Monday, March 30, 2009

Airplane Bird Strike Solution

Bird strikes on airplanes, like the one that downed the US Airways jet on January 15th into the Hudson River, are an increasingly common problem for pilots.

Fortunately, a simple and effective solution has been proposed that causes the birds no harm:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Observation

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dissecting 10 Stupid Reasons Against Gay Marriage

I got this one in an email

  1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
  2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
  4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
  7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
  9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Negative Attitudes Toward Food and Sex Come From the Same Source

Yet again, Alternet has giving me blogging fodder. In the article in questions, Which Is Worse These Days: Being Called Fat or Whore by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, the author explores the idea:

In an interesting switch, food and sex have completely reversed their roles in society. And all within only a matter of two generations.

My response to the article follows below:

Negative Attitudes Toward Food and Sex Come From the Same Source

We must remember that our country's culture has a strong Calvinist streak running through it, starting with the Puritans.

Calvinism values ascetic self-denial and is suspicious of anything that even suggests excess, which would include food and sex. It takes a negative view of human nature, with its doctrine of "total depravity", which takes the view every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. Thus, all the basic drives that go along with being human, which would include the drive to eat and to mate, believing that such things, while necessary for the survival of the species, must be tightly controlled.

In both the instances cited in this article, food and sex, what is being resisted is hedonism, which is a worldview which values pleasure for its own sake. Eating and having sex, are both naturally pleasurable activities. A sex hedonist is a libertine, while a food hedonist is a gourmand.

Naturally, both forms of hedonism offend the Calvinist mentality, as Calvinism is suspicious of anything that indicates that people are having too much of a good time, as such pursuits take away from focusing on God.

Though most people today who take a negative attitude against those who enjoy sex and/or food "too much" in their opinion, are generally not consciously aware of the Calvinist roots of their beliefs, such roots are so deeply embedded in our culture as to be sacred cows.

Thus, many of those who rail against "whores" and fat people get emotional about it and take on a moralistic tone and cast sex and food hedonists as bad people deserving of public scorn.

And this is precisely what makes such attitudes so hard to root out; they are so deeping woven into our cultural fabric that most people are unaware of the religious roots of it all.

It would be better if people realized that everyone in this life has their own burdens to bear and that no one is perfect or in a position to act as moral judges to others. Pleasure for its own sake isn't bad, but self-righteously meddling into the private lives of others is.

The guiding rule should be, "If it doesn't infringe on your right to do differently, then it's none of your business." Simple enough, I'd think.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The True Irish Test

Your result for The Ultimate TRUE IRISH Test...

A Brave Fenian

You scored 95 Common Sense, 69 Irish Facts, and 74 Irish Soul!

You know your stuff. You are Irish in your heart. You probably talk like an Irish person after a few pints. You sing the rebel songs. You drink, and probably bleed Guinness. You may have even been interned in British Prisons. If you are a female, I am in love. If you are a male, we are brothers. We should have a pint. Please don't forget to rate my test...

Take The Ultimate TRUE IRISH Test at HelloQuizzy


In reality, I am one quarter Irish

Friday, March 13, 2009

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Relationship ADD

The other day, I was visiting a lover I don't see all that regularly, and she told me that I have "Relationship ADD", because I flit from relationship to relationship, with little interest in settling down with one woman.

After I finished laughing my ass off, I conceded that she was probably right and that referring to my wandering ways as such was really rather clever.

I thought about it a little, and realized that one of the prime reasons I tend to move on from any particular relationship is boredom; once I've pretty well gotten all the mystery out of a particular relationship and my partner has become fairly predictable, my attention wanders and I lose interest. Rarely do my relationships break up because of anger or hard feelings; they die from lost interest and benign neglect.

And like those with ADD who jump from one thing to another, I've long been happy with having several lovers concurrently; when one gets boring, I go visit another, so I that I don't get terminally bored with any particular one permanently too soon.

Nevertheless, this type of ADD is one that I have no interest in "curing".

Friday, March 6, 2009

Physical Fitness vs Mental Fitness

Alternet has once again kindly provided me with some blogging fodder. Author Suzie Orbach, in the article We Are in the Midst of a Cultural Explosion Tied to 'Improving' the Body, stated that:

A new rhetoric of detox, weight training, brushing, irrigation and cleansing has arisen, and along with it the idea that the body can be perfected.

My response to this article follows below:

Physical Fitness vs. Mental Fitness

Everywhere we go these days, the media bombards us with admonishments to improve our physical fitness. There are rants against the overweight, being couch potatoes, and so on, that take the tone of moral indignity not unlike that of a fundamentalist preacher railing against sinners going to hell. If you are fat, sedentary, or otherwise not going for the burn, you are a Bad Person, regardless of whatever other good you may be doing in life.

