Sunday, November 06, 2011

A well named movie theatre

So the other day I went on a date with a cougar Felis concolour. Actually my Mom and I caught a movie. The place was a Mega-Plex. And boy they really lived up to their name. There were actually 1 million screens in the Mega-Plex.

FYI-In Time is a conceptually interesting movie. The acting is a little cheesy, the drama is a little predictable, but overall its worth seeing simply for the ideas expressed.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Implications of Being Mormon

So today I was listening to the classic news station and they had a bit about a pro-life bill being passed in Mississippi where life is being defined as starting at conception. [This contrasts quite sharply with Dave Barry's notion that abortions are legal until age 21.] Also mulling about in my thoughts were the implications of the semminal court case on the matter Roe v. Wade. But I think the best answer to when does life begin is offered by the Mormons. Given a pre-mortal existence, life actually begins BEFORE conception! Which of course means that, it is a sin and you are a murderer if you even THINK about not having kids.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What a wonderful World

One of my bestest friends Sally Nielson just opened a blog/homepage/art business. Without the least bit of hesitation I highly, highly recommend y'all check this chick's art out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Really? 'Cause nothing says clean and environmentally friendly than BLACK, SOOTY COAL. Mining it ain't clean and burning it ain't much better. Where there is coal there is soot, dust and particulate. Coal creates acid rain and generally mucks up the planet. I am curious then how anyone even an overly-wealthy-agenda-driven advertizing campaign can call coal "clean!"

Friday, October 21, 2011


A cub scout follows Akela
The cub scout helps the pack go.
The pack helps the cub scout grow.
A cub scout gives goodwill

Note: Akela comes from Rudyard Kipling, and refers to a trusted leader in cub scouts.

Not Quite Correct:
A cub scout follows al Qaeda...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to use math to get out of a parking ticket

I recently "found" this letter for how "some guy" got out of a parking ticket. I thought this was pretty cool, so I am going to repost it here.

24 August 2011

[Sender Address Info]

Court Referee
City of Colorado Springs Municipal Court
P.O. Box 2169
Colorado Springs, CO 80901-2169

To whom it may concern:

Whereas, I, wish to contest the issuance of an “Overtime Violation 10.15.104(D)” written on this day 24 August 2011 on the grounds that the citation given was in direct opposition to the Constitution of the United States of America--a federally ratified, and legally binding document the Great State of Colorado is beholden to follow. This letter shall show the particulars of my case.

On the 24th of August 2011at 1:25 pm I parked a white Chevrolet Cobalt LT license plate ### ### at a metered parking in front of the Italian eatery Il Vicino. I ordered lasagna and 3 glasses of water. My bill came to $9.16 (I alas discarded my receipt, but a consultation with the vendor will verify the approximate time.) At this time I deposited $1.00 an amount that allowed me to lease the parking space from the city of Colorado Springs for a time equal to 1.00 hr a rate equal to $0.0167/min. According to my estimation the clock should have expired at 2:25 pm. I received a citation for the amount of $20.00 at 2:34pm. I did not notice this citation and at 2:35pm deposited an additional $1.00 into said meter, granting me an additional 1.00 hr parking space rental. I only stayed an additional 15 minutes, leaving the remainder of my $1.00 time unused. Herein is where I object to the constitutionality of said fine. Your Honor I ask you to consider the following examples:

My local library allows a 2 day grace period before issuing a fine for books. Considering the average price of Barnes and Noble’s top five selling books for 2011 came to $29.19 and the fine from my local library for not returning the books on time is $0.50/day this amounts to a fine of $0.000347/min (not including the allowed 2 day grace period). This amounts to a 1.71% fine.

My rental car allows a 29 minute grace period. If I am late I am penalized $3.50/hr or $0.0583/min a fine of 2.65% .

For being late on my $750 apartment rent payment (After a 6 day grace period) I am given a $50 fine, amounting to $0.001138/min and equating to a 6.67% fine.

For being late on a phone payment of 52.99/mo (2 day grace period) I am billed $5/month, which is $0.000114/min, a fine of 18.87%.

For missing a bank payment and bouncing a $100 check (Again with a 1 day grace period), I am charged $25-35, a 25-35% fine.

For missing a credit card payment I am billed upto 45%.

For missing a $0.25 meter payment in downtown Colorado Springs, I am apparently given a 9 minute grace period and fined 4000% interest amounting to a rate 5790 times the rate billed by my library and 88.8 times even the rate of my credit cards.

For the amount I was billed I could have/should have spent half of my vacation parked in said parking spot, let alone 9 minutes. This egregious gouging by city of Colorado Springs clearly and unquestionably goes against the 8th amendment which reads:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

When credit card companies joking advertize barbarians with battle axes to reflect exorbitantly high interest payments, what then would they use for a city that bills at almost 90 times the interest rate of even these Mongrel Hordes?! This is an excessive fine, and is therefore unconstitutional. I, therefore, highly object to the payment of said recompense.

In short your Honor, in light of this outrageous affront to my civil liberties protected under the sacred auspices of the U.S. Constitution I will confine my counter suit to the city of Colorado Springs to the amount of $0.50 plus any legal fees accrued. My logic is thus, I paid for an additional hour of time when I left. I used 15 minutes of this time, a value equal to $0.25. The city says I owe 10 minutes worth of parking rent to which I will gladly donate 5 min of the time I paid for to the city of Colorado Springs, an amount totaling an additional $0.25. Time used plus time owed subtracted from time already paid leaves a reimbursement of $0.50 already paid and not used.



--Case Dismissed--

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Dog Do Dilema

Today, as some of you may have guessed was the LDS general conference. Today one of the talks made the point that so many people can't define a moral dilema. I can.

