed state. Headless, etc. Keep shells on. Wash hands.

2) Wash lettuce and break into bite-sized bits. Arrange on plate. Cut up tomatillo and put on lettuce. Crumble feta. Put feta and coconut on the lettuce. Put on some Italian dressing and half a teaspoon of lemon juice. On the slettuce, not your clothing.

3) Heat butter in frying pan. Put shrimp in pan and fry until just done, adding a half teaspoon of lemon juice somewhere in there. Remove shells from shrimp and allow to cool to room temperature. Leave tails for that genuine seafood haus effect.

4) Put shrimp on salad. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Serves two, or whtever number the nutrition nazis say should be eating 8 oz. of shrimp.

I used some balck pepper and some cayenne pepper, just a couple pinches of each, to get the warmth of tropical sunshine in my mouth. Eating this salad gave me that genuine trapped on a desert island with nothing but my pet goat and a tomatillo plant feeling. "I wonder where the lettuce came from?" Many worlds collided. Good stuff.

11 October 2005

This Week in Slashdot

Dark matter may be bunk. This would lose a lot of people a lot of jobs.

Cheap RFID sucks. It sets an infrastructure that can be used to violate some of our of basic freedoms.

Also in the news, Peter Jackson's computer is bigger than mine.

News Stupidity

Oh my! This is unexpected.

Who ever thought that Americans were smart enough to get bored with the same old thing on TV over and over?

Even worse, what idiot thought it was newsworthy?

Today was lousy. And I didn't even see a louse.

10 October 2005

Here's To Friends

Thanks to everyone who came over to our place today. You rock. Don't be strangers. Call, write, stop in-- either my office or my apartment. I am, after all, a very social creature at heart, and I like you people. I also spend a lot of time just bored out of my mind, so it would't ever be an intrusion. Well.... when my wife and I are, you know, eating corn... but we wouldn't answer the door... and you'd be able to hear anyway.

08 October 2005

Mini SUV

Are you ready for a Mini SUV?

I am.

And I'm waiting patiently.

You see, if Mini is going to sell an SUV the first thing that they need to do is to start making one. Last time I checked these so-called SUVs were called hatchbacks or wagons. Of course, those things aren't trendy, so to sell them we need to give them trendy names. I can imagine the BMW executives making the decision for planning a Mini SUV. "There's little sport and no utility, and indeed hardly any vehicle, but the term sells, for sure, so let's use it." They would have been speaking in German, of course.

At least now Gremlin fans can be happy to have been a part of the SUV craze.

Napoleon Blownaparte

Nepoleon Dynamite sucks. Big time.

I can appreciate humor.

I can't appreciate the American teenager championing stupidity in vocal tone. They're stupid enough withiout making themselves sound that way on purpose. I kow. I haven't been out long. And yes, I've met teenage boys who actually talk like that. It's white ebonics, to put it bluntly.

I can't appreciate the whole dead silence while nothing happens just because our brains can't work fast enough to do anything else. When was the last time that your audio techie put in the tape, slowly, after you were positioned on stage? Hmmm? Very little makes me think of the wall in Farenheit 451. Napoleon Dynamite does.

Anybody who finds that movie funny should be considered for government office. Yes, it is that bad.

And for love of America please don't all start curling your upper lips and whining about things in a tone that makes you sound like you have emphysema and you're tired of chronic constipation.

Or better yet keep it up... and then I'll move to New Zealand where people speak proper English.

Weird How It Works...

Among the more weird things that one can do in life is listen to low quality streaming audio from one's college radio station. Middle of the night at WETN is CCM stuff, as always, and I'm listening.

I don't really know why I listen to WETN except that it's the one radio station that I've been inside. I've seen the bowels of the station from end to end. To get there you enter the Billy Graham Center at the Barrows entrance. Turn right, find the stairwell door, go down the stairs, go down the stairs again the other direction, exit the stairwell and turn right. The main studio window will be right in front of you. Walk towards that and when you're almost at it turn left. Go in, turn right, look rightward at the back of the antenna control harware, walk in the little cubby, turn right and go up the slight ramp and through the little door, take the little hall to the right, and now you're on the other side of the wondow.

