Thursday, May 31

If 'magnanimous' means 'great souled' and equanimous means 'even souled', what means 'bad souled' - malanimous?
The Web Today is back up with a new look.
Did I mention that we also rented Almost Famous two weeks ago? I don't think so. I thought it was pretty good, definitely worth watching.
Jeff says Pearl Harbor is supposed to be viewed like an old war movie, shmaltz and all. Maybe it's okay. He also liked Shrek. He gave Memento 4 of 4 stars, but says to go see the movie before you read the review. Therefore, I didn't read the review and am not linking it here.
Okay, here's the deal. One of the reasons I'm not updating as much is because Blogger is driving me crazy. Sessions end, I have to re-log-on every time, like the cookie isn't working, etc, etc. I'm starting to think about taking this somewhere else, but where?
Steven discusses, among other things, Civilization 2, of which I am a true addict.
Nathan's got some nice stuff lately, especially the political philosophy and the story of their camping trip, including a skunk.

Wednesday, May 30

Becoming the other A-list Jason: Jason Levine will be hosting MetaFilter. Big thanks to Jason for keeping the dream alive, and go check out his site.

Tuesday, May 29

Want to find out who your inner rock star is? This test seems pretty worthless, but maybe a little fun. I came out, like Jennifer 13, Lenny Kravitz. That's okay. (via 13)
Holy Cow! I had no idea BlogSpot had been down for 6 days - since last Tuesday or Wednesday! That's no good. What have you all been doing for your daily fix of interaction? As you can see, I've just been happily posting, oblivious to the problem. Well, we're back online now.
Good early review of The Lord of the Rings (via Nathan via John).
Ok, let's see if I can get this badboy back up. The host, BlogSpot, has been down. But what can I say? It's free.

Friday, May 25

Science Friday:

Scientific American Sci/Tech Web Awards 2001

some sites:

Bad Human Factors Designs
Virtual Hospital (since it's put up by the University of Iowa - Go Hawks!)
The Particle Adventure: An interactive tour of subatomic physics

Wednesday, May 23

Yahoo! pointed me to the Tate's online exhibition of William Blake. You should check it out, especially if you're not familiar with his work. Also check the Blake Archive. Here's a sample, his most famous poem:

The Tyger.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

When the stars threw down their spearst
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Does Christianity make you nauseous? Me too, a lot of times, and I'm a professional Christian. It's one of the reasons I like the stuff Philip Yancey writes so much. He cuts through all of the crap while coming from an orthodox position. Some samples:

Yancey believes the message of the church, at least in the West, has been corrupted by a Madison Avenue style ethos. "Jesus never promised God is going to solve your problems," Yancey said. He often finds himself speaking for those who have been wounded by life - and their church experience.

"We should not be making it worse for Christians who are disappointed," he said. Yancey's desire to be a voice for those who are disappointed in life may spring from his own discontented church experience as a young man. "I was raised in a church that was not honest," he said. While hesitating to describe the church of his youth as a cult, or to identify it, he does point to its aberrant theology, particularly regarding racial issues.

Yancey believes the church particularly lost its way in the political and social arena. "It's easy to lose sight of our mission," Yancey said. "We are not to clean up the world," he says. "Jesus didn't try to clean up the Roman Empire."

Instead, Yancey sees the mission of the church in a mixture of metaphorical terms. "We are to be a light on a hill and attract them by appealing to their thirst," he said. "Sinners were attracted to Jesus," Yancey said. "They saw him as a place of healing."

"When I grew up my view of God was a stern judge. Now I see him as a physician."

The social gospel is not completely discounted by the author. "We have to be involved in social issues," Yancey says. "It's a tricky balance," he said.

"'Where Is God When It Hurts?' came out of experiences I had as a journalist. I would interview a lot of people who had been through tragedy and they would tell me consistently that the church made it worse for them, rather than better. They're just trying to get well, and Christians would come in with these very mixed voices, either saying 'You sinned, God's punishing you,' or 'No, no, it's not God, it's the Devil,' and it didn't seem to me that we should be making it worse.
Well, I'm back from jury duty. It was fine and boring. I got called once on Monday, but the guy pled before we even left the jury pool. I got called yesterday and we got up to the courtroom and the guy pled before we even started selection. He had 6 previous felonies and got caught stealing a lawn mower. He's going to do 10 years in the pen and 5 years suspended sentence. Crazy. I'd still be there today, but I know someone who knows the woman who runs it and she excused me early. Yipee!

