Thursday, December 29, 2005

Comments?

Dang. How is it that I leave for Christmas vacation, posting nada in over a week, and yet I come back with an oodle of comments?

Sometimes I think Blogger is playing tricks on me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A Very Jedi Christmas




Have a Merry Christmas . . . or else!

Laughing at Japanese Children

Don't ask how I found this, but follow this link.

There is a program for people to teach english in Japan called JET, and the link is a series of stories from a man who went there and discovered some crazy things, such as Japanese children's fascination with a game called "kancho."

I have been laughing my butt off at his stories. Some of them because I can totally relate (having been there and experience similar things) and others because, well, they're just funny.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More than meets the eye

Further evidence that I am bored . . .

Optimus Prime!
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey

The Real War on Christmas

Some people love to talk about religious tolerance, but I hope they don't forget the very real plights that happen around the world.

This article is a round-up of the difficulties faced by Christians in countries where routinely tortured and/or killed for their faith. Indonesia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Cuba, India, Eritrea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan . . . the list goes on and on.

Is it hard to be a Christian in America? Sure. There's a constant buzz of temptation to "join the dark side" by compromising or abandoning our faith and principles, and there is a constant attempt to marginalize our faith and completely remove it from the public square. However, as much as there are people who wish they could do it, I doubt that any of us will ever be drug into the street and executed for being Christians.

Contrast this with what happens in some of these other countries. People concerned with basic human rights and religious liberties should be outraged about such abuses. And Christians . . . we should be constantly praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters and doing everything in our power to help them.

Fighting Canadian Healthcare

Be sure to read this story on National Review. It's a tale of a man battling Canada's socialized healthcare system.

I know many people, including my father, a nurse, are rather infatuated with socialized medicine. I must admit, the idea of "free" health care for all does sound appealing. I say "free" because it isn't really free, since we end up with much higher taxes for it. But Canada did one better for its people by making it illegal for people to use private healthcare for what public healthcare can offer. This problem resulted in a system that is overclogged and often insufficient due to attempts to keep costs low.

The hero of the story, Dr. Jacques Chaoulli, was forbidden from making house calls to patients who couldn't leave the house. Other patients of his were required to live with horribly painful conditions because the social system had such long waiting lists.

While I appreciate that being unable to afford medical treatment is a lamentable situation, forcing those who can afford it to languish and sometimes die while waiting for substandard treatment is just as cruel, maybe even more so. Proponents of socialized medicine in America would do well to remember this.

Making Life Difficult

So, normally I'm not one to talk about my personal life on the blog, but I'm kinda bored in the lab today, so I thought I'd share this gem from yesterday (although I'm a bi surprised that my comment yesterday drew no questions).

Yesterday, one of the older students asked me to make some LB broth. All I had to do was add powder and water in a flask. That's it! It should have taken 10 minutes (5 of which would have been scrounging around, trying to find materials like a bloodhound with a stuffy nose . . . I hate being the new guy). Unfortunately, no, because I am capable of making even the simplest of tasks complicated and dangerous.

Case in point: In attempting to bring the flask back to the benchtop, it slipped from my hands. I tried to catch it, but it hit the counter before I could catch it, so instead I only caught a handful of broken glass. Oops.

I only had one small cut, but it was on the webbing between my fingers. While everyone else was out of the room, trying to figure out whether I should go to the hospital or health services, I nearly passed out (no idea why). I fell completely on all fours, but I did manage to force myself up and into a chair in the next room to regain my composure.

Anyhow, the next hour after that resulted in a trip to the emergency room and 2 stitches. Yeesh. If the cut had been anywhere else, I'd have just slapped a band-aid on it and forgotten the whole thing.

In any event, I now sit here, tons of time to kill in the lab, desperately desiring to blog, but slightly hindered as my pinky and ring fingers on the left hand are bound together, mainly to limit the pain movement causes.

So . . . I'll be blogging. But no comments about spelling errors, okay?

Monday, December 19, 2005

SiteMeter Antics Revamp

You know what feels good? Finding out that people you know have been reading your blog. That's always a good feeling.

You know what else feels good? Not going to the emergency room.

I guess we just can't have it all.

But speaking of people reading the blog, I've been checking up on the reference page at SiteMeter, seeing what links are bringing people to the blog. In the past, many people (relatively speaking) have shown up because they found my essay on pornography. Usually, they were looking for information about the legal/philosophical aspects of it.

Lately, however . . . I've had a lot of people show up doing searches for "porn." That's it. And you know what?

It's really creepy that they choose to come to my blog when they're looking for porn.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Apocalypse . . . from now on!

