Thursday, April 27, 2006

Addicted to Wikipedia

Yes, it's true: I am, indeed, addicted to Wikipedia. Therefore I shall share a few articles on subjects that I think are fun or interesting.

Phineas Gage


doot doo doodoo duhduh dootdoot doodoo (like clowns getting out of a volkswagon)

Does it smell like aligator in here to you?

Unparliamentary language

Just read the first sentence of the "Birth" section

Professor Spooner

Lady Mondegreen

A really a cheap laugh, and proof that "white trash" has always been an option

Game Show anyone?

A recent classic

Not funny so much as useful

Thirteen was skipped for your sanity

I've never heard of this one

What's surreal about that?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Case of Mistaken Identity

A few monthes ago I noticed a beautiful building near Gina's work. At one time it had been a bank, and it still has the sign carved into the stone above the door. I soon noticed another sign, obviously designed to go with the style of the building, which read simply, "Shakers."

On viewing the sign, I thought, "Wow, the Shakers, the 18th century religious group that practiced celibacy and adoption, among other things. This must be a Shaker museum or furniture galery. Gina and I HAVE to come down and look at the furnature. I hear they made some of the best furnature ever, classy, simple, elegant, really good stuff."

So a few days go by and I havent gotten around to making plans and I hear, "Come down to Shaker's Saloon. . . $2 long necks and $1 drafts. Watch the game on our big screens and enjoy the fabulous Shaker Girls."

So . . . I guess I'm not going to get to see any Shaker furnature.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Natural Selection

Previously, I posted about devolution due to technological development, but there is another factor at work here.

In 1864, Herbert Spencer finally read Darwin and, in response to drawings theory of Natural selection, he coined the phrase, "survival of the fittest" to express the concept. Spencer was a proponent of Social Darwinism, a movement which, when taken to bizarre extremes, has been the root of various defenses of evil, but perhaps, if we use it for explanation rather than profiling or prediction, it can be used profitably.

For example, I am living in Idaho. Idaho has no helmet law for motorcycle riders. In my opinion, this is a great idea, except for the whole I- have- a- motorcycle- rider- on- my- windshield thing. The logical progression goes like this: start with the two distinct assertions, if 1. Helmets save lives and 2. If smart people wear helmets: dumb people don't then smart people are less likely to die in motorcycle accidents, that means that there will be more smart people in the gene pool which will tend to curb the trend toward devolution which will tend to counteract the effects of the technological threat mentioned previously.

We must, however, be careful in the construction of laws based on this principle. For instance, while the relaxation of helmet and stabled laws may tend to curb the trend toward devolution, relaxation of drunk driving laws contributes to the trend. Why? Drunk drivers are obviously not that bright but high alcohol levels cause relaxation, this allows many of them to survive the crashes. Additionally, while they are encased in a protective shell, their potential victims are not necessarily so fortunate. Thus, in the case of DWI, the advantage goes to the forces of devolution.

Do you have any suggestions for laws that should be revoked to staunch the spread of stupidity?

[As a side note, I've decided to make this blog for stuff I think you might want to read and to start a blog where I make posts about things that are either too serious or too nerdy to post here, even by my standards. I'll try to cross-link to posts on each page to keep you up to date. My post about the unwise firing of preacher, Mike Sanders at the Eldorado Church of Christ has been moved to my other page]

Currently my other post has a little info about The Treaty of Waitangi (this one is easy to understand, but not too fun)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Two Dedications to Teachers

I'm going to do something odd today. When I was a kid one of my teachers was great, he was always encouraging, I often told him how much I appreciated it but I didn't get to go to his funeral and another one was awful to me and I never got to call her on it as an adult, which I regret only if it would have protected other children. I think I'll write them letters to remind myself, and maybe someone reading this, of a few important things.

Dear Mr. Drappella . . . Leon . . . Mr. D.,

Thank you for caring. Your stories helped me to find out that learning happens in the stories that surround the facts, not just by memorizing them. You let us own a piece of your life by letting us share in your adventures. I've had many wonderful teachers, but without you, I would have given up before I ever met the others.

Your friendship, which lasted long after I was in your fifth grade class, has helped me build the confidence I've needed to build many friendships with important people by whom I might otherwise be intimidated. I'll always remember sharing a can of raspberry gingerale while we talked and worked together when I was your teacher's aid.

Because you shared the story of your brother's developmental impairment, I will always try to be careful with my words and actions. Because you believed in me, when I was unable to do the work you assigned, I have been able to believe in myself, even at the point of failure. Because you were a man of faith I will see you again.

Love, Ty

Dear Mrs. Douglas,

Years ago, I wanted to tell you this because I wanted to hurt you in return for hurting me. Now I am writing, after I believe you to have passed from this world long ago, in the hope that someone else may avoid some of the mistakes you made and so that I will never forget to treat others with respect.

I know I was only a fourth grader but I haven't forgotten the pain I suffered in your classroom. I can remember crying because you took away my recess because my writing wasn't clear enough. I copied that assignment about ocean life more than twenty times; my hand was swolen and I was in tears. Each time you were the cause of my misery, I gave up just a little bit more, that's what happens when one's best effort is treated as garbage. If the school had not decided to put me in another class, I doubt that I would have learned to love learning, you made it a burden.

