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Lost between insanity and intellectualism
Continued rambings of a tree-hugging geek
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24th-Dec-2005 05:43 pm(no subject)
castle terror
Happy holidays, everybody. :)
27th-Oct-2005 09:39 pm - Ancient rocks point wobbly. *nods*
(Before I write this post, I think it's about time that I appologise for my horrible pun in the user icon attached to this entry. :P )

In my biology class, my teacher recently was talking about Pangaea. He explained continental drift by simply saying that it was 'because the continents all look like a big jigsaw puzzle'. My class seemed satisfied with the answer, but personally, I really don't think that's an explination. Obviously, it's because the continents look like a jigsaw puzzle that the theory of continental drift came about. But that's not proof, really.

Evidence for plate tectonics comes from many places. One proof is how, for example, Southeast Brazil and Southwest Africa have the exact same layers of rocks underneath them once you pass the rocks that are older than about 70 million years. Other proofs involve fossils and the like. And for this post, I'd like to ramble about my personal favourite set of evidence:

Any rock formed with ferromagnetic minerals (in simpler words, iron) in it is generally magnetic. Such rocks are usually either igneous or sedimentary. The said igneous rocks are formed from once molten rocks (at about 1000ºC); lava is non-magnetic as it is too hot, but once it cools to below 600ºC, it has solidified and the iron particles in them become magnetised towards the direction of the at-the-time magnetic north pole. This magnetisation is very stable and usually gets 'frozen' in lava, so this is quite useful for geologists. As for sedimentary rocks, it's more complicated, as they're formed from particles of already-formed metamorphic/igneous rocks. The iron particles in them are already magnetic; however, as they are weathered they lose their magnetism and when they clump together in the sediments it realigns them in the new direction of the Earth's magnetic field.

All three of the Earth's poles* vary and wobble. By looking at the ancient magnetic rocks, geoscientists can observe the old directions of the poles, and so can trace the path of the ancient magnetic north poles. Using now some 35-year-old diagrams from when plate tectonics was a hotly debated theory to illustrate this:

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Here are the polar wandering paths found by looking at old rocks on Asia and North America. The times are marked in millions of years (which is the standard in geology). Estimated positions are in broken lines, certain positions are in continuous line. I'm sure that, 35 years later, a more detailed diagram is available, but I have this here with me and I find it convenient. It also illustrates how this is not a new theory. *nods*

Anyway, as you can see the two paths are more or less parallel, and for this to be explained, the Earth would have to have two axes of rotation or something. Obviously it's easier to explain it by putting two continents together, like so:
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And there you have it. *nods*

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23rd-Oct-2005 08:31 pm - An Appeal for Captions
castle terror


This seriously needs a good captioning. And I can't think of one. *pokes everybody*
29th-Aug-2005 02:17 pm - Some recent doodles.
I finished Robin Hobb's Assasin's Apprentice a few days ago. I thought the ending was rather disappointingly done, it seemed just way too rushed. (And I though Anne Rice endings were bad for that...) Good book, though.

Currently working my way through Isaac Asimov's Foundation. I'm finding it to be surprisingly Orwellian, so far.

Putting my books down for a little while, I found myself playing around with my sharpies. Here's a couple pictures that I liked. (let me know to cut if necessary)

wtf eh?
I was looking at a user's interests and noticed that they had misspelt 'Bikini Kill', yet the interest still was highlighted n such.

I took a look:
23 results.

Now, let's compare this to a much more prominent band:
fourteen different misspellings of 'Led Zeppelin'Collapse )

Those total up to 1516 results.

The correct spelling only has 857 results.

A few other assorted such goodies:

'Ed Zeppelin' and 'Pink Foyd' are my favourites. :P
I was also disappointed that there were no results for "Evanescience". That would have amused me. :P
29th-Jul-2005 12:09 pm - Random Acts of Science Humour
(let me know to lj-cut the entry if this image is too big)

This is for a thread at Arvalin. Thought I'd post it here, too. They're in the order that they appear in the book. A few quotes have been left out for legnth n such.