On your right is the front of the antenna control hardware, and a bunch of other stuff. To your left is a radio mixer, the tape decks, that familiar computer screen with all of the week's non-hosted music pre-programmed, and three or four decent microphones on nice arms. Straight ahead, past the window, is the hallway you were in when you exited the stairs. To your left is another window, and that's the direction that the hosts face when running the equipment. Two of the microphones are facing that window, and you can see a nice table space behind the mixer where there is room for guests to face the host.

I sat in those chairs many times while my roommate was doing his live shows. He spent three or four semesters as the classical program host. A few days a week he did live shows, and the rest of the shows he set up in the computer. Appalled by the selection in the computer when he started, he recorded in a lot of good music and did the full nine yards of intros and outros for all of it. He also made the occasional feature piece with his commentary on snippets of music, as well as short station identification ads. That went on in the third studio, and I spent many hours in ther with him as well. I don't know what the studio between was used for, and I was never in it, but I looked in many times form the windows in the other studios and the hallways.

I rmember the live shows the best. I would often get an hour with my roomie. When he knew I was going to visit he would ask me for my opinion on what music would be good to follow the music he was planning to play earlier in the show. He didn't always agree with me, but at the same time I'd also get many chances to be there when he put some of my favorite music on the air.

During a typical show we would have a good time down there joking around and talking about life. As the song neared an end-- we both knew all the music well-- we would don our headphones. I didn't need the headphones to hear my roommate, but the studio monitors went off when a microphone was on. To hear the radio feed, including the commercials and the beginning second or two of the songs, I would wear them. I would keep the headphone volume low and then whenever I could hear both the headphones and the monitor I would know that it was safe to talk. That and the big "On-Air" signs, but I do much better when I am trusting my ears. After the necessities we'd take off the headphones and do it all again, picking up the conversation where it left off or restarting it if it had been lame. Occasionally the station managment would come in for something or another, and after a few months they went form looking at me funny to ignoring me because I was harmless.

Recording music into the computer was similar, but sometimes we'd be sitting in the studio doing homework instead of talking. With no music it was very quiet down there-- quiet enough that you can listen really hard, hard enough to make your ears hurt, and not hear anything but a few stray chaotic rings in your cochlea. The audio equipment was almost top notch, so the music sounded really, really nice. Whether we were talking or working we did the recording at real speed so we could listen.

I don't think I was ever on the air with my roommate. If I was, I don't remember. I was on the air once or twice my freshman year when I went to visit a different friend who worked at the station. He did an evening show and he let me on air for my requests. I had no nerves about being on the air, of course, because nobody was listening.

I'm thinking about all of this because it's homecoming weekend at Wheaton. Although I'm a Pennsylvania boy, I do miss the midwest. Open space. Big Sky. Crisp air. Hard winters. A triple train line just blocks away. Dull people-- the kind that would call me the life of the party. Bland food. Wait, that wasn't very good. Deep dish pizza, however, was. Walks on the Prairie Path. Walks to some memorable streets, and even some memorable towns, especially Glen Ellyn.

I don't want to visit Wheaon at homecoming. My suggestion for anyone who wants a small reunion is to go at some better time when it's less crowded and there's more time and space to visit places and discuss memories. A year ago I had a couple of hours in town on an Satuurday a few weeks before fall semester. I got to wander the physics hallway (the lab doors had been realigned, so the old ID card trick didn't open them), dodge construction sites, and spend a few minutes at the picnic tables looking up at my dorm window for two years. We got a pizza at the place across the street form where my wife and I lived for a few months right after we graduated.

What I would like more than anything else right now is to go there for a couple of days-- normal days. I'd swing by the guest seating in chapel, and hopefully it would be one of thsoe awful student run chapels. I'd drop in to see old professors in physics, math, chemistry, sociology and economics (because she'd remember me). I'd offer to give a presentation related to our reasearch, or to chat with the juniors and seniors about graduate school (Wheaton is one of the top ten liberal arts schools in the country for producing students who go on to get doctorates) and the real-er world. I'd take a trip through the music consevatory in an attempt to find the first floor restrooms that I've been told really are there... somewhere.... I'd walk the streets off campus that I remember so well. I'd see how the place has changed, and along with that see how memories really are memories, but at the same time I would be comforted to spend time in a place that shaped me and that I loved. A football game would be nice, too, especially Augustana, my favorite CCIW team to watch. Don't tell Coach Bishop. I'd like to take the train into Chicago and visit a few places downtown that I always wanted to visit but somehow, in nearly four years, never saw. I'd also like to take a trip to the juniper patch in Danada where I slept the night that my freshman roommate and I had a physical incident. And I would like a quick swing by the observatory, and then to Fermilab.

