Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Quotable

open quoteThus we see that the all important thing is not killing or giving life, drinking or not drinking, living in the town or the country, being lucky or unlucky, winning or losing. It is how we win, how we lose, how we live or die, finally, how we choose. We walk, and our religion is shown (even to the dullest and most insensitive person), in how we walk. Living in this world means choosing and the way we choose to walk is infallibly and perfectly expressed in the walk itself. -- R. H. Blyth, English Professor and Zen Scholar (1898 - 1964)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back from the Road

Greetings Prophet or Madman-philes, I have returned from my Thanksgiving holiday. I had a lovely time away from the office and I am not all that happy to have returned to work. But I did miss blogging. While away, I was not able to do my blog updates due to a lack of broadband access. (Have you ever tried to update Blogger on a dial-up connection? It's brutal! If you deal with that all the time, you have much more patience than I.) I do have a pile of work that I must wade through, and I will be going away again this coming weekend. But I will try to be a bit more regular in my posting here so as to make links to my humble page somewhat worthwhile.

Quotable

open quoteThe least of things with meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without. -- Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist and founder of Analytical Psychology.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | After Thanksgiving

Well, it's the day after Thanksgiving. For some folks, that means the rush to begin Christmas shopping. For others, it means time to recuperate. Case in point:

"I gorged on turkey, but all I see now are penguins!"

Milo can barely move after the feast.

OK. So I actually took these photos on Wednesday, and we haven't seen the boys since then (nor will we see them until Monday). But Mrs. Brainwise said that these images were perfect for a post-Thanksgiving pet blogging entry. I agree.

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

    Thursday, November 24, 2005

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Mrs. Brainwise and I found this on our annual "day before Thanksgiving Day" shopping trip to State College, PA. It is a wonderfully humorous message for today ... and it will make a great gift for my parents. (I can already hear my father laughing about it). Now, for message more in keeping with the true sentiment of this holiday, here is a prayer I wrote, called Hail Sun:
    Hail to thee, Sun ! Who warms the Earth and Sky Hail to thee, Sky! Who sends life-giving rains to Earth Hail to thee, Earth! Our true Mother, who brings forth food and sustenance from Her all-giving self We who gather together give honor and thanks to these Natural Powers to the Source behind and to all who labor doing their part in bringing this meal to pass
    Here is wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday. May you have time to reflect on your blessings, and to appreciate those around you, especially the ones you may not necessarily hold close.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    FROST: Life & Culture of the Sámi

    You have got to check out this cool (no pun intended) photo essay...
    FROST: Life & Culture of the Sámi
      Norwegian Sámi photographer Fred Ivar Utsi Klemetsen’s photo essay “FROST” documents the life of those who still herd their reindeer the traditional way. The following is a selection of the photos from the exhibit which has been touring the U.S.
      Photo: Fred Ivar Utsi Klemetsen

        Fightin' Falwell Forewarns Foes!

        Not wanting to let Pat Robertson get too far ahead in the nutjob polls, radical christian cleric Jerry Falwell has taken off his kid gloves and launched the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." From the San Francisco Chronicle:

        Evangelical Christian pastor Jerry Falwell has a message for Americans when it comes to celebrating Christmas this year: You're either with us, or you're against us.

        Falwell has put the power of his 24,000-member congregation behind the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," an effort led by the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel. The group promises to file suit against anyone who spreads what it sees as misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public spaces.

        They've got a fleet of lawyers on standby, just waiting for a school teacher to prevent third-graders from singing Christmas carols. Another group of lawyers is serving as part of The Christmas Project, whose slogan is, "Merry Christmas ... It's OK to say it." Apparently, these folks believe that the ACLU and Target stores are leading the charge in a grinch-like attack whose purpose is to secularize Oh my gods. If you want to see the other side of holiday holy wars, The WildHunt Blog points to this story which debunks the myth of an ongoing "secular humanist" campaign out to rid the world (or at least America) of all things Christmas. And, you know, all these folks who are trying to "save Christmas" don't realize that they are actually defending a thoroughly non-christian holiday (as I pointed out and Boondocks hinted at almost a year ago). Maybe I'll start a campaign of my own. One that will raise money to buy Falwell and his cronies a muzzle.

        Monday, November 21, 2005

        Quotable

        Today's quotable comes from Stephen Hawking (you know, the world-famous physicist) who recently appeared at the Paramount Theatre -- even after suffering a temporary medical setback -- as part of his current U.S. lecture tour on the origins of the universe During the presentation, he was asked: So, Mr. Hawking ... what do you think of the program to send American astronauts back to the moon? To which he responded:
        open quoteStupid. Sending politicians would be much cheaper, because you don't have to bring them back.
        To read more about the medical setback, the presentation, and more examples of Stephen Hawking's humor, check out the MSNBC story, The show goes on for Stephen Hawking.