All our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we have.
-- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Two men came to a hole in the sky,
One asked the other to lift him up...
But so beautiful was it in heaven that
the man who looked in over the edge
forgot everything, forgot his companion
whom he had promised to help up
and simply ran off into all the
splendour of heaven.
-- From an Igulik Inuit prose poem, early 20th century

"Truly, that which makes me believe there is no inhabitant on this sphere, is that it seems to me that no sensible being would be willing to live here."
"Well then!" said Micromegas, "perhaps the beings that inhabit it do not possess good sense."
-- One alien to another, on approaching the Earth, from Voltaire's Micromegas: a Philosophical History (1752)

Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvelous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified.
-- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895)

[A]s children tremble and fear everything in the blind darkness, so we in the light sometimes fear what is no more to be feared than the things children in the dark hold in terror...
-- Lucretius, from On the Nature of Things (c. 60 BCE)

There are demon-haunted worlds, regions of utter darkness.
-- The Isa Upanshiad (India, c. 600 BCE)

Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion.
-- Thomas Hobbes, from Leviathan (1651)

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
-- Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyles's A Scandal in Bohemia (1891)

True memories seemed like phantoms, while false memories were so convincing that they replaced reality.
-- Gabriel García Márquez, from Strange Pilgrims (1992)

[M]agic, it must be remembered, is an art which demands collaboration between the artist and his public.
-- E.M. Bulter, from The Myth of the Magus (1948)

[I]gnorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science
-- Charles Darwin, from the introduction to The Descent of Man (1871)

Nothing is too wonderful to be true.
-- attributed to Michael Faraday (1791-1867)

Insight, untested and unsupported, is an insufficient guarantee of truth.
-- Bertrand Russell, from Mysticism and Logic (1929)

So we keep asking, over and over,
Until a handful of earth
Stops our mouths--
But is that an answer?
-- Heinrich Heine, "Lazarus" (1854)

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educate, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.
-- Epictetus, Roman philosopher and former slave, from Discourses

We also know how cruel the truth often is, and we wonder whether delusion is not more consoling.
-- Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country and the surest basis of public hapiness.
-- George Washington, address to Congress, January 8, 1790

Ubi dubium ibi libertas (Where there is doubt, there is freedom)
-- Latin proverb

It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
-- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson (1950)
From CBC: (article with picture and links here)

Same-sex legislation now law in Canada
Last Updated Wed, 20 Jul 2005 21:50:24 EDT

Legislation giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry received royal assent on Wednesday and is now the law of the land.

Peace Tower lit up in a rainbow of colours Tuesday night, Ottawa.

In a late-night vote on Tuesday, the Senate approved the Liberal government's controversial Bill C-38 by a 46-22 vote. Three senators abstained.

The historic vote comes after gay and lesbian couples launched lawsuits in different provinces demanding the right to marry.

Courts in seven provinces agreed that the traditional definition of marriage violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Liberal government responded to the first of those rulings – in Ontario in 2003 – by introducing legislation which was adopted last month in the House of Commons.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has said he will bring back the same-sex debate if he's elected prime minister.

Canada now joins the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain as the only countries legalizing gay marriage.

Tory motion rejected

Senators rejected a Conservative motion stating the traditional definition of marriage is between a man and a woman, but that civil marriage is between two people.

"It would have brought a great deal of comfort to same-sex couples that they would not be perceived as having somehow gained their legitimate rights at the expense of those for whom the traditional marriage of a man and a woman was so terribly important," said Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella, who supported the amendment.

B.C. Senator Gerry St. Germain, an outspoken critic of the bill, fears judges are determining policies that should be decided by conscience.

"If we don't stop this ... I know what the next steps are. Euthanasia. Decriminalization of marijuana," said St. Germain.

But Senator Nancy Ruth, who voted for the bill, danced in the red chamber moments before the vote.

"There are some reasons to dance tonight and the whole country should be dancing," she said.

What St. Germain fears, I look forward to, lol! :D
20th-Jul-2005 02:56 pm - The Dragon in my Garage
lady with book
In my last public entry, I mentioned Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. I thought I'd share an excerpt. (copy pasted from here)

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work.

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility. Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
18th-Jul-2005 03:30 pm - Books that have influenced you
Alright, I've put Fool's Errand on hold. I'd only read about a chapter and half in, anyway, and spoilers aren't really a concern for me. I'll resume searching for other of Hobb's work.

So, last night I was left to find another book to reread. I found myself picking up Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. Oh, what a wonderful book. I first read that book when I was eleven; I haven't given it a full reread since... and despite all these years, when I picked it up, it was as if I'd reread it a hundred times. I would recommend this book to anyone.

Defining the "best" book (or song, artist, etc) is a rather silly thing to do. You can't categorise like that; my favourite books, the books that I consider to be best written, the most timeless works, the most popular books... all of these wield different lists. I'd like to devote this post to the books that have influenced me the most. There are many great books out there, but many have not had a noticable influence on me. For example, The Communist Manifesto; by the time I'd read it, my socialistic ideals were already quite strong and the book had little effect on me.

