Archive for February, 2009

Blog Rankings and Stuff

The Atheist Blogger has recently created his own Atheist Blog ranking system. I’m not in one of the top 30 spots anymore, but that’s perfectly fine with me. I got a better spot.splendid42

If you don’t get why that’s better than 27, go pick up a copy of Hitchiker’s Guide and don’t you dare set foot back here until you’ve read it cover to cover.

Advertisements

Fruit Flies and Volcanoes: Why Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin Should Run in 2012

Two things have stuck out to me from Bobby Jindal’s Republican response:

  1. Repetitive, overused references to how Louisiana recovered from Hurricane Katrina paired with attempts to show that this relates to getting us out of the economic crisis.
  2. “$140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’ Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.” This quote was immediately followed by a horrendous flashback to Sarah Palin’s infamous remark about fruit flies last election.

Okay, Jindal. I see your point about government spending. Thing is, some things are worth spending on.

See, just because it’s called the “theory of” plate tectonics doesn’t mean there aren’t active volcanoes, or dormant volcanoes that  could become active again.

You know that state in the middle of the Pacific? Y’know? Hawaii? You know why those islands are there?

No, God didn’t put them there. They’re there because they’re sitting on a hot spot.

Oh, but it’s not just limited to the middle of the Pacific. A quick Google search reveals a map of potentially active volcanoes all along the west coast.

But wait! There’s more! Another quick Google search finds a USGS page talking about the benefits of volcano monitoring during the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 2012 (note to self: typing  outside in your backyard in the middle of the night may lead to nonsensical typos) in 1991. I quote (and add emphasis):

The monitoring of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and the successful forecasting of its cataclysmic June 15 eruption prevented property losses of at least $250 million (this figure is intentionally conservative and should be considered a minimum value). No monetary value has been placed on the more than 5,000 lives saved, although other cost-benefit analyses have used values from $100,000 to $1 million per life.

Note to Jindal’s speech writers: if the American people can use Google so can you.

Oh, if only it had been $140 million spent on hurricane monitoring. It would tie in with the “we can deal with natural disasters” theme rather well. And by well I mean ironically. And by ironically I mean it would make Jindal more laughable than Palin.

Speaking of which, there were a lot of Facebook status messages that said “Jindal/Palin 2012” and some of them were serious. Wouldn’t that be great? Then we could have TWO anti-science creationists in the highest seats of public office in America!

I’m Popular*!

*In the blogosphere. Not by far at school.

Yesterday Hemant Mehta put out a list of the 30 Most Popular Atheist Blogs. Yours truly managed to squeeze herself onto the list at number 27, with Teen Skepchick just a few spaces up at number 25.

Well, that was a surprise. There was a point in time when I checked my Technorati Authority somewhat regularly but I haven’t done that in a while.

Anyway, this is cause for celebration.

But wait! There’s more! Apparently my Technorati Authority is exactly 42!

On a completely unrelated note, I frequent a chatroom called Secular Chat. It’s a great place to socialize with Atheists, agnostics, the occasional secular theist, and general skeptics of religion. Discussions aren’t just centered around religion but cover a wide range of intellectual to casual topics. Pop in and say “hi” to me sometime if I’m there.

In Which I Over-Analyze a Potential Poe

This morning I was having lunch in my school cafeteria. I took a seat at a sunny table by two students, a boy and a girl, who I didn’t know.

I started up a conversation which somehow involved talking about Wicca. Some playful things were said about “Wiccan curses” when the girl mentioned that her mother was a Wiccan, although she only worshipped “The Elements”.

“You mean like the Periodic Table?” (of SCIENCE!) I inquired in the manner which you use when you want to sound stupid because you have just realised that the person you’re talking to is probably not-all-there and you don’t want to be a jerk and just say that you don’t think they’re all there.

“No,” the girl responded, looking at me as if I were quite silly (I was being quite silly), “I mean the true elements which make up the universe.”

“Oh? And what would those elements be?” knowing full well that the answer would involve concepts I had learned in philosophy, not chemistry.