I like to walk my dog at night. Its cooler and the walk seems more like an adventure. My pretty puppy went potty, but in picking up the poo-poo the situation presented a perfect philosophical problem. I am cold and cannot find the world's worst dolmathe left by my dog. Here is the dilema: Do I continue searching in the dark for puppy's "lost treasure" though I am cold and getting colder or do I consider my own needs and leave "puppy suprize" for some poor soul to find in the morning? The central question is whose needs should trump? Do my needs outweigh another's or should others be a priority in life?

In first aid, and on airplanes they say to treat yourself first and to place your own oxygen mask on before helping another. In business and evolution it often seems to be a me first, self survival ethos. But this isn't the only school of thought. Scouting says to help other people at all times. The Order of the Arrow praises those who thought least of themselves. Christianity says to help your fellow man and to put others first.

Do I think of only myself call it good that I searched for as long as I could, go inside and get warm leaving a mess for someone else to clean up or possibly step in? Or do I think of others bear the cold and keep searching until I find that "hidden landmine?" Is the gesture of offering an action enough, or does an action need to be carried to completion to count?

I think ultimately, in the end, it doesn't matter what I did, but what will you do do?

Monday, September 19, 2011

A gem of wisdom from my mom!

Alright, I am guilty as charged. I do not often enough compliment my mom. In fact most of my relationship with my mom is under the pretense of an exasperated "MOTHER!...." Today though, she issued a gem of wisdom I thought worth repeating.

American's can't find jobs, but we are watching a Britton and an Italian judge Russians in how well they dance Spanish and Argentine dances.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jihad and Missionaries

First of all, with a post title like "Jihad and Missionaries" I am probably going to have a lot of guests reading this post. I suspect I will have such eminent visitors as people from the NSA, Muslim fundamentalists, and maybe even a few Mormons. Welcome one and all. I assure you I mean no harm or ill respect to any of you or your organizations.

Today's post is a relation of some of the thoughts I had today. We'll start with Jihad. Webster gives two definitions of the word: "a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty" and "a crusade for a principle or belief." I think all of us should wage Jihad. BUT, I don't think either of these definitions captures what I mean. I don't think Jihad is the U.S. versus Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world. I certainly don't think Jihad means blowing things up. I think Jihad is a holy war, but not one of Christians versus Muslims. Jihad is a war of good versus evil, and not even good people versus evil people. Jihad is our own good nature waging war against our evil nature. I think we all should wage a war of ourselves against ourselves. Our ultimate goal in life is to become perfect and do to everything we can to eliminate the things that are keeping us from perfection. Does this mean killing? Heavens NO! It means loving. Loving one another. Loving ourselves. It means whole-heartedly doing everything we can to avoid, and not seek out the things that drag us down. Jihad is a triumph of the inner self and not of the outer dynamite.

Jihad has two parts. It is a war against self, AND it is a war of spreading what you know to be true. This is where the missionary aspect comes into play. I think one of the major faults of Jehova's Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, and other missionaries is that all too often the mindset is one of I will replace what you have believed all your life with what I have believed all of my life. This leads to resentment, to loss, it is unconstructive and can be hurtful. I think what Jihad, what being a missionary should be about is an open and healthy dialogue with BOTH of us growing from inherent good of the other. Both religions should grow and learn from that which is good and true in what each of the others believe. Ultimately being a missionary, being a jihadist, is about bringing others to God. It doesn't necessarily mean I will drag you kicking and screaming unto my God. It means opening the way to allow you to find your own personal relationship with the divine nature of the universe, whatever you believe that nature to be. Its not about coming to my God and to my church. Its about coming to God and being closer to where you believe God is, whether that is in a mosque, a church, or out in nature that is up to you. Its about being welcoming and affirming. If your church is not satisfying your spiritual needs then come to mine. If your beliefs are not enough try mine. It is not about forcing mine onto you, but being open waiting for you to come to Universal Truth. Jihad is about taking what is good and adding unto it. It is about growth, understanding and coming closer to the Divine. It shouldn't be about ANYTHING else.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A quiz

Here are 2 actual problems encountered during my day...

Problem 1. Multiple Choice
I just placed a large creit card order. I therefore do not want to spend money on my credit card. I have $10 in my wallet, but I want to save this for an upcoming book purchase. I also have a B&N gift card and a hungry stomach. How do I get something to eat?

a. Raid the loose change literally floating around inside the car (Yes it is haunted, that's why its floating.).
b. Use the Barnes and Nobel Card on the book and use the money for lunch.
c.Visit Costco and raid the delicious free samples profered.
d. None of the above

Problem 2. Essay
The lady in line behind you is bragging about how well she did on her biology test. What is her major?

Answers and explanations.

Problem 1. D. None of the above. A. is not correct because that would be stealing. I will not steal from own mother just because I am hungry! B. is incorrect because if I buy the book from B&N it will cost me $30 I only have a $5 gift card. If I buy the book at a particular used book store near where I live it costs only $9+tax. Clearly using the book card for a book is not the correct solution. I cannot chose option C because I have left my Costco card at home and have no means of sneaking past the angry Costco gateway centurions (most places call them "greeters", but I know their true insidious nature.) Finally, option D-None of the above. Here's how I got lunch for free... Barnes and Noble has a cafe. I used my Barnes and Noble giftcard to get a free lunch in their cafe. I used my $10 to buy the book and I used my card for a new $200 phone which with a $50 mail in rebate and a previous phone upgrade was also free.

Problem 2. After overhearing the lady in the line behind me discussing the intricacies of biology it is readily apparent that here major is the new mortuarial science degree program offered at SLCC! If you didn't get that last one fear not, the author didn't see it coming either. Mortuary Science one of the few majors that will quite literally kill conversation faster than "Hi I'm a math major."
A cool quote:  "In life you have two choices.  1. To sell your soul to the Devil.  Or 2. To freely give it unto Christ."

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Random Thoughts of the while.