But anyway... here's a list of the ones that have influenced me greatly, more or less in the order that I read them.

"The Hobbit", "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Silmarillion" by J.R.R. Tolkien
I picked up The Hobbit when I was about eight years old. It was an interesting read, but what immediately caught my interest was the angerthas on the maps - I was soon enthralled by Tolkien's languages. It was my interest in these languages that led to my interest in linguistics. Somehow I doubt I'd be a linguistics geek today if I hadn't read Tolkien's works. My interest in these books also brought to me to the internet, via Tolkien messageboards. That's a rather huge thing for me.

"Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises" by Mark Carwardine
When I was eleven (or twelve? ten?) I found myself rather obsessed with this book. I would take it out from the library, then renew it, then renew it again and again until I'd reach the limit... I'd then bring the book back and take it out the next day. Eventually my parents got fed up with this and bought me a copy. I'm still not sure to this day what it was about this book that enthralled me so much... I'd spend hours researching cetacean taxonomy and the like. I'd say that this book played a large part in getting me interested in science.

The Royal Diaries series
Now, about two thirds of the series can be summed up as "I am a princess and I'm going to marry Prince X". It got rather irksome, really. The Victoria diary was so ridden with such that I never finished it. That volume also introduced me to the concept of imperialism, which I found myself hating quite strongly. However, these books were not limited to that. Every book included an appendix at the back profiling the era and nation that the future-monarch was to rule. With these appendicies, I learnt of Elizabeth I's England, Nzingha's Angola, Lady of Ch'ia Kuo's China, Jahanara's India, Eleanor's Provence, Sondok's Korea, Kaiulani's Hawaii... the list goes on.

Since I stopped reading the series some years ago, many other appealing volumes have also been published. Anyway, it was these books that spurned on my interest in history and anthropolgy. I was introduced to nations I had had no knowledge of previously, in a manner that I could easily grasp.

"Speaking Out: Ideas That Work for Canadians" by Jack Layton
Layton may be a poor politician (although he's been improving), but I do respect him as a political activist. His book was well written and taught me quite a few things about political activism. Concepts like grassroots activism had been unknown to me before reading this book. This was the first political science book that I read from cover to cover. Sure, I'd been interested in politics prior to reading this, but it wasn't until after I read it that I was interested in activism.

"Who Killed the Canadian Military?" by J.L. Granatstein
I read this one in March (2005). It opened my eyes to a few things- how the military is used by politicians, how peacekeeping just isn't working, how the military is actually important, the folly of anti-americanism... it made me rethink a very large amount of my political stances. I'm still anti-war, but I've gone from thinking "Canada should get rid of its military" to "Canada should have a small and quality military that can defend us (just in case)... but we should not have any more than to defend ouselves".

"L'Étanger" by Albert Camus
Five years ago, I picked up Jean-Paul Sartre's Le Mur and was rather shaken by it's contents. However, the impact of that books was little compared to Camus' L'Étanger. Never before have I identified with a character as much as I did with Meursault. I'm not much of an existentalist, but those two books spoke to me and struck deep chords within me. I would recommend them to anybody who can read French - I haven't read any of their translations, but I am certain that the power of those books just cannot be translated.

"1984" by George Orwell
This one I read recently. I'd read Animal Farm at about the same time as Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World, but it failed to capture my interest in the same way. 1984, however, caught my interest. Perhaps I'd just been too young at the time to fully understand Animal Farm, but I did get 1984. The influence that the novel had on my political ideals was negligible; what this book introduced me to was the Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis and linguistic anthropology.

I think now I just have to mention the following authors: H.A. Rey, Douglas Adams, Gail Carson Levine, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Jean Craighead George and Gary Larson. They all impacted me, but I just don't know how to put into words how.

Returning now to "The Demon-Haunted World" by Carl Sagan.
I still vividly remember picking this book up. I was sitting in the chair by the green phone in my house; my mother had recently finished the book, and I decided to read it. The memory of reading the book's preface is still strong in my mind. Another memory with this book also comes back to me - I was once reading the book in my grade six classroom; I came to the chapters The Fine Art of Baloney Detection and The Dragon in my Garage, which are some of my favourite parts.

After reading the book, I went on to Sagan's other works, all of them wondeful, although none of them influenced me like The Demon-Haunted World did. It was this book that fortified my atheism, my skepticism, my wonder when it comes to science, my gross dislike of pseudoscience... sure, I was raised with these ideals, but it was this book that solidified them.

