Friday, December 29, 2006

How old is the Grand Canyon? We can't tell you. Or can we?

Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park.

I have no problem with someone writing a book claiming the Grand Canyon was carved out of the earth due to Noah's flood, though I personally think that is completely ridiculous. That said, it should not be sold at a National Park. The park should be completely agnostic and scientific about such matters.

The book aside I don't understand why park rangers aren't allowed to discuss the age of the Grand Canyon, according to the article, however you can get the following from the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center FAQ:

How old is the Canyon?
That's a tricky question. Although rocks exposed in the walls of the canyon are geologically quite old, the Canyon itself is a fairly young feature. The oldest rocks at the canyon bottom are close to 2000 million years old. The Canyon itself - an erosional feature - has formed only in the past five or six million years. Geologically speaking, Grand Canyon is very young.
This puts my faith in the validity of the article in question. It makes me wonder if it's just sensationalist in nature to draw attention to the book. I still agree that the book should be removed, especially because of the following:
In 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on “Interpretation and Education (Director’s Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”
If it is accurate to suggest, due to this directive, that all materials, for sale, at National Parks adhere to these scientific principles then the book does not belong there and should be moved to a Life Way store or something. Though I question if they'd even take it. The author sounds like a fringe fundamentalist to me.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Killer Chickens!

Researchers from the University of Manchester managed to induce teeth growth in normal chickens - activating genes that have lain dormant for 80 million years.

Just you wait! Alfred Hitchcock's vision will be a trifle if birds have teeth again! "No! Don't eat me with slaw and a side of mashed potatoes!"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas! Dammit!

I doubt I'll have any time to post between now and Christmas so... "Merry Christmas!"

That's right, not Happy Holidays, though I don't have a real problem with that phrase. The problem I have is that political correctness always runs rampant this time of year.

Look Christmas is a holiday plain and simple. It has some religious, particularly Christian, undertones, but the primary focus is non-secular.

Here are my non-secular highlights for what Christmas is:
  1. Family - It's a time when families can get together. This is especially important in today's society where we are scattered all over the place. None of my family lives in the same town or even the same state. This is a time of year we can all get together.
  2. Giving/Charity - Many people give to the needy at this time of the year. Sure it would be nice if it was all the time but this is a special time of the year when people give to those in need.
  3. Gifts - This is different than Charity. This is the more commercial aspect of Christmas but still an important one. We give gifts to the ones we care about. The people in our lives that are important. We make cookies for them, we buy them gift cards, etc.
  4. Decorating - Just like Halloween, many people take great joy in decorating their homes for Christmas. There was even a movie made this year about it, Deck the Halls.
  5. Santa Clause - Sure Santa may have started out as a Saint (Saint Nicholas) but the spirit is still there. He's the spirit of the charity and gift giving that I mentioned above. He makes the holiday more accessible and exciting for kids.
There are many many more non-secular aspects to Christmas that many of us enjoy. I'm certain there are plenty of non-Christians who enjoy Christmas just as much as anyone else. I don't consider myself Christian these days, but I was brought up that way. I still enjoy Christmas and find it very insulting that people with big mouths try to force "Holiday Trees" and crap like that on us.

Don't get me wrong. I respect other peoples faiths and their holidays. I'm not suggesting that religious or cultural holidays be absorbed and forgotten but why should the major holiday have to be diminished? Let's face it Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and even true Christian Christmas are celebrated (combining all three of those groups) by a minority compared to popular Christmas. That doesn't mean they are not important to those who celebrate them.

Why Christmas? Well mostly because the USA was founded by Christians and Christians have been the majority for a long time in this country. So naturally those values have become the foundations for many of the traditions in the USA. The key word there is foundation. Christmas, as we know it today, is an amalgam of traditions from all over the world. It may have started with Christians but then other pieces were added by immigrants over the years. The Christmas Tree for example; it's not remotely Christian!