In the vein of Descarte lets see what we can build from the ground up. Descartes said "I think therefore I am." He has some flaws in his logic, but in general it is sound, albeit somewhat circular. From this claim to the claim "I am thinking therefore regardless of what form or shape it is in, there is some thinking entity, and I will call that "me". We have now established that we exist. Albeit, we have no idea in what form we exist. There is one of me that is thinking. If I could not think there would be none of me. It is possible there could be others of me. The previous statements are open to debate, but the idea at least establishes the whole numbers and suggests the number line. Given this foundation an interested mathematician could probably develop what we know of mathematics, though the task is made immensely easier if I add a second claim.

Not only am I thinking, and therefore there must be some object that thinks, I also recieve information. Whether this information is true or not and what is its source I cannot say, but I can say there is information to be gathered. Therefore information exists. All available scrutiny has not yet yielded a contradiction to the claim that the information (my sensory perception of the world around us) is subject to the laws of science hereby dubbed "physics" and its associated subsets known as chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology etc.

The system of mathematics developed ex nihil (from nothing i.e. the sensory receptor that can think that I established exists in claim I.) holds consistant with informational observations. It therefore seems that whatever the source of information it too must be subject to the laws of mathematics. Having information available also extends the mathematics I am able to create. I can now venture into the realms of story problems. I also have objects to measure, cogitate, and calculate. Thought plus observation has made the development of shapes and geometries more meaningful. And the concept of an irrational number now has a connection to a measurement and not just an abstraction. Moreover, the laws of physics are cogent with the arguments of mathematics. If the information I am recieving about the world is a deception, it is an artful one that is for the most part self consistent, which at least merits further study. Self consistancy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for reality to be believed. We will come back to this assertion at an earlier date.

Now here's the unusual supposition: God. Within the confines of the information my brain recieves it is easy for me to state that there is a God. The fundamental tennents of science are repeatability and falsifiability. I can do the same experiment over and over and over and I get the same results. Not only that, but ANYONE else can do the same experiments and also get the same results. That is repeatability. Falsifiability is that if the experiment does not come true reinterpret your original claim. In scientific parlance my claim is that my null hypothesis, the hypothesis that plays the "Devil's Advocate", or the hypothesis that states that nothing is happening and that everything we are seeing is purely due to the events of random chance, is exactly that: a horrific mass pile-up of chance events. The alternative hypothesis, the hypothesis that says "Devil--you are crazy! what we are seeing is actually something important, and is actually happening", is that there really is a God and He/She/It actually does answer prayers.

Ah and now to follow the mnemonic learned in my statistics class: "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Which of course stands for the steps for making a statistical claim. Step 1. State the Claim. Step 2. Define your terms. Step 3. State your Hypothesis. Step 4. Conduct your statistical Test. Step 5. Interpret the Probabilities. Step 6. Make your Conclusion. "Cool Dudes Have To Pee Constantly." Thank you Mrs. Wilkinson...

Claim: Based on the information given, a Deity of some sort exists and answers prayers with a frequency greater than to be expected based on sheer chance alone.

Defining Terms: Information-The stuff I get telling me about the world around me i.e. my senses--all of them. We will assume for this experiment that at least for now I can trust my senses. They are usually consistant within the world they recieve information from, whatever that world might be. Deity--Whatever aspect of the observed universe is responsible for answering prayers. Prayer--A well stated formalized request from the universe for a specific action or event.

Hypotheses: Stated above in text

Statistical Test: We will be using one of my favorite statistical tests--The binomial distribution. A prayer is either answered, or not answered. We will defined answered as a success with probability p. Not answered will be defined as a failure with probability 1-p. If there is a God He/She/It should be answering your prayers regardless of which number of prayer it is. If there is no God then He/She/It won't be answering your prayers. In both cases the outcome of individual prayers are independant. We will assume this to be the case. It will also be assumed that each prayer is asked correctly as is appropriate for your religion. I could give you hours and hours of annecdotal evidence of why I think there is a God and what prayers of mine have been answered. However, a sample size of 1 is insufficient. So my measure of the veracity of a religion will be the number of practicioners. If someone is turning to God repeatedly and not getting an answer to their prayers it seems that they would very quickly turn away from that religion. If on the other hand their prayers are being answered then it seems that person would stay with said religion. Therefore let us use the number of people who believe in a religion as a measurable proxy for the number of prayers answered.

Data: According to the World Almanac 2009, 5.4 billion people profess to be of one religion or another. Whereas, 930 million are atheist/agnostic/nonaffiliated. If prayers are answered purely by chance then the worst case/best case scenario would be a 50-50 probability. That is 50% likely that a prayer was answered and 50% that it wasn't. Using this model and the formulae that go with it, we would expect to have a mean of np or 50% of 6.33 billion=3.17 billion being either religious or not. We would also expect our distribution to have a standard deviation of +/-40k.

Test: Z=(mean-expected mean)/standard deviation = 56,000. Probability of happening 0%

Conclusion: Given a sample size of 6.33 billion and 85% of those sampled believe in some form of God or other, suggests there is something about the human condition that requires a belief in some form of God. It also seems to imply that a lot of people's prayers are being answered which means: Either there is a God answering prayers which is the safest bet, or we as a species are too afraid to believe there isn't one.

So what have we established...

Things that exist:
I exist. Math exists. Information exists. The information that is being transmitted to me is self consistent and seems to obey the laws of physics. Within this information layden system a God also seems to exist.