Right now, I want to quote The Demon-Haunted World, however, I cannot pick out any parts that are any better than the others. It is just such a consistently wonderful book.
4th-Jul-2005 05:05 pm - Oh no! It's science!
On Canada Day, the National did a feature wherein various famous Canadians of different fields (politics, art, sports and business, to my memory) spoke about what Canada meant to them.

The only speech I found to be interesting was Maher Arar's, but that isn't what I mean to talk about here. My major beef with the feature was the lack of scientists. You never see mention of scientists & engineers in any of those kinds of features, and it isn't restricted to the CBC.

During the last federal election's debates, which I covered closely in both English and French, not a single mention of funding for sci & tech was mentioned. You never hear sci & tech funding listed on political issues; it's always health care, education, etc. Our universities are being sorely neglected, and even when they get a mention, it's always student tutition - not research.

Funding for major scientific projects is in a dire situation here in Canada. Tonnes of great projects are being rejected for govnernment funding because there isn't enough money. Apart from the Synchrotron in Saskatoon, one would think that no new major scientific projects are even being done in Canada. Sure, there's, for example, the Tri-University Meson Facility (TRIUMF) in Vancouver and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) in the city of that name, but they were built in the 70s and 60s; and, when was the last time you heard about either?

I'm tired of science being omitted in the mainstream. Science is important. My idea of a healthy society is one that treats its scientists well - compared to a society where science is repressed... 1984, anyone?

Growing up, young children are taught to be physicians, nurses, police officers, firefighters, teachers, vetrenarians, prime ministers and presidents, princesses (yeah right), soldiers, librarians, journalists, zookeepers, shop owners, writers, artists, painters, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, car and truck drivers, judges, barristers and solicitors... where are, say, "physicist" and "epidemiologist" on that list? Do they not matter?

And the scientists that we do see in the media are always horrible stereotypes of "mad scientists" and, in recent years, the ocaisional "chemistry/engineering Barbie". It really does annoy me.


And now for some science/tech/health news/linkage.

The Unanswered Questions of Science
From Science; a look at 100 questions that science hasn't answered yet.

Entering a dark age of innovation
Are we progressing as much as we think we are?

A feature on the "Body Farm
A profile of some land in Tenessee is being used for training forensic anthropologists.

For those of us that others call "lazy"
Those of us who don't make the bed are actually better off, according to a recent study.

How e-mail spam can be healthy
Electronic anti-couch-potato nagging!

Newborn dolphins don't need sleep
One of the questions in the first article was about how we don't understand why we need sleep. Seems newborn cetaceans don't need it.
27th-Jun-2005 04:53 pm - Why? Oh, why? *cries*
First they made Lord of the Rings into a movie. I knew right away that they would butcher the plot; I saw the movies and I mourned for the books. I pined over the absense of Tom Bombadil, Glorfindel, the Houses of Healing and the Scouring of the Shire and loathed their changes to the plot.

Tolkien messageboards suddenly became swarmed with fangirls obsessing "OMG [Frodo/Legolas/Merry/Pippin] is liek, soo cute". The fantasy community was transformed from a geeky niche to a "hip" thing to do, a place to swoon "Orli" and rite liek dis. I still shudder whenever I see Grey Company "elvish". The movie was marketed to the extreme, and it hurts to think of it.

Then they made another perennial favourite of mine, Ella Enchanted, into a movie. They removed the book's plot and gave it a new one, and assigned a Mary Sue to the role of protagonist. A part of me died when I saw the movie. I had read that book at least a hundred times before seeing the movie; now I cannot bear to pick it up.

As if it wasn't enough, they gave The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy similar treatment as well. I still shudder at how they turned a sci-fi comedy into a crap, non-canonic romance between Trillian and Arthur.

A Chronicles of Narnia film also appears to be in the works, however, I admittedly never cared much for those books and don't really mourn their loss to Hollywood and the fangirls.

Earlier this year, it was announced that The Lions of Al-Rassan was to be made into a movie too. I'm scared for its plot. IMDB gives this as the movie's plot outline: In Al-Rassan, during the Christian re-conquest of Moorish Spain, two princes vie for the love of the same woman.

Anybody who has read The Lions of Al-Rassan can immediately tell you that the movie will be horribly off-plot. Al-Rassan, yes, is based upon Moorish Spain. But it is not Moorish Spain. It is Al-Rassan. And it is re-conquered by the Jaddites, not the Christians. Furthermore, the last bit is way off; neither Ser Rodrigo or Ammar are princes, they are mercenaries; Ser Rodrigo is also a constable, and Ammar is also a poet. Ser Rodrigo is married. He never fights for Jehane's love; he is happily married to Miranda. I wont say anymore as I would be giving away spoilers, but there is a lot more that is wrong with that "plot". And seriously, if I can point out that much wrong with one sentence, I fear for the entire movie.