Mick Hume with yet another take on the persistent haze of doom that environmental alarmists bring to the table.

Not that industrial accidents should be taken lightly, but sometimes these things aren't all that bad. On the other hand, I haven't heard any of these boobs complaining about the huge benzene spill in China (now that stuff is nasty!).

Cease Fire!

While I hate to see the "War on Christmas" proceeding (and you can see signs of it everywhere), this is still quite humorous, no matter which side you're fighting for:

(Click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Churches CLOSED on Christmas?

Yeah, I'm late to this story, but it's worth commenting on.

First, I have to lay out my hypocrisy credentials: I've skipped Sunday church on many an occasion with less than credible excuses. Sometimes it's "studying and homework," other times it's "family time," and sometimes it's just plain "I'm too tired."

But I think this is different. We're not talking about one believer making pitiful excuses for his own reticence. We're talking about the leadership of large, highly influential churches essentially telling their body of believers that there are some things more important than Christian devotion.

Is this really what the church should be about?

I'll be the first person to admit that Christmas is a family day, but it also happens to be the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. If there's any day one should go to church, this would be it! (No offense intended, but even most Catholics get this)

The leadership of these churches ought to reconsider this. They keep talking about giving their volunteers time off, but isn't sacrifice about serving God even when it's difficult?

Care for an update? Here's the status, as of this evening, on the Christmas services of the churches mentioned in the USA Today story:

Willow Creek - Cancelled.
Southland Christian Church - Cancelled.
Fellowship Church - Cancelled.
North Point Community Church - Cancelled.


(Incidentally, the pastor of Southland offers an explanation as to why they are closed on Sunday. You can listen to it in mp3 format if you wish. I think they're all bad reasons. He says, first, that unbelievers are less likely to go to church on Sunday, and even less if it's Christmas Sunday. Hey guy, church is not for the unbeliever. What does corporate worship mean to someone who knows not what he worships? His second reason is that it's not Biblically wrong, since the first day of the week starts Saturday night Biblically, and that's what they're doing. That's just grasping hairs, my friend. Is it explicitly worng to do this? No. Is it a bad example? Oh yeah.)

Lord, change the hearts of these pastors.

Warming? What planet are you on?

If you've read my blog long, you know I'm not exactly convinced about global warming. Too much contradictory "evidence," sketchy research/PR methods, blah blah blah. This Telegraph piece expresses my thoughts nicely with this charming story:
As to what planet Mr Bush is on, he's not on Pluto but on planet Goofy, a strange lost world where it's perfectly normal for apparently sane people to walk around protesting about global warming in sub-zero temperatures. Or, as the Canadian Press reported: "Montreal - tens of thousands of people ignored frigid temperatures Saturday to lead a worldwide day of protest against global warming."

Unfortunately, no one had supplied an updated weather forecast to the fellow who writes the protesters' chants. So, to the accompaniment of the obligatory pseudo-ethnic drummers, the shivering eco-warriors sang: "It's hot in here! There's too much carbon in the atmosphere!" Is this the first sign of the "New Ice Age" the media warned us about last week?

Heh. That's just too much. Like I've said before, they like to move the goalposts. If it's hotter, it's because of global warming. If it's colder, that is also because of global warming. Ironic, no?

Typically, they like to throw statistics around, like how some uninhabited arctic glaciers have shrunk by 0.0027% in the last year, or how the average temperature (whatever that means) in Antarctica has risen 0.05ÂșC since 1992. But that just doesn't mean everything, because their own statistics sometimes work against their point:
In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Read the entire thing. It makes fantastic points.

Bible = Porn?

Slightly aged story, but worthy of commentary nonetheless.

Apparently an atheist student group at University of Texas San Antonio was exchanging religious materials, such as Bibles, for pornography. Their statement was that they wanted to make the point that both are equal forms of smut.

This just absolutely amazes me. I know there are non-Christians, particularly atheists, who at least treat religion with respect and dislike the stereotypes most Christians have for atheists. These people, however, fulfill them in every sense. Do they call evil good and good evil? Or have they lost all ability to see any difference? This is exactly why religious debate on campus has become so hard. This falls under the banner of free speech, but heaven help you if you're handing out Christian materials.

I just feel very sad for them. I hope God reaches them and changes their hearts, because such anger against him will only lead to ruin in their lives.

Another Duh Moment

I was reading a newspaper article about a research study done on other benefits from taking Viagra, such as reduced swelling of the prostate (which causes the need for Viagra in the first place).

Of particular note was this statement:

"Results of the study showed that men who took Viagra . . . (30 minutes to an hour before anticipated sexual activity) experienced a significant improvement in erectile function, self-esteem and quality of life . . ."