If you want your personal religious or cultural holiday to have meaning, great. Carry on that tradition with your family and friends. Don't try to tear down the traditions of others just because you don't like how much more popular they are. Your's may have more meaning to you, but even if mine is based heavily on commercialism don't disrespect me by thinking it has no meaning. It has plenty of meaning for me!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The National Arbor Day Foundation isn't going to like this!

I won't completely rewrite the article (click the title above) from the BBC News but basically we could be doing harm rather than good.

"Planting more trees in high latitudes could be counter productive from a climate perspective." - Dr. Govindasamy Bala of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

The article mentions three key factors that personally I don't believe they clearly explained.
  1. "forests can cool the planet by absorbing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide during photosynthesis" - Since trees and other plants use CO2 to live, converting it to Oxygen, they would reduce greenhouse gases thus keeping the planet cool.
  2. "they can also cool the planet by evaporating water to the atmosphere and increasing cloudiness; a deck of white clouds reflects incoming solar radiation straight back out into space" - Since clouds are reflective the energy of the sun is less of an impact on the temperature of the planet. To me this is incidental. It's like saying lets create a giant cloud over the whole planet to help keep it cool. That's basically what a nuclear winter is all about, except in this case it's not nuclear. In case you aren't aware, clouds reflect because they are white, just like snow reflects the sun, clouds do also.
  3. "trees can also have a warming effect because they are dark and absorb a lot of sunlight, holding heat near ground level" - This is the opposite of #2. Since trees are a darker color they'll absorb heat (just like an asphalt road). Anyone who's been in a rain forest can attest to how hot it can be, and humid.
2 and 3 seem to contradict each other but in the larger picture they don't. Dr. Bala is suggesting that if we plant too many trees in areas where it's supposed to be cold we could potentially warm it up too much there. So basically you have a situation where #1 is irrelevant to the discussion and it's a balance of #2 and #3.

In the end I'm sure there will be plenty of other Doctors and Scientists out there who will argue this point. It is only one study and what better way to drum up publicity and thus possibly funding, by talking about everyones favorite "The Sky Is Falling" topic, GLOBAL WARMING! (Thunder Crash and Lightening Flash!)

Personally I don't think this is even an issue. The Arbor Day Foundation does a lot but there is no way we are planting so many trees in the USA that it's going to contribute to global warming in any meaningful way. That would be like me saying, "If I stop driving my car tomorrow it'll save the world!". Don't believe it? Neither do I.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for reducing pollution and keeping the environment clean, but to make the bold assumption that we petty little humans can dictate how the global climate is going to be is preposterous. We very well may have caused some global warming, but we can't fix it now. The Earth will fix it the way she feels is best, and in all likelihood we won't like it.

We've treated the Earth like a criminal treats the cops and those he/she has wronged. You think a criminal after over 100 years of bad behavior can just decide one day that he's turning over a new leaf and all those whom he's wronged will just forgive him? Get real. We've made this bed and we can try to make it better but at the end of the day we have to lay in it, for better or worse. Take responsibility.

Ok I'm getting off my high horse because I'm guilty too. Not as much as those who willingly pollute just because they don't care or think, "Well I'm only one person. What harm can I do?" My house isn't as efficiently as it could be. I don't drive a hybrid car. Though I don't drive a gas guzzling SUV either. Ok there I go again. Sorry.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Incapacitated Senator

I'm not normally political but the story about Senator Tim Johnson possibly resigning or not brought up an interesting topic on NPR this morning. They were talking about multiple times in the past where Senators have remained in power even though they were incapacitated in some way or another.

Frankly I don't care if it does change the balance of power, if Tim Johnson cannot perform his duties he should be replaced. He should not have to state he is resigning. There needs to be an expectation of reasonable mental function to do that job. (I know, I can hear all the jokes too.)

