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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reading 2006

In response to popular demand here is a list of books I've read (more or
less) in 2006. I've sprinkeled in some additional books that I
like. They are in no particular order.

The Lord of the Flies
Oliver Twist
The Plausibility of Life
East of Eden
Tomb of the Golden Bird
The God Delusion
Get a Grip on Physics
Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister
The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell
The Things they Carried
Guardian of the Horizon
Why I am not a Christian
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
The Virginian
Harry Potters - all
Candy Girl
The Count of Monte Christo
The Moonstone
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Blankets (See previous post)
Carnet de Voyage
Goodbye Chunky Rice
Hey, Ranger! (perhaps the only really bad book I read in 2006)
The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk
The Message in the Hollow Oak
The Mystery of the tolling Bell
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Restaurant at the End of the Universe
The Secret History
Stones from the River
Watership Down
The Bluest Eye
The Woman in White
Memoirs of a Geisha
A Prayer for Owen Meany
A Plague of Frogs
The Tin Drum
Jitterbug Perfume

Currently Reading: The Mystery of Consciousness

I would add more links but I just switched over to the "new" blogger with google. If you haven't switched yet, don't - its glitchy as all get out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I ♥(heart) Sam Harris

The LA Times website posted a great article today by Sam Harris entitled 10 Myths - and 10 Truths About Atheism
Here are a couple of my favorite parts: (The numbered sentence is the myth and the response is the truth...)
"2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable."

"6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don't know something, like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed, they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn't know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn't arrogance; it is intellectual honesty."

I recommed reading the whole article.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The PTMML File Sampler

From my Photos-that-Make-Me-Laugh file:

I can't remember where I aquired these photos. I think I probably pulled most of them from threads within If one of these is yours and you're mad I stole it or want to be credited email me or post a comment crediting yourself.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Waving Dodecahedrons

I picked up some new mineral samples when I was In Cedarburg, WI this past weekend from The Gem Shop.

almandine garnets in a greenschist

wavellite on limestone

grossular dodecahedron

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Critical Thinking

Today is the 10th anniversary of Carl Sagan's death and Joel Schlosberg has proposed a Sagan-blog-a-thon. Sagan was a huge proponent of critical thinking which is a topic that has been on my mind of late.

My traditional holiday family arguments frequently involve me pleading "Think for yourselves - don't rely on the church to do if for you!" The children I encounter at work get frustrated when I don't "just tell them what to do." Co-workers lose their cool when I don't follow procedure ("that's just not how we do it!"). While I'm thinking of words like "apathy," "lazy," "ineffective," and "incongruent" others seem to be thinking of words like "faith," "patriotism," "tradition," and "hierarchy."

Why are phrases like "doubting Thomas" and "ye of little faith" insults? We most definitely should question what we are told and we should assuredly not be proud of holding beliefs without evidence.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Cards" sent via "Post"

My favorite Aunt gave me these postcards when I was home for my annual dose of family-holiday-goodness this past weekend. I have been sending out antique postcards, scored from local rummage stores, for card-worthy events (birthdays, graduations, congratulations, etc.) so my Aunt dug these family gems out for me.

It just hit me that postcards are so-named because they are "cards" sent via "post." I have had similar revelations regarding many compound words over the years. My dense-ness on this matter never ceases to amuse me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spain Photos

Just returned from Spain; here are a few photos. They were either taken by me or my hubo as noted.