Things I am not certain of:
I am not certain what exactly "I" am. I do know that "I" has the ability to think though. I am not certain if the world is real or merely a set of information being relayed to me in what seems like real time--whatever that means. Though because of the inherent self consistencies there is a good probability that the world really does exist as we know it. Surprizingly, I am more certain that I exist than the claim "You" exist. For all I know "You" could just be one of the elements of my program designed to interact with me. Though it does seem like a lot of wasted computer space if all the people I will never meet nor interact with are merely computer programs and do not exist themselves. Besides if "I" exist, why shouldn't "You" exist. Surely "I" am not the only computer program out there. Within the information rich world in which I think I exist there is an axiom posed by Copernicus stating that, "nothing is unique." Therefore why should I think that I am the only existence. I think it is quite possible that "You" think too, therefore "You" too must be existing as well--that's at least what your Facebook page said.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I am the mountain

So today was one of those classic moment's in a travelers life... First I am the climbing director for Bear Lake Aquatics Base with the Boy Scouts of America. As such I am on the bus reading about mountaineering. An elderly gent, a wizened wizard, or a lost hippie-your choice, occupied the seat behind me. A conversation (mostly a monologue with nodding) ensued. The cosmic spectre, crazy and drunk as he was offered some amazing insight that I will share with you know: First look up this guy.

And now for the wisdom: "Far too many people spend every night of their life looking up at a white ceiling. Every night for the past 20 years I have starred into the stars of God's great creation. If you already have everything, then what you have is ALL that you have. If you have nothing then all the world is yours and you are truly blessed by already having EVERYTHING. When you sit atop of the mountain you become part of the mountain, until that is all you are. You ARE the mountain. We ALL are the mountain. When I die I will see you on the mountain."

To the old man of the mountain, Dude you rock! May I see you on the mountain too.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Politics 2.0 Part I: The Right to Life

So last time I posted about politics I very badly offended one of my best friends. Sorry about that. Let's see if it happens again...

Its the year before a year divisible by four. That means its not a leap year AND like cicadas all the local wahoos, weirdos, and politicos emerge from their three and three quarters year long hiatus all attempting to take over the poly-sci world. I do not claim to be an economist, a political scientist, a political junky or even much care for politics. I think there is too much politics in politics and too much saying one thing and doing another, or whatever pleases your constituents--sorry pocket books. I think there are too many bloodsucking bureaucrats (That word itself is bureaucratic it has too much ink to sift through to even get at its meaning.), but I do have some of my own hairbrained ideas I would be most honored if any of the hair brains took heed of (Ack!, to use a phrase from the late cartoon Cathy--I have ended a sentence with a preposition, to switch to a phrase from Churchill, "That is something up with which I shall not put." o well.).

So, what are my views on politics? What should our nation be doing? They are as follows:

I believe that as Americans we are entitled to three basic rights: The right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Note, I said basic, not unalienable, they are close, but not quite the same. I don't think anyone should have the power to take these right away from any individual; however, I do believe that an individual can forfeit his/her/gender neutral term for the third possible case for gender possessive rights. If an individual chooses to conduct an action or actions outside of the legally accepted American parameter space then the rights associated with that system of being American may possibly be null and void. I do think we should hold a high standard for our prisons and prisoners. In fact, I think our prisons should hold themselves to the highest standards anywhere in the world. I do think we must adhere to the principle of no and unusual punishment--though letting prisoners themselves choose between life, death, or something cruel and unusual dreamed up by their victims does seem like an interesting justice system. I think one of the things that makes America truly great, head and shoulders above other nations is the respect we show even for the lowest of society for our prisoners. Our prisons are not places of squalor. They should not be places of torture. They are not places of forced confessions and coercions. And even though a person has committed a crime they are still a person and must still be treated with dignity. I think what happened at Guantanamo was wrong the extent of the tortures and embarrassment prisoners were put through. I think it was effective in the short term in that the events transpired probably did lead to a number of confessions and vital information that probably did indeed keep America safe. But I think the events of Abu Gharib and Gitmo ultimately gave a black eye to the sacredness of the American justice system. By resorting to these tactics we are no better, no different, than the prisons of third world, nicer and more electric maybe, but if we must resort to these methods on our prisoners we are no better. I think measures should be taken to insure those kind of abuses of humanity do not happen on American soil.

Moreover, I think since a right to life is so very high on our national priority list I think the death penalty should be frowned upon. I don't necessarily think that it should be eliminated all together. I do not think it is fair that the American people should pay thousand of dollars a year to keep terrorists alive, especially while life is, a future bomb might be. In the case of terrorist who have killed hundreds or thousands and who if left alive could potentially plot even greater destruction I think there can be no choice but death. But even they must be given a fair trial and given dignity even to the end. How can I say that So and So deserves dignity! Why XtyX did YtyY to my little blankety blank and she didn't have dignity why should they?! Because we are better than them and will not meet brutality with brutality but rather it is our charge to fight brutality and oppression with kindness and generosity. Our justice system is based around Judeo-Christian concepts of legality, as such I believe it must also embrace Judeo-Christian morality (that is not to say that the American justice system must necessarily sanction Judeo-Christian theology, just its concepts of morality.). In general I am opposed to the death penalty.

Are people inherently good or evil? I think we are both. We are inherently human. Any given person has the capacity to do either great good, or great evil, or even both in the same lifetime. I am reminded of the biblical accounts of Judas. Jesus Christ, some say he was the son of God, some say he actually WAS God, regardless he probably had a LOT more knowledge and insight into the thoughts and characters of his disciples chose Judas to one of his closest associates. Of course Judas betrays Christ, but is he immediately stricken down? Does God seek justice and revenge on the man who gave his only begotten son into the hands of the ancient Sanhedrin mob? No. Judas' death comes about from his own hand. He kills himself by hanging from a tree. I have long wondered what would have happened if he hadn't killed himself but instead had devoted himself to spreading the word of the error of his ways. How powerful would his, to use an LDS phrase, testimony have been if he had been brave enough to live with the consequence of his actions rather than run and hide from his misdeeds. Similarly, relating this back to more modern times, how powerful would the testimony of a tattoo covered ex-convict gang banger CEO be the younger generation.

"Hey homies, I wuz a first class thug. I did my time. I realized that wuzn't who I really wanned to be yo. I changed my ways. You can too. You don need to be involved wid gangs to be successfu just look at me. When I was involved with the South Side Pink Pony Killaz I was afraid for my life. I was running all the time. Now I am a fortune 500 CEO my net worth is 12 times the entire street I controlled as a street thug. You can do this too it just takes stayin in school, hard work and stayin out o trouble yo.

