somewhat daily mutterings

/Issues_and_Commentary Apocalyptic Calendar

According to a group that call themselves "The Lords' (sic) Witnesses", the code in the Bible indicates certain important dates surrounding the Apocalypse (press release).

For your Apocalyptic planning pleasure, I've placed these dates into an iCal calendar (subscribe | view) so that you can easily keep track of the tribulation to come. I've allowed for five days lead time for the overall Apocalypse - wouldn't want to be surprised, after all. Note that most of the action happens in 2008, so you'll have to look well ahead to see the schedule.

Posted: Thu Jun 08 08:54:48 -0700 2006

/Issues_and_Commentary Stupid Math

A coworker sent me a link to a news article about an Oxford philosopher of religion who purports to use "math" to prove Christ's resurrection. I got quite a kick out of the breathless tone of the article, not to mention the immense stupidity of a) the claim and b) the methodology itself. Matter of fact, it struck me so funny that I thought it might be an April Fools' joke (it's not).

Wanting to post about this "story", but not being as talented as the guy that writes the excellent Good Math, Bad Math blog, I sent him a bit of red meat in the form of a link to the above article, hoping he (and his readers) would comment on it in his blog, so I could link to it like the lazy scum that I am. Paydirt!

Posted: Fri Apr 21 21:19:52 -0700 2006

/Issues_and_Commentary ID-backing Board Members Bitch-slapped in Dover

From the AP:

"Voters came down hard Tuesday on school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, ousting eight Republicans and replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum."

[ more here ]

Posted: Wed Nov 09 10:14:34 -0800 2005

/Issues_and_Commentary Only an Intelligent Designer Could Have Wrought This

OK, I admit it: the tongue-eating bug could never have evolved into existence. This nightmare creature must have been designed by some truly twisted intelligence, that's for sure. I can hear the ID now: "OK, I have fish, now what? Oh ... I know! A bug that eats a fish's tongue, and takes the tongue's place! Brilliant!

Posted: Fri Sep 16 12:20:59 -0700 2005

/Issues_and_Commentary Fight over Intelligent Design is Heating Up

Apparently there is now a lawsuit brewing in California, with creationists/IDers complaining that the "science" education provided by some Christian schools is unfairly held to be insufficient by the University of California system. A few good posts from The Questionable Authority:

The second link contains some quotes from a textbook in question. Priceless. However I have to wonder: if a student, regardless of backwards schooling, can get a good enough score on the proper tests, and can get through the admissions process, I'm not sure I understand why UC would deny them schooling. If the student's schooling was truly sub-standard, then the student would fail out like plenty of other students who were provided a "standard" education. Besides, a real education might allow them to break free of the cloister.

Regardless, if I reflect too long on this battle, it starts depressing me. What in the world is happening here?

Posted: Wed Aug 31 07:33:21 -0700 2005

/Issues_and_Commentary Required Reading for Both Sides of the Intelligent Design Argument...

...although I'm sure that one of the sides will show little interest.

THE CASE AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN: The Faith That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Posted: Sat Aug 27 07:46:10 -0700 2005

/Issues_and_Commentary Political Viewpoints and their Relationship to Science

Like many people, I'm paying special attention to science and its relationship to politics and culture lately (thanks so much, "Intelligent Design"). While reading a bunch of reactions to the return of ID (ne creation science, ne creationism) to public debate, I tripped over Bora's post on Lefty and Righty excesses of pseudo-science which deserves special mention (and linkage). Although not about ID specifically, the article does a great job of putting the current tempest, along with a few others, into perspective.

Posted: Thu Aug 25 12:17:17 -0700 2005

/Issues_and_Commentary My List of Lists

Herein you'll find an assortment of lists that reflect my tastes and values. These are things or people that, to me, exude quality and originality. This is my first stab, so no list is complete (and may never be). I'll keep editing this same entry as I think of more stuff, and the entry will sort back to the top of my weblog as I do so. So, without further ado:

Most Respected Musicians/Bands

  • The Beatles
  • Elvis Costello
  • Sonic Youth
  • Lyle Lovett
  • Pat Metheny
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Beck
  • Radiohead
  • ...more to come...

Great Recordings

  • Anything by the Beatles, including and after Revolver
  • I Can See Your House From Here, John Scofield and Pat Metheny
  • Porcupine, Echo and the Bunnymen
  • Mutations, Beck
  • ...more to come...

Great Movies

  • Apocalypse Now
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • ...more to come...

Great Books

  • Deliverance, James Dickey
  • Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter
  • The Water-method Man, John Irving
  • ...more to come...

Great Technical Books

  • Design Patterns, Gamma, et al
  • Refactoring, Fowler
  • Object Oriented Heuristics, Riel
  • The Pragmatic Programmer, Thomas
  • HTTP, the Definitive Guide, Gourley, et al
  • ...more to come...

Great Guitarists

  • Allan Holdsworth
  • Pat Metheny
  • Joe Pass
  • ...more to come...

Posted: Fri Jul 30 21:23:28 -0700 2004

/Issues_and_Commentary Better Late than Never

The 50 Most Loathesome People in America, 2002

Posted: Sun Nov 02 15:34:25 -0800 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary The Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is really just a bookmark of sorts, for me, but you may be interested in the links (or not).

The argument, stated. A refutation.

Posted: Fri Oct 24 07:28:37 -0700 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary A Consistent Conservative Voice, on the Limbaugh Drug Thing

Although I'm fairly liberal, and no Rush fan at all, I dislike the way liberal commentators are salivating over Rush's drug situation. It's too easy, and relatively unimportant. I realize it's hard to ignore the hypocrisy angle, however. I guess it's a little more annoying how many conservatives have come to his aid. If he were a librul, they'd be on him like a pack of dogs.

