Thursday, July 29, 2010

New MacBook Pro

I just picked up my new MacBook Pro.  It's got 8GB of RAM, a 500GB disk, and a sweet SWEET new smell.  Once I got the box back to my office, I ripped it open like a giddy child on Christmas morn.  Here is a picture of it downloading 1.02GB of software updates.  How adorable is that?!

While I was at the CampusTech Shop, in walked David Johnston.  He was accompanied by a body guard.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Change is good

If you know me well, you know I like change. My blog's fresh look is thanks to Google Blogger's new set of templates. Ahhhh...

I just have to tweak the banner.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How to start a fire (if you're a pyromaniac)

Here is how my (pyromaniac) friend likes to start fires.

Step 1: Carefully place sticks and cardboard in fire pit.

Step 2: Generously sprinkle fire pit with fuel.

Step 3: Light a match.

Step 4: Stand back.

Step 5: Toss match into fire pit.

Step 6: Stop, drop, and roll.


8: The Mormon Proposition

My wife and I watched "8: The Mormon Proposition" over the weekend. It's a documentary about the involvement of the Mormon Church with Proposition 8 in California's election in 2008.

The California Supreme Court had determined that denying marriage to gay couples was against the constitution, so ruled to allow same-sex marriages. Proposition 8, also called the California Marriage Protection Act, was a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's decision.

The Mormon Church (a.k.a. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or simply L.D.S.) is a highly controlling religion, bordering on a cult by many metrics. They believe that homosexuality is an unnatural and pathological condition; so-called gays are simply mistaken, and need therapy. The documentary points out that this approach leads to a lot of teenage suicide.

Their rationale for this wisdom is even worse than citation from the Bible. No, their doctrine also come from the writings of a guy named Joseph Smith in 1820. That's right... some guy wrote down what he thought, said it was the word of God, and now it's a religion. That puts it in the same category of loony as Scientology.

The LDS church prohibits the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea, does not allow women leaders in the church, and insists that its members donate 10% of their income to the church. That's what paid for this

One thing I'll say for them, they have great commercials.

OK, back to proposition 8. According to the documentary, this is the first time in American history that a constitutional amendment has taken rights away. Nice work.

It's only a matter of time before that silly amendment is removed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gad Dang immigrants

In this month's Good News trashazine is an article entitled "Immigration: How a Foreign Invasion is Reshaping the West".

Here's the executive summary: Let's barricade our borders so that Muslim immigrants don't overtake Christianity!

The article obsesses over Islamic terrorists, and how accepting such people as citizens is a big mistake. Of course, God saw this coming a long time ago, and even warned us in Deuteronomy 32:25 of the "terror within".

Here's a quote I actually agree with.
Mixing cultures, and especially religions, can be volatile!
Not so much the cultures part. But religions typically do not play nicely together. Especially if one religion has an opportunity to bully the other out of existence.

Nuthin' like good'ol hate propaganda to keep your religion alive and well.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Abortion pictures on my walk home

A number of people from held large placards with graphic pictures of aborted fetuses at the corner of University Ave. and Seagram today. Here is a taste of what they were displaying (taken from their pamphlet).

I looked through their pamphlet, and it was effective, but for the wrong reasons. I've always been wary that my emotions only reflect what feels best, not necessarily what is best. Given that I have 3 children, it's not surprising that I felt a tinge of sorrow for the unborn, bloody babies.

But, I don't think that's the best way to think about abortion. Nobody wants to get an abortion. It's not like it makes you feel good. But it doesn't take much imagination to come up with a situation where abortion is the lesser of two evils.

Their pamphlet states, "we need science to tell us when life begins." That's like asking where the end of a circle is. There is no clear-cut instant when a new life is formed. It's all a gradual chemical process with a few milestones along the way. So I'm afraid science isn't going to help there. But this is not really a scientific question, anyway; it's a value judgement.

Not surprisingly, their web page is sprinkled with Christian biblical quotes. Using the bible to support their views is probably the least scientific thing they could possibly do.

What I don't like is that some people feel pompous enough to try to introduce laws that will limit others who don't share their viewpoint. I don't mind them showing the pictures. I'm just glad I live in a country that is rational enough to give women the choice. Last I checked, the world wasn't short of people.

I'm not saying that abortion is a great replacement for birth control, or that a woman should be allowed to abort a fetus whenever she pleases. I also acknowledge that many people want to adopt babies. All I'm saying is that it should be a choice. And perhaps it's better to make a rational choice than an emotionally-charged choice.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nonscience conference

As I said in a previous post, I get lots of e-mail advertising conferences. I delete pretty much all of them, but not before I peek at the conference title. This one intrigued me.

The Jerusalem International Conference on Integrative Medicine

The description in the e-mail reads,

The Conference will deal with ways to unite the scientific principles of modern medicine with the holistic principles
of alternative medicine

Well, here's my idea of how that should go. Any medical treatment or therapy without useful evidence is called "alternative". If an alternative treatment is shown to actually work (in an objective scientific setting), then it becomes medicine and is no longer considered to be alternative. Pretty simple: no evidence=alternative, evidence=medicine.

Of the 28 members of the "Scientific Committee" listed on the conference website, only 3 have a Ph.D. Two others have an M.Sc., but most of them are M.D.s (medical doctors). I have a feeling that the papers presented in this conference will be utterly useless.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I've shaken the hand of the next Governor General of Canada

David Johnston is the president of the University of Waterloo (where I work). Today, the news broke that he will be the next Governor General of Canada.

Yes, I've shaken his hand, and chatted with him. In addition, I've received letters from him... like this one, and this one (ah, but that's a different story, and I doubt he had much personal involvement in the process).

He is very diplomatic and will make a great Governor General.

Where did you say that conference was?

I receive a lot of e-mails advertising conferences. This one is being held in an interesting location... the e-mail doesn't say where the conference is, but here's a snippet from the message.

Sign me up!