Tuesday, January 29, 2008

adventures in pseudo-science

Well, it was bound to happen. Creationists, who have had scant success getting their papers published in serious scientific journals, have launched their own online 'scientific' journal. The Answers Research Journal has begun posting 'research' and articles which are "consistent with the biblical account of origins." According to their website, the ARJ is "peer-reviewed", however the journal's guidelines discourage non-creationists from conducting any reviews. (Okaaaay. That keeps it objective!)

Here's a quote from an article on bacteria and viruses from their very first journal:

Ubiquitousness and persistence of...microbes in the biological ecosystem strongly implicate a beneficial microbe-host interaction in the original creation and subsequent disruption of the beneficial microbe-host interaction after the Fall.

Translation: Darn that Eve! Bacteria and viruses were happy and good in the Garden of Eden:

Then Eve just had to chomp on the fruit, and the microorganisms became dudes with nasty 'tudes:

You know, I'm thinking God doesn't really need these folks to try and make things fit into a little restricted box...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow in the Pac NW

We woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow on the ground. Yep, it was enough to do this:

cartoon from here

Friday, January 25, 2008


Offspring #1 is turning 21 this weekend (can you believe it?!), so we're heading up to Bellingham to help her celebrate. We're planning on taking her (and Offspring #2) out to dinner. As you can see, she's always been partial to... sole.



Back to blogging in a couple of days...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nutty McSquirrel

Remember that post I did back in October about a tree at our local lake that had a big hollow filled with acorns?

Yeah, didn't think so.

Anyway, I went on a bike ride Sunday afternoon and happened to see a squirrel poking his head out of the hollow! I have a new empathy for people trying to photograph Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. By the time you fumble for your camera you've almost missed the action -- and what you do capture is blurry!

In any event, Nutty McSquirrel has obviously been eating lots of the acorns. Here's a comparison between the number in October and the number in January:

Come to think of it, Nutty McSquirrel better go easy. There are still a couple of months of winter left to go.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

when you come to the fork in the road... take it

As predicted, with Offsprings #1 and #2 back at college, the Empty Nest Hiking Club resumed their travels. Hubby & I went to Lacamas Lake (in SW Washington) yesterday.

The good news: In spite of threatening rain clouds, we did not get rained on.
The bad news: We got lost. And more than once!

It was the weirdest thing. We'd be hiking along and suddenly come to multiple forks in the trail -- with none of them marked. Which path should we choose?! (Oooh, now there's a metaphor for life!) Luckily there finally was one sign we encountered where it was abundantly clear that we needed to reverse course:

OK, I made that up.

Anyway, we eventually figured things out. And all in all it was a pretty good hike with nice woods, a lake, and even a couple of waterfalls thrown in for good measure. It was quite overcast, so I really didn't get any decent pictures. Here's a shot of one of the waterfalls though...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

juno and possible look-alikes

We went to see Juno last night, a funny and poignant film about a teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy. NYT review here. Actually it was one of the best films I've seen in awhile so go see it if you get a chance.

Some people think Offspring #2 looks like Michael Cera (who plays Juno's friend Paulie Bleeker in the film). I only sort of see it. What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Five: Read Any Good Books Lately?

Here is this week's Friday Five from revhrod over at RevGals:

1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?
One of the books I am currently reading is Suzuki and Dressel's Good News For a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet. After reading so much ecological bad news, it's nice to read some upbeat stories about people who are making positive environmental contributions to our world.

2. What is one of your favorite childhood books?
Going waaaaaay back, I loved Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire. The things that animal could do with his spots were amazing. Really.

3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell!
Presbyterian Gal asked me this a while back when she "interviewed" me, so I'll stick with that answer... I said Mark since it is (as far as I know) the oldest gospel and therefore probably the most accurate portrayal of Jesus' life.

4. What is one book you could read again and again?
I almost never read the same book more than once. (So many books, so little time!) But, I did re-read Jack Finney's Time and Again because I love books about time travel.