And now? His Dark Materials will be joining the list. The blurb about it on Wikipedia has me shuddering already: In an interview published on the internet in December 2004, Weitz indicated that the film would make no direct mention of religion or of God - two of the key themes of the trilogy - a decision attacked by fans of the novels.

They're taking out two of the most important themes of the trilogy. They're taking out two of the most important themes of the trilogy. They're taking out two of the most important themes of the trilogy. They're taking out two of the most important themes of the trilogy. They're taking out two of the most important themes of the trilogy. Do I need to repeat that some more, or is my emphasis enough? I don't think I even need to say more than that. It's plainly going to be yet another plotless Hollywood bastardisation of a good novel, marketed beyond reason and then worshipped by an army of pre-pubescent fangirls writing Mary Sues on Fanfiction.net.

I shudder for the future of fantasy literature. Last time I did this rant, I said, "What's next? His Dark Materials?"; my prediction was unwittingly correct. I'd say, "What's next, the Wayfarer Redemption?" but I don't want those books ruined, either. :(
26th-Jun-2005 04:59 pm - My favourite passage from a book
I'm sure most of you have read this already, but I feel like posting it right now. Today, I may also add, is my mother's birthday. She's pretty much an antithiest, as well as she likes to be humourous and enjoys sci-fi, therefore I find it suitable this occaision. ^^

"The Babel fish is small, yellow and leechlike, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centers of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.
Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as a final and clinching proof of the nonexistence of God.
"The argument goes something like this: 'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.'
"'But,' says Man, 'the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'
" 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.
" 'Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.
"Most leading theologians claim that this argument is a load of dingo's kidneys, but that didn't stop Oolon Colluphid making a small fortune when he used it as the central theme of his best-selling book, Well That about Wraps It Up for God.
"Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation."

-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
24th-Jun-2005 06:23 pm - My definitions of "geek" and "nerd"
coffee-drinking atheists
Seeing as my username is treehugginggeek, I suppose that I should point out what I mean by "geek", as I know that many do not know the correct definition of the word.

A "geek" is a person with an intellectual interest in something outside of what the mainstream calls "normal". Geeks are more interested in whatever area of geekdom they have (computers, politics, art, etc) than conforming to the norm. Geeks rarely do more than the minimum in school, unless the subject pertains to their geekdom.

A "nerd" is a studious, school-obsessed person, who stereotypically would have the thick, black glasses and the pocket protectors (although no nerd I know wears such; my nerd friends tend to wear "unusual" things, whereas us geeks just wear plain, labelless clothes). Nerds, unlike geeks, do the maximum in school.

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Attention LJ users who write their posts in colour.

Please don't.

I'm sure that this particular shade of blue looks lovely in your journal's nice blue template. But really, if you want your text to appear in #000099, it's actually quite easy to customise your LJ's template so that the text appears in that lovely colour. Quite simple, really. Go to the menu at the top of the page. Hover over "manage" then select "customise". From there on, it's quite straightforward. You just set #000099 as your text colour. That simple.

Ah, but Elbie, you demand, why should I do your bidding and make people happy?

Because, what you don't realise in your self-centred ditziness is that your happy little entry in blue appears on the friends' pages of all your LJ buddies. And chances are, your LJ buddies will not be using the same colour schemes as you. Surely you're capable of grasping the consequences; your friend with the black background and white text will now see an entry like this. Tell me, do you have an easy time reading that? Because I don't. And what if you had a friend with a blue template? Oh, the horrors!

Please. Stop.

You're not doing any favours to your friends. I'm sure they'd love to read your entries, but their eyes hurt from trying to read it, and face it, they're irked that you didn't take them into consideration when writing that entry. And if you can't make the change for your friends, do it for yourself. For, if you were to change the background of your template from this nice light blue to, say, dark green, then you'd have a bunch of entries looking like this.

Now, you're probably worrying that this new change would require that one scary word: effort.

In fact, this change requires less than effort. With this new change, when you start writing an entry, you don't have to spend x minutes formatting the colour, size and format of your text. You only need to invest that x once -- whilst setting your template --, not every time you write an entry... think of all the time you can save! You could spend that saved time doing something useful... like improving your English, or doing your homework for once.

So, let's make LiveJournal a nicer and prettier place together; no more of this folly of colouring our individual entries!
Your friends will be proud of you for stopping, and so will I.
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