Sigh. For now, I'm stuck at home. We have a school break this weekend. Nearly all of my friends are taking time off and doing various things. I have work to do, so that's how I'll spend my time. But it's nice to sit back for a few minutes and listen to the radio and have it bring back memories of good things past. Like good music. Before SuperChick.

The Lost Pen Pal

I have a lost pen pal. He's a couple of years younger than me, and we haven't corresponded since I was an undergraduate. Both of the e-mail addresses that we had back then bounce, so we won't be finding each other that way.

I have managed to track him down, due to his university activities, but not to the point of contact information. It appears that he graduated from University of Adelaide in 2004. He's an Ozzie, Eastern European by birth, so I know for sure that the name I found is him. It's not a common surname where he was born, and it's less common where he was living, and that is near the university he attended. Tracking down people named "Bob Smith" in the US is hard. Tracking down people with this guy's name in AU is not.

I was happy that he got to Adelaide and graduated, though, because when I met him he was an insecure high school senior who wanted to be an physicist and was afraid that he would never pass the tests to get into higher education. The Australian system is a bit more rough than the US system.

I don't know what he's doing now, but I would like to know. I hope he's staying out of trouble.

07 October 2005

Four lines

I'm trying to install LaTeX stuff on my computer.

Busy. Quite busy. With this and other things.

I went to see a play tonight about a crazy mathematician's daughter. More later, if I feel like it.

I'm looking for a copy of Augustine's City of God because I really want to read it.

05 October 2005

Amazon.bomb

I ranted back in the spring about Amazon.com and how their free shipping was exactly the same as regular shipping except that they wait ten days before they ship your stuff.

I now have a new complaint.

Searching for classical music at Amazon.com is horrible. I am looking for specific complete works by specific composers. I am not looking for "Most Relaxing Classical Music Ever: Volume 14.7a," "Selected Portions Of Overused Movie Adagios," or "Baby Dance: A Toddler's Introduction to Classical Music So Trite That Only Idiots Who Want Their Kid To Listen To Classical Music To Get Smarter Would Play It For Their Toddlers." And yet I am forced to wade through pages of this sort of thing when all I'm doing is looking around for various recordings of Baber's Violin Concerto.

All of this slogging has been useful, as I managed to find a recording of Tchakovsky's Serenade for Strings on an album with an orchestrated version of The Seasons. But still, the slogging through all kinds of complied collection muck that ends up at the top just because it has a movement of this or that or the other thing is a rather absurd waste of time.

04 October 2005

Yeast Infections

Okay, women and doctors, I have a question for you.

It's common knowledge that eating yogurt can prevent and help treat yeast infections. The active cultures in yogurt include critters that are normally found in the vagina and that balance out the wild, raging infection caused by massive excesses of other microscopic lving things that are normally found in the vagina (and some that aren't) but in smaller proportions because the good critters eat them. Eating yogurt improves the bouquet in the flora, so to speak, thereby helping with the infections. And there are studies to prove it.

Unfortunately, this is where the information seems to stop. Being a physicist, I think outside the box, so when I'm thinking about why eating yogurt helps yeast infections and I hear that active cultures are involved, I can't help but ask "How do the good critters get where they're supposed to go?" Remember, we're talking about eating yogurt, not dolloping wads of it into your vagina. I can understand delivery by tablespoon. Delivery by GI tract is another matter.

So, how does it happen?

Is it some special property that the active cultures can get into your bloodstream and then concentrate into your vagina without doing any harm anywhere else? I thought the intestines didn't absorb such big things.

Do women get the stuff on their fingers and then go pick at their itching genitalia? I have my doubts.

Or, perhaps, is that whole "wipe from front to back" thing just a conspiracy to confuse the gullable? I can, after all, imagine the active cultures hitching a ride on the Fecal Express. Any good culture would.

If you've made it this far without puking, let me tell you-- I am serious about finding an answer. So if you have one, let me know. Thanks awfully.

