Mister Pterodactyl
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Think your team has the best fans?
Snow packers: Fans line up at Lambeau to shovel stands.

"The Green Bay Packers needed a citizen shovel brigade to clear snow from the stands for next week's playoff game...only about 300 people at a time were allowed in the stadium Wednesday, but perhaps three times that many showed up."


Sunday, December 26, 2004
Sportscenter has just announced that Reggie White died this morning of a massive heart attack. He was 43 years old.

Mister Pterodactyl is sad.

Friday, December 24, 2004
Big game today
And before it starts: I said earlier that the Vikes would choke, and this game wouldn't decide the division. Guess I was wrong, huh?

POSTGAME UPDATE: Allow me to make a few observations.
2. Anybody notice that 'I gotta start looking for a new job' look on Tice's face?
3. Only three penalties. Whew.

Yeah, that's it. NFC North champions again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Merry Christmas
Instapundit has been linking to a lot of stuff about the use of that phrase. Lileks, for example, is concerned about the apparent taboo being associated with it, as if it's an imposition of one's religion on another. Jeff Jarvis thinks the whole thing is overblown; there's no religious war brewing here, it's just the same old stuff resurfacing in anticipation of a major holiday with religious origins. Hugh Hewitt nevertheless thinks there are serious issues afoot.

I admit, I don't put much stock in this holiday, and observe it only because my family does and they want to include me. I sometimes, therefore, feel sheepish when someone says 'Merry Christmas' to me, and usually issue a quick 'you too' in reply. But I have never felt that anybody was trying to impose on me. If you have, don't. It's a victim mentality.

Bottom line: just say whatever you want. If you're observing your religious holiday, go ahead and MC me. Or, if you have other beliefs, say Happy Hannukah/Kwanzaa/holidays or whatever else you've got. [Does anybody actually know someone who celebrates Kwanzaa? I don't.] It doesn't bother me, and it shouldn't bother anyone else.

On that note, I'd like to offer greetings and good wishes to all on the occasion of the Winter Solstice.

Monday, December 20, 2004
Ba wip gra na wip didi bom
Transformers: the movie! I saw this thing when it came out in 1987 and I’ve been looking for it ever since.

Based on the TV cartoon from the eighties, it features the voices of no lesser luminaries than Orson Welles, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Scatman Crothers (Judd Nelson too, but ‘luminary’ seemed a little much). Eighties hair-band music. Cheap, primitive animation. Aaah. Couple more swear words than one might expect from a kids’ movie, too. And the Decepticons (bad-guy robots, if you don’t know) appear to have finally figured out that if they actually aim their weapons at the Autobots (good-guy robots), they might win a battle once in a while. There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

Friday, December 17, 2004
Time Asia
...had a great interview with Charles Robert Jenkins last week. The first line is my favorite: "In 1965, U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins deserted his post in South Korea and fled to the communist North—a move he now calls 'the stupidest thing I have ever done.'"

No kidding, buddy. His plan was to go to NK, then make his way to the USSR and return to the US from there to turn himself in. This instead of telling his commander that he was afraid to go to Vietnam and facing the consequences. Apparently, Jenkins is not the brightest of bulbs. It's possible he'll need some help writing that book.

The article is full of interesting stuff. After several years in NK, Jenkins and the other three Americans - Dresnok, Abshier and Parrish - began committing small acts of defiance out of despair, calling them "freedalisms." Jenkins spent eight years teaching English to NK students until the authorities realized his thick southern accent was actually detrimental to their pronunciation. Later, they were all married to other foreign expats; the plan was to produce children of Western appearance, for obvious reasons. That was the reason Jenkins finally decided to leave - he didn't want his two daughters used for espionage.

Are you still here? Go read.

UPDATE: heh. Forgot the link. Fixed now.

Sunday, December 12, 2004
to USC quarterback Matt Leinart on winning the Heisman Trophy. Now he can begin his mediocre NFL career.

Friday, December 10, 2004
Remember a while ago I said I’d be looking into ‘creation science?’ Well, you know what they say: “it’s good to keep an open mind, just not so open that your brain falls out.” I just couldn’t get my mind open enough. I may have strained something. So the creativity has been lacking over the last few weeks, thus the lack of blogging.

So, Steve suggested I check out the Institute for Creation Research, so I went to their website. Not impressed. The method used (at least in what I read) is simple: point out some flaw or gap in evolutionary theory (or, as it turns out, cosmology), claim that e.t. therefore requires a religion-style leap of faith, and conclude that creationism is at least equal in stature and should be taught alongside evolution.

Looking for another example, I ran across a group called Reason to Believe. They’ve written a book, ‘Origins of Life,’ in which they describe their idea of creationism. The start is very promising. First, they outline their interpretation of Genesis, which they say is consistent with current evolutionary theory (obviously, unlike the ICR guys, RTB has rejected the six-day creation, the 6000-year-old universe, and the Garden of Eden story). Then they begin an excruciatingly detailed discussion of evolutionary theory, and point by point explain why they think their model is superior.

You see that they’ve cherry-picked the parts of Genesis they want while rejecting the rest, but never mind that. They’re still, essentially, following the same process as the ICR. It’s true that there are gaps in evolutionary theory; for instance, the fossil record is incomplete, so microevolutionary changes in individual species (small beneficial mutations that become the norm) cannot be tracked to show the entire macroevolutionary progression (a species changing entirely, e.g. a fish becoming a vertebrate). It’s also true, and I don’t know this for certain but will give RTB the benefit of the doubt (they seem very knowledgeable), that there are apparent contradictions in the current theory; the appearance of the earliest organisms seems to have happened in an improbably short amount of time. What RTB has done is to accept current evolutionary theory in toto, then assume that no further progress will be made.

Armed with that assumption, they postulate an intelligent entity responsible for getting things started and moving them along. It’s not uncommon in research to make suppositions; that, after all, is what evolutionary scientists are doing. [One has to dig deep into it to realize that. I at least appreciate the level of detail they’ve provided.] But those suppositions are just that; they still have to be supported by evidence (note: that’s where string theory keeps running into trouble). They take the form 'we don't know what goes here; we think it's X and are looking for data that supports or undermines X.'

Of course the point of the debate is: what are we going to teach in school? Well, if you teach creationism, all you’re really teaching is ‘god did it.’ If you do that, why not just stop there? So instead of ‘just a theory, not proven fact’ (that drives me nuts), how about this: human knowledge is incomplete. There are lots of things we still don’t know. How the Big Bang started. How the structure of a brain produces personality, memory, imagination, and intelligence. How life began. Progress is, and always will be, ongoing.

Here's hoping this post gets the matter out of my system.

Sunday, December 05, 2004
And this is what happens...
...when I miss a few days of Old Whig. Go, and be sure to click the Thanksgiving link. It's outstanding.

You've got to go read this
Via the Gweilo Diaries: "Twenty John Kerry supporters met for their first group therapy session in South Florida Thursday, screaming epithets at President Bush as they shared their emotions with licensed mental health counselors."

Like the big guy says, heh.

Friday, December 03, 2004
At last, proof of a divine being
Via email, the following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term:

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave.

“Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

“With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

“This gives two possibilities: 1. if Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. 2. if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

“So which is it?

“If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman Year, ‘it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,’ and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct...leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh, my God.'"

This student received the only A.

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