By the way, I had a major learning disability, but you never even considered the posability. I was helping other people learn how to do the math assignments you gave, but you put me in the remedial group. You had convicted me of being incompetent before you ever met me because you distained the nature of my prior education. You made fun of me in front of the class, and laughed at me. You saw me as less than a person, and then treated me accordingly. You never tried to challenge your assumptions about me and never paid enough attention to allow me to challenge them.

From you I learned to hate school. I learned to be frozen with shame whenever I try and fail. From you I learned that sometimes people do mean and even evil things, probably without ever knowing it. From you I also learned, by contrast, to HATE abuse and to be very sensative to it. I learned to try to be accepting of everyone, no matter what I think I know about them. I learned to care about children as people rather than objects. I learned that love is as love does.

If I had come to you, I imagine that you would have apologised. And then I would have forgiven you. Consider this your apology and my forgiveness. I pray that I have not and will never do to anyone else as you did to me, but that if I have, or ever do, that they will forgive me too.

I don't know anything about your life outside of school, but I hope you made it to heaven too.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

The roommate I never blogged about . . . until now

So this is exactly like a roommate I once had (I actually kind of liked him -- no it wasn't Trey), except for a few minor things 1. Replace deadly marshal arts skills with an incorrect knowledge of practically everything which he has to give to you as advice 2. Replace the breakfast table silence with a series of stories that make the X-Files look like the Six-o'clock News, but which he claims are gospel truth 3. Replace the former roommate who died in an unusual way with the worst roommate ever who threatened the world's best roommate with an 18 inch game-night baseball bat and was moved into the apartment of people who, if Karma exists, will soon win $42 billion tax-free dollars, even if they have experimented on puppies with mustard gas for the last ten years while eating babies and bathing in the fresh blood of virgins in a brothel where they worked as owner/employees when they weren't too busy selling meth to kindergarteners and giving them free guns with every purchase 4. replace stealthy escapes from the apartment and mysterious absences with . . . no . . . wait . . . those are about right.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Curly and Disturbing Tale

Recently Lindsay and Emily posted about dead animals and it brought up memories from my childhood.

Ahh yes, I remember those ripe and lovely summer days immediately after the passing on of Mr. Possum. I believe that Mr. Possum, being depressed and having nowhere to turn, decided that the woes of this life were not worth living and so he took chances for the adrenaline high that momentarily took away his feelings of loneliness and sadness that brought on his depression.

This happened in the days before knowledge of Xtreme sports had reached the general populous, which limited his search for the thrill, though his financial hardships also contributed to limiting his activity. He tried bicycle jumps and motocross, and was just getting into Supercross when, after climbing into a paperbag with Mr. Skunk, to huff himself into a high on his fumes, he came up with an idea for a new thrill: Mr. Possum would streak (a condition born more of nature than design) on the road in front of my house, running in front of cars and trucks, and looking for the ultimate thrill -- The Mac Truck.

He streaked in front of a Volkswagon Beetle and then a new Ford F-Series and then a motorcycle (traffic was running a bit slow). As he was recovering from his most recent crossing, he saw it: a glorious Freightliner, bearing down on him. If he had not allowed his boredom to force him in front of the motorcycle, he would have had more energy, more speed, but, alas, his energy depleated, he could not let this chance pass.

Out he ran . . . heart racing, marsupillian lungs sucking in air with all their might but failing to get enough to stop the aching in his chest. Now he passes the first wheel, now the bumper . . . he hears the ominous crunch of gravel as the tire approaches and he uses his last surge of energy to push himself outside its edge . . . as relief surged through his small and unattractive body, a schoolbus smashed him flat.

Now, Mr. Possum sat in the road outside our house for months, spewing the stench of rot and decay, but no one wanted to risk joining him his fate to arrange a proper burial. There he sat, slowly deflating until all that remained was a worn and weathered coat in the far lane.

Then one day, a work-crew began to prepare our street for painting. “At last,” we thought, “Mr. Possum will receive the burial he deserves. Some say that it was a street sweeper that placed Mr. Possum in the exact middle of the street, others believe that it was the truck that was painting the lines, but, either way, that is where Mr. Possum was when the line was painted: Right in the middle of the road, where the yellow line belonged. And so Mr. Possum’s sad story ended with the symbol that so adequately matched his love of adventure: a racing stripe.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Technology and Stupidity

Study this graph:

As you can see from the graph I just made up, as technology increases, the number of unfit people in society increases. As time goes on, the unfit receive more of the benefits of technology each year and thus the model of survival of the fittest is more thoroughly undermined each year. So, as the chart shows, technology is approaching the point at which a machine will be created that is capable of controlling the entire world, and the human species is approaching the point where the absolutely least fit person will thrive.

Therefore, I predict that the world will end when the least adapted person in the world uses the most advanced machine in the world to simplify the world so that he (I'd be gender inclusive, but we all know it'd be a guy) can understand the world and, in doing so, destroys all of the other people in the world because he can't understand them.

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