Yea right like a tat covered punk gangbanger kid has what it takes to run wall street. Why not? They survived the inner city, which I hear is at least as cut throat and investment trading. So, Donald Trump, you want to run for president? You want to make a difference in this world? Find someone on the streets and train them. You did it with the apprentice. You can do it again. You have enough to lose and you might just make the world a better place. But that is not what this massive missive is about. This is an electronic foray into my thoughts on politics, and where I left off I was discussing the American justice system. The ideas espoused in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter bring to mind the high and lofty ideals that anyone can repent from and over come any challenge thrown at them. I think this same mindset should be the one we hold for American prisoners. Anyone can come back from anything. I think our prisons should exert a greater effort on training skills, on teaching coping mechanisms, on providing counseling. I think the nature of prisons must be more than a locked adult babysitting chamber. And more like a center of learning what does it mean to be a successful American. I think if we are paying the food, room and board of hundreds of thousands of individuals for years on end they should be doing something to earn their keep and their should be some spectacular product produced in the end. Crime is often associated with poverty. Education has shown time and again that it is the antithesis of poverty. Why not relate the two. If you are imprisoned you are not getting out until you can complete an education?

Alright you tree huggin' Libral why am I paying my hard earned tax dollars for sendin' some two bit con-man to higher learnin'? Because you are actually paying to keep them out of prison rather than see him again in a few months because Joe Prison amoeba knows no other life.

But won't that ENCOURAGE kids to commit a crime to get an education?
Make the incentives to stay out of crime even stronger. Provide a well advertised nationally funded program where if your household income is below the poverty line and attend school you go 18 years without a criminal record you are eligible for a scholarship to any school in the nation. Bam! Crime rate drops in half.

But what about the kid who already committed a crime?
If you confess your crime, serve your time and go out and somehow make your community a better place. Your crime gets taken off your record.

We have a right to life. This doesn't just refer to our prisoners. You and me, we have a right to life. Life is sustained by having healthy air, clean water, available food that won't make us sick. I think also we have a right to not just life but a high quality life. It is the responsibility of the federal government to insure that there is NO company out there in the business of taking our lives no matter how slowly. This might mean that it should be the responsibility of the U.S. Federal Government to regulate life taking industries such as tobacco and I think criminals should be prohibited from obtaining a firearm. But I also think it should be the responsibility of the government to make sure our food is safe (ah good the USDA is doing this--excellent, but are they also monitoring the preservatives and gooky stuff in our junk food/fast food?), that our air and water are ingestible without intiction of toxic chemicals (the EPA is supposed to be doing this but they have no teeth and rich corporations have all the clout. Case in point consider some statistics I learned in my Utah Master Naturalist class: Water in the Great Salt Lake has 25 times the allowable mercury levels but nothing is done about it. Our air and water is so polluted here in the Salt Lake Valley that 1 oz of fish per year is the recommended safe allowance. Ducks, of which millions use the local lakes as resting spots are contaminated with enough heavy metals as to pose lethal health concerns. The list goes on and on and my toxic city is not the only culprit.). I believe it is the responsibility of the federal government to oversee and insure that the earth, wind, and water for every user of fire is not beleaguered by a plague of noxious elements, no matter how rich or powerful their source.

On the note of staying alive, I think instead of Democratic Obama Care, or the Republican Ha Ha Sucks To Be You Care, what if there was a third alternative. I rather enjoy having the best trained doctors in the world. I think doctors and nurses and other medical industry staff should be well rewarded for their courageous day to day life saving actions AND they have each spent most of their lives training to be in the profession they chose. I have NO problems with a $21,000 medical bill. I think those doctors and nurses earned every penny of it. I do have a problem with PAYING a $21,000 medical bill. The biggest problem I have with paying it, is I can't. Having socialized medicine I don't think works. I have heard, possibly exaggerated stories of how long people have had to wait to get substandard inferior care in places where medicine is government controlled. The feds are great bureaucrats but they aren't physicians. I also think leaving insurance to the individual is not the fairest or best method, it leaves too many people out in the dust who can't afford the world class doctors our country is proud to support. The alternative I suggest is a subsidy. If our federal government can support farmers for not growing food and pay fisherman double market value for over catching food then certainly the government can subsidize an industry devoted to saving people's lives. In my plan people still have insurance if they can afford it and if they want it. If you have it you get help with medicines you get access to the best of the best in the doctoral and life saving world. Basically you got the way cool platinum health pass and the rest of us get economy class, but its not the government saying who you can go to. The doctors still charge their fees but the feds help pay some of their salary so doctors in theory don't have to charge as much making them more affordable to those of us with lower or no-wer insurances.

If life is so very paramount, I do not believe it is enough for doctors merely to treat us when we are functioning below the standard operating parameters. I think it is the role of medical researchers to figure out ways of keeping us alive and healthier longer, long before our symptoms linger. As such if I were president of the United States of America I would increase the budgets of the National Institute of Health and I would boosts the National Science Foundation's budget as well. Those organizations discover the things that keep us alive and make life worth living. I would also boost the budget of NASA after all if life is our first almost unalienable right why not look for alien life. Its a leap, but I think NASA is just too cool of a program for it to dwindle into obscurity just because we hope the private sector can do better. Oh yea NOAA should get some greens to study the blues too 'cause what is life without a planet for us to exercise our right on.