Which brings me to this article by Daniel Borchers, who has gained himself a new left-leaning reader. Borchers heads up the Citizens for Principled Conservatism, which is worth a look.

Posted: Mon Oct 20 14:22:47 -0700 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary Dennis Miller is a Class Act

Dennis Miller appeared on the O'Reilly factor tonight. I guess O'Reilly was trotting out the lonely two conservative folks in Hollywood (he did the show from LA, and his second guest was noted conservative mind Pat Sajak (who also emcees a game show on the side)) and seemed to want pats on the back for finding them.

Don't get me wrong -- I like watching O'Reilly, but tonight he didn't do himself proud. He just seemed to want to get his guests talking about the damn-liberal-Hollywood-cabal-of-evil (this actually surprised me a little because I expect a bit more from O'Reilly), but neither of them were having any of it. Dennis Miller, especially, was good at staying quite rational about the political views of Hollywood freaks, and it seemed to bug O'Reilly a little (or maybe I was just imagining it -- I wanted to see O'Reilly get frustrated in his quest for liberal blood).

At one point, after O'Reilly worried out loud about the impact of Hollywood types on the national psyche, Pat Sajak responded that he didn't really think Hollywood actors realistically stood any chance of changing anyone's mind about the subject of the moment, and actually congratulated those who do present their views as courageous since a requirement of success in public careers is for people to like them. O'Reilly, again disappointed, said something like, "but they have the ear of the people [with a tone that implied something more like "ignorant numb-nuts"] in the malls". I thought to myself, "now who's elitist?"

I would have included Sajak in my Class Act title if only he hadn't, earlier in the program, said something along the lines of, "I think those who have read a lot and have knowledge naturally lean towards conservatism". Damn, I thought liberals had the lock on elitism. Good to know they don't.

Posted: Mon Mar 10 20:53:43 -0800 2003

/Issues_and_Commentary Right to Smoke, or Right to Not Be Exposed to it?

Right-thinking posts a reaction to a CA bill that would allow apartment and condominium dwellers to sue their neighbors for exposing them to second-hand smoke (it's important to read the original news item, as well). I can understand the reaction, because it seems a shame to have laws written to, essentially, discourage rude or selfish behavior. That's pretty much what we're talking about, IMO (again, read the original article). I think Steve Martin said it best in the old bit:

"Do you mind if I smoke?"
"No. (short pause) Do you mind if I fart?"

Martin perfectly captures the way non-smokers (well, at least this one) feel about the way smoking impacts their environment. I wonder if the maintainer of Right Thinking supports his neighbor's right to stand in his back yard and blow an air-horn for an hour or two? Oh wait - there are noise ordinances to prevent such things. Was it just a liberal anti-air-horn-blower campaign that caused the creation of noise ordinances? Or are noise ordinances OK for some other reason that doesn't apply to the concept of a smoking ordinance for public/shared spaces? Both types of ordinances seem to limit freedom in similar ways.

My neighbor occasionally (especially during parties) smokes on his back porch in the summer. I'm sure he does it on the back porch because he doesn't want his house smelling like cigarrette smoke. The problem is that we use a whole-house fan in the summer to pull the cool air in at night. A nasty side-effect is that it also pulls the acrid smoke into the house, too. It's very annoying.

I could (and perhaps should) complain to him (not the police). But I like the guy, and I don't see any reason to put a strain on things since it so seldom happens. However, if he did it every night, that would be another matter. Who's rights are being abridged? I feel that I have a right to (relatively) clean air in my own home. He may feel as though he has the right to smoke in his back yard (which he currently certainly does). My theory (having no law background at all) is that the more aggrieved party is the one subjected to conditions that are not "natural and normal". Boy, does that ever beg for defintion. I think it's easier to provide examples:

a) You're sitting at a bus stop, and someone sits down next to you, carrying a boom-box that's playing very loudly
b) A guy on the bus has a flashlight and constantly shines it in your eyes

The grievances in these examples (and we might as well include smoking and farting) have something in common -- they act at a distance, and are essentially impossible to ignore. I think it's hard to argue that loud boom-boxes, fart methane, and flashlight-in-the-face are natural and normal conditions of most environments (well, maybe they are at your house). My assertion is that there's nothing different between them and smoking. Cigarrette smoke acts at a distance, is annoying to non-smokers, and can pose a health risk, something the other annoyances don't have in common with smoking. However, I think few people argue with laws against noise ordinances and our societal mores against being just plain rude.

So, if smoking has so much in common with these other activities, how does it qualify as a special, protected activity? For non-smokers, it's at least as annoying as any other grievance I've named, but those examples are unlikely to occur because of laws or just plain decency. Why should smoking be thought of differently? Is it because the smoker is addicted, and enjoys the activity so much that it is more rude to ask him not to do it near us, than it is for him to be doing it near us in the first place?.

Geez, this is starting to turn into a giant ramble. So, long story short: Laws against smoking in public/shared places? OK by me, but probably only because I don't have the disgusting habit. However, it's a little disturbing to have to write laws to keep people from being selfish and rude. It's a shame that the "allowable" places are shrinking, and I understand the smokers' reaction to that fact, but it's a little hard for me to feel too sorry for them. I don't care if smokers want to blacken their lungs, so long as they do it somewhere that doesn't also blacken mine. Is that so much to ask?

BTW, the tone of the article is one reason I don't really want to ever be considered right-wing. Reading that site doesn't make me very likely to jump on that particular bandwagon, and is a poor reflection on thoughtful conservatives and folks that generally lean right. Too bad. If someone reading this can point me to a liberal weblog that's as ill-tempered, I'd like to see it.

Posted: Thu Mar 06 09:28:24 -0800 2003

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