Category: Rants

Here We Go Again

One submission has come from a company called International Databases, LLC. It’s a one-man operation run by Stephen Sample, who says he has a degree in evolutionary biology and taught at the high school and junior college levels for 15 years.

The material he submitted consists of eight modules dealing with current issues in biology and ecology. Most are well within the mainstream scientific consensus. But there are two that deal with the origin of life. Those sections say the “null hypothesis” is that there had to be some intelligent agency behind the appearance of living things. It is up to the scientists proposing a naturalistic explanation to prove their case.

I can’t believe people still fail to understand how this works. Science isn’t where you go “we can’t explain x, so we’re going to say God did it”, it is “we can’t explain x, so let’s make ourselves understand it well enough to be able to do so by subjecting it to the scientific method”.

In science there are laws, theories, hypotheses, and unfounded nonsense that does not hold up to – or worse, resists – scrutiny. The first three are categorized in descending order of certainty based on research, observing what happens when we recreate the circumstances believed to result in some specific outcome, and the predictability of the results. Some things we can’t test for practical reasons. We can’t test a dog evolving over the course of 150,000 years to see if it sprouts wings or develops language – but we can observe a bacteria developing immunity to a drug that used to eradicate it and suppose that the evolutionary process does manifest itself in other means. We can’t add a second moon to Earth’s orbit to test for changes in the tides, but there is little reason to doubt gravitational theory because nobody has ever tripped over a rock at sea level and fallen upwards into the sky.

As for the unfounded nonsense – that is where intelligent design comes in. You cannot scrutinize it. You cannot explicitly observe or otherwise quantify the existence of “God” in nature. There is no molecule to isolate, and you cannot compare environments where God exists and environments where God does not exist in the way that you can compare environments without oxygen and oxygen-rich environments. And since God cannot be explicitly observed, you cannot perform experiments on it. How does God react to light? To water? What happens if you put God in a jar with sodium and shake it up? You cannot answer any of those questions in the affirmative or the negative. Why? Because God is a construct of faith – in this context, faith based on a sufficient enough amount of arrogance to suggest that you cannot watch the sun come up and claim with a straight face that God didn’t make that happen.

The scientific method seeks to answer all questions and sufficiently explain the questions it can’t thoroughly answer. Intelligent design seeks to put up a sign that says “for more information, please refer to the Bible”. That is not science, and people should not pretend that it is.

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Oh Look

I’m up late. Again. Same reason as last time, too.


Same cause, but different reason.

In the interest of being as vague as possible, I’ll just say I left something undone over a decade ago, and it’s one of those things you think about for years and kick yourself for not taking care of it when you should have. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to tie up the loose ends… or maybe I won’t, and it’ll keep resurfacing every so often to bother the hell out of me for hours or days at a time – long after we’ve all gotten our flying cars. Come to think of it, that whole time frame where this issue originated wasn’t that great for me personally. I was teetering on the edge of being a full-blown basket case, and actually had somebody tell me later on that I came off like I was going to snap at any moment.

Wouldn’t that have been a trip.

Been extremely busy the last week due to the recent round of tests. Had an Asian civ. test last Friday which was a rehash of material from last year, a comp sci test on Wednesday which I’m fairly certain I did good on, and a Chinese history test tomorrow – technically later on this morning – which I’m not entirely sure about just yet. I misjudged how much time I actually had to get ready for the test, and as a result I ended up putting off reading the two books I had to read until last week. In the end I read about 80% of both of them, taking ridiculous amounts of notes along the way. My experience with the tests the professor in this class gives tells me that should be enough. Oh, and there’s a Japanese test next Tuesday.

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I make a bloggings

So, here’s me right now:

This is after an hour of failing to get to sleep. The dumb thing about going to bed with your mind on stuff is when you can’t take your mind off of that stuff and you end up laying in bed forever running over what you’d do/say, or what you should have done/said. Now if only my flux capacitor worked…

Anyways, we’re about halfway through week 5 of the fall semester. Things are a bit hectic this time around as I’m taking 15 hours of actual classes on top of having to work to cover a several thousand dollar gap that financial aid didn’t cover. And then on top of all that I decided this would be a good time to go volunteer to be MC at this year’s Japan Night, so now I’m committed to attending the occasional rehearsal in preparation for the show in November. I’m still finding time to screw around, such as right now when I’m blogging instead of sleeping, but for the most part I’ve been staying pretty busy. Which isn’t altogether a bad thing.

Ok, so here’s my official review of the trip to San Francisco last month, which I mentioned in this post. The school I checked out was on the west side of town, away from the downtown insanity. I’m not sure if I just got lucky or if that’s how stuff happens out there, but the day I went to the campus it was a full 5-10 degrees cooler than the downtown area (where most of my exploring that weekend took place), and it was foggy on top of that. The campus itself was pretty cool to walk around. I had a pretty good feeling about the visit, and as it happens a return trip is just around the corner – I’m going back to San Francisco to take the JLPT in December, and as it happens it’s being held at SFSU.

As for the rest of the city… definitely cool. I’ve lived in a lot of different places over the years but the one common factor is that they were all for the most part smaller cities. San Francisco has more people in one square mile than Papillion does total. I spent some time staring at tall buildings one evening, and I spent the whole trip figuring out the mass transit system. Probably the best part was there no way I could have seen the whole city in four days. I went to Japantown, the Asian Art Museum, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and I took in a Giants game, but I missed Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and who knows what else.