        Friday, November 18, 2005

        Friday Pet Blogging | A Dialogue

        A typical exchange between Milo and Otis:

        "Heeeeeeeeeeey!"
        "Whaaaaaat?"

        "Nothin'."

        ???

        More Pet Blogging
        1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
        2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
        3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

          Thursday, November 17, 2005

          Quotable | Profit and Value

          open quoteDon't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value." -- Arthur Miller (American Playwright, 1915-2005)

          Knowledge@Wharton: Online Books and Copyright Law

          Here is a gem from the latest Knowledge@Wharton newsletter:
          Will the Online Book Publishing Flap Rewrite Copyright Law? The latest frontier in the digital content revolution -- efforts by Google, Amazon and others to turn millions of books into bytes that can be easily searched, accessed and sold by the page -- could redefine copyright law and change the way knowledge is shared around the world, say experts at Wharton. Prompted by Google's controversial move to scan copyrighted works, the issue leaves many unresolved questions: Does the greater good of putting books online outweigh current copyright law? Is Google's complete scanning a violation of copyright law even if the end user doesn't get much more than a small excerpt of the work in a search result? Should Google be required to get publishers' permission before scanning content? Perhaps most importantly, is copyright law designed for printed materials still valid in the digital age? Full Article: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/1325.cfm
          I kind of like the idea of being able to "flip" through a book online. This helps me make a more informed purchase. And, aside from complaints about electronic repurposing of content, this could be a great research tool. Imagine being able to go online and find a specific passage in a book so that you can accurately cite it in a piece of your own writing. Note that I am not talking about copying copious amounts of text from said book. So, in this case, would this be any different than going to the library, finding their copy of the book (if indeed your local branch even has it), and then rummaging through page after page to fine the quote you need? Well, yes, in terms of speed and convenience, it would be very different. But the intent and practice are just about identical. Of course, maybe the libraries should be complaining about this more than the publishers are. Or, just maybe, libraries should be joining forces with Google on this one.

          Friday, November 11, 2005

          Friday Bug Blogging | I Prey Thee

          Spied around the house last Saturday ...

          Could this be the last praying mantis of the season? For more pets and critters, check out the Friday Ark.

          Friday Pet Blogging | So Cute

          You know the old saying ... "They look so innocent when they're sleeping." Well, it applies just as well to little orange cats as it does to kids who walk upright. Here's the proof!

          Milo finally tries out the new radiator pillows

          Otis sneaks into the fresh blankets.

          And Mrs. Brainwise was wondering why the laundry seemed so heavy.

          More Pet Blogging
          1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
          2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
          3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

            Friday Pet Blogging | The Difference

            Although they come from the same gene pool, Milo and Otis exhibit quite different behaviors. Here is a photo that perfectly showcases their differences:

            Milo and Otis are undercover brothers

            Yes, that is Milo in the foreground. The funny thing is ... Milo is the one who typically hides while Otis it the outgoing brother.
            More Pet Blogging
            1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
            2. Check the M&O Archives for previous Milo & Otis appearances.
            3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.

              Wednesday, November 09, 2005

              Intelligently Designed, or Evolved, Voters in Dover

              Hmmmm. It seems that all of my blog entries today have something in common: Intelligent Design. Even the ancestor story fits the profile because it reports a find that could very will eliminate (or narrow) the gap that ID theorists use as their biggest weapon against the theory of evolution. So how about one more in the same vein...
              All eight members up for re-election to the Pennsylvania school board that had been sued for introducing the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in biology class were swept out of office yesterday by a slate of challengers who campaigned against the intelligent design policy.
              Read the story here (Boston New), here (MSNBC), and here (USA Today). And I find it interesting that I have not found a local website running the story.

              Worst Jobs in Science

              Popular Science Magazine takes a page from Dave Letterman and provides a Top Ten list of the worst jobs in science (bold emphasis added by yours truly):
              10. Orangutan-Pee Collector 9. NASA Ballerina 8. Do-Gooder 7. Semen Washer 6. Volcanologist 5. Nuclear-Weapons Scientist 4. Extremophile Excavator 3. Kansas Biology Teacher 2. Manure Inspector 1. Human Lab Rat
              According to Popular Science, these are all real jobs. As this was published in the October 2005 issue, I find the inclusion of Kansas Biology Teacher among the entries to be downright ... prescient. Perhaps they knew how this was going to turn out for these poor teachers who are "on the front lines of science's devolution." Do click the link so that you can read the description of each job. Some of them are humorous (for those of us who don't have to do them). But the same distance that makes some of the entries funny actually lends other jobs a more disturbing veneer. Update (8/14/2008): Popular Science moved, or removed, the page with the top ten list. But I found an archived copy via the Wayback Machine.