5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?
No, but I'm open to suggestions.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?
Hmmm... My grandmother was pretty darn cool, so I'd probably write about her life, times, wit, and wisdom. It would be a quirky book, so I'd have Garrison Keillor write the blurb for me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

post 201: jesus

Well, here it is -- the Jesus post. Aaack! Obviously this is impossible to cover in one blog entry, but I'll throw out a few thoughts...

I must admit I've generally been fine with God as Creator and Ground of Being. And as long as you say Holy Spirit instead of Holy Ghost (which for some reason makes me think of Casper the Friendly), I'm fine with that too. But over the years Jesus has given me a whole lot of trouble. In fact my last pastor will corroborate the fact that I confessed to her with some exasperation: "I really just don't 'get' Jesus." And it's not like I was a newbie to the whole church scene. But I think that was a big part of the problem. Jesus was buried beneath so many layers of STUFF. Just to point out the words of one hymn from childhood (and beyond):

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

I mean, what does one make of all that?!

Enter Marcus Borg. His book, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time was very helpful in terms of stripping off the layers to get to a new understanding of Jesus.

Borg talks about the distinction between the historical Jesus (pre-Easter Jesus) and the Jesus of Christian tradition and experience (post-Easter Jesus). Borg develops the point that the historical Jesus is different than the 'popular' image of Jesus. Borg writes:

His own self-understanding did not include thinking and speaking of himself as the Son of God whose historical intention or purpose was to die for the sins of the world, and his message was not about believing in him. Rather, he was a spirit person, subversive sage, social prophet, and movement founder who invited his followers and hearers into a transforming relationship with the same Spirit that he himself knew, and into a community whose social vision was shaped by the core value of compassion.

Reading about this Jesus is compelling -- e.g. his alternative vision of community, his challenging the social order of the day, etc. There was obviously something exceptional about him, and I would say that God was somehow uniquely present in him.

Borg states that at Easter, "the early movement continued to experience Jesus as a living reality after his death, but in a radically new way. After Easter, his followers experienced him as a spiritual reality, no longer as a person of flesh and blood, limited in time and space, as Jesus of Nazareth had been."

So, I think all of the layers began as people reflected on who Jesus was -- and also as more and more people "experienced" him. However, I don't have the "personal Jesus relationship" people talk about. (He's not helping me bat as in the above picture.) But that's fine. I'm ok with just having the confusing layers stripped.

Yep, it's a journey, and this is my present view from the road...

Monday, January 14, 2008

my 200th post -- the God post!

Over winter break, the topic of belief in God came up briefly with Offspring #2. I use the word "briefly" because I couldn't articulate my thoughts well enough on the spot to make it a more lengthy discussion. So, I've thought about things more and here's why I give the nod to God. (I guess you'll be the judge if I can articulate any better at this point!)

I should perhaps start by saying that I've always been interested in both science and theology -- especially where they 'intersect'. (I'm sure that explains why several of my undergraduate electives were theology classes while getting my biology degree.) It's not that I'm trying to use science to either prove or disprove the existence of God (that can't be done anyway), but I believe one's 'faith' shouldn't contradict reason either. I've never been willing or able to suspend my brain activity for the sake of any 'religion'.

Having said that, I do think science provides some 'evidence' that points to a transcendent cause. For starters, there is this incredibly narrow band of parameters which made complex forms of life and consciousness a possibility. In fact, Stephen Hawking made the comment that if the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even 1 part in 100 thousand million, the universe would have recollapsed. He said, "The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications." Of course you can argue if this is design or accident, but the numbers, at least in my mind, are pretty compelling.

Then there's the fact that nature obeys laws. For me, this begs the question "What brought about these laws of physics to make evolution possible?" I find the newest work by physicists on string theory and M-theory particularly fascinating. Some physicists believe that it will be possible one day to write a single (and beautifully simple) 'ultimate equation' from which all laws of reality can be derived. So, then I'd have to ask: Why that particular equation? And, Who 'wrote' it?

It's enough to make a brain hurt so I'll just close with a limerick written by George Gamow (a physicist and cosmologist) which seems appropriate for this post:

There was a young fellow from Trinity
Who took the square root of infinity
But the number of digits
Gave him the fidgits;
He dropped Math and took up Divinity.

