Strange Musings *hyuk*
Saturday, March 27, 2004
  9:20 AM — To Mock a Killing-Bird
Ohio's going the way of Kentucky. Intelligent Design is now an "optional" part of the Ohio science cirriculum. However, there's statewide standardized testing that is tailored exactly to the science cirriculum... (In Massachusetts, the cirriculum is called the Frameworks, and the tests the MCAS. And people say only NY and CA have Regents.)

Ohio evolution lesson plan irks science groups (

It occurred to me while on the pot this morning, that if people don't believe in evolution, they don't believe in the creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Superbugs either don't exist, or God made them in hospitals to kick the sick while they're down. Job's got nothing on those patients. They don't believe the rapidly-spreading bird flu is any threat to the human race. Avian flu isn't readily transmissable to humans yet, and isn't usually in contact with human flus so it can't gain their traits. But pigs can get either the bird or human versions, so cases of bird flu near pig farms are particularly worrisome. Unless you believe in "intelligent design." Then you only have to worry if God's out to get you. And hey He's a loving God, the God of the Gentiles. I mean, just look at how wonderful the world is today.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004
  10:59 PM — the face of *hyuk*

(Credit Reuters, c/o a Yahoo! News - Sports Photos. Image use for parody allowed by US copyright law.)

Monday, March 22, 2004
  8:48 PM — You young whipper-snappers!
Sound effect: phone ringing

Me: Hello?

Telemarketer: Hello, is your mother or father in?

Telemarketer has an old, grandfathery, gravely voice, with an accent somewhere between a southern drawl and Irish lilt.

Me: (indignant) I'm 26 years old.

Telemarketer: Oh, I'm sorry! You sounded like you were 11! You'll be glad of that when you're 90.

both laugh

Me: I'm afraid I'm not that glad of it when I'm trying to get a job.

Telemarketer: (pauses) I'm with the Fraternal Order of Police...

Me: I presume you're fundraising?

Telemarketer: Yessiree, we help to fund firefighters--

Me: (still chuckling) Well, since I sound too young to get a job, I'm afraid I don't have much money to contribute.

Telemarketer: What sort of job are you trying to get?

Me: Astronomy

Telemarketer: Astronomy?

Me: Yep! (extra emphasis on the "P")

Telemarketer: I'm not sure what jobs there are in Astronomy.

Me: Exactly. (pause, then cheery) So I'm sorry I can't help, have a good evening.

Telemarketer: You too, and good luck with the jobs!

Me: And good luck fundraising!

Those guys from the Fraternal Orders of Police and Firefighters invariably make me laugh. I should donate some money just for that alone. Better than a stand-up, and no two drink minimum!

  4:32 PM — An asteroid walks into a bar...
My roommate Jethereal read an article online today (see Astronomy Picture of the Day) that yet another asteroid barely missed Earth. This reminded me of one of the arguments for continued servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. The original plan for the HST, way back in the early 1990's when it still needed glasses, was that a future Shuttle mission would take Hubble back into its bay and bring it back down to Earth. This plan was later changed to adding a set of rocket boosters during the last servicing mission (you mean the one that was cancelled? *hyuk*) that would guide any remaining debris into the ocean. See, the problem is that, left to itself, not all of the satellite will burn up during re-entry: at least the mirror will likely have parts survive. A BBC article quotes the dubious number of a 1 in 700 chance of human death due to Hubble debris. (I say dubious because they do not cite any source for this number, and I haven't seen it anywhere else despite searching.)

But my point was, this prompted me to try to statistically determine the chance that a human could be hit by Hubble debris, or similarly, that a human could be hit by an asteroid. For the point of this (attempted) calculation, I want to ignore things like whether it'll burn up while passing through the atmosphere, and only consider the size of the meteorite when it impacts the Earth's surface. My argument is that it'll depend upon the size (cross-section, or area) of the asteroid, size of the earth, and density of people on the Earth. At this point my brain fizzles out, and I ask Jethereal to help me try and figure it out.

After much discussion, we came up with various insights, including that that it might depend upon the sizes of the asteroid and earth, and maybe even the size of people! (OMG!) I mean,

Me: "What if the human's the size of the Earth?"

Jethereal: "No no, consider them point particles."

With the way people in the US eat? I don't think so! (flips hair) Maybe in Ethiopia. Perhaps we should look at the problem from a different point of view.

Jethereal: "Say there's an asteroid on the ground, and bombard the Earth with humans."

Me: "But the humans can't overlap at all, so each human hits in a different place, they're dependent events. Hm, though I guess there could be some having sex, or in tall office buildings."

Stay tuned for the results of our deliberations...

Saturday, March 20, 2004
  9:10 PM — Eternal What? of the Something-Something...
Ever wonder how they come up with movie titles? I think they probably get 10 drunk monkeys together and put them in front of keyboards. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind just isn't a title meant to be remembered. Alternate titles considered by the Shakespeare-gang include:

This all in the same conversation as camera-phone orgies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
  9:29 PM — Overheard
Maybe better for Overheard, I heard this one on NPR today and nearly crashed my car.

Cheney on Kerry.

Kerry on Bush.

All this and more tonight on All Things Considered.

Now just what would Senator Santorum say to that? Hmmm.... :)

Monday, March 08, 2004
  10:20 PM — Booty
Shake your booty, buy my booty. Ages ago I saw a sticker with a pink triangle reading "Straight but not narrow." I have never found it again, so I decided to recreate it c/o . Buy your own at Proceeds from "those sorts" of items go to I've also got a few artistic photos on various gear, nothing much.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
  9:13 AM — Civil Rights
I am in support of gay marriage. You cannot understand how strongly I think it should happen. It's a civil rights issue. Below are some other civil rights issues, who the previous victims were, and the date the reform was adopted in all 50 states. (Note that I don't say "who was affected" because EVERYONE in the US is affected by these issues, not just the victims, and not just the protestors on either side.)

(dates c/o Wikipedia)

In the anti-miscegenation case, the US Supreme Court stated,

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Saying marriage is only for heterosexuals, but gays should be content with civil unions is like saying the front of the bus is only for whites, but niggers should be content with the back of the bus. The problem in everyone's mind is that civil marriage is inextricably linked with religious marriage in this country. Once we tease apart that difference, perhaps it will be more tolerable to the majority.


WARNING: This blog often contains disturbing stories of science and math as used in every day life.

If you are easily disturbed or a Luddite, surf on elsewhere.

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Location: New England, United States
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