Family Visit  

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I know I haven't been as active on the blog lately, but this week my parents are in town and so between working half days and spending the afternoons and evenings with my parents I haven't had much time to pay attention to the internet.

After I thought my father might have found our podcast I was joking with the Herd that they might decide to perform an exorcism intervention. I was sort of serious. I don't know if they'd actually do something that formal, but I could see them grabbing onto me and praying over me in tongues. It's a bit scary to think about and even scarier is th the idea that at one time in my life that was normal behavior.

My brother was going on about Mike Warnke earlier that day and talking about how Warnke had done amazing things as a Satanist like bringing people back from the dead. Yeah, because he told you he did it? Of course I piped in that he had been exposed as a fraud, but I don't know if anyone believed me. But it did make my brother pause and think.

Last night I took my family to a bar for dinner. Well, my mom did say she wanted a good burger and so I took them out for the best burgers in town. Yeah, I didn't even consciously think about it until we got there and heard the dance music loud in the background. Oh well, it was an adventure for them, I'm sure. Tonight will be safe because it's good ol' Kansas City barbeque.

Anyway, I'm off to enjoy the good things about my family. I'm not sure what we'll do today. The only thing to expect is that it'll be unexpected. Disaster will likely strike in some way. The car will get a flat tire. Or my brother will fall down the stairs. Or maybe it'll just end up being a pleasant day.

*My family never looked that normal.

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Emergence  

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

If there was one topic that fascinated me when I was studying computer science in college it was emergence. But, much to my regret now, I never went on to further study. I'm not even sure there was further study back when I was in school. But if I were to return, this is what I would study.

Radio Lab recently had a podcast on Emergence that I found to be fascinating. It has a little of everything from sex to uninformed voters to brain patterns. If you're interested in the way a group works and why it's so difficult to grasp, this episode is for you.

What happens when there is no leader? Starlings, bees, and ants manage just fine. In fact, they form staggeringly complicated societies, all without a Toscanini to conduct them into harmony. How? That’s our question this hour. We gaze down at the bottom-up logic of cities, Google, even our very own brains. Featured: author Steven Johnson, fire-flyologists John and Elizabeth Buck, biologist E.O. Wilson, Ant expert Debra Gordon, mathematician Steve Strogatz, economist James Surowiecki, and neurologists Oliver Sacks and Christof Koch.

Of course if you're interested in a group people creating intelligent conversation, then this might be more your style.

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A Week of Sun July 23 - 29, 2008  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dedicated to my husband, Matt, this week. For all the times he sat patiently waiting when I ran out of a restaurant to take a picture of the sun setting.

When I thought back about the pictures from this week I couldn't think if a single, interesting picture. I blame it on the weather. It's hot and humid. A haze hangs over everything. Even the thunderstorms are lackluster, like they just can't get going because it's too damn hot.

Anyway, there were some decent shots, so I was pleasantly surprised. Next week will be better. I hope anyway, if the weather decides to cooperate again.




Original Source

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Faded Glory  

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I received an email and a video from one of my classmates at Heritage Academy. He found my post online. It's the first time someone's ever "found" me online that I knew in the past, although we didn't know each other very well. It's so cool. :)

He gave me permission to publish both here on the blog.

Interesting blog. I also went to Heritage Academy. It was interesting to see your picture of Mr. Lidell and Mr. Yarborough—both very nice men who had no business trying to teach…my wife (who also went there) still laugh about how little control Mr. Yarborough had in the classroom.

My dad, like your mom, worked for Jim Bakker…and my mom answered the phones. I think the thing that I still hold against Jim Bakker more than anything else is how, while he was getting paid so much money, he took such poor financial care of his staff. In return for their faith in him and his ministry, they were exploited.

I can’t complain, though. I loved living there…working there. We were insiders in our own freaky Disneyland and we pretty much did what we wanted. And then it crumbled.

I visited there a few years back and made this video (the drama is all very tongue in cheek). Enjoy!

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What's My Liberal Identity?  

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Darnit, I wanted to be a crusader against neo-cons. OK, maybe Ex has a point about me thinking I'm the most elite...

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.



(via Keith)

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A Week of Sun July 16 - 22, 2008  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008




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Carnival of the Godless #96  

Monday, July 21, 2008


Sean, at Sean the Blogonaut is hosting the latest Carnival of the Godless over at his blog. If you have a few minutes stop by and read a few of the posts.

He has kindly given my Zombies Ate My Brain a link.