“Oh, like… water, fire, earth, spirit which makes up living things…”

“Carbon?”

“No, spirit. But an amoeba doesn’t have spirit because they’re not intelligent. Spirit is only in intelligent things,” she started saying.

“Oh. And how do you know this?” I interjected.

“Because we sense it.”

I found that the rate at which I was sticking french fries in my mouth was beginning to quicken. This act was interrupted, three fries short of a completed meal, by the boy speaking up.

“I just threw an energy ball at your face. You twitched but you didn’t notice it.”

This made me stop and think for a moment while I chewed the fried potato-bits. My first instinct was to think that the boy didn’t know what he was talking about as if I were to ask him what energy meant he probably wouldn’t have said “the potential to do work” but if you replace what he said with “I just threw a ‘potential to do work’ ball at your face and you twitched” it wouldn’t have been entirely nonsensical. Causing my face to twitch would involve doing work and would therefore require energy…

But when you think about it some more it’s still complete rubbish. What sort of energy would it take and how would it have been transferred? The only medium between me and him was the air which can transfer kinetic energy in the form of wind, heat energy, or sound energy. Sound energy probably can’t make my face twitch unless the sound was particularly offensive, however no such sound was uttered from him. The stimulus of heat or wind could have potential triggered a reflexive twitch-like response in my face, and although I should think I would have noticed feeling it it’s entirely possible that I didn’t feel it.

But that would still make this whole thing complete rubbish anyway as kinetic or heat energy could have been sent through the air any number of ways that do not contradict our current understanding of physical reality and is therefore entirely unimpressive.

But there isn’t any verification that my face did indeed twitch. There were at least four other students at the table and none of them reported noticing the event occuring. Not that it would have done any good as only the boy would have known the time at which he cast the alleged energy ball so there would be no way of telling if the event really was a direct result of an energy ball or if the boy was just saying that he had caused it after the fact.

Given the fact that these were high-school aged students it’s also more than entirely possible that they simply weren’t being serious, thus rendering this blog post entirely pointless as well as over-analyzed.

Well, hey, it’s my blog.

Buses and Things

I just thought I’d share two of the bus ads I made through the bus ad generator of win.

It turns out that I also have an obsession with the Obamaicon generator

Okay, say it. “Darn kids with your new-fangled online image-generating devices!”

Pistachios!

I’m not the only one who can’t stop eating pistachios once I start, right? I dunno, there’s just something about the aftertaste that makes me want more with each one I pop into my mouth. Soon you’re at the bottom of the bag and the world comes crashing down upon you.

Luckily, one night after eating my way through a can of Russian pistachios and feeling empty after running out, OhNuts! graciously offered to send me three types of pistachios for me to review on my blog. I accepted, and then had to study for high school finals, but now that all that is out of the way I’m going to tell you what I thought of them.

The first pistachios were the Turkish Antep Pistachios. These pistachios are smaller than normal pistachios, and harder to open, but they definitely have a unique flavour. I guess this sounds sort of odd but they’ve got an  after-taste that’s sort of like sunflower seeds. They were stolen from me before I could get to the bottom of the bag. 😀

More like your standard pistachios were the Roasted Salted Pistachios. These are the kind that I most easily get into the habit of eating continually until I’m at the bottom of the bag. They’re just so good. The bag is huge too. Luckily I haven’t managed to run out yet but they’re nice, and big, and easy to open.

But, by far the tastiest type of pistachios I have ever encountered were the Chili-Lemon Pistachios. I had known that you could marinate pistachios in stuff before, but chili and lemon was just a phenomenal combination. If it’s possible to get an explosion of flavour in your mouth from nuts, you’ll get it from these. It makes sense, of course. Chili tastes great. Lemon tastes great. Pistachios taste great. Need I say more?

Of course, they’re pretty spicy so it’s harder to fall into the habit of continually popping pistachios into my mouth. Is that a good thing?

Oh! And apparently you can use them to make baklava!

Mmm… I’m going to need more soon.