Sunday, May 20

Our book club read 'The Will' by Reed Arvin. It was pretty good. Reed has a couple of interesting reflections on faith off of the front page: statement of faith and reed's essay.
By the way, there are still several clusters of polygynous Mormon splinter groups still in the Great Basin. This page is the best one by far, entitled “Women want polygamy.” I sent that to Maggie with the header “Can we get another wife?” She wasn’t too keen on the subject, until I promised that the new wife could do all the household chores and cooking.

Go read the rest and the links on Hobbsblog.
In light of a new independent study the WWF conservation organisation, is urging people to drink tap water, which is often as good as bottled water, for the benefit of the environment and their wallets. According to the study, Bottled Water: understanding a social phenomenon, commissioned by the WWF, bottled water may be no safer, or healthier than tap water in many countries while selling for up to 1 000 times the price.

from Science in Africa via higgy
Since I have jury duty tomorrow and won't be able to post, I'll give you a little pre-Monday posting to tide you over.

The tide is high but I'm moving on.
I wanna' be your number one.

Infesting your brain with Blondie.

Friday, May 18

Karl also pointed me to a font creation resource. Cool. Maybe I can get to work on my next font!
My buddy, John 13, did the drawing for the Sharkleberry Fin flavor of Kool-Aid (seen here (link via Karl)). Now that's cool.
Steven's update on the RIAA, Napster, etc. (See, no hard feelings!)
Karl did an adaptation of Bingo to play while you're reading MetaFilter. Funny.
We watched 'Wonder Boys' last night. It was fine. It was well done and clever and interesting. The acting was good. There's not much to take away from it, though. Epiphanies don't happen that fast, by and large.

Thursday, May 17

When I critiqued Steven yesterday, I emailed him to let him know, because I didn't want him to think I was trying to sneak something by him. He took me to task, which is totally fair.

Again, let me emphasize, the main point is not 'Why didn't God design a better eye?' but 'Could the eye evolve?'. Behe says no, and marshals a lot of evidence to support his claims. He also talks about how this same approach applies to other microbiological concerns like the coagulation of blood and the structure of flagella.

I will not reproduce the contents of his excellent book. His argument hinges on 'irreducible complexity'. To my untrained understanding, that means that you have to have an immediate evolutionary advantage for natural selection to work. You can't evolve the blood coagulation cascade step by step. It would have to evolve in steps which are both irreducibly complex and evolutionarily advantageous. And he says it can't happen and that no one has proved otherwise and the burden of proof is on them.

I am not scientist enough to deconstruct Steven's argument. So I refer him and you to another scientist, Michael Behe, whom Steven has not read. His multiplication of critics is no less direct than my appeal to authority. There's a missing directness in both steps. I can't get direct on this, because I'm not a scientist. If Steven's going to, he's going to have to read the book. He's right in saying science doesn't speak with a unified voice. The critics he lists subscribe to microbiological orthodoxy. Behe does not. They disagree. But the fact remains that none of these fellows has defeated Behe's arguments. Their criticisms are all addressed in his book, but fall on deaf ears. In this case, they're the ones who do not have an argument.

Behe has responded to some of the critics Steven quotes and has some articles online that may help you get a sense of what he's about. One of them specifically addresses the concept of irreducible complexity. You might also want to Google him. There's other stuff out there, too.

I did not intend to imply that Steven should discard his position because of Behe. I'm simply trying to point scientist to scientist.

And, while I appreciate Steven's concern of not taking from my Christianity, we can't have it both ways. It is not the case that science and religion should not be mixed. Both refer to what is true, in my mind. I will not settle for the Modern or PostModern idea that science deals with truth and religion deals with values and feelings or some such notion. Christianity makes historical and scientific claims. Not necessarily the fundamentalist claims of a 6-24 hour day creation. But definitely creation by the Creator and Resurrection, to name two big ones. Traditional, orthodox Christianity cannot give such claims up and will often, therefore, come into conflict with people who insist that neither is possible or actual.

And, finally, creationists speak with a unified voice no more than scientists.
Wired has been really good the last two months, after a couple of sleepers. They have an article this month about NetJets (warning: Flash intro, but tasteful), 'the leader in fractional aircraft ownership.' The founder, Richard Santulli, is a mathematician.

The problem: if he sold a certain number of shared planes to customers, how many extra planes would he have to own in order to cover all the overlaps in customer demand?

