Saturday, September 26, 2009

On my way downtown to my secret mission Wednesday

...Come to think of it, it had to be Tuesday...I'll tell you all about it when the "danger" is past.

Anyway, as I was accelerating from the stop sign on Humboldt Avenue, I caught this flash out my driver's side window, then, a split-second later a bald eagle spreads his wings right in front of my windshield, drops down to the street... I thought he was going to land right there in front of me... I yelled, "Holy crap!" and started to jam on the brakes, but then he snatched something off the road and took off again. I kept up with him as he climbed steadily until he cleared the trees, close enough that I could see that the thing he'd snatched was a squirrel - which I hadn't noticed until he grabbed it, and would have negligently squashed flat - I watched those beautiful, powerful wings pinion him up until he veered off over the housetops back toward the Mississippi.

I looked in my mirror at the couple of cars backed up behind and asked, uselessly, "Did you see that?!" They weren't honking at me, so they must have been as enthralled as I was. I realized how slow I was going then and carried on with my mission.

If he'd landed there for even a second, I'd have schmucked him. I don't know what I'd have done then. Called the DNR, I guess. Luckily, he was only there on business.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to shop

at the Barnes and Noble in downtown Minneapolis. Yes, I took a stroll down by the Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall. Yeah, it's a nice statue.

Anyway, I wasn't looking for it, but they had a display of atheist literature - I noticed a couple of Dawkin's books...Sam Harris, that sort of thing... But there was one book there that I've wanted since I first saw it in the Second Renaissance catalog back in the late '90s: George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God. [Oh, Heck! Here's the whole first chapter!]

So let's get right to the point (last four paragraphs of section VII):
Religion has had the disastrous effect of placing vitally important concepts, such as morality, happiness and love, in a supernatural realm inaccessible to man's mind and knowledge. Morality and religion have become so intertwined that many people cannot conceive of ethics divorced from god, even in principle -- which leads to the assumption that the atheist is out to destroy values.

Atheism, however, is not the destruction of morality; it is the destruction of supernatural morality. Likewise, atheism is not the destruction of happiness and love; it is the destruction of the idea that happiness and love can be achieved only in another world. Atheism brings these ideas down to earth, within the reach of man's mind. What he does with them after this point is a matter of choice. If he discards them in favor of pessimism and nihilism, the responsibility lies with him, not with atheism.

By severing any possible appeal to the supernatural -- which, in terms of human knowledge, means the unknowable -- atheism demands that issues be dealt with through reason and human understanding; they cannot be sloughed-off onto a mysterious god.

If atheism is correct, man is alone. There is no god to think for him, to watch out for him, to guarantee his happiness. These are the sole responsibility of man. If man wants knowledge, he must think for himself. If man wants success, he must work. If man wants happiness, he must strive to achieve it. Some men consider a godless world to be a terrifying prospect; others experience it as a refreshing, exhilarating challenge. How a person will react to atheism depends only on himself -- and the extent to which he is willing to assume responsibility for his own choices and actions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sorry, kids! My modem died.

Long live the modem!

That happened last Thursday, shortly after I posted that last post. I thought we'd forgotten to pay the bill, so I waited until that night to ask Laurie what was up, called the ISP Friday, and then we hit the road to Rendezvous as soon as the wife and kids got home.

I refrained from joining in any youthful hijinx, since I'm a geezer now. The younger kid and I walked all over the place.

I saw my old buddy Steve O. there! That was great!

We've been dealing with other matters since Sunday night. I might even tell you about them someday. Figuring out what was wrong with the internet connection has been on the back burner though.

Now let's go see what my friends have been up to.


Later: hm. Glad I missed it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm on vacation this week

I've been helping get the kids off to school, then coming back home and doing some small tasks that have been left undone for quite some time. I won't go into all that. We seem to have the mouse infestation under control, though. No more disturbing skittering noises in the ceiling. And the yard work's all done and the living room is clean. More or less; I piled junk from another room all over the furniture, so I won't be taking any pictures of it right now.

Yesterday we took our tent up to Pine City and set it up for this weekend's Rendezvous. Stuffed all the heavy junk in it. Nice to get that done early. Now I'm going to listen to a few podcasts and think about doing more housework.

I checked in on Ron this morning

He's got a couple of interesting posts, one about The Flood, And then it rained for forty days and forty nights, which links to a Wikipedia article about Burckle Crater, off the shore of Madagascar, which seems to me to be quite a plausible natural explanation of the world's flood myths. In the other post, Pingualuit, Ron connects the effects of the formation of a crater in extreme northern Quebec, to his belief that Biblical prophecy will be fulfilled by a giant meteorite strike by 2076 or so.

Such a strike is well within the realm of possibility.

Read all those articles, they're pretty interesting. The Deluge Myth article has plenty that I wish Ron would "get," as well as a number of things he wishes I would get.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our job as parents is to make life safe and secure

for our children so they can... Well, here:
If you have a strategy of having these very finely shaped innate modules just designed for a particular evolutionary niche, it makes sense to have those in place from the time you're born. But you might have a more powerful strategy. You might not be very well-designed for any particular niche, but instead be able to learn about all the different environments in which you can find yourself, including being able to imagine new environments and create them. That's the human strategy.

But that strategy has one big disadvantage, which is that while you're doing all that learning, you are going to be helpless. You're better off being able to consider, for example, should I attack this mastodon with this kind of tool or that kind of tool? But you don't want to be sitting and considering those possibilities when the mastodon is coming at you.

The way that evolution seems to have solved that problem is to have this kind of cognitive division of labor, so the babies and kids are really the R&D department of the human species. They're the ones that get to do the blue-sky learning, imagining thinking. And the adults are production and marketing. We can not only function effectively but we can continue to function in all these amazing new environments, totally unlike the environment in which we evolved. And we can do so just because we have this protected period when we're children and babies in which we can do all of the learning and imagining. There's really a kind of metamorphosis. It's like the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly except it's more like the babies are the butterflies that get to flitter around and explore, and we're the caterpillars who are just humping along on our narrow adult path.

Link. Watch the video, too.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More than just a wild ass

My kid - the older boy - called me up tonight and asked me for a synonym for catapult. Damned if the word 'onager' wasn't listed. I'm like, "What?" Now, I know that an onager is like a donkey - I think I learned that from my Grandpa, who brought it up God-knows-why. Maybe he owned one once or something. Anyway, here's the explanation from Wikipedia:
The onager was a post-classical Roman siege engine, which derived its name from the kicking action of the machine, similar to that of an onager (wild ass). It is a type of catapult that uses torsional pressure, generally from twisted rope, to store energy for the shot.

Twisted rope? Now I've gotta read the rest of the article.

Oh, I forgot to tell you why he asked.

He's a tree trimmer, you know, and he was removing a big maple today, cutting all the branches off and dropping them to the ground. When he cut off the last and biggest "lead" (think of a lead as a sub-trunk), a branch hit the ground funny and shattered, shooting a yard-long, five-inch thick, jagged log at a neighboring house. Luckily, she, the neighbor, had a big maple tree of her own that stopped the log before it sailed right through her picture window.

He said it all happened in slow-motion, but it didn't get a good description of his feelings. He went off on a tangent about what an SOB his father-in-law is.

He probably tells his father-in-law what an SOB his stepdad is. I know I can be an SOB. I don't know anything about the other guy but what my stepson tells me. I stepped into this situation with no clue of what I was getting into, thus modeling the lifestyle I obviously favored. The Older Boy has gone and done likewise.