I'd welcome any comments out there in bloggerland!

(Big Bang pic from here. It's difficult to find good Big Bang photos. Hmm... guess there weren't many cameras around at the time.)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'toon of the day

Ah, if only all eye conditions were this straightforward!
I'm back from the Glaucoma Symposium which was great.

Think I'm going to be sort of lazy today...

cartoon by T. McCracken

Thursday, January 10, 2008

jumpin' in the roadster

That's me -- about to dash off in my spiffy roadster to attend the Glaucoma Symposium in Woodinville, Washington. Notice how Mompriest and Hot Cup are wishing me well. Presbyterian Gal (far right) is asking if she can come along. It's not that she's interested in the continuing education classes, she just wants a ride in the convertible.

Anywhoo, I'm looking forward to the symposium -- I'm familiar with the speakers and they are top notch.

While I am motoring up to Woodinville (with the breeze gently ruffling my hair), feel free to read this article. Mompriest brought it to my attention. It's a New York Times Op-Ed piece by Gloria Steinem called "Women are Never Front-Runners". Steinem makes some great points.

While either Obama or Clinton would represent positive change from the current administration, damn it would be nice to see the glass ceiling shattered.

Monday, January 7, 2008

and just like that, they're gone...

Yep, the chickens have flown the coop. Winter break is over and Offsprings #1 and #2 are back up at college. How the heck did time fly by so fast?!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

on a serious note...

I'll admit it. I suffer from eco-anxiety, a concern for (and fear of) our environmental future. It started a while back as a mildly unsettled feeling when reading National Geographic and Scientific American articles; but, with the emergence of more data and increasingly clear scientific consensus on climate change, it has turned into flat-out worry.

I don't like politics and this is not a political blog. But. As I have been watching the debates and listening to the presidential candidates it strikes me that this next president will, realistically, have the last chance to avert catastrophic climate change. There is no longer time for us to wait out another administration apathetic to the environment. The challenge before us will be to elect someone who "gets it" and support the level of commitment needed to address this issue. Because if we don't, all other issues at some point become moot.

To see where the top six candidates stand on global warming, click here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Seven Whoppers

I've been tagged by Diane to tell 7 lies about myself. Well, here goes!

1. Deeply inspired as a child by both "Mr. Clean" and "The Man from Glad", I wore only white clothing.

2. In the 70's I worked as a freelance photographer shooting album covers. My most famous was the "Waking and Dreaming" picture for Orleans. However, strangely enough, nobody seemed to want to hire me after this one.

3. I am an avid, "extreme" snowboarder, always willing to try new and exciting jumps. Unfortunately, this one ended in the parking lot. And not well.

4. I primarily went into optometry because writing wasn't working out. I did get one novel published about an attractive bovine detective entitled "Nancy Moo: The Secret in the Old Hayloft", but it was only popular in North Dakota.

5. And speaking of North Dakota... I am a worldclass yodeler. In fact, I have taken the Grand Tonsil Trophy three years straight at the ND Bratwurst and Yodeling Festival in Bismarck, beating out Hilda Huffenflugen (who is pictured below).

6. I have a patent pending for "Pick Up Spaghetti Sticks!" The idea is simple, yet brilliant. You play with the brightly colored pasta, then cook 'em when you are done playing. I'm sure it will catch on.

And finally,
7. With the writer's strike dragging on, network executives are looking to rework old material with fresh faces. As such, I am excited to announce that Presbyterian Gal and I have begun work on "Cagney and Lacey: A New Beginning". I will be playing the role made famous by Tyne Daly and Presbyterian Gal will, of course, reprise the Sharon Gless role. (I'm still working on my New York accent.)

I tag anybody who would like to jump in and shamelessly lie. (How about it, Hot Cup and Purpletologically Speaking?)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy new year!

Offspring #1 enjoyed fireworks at the Space Needle for New Years Eve. (My New Years Eve, although nice, was a bit less exciting.)

Anywhoo, she took the above photo. Methinks she is a good photographer...