Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging

My favorite is the "Crab Jumping"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The only question there is

I am an inveterate reader of Calvin and Hobbes. The irony of using Calvin (the champion of predestination) and Hobbes (of "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" fame) as names should not be lost on us. I was grieved when Bill Watterson decided to end the strip in the 1990's, but the rerun continues to warm the coronary cackles of a morning. The republished strip from today is especially good.

True to his fore bearers, Calvin questions the very essence of morality:

What is predestination but the absence of free will? In a desire to make a godhead absolutely powerful, Calvin asserted that no single "free" action of man could contribute to salvation. Taking this to the bitter end gives us the Jehovah's Witnesses. This sect (comprising 7 million souls in the world, only half that of the Jewish faith) has some interesting beliefs, including the assertion that only 144,000 souls will be allowed into the eternal Woodstock. How one picks 144,000 out of 7 million (plus those who have "gone on before") probably occupies JW theologians for hours.

Free will (that which shall not be discussed) is such an interesting topic. I am reminded of counselling teenagers about drugs and sex. One can't say "its the right thing to do" because hedonistic Americans believe that pleasure is the be all to end all. They equate being "happy" with "feeling good." So, when telling teenagers about sex and drugs you have to threaten them with consequences. This is why Nancy Reagan's "just say no" was/is such a failure. This concept, that teenagers who are surrounded by adults who have no qualms about bopping whoever and snorting whatever, would, out of the goodness of their heart, refrain from bopping and snorting is like expecting Bin Laden to run for Pope.

Calvin hits it on the head. Teenagers need to be careful about sex to avoid contracting permanent (i.e. integrated into your genome) diseases such as AIDS, herpes, hepatitis B and HPV, and avoid unwanted pregnancy, which is a bittersweet disaster. They need to avoid drugs because they are illegal. Period. Free Will doesn't come into the equation. Puppies do not become house broken because they want to be good in heart and spirit. They become house broken because they fear the consequences. It is natural for them to poop where they want. That is why they look so mournful when you rub their nose in it. They are saying "WTF?"

A long time ago we addressed this issue in a series of posts. I realize now, after reading Unreal Nature's post of 23 January, that there is a large world of intermediate cognition that has to be addressed in discussing the neurobiological basis of this concept, Free Will. Part of the problem, for me, is the jargon. It is like trying to understand Fourier transforms without understanding complex numbers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging

In response to a certain dark and foreboding post:


Without sound (Blogger may remove because of sound clip which, I thought, was public domain)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Nail in the Coffin

Well, the SCOTUS has given those unrightfully maligned CEO's an "Advance to Go" card and sent the rest of us to Jail.
Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has given big business, unions and nonprofits more power to spend freely in federal elections, a major turnaround that threatens a century of government efforts to regulate the power of corporations to bankroll American politics.
But, you say, can't the unions and nonprofits counter big business?

Ha, Ha, Ha...

Ha, Ha, Ha...

Ha, Ha, Ha...

Ha, Ha, Ha...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Crab Blogging

Crabs running slow. Too cold.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Performance Art

There is a very moving video that's "gone viral" on U-tube of a young lady from the Ukraine doing sand drawings:

Kseniy Simonova's Amazing Sand Drawings.

I will admit that I was moved by this display. Sand drawing is part of some very different cultures including the aboriginal culture in Australia, the Navajo in the Southwest America and Buddhist monks (Mandala sand painting). I saw the latter in action once in Albuquerque (not too far from the Navajo reservation). There are a large number of other cultures that practice this art.

When one realizes how sophisticated some of these works of art are, it makes you feel pretty humble.

The more esoteric, repetitive patterns produced are frequently reminiscent of cellular automata and that probably deserves another post.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Caravelles of the Desert

Abu Dhabi opens doors for poetry competition in camel beauty

Updated below

Update II: Please see much more at Camel poetry...

Poetry competition seeks best descriptive poems of camels as part of Al Dhafra Festival 2010.

Down amongst all your travels,
The best will be on spotted camels.
Camels with their nose so rare
Camels with their coat so fair
(A sporty coat of camel hair)
Walking gayly across the dunes
Singing songs and humming tunes.

The camel is a noble beast,
His I.Q. is the very least
His brain is grand (on other hand)
The Einstein of the Arab sand.

