Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gone fishin'...srsly?

I used to fish occasionally as a kid, usually when camping. While I lived in California, sometimes I went grunion running - yum!

I nearly always ate what I caught. But that is not fishing. When people say they like to fish on weekends, what they mean is: "I like to catch fish for the fun of catching them. Then I throw them back in the water."


Somehow I made it to middle age without realizing that most people who "fish" don't eat what they catch.

I'm not happy about this. Fish do feel pain just as we feel pain. If the hook cuts into a lip, they'll likely live. But if it cuts through the roof of the mouth, they'll suffer for a time then die.

The harm seems forgivable if a person is going to eat the fish and enjoy the benefit of the protein and other quality nutrients that make large brained life possible. But imposing such suffering upon another merely for the momentary thrill of catching something on a hook isn't good enough.

I blame religion. I blame the notion of "sacred human life" and "dominion over all."

Why must humankind serve as a monstrous nightmare to nearly every species upon the earth?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Redneck wedding

I know the camo makes it difficult to see, but it's a cake. For a wedding.

More stupid puns than you can shake a stick at here: http://cellar.org/iotd.php?threadid=17456

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Blogger sucks

The recent comments thing died. Granted only three people visit my page so I shouldn't have a problem keeping up. But what if someone says something fascinating on an older post and I never see it?

I'm taking a look at WordPress. I imported this site to http://tuftedtitmouse.wordpress.com

I like the new blogroll with automatic updates that blogger is doing; don't see anything at wordpress like that. Still, seeing recent comments is more valuable to me.

I may make a permanent move soon... Maybe I should check out LiveJournal first.

LMAO Zedong

So obvious. Why did I never think of that?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why there are no pictures of the North Pacific Trash Gyre

From the Oyster's Garter:
The most common misconception is that the trash pile is like an island... It’s not packed in as tight as that - it’s more like a dense collection of tiny floating pieces of plastic, most of which are not on the surface. A big container ship or naval vessel going through there would probably not notice much out of the ordinary - after all, there is some degree of plastic trash floating on the surface all over the world...

For this reason, the trash gyre would be very, very hard to clean up. The plastic is so small, and so scattered, that it would take high-intensity trawling similar to that for shrimp. And shrimp trawling kills 10 pounds of non-targeted life (sharks, turtles, fish, you name it) for every pound of shrimp gathered. (Yes, Forrest Gump lied to you - for some reason they didn’t want drowned turtles next to Tom Hank’s angelic self.) The mortality caused by trying to remove all the trash in the gyre would probably be similar. We’re just going to have to live with it and try to prevent it from getting any bigger.

Fan fiction sub-genre: theology

Steve Zara has been thinking about the Emperor's New Clothes.
It is a very subtle tale, indicating how deferring to authority can lead to lies and hypocrisy, along with a sense that that behaviour is somehow appropriate. It is also about cowardice - no-one daring to point out the obvious; it takes the naivety of a child in the story.

He's right. However he initially minimized a related theme which he later came to appreciate: First things first. We have to establish that a thing exists before we can study it.

Well, unless we write fan fic.

Fan fiction is an exploration of the play space available within an imagined world established by some prior literary work. It's not easy and it would be unfair to say that a fan fiction writer just makes stuff up.*

Several months of study may be required to master the constraints of some literary universe. Characters can't simply do as you please. They have strengths, weaknesses, alliances, enmities, and motivations. Any potential plot line is constrained by setting, materials, and the laws of physics. If magic is introduced, its uses and limits must be explained to the reader.

Imagine all the research necessary to write a good Star Trek episode. Without careful scholarship, distracting discontinuities and contradictions with what has gone before are bound to appear.

Theologians get annoyed when atheists accuse them of studying a non-subject. Anything that takes work isn't "nothing" ...

...is it?

*Example of the upset that can be provoked when one fails to appreciate all the hard work and discipline of good fan fic. The first response is civil:

Steve Zara's last comment, in which he says that "religion just makes stuff up" is so ridiculously silly one could almost imagine that he really doesn't believe it. Has he read any of the 111 comments so far, and by reading I mean thoughtfully considered each word and phrase, pondered what is being said, how it is being said, etc.? It would seem not.

Creationist logic

Peoples Archive

Peoples Archive, part of Web of Stories Ltd., is dedicated to filming for posterity the life stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time. The people whose stories you watch on this site are leaders of their field, whose work has influenced and changed our world as we know it.

We believe these stories will be an invaluable resource for the future. Imagine watching Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, or Charlie Chaplin, talking about their life and work. Imagine Pablo Picasso or Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, or Marie Curie. The list is endless. Those stories could have added much to our understanding of the way these people thought and worked, and to the world in which their work was created. But beyond their value to scholarship they would provide something else - the living, speaking, image of each person. We could see such people - no longer as mythical figures, but alive - as alive as their work.

While those named in the list above are no longer with us, there are many of equal stature, in all professions, living and working today. We want to listen to and safely archive their stories, voices and presence, in order that they will not be lost. The parameters of the project are theoretically limitless. It is our intention to create a comprehensive and continually growing archive that will document all the people whose work has contributed to our world and our understanding of it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Behavior or Behaviors?

The report in front of me contains this sentence:
His behaviors include property destruction, aggression to others, disrobing, noncompliance (drops to the floor), wandering, and food seeking.
Years past I would have cautioned the author of such a sentence to avoid "behaviors" as "behavior" is an uncountable noun. But I have grown weak. The tide has turned and "behaviors" now seems generally acceptable if one is speaking of particular types of behavior.

Language evolves. With enough time a language can become so different that the older version is incomprehensible to modern speakers.

Biological evolution is a very similar process. Yet creationists deny that an accumulation of small changes over time can add up to larger changes. I find this denial baffling.

I've developed a conditioned sense of exhaustion in response to the words "microevolution verses macroevolution." The words signal the presence of a vast mountain of wrong that must be removed stone by stone before there's any hope of useful conversation.

The defense of "species" against evolutionary change is so silly. It's like saying, "yes, you can go from red to red-orange or from red-orange to orange; but you can't ever go from red to orange!"

Monday, June 2, 2008

China bans the plastic bag

Here's the news report.
China, which consumes 37 million barrels of crude oil each year to manufacture more than one trillion plastic bags, is following in the footsteps of countries such as Ireland, Rwanda and Bangladesh. Italy is due to introduce a ban by 2010.
I confess I sometimes find myself at the store and the canvas bags are home. I haven't yet developed the habit of stashing the things in my car once the groceries are put away, but I'm trying.

Those bags look a lot like jellyfish in the ocean.