Gee, ya think?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

An Iranian Voice Speaks Out

National Review has a story about a remarkable man. Some people talk about doing great things. Other people actually do them.
Iranian Amir Abbas Fakhravar is a hunted man. A former medical student and journalist for the now-banned reform newspapers Moshareka and Khordad, akhravar came to prominence with the publication of his book This Place Is Not a Ditch, in which he criticized Iran’s rulers and called on the Iranian people to reject the mullahs’ regime. For doing so, he was sentenced in 2002 to eight years in prison. His status as a political prisoner and his mistreatment while incarcerated — he was reportedly denied medical care, and suffered frequent physical attacks — brought international attention and demands for his release. The mullahs proved less than accommodating, but they did allow Fakhravar occasional prison leaves in order to visit his family and take his university exams. In May of this year, while on such a leave, he decided he had had enough, and ran. He has been a fugitive ever since, and moves about Iran in an effort to escape the authorities.
This in itself is great, but he didn't go home to hide. No, he continues to advocate Iranian democracy, despite the danger to his life and the lives of his family. How?
He does this by communicating with Iranian students, whom he characterizes as deeply hostile to the rulers in Tehran. It is a strange commentary on the extent to which Iranian speech is suppressed — and on the peculiarities of the Internet age — that among the best ways for Fakhravar to reach his audience is by speaking with American journalists whose work finds its way to the Iranian underground.
His is an incredible story. Read the whole thing. His interview with National Review eventually came around to US involvement in Iran. He wants the US to back the young generation of democracy advocates who will take power. He thinks that a military invasion by the US will hurt the peaceful democracy movement and foster resentment against the US, while a more subtle support will garner much favor with a potential Iranian democracy.

And of course, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I just see the window of non-military solutions closing. Iran has made no secret of their plan to get nuclear weapons, and the rest of the world has made laughable attempts to stop or dissuade them from that path. As time continues, Iran's leadership is becoming ever more belligerent towards Israel, now one of a small but growing number of democracies in the Middle East.

I'd love to see a peaceful solution, or at least a solution that doesn't require US military intervention. Unfortunately, if there isn't some solution soon, we may find our greatest ally in the region reduced to a smoking crater.

Now that's hot

Just a little link dump . . . because I'm lazy like that.

1) Ace takes on co-ed naked yoga. *Shudder* I'm completely in agreement with the man.

2) Ace takes on Andrew Sullivan and Brokeback Mountain. Personally, this movie's plot is exactly what Eric Cartman predicted of all arthouse films: Gay cowboys eating pudding. Only this time they're not eating pudding, they're having explicit sex.

Ace is right: Straight men have no desire to see that.

Carry on.

You mean they HAVE a position?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Why wait? Well . . .

A bit of a slip-up and a scheduling mishap have left me in the lab on a Tuesday night, and it looks like I'll be here late. So much for the blogging I had planned to do (all the articles I had wanted to comment on are on the computer at home . . . yes, no original material from silly me).

In the meantime, enjoy the 2005 Crunk Awards as given by Regret the Error. They'll make you laugh . . . I know I did.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

End of Quarter Antics

Ah, finals are over. Finally, a time for respite.

Well, sort of. With my research advisor now having been selected, I started working in the lab right away. In fact, I have to go in today (yes, on a Sunday!).

I have oodles of blogging that I've been saving up that I would like to do. It won't happen all at once, but it's there, and it's waiting. In the meantime, I thought I would share something humorous with you.

Around the middle of the quarter, some of the students in the lab I was teaching looked at their hoods and noticed, "Hey . . . this is big enough to fit a person. Hey Hal, can we climb inside of these things?" Of course I told them no. That's dangerous and, as amusing as it might be, I didn't want to ever see them doing it.

I probably should have said that just shouldn't ever do it. On the last day of classes, they handed me these (faces removed to protect the quasi-innocent):



Oh girls, you crack me up. Ah, if only I had been so adventurous when I was an undergrad . . .

Monday, December 05, 2005

Coming Attractions

Rule #1 of Blog Club:
Never make promises you can't keep.

Rule #2 of Blog Club:
Never blog about your personal life - it bores the crap out of your audience.

One down, one to go.

Case in point: I did no blogging last week. *Sigh*. It's been a busy week. Grad school . . . who knew it would require ridiculous amounts of work?

In any case, I have my Structural Inorganic final tomorrow, and the Quantum Mechanics and Kinetics on Tuesday, so after that? I might be blogging again. I certainly have a lot of unfinished business that I would like to see on the blog here.

But then I might just be breaking rule #1 again. We'll see what happens.