Oddly enough, however, there is no similar hue and cry about the declining level of mental fitness in our country; at least, not anywhere near the level of hand-wringing that goes on about physical fitness.

You can't go through a supermarket checkout line without seeing tabloids and magazines ragging on the physically unfit on a weekly basis. But you never see headlines about the dumbing down of our schools, the decline of science education during the Bush years, the decline of reading for pleasure, and so on.

While eating right and regular moderate exercise are both good things worth pursuing, they are not moral issues and they are most certainly not more important than maintaining one's mental fitness. The brain, like the body, also is a "use it or lose it" kind of a deal.

After eight years of a dimwitted president and a decline in education, it's time that mental fitness was put back on the front burner again. While people can get by with a moderate level of physical fitness -- not everyone needs to train to the level of a triathlete -- there's no such thing as too much mental fitness.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Fantasy Brought To LIfe

Nadya Vessey, a double amputee since childhood, now has a unique new proshetic to help her swim better.

It's a mermaid tail.

A couple of years ago, she wrote to the prosthetic department of a special effects company, Weta Workshop. Weta made the mermaids' tails for the 2003 version of Peter Pan.

"We have, over the years, done a number of things like this for people that have disabilities," a member of the Weta prosthetics department said.

The tail they made for Vessey was covered in a wetsuit fabric with added digitally-printed fish scales on it. The tail has four sections that allow some movement.

Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I've not ragged on Neal Boortz in awhile, so here goes. I've come to the conclusion that he is a complete misanthrope; he hates everyone who isn't just like him.

His latest target? Elderly people who live part time in Florida, aka, "Snow Birds".

While enduring one of his broadcasts the other night, he went on a tear about retirees who come to Florida when it's cold up north, and go back home in the summer.

What were the reasons the nearly sixty-five year old Boortz gave? He complained about how many old people drive: too slow, too cautious, etc, insisting that their licenses needed to immediately be taken from them. While it is true that many old people don't need to be driving any more, that isn't the point of this entry, so I'll confine myself to saying that a better strategy to be to create reliable and alternative ways for such people to get around and to expand low-cost deliveries of essential items, such as groceries. I'm guessing he either doesn't realize or doesn't care that many old people don't have anyone to run their errands for them, take them to the doctor, and so on. I agree that something needs to be done, but merely howling "take their licenses!" and leaving it at that, does nothing to solve the problem in a meaningful way.

That being said, he used this as an example of why he hates "Snow Birds". Well, there are a lot of old people in Florida, many of them living there year round, but he didn't have anything to say about elderly people who are permanent Florida residents. Does he think living in one state automatically improves driving skills? Or does he think that bad driving is excusable in that instance?

His second reason for hating "Snow Birds" was...if you can actually believe it...because many elderly people get a cart when they go into the grocery store to buy only a couple of items. Boortz couldn't stand that such people "used the carts as a walker" by leaning over them as they walked through the store. He was of the opinion that if you are going into the store for only a couple of items, then you had no business getting a cart.

What a fucking ass. Did it ever occur to him that a person who does this might have a bad back and that using the cart saves them from a lot of pain? I'm surprised he didn't rag on the folks who use store scooters or shoppers in wheelchairs as well.

I guess he longs for the "good old days" when people with physical challenges simply stayed home, out of sight, and didn't inconvenience healthier people in a hurry.

What a miserable human being this guy must be.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


We hadn't had any snow this winter in my town. There had been plenty of cold days, but none of the white stuff. Usually, my town gets a snowfall or two every year, but I figured we weren't getting any this year.

The trees in my yard were budding, I'd begun getting bird shit on my car, and the other night I heard crickets chirping. I figured that spring was here, despite it being February.

Winter wasn't quite done yet. Late this afternoon, it began to snow, and I don't mean flurries, either. It fell for a few hours, quickly accumulating, accompanied by thunder and lightning at times -- thundersnow! Unfortunately, because we get so little snow, our town isn't equipped to prepare the roads for safe driving in snow. I had to run out to get some cat food, and I had to slip and slide my way down to the store. Fortunate few cars were out and about, though I passed an SUV who'd gotten stuck.

As of this writing, at around 1030 pm, we're expecting another wave of snow to last until morning, and we're supposed to get about 5 inches or so by then.

It's supposed to get up into the mid-40s tomorrow, so the snow will be gone by this time tomorrow. It was nice to see, even if a bit late in the season. Too bad it didn't come on Christmas Eve.