Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 5,043
Hometown: Missoula, MT
Home country: USA
Current location: Deep in Red State Hell!
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 5,043
Godless democratic socialist, look towards northern Europe for inspiration on what role-models our economy should aspire towards. Love the ACLU and donate heavily to them each year, wish they'd get with the program and defend the Second Amendment with as much fervor as they do the rest of the Bill of Rights. Proud member of the 99%.
- 2015 (1)
- April (1)
- 2014 (12)
- 2013 (33)
- 2012 (39)
- 2011 (8)
- December (8)
So I finally decided to go back to finish up college earlier this year after a long 15-year hiatus. Before, my original major was sociology, but I was only going part-time while working full-time in the tech industry back when the economy was booming under Clinton, so my head wasn't really in the game.
Anyway, I decided to pursue my dreams and major in biology this time around, mainly because life science was my favorite subject back in junior high school, and genetics in particular really fascinated me. So here I am taking my first intro-level (albeit sophomore-level) biology course, and I already keep finding myself just absolutely stunned and shocked by what I'm reading in my textbook.
How you have all these mindless molecules self-reproducing, molecules spawning other molecules, all completely void of any sort of will or agency at all, just doing their own thing without any care in the world. Just a handful of simple chemical elements, that once joined together cause incredibly complex things to happen. I just find it so fucking incredible and awe-inspiring.
I mean, don't get me wrong -- I'm not even buying into the notion that any of our current religious traditions are anywhere near close to knowing the truth of how it all began -- but it is hard not to imagine that we are part of some sort of massive simulation, like we're living in the Matrix or something. LOL. All these hidden "rules" dictating how life behaves at each level of the biological hierarchy, as simpler parts combine to make much more complex things happen. It's just mind-boggling.
Do you guys ever wax philosophical about it all? I know philosophy tends to be only so much mental masturbation often times, but it is fun to think about "the deeper issues" some days... ponder the "how" of it all, let alone the "why" of it all, even if it does seem like an exercise in futility most of the time.
Isn't life fascinating? Just the sheer absurdity of it all? Something rather than nothing? Consciousness out of reducible parts?
Quick! Where's my fainting couch!
Posted by LAGC | Fri Sep 20, 2013, 11:24 PM (7 replies)
Don't ask me how I stumbled upon this.
But offered for your reading pleasure if you need a chuckle to lift up your day...
Posted by LAGC | Tue Aug 20, 2013, 10:07 PM (7 replies)
...there is a very real problem emerging with CO2 mixing with ocean water and forming H2CO3 -- carbonic acid.
This effect is gradually turning our oceans acidic, which could have serious ramifications for the entire ecosystem before the end of this century.
National Geographic did an interesting expose on this phenomenon not too long back:
On the pH scale, which runs from 0 to 14, solutions with low numbers are considered acidic and those with higher numbers are basic. Seven is neutral. Over the past 300 million years, ocean pH has been slightly basic, averaging about 8.2. Today, it is around 8.1, a drop of 0.1 pH units, representing a 25-percent increase in acidity over the past two centuries.
A change of 0.1 pH units may not seem like much, but the potential for affecting marine life is huge. Many aquatic creatures are very sensitive to fluctuations in the acid-base scale, even a shift of a few tenths of a degree in pH units could kill off entire species. This won't just affect fishermen and those industries dependent on them, but the impact will be felt along the entire food chain!
We've made great strides reducing pollutant levels in many U.S. cities. Over the past 30 years, sulfur dioxide levels are down 71%, carbon monoxide levels are down 79%, ozone down 25%, and nitrogen dioxide down 46%, but for some reason we don't seem to have the political will-power to do what needs to be done to reign in carbon dioxide as well.
So nevermind how hot its gotten this summer, or the prospect of rising ocean levels flooding cities -- pay attention to the other threat here: life on this planet as we know it.
We need to do something about CO2.
Posted by LAGC | Thu Jul 11, 2013, 01:56 AM (7 replies)
As far as I'm concerned Zimmerman was trying to play hero, he was trying to play Rambo... the minute Zimmerman opened that (car) door with a loaded gun in his pocket, is when he decided he was going to be in a shoot-out, was when he decided that he was going to take a chance with his life or someone else's life. And that chance, he took that chance and one man is dead, and one man is alive. The man who is dead had no gun, the man who is alive did have a gun. To me this case resides only on those facts. And I have to say that Zimmerman is guilty. Now I know many of you are going to be very angry at me, I expect that... but what if Trayvon had been a white kid, would you be just as defensive of Zimmerman as you are?
This guy is as crazy and as rude as they come, can't believe he's still on the air. But every once in awhile he lets the truth slip...
He basically summed up the sentiment of the vast majority of his own radio audience listeners...
Indeed, if Trayvon had been white, you wouldn't see all this support for Zimmerman. You wouldn't see people sending him money.