In the essay I am exploring all of the aspect of the U.S. government that are connected to our right to life. To me this also means insuring that life as we know it continues to exist that we are not wiped out by war. I am eternally grateful that we have one of the most technologically advanced well funded armies in the world. I do not mind paying for an army to keep our shores and citizens safe. I do whole heartedly object to being kept in a state of fear and using the big bad "them" as a ploy to keeping American citizenry cowed and in a state of fear authorizing anything the government deems necessary as a protection for my safety. I think the previous presidential administration overused and abused its powers of warfare. I think Darth Cheney is far too much like Orwell's Big Brother for my liking. I think it was disingenuous and down right devious of the government to keep us in constant fear of attack by ever present terrorists that turned out not to have weapons of mass destruction after all. I think the government needs to keep us safe, but also informed, at least as much as they can. I am ok with spending big bucks on the military just don't abuse the trust we place in you with that cash in hand.

For tonight's ramblings I have just two more points. I mentioned quality of life. I think education definitely falls into this realm. In an ideal world teachers and Sports Super Heroes would exchange salaries (even for a day would rock!). The best doctor someone who saves lives by the hour makes at best around 2 million annually. An awesome teacher who changes countless lives over generations teaching possibly hundreds per year. The guardians of our children the caretakers and custodians of knowledge culture and youth over their teaching life time might make a million if they save well and plan ahead. The worst B grade athlete who puts a ball in a hole makes millions of dollars a day and complains about how little he gets paid to PLAY A GAME. Children don't want to work hard in school--why should they they will have a boring low paying job with no glitz and glamour. If a student works hard instead at sports they could be famous, make millions, and be a superstar. (Without thinking of probabilities or consequences) Who wouldn't want that sort of life style. Oh yeah and since kids now have to be superstars they have to start young... and there goes childhood and play time lost to overzealous OCD scheduling mommies. Its no wonders so many kids are screwed up these days.

Alright Mr. Smartie Pants, what do we do about it?
Education has to start in the home and be cheered on by the parents, but the feds can't regulate the parents. What the feds can do is dink around with education a bit. I think it is a laudable goal for us to have the best educated public, but our push for the best is making us loose what makes us unique. I think our uniqueness comes not from our math or our science but from our creativity. I am deeply saddened to think of the loses of art, music, drama, dance and all the other fineries of life laid by the wayside in favor of standardized testing. We are not China. We do not need to be China. We do not need standardized students so why have standardized test. We are leaving no child behind because we are holding all children back. To be the best in the world we need to make school fun. We need teaching methods that don't revolve around talking heads but rather excited pupils. A significant chunk of funding needs to be thrown at the entire United States school system. School needs to be a safe fun place where people want to go. If given the choice of ditching or going school should be an exciting and welcoming enough place students will want to choose school over ditching. Standard tests are hogwash. Evaluate teachers instead on the success of their students a decade later. Grade teachers not how many As Bs Cs Ds and Fs but rather on how many BSs, MDs, PhDs, JDs and they receive. And for that matter why are we penalizing the teachers in the hardest roughest neighborhoods sorry you fail because your are only giving everything you have got pouring your heart and soul into what you do and you fail because it still wasn't enough and maybe never will be. Education needs to be technologically up to date. It needs to be safe. It needs to be fun. School needs to be filled with art and song, musicality and individuality in every way possible. And teachers need to be making about 50k+/year.

Finally, the last of tonight's rantings, and probably the topic that will net me the most hate mail...abortion. I am pro life. I think all life is sacred. In my biology class I set my nematodes free. I nearly cried during a mouse dissection. I can't go fishing because I hate impaling the worm. Me being pro-life does not however make me anti-pro-choice. I think abortion runs smack into the two values held most dear by the American people. Neigh unto unquestionably, we are granted the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So which one wins, life or liberty? I do not think abortion should be taken lightly. I don't think it should be done simply on a whim. I don't even think its the best option. But I certainly don't think it shouldn't be an option. I think abortions will happen whether or not we fund them. Personally, I would rather have the assurance that if an abortion is being done it is done by the most skilled professionals possible. Further, simply because I do not like the idea of an abortion, does not mean that I should take away your right to have that choice. So I would encourage my family not to pursue that route I won't take that liberty from you. And lastly the final two most compelling reasons I support abortions are that a woman whose pregnancy endangers her life should not have to sacrifice herself so that a baby can enter the world unloved and uncared for. I think it is unconscionable to ask a mother to have to die for offspring if she is not willing to. And compelling reason number two, what about in the case of a rape? How horrible it would be for a mother to look at what is supposed to be her pride and joy and remember instead a horrible act forced upon her. How horrible would it be to know as a child that you weren't wanted that your father forced himself upon your mother and you exist simply because it was against that law to prevent your creation. If there is even one case where abortion is legal then it must be available for any who wish to seek it, for I do not think it is the place for a doctor to act as bouncer. Alright miss J. Doe I can only do this abortion if this was the result of a rape, so will you please fill out this form describing in detail the events on the night of the rape. Oh sorry, this is only the result of a spring fling, or oops it was consentual at the time sorry I can now no longer perform this abortion. To me it seems that it is not the doctors place to ask the reasons for the abortion, the doctors role is to simply inform of other options and if the party is committed to perform the act with absolute safety for the mother not to ask her reasons why.

Herein discussed in the first of a three part series on "What is the role of Government?" are my thoughts on abortion, education, the military, health care and a number of other fields. Tune in next time for more errant ramblings pertaining to the size of government, finances, the environment and what ever other topics I get around to complaining/pondering about. Till next time 0.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I don't know if I have philosophized about 4 dimensional complex fractals yet. But here goes...By now you probably know I like fractals. Well, this guy does too (Be sure to check out the fractal teddy bear.) [ On the note of "."s and ")" I invented a new emoticon. .) I call it "Smiley lost an eye in the war." Now back to your regularly scheduled diversion.] To quote the source of the image above, "it can be thought of as how much viscosity a particle passing through a Mendelbrot set would experience." The parts I like about it is that it resembles the Buddha whose infinity exists simultaneously inside of and outside of itself. The Buddha is meditating as are his very cells. In fact, the entire existence of the buddhabrot is in a state of meditation . Its a four dimensional complex object so we wouldn't actually be able to see this--hmm kind of like divinity its self. Being 4D this object is outside of time also metaphoric of divinity. If we wanted to trace the edge of or in other words to place limits and understand the full extent of this creation it could not be done, yet by looking we can see that even this infinite creation has a definite existence and a fixed form. We cannot know every detail of the buddhabrot but we can create it using a relatively simple equation. It is the same everytime it is created but it can be viewed through infinitely many perspectives appearing slightly different each time. The equation is simple yet it contains infinite insights. Totally a great metaphor for spirituality and religion and just to make it better it is also based on math.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An Astrobiology Dichotomy

For today's post I want to compare two places in our solar system. You dear readers will be asked to guess what and where these places are and to surmise if life could be possible in either of these environments.

