On aging...

A few days ago, I posted a little rant on the perils of aging. Something that is now referred to at work as the Gepetto Incident


Leave it to Craig Ferguson to make me feel better...

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Arizona is 6000 years old?

This is a video featuring Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen.

I had to watch the video a number of times. She said it twice! These are people Arizonans elect to hold public office. I thought Evan Mecham was bad, but this. It just boggles the mind. It's painfully clear that she actually believes this complete and utter nonsense.

The irony, of course is that she’s talking about uranium mining, and it’s through the radioactive decay of uranium that we know the Earth is billions of years old.

This is the kind of ignorance and ineptitude that borders on the ciiminal.

Infinitus est numerus stultorum

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It's official...

Yep, I'm old.

Today, I was ringing up groceries (wine, cheese, foo-foo chocolate) for a lady who had her her 8-year old in tow. The child turns to her mother and says, "Look Ma, it's Gepetto!". Cute, coming from a child. That is, until the mother all-too-readily agreed. I relayed the story to some co-workers and, after the laughter died down, one of them said, "Well, at least the kid knows who Gepetto is." Fine. An assault on my vanity from an intelligent child.

Literacy aside, the incident bothered me more than it should have. I spent the next few minutes desperately rationalizing the child's actions in my mind. "Ok", I thought. "It's the apron, the grey mustache, the damn reading glasses hanging off the tip of my nose. That's it." Sure...

Now, make no mistake. Papi's still got game. That's right. This is something I tell the kids at work, often forcing them to repeat it, just for fun.

Ah hell. Who am I kiddin'? Now I'm gonna have to figure out how to grow old gracefully.


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Jimmy Carter leaves Southern Baptists

Jimmy carter is a man I've admired for many years. Most conservatives consider him a joke. A man whose graduate work in nuclear physics and reactor technology helped him deal with the crisis of Three-Mile Island. The author of 24 books covering a wide variety of subjects. A man who won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." His work with Habitat for Humanity has set an example for all Americans. And, simply put, he is a good, decent human being.

A joke? Hardly. If we followed the course laid out by Carter as President, today we would be energy independent and have a balanced federal budget, and by pursuing an even handed policy in the Middle East would possibly have seen a just peace between Israel and Palestine. His failure as President was that he was a generation ahead of his time.

He recently severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention. in an article called "Losing my religion for equality", he called his decision to do so "painful and difficult".

From Mr Carter's position paper:
"At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities."

Christianity is by no means the only religion that considers women inherently inferior. Open up any religious text anywhere, and you'll find something like this:
"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.... And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home." - 1 Corinthians 14:34,35
I believe that this is something he and Roselyn had been thinking about for some time.
"I've given up speaking of it much - although those who watched me during Mr Obama's campaign will recall that certain stories evoked infuriating (for me) memories of my work with abuse shelters during college. I'd given up speaking of it much, because where I live, joking about women being barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen is as much part of normal conversation as asking about the next Promise Keepers or Men Following Christ meeting.

I've walked away from the church (per se) on the basis of the abuse of power - especially as it manifests in the Right-wing's attempt to use Southern Baptist-style Christianity as a means of misguided control."
I remember my own experience of being raised a Protestant Baptist. It was at the Thomas Road Baptist Church. I think I was about 12 at the time. After a sermon, I questioned the preacher regarding his view that Christ was "perfect and infallible" (To me, it seemed to defeat the purpose of making him human in the first place). Reasonable discourse was obviously not his strong suite, as his response was to come at me wielding his bible. Luckily, a nice church lady saved me, and admonished the preacher on his use of the Holy Book as a blunt object. I made an exit, both dignified and rapid. and never returned.

Having said all this, I must admit to some sexism myself. Women in combat, for example. On one hand, as a male I have a strong instinct to protect and provide for them because I'm bigger, stronger, and, in the grand scheme of things, more expendable (thank you, Y-chromosome). On the other hand, I have the certain, intellectual knowledge that a woman trained in such things makes for an incredible warrior. Of course, in the end the decision is always theirs to make.

Thankfully, most women are gracious enough not to be offended if I open a door, tip my hat, or stand when they enter a room. Just know that no matter how well trained they are, if I see a woman doing something dangerous, I'll be cringing on the inside.

Farewell, Uncle Walter

Walter Cronkite has passed away at 92. There are certain milestones that mark one's life. This is definitely one of them. It's only right that his passing coincides with the 40th anniversary of our first steps on another world. I remember watching him report Neil Armstrong's now famous phrase. I remember him taking off his glasses, wiping sweat from his brow. For him, that was showing a great deal of emotion. He'd been up many hours reporting the story. In those days, newsmen were objective to a fault. They had no opinion, no bias. That was left to us - Except this one time. I could see that in that moment he knew that he was a part of one of the few truly noble things we have done as a nation and a people. And if he showed some small semblance of emotion, well, it was easy enough to forgive.

It still amazes me to think that the Apollo's computers had less memory than one would find in your average cell phone or MP3 player. Of course, the computers were custom made. The ROM chips hand-made by teams of "little old ladies". The software was very specific and the code was entered (and re-entered) by hand. Back then, you could do a lot more with 64k of memory than you can now.

Recently, the LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) was able to image 5 of the 6 Apollo sites. They will remain unchanged for the next few million years as a testament of what humanity can accomplish when we put our mind to it.

Vaya Con Dios, Mr. Cronkite.

Labeled LROC image of Apollo 11 landing site
Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle.

Image width: 282 meters (about 925 ft.)

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Labeled LROC image of Apollo 15 landing site
Apollo 15 lunar module, Falcon.

Image width: 384 meters (about 1,260 ft.)

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Labeled LROC image of Apollo 16 landing site
Apollo 16 lunar module, Orion.

Image width: 256 meters (about 840 ft.)

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Labeled LROC image of Apollo 17 landing site
Apollo 17 lunar module, Challenger.

Image width: 359 meters (about 1,178 ft.)

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God Hates Shrimp

Saw this on Digg.  Leviticus is still the funniest book in the bible.  Still doesn't explain the Westboro Baptist Church, though.

10 Questions for the Religious Right:
I do need some advice from you, regarding some elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2. clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev.21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8 . Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though Lev. 19 expressly forbids this: 27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair? (Lev. 20:14)