Thursday, November 27, 2014

bbc stock photo - reflections


The discussion about the so-called "right to be forgotten" fascinates me, but I really want to know why this person is staring at a mirror-image version of a Google screen.  Has it really reached a point where the news sources can't use a picture of a natural reflection because nobody would understand what was going on?  This is what math teachers are up against, folks.

I have a similar frustration with the way driver's side mirrors on cars say "OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR".  This is a false statement whether or not you know how reflective surfaces work.  If you understand how to perceive the image, then the objects are right where the optics suggest*.  If you don't know how that works, then the objects are farther away than they appear, since they appear to be two feet in front of you, stuck inside the magical object welded to your car door.  They could just say "MIRROR IS SLIGHTLY CONVEX", which would be useless (but at least true), and trust that anyone deemed intelligent enough for a driver's license could be relied upon to sort out the mirror part.

*I suppose that Physicists would object to this, but it probably is a fine assumption when the concerned objects are significantly slower than the speed of light.  Okay, that disclaimer felt nerdy, so I'm quitting this reflection.  It got longer than I thought it would be. 

UPDATE:  They did it again:

Here is another from an ad:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

three Mongolia pictures

I recently went to Mongolia with Will, and while I am not up to any sort of a narrative, I will submit to you a few disjointed images.  First of all, Mongolia is huge, with endless prairies and rolling hills and a sky like what you see in Illinois, but without all the water towers and airplane trails.  A few hours out of the capital, there are no paved roads, just dirt paths.  Sometimes these paths are four or five lanes across, where new parallel tracks have been created by people staying out of the muddy ruts of the other roads.  It is rare that vehicles meet, so when they do, the drivers usually stop and chat for a minute.  

This picture shows a ger (rhymes with "hair"), one of the sturdy tent-houses that so many Mongolians call home.  The gers have wooden frames with heavy felt coverings to protect against the elements.  Many Mongolians are nomadic herders living in houses like this.  The one in the picture is a bit more battered than many that we saw.  The herders raise sheep, goats, cows, horses, camels, and there seems to be plenty of room for everyone. 


This picture shows a stop sign, and I enjoy the different alphabet. Or maybe I'm missing some cultural differences and this isn't a stop sign. It could say Go Faster! I can't read Mongolian.

Finally, this is one of many desperate pictures from a moving vehicle, so the quality is poor, but it shows a man on his motorcycle, herding his goofy two-hump camels.  He's livin' the dream. 

It was a privilege to visit this land. 

Mongolian wildflowers











Tuesday, April 22, 2014

science

Half of Americans Aren’t Sure Big Bang Happened Here's a headline. How disgusting that the American people can't just roll over and accept the news that the big bang happened. I mean, science, right?

This is presented as a distressing tidbit about Americans being stuck in the dark ages, religion still having its claws in the American way of thinking, and the deplorable state of scientific ignorance which is probably due to Texans not teaching enough evolution.

What is implied here is that if Americans were better at critical thinking, they would just accept as gospel truth anything Neil deGrasse Tyson tells them on TV. Scientific inquiry, indeed. A person's own empirical understanding of reality has led them to question what has been shoved down their throat in school, and we are supposed to condemn that as bad science? People are driven by the collective data of their lives to conclude that the big bang doesn't account for things they know to be real, and that means that they don't know how to think? They express doubt in a theory that fails to predict the reality that they know, and they are branded as criminally obsolete, accused of holding back the human race from a greatness that can only be achieved by treating people with different beliefs as a cancerous inferior race that needs to be purged.

How many of those who do not doubt the big bang have actually made the measurements and drawn the inferences from the data and proved for themselves that the inferences are logically valid? Among those who have personally encountered data and physics research about the universe, how many had already pledged allegiance to the big bang before the statistical analysis of their first experiment? What then convinced them? Democracy? Authority? Revelation? I'm guessing most of the people who refuse to doubt the big bang have been convinced by an argument that amounts to more faith than science.

Also, why is a profession of the big bang held up as a benchmark of how prepared a person is for 'real life'? Rather seems to be a moot point and wildly irrelevant, unless the academic world is just trying to extract a denunciation of God before one can proceed to the cool kids' table.