The answer: 5.25 extra planes for every 20 planes owned. Now he has a 1 billion$+ company which Warren Buffet recently bought. Amazing.
The new REM album, Reveal, is getting good reviews. I'm a huge REM fan and have the whole catalog (thought not all the imports, etc.)
VeggieTales part 2:

The main guy behind VeggieTales is Phil Vischer: He's the writer, he writes songs, he does most of the voices, and he's the CEO. How he keeps all of these things going with such quality, I do not know.

Another concern: VeggieTales is a little moralistic. It boils down to stuff like do what your parents say, share, don't be selfish, be thankful, be yourself, etc.

That's not what Christianity is about, at the core, and it's what gives us such a bad name. Christianity is about life change and a relationship with God through Jesus. The life change comes first and has to remain vital to produce real morality. Otherwise, you just get burned out. Morality without continuing life change (a vital relationship) = legalism/moralism/Pharisaism/etc.

Wednesday, May 16

I really like Steven. But I thing he's wrong, wrong, wrong about evolution. He's got an anti-creation treatise where he's got the wrong emphases. The point is not 'Could God have designed a better eye?'. It depends on God's values, which are really different from ours. And maybe it was a mix of guided (creation) and natural (evolution) processes. Plus, we are limited, and that is part of God's plan. We're made for Him. And the Fall changes everything.

The argument for Creation relative to the human eye is not 'We could build a better one.' (echoes of 'The Six Million Dollar Man'), but could the eye have evolved. Michael Behe says in his book 'Darwin's Black Box' emphatically not, and, to my mind, his scientific argument is very convincing. I'm not the scientist Steven is, but Behe is, and more accomplished in microbiology.
VeggieTales in the weblogs. Nathan just met Bob and Larry.

xowie links some artist who calls Larry phallic. That's stupid (to quote Anne, whom I've never met). Larry's phallic if every cucumber (and every other similarly shaped thing) is phallic. Somebody's making use of Freudian psychology for a laugh and dissin' Larry! Not cool.

Bob and Larry rule. I can sing almost their entire catalog from memory. The kids love them. As many times as I've seen them, to still laugh, these guys must be doing something right.

(I will say I'm mildly concerned about their anti-commercialism stance, which is right, while running a very savvy and highly commercialized machine.)
Traditional search engines have access to only a fraction of 1% of what exists on the Web, according to BrightPlanet, an Internet search company, noting that as many as 550 billion pieces of content are hidden from most search engine scrutiny. These documents make up what is known as "The Deep Web."

Read more (via Higgy).
Mister Rogers rules the world (via Higgy).
We watched 'Nurse Betty' last night. It was great. I unequivocally recommend it (unless you have a problem with vulgar language and graphic violence. Oh, wait, I guess that was an equivocation. But you can see I don't. I have a problem with graphic war violence. But the bulk of this post is turning into parentheses.)

Anyway, great movie. Rent it!

((again) If you want a fuller review, click on reviews in the side bar. Jeff liked it too and first (which is why I rented it in the first place.))

Renee Zellweeger and Morgan Freeman were good. Chris Rock was amazing. I have a weakness for Chris Rock.
Sorry I haven't updated for a while. I've been busy, including with Mothers' Day, and then my baby brother Cory came to town. Hopefully I'm back on the wagon.

Friday, May 11

group polarization...recently there was an article (industry standard? cnn?) talking about how online communities could lead to narrower mindsets because studies have shown people randomly surf the net until they find a like-minded group, then they tend to stay there, and over time are continually exposed to a single point of view. (via the incomparable mathowie)
Spent a couple hours last night moving my personal web site from Tripod to (curs-ed) ATT to get away from the ads. The link to the left should get the job done. Any broken or misfunctioning links reported are appreciated.

Wednesday, May 9

more on the article from yesterday:

claxton6 on the MeFi thread added two great links:

A review of the book on Salon

She wanted, in particular, to find out how "the 12 million women about to be booted into the labor market by welfare reform [were] going to make it on $6 or $7 an hour"; the answer, to judge by Ehrenreich's experience, is just barely, if at all.

Chatting with customers and co-workers is rechristened as "time theft" by Wal-Mart authorities, who expect every 15-minute break to be punched out on the time clock.

in the interest of showing the other side (that is, not my general economic leaning) a little:

However inadequate (especially for single mothers) welfare-to-work programs may be, it's not clear that staying on welfare wasn't just as demoralizing in its way as working at Wal-Mart.

