Monday, November 30, 2009

CRU Controversy: Look at the data yourself!

Through a link at slashdot, I found RealClimate's posting of a bunch of raw data related to climate. Feel free to study it yourself!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Offering of Letters video stream.

I'm going to make a presentation at my church tomorrow about Bread for the World's Offering of Letters. This time I thought it would be cool to show a bunch of Youtube videos on the topic. I've got everything from the dry words of BFW President David Beckmann to lectures by Bono to scripture readings to funny animations. Hope it flies.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dems on health care: is there something in the water?

Over the past weekend, there were two monumental votes in the House of Representatives related to health care. One is known as the Stupak amendment (HR884), which provided restrictions on federal funding of abortions, restrictions which are tighter than current U.S. policy. The other is the Health Care Omnibus (HR887), which provided for federal funding of health care. Basically all the Republicans took the knee-jerk conservative positions on both bills. I am fascinated by the variety of opinions found among Democrats on the bill. The overwhelming majority of Dems voted pro-choice and pro-health care. That they would is not that interesting. It is interesting that about 75 broke with party ranks in various ways. Sixteen voted pro-choice but against health care; forty-one voted pro-life but for health care; twenty-three sided with the Republicans (restrict abortion funding but against the bill anyway).

I will call the three positions "Wall Street Libertines" (pro-choice, pro-business), "Rust Belt Catholics" (pro-life, pro-people), and members of the "Bible Belt / Old South".

I find it very interesting that the three groups are geographically segregated. The pro-choice, anti-health people tend to live along shoreline states. The pro-life, pro-health people seem to be clustered around Ohio and those Appalachian states that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2008 Democratic primaries. The pro-life, anti-health people seem to be concentrated in the Slave States during the Civil War. Of course there are exceptions, and my labels might not apply to everyone: I'm sure not all the "Rust Belt Catholics" are in deed Roman Catholics. But why are they segregated?

A friend of mine once claimed that all religionists merely pick up and parrot the religious views of their family and those around them. I ask, how did we get segregated? Is there something in the water? Does the inevitable regionalization of blue collar jobs affect things? Is there something about your blue collar parishioners being coal miners, fishermen, or agricultural hands that makes a pastor preach differently? Do the rich people affect the area: do seaside hotel owners, coal executives, and tobacco kingpins each contribute to vastly different charities & civic groups?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Right Abandons the Unborn, VI

According to this dailykos article, the health insurance plan of the Republican National Committee covers elective abortions.

According to this Time magazine article, the health insurance plan of Focus on the family covers elective abortions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Carl Sagan

I was just thinking recently about Carl Sagan's poetic vision of his observation about Earth as the Pale Blue Dot. Then today I found this youtube clip on the Universe Today website:

Monday, November 09, 2009

Health care bill: a good compromise

There's a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin says, "A good compromise leaves everyone half-mad." On the recent health care legislation passed over the weekend, I'm guessing everyone is half-mad, except for pro-life liberals like me. We're estatic!

If I have read the news correctly, Democrats passed a health care bill which does not allow for federal funding of abortions.

Maybe God *does* in fact work through the compromises required by a two-party system.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Everything I needed to know about screenwriting, I learned from "The Office."

Here are my observations:

1) Create some characters.

2) Make some of them despicable.

3) Make the despicable qualities of the unsympathetic characters create problems for the sympathetic characters. Make the audience wish for the defeat and banishment of the unsympathetic characters.

4) Let the despicable quality turn into a vulnerability, and have the the unsympathetic characters suffer for it. Make the audience feel sorry for them.

5) Have the unsympathetic characters also demonstrate some amazing skills which are entertaining or useful.

6) Stockpile Emmy nominations.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

5K Walk/Race

I ran (walked) in a 5K race put on by my employers' "Well-being" group. I had my Android phone running CardioTrainer with its GPS service during the race. I then went to CardioTrainer's website and downloaded a kml version of the coordinates. At every second of the race, it had recorded the GPS coordinates.

I used my own understanding of geometry and the radius of the earth to come up with a formula for instantaneous position, and then instantaneous MPH. I later realized a mistake in the algorithm, but I don't think it would affect the overall calculation by much.

Anyway, I kept up 4.5 MPH for most of the race, and then had a few spurts close to 7 MPH at the end. All this on a knee which was operated upon in April, and was occasionally giving me pain during climbing stairways.