What is given as a condescending reproach is eloquent in its transparency. People are not bad at rational thought. They are bad at buying the proof by intimidation. That anyone is alarmed by someone else doubting that the universe is a meaningless accident, should make people think.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Page CXVI: Good Friday to Easter

More from this band. They are releasing an Easter album on April 15, and you can listen to it right here:

Monday, March 10, 2014

far simoorie

Forgotten, forgotten the sweat of the shambles
Where the hill-daisy blooms and the gray monkey gambols


In "The Ballad of Boh Da Thone", Rudyard Kipling describes a rather horrific turn of events in colonial India.  I came across it yesterday as I was helping Will find a poem to recite.  I didn't suggest Boh Da Thone.  The lines above felt very personal, I've watched those gray monkeys gambol, and I like to imagine the hill-daisy as the dahlia that peppered the hillside.  I think the shambles refers to the less retiring places of India, while the captain is reflecting from his perch in Simoorie.  The site above notes that Simoorie refers to Mussoorie, which I had suspected before.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

bead chain



This is fun.  How did information like this get around before the internet?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Page CXVI



Listen to Page CXVI.  I don't know if you have ever listened to this band, but I really recommend them.  Joie and I came across them awhile back and I have been blessed to have their music.  They are about to release a new album, "Lent to Maundy Thursday".

Here is one of the new songs.  You can stream the whole album here. 



Here are a couple from their other albums.  They have a lot posted on the SoundCloud site.









Thursday, February 20, 2014

debate

In the wake of the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate, I've been thinking.  The internet is full of disgust that Bill Nye would even dignify the ignorant Christians by debating something which is already proven.  This attitude is perpetuated by generations of teachers who have told their students that the game is over, science has proven that there is no God.  And of course many people do not see a reason to resist this proof by authority (which the scientist ostensibly despises).  On the contrary, they are quickly attracted to this view, we all are, because it vindicates our desire to believe the oldest lie: that we can reject God and have an identity beyond what creation would imply. 

Bill Nye says that we are cruel to teach what is inconsistent with the world we observe.  I agree.  The world we observe, which our students need to navigate, is a world full of people living as though human life is sacred.  It is a world full of people obsessed with eternity.  They live to worship something.  The people in this world that we observe have moral expectations of one another.  In their hearts they believe in sin.  They, like Mr. Nye, expect that others have an obligation to act on what they know is right, and they often think that people should agree with them about what is right.  People have a need for love, hope, justice, purity.  They are capable of selfless acts.  Anyone who has experienced grace, who has seen redemption and sacrifice that is not explained by what is seen, recognizes a theme throbbing through creation, a pervasive motivation and a plot that naturalism says should not be there.  So much of our observed world possesses a self-evident significance which is granted by some profound logic that is quite simply not explained by the evolution of a material world.  Rather, naturalism implies an emptiness, a screaming lack of purpose which is unpardonably incompatible with the world we observe. 

Certainly if we are products of a merely material cosmos, then only a chaos beyond our control can account for these constructs which we call beliefs, which are genetic relics and behavioral products we could not have avoided.  Why then all the ire directed toward creationists, and why all the congratulation toward the fellow evolutionists, if none of us can help believing as we do? 

Bill Nye, why is it so important to have productive members of society?  So we can conquer malaria and walk on mars and avoid wars and reduce suffering?  What is the significance of suffering and what law is in place to require us to see suffering as significant, and how did such a law come into being?  Why must we press forward in science to ensure the longevity of the human race?  Does science not predict that all life on earth will eventually cease?  Is that end not imminent, in the cosmic sense?  Do we have an obligation to preserve the species?  Obligation to whom?  Is anything of value derived from preserving the species?  And if so, how can something be of value in an existence without meaning?  For if evolution is the architect of reality, then surely any meaning attached to life is an illusory effect of chemical reactions.

It seems fitting that some of the creationists would be engaged with this debate because it acknowledges them, where they have been marginalized and kicked aside as archaic.  It brings creationism into contact with mainstream science.  Evolutionists meanwhile claim that there is no debate, all has been proven, science has triumphed over superstition.  They claim this in such numbers, and with such vehemence, that it really makes one wonder why they care so much.  I challenge that their claimed worldview does not explain why they care so much.  Why does a Christian care so much?  Because we are told to share Christ so that all people would glorify God with their lives.  But why does an atheist evangelize? 

I loved watching Bill Nye talk, he is such a passionate observer, you can feel the wonder he cultivates toward his surroundings.  He is worshipful in his enjoyment of science, contagious in his attitude of exploration.  But ultimately I do not find his model of the universe to be viable. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

sewing machine



I just found a gif that addresses a mystery that has plagued me for much of my life.  I have never understood how a sewing machine could work. Also, knitting. They both seem too much like when a looney toons character ties someone to a tree without letting go of the rope.  I can't find a gif of that, but it would be more amusing.  Although I am enjoying this one.