The most telling thing about the whole trip is that 6 weeks later – long after the initial excitement has worn off – I still want to go back out there on a long-term basis. Even if it means paying through the nose to live there.

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… And the “not so much” things for this week

Now the bad news:

1) My financial aid for the year got pulled. Basically, I was dismissed from school 9 years ago for failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress – an assessment I don’t dispute – and that came back to bite me in the ass when the school went to audit who all was receiving aid this fall. The kick is, although I am technically in good standing with the school for having successfully applied for readmission, I didn’t actually do anything to reverse the situation I was in on campus. The on campus/off campus distinction is important – although I have a full year’s worth of credit transferred in from the community college in Omaha, that does nothing to either help or hinder my progress in Lincoln.

So the short version of this little story is that I rushed down to Lincoln the day after finding out and filed my appeal. I stated that in the interim, I had been slowly racking up transferable credits at another school and that the situation would simply correct itself after 3 months now that my head’s screwed on straight. The committee who oversees these things looked at my appeal and approved it on the condition that I take at least 10 hours’ worth of classes in the fall and pass them all. Fine, they’re all softball classes anyway.

In the meantime I’m looking at private options for the fall term as I think it’s going to be a little tough for me to scare up $7000-$8000 between now and the fall, and I think I’ll be okay in that department. This is just a giant pain in the ass to deal with.

2) The price of the new iPhone. Ok, first of all let’s get something straight here – I realize I’m not the target audience for this contraption. I greatly prefer text messaging to phone conversations, I don’t care one way or the next if I can surf the internet and/or check e-mail when I’m on campus and probably 5 minutes away from a public terminal anyway, and most of all I don’t want to pay $50 or more a month for phone service. Especially when I can get a Skypeout account for like $3 a month. I just jumped on Sprint’s SERO plan, which gets me 500 minutes of talk time and unlimited text messaging for $30 a month. In the whole quest for cell phone service to replace my company phone which is soon going away, that is hands down the best deal I found. By far. That’s the kind of cell phone customer I am. So having said that…

The new iPhone is going to cost $199, whereas the old one used to be $399. Basically a 50% discount. This looked like a really sweet deal, and I was just about ready to take the plunge… then the details started coming out. To wit: the data plan is going to be $10 more a month, and you have to pay $5 extra to get the 200 SMS package that used to be included. Do the math – or better yet, don’t, because it’s already been done:

Steve Jobs himself said the primary reason people weren’t buying iPhones was because of the cost. In response, Apple’s and AT&T’s bean counters diligently moved beans from one pile to the next until they could come up with the biggest crock of shit farce I’ve seen so far – a phone being advertised as “half as expensive” that carries a higher total cost of ownership than its predecessor.

Steve, you are one crafty son of a bitch, but do you really think that’s going to make people jump in line? The iPhone was too expensive before, so now that it’s even more expensive that should fix the problem?

Really, come on.

Uh, I guess the only other thing I don’t like this week is that somehow the Yankees managed to climb out of the AL East cellar. Pinstriped bastards!

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Other crap

Due to a flub on a certain company’s part – the whole, “employee steals info for countless thousands of accounts” kind of flub – I had to go put a fraud alert out on my credit tonight. Equifax kind of blew at that process; after spending 5 minutes answering random questions on their automated hotline, they politely informed me they were unable to access any reports with the information I provided. Well screw you then, Equifax! I went to Experian’s website instead, and they had a form to fill out right there that worked just fine. So that’s taken care of now, and even better is I got a peek at my current credit report in the process. No damage appears to have been done. In fact, it’s nice to see the amount of progress I’ve made since the beginning of 2006 when I really started keeping on top of things.

On a mostly-related note, I can definitely say this: if you come across some spending power, sit on it until you really need it. Don’t think that just because some place gave you a $1,600 credit line you can go run out today and buy a shiny new object x unless you’re absolutely sure you’re pulling in enough money to make more than the minimum payment each month. I made this mistake multiple times over the course of three years before it all caught up to me, and I and ended up in pretty bad shape for awhile. We’re talking going paycheck to paycheck, skipping a payment on one bill to make a late payment on another, completely draining the bank account midway through the pay period because of the sheer amount of crap that needs to be paid each cycle, things like that. Not only was it not fun, but the money to do constructive things in my life like fixing the air conditioning in my truck or taking classes at the community college simply wasn’t there.

As easy as it would be to do, I find it impossible to blame the credit card companies or the “instant gratification” society for my current predicament. There were many decisions made that could have prevented a few snowflakes from becoming an avalanche, and I chose not to make them in the name of screwing around and playing video games until 5am. My thought is… there are poor people, and there are stupid people. The poor people are the ones who do everything right, but through one circumstance or another, have difficulty making ends meet. And the stupid people are the ones like me who start out fine, then spend every last available dollar on dumb shit – new computers, DVD box sets, video games, you name it. Some things you’re better off learning the hard way… and that’s part of why, two months from my 27th birthday, I’m still chasing after a college degree.

Also, an update on something I mentioned previously: UNL does in fact have a Chinese program in the works. Ni haos, bitches!

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