The first is place found to be nearly devoid of water. Any possible nutrients are relativly far flung. Each daily cycle can see temperature changes of 100 degrees or more. For days on end the sun beats down this environment with its harsh unrelenting rays. Anything that might reside here, when not buried under intense incoming solar radiation is beset with life threatening storms one after another for months on end. There is a relatively thin atmosphere in the locale described but fully 1 out of every five atoms is a toxic gas known to strip electrons from every tissue in your body. Under laboratory conditions this gas has been known to cause profound chronic wasting age accelerating conditions. It gets better because more than three quarters of this locations "atmosphere" contains elements bound together in a stiffleing combination barely able to be metabolized only by the heartiest of organisms.

That was environment number 1. Now let's compare this with environment number 2.

Imagine a place that never changes. Shelter is not needed because as far as is known, there are never any storms. The temperature has the temperature of a cozy heated bath, all day, all year for years on end. Food is piled upon you in heaps 15 stories high! Water is plentiful and readily abundant. In location #2. The equivalent of the entire volume of the world's ocean flows every few million years. In short it seems like a biotic paradise.

So what and where were these two locations I described? Surprisingly, they were both here on Earth. Location number 1 was the Tiaga of Northern Russia, one of the largest land ecosystems on Earth! But what about all of that horrible stuff you mentioned? Its all true. Russia holds the record for greatest temperature change in one day. -20 F just before dawn +80 F around noon. The Russian winter is famous for wiping out intrepid life forms brave enough to attempt conquering it. Two known species were nearly driven extinct because of it e.g. Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. But what about that toxic gas you mentioned? Is there really a toxic gas leak in Russia? No. The toxic gas I mentioned is Oxygen. We take it for granted that we can breathe it, but one only needs look at what it does to a banana or an apple to realize its toxic effects. Does it really strip electrons from every tissue in your body? Yup. That's how we are able to get energy from food. Oxygen is the final electron acceptor in our electron transport chains. Because of oxygen's greed for electrons we are able to make 18 times more ATP than organisms that don't utilize this toxic substance. And the 78% of the atmosphere we can't guessed it--Nitrogen. N triple bonded to N is ridiculously hard to break apart, only a select few bacteria found in peas and other legumes can even tackle the immense task of splitting this titanic bond.

Environment number 2, also here on Earth, is a deep sea vent less than an hours walk from the surface--assuming you could walk a matter of miles straight downward AND resist the 100 atmospheres of pressure crushing you into oblivion. Though we are not able to metabolize the hydrogen sulfide running rampant in these deep sea oases to chemiosynthetic bacteria this IS their food source.

In light of the present argument I am inclined to believe the John Corliss argument. I think if life had to originate in one location it was probably a deep sea vent. It seems a lot more difficult for life to start in a shallow sea with dilute nutrient concentrations than in a place with a 150 foot pile of food replaced continuously. Ladies and gentlemen Beware your land based mammal biases on the world. Did I mention the deep sea vent is home to approximately 1,000 different species-- roughly 120 times that of a rainforest if is correct in its analysis!

And now to alienate the rest of you!

Since this is my forum, I can choose to talk about what I would like. Today I would like to wax prosaic about politics. I have a strong scouting background and tend to lean Democratic (Think "lean" as in a motorcycle sport bikist leaning into the turns of a grand prix at 100 miles per hour and not "lean" as in a positively phototropic chlorophyll laden eukaryote producing a little too much auxin.).

Scouting has badges in both personal finance and environmental science scouting is apolitical. Why should scouting suggest the left as opposed to the right or any party in between? Consider the Scout Oath, "On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty, to God and country. To obey the scout law. To help other people at all times to keep myself, physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." Its that "help other people at all times" clause I really like.

Some would question the logic of helping the impoverished class suggesting that there is a certain percentage that abuses the system, that milks us the tax paying citizenry for all our generosity is worth and still chooses to remain poor. To them I say, this is probably true, but lets give them the chance. I would shudder to think what America would be if the American Dream had an exclusivity clause. Though the impending international debt implosions implore us to introspection, I suspect that even in a recession our country is strong enough and powerful enough that we can pull those stuck in the mire of poverty free without being pulled in by those who relish its murky embrace. Should we cast aside our corrupt capitalism for the chagrined communism? Nay. Capitalism has been given its chance and though its ideas are noble, in practice there will always be greed and thus an inequitable allocation of wealth. People should be able to work hard, work for their entire life and have something to show for it. People should be able to accomplish their dreams and become whatever their heart desires. The altitude of one's ambitions should not be abridged by another's intent.

But there is a temperance to this lofty idealism. In our race for our personal summits I do not believe we should walk on another nor should we destroy our environments. The analects of scouting again offer us a creed:

As an American I will be clean in my outdoor manners, be careful with fire, considerate in the outdoors and conservation minded.

