Saturday, May 9, 2009

Off to the Movies

Going to see the new Star Trek film tonight with my daughters and a friend. I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Friend

Patrick Roy Kramer, May 6, 1977-October 22, 2006

All Things Will Die - Lord Alfred Tennyson

Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing
Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing
Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting;
Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating
Full merrily;
Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow;
The wind will cease to blow;
The clouds will cease to fleet;
The heart will cease to beat;
For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity!
Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking
The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call’d–we must go.
Laid low, very low,
In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still;
The voice of the bird
Shall no more be heard,
Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery!
Hark! death is calling
While I speak to ye,
The jaw is falling,
The red cheek paling,
The strong limbs failing;
Ice with the warm blood mixing;
The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell:
Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth
Had a birth,
As all men know,
Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range,
And the blue wave beat the shore;
For even and morn
Ye will never see
Thro’ eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more,
For all things must die.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Kids and Divorce

As is so often the case, The Onion mixes in a healthy amount of truth with the funny.

Bipartisanship at Its Finest

So, when Obama offered to make concessions on curbing medical malpractice rewards as part of overhauling health care, what did the Republicans offer to give?

Nothing, it turned out. Republicans were unprepared to make any concessions, if they had any to make.

Just more proof that the current crop of Republicans are not serious about governing, only about grandstanding. Like it or not, our system of government is typically about working with people of differing views and compromising with them. Unfortunately for the Republicans, Democrats hold the White House as well as a majority in both branches of Congress. They are in a position of not needing to compromise as much as the GOP. If the Democrats wanted to, they could ram quite a bit through. So, it seems as if it is in the best interest of the party for Republicans to take an olive branch when it's offered instead of throwing it away.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reconciling Science and Religion

I'm always glad to read stories like this. Francis Collins is an evangelical Christian and a scientist. He worked on the Human Genome Project and now he's working on a new project to bridge the gap between Christian fundamentalism and science.

Collins, 59, who with his mustache and shock of gray hair looks like former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's cheerful twin, seems genuinely pained by the idea that science could be viewed as a threat to religion, or religion to science. And so he decided to gather a group of theologians and scientists to create the BioLogos Foundation in order to foster dialogue between the two sides. The name — combining bios (Greek for "life") and logos ("the word") — is also what Collins calls his blended theory of evolution and creation, an approach he hopes can replace intelligent design, which he derides as "not a scientific proposal" and "not good theology either."

Through the Washington-based foundation, Collins says he and his colleagues hope to support scholarship that "takes seriously the claims of both faith and science." Its online component,, is designed to be a resource for skeptics and nonbelievers who are interested in religious arguments for God's existence. But the primary audience for BioLogos is Collins' own Evangelical community.

I think this is fantastic. The person in the best position to change minds is someone on the inside, a member of the community. Being an Evangelical, Collins knows the language, knows the thought processes of the group and is in a much better position to show them that faith does not have to be in conflict with science. The two enrich each other or at least should. It's the extremes on both sides (Richard Dawkins, James Dobson, I'm looking at you two) that escalate this "battle" and make it difficult for the two to come together.

I guess I'm saying that I vote for more sanity and respect from people on both sides of the issue.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Conservatives and Humor

Via HuffPo, it seems that conservatives have difficulty detecting satire.

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert's political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.

It would be easy to just laugh at those dumb conservatives, but I'm genuinely curious as to why this is so. Why do conservatives have a harder time realizing that Colbert is a parody? By the same token, if there was a similar show with a conservative ideological bent, would liberals be able to identify it as satire?

Weekly Music Video

This is a great hard rock precursor to heavy metal.

The Sweet - "Ballroom Blitz"

No Moon Base?

NASA is saying that they might abandon their plans for a moon base in favor of other manned missions.

NASA will probably not build an outpost on the moon as originally planned, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, told lawmakers on Wednesday. His comments also hinted that the agency is open to putting more emphasis on human missions to destinations like Mars or a near-Earth asteroid.

NASA has been working towards returning astronauts to the moon by 2020 and building a permanent base there. But some space analysts and advocacy groups like the Planetary Society have urged the agency to cancel plans for a permanent moon base, carry out shorter moon missions instead, and focus on getting astronauts to Mars.

As big a proponent as I am of space exploration, I am glad that NASA is dropping the idea of a moon base. It sounds cool, but it's actually not very helpful in exploring space. It's really too far from Earth to serve as a convenient launching point for further missions. What we need are a space elevator to more cheaply and easily move materials into space, a large space station in orbit around our planet that can be spun for artificial gravity, and a plant for manufacturing craft outside of Earth's gravity. Granted, none of these are going to happen in the near term; but NASA or a private contractor should be working on these. Space exploration will increase dramatically once we have these in place.

Weekly Secret