[I]t's not humanly possible to pursue the education and training required to improve your lot while you're supporting yourself (let alone children) with minimum-wage jobs.

NPR's reports last week on poverty in America, including an interesting poll.

60 of 88 Republicans responding said: Poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.

That is psychotic.

Tuesday, May 8

An exchange between James Fallows and Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

[L]et me explain that your book is the account of three month-long episodes of attempting to live entirely on earnings from $7- or $8-per-hour jobs. You show up in low-wage cities and try to get on your feet, like someone "graduating" from welfare to work. One of many intriguing aspects is the juggling of three challenges: landing a job (not that hard, in the "tight" economy of the late nineties); doing the job (sometimes quite hard, as you make vivid); and finding a place to live (nearly impossible, for reasons we will get to).

This exchange is really cool and the topic is really important. If you have any interest or guilt about poverty in this country, please read this exchange.

By the way, it's from adam, too.

It brings up the thought that we, the comparably comfortable, live off of the low-wage labor of the working poor and aliens and immigrants. That's how the price of services and products we value can stay so low. If we had a living wage in this country, say, 15$/hour, I'm sure the economy would do a belly-flop. That's not to say we shouldn't do it. That's just tracing the implications.

I made it MetaFilter link 7541.
Okay, I've been resisting even looking at this site, but it's all over, like AYBABTU, so I looked, and they were beautiful.

from adam:

The Empire That Was Russia: The Prokudin-Gorskii Photographic Record Recreated (A Library of Congress Exhibition)

In the early 1900s, Russian photographer Prokudin-Gorskii created color images by shooting simultaneously with three black and white cameras fitted with red, green, and blue filters. The resulting images were projected back through colored filters onto a screen for display. The photos are technically marvelous, but more striking is the dissonance between the "modern" medium and "historic" subject matter, if you take my meaning. Have a look!
The Longitude Problem, part of the Royal Observatory of Greenwich site (via iceberg273 on 1142).
Hanlon's Razor - "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity." via zempf on 1142
silly etymology: massagynist - one who massages women.

Monday, May 7

Since I haven't mentioned lately that Matt Howie rules the know. He's going to fulfill the guys' wishes for 1142 and he's got this rad new zine idea.
I would like to play DandD with John and Nathan sometime. It wouldn't have to be at the same time, but that would be extra fun. Actually, I don't think I like playing DandD, so I'd really just like to hang out while they played, listen in and see if I would like it.
Some folks did some really bizarre stuff. First, they started posting in an old, dead thread. Then they colonized the next one. Then they started a whole new website to post in. I, of course, am participating somewhat.
Is a book really good if it doesn't keep you up past your bedtime? I started reading a good book yesterday. Snow Crash. John got it for me.

By the way, John also does wine illustrations. That's pretty cool.

Friday, May 4

Richard John Neuhaus spoke at the Tulsa Christian Prayer Breakfast yesterday. He was uninterruptedly brilliant. Everything he said was smart and dense with meaning. He is the editor of First Things. I will try to get some of his material up here soon.
The United States lost its seat on the top United Nations human rights body. We totally deserve this. We're trying to get into bed with China, even though they're playing hard-to-get. We owe 1.7 B$.

Joanna Weschler, the U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch, said the United States had voted ``on the wrong side of several human rights issues in the last few years,'' and lost votes among its some of its allies.

Among them were the treaty to abolish land mines, opposition to the treaty creating an International Criminal Court and rejection of a resolution calling for AIDS drugs to be made available to everyone, she said.

But it gets crazier still: Uganda, Togo, Syria, Algeria, Libya and Saudi Arabia all sit on this commission.

There are lots of problems with the UN. I don't say we should pay everything or participate fully (though I'm inclined to think both of those things without having studied it more).

More good info and commentary in the MeFi discussion.

Wednesday, May 2

I noticed some good stuff on RandomWalks today: spider-protein-goat-milk-BioSteel and Big Bang static,
Came across this in Hobbsblog. Made me LOL.

It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it jumping the shark.

The reference is to Happy Days. Funny.
Man, Matt's mad. And with good reason.
Boeing's got a new plane on the drawing board. Looks cool (via zebulun on MeFi).

Tuesday, May 1

Our offices updated to IE 5.5. Now I see the swank scrollbars at MeFi. Snazzy!
Maybe this Tito thing isn't so goofy after all. If rich people are willing to pay to go, send 'em, and let's use the money to further exploration and the day when more of us can go.