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A Week of Sun July 9 - 15, 2008  

Tuesday, July 15, 2008




Original Source

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Zombies Ate My Brain  

Monday, July 14, 2008


A few evenings ago I was drifting in and out of sleep on the couch, trying to forget I had a headache when I overheard part of the conversation between Matt and his sister on the telephone. Here's a little of how the conversation went.

Matt: You aren't telling me that you believe in zombies?

Sister-in-law: Well, I wasn't sure before but now there's the idea of government conspiracies and viruses that can make people go crazy.

Matt: Crazy living people are different than zombies. Maybe there could be a virus that spreads that makes people go crazy, but that's not being a zombie. Zombies are physical beings somehow animated by magic. You understand that it's impossible for zombies to move around, especially fast zombies. If their muscles and tendons have atrophied how do they get around? It's physically impossible. Even if they could animate a dead body, how does it become superhuman? You're not thinking this through.

SIL: I know that, but I can't help it. I'm still afraid one will jump out and eat my dogs.

Matt: That's ridiculous. How can you be afraid of some fictional thing made up for movies? I can understand being creeped out by the movie, but you're actually afraid you're going to be attacked by a zombie?

SIL: Well, I feel a little better after *insert a friend's name here* told me that zombies don't attack dogs. You know, like in that scene from Dawn of the Dead?

Matt: That's a movie. You're afraid of a made-up thing in a movie and you're basing your logic on something that's made up from a movie. You know you're talking crazy, right?

SIL: I know they're just movies, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.

At this point, I decide to chime in. I wonder if I'm dreaming, but I'm pretty sure I'm awake.

Me: Tell her about it being physically impossible again.


But the fact is, I can't be too critical of my sister-in-law. It wasn't too long ago that I believed in demon possession, spiritual warfare, ghosts and angels, and other crazier things that I can't even begin to explain without you thinking that I should be locked up.

But growing up in a non-traditional, Pentecostal household these were things that my family bought into willingly. Not only was it a perfect form of control - don't think about X, where X could be evolution or secularism or something else antithetical to the religious dogma, because those concepts have been created by Satan to draw you away from God - but it was also a gateway into magical thinking. If we accepted these concepts, it was much easier to accept other strange or outright crazy ideas as being real.

In my own experience even after I no longer believed in a supreme being, I still found it difficult to escape the spiritual mindset and embraced belief in fate and energy manipulation. It took years of further thought into why these beliefs aren't rational before I gave them up. It was only then that I was willing to call myself an atheist.

My husband tried to let me off the hook when I explained my own evolution of belief by telling me that supernatural entities, while they may be as improbable aren't testable in the natural world. But I can't let myself off that easily. For a supernatural entity to be perceived it must enter the natural world. That is why my belief in the supernatural eventually crumbled. Most "evidence" of the supernatural is anecdotal, poorly researched, or fraudulent. A half-serious look into the evidence presented cannot lead to supernatural belief for any rational person.

It's only the people who don't learn to think rationally or apply critical thinking that fall into the trap of believing in the supernatural, magic, zombies, and religion. For a person without a rational mindset arguments for rationality will fall on deaf ears.

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FISA  

Friday, July 11, 2008

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Ben Franklin

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Chess Piece Meme  

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Your result for Which Chess Piece are You Test?...

The Knight's City Guard


The Knight’s City Guard is characterized by the desire to serve others in times of need. Sometimes this drive is so powerful that the standard ‘give-and-take’ is unsatisfying. They are bound very much to social convention and don’t like to include moral or political controversy. The City Guard is often forgotten because they are so reliable. They are loyal and great producers of quality – which end up allowing others to take for granted what the City Guard gives. They are hurt by being treated as a doormat but are unwilling to toot their own horn about accomplishments. This is due to that it feels somewhat wrong to want a reward for doing work which is a virtue in itself.

The City Guard can be overworked and suffer from self inflicted headaches. They are methodical workers with good memories and analytical abilities. They are great in small groups because of their patience. They make pleasant co-workers and better employees. They tend to feel a bit harried by supervisory roles. They form strong loyalties of a personal nature. This is opposed to institutional loyalty. If someone leaves the company that’s close to this type – they may leave as well. They are perfect as teachers, administrators, clerics and fit right in amongst nursing or medical careers.

The Knight’s City guard is concerned with harmony and traditional behavior. They have a few close friends and are extremely loyal. Don’t confront them, they hate that. Also if the Knight’s City Guard is moody – it could be because they haven’t shared something of importance. Most friends of the City Guard feel ashamed later when finding out why the Guard refused to share the source of their trouble. This ‘Pawn’ is wonderful because they are the diplomat of emotions and needs. They are society’s most constructive and protective member.