The point is that if he cannot perform his job (or any other Senator, Representative, Judge, Mayor, Governor, etc) then he (or she) should be removed from office. Fired. It does a disservice to the people who voted for him/her and it makes a mockery of our government. Can you picture the Senate floor with beds and intensive care nurses? That's what it makes me think.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Henry Rollins Rocks!

I don't normally spend a lot of time on YouTube. Sometimes it's fun but there is a lot of crap on there. THIS is not crap. Referring back a couple posts to my outrage on the anti-net neutrality commercial...this is an AWESOME response! I think Google and Yahoo and all the other Pro-Net Neutrality folks should get Henry Rollins to do a commercial for them, for Net Neutrality. Of course he'd have to watch his language, but he's a pro, he could still rant with force and not drop F-bombs if he had to. I bet that'd wake some people up!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Party

Last night we went to a Christmas party. It was for my wifes company. About 50% of them were deaf and most of the others could sign. I was a bit worried about that before we went. I was worried that I'd not be able to communicate with anyone. It wasn't as bad as I thought. In fact it was a pretty decent time.

A few of the people there translate for the deaf all the time so they were very aware of the communication break and made it nearly transparent for me. That was cool.

There were also a few other spouses who were like me. We didn't have anything to do with the deaf and have had little to no reason to learn how to sign. It's not like I don't care, it's just like learning a language for which you have little need for. Why would I learn Russian if I don't know any Russians or have any plans to go to Russia.

I know there are those who like to learn other languages because they are good at it and that's cool. But I think they are the minority. I suspect most of us simply don't think outside out little language world because we've never had to.

After last night I realize that sign-language is just that, a language. It's just like learning Spanish, French, or Russian. Their motions were so fluid and quick. I was shocked to know that so much was communicated so quickly and subtlety.

When I talked with Eric, the guy who was doing much of the translating for me, he said he doesn't really translate in his head, he just knows what is being said. I've heard this from other foreign language speakers. I even noticed it a bit learning Spanish. Once you get good, you stop thinking like, "agua = water" and you just know agua is water without thinking it.

So back to the evening. It was quiet enjoyable. There was lots of laughs, good food and games. The communication barriers were still there but they weren't nearly as scary as I thought they'd be. I'll definitely have a different feeling about attending other similar functions with that group again. Positive ones.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

R.I.P. James Kim

Your family is safe. You did your best and now you can rest and bask in the glow that is the love everyone is sending you.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Net Neutrality

Last night while watching FoodTV I saw this ad. I was furious! Now I know what all those smear campaign advertising companies are doing now that the elections are over. They are smearing the tech companies of what the telcos/cable companies are trying to do.

They very obviously are targeting Google in this ad. The "Mumbo Jumbo" text is very very similar to the one Google uses for their logo.

I'm not sure how long this ad has been out but it's flat out a lie! Google and others better respond quickly or your average Joe is going to believe this load of crap.

Wow! Heroes Delivered

Ok I'm a day late. I didn't get to watch "Fallout", the last new episode until Jan. 22nd 2007, until last night. I had to record it Monday as we were busy. I love my PVR.

It was a great episode! Comparing Heroes to Lost is apples and oranges, but the mid-season finale of Lost was hyped up and ended up being very weak. The Heroes mid-season finale turned out to be perfect. Well done!

-----------SPOILER WARNING--------------

Well Eden is dead. Not a real big shocker actually. She was pretty foolish to think she could take on Sylar alone. My guess is that she was cocky (she was in the past too) because she was able to take him down before. Still she was smart enough to blow her brains out before Sylar could harvest her power.

More of the 'Heroes' got together finally. I'm glad to see things coming together.

Matt and Peter's meeting was a bit too brief for what I was expecting but I think it'll be for the best. Between the two of them the story would move too fast because it would tie the two story lines together too quickly. I think it just gave everyone a taste of things.