03 October 2005

Experiences

I've heard it over a dozen times in the two hours that I've been awake-- Shouldn't President George Bush have made a beter choice for the Supreme Court nomination by picking someone who is more qualified?

Well, I wonder, what kind of qualifications?

Because, I am told, Supreme Court seats should go to judges because they have experience.

Okay, I say, expereince in what?

Well, isn't it obvious? Experience being a judge!

I'm not going to go into a deep analysis of what Supreme Court justices and other federal judges do with their time because that is seondary education social science stuff. I would like it if you all could please shut up about the "experience" thing until you can give me more concrete explanations as to why an attorney must go through lower courts in order to be qualified for a seat on the Supreme Court. Using this word "experience" the way you are doing it makes you all sound kind of slow because honestly you still haven't explained anything. You haven't connected why "experience" is nescessary for "qualification." I'll give you the chance.

And while you're doing that, I'll be reading "Dilbert Goes To School."

And, if you do come up with anything, let your senators know. Heaven forbid that they go without your excellent insights, seeing as they fly in the face of history and all. If you don't like your senator and your senator has legal experience, you might even get some jollies by making your senator really mad. Just say things like the following:

"The main job of the courts is to interpret legal documents, something that lawyers are not capable of doing. That's why they hire paralegals as their boinking girls. And besides, if they had any capaity to interpret the law then they wouldn't ever need to go to the judge in the first place. Every case involving the law itself case does, after all, end up in court. When cases are settled out of court it has nothing to do with laws. And arbitration is really a Latin word meaning 'Bar sponsored drinking party.'"

Get to work.

02 October 2005

Pseudopost

If any of you science types, or other interested parties who I know, want to see somehting fricking hilarious, I can give you a link. Pseudoscientists are evil, so I'm not going to link to it here, lest I get into an argument with them.

And for once it has nothing to do with origins. Actually, a great deal of pseudoscience comes from people who are not of a relgious mind at all and deals with subjects that have nothing to do with the supernatural.

But of course that stuff isn't funny because then we can't make fun of all those weak minded people who are too stupid to know how horrible religion is.

Sure.

Uh-huh.

And I like to play tea party with my purple, singing cat named Vinnie.

You Are Getting Sleeeeeepy

Choir practice was fun.

I had a good day, almost, even though I got up early.

Sometime soon I'll be having another go at studying scientific realism, since I've basically forgotten what it exactly is. Yes, I lead a very boring life.

01 October 2005

Stairway To Heaven

"In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder."

Upon listening to this part of the song tonight, I thought "Given the opening of this song, there's only really one thing to wonder at this point. Which part was he seeing that wasn't really there? The smoke or the trees?"

For those of you who don't get it, this is a drug joke, specifically about hallucinations. I mean, he was seeing voices, for pete's sake, so something has to be up!

I'd much rather appreciate your not telling me it's lame, because, although it is lame, if you needed the explanation before you got the joke and made the conclusion then, quite frankly, you are probably the lame one. And if you still don't get it, ditch the "probably," unless you don't know anything about classic rock, which means you can just shrug and remember I'm not talking about you.

Something deep inside me is making me feel like being a real jerk, so I'm going to stop now before I actually, Crosby, Stills, or Nash forbid, start to entertain you.

Hockey's Coming!

Hockey season begins October 5. Please pay your respects to my favorite team, les Canadiens de Montreál.

If you want the page in English, dig around until you find the link (hint, the lower righthand corner) that says, strangely, "Engilsh."

Why someone would want the Canadiens website in English is beyond me, but whatever makes you happy, I guess.

With no working AM radio, I won't be listening ot the game broadcasts.

Yes, a joy of AM are listening to stations far, far away at night, when the signals really travel. It's a bit scratchy, but that's life. I used to listen to Detroit Red Wings and Montreál Canadiens games (and Fort Wayne Comets games), broadcast from Windsor and Montreal (and Fort Wayne). I also used to listen to Chicago talk radio. I've heard stations as far as Minneapolis and St. Louis, too. All this was done in my bedroom in Reading, Pennsylvania, with cheap AM radio and (to get further than Windsor) a little focuser thingy that my dad has that improves AM reception whem placed between the radio, antenna properly aligned, and the transmitter.

For those of you who won't know it, Windsor is part of the only area in Canada that can be reached by traveling directly south from a point in the US, specifically from Detroit.