Monday, June 18, 2012

I could really use a job right about now...

Friday, June 15, 2012

This is a only a test. If this were an actual emergency you'd be instructed
to put your head between your knees and... brace for impact.

What you thought I was gonna type ass on my first post in 5 years?
Not on your ass.

At any rate, might still want to stay low. Because it's
Game on, Bitches!

This is only a test.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ted Haggard's gay - NOT that there's anything wrong with that

So the leader of tens of thousands of evangelicals turns out to be homosexual? So what. There are a lot of worse things that a man could do.

Like what, you ask? Well, how about being homosexual and telling your flock how it's evil to be homosexual. Yeah, that's pretty bad. How about encouraging your followers to vote for a CO state constitutional amendment that will make it so that gays and lesbians aren't afforded the right to engage in the same legal and social contracts (and it's the government and society and not the church that has the power to bewtow those rights as ALL marriages are simply legally recognized contracts - I'll post a real-world example later that demonstrates how little power the church really has when it comes to marriage) as heterosexuals. That's pretty bad, too, but since Haggard is married with five children, maybe deep down he thinks that the purpose of marriage is to produce offspring. Okay. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. Hey - you get off on crystal meth? Well, I'm not even so bad on that as long as you don't hurt anyone else. But there's the rub...

The problem is, Ted Haggart doesn't believe any of it. Not one lick. He simply saw a group of empty people and a business opportunity. He pretended to be a good and honest follower of the Cristian faith and told them that that he knew how to assure them a place in heaven. He told them that he was one of them and took advantage of them. He told them that everyone who isn't like him and like them - homosexuals, drug users, liberals, people who don't honor their marriage vows - is evil and a scourge on society. But, in the end, it's Ted Haggard - he who weekly spoke with and advised the President of the United States of America on matters of faith - is the evil one.

It's not radical Islam, I know, but is it really that much different to use other people's faith to achieve your own ends? I don't think so. The solution, to me, is simple: think for yourself. You don't need god and you certainly don't need this guy to tell what is right and what is wrong. And, if you are a good and decent person, it is incumbent upon you to question anything that he told you. I mean, do you really want to be like Ted Haggard?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Girl Scouts: Real Troopers for Camping Out

When Little Mandy Loo's Jr. GS troop decided that a camping trip was in order, Mrs. Pi suggested that I might be able to assist with a few things as I have done some camping and hanging out it nature. Well, one thing led to another and, somehow, I ended up taking on a lot more than I had anticipated when I first agreed to help. But the moms and girls did a great job planning and preparing and, with only a little bit of input, took care of menus, finding a place to stay, and thinking about other things that might be required. The girls were very excited so there was plenty of motivation. The original plan was to go a couple of weeks ago but the weather forecast called for rain and it was decided that maybe we should postpone until this past weekend. I knew that a mid-October overnighter had the potential to be chilly but cold isn't as bad as rain so I thought we would be okay. But then the cold front came through on Thursday...

I was afraid that four 9 year olds and a couple of moms would've given up and headed indoors but they all managed to dress right and have a good time despite the overnight 40 deg F (~4 deg C, for my metric system compadres) temps. Mandy and I had the Pi Mobile filled to the gunwhales with firewood (and we needed lots), and the other girls all brought some wood and lint (a great fire starter) and we met at 5:00 pm, only 90 minutes before sundown, to set up camp. It was already getting cold but the excitement level was way up. They learned how and where to pitch tents and had a great time making and playing with fire.

It cools down quickly after sundown at this time of year but the fire was built quickly and well-fed and the weanies, canned corn, and pork 'n bean were a big hit. The girls did a great job cleaning dishes - not much fun even indoors let alone in the dark and cold - probably in order to get the s'mores and cocoa started ASAP. The girls and moms toasted marshmallows while I played guitar and we sang a few campfire songs ("She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain" was fun - everyone was required to make up a verse of their own that we would all join - but the big hit was "Ice Cream Man"; the girls all got up to dance around the fire requesting several encores of that one!) and the night concluded with pet and bug stories as the fire went down. A little star-gazing - one advantage of fall camping is that the sky is awesome on a cold, clear night - and then off to bed.

