Archive for: December, 2007

A day at the Field Museum! (updated)

Dec 31 2007 Published by under Science news, Travel

I'm in Chicago, visiting family for the holidays with my girlfriend, and we decided to hit the Field Museum of Natural History, one of my childhood haunts. I thought I'd do a little 'photo highlights' post about the things that I found most intriguing this time around...

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The roots of my lack of respect for organized religion... (updated)

Dec 29 2007 Published by under Religion

A few weeks back, I made a comment on Pharyngula about the reasons that I finally lost complete respect for organized religion. The reasons seemed odd enough and entertaining enough to merit a post on their own: Legos and Peanuts. This isn't quite as crazy as it sounds, as I'll hopefully explain after the fold...

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Patrick Swayze Christmas, by MST3K

Dec 25 2007 Published by under Entertainment

One more irreverent Christmas video: that of the MST3K bunch singing "A Patrick Swayze Christmas":

YouTube is great, isn't it?

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My part in the War on XMas...

Dec 24 2007 Published by under Entertainment

As my part in the War on Christmas, I thought I'd link to some irreverent Christmas music. For those fans of Jonathan Coulton, Mike Spiff of Spiffworld finally did a video of Chiron Beta Prime, one of my favorite Christmas songs:

I wanted to post a video of Fishbone's Christmas classic Slick Nick, You Devil You, but there isn't one. So I'll simply post a link to the lyrics:

Slick Nick, You Devil You Lyrics

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Christian lepers need MY help??!!

Dec 23 2007 Published by under ... the Hell?

Normally I delete without reading any 'phishing' or 419 scam emails I get, which include the Nigerian banking schemes along with their close relatives the Hong Kong banking scheme, the UK banking scheme, the Amsterdam lottery scheme, the China import/export scheme, along with notices 'from' every major bank that my account with them has been closed - most of which appeared in my inbox in the past week.

I just received one yesterday, though, that is so unintentionally hilarious that I have to share the highlights below the fold (emphasis in the letter will be mine):

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I wasn't slain by an elf... I AM an elf!

Dec 22 2007 Published by under Entertainment, role-playing games

Now that I'm thinking about role-playing games again, I found a nice questionnaire (h/t The Garbled Zombie) that allows you to determine what sort of Dungeons and Dragons character you would be. It's a long questionnaire, but quite entertaining to see the results. Mine are below the fold...

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"You didn't ask!"

Dec 22 2007 Published by under [Politics]

You know, nearly twenty years ago, when I was in high school, I was playing the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade with some of my friends. If you're wondering what this has to do with the 'politics' tag, bear with me a bit. So a friend of mine (call him Ben) was playing a Transylvanian ambassador whose embassy gets attacked by vampire killers bearing automatic weapons. The ambassador survives, and is faced with a police investigation concerning the carnage.

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Mars flirting with disaster!

Dec 21 2007 Published by under Science news

CNN is reporting today that astronomers have determined that there's a one in 75 chance that a big asteroid could hit Mars in January!  These may not seem like good odds, but they're astonishingly high considering the amount of empty space in the solar system.  Scientifically, it would be an exciting event to witness, assuming that Mars is facing us when it happens.

The asteroid is said to be roughly the size of the asteroid assumed responsible for the Tunguska blast of 1908.  For those unfamiliar, a remote area of Siberia was rocked by a massive, 15-megaton explosion in 1908.  Compare that with the Hiroshima blast of 13-kilotons, a thousand times weaker!  The explosion sparked many theories as to its origin, from the 'mundane' (asteroid impact, comet impact) to the exotic (mini-black hole impact) to the absurd (alien spaceship explosion!).  A popular history book came out last year about the blast and the speculation afterwards, The Mystery of the Tunguska Fireball, though I confess I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Beyond the scientific benefit of such a Mars impact, it could also have a political implications.  Good images of a massive impact on Mars might make politicians here on Earth pay more attention to the remote but threatening possibility of catastrophic Earth collisions.   Another side benefit: if we felt a little more secure about threats from space, we might be spared more cheesy disaster films in the future.

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Robert E. Howard (indirectly) on religion

Dec 20 2007 Published by under Fantasy fiction, Robert E. Howard

I've been kind of busy the past few days, preparing for the holidays (you hear me, Bill O'Reilly?  I said 'holiday'!!!), so I haven't been able to post much.  This seemed like a good time to share one of my favorite little passages from Robert E. Howard's Conan book The Hour of the Dragon.  It's a nice insight into Robert's views on religious tolerance...

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A few (small) bits of happy political news

Dec 18 2007 Published by under [Politics]

Two little things happened on the political front today that give some faint hope that the country hasn't degraded completely into a torture-loving big-brother kleptocracy:

  1.  Senator Chris Dodd managed to push off via filibuster threat the Senate vote to give immunity to the major telecom companies against any aid they may have given the Bush administration concerning illegal eavesdropping.  Even most of the Democrats had caved and were happy to let the telecoms get a free pass for potential lawbreaking, without  having all the facts looked at.  You can go to Dodd's website to throw a little love and campaign contributions his way; I'm doing both.
  2. Representative Robert Wexler has received tremendous support for hearings regarding the impeachment of Dick Cheney.  The original goal of 50,000 online supporters has been passed and the new goal is 250,000.  You can sign onto the petition at this link.

Most frustrating about both these events is the near lack of media coverage.  CNN's coverage of the telecom bill contains only a brief mention of what many consider to be a horrifying abuse of the constitution.  I couldn't find any mention at all of the call for impeachment hearings.

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