Speaking of Peter, he looked like crap in his cell. Made me wonder if:
  1. Was his exposure to Clair too short and his wounds not totally heal?
  2. Was he exposed to too many powers too quickly? (Isaak, Clair, Nathan, Mr. Bennet(?), and most importantly Sylar) That's a LOT to absorb, especially Sylar's powers. We don't even know how many he has yet.
  3. Could he have been poisoned?
Mr. Bennet... So, you don't just work for yourself? Not a big surprise either really, but nice to have that out in the open. Still he has a lot of autonomy. He can use the Haitian or Eden (used to) whenever he wanted and all appearances are suggesting Isaak was being kept there, locked up.

Also does he have powers to dampen other peoples powers or not? The writers went out of their way to make us question that. Three times they make you wonder.
  1. Mr. Bennet and Sylar - Mr. B says Sylars powers won't work here suggesting that the room is blocking his powers.
  2. Mr. Bennet and Matt - Three times Matt tried to read minds around Bennet with no success (except for one word, "Sylar"). Two of those times The Haitian was there. Connection? Maybe.
  3. Mr. Bennet and Peter - While I don't think Mr. B was intentionally trying to block Peters powers I suspect that Peter would have been feeling a lot better if Clair's power would have been able to be absorbed right there. There is also the possibility that he could have read Clair's mind too since he had been around Matt. None of that happened though, in my mind because Mr. B was near by.
The Haitian - He speaks and he's not just the lap dog of Mr. Bennet. Finally! We know he can wipe minds/memories, but is he the one responsible for blocking powers? Why did he defy Mr. B's order to wipe Clair's memory of her powers? Really even the thought of that is silly. People hurt themselves all the time. How can Mr. B expect her not to find out over and over and over again? He going to have her mind wiped all her life? Doubtful.

Lots of neat things going on. I can't wait until Jan 22nd!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I never realized how much I've really considered the old TechTV gang as family until I heard about James Kim and his family going missing. I was deeply worried and concerned for their safety and felt bad that there was nothing I could do to help. I would have been there in the search parties if it had been possible. His family has been found but, James is still missing as of this writing and I really wish him the best. I'm hoping he'll be found safe. He went out to get help while his family waited. That takes a lot of courage. I'm sure he didn't want to leave his family.

Yesterday was when I first heard about his disappearance. I was listening to Twit, Buzz Out Loud and DL.TV and each of them mentioned this situation. Three separate companies with friends amongst them, no, more like family. I've never seen media personalities that feel so real. They have become part of our lives, back in the ZDTV/TechTV days and they still are friends.

Keep hanging on James, help is on the way.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Odd place in my life

I've realized recently that my needs have taken over my wants. What I mean is that I am for the first time in my life looking at toys I want and am honestly evaluating the item and saying to myself, "Do I really need that?" It's kinda freaky.

Like I WANT a 30GB (or bigger) iPod. But I don't NEED it. My car doesn't have a mini-jack input for an MP3 player which means I'd have to use a cassette adapter or an RF adapter. Both suck. Also, I listen to most of my music at work rather than mobile. I have a small portable hard drive that works for that. It supports both USB2 and Firewire so I can hook it to almost any system and have my tunes without some weird DRM system.

I'm also driving the same car I've had for the last seven years. I could get a new car but there is no pressing reason to.

Part of me mourns the lost of my inner child who just 'wants'. The other part of me is happy. It feels like a mile stone in my life. A step in my growing up. Funny considering I'm 32 years old. I'm sure if I had a ton more money in my pocket my feelings would be different. I guess I'm just having a hard time justifying spending money on things I don't need any more.

And still going...

Man it sucks when you find old postings you did that look like this:

And so it begins

May the war be quick and merciful to those who are innocent and long and painful for those who are guilty. Iraq will soon be free from tyranny.

posted by MAJikMARCer @ 3/19/2003 10:30:58 PM

New...but improved??

I have a lot of work to do to get my blog back to decent standing. Please be patient with me. This is a stock Blogger template but it's not bad. I'll rewrite my own in due time.