Take Which Chess Piece are You Test?


(via Sylvene)

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Independence Visitor  

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

We had a visitor show up late to our Independence Day party. All of the food from the cookout was gone, but that was OK because he's a vegetarian.



He stuck around for a long time, eventually fashioning a nest in the grass. We went inside finally and left him to his peace and quiet. Hopefully the hawks weren't watching too closely.

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A Week of Sun July 2 - 8, 2008  

Tuesday, July 08, 2008




It's a new look for the Week of Sun series. I hope you like it.

Here's the original source with tags.

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Happy 4th!  

Friday, July 04, 2008


I hope everyone who is celebrating the holiday has a great day. I'm going to spend my day grilling out at the MoDs. And no Ex, we're not going to be on the driveway.

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This Weeks Reader July 13, 2008  

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

International
A Free Speech Outrage
This affair is, however, an excellent illustration of the chilling danger posed by laws which seek to ban "hate speech". Even if passed with the best intentions in the world, they are swiftly made use of by tyrants and theocrats who recognize quite well that any means of persuading the state to censor ideas can easily be used against their critics. Make no mistake - if Wilders was extradited and imprisoned, he would not be the last. Swiftly on the heels of that demand would come the next one, and the next, each one arrogantly presuming the right to punish anyone anywhere who says anything uncomplimentary about Islam. The OIC, in fact, referred to the "thin line" separating freedom of speech from what they want to be illegal. In other words, they're saying it's very easy to cross the line between what they view as permissible and impermissible criticism, which means the zone of permissible criticism must be a very small one indeed.

Nonbelieving Literati
He really should have had a blog
I laugh, almost, at the way that nothing that happens is Zadig's fault. It seems disingenuous to me, almost tongue-in-cheek. "Oh please, good sirs, I acted with the purest of intentions!" I can't shake off the feeling that Voltaire is sitting inside the page laughing at us, protesting his own innocence when he knows his own tongue was downright wicked at times! It's conceit, I tell you, pure careless conceit, and I don't think Voltaire cares who knows it. There is a liberation in it, a sort of permission to love yourself with wry honesty and accept that, deep down, you're rather partial to yourself. Now, aren't you? Admit it.

Photography
Night Shinings



Religion
One Way in which We Should Know Ourselves
I have for some time suspected we humans are born with a whole mess of innate drives, instincts, or predispositions that can skew our approach to the world when we are so unaware of them we cannot compensate for them. It even seems to me that much of what we call “wisdom” is a matter of compensating for the distortions to our reason, emotions, and values caused by those innate predispositions.

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Reading List for July  


Read in June
Zadig - Voltaire
Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea - Carl Zimmer
Under My Roof - Nick Mamatas

Currently Reading
Cosmicosmos - Italo Calvino (Nonbelieving Literati)

Coming Up Next
The Flight of the Eisenstein (Horus Heresy) - James Swallow
A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons - Robert Saplosky
Shadow Play (Shadowmarch Vol. II) - Tad Williams
The Android's Dream - John Scalzi
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science - Natalie Angier

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A Week of Sun June 25 - July 1, 2008  

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wednesday

Soft clouds - 8:20 PM CDT

Thursday

A half moon - 6:07 AM CDT

Pale clouds on the horizon - 6:07 AM CDT

Friday

Hazy day - 7:59 AM CDT

8:00 AM CDT

Saturday

Just missed the sun - 8:35 PM CDT

Sunday

The end of a clear, beautiful day - 8:16 PM CDT

Monday

Just a tinge of orange - 6:03 AM CDT

And the last crescent of a moon - 6:03 AM CDT

Tuesday

Gold-lit clouds - 6:01 AM CDT

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Not Really a Break  


Yeah, I'm still here. I've just been busier than normal lately and that doesn't look to be changing soon. I found out last week that I was being transferred to a new team effective yesterday. So far nothing has changed, but I'm bracing myself for the new projects that will be coming in. It's likely I'll have to finish all of the projects I'm currently working on as well since the team I'm leaving isn't replacing me, so work hours will be longer for a little while and hours at home are more likely to be zombie-fied as I try to de-stress.

Until my brain recovers and I feel like doing more than sleeping I may be a little sparse on posts. Don't worry though. I'm sure inspiration will strike me at least a once or twice a week and I'll still have my weekly posts.

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