It's as plain as day. The only reason Zimmy was able to bail out of jail (twice) was because he killed a "black teenage thug" and like a dog whistle, it mobilized a certain segment of our society.
The wanton stereotyping and bare-naked prejudice being displayed by so many of his supporters is so fucking obvious.
Posted by LAGC | Thu Jul 4, 2013, 04:18 AM (39 replies)
Some Maryland gun store owners are ignoring pleas from the State Police, opting to sell guns to customers rather than waiting for background checks.
Maryland state police are trying to process a veritable flood of background check requests, which has left would-be gun owners and gun distributors peeved about the wait. "We're doing all we can to address the backlog," said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley. "We've just never seen anything like this in the history of our responsibility for licensing firearms. The numbers are just staggering."
Maryland police have tripled their staff to tackle the backlog of 26,547 background check requests.
Gun distributors are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Maryland law states that gun buyers should not have to wait more than seven days to receive a firearm, while Maryland police are requesting as much as 10 weeks to process the background checks.
A recently passed law that bans assault-style weapons in Maryland is the catalyst that has been driving the gun grab, proving once again that gun control is one of the best ways to sell firearms.
Posted by LAGC | Tue Jun 11, 2013, 02:04 AM (15 replies)
It sure is amazing how concerned they suddenly are about civil liberties.
During the whole Bush regime, they were nothing but apologists and mouthpieces for every authoritarian action and decree emanating from Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Dept.
Now that it's Obama in charge, they are criticizing everything that the Justice Department does.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they are finally siding with the ACLU and speaking out about civil liberties violations, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if AG Holder was forced to resign, but the hypocrisy is just plain stunning.
Posted by LAGC | Sun Jun 2, 2013, 08:22 AM (4 replies)
Wowza. So I just flew out here to Indianapolis for a few days to check out the campus of IUPUI (Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) to see if I might want to transfer after I graduate with my A.S. degree from my community college next year -- they have a pretty decent neuroscience program from what it looks like, so I'm just going to check the campus out, meet with some advisers, talk to some alumni, etc.
But, of course, today being Memorial Day, everything's closed, so I had to figure out what to do with myself this fine Monday afternoon. On my way from the airport to the nearby hotel yesterday one of those changing electronic freeway bill-boards caught my eye: "Creation Museum." It didn't occur to me until this morning to actually Google it and find out how close it was to here (only a 2-hour drive) so with nothing better to do, I said: "What the hell? I've got to see this for myself."
When I arrived at the compound (yes, it was gated with a tall, thick metal perimeter fence, presumably to keep vandals out) I was greeted by a visible security presence, with guards dressed complete in state trooper hat and everything. (No weapons at least!) That one was just directing traffic, but there were more inside to make sure you minded your p's and q's.
You may have read on PZ Myers' blog about what happens when you attempt to question the "sanctioned" narrative -- you quickly get shown the door. They have one particular point-of-view to present, and they are NOT open to discussion.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat in Noah's Cafe (tried their "Eden Wrap", their only vegetarian option -- basically a salad wrapped in a tortilla, with a bland hummus spread) I declined to get my picture taken against one of those green back-drops that they later super-imposed dinosaurs around you (remember, dinosaurs lived along-side men, don't ya know?)
Inside the main hall was a bunch of science fail. On the one hand, they try to make the claim that the wide variety of life on Earth is impossible to have come from any single ancestor (therefore God must have done it), yet on the other hand (like with those finches), they point out how much such diversity there is still within the same species, how they can all inter-breed, therefore (you guessed it) -- God must have done it.
More science fail:
It really is amazing the kinds of contortions of logic, the hoops they jump through to try to sell their idea of a Young Earth. They honestly believe that if you don't take Genesis literally, if the Earth really isn't 6000 years old, then that means the entire Bible is suspect. Of course, they are right (about the entire Bible being suspect), but instead of adapting their views in light of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, they've decided to double-down on the Young Earth B.S. and try to twist the evidence to fit their carefully crafted narrative.
Oh, and they are REALLY obsessed with dinosaurs/monster-legends:
That came out kind of blurry, that's supposed to be Nessie in the North Atlantic there...
The only thing missing is Jesus riding a dinosaur!
They really don't like that Templeton dude either.
Turns out I just missed the "featured guest speaker" who was giving a talk titled "Is Evolution Compatible with Christianity?" -- three guesses what the answer to that one is.
At the end of the tour, I left feeling kind of sad, but hopeful. Sad because of so much ignorance being parlayed as fact to the uneducated masses -- but hopeful, because if their focus on biology inspires even a few kids to become fascinated by it so much to pursue it in college, they will have their bubbles burst in due time. When the sheer amount of evidence for evolution becomes apparent, as it does in even sophomore-level Biology courses, not only will the myth of Young Earth Creationism be destroyed, but likely their entire faith along with it.