Everyone stayed in their tents all night and, despite a really hard frost, awoke soon after sunrise and enthusiastically worked to get the fire going and prepare a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and brown bears (a cinnamon sugar, butter, and biscuit dough concoction that one of the mothers found somewhere - I'll post the recipe another time but they were yuuummmy). After another good clean-up session, we got out on the trail for a mile hike.

All in all, the girls met the requirements for their Camping and Cooking Out badges and checked a few boxes on Hiker and a few other badges as well. Most importantly, a good time was had by all. Now that they've gotten a little experience, a full weekend trip is already in the works for next spring or summer with families. I'm looking forward to that!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

But there isn't really any controversy to teach...

I just got done reading a review at reasononline of Randy Olson’s newly released documentary movie, Flock of Dodos ( or click the word Link at bottom of post), and as usual I'm stunned that there is still such strong opposition to evolution in this day and age. While I haven't seen the movie, I agree that many supporters of evolution have been less than eloquent when engaging supporters of intelligent design (ID), the belief that modern species as we observe them are just too complicated to have been produced as the result of random genotype mutations (genotypos?) over incredibly long periods of time. However, I agree with the Mr. Olson's assessment that egos and the possible destruction of peoples' world-views are at stake here and more civil discussion is required if evolution is to be accepted generally in the manner fitting its stature in the scientific community.

It's only fair to say at this point that I believe that the theory of evolution more than adequately explains how living things got to be the way they are. While I am not a biologist, I respect all endeavors scientific and am in awe of the sorts of things that giants like Descartes, Newton, Darwin, Clausius, Maxwell, Mendel, Planck, Einstein, Pauling, Wegener, Watson & Crick, Feynman, and Hawking, among many others, have managed to see that we mere mortals simply could and can not. The systematic approach, peer-review process, and predictive power required for an idea to become a theory which, in science, holds an elevated position of acceptance not consistent with the more colloquial usage of the word that tends to mean something akin to an opinion. This is the source of much of the non-controversy as I see it (as illustrated by Cobb County, GA’s “Evolution is only a Theory…” warning sticker affixed to the cover of their 10th grade biology textbooks). The sheer vastness of amassed evidence should render evolution far beyond reproach and, yet, many, predominately here in the US, persist in the belief that evolution is faulty if not completely inaccurate.

The primary schism as I see it is that this supposed controversy has prompted many who support ID to press for its (or some variation’s) inclusion as a topic to be introduced on equal footing with evolution in public school science classes, to teach the controversy. This, in a word, is absolutely, freaking preposterous. Establishment Clause arguments aside, ID doesn't even come close to having passed the rigorous screening process of the scientific method and to argue for its acceptance as a scientific theory subverts the entire enterprise of science and cheapens the hard work and belies the absolute genius of the luminaries mentioned above. Science is not a way of knowing but it is way of finding out. Simply put: nobody found ID. It was presented dogmatically and there is no way to either accept or deny its truth value on the basis of empirical investigation and as such, it is not science.

While I must disclose at this point that I consider myself to be an agnostic, I have absolutely no qualm with people believing whatever they wish to believe. If believing that someone’s keeping a tally of your transgressions and contributions compels you to behave in a more moral and civil manner then that’s great. There is no shortage of people behaving nicely towards one another in this world. This is a great country and our founding fathers saw to fit to make that the very first civil right afforded by the Constitution and it is in the First Amendment that I find my own minority belief validated. However, the root of ID, and its cousin nearing retirement, creationism, is simply the result of a literal interpretation of the Bible. The sincerest conviction on the part of any group of people – even if that group composes a majority – is not sufficient to grant the status of theory on any idea that comes along. Science is not a democracy but, rather, it is a meritocracy. A scientific theory must actually provide sound explanations for the past events, present observations, and future anticipated behaviors of the natural phenomenon it purports to model. It is the will of nature and not that of the people that dictates which hypotheses attain the lofty status of theory amongst scientists.

In ancient Greece, it was believed that some guy in a toga stood atop Mt. Olympus flinging lightning bolts fashioned by a crippled guy in a toga when he was angry. At the time, everybody bought into that account of the origin of lightning and there was no better explanation so no one thought to question it. But in the interceding couple of millennia, we’ve learned a great deal about static electricity, capacitance, and dielectric media and we now no longer have a need for some supernatural agent in the thunderstorm process. The same goes for earthquakes, tornados, and motions of heavenly bodies. When Pierre-Simon Laplace’s collection, Celestial Mechanics, was submitted to Napoleon for review, the emperor - a well trained mathematician himself - is said to have remarked, “You’ve made no mention of the Creator” to which Laplace supposedly replied, “Sire, I have no need for that hypothesis.” When the litany of evidence is objectively considered, there is no need for intelligent designer hypothesis in the case of life on Earth either.