And when the subject turns to water
The camel is the beast who oughter
Be the one who comes to mind
For such a one you'll never find
Who miles and miles he can traverse
And then he does it in reverse
Without a trip to head or loo
Don't you wish that you could too?

We have several more entries from across the pond:


There once was a camel I rode
Who thought me too much of a load
So he turned his head
And bit my leg
Aod off his back I was throwed.

Comment: a worthy entry, a little back biting, but, what the heck...

Secondly, an opus:

I don't need no elephant's trunk,
Or do gas warfare like a skunk,
I'm a ship that can't be sunk,
My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps,
My lovely camel lumps.

I've got an adaptation,
Controls my urination,
They love my ungulation,
To reach their destination,
On barchan and in wadi,
Across the Rub' al Khali
Without a drink of water,
Across the Empty Quarter,
My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps,
My lovely camel lumps.

A dromedary's lacking,
You send that creature packing,
The Bactrain is true-o,
Because it's got a duo.
My humps, my humps, my humps, my humps,
My lovely camel lumps,
In the back and in the front.

This is almost too good to be true
I am no fan of Black Eyed Peas but it seems to eclipse their lyric:

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

And don't forget the Chickenwing camel clutch as is found in our mother organization.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Good Books to Read?

Here at the beginning of the New Year, I thought I'd look at what listed as the customer bestsellers of 2009. And I noticed something:

In the first 28 selections:

2. Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto - Mark R. Levin
Author and conservative talk radio host Levin (Rescuing Sprite, Men in Black) takes on the Statist, a liberal straw man, in this collection of polemics against left-wing tenets (like "economic and social justice"), touchstones (like the New Deal)…

3. Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine - Glenn Beck
"If you believe it's time to put principles above parties, character above campaign promises, and Common Sense above all -- then I ask you to read this book...."In any era, great Americans inspire us to reach our full potential. They know with conviction what they believe within themselves.

15. Going Rogue: An American Life - Sarah Palin
In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Palin paints an intimate portrait of growing up in the wilds of Alaska; meeting her lifelong love; her decision to enter politics; the importance of faith and family; and the unique joys and trials of life as a high-profile working mother. She also opens up for the first time about the 2008 presidential race, providing a rare, mom's-eye view of high-stakes national politics—from patriots dedicated to "Country First" to slick politicos bent on winning at any cost.

16. Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government - Glenn Beck
It happens to all of us: You're minding your own business, when some idiot informs you that guns are evil, the Prius will save the planet, or the rich have to finally start paying their fair share of taxes. Just go away! you think to yourself -- but they only become more obnoxious. Your heart rate quickens. You start to sweat. You can't get away. Your only hope is......this book.

17. Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies - Michelle Malkin
In her shocking new book, Michelle Malkin digs deep into the records of President Obama's staff, revealing corrupt dealings, questionable pasts, and abuses of power throughout his administration...

28. Catastrophe - Eileen McGann
It's time to take back our country. Now. It's that simple. It's that urgent. So begins Dick Morris and Eileen McGann's latest and most important book. They say that we must act before President Barack Obama fully implements his radical political agenda.

On the other hand

11. True Compass: A Memoir - Edward M. Kennedy
In this landmark autobiography, five years in the making, Senator Edward M. Kennedy tells his extraordinary personal story--of his legendary family, politics, and fifty years at the center of national events.


That's right, six out of seven of the first 28 books on the list that are political commentary are written by rabidly conservative meatheads. I find #16, Glenn Beck's "Arguing with Idiots" to be particularly ironic.

I would say that it is a reasonable hypothesis that the people who watch Fox news are not great readers of books of any stripe. Therefore, it is a little frightening to see this devotion to the screeds put out by such dunderheads. But, in the reckoning of America, they are a great success. That is, they make money. And how:

Re Glen Beck:
Beck's rapidly expanding media empire includes multiple revenue sources: a TV show ($2 million), a radio show ($10 million), books ($5 million), speeches (half a million), appearances ($2.5 million) and a Web site ($3 million). The move from CNN to Fox News grabbed big headlines for the popular but polarizing pundit.

Do people really read these books? And poor Teddy Kennedy, lonely in that number 11 spot. Looking down from some Hyannis Port Heaven and wondering if it was all worth it.