I really can't help but think, just like the Westboro idiots, they do more to damage to Christianity's brand than they do to promote it. Because by unwittingly planting that seed, by inspiring kids to become interested in science and the amazing mysteries of life, they are in fact digging their own grave. Because curiosity will only lead to more questions, and down that path are different answers, answers not found in their precious, Holy Bible.
Posted by LAGC | Mon May 27, 2013, 06:44 PM (47 replies)
Just took my Intermediate Algebra Finals this afternoon, and totally aced it. Softball questions all the way through. I spent dozens of hours studying for it, memorizing formulas and practicing all sorts of application (word) problems, and there weren't even any of them (word problems) on the exam! Go figure. Multiple choice is so much easier than having to blindly supply the answer like on quizzes -- if you ever find yourself stuck just plug in each of the four possible answers and you can't go wrong. It's so easy, it's downright criminal! And the instructor even allowed graphing calculators on the Final, unlike with the first two exams of the semester, so with my brand new trusty TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, double-checking everything was a breeze.
I made it 2/3 of the way through the semester without a graphing calculator at all, then found out we could have one for the 3rd exam and the Final, which certainly made things a whole hell of a lot easier. I spent quite a while just getting familiar with the calculator, so that when it came to problems like these:
...I didn't have to mess around with change of base formula or whatever, I can just go into the MATH menu, select the logBASE() function, and enter in the exact expression and VIOLA! I love this thing, its so much nicer than even the vaunted regular TI-84 Plus!
Submitted my final portfolio for my English 102 (Writing Composition 2) class last week, but since it just consisted of the 3 papers I wrote over the course of the semester (which I got all A's on), it shouldn't change my grade. My Computer Information Systems Applications class was a breeze, finished a few weeks ago, well ahead of time, just basic productivity software (Word/Excel/Powerpoint) proficiency, and a General Technology exam which a 3rd grader could ace. And in my Intro Communications class, I got 90/100 and 147/150 on each of my two speeches (informative/persuasive) respectively, so that more than made up for my lackluster performance on some of the textbook reading quizzes, only needed to get a 56% on the Final in order to still get an A, ended up getting 88% -- so that's over and done with as well.
Now comes the hard part: like a dumb-ass I signed up for a 9-credit load during the Summer Semester, which is like taking a whopping 18 credits (full-time is only 12-16 credits) in a regular 16-week semester, all crammed into 8 short weeks. So if that doesn't kill me, nothing will. But I'm going to literally have no dang free time throughout the entire months of June and July, so if I disappear for awhile don't think I forgot about y'all. I was actually surprised how much free time I had this semester taking just 13 credits, but that 3-credit CISA class doesn't even really count, it was so easy. So yeah, 9 condensed could be a real trick.
If all goes according to plan though, I'll be able to graduate here in a couple years with my Microbiology degree and hopefully not join the ranks of all those college grads who are gainfully unemployed right now. LOL. Sounds like folks are having better luck with the STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) degrees though, so hopefully I find something. Will be nice making $75K/year for a change though if it works out, best job I've had to date peaked at $17.76/hour (only $36K/year), so I won't know what to do with all that money. Even if being a scientist only paid minimum wage, I'd still pursue it though. Just because the work is so important.
At least I should be able to graduate without any appreciable student loan debt, thanks to that generous Pell Grant -- $2775/semester, that "socialist redistribution of wealth" in progress. But I hope to pay it back in spades...
Posted by LAGC | Mon May 13, 2013, 09:35 PM (11 replies)
Last month, four months after the Newtown, Conn., shootings kicked off a renewed battle over U.S. gun laws, gun control advocates were dealt a devastating blow: After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, bipartisan dinners and personal presidential entreaties, the Senate voted down a measure that would have expanded background checks for U.S. gun buyers, scuttling the primary gun law thought to have a fighting chance to make it through at least one - if not two - bodies of Congress.
For pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Gun Owners of America, both of which had been working hard behind the scenes to make sure the measure didn't have sufficient support to gain Senate passage, the Senate's actions marked a critical victory. The overarching Senate gun bill was tabled, and gun control advocates found themselves scrambling, after months of work on the so-called Manchin-Toomey compromise, to find a new path forward.
So far, Gun Owners of America likes its odds.
"Our membership has grown by almost a third - it was at 300,000, and so we're almost at 400,000," Pratt said. "We've definitely seen people's concern and people wanting to be active and I think that's probably the most exciting thing: Activism has been way up."
Looks like gun control advocates may have "fired up the base"... just the wrong one.
Posted by LAGC | Fri May 3, 2013, 06:25 AM (7 replies)
While I still agree with Joe Biden that a good pump shotgun is more ideal for home-defense, has much more "stopping power" than a handgun, the author of that vid does make a point of whom a high-capacity mag ban would really affect.
Posted by LAGC | Thu May 2, 2013, 09:17 PM (31 replies)