I think art, music, theater and all the trimmings of a well enlightened society are essential to the education and empowerment of the human soul. All of these are completely necessary to the human experience. I think in addition to this we must preserve and protect the breeding ground for such ideas. I believe we need to protect our American environments and uniquely American vistas, else what good is an American Dream if the world we live in isn't worth aspiring too? Whether you are globally thermophilic or thermophobic protecting our planet offers unimaginable dividends. As Dr. Ghistle once said humming fish do not hum if their gills are all gummed. All of America is a crowning gem of beauty. But how can we appreciate our fabled spacious skies and purple mountains of majesty if all we can see is smog? How can we live in a land were the people are free but the water is dammed? What would it be like if our national bird, the majestic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus )symbol of kings and nations existed only in zoos and aviaries instead of wild and free? America is America and it is up to us to protect what makes us unique, our people and places not just our things.

I have one more thought to add to my stream of consciousness political ramblings. We cannot achieve any of our ends if we are always embattled asses ( Equus democratis) versus mammoths (Elaphus republicansis). How did that ancient proverb go? " A house divided under Republican control?" Sorry. If one side refuses to give a little, refuses to work for the better good and refuses to represent his/her constituents and not his/her pocket book then that man or woman is a Utah State legislator.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 Outstanding Tutor of the Year

So today I was officially dubbed " Outstanding Tutor of the Year 2011!" Its probably because I keep making things like this:

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Comedy is Tough.

And now for a comic that needs no introduction. The winner of "Last Comic Chatting"--Boom

Before I begin, I would just like to give a little shout to my friends and family.


Online comedy is a little different than stand-up. There are just some things you can't do in online comedy. You see stand up comics say things like: "Hey its great to be here in the great city of Los Angeles!" Or "Let me hear it New York!" Well, "Are you excited citizens of server number 010011.508!" You hear things like stand up comics going on tour--for me that's easy: Just last week I visited 15 chat rooms. Doing online stand up is pretty rough. As a comic I never see my wife or kids. Its probably because my wife divorced me and I don't actually have any kids. Sadly though, I don't think my dog appreciates my humor.

On the note of appreciating humor, comics often perform in bars, clubs and other places where they serve alcohol. The idea is that a few drinks will loosen up the crowd and generally the comedian does better. Where comedians should be performing is in hospitals. Who needs liquor to loosen up a crowd when you have Loritab and laughing gas.

Another difference between online comedy and in person stand up is that "in person" you are able to see the person. You have some idea of what to expect. The next comic walks on stage, its a Hispanic transvestite leprechaun--you KNOW what he's going to be making jokes about. Its ok though--he is a Hispanic transvestite leprechaun she can make fun of them like that. the rest of us couldn't but she can. Me, you have no idea who I am, which group I am going to mock and ridicule. I have to introduce myself first. I am a mathematician approaching 26 from the left. I represent the underprivileged inner suburb white protestant middle class male not in politics. Its ok though I can make fun of white middle class males I am one. This economy is so hard I had to pretend I was part of the GOP just to get an interview.

There is an upside to online comedy though--Not as much fruit thrown at you. Though last week someone posted a comment that said tomato.

Thank you and goodnight. Start autosaving.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thumbs up for Black Irony

I am taking a martial arts class. A fortnight hence I had my test for my orange belt. This was an experience unlike any I have ever had before. All those testing assembled in an auditorium much akin to a gladiator arena. We, the soon to be pugilists arrayed ourselves by belt. The spectators flanked the edges of the theater. The show commenced with all known white belt blocks. It continued through the orange belts, purple, green, brown, and black belts each participant stopping when they no longer knew anymore blocks. The process was then repeated, for kicks, punches and katas or forms. As you might imagine, being an orange belt [pronounced American Kenpo Noob] I spent much of the night standing at attention.

After passing this ordeal, round two was levied upon us. Sparring. Everyone else is thinking Sweet! Sparring. I am thinking, $#!+ I don't even have a Gi let alone a cup. Yeah I felt like the kid not in scout uniform at the national jamboree. First round of Wednesday Night Fights: Me vs. A Gent from class. Ok cool I can do this. Round 2: Me vs. feisty red-head. BTW she happened to be an entire belt above me. BBTW her sensai was judging the fight and kept offering such sage advice as, "Don't think, just fight" and "Go for the Groin!" Me: $#!+, $#!+, $#!+ I don't have a cup! Needless to say I blocked well that night.

I had two things working for me against the fury known as Burgen. One, I was twice her height. And two, she had a slight twitch that cued me off every time she was about to kick. Kick number three I picked up and put her on hold. Once in my arms I "swept" her off her feet. My gentlemanly nature quickly went out the second story window though (She was in my defense trying to kill me.) for at that point I went on the offensive and backed her into a corner where the sensei called the fight.

Wednesday Night Fights Round 3+: My next fight was much easier, I fought another orange belt--easy fight he was too timid. I also spared my sensei. And the coup de gras of the night was a fight pitting me against a black belt. I did well, I held my own. I even landed a few punches. [Kendell points out that me sparring a black belt and all ending welt is strangely reminiscent of my bout with Amy in High School, but that was just for kicks.] Importantly, the black belt did land one good one right on the lips--a punch not a kiss. Anyway a split lip from a black belt was a battle wound I could be proud of. Here's the irony you have all been patiently waiting for: later that night, I made myself a peanut butter sandwich. I cut my self on the jar. A split lip from a black belt is an injury to be proud of. A cut thumb from a peanut butter jar--that's just stupid. I hurt myself more fighting a jar of peanut butter than I did fighting a black belt.

Morale of the Story: Don't mess with peanut butter--it will take you out.

Random Overheards

So its been a while since I have posted. Apologies if anyone still follows. I thought its been long enough I should return to posting.

Today for your Wernicke's ogling pleasure I will be posting some of the funnier things I have recently overheard:

Song Lyric: He's not actually a leprechaun--just a leper with his legs gone.

Stated by a Friend: I have to go study really hard for my class on magic.

Quoted by an Acquaintance: I hate my computer class. I am blind, what do I care about pretty fonts.

Quoted by a Stranger: Has anyone seen my ethics book? I think someone stole my ethics book.