              Are You Missing An Ancestor?

              If so, the Guardian reports that a palaeontologist found his (her?) prehistoric skull in a dump:
              "Palaeontologists excavating a dump outside Barcelona [Spain] have found a skull dating back 14m years that could belong to a common ancestor of apes and humans." (Guardian, Great Britain)

              The Theory of Intelligent School Boards

              While intelligent school boards may not have evolved in the State of Kansas, it seems that some common sense has at least been sowed among the good students Purdue. In the Exponent, Purdue's independent student newspaper, we can see an example of fine reasoning under the following headline: Teach intelligent design as sociology, not science Nestled in this opinion piece are true jewels of wisdom. For example:
              "It is perfectly acceptable to teach young students about the historical impact of Intelligent Design, or the theological importance of creationist theories, but only within their proper spheres, as social phenomena. Science classes should be reserved for science, for a process of methodical experimentation and discovery." and... Teaching Intelligent Design in public schools can also open up debates on the mixing of church and state. While Intelligent Design itself has no overt religious meaning, it is easy for some to interpret the Intelligent Designer as a god, often in the Judeo-Christian sense. As such, the teaching of Intelligent Design leaves public schools vulnerable to attacks from parents outraged at the mixing of perceived religious content with secular education. (both quoted from The Exponent, Purdue University, Indiana)
              It's short, so go read the full piece at this link. This certainly goes along with the idea that ID has more in common with philosophy than science, an opinion that I already stated on this blog.

              Monday, November 07, 2005

              Friday, November 04, 2005

              Quotable | Stone Sermon

              open quoteNature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral.

              -- John Burroughs (1837 - 1921), American Essayist and Ecology Hall of Famer

              Friday Pet Blogging | Relax!

              Be like a cat...know that the world does revolve a round you -- Source unknown No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap. -- Carrie Snow
              Just a few quick pics of the boyz doing what they do best -- Lounging and Sleeping!

              Milo is king of the sofa

              A king who refuses to couch his terms (sorry ... couldn't resist!).

              A sleepy Otis

              Oh, the lessons these little buggars teach me.
              More Pet Blogging
              • The Modulator features the Friday Ark, a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers.
              • Previous Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman are indexed here (and might be updated soon) ... just in case you missed one.
              • And do keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the Carnival of the Cats, served fresh every Sunday.

              Tuesday, November 01, 2005

              Quotable | Considerations

              open quoteIn an archery contest, when the stakes are earthenware tiles a contestant shoots with skill. When the stakes are belt buckles he becomes hesitant, and if the stakes are pure gold he becomes nervous and confused. There is no difference as to his skill but, because here is something he prizes, he allows outward considerations to weigh on his mind. All those who consider external things important are stupid within. -- Chuang-Tzu

              Alito Musings

              Note: I was going to title this entry, "Alito Droppings," but decided against it. Aren't you glad? So there's a now SCOTUS nominee in town. GWB has re-emerged, fresh from the wounds he suffered over the course of the Harriet Miers nomination debacle, and put forth the name of Sam Alito, an appeals court judge with seemingly solid credentials. Well, law credentials that is. At least he had been working in Constitutional Law as opposed to Miers. I'm not fully up on my appeals court judges, so I don't have any commentary of my own on this nomination ... yet. But I will direct you to some of the better commentary I have found around the blogosphere (mostly courtesy of Heretical Ideas, Running Scared, and Middle Earth Journal). I'm sure I missed a few other good posts, but this list will at least get you moving in the direction of getting informed.

              Power Source for a Floating City?

              From Open Source Energy Network:
              Inventor Tom L. Lee, Ph.D. has developed a floating wind turbine platform concept for accessing the higher winds out at sea, and convert wind energy efficiently to hydrogen and electricity. Would prefer to see its manufacture and distribution licensed to a U.S. party. [Read More]
              Concept drawing by Tom L. Lee. (from the listing, but used here without permission)
              I have more questions than answers (or even comments) at this point:
              • Will this concept fly (er, float)?
              • Would you be willing to live in a floating city, or is this likely to be used to generate power for a land-based community?
              • If so, how does it transfer the power across the sea?
              • How loud is this floating turbine?
              • And how floating turbines are permitted on the open seas before someone cries about oceanic sprawl?