There are many things held to be scientifically logical that are anti-intuitive. That a single photon of light will pass through two adjacent narrow openings, ala Young’s Double-Slit Interference experiment, or that an entire star’s worth of matter can collapse upon itself and compress to just a few miles in diameter and suck in everything nearby – even light – as in the case of black holes are not easy to believe. And, yet, they are completely accepted by even non-scientists for one basic reason: they do not contradict commonly held Christian dogma.

It’s time for ID to go the way of the dodo, its utility having been completely spent. It has been said that the most common application of rational thought is to justify that which we already believe and, as such, supporters of ID need to carefully examine their argument’s premises. It is for this reason that evolutionary biologists find the debate tedious and eventually lose their tempers when arguing their case. Granted, it’s not the best way to convey such a profound message but any sensible person would likewise become frustrated in the face of such illogical defiance. If Christianity is half of what its believers say it is, it is seemingly more than robust enough to survive and, indeed, thrive, despite the fact that the Book of Genesis is not the unerring word of their lord. It is allegedly much more than a story about where the world came from and who the first people to walk the Earth were and will continue to encourage its followers to practice good-will, empathy, and altruism despite its historical shortcomings. Scientists do not dictate to the clergy the content that they deem suitable for presentation on matters of faith. The faithful should, likewise, let the scientific community determine what conclusions to draw from their own empirically derived data and, it follows, what is appropriate to teach in science class.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pancake Day Sunday

As per ritual, the girls and Mrs. Pi awoke to the smell of bacon, sausage, and pancakes - chocolate chips in half - and leftovers for schoolday breakfasts for the girlies. Pork fat rules!

Knocked out some sweating pipes in the basement so it looks like a few walls, a toilet, and the sink will be going in in the next two weekends. With a functional bathroom in the downstairs, it'll get used more and I'll then I 'll just have to keep going with the club room little by little. My next door neighbor even suggested the location for the big screen TV, which I liked, until he said, "You know, you could put a projection screen here instead..." which would've been a great way to see the Ravens beat up on the Bucs (Woo Hoo!). Instead, saw most of the game with the brother and his girlfriend and managed to have a good time and fit in a little picking and strumming there (there's a guitar in just about every room) to boot.

After a pretty productive and positive day, suffered through the first softball double-header - lost both, second one by 15 runs (ouch!- after going 15-1 and league champs in the summer season) - as a spectator/base coach/cheerleader. Had to break the news about my bum knee pretty much ending my playing days and that was probably part of the downer. There are seven of us who have been together since we joined the league four seasons ago so it's going to be tough next spring if I'm not able to go. Heck - it was rough just watching last night! I'm hoping that maybe it'll get better with some rest and rehab but the doc's not optimistic and recommends that I not do any running and jumping at all but I'm inclined to think that, if I can even go at half speed, I might give it a go. Mrs. Pi basically put it to me in the way that made the most sense: if I'm going need a knee replacement one day anyway, what's the difference between getting it when I'm 47 and when I'm 51?

If I lay really low I might be able to stretch it for ten years but I love being out on the field with the guys; the high fives, the sweat and the dirt, the sound that a .47 core ball makes coming off a composite, double-walled bat in the cool night air, the sunflower seeds, the baseball talk (man, do I love baseball talk), the after game rendevous at Bull on the Beach. If I could squeeze out even just one more summer, I think that I'd be willing to accept whatever comes after that. Just one more good run with the guys.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

That's Captain, Monsignior Nerd to you, pal!

At the urging of some of my friends (actually, my heroes) over at Science Blogs, I took the Nerd Test (here> and scored in the 99th percentile.

I am nerdier than 99% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

I wish that I could have said that I had taken more math but I did know who the scientists were in the pics, all of the periodic table questions, and have built my own telescope so maybe I didn't really need the affirmation. But, that's what nerds do, I guess. I really have nothing, uh - well, normal - to compare my life with.

Once the basement's all finished, I'm going to get started on robots. (my kids got me Robot Building for Dummies for Christmas - do they know their Dad or what?)