Friday, October 30, 2009

Who's who

In English - an explanation of who's who in the new Germany government.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hey You! Election Day is Tuesday!!!

While not as immediately apparent in its importance as, say, last November, you


Election Day here in Minneapolis is critical for two big reasons:
  • The City Council is trying an end-run to consolidate power by eliminating the Park & Rec Board. Vote NO.
  • The City Citizens will be able to use the Ranked-Choice (or Instant Run Off) Voting for the first time.
This method of voting requires a hand-count.

The fact there are no electronic machines involved means the election results won't be in until December. However, unlike the last election to-do here, this won't involve million-dollar law suits.


Here are video explanations of it from MPR. It's brilliant. Voting with Post-Its. Really good visualization.

If only one person gets to win: the Mayor

If more than one person can win: City Council


If you're confused about how to vote, post your question here & I'll answer it. As long as it is before 10 p.m. Monday night. My civic duty doesn't superceede getting a good night sleep on this topic.

back to the grindstone

I can tell I'm spending more time doing school work (a.k.a. industrial hygiene), when I see something and think "that would be cool to share" - it's IH / safety / public health.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Some order, please!

Every one of you has certainly heard of the Periodic Table of the Elements. Or the Periodic Table. Or the Periodic Chart. Period. You have, no doubt, seen the "modern" or "standard" version:

Then there are different methods to present the same information. These still demonstrate the periodicity of the atomic structure & therefore chemical properties, in different visual patterns. There were a couple others, but they wouldn't copy as easily as this:

Then again, there are some periodic tables which are apparently designed to refute information (while the top is amusing, the bottom part is the highlight):

Tickets, please

I can see the appeal of spending a few dollars having the Metro Cops spend a shift riding around checking tickets on the Light Rail. Price of a ticket for no ticket? $180. Figuring it costs $60/hour for 2 cops, if they manage to issue 1 ticket / 3 hours, they'll break even financially. And put the fear of god into riders to drive home the point that they do check. I think I had my pass/ID checked three times in the last academic year. Now? Twice in one week - which actually translates to once yesterday and once this evening. And the visit yesterday ...? Was 2 metro cops and 2 TSA. TSA? Well, I suppose the Light Rail does go through the airport. I haven't seen anyone get nailed without a ticket yet, though. I have heard, however, that they have a Zero tolerance policy about it.

The Powers of Peat

I want to make a psalter. I started ruminating on this quite a few years ago B.C. (Before Children.) I had been doing medieval calligraphy for quite a few years and wanted to branch out into a medieval, yet more personal, effort. Psalters - a collection of the psalms - were one of the few types of books which were common in the Middle Ages. Yes, this would be if you were wealthy to start off with. There are some doozies out there. The stupendously wealthy would have them custom made, in lieu of a Mazeratti to show off wealth. One of the most spectacular examples is from Jean Duc de Berry. I used to have a copy of excerpts. It is the most impressive example of late medieval illumination I've ever seen. The calligraphy I posted a few days ago was based upon this.

There are extant examples dating back to the 7th Century (in Ireland) from across Europe. The earlier stuff - Merovingian, Carolingian & early Irish - are really appealing to me. Convenient, since they are light on the illumination. A companion skill I never developed much beyond a rudimentary level. I worked with several skilled illuminators, so I didn't see any point in pursuing something I didn't really care for.

A couple years ago, a bulldozer operator in the middle of Ireland discovered a psalter while excavating peat in a bog. It is estimated to be from ~750 AD, apparently based upon the one visible page. As the director of the National Museum in Ireland stated, it is utterly astonishing that this thing managed to survive 1000 years or more. I can't wait to see what it looks like. The museum has a page about it here.

It's intriguing the limitations they have for conservation & restoration:
can't freeze it, or it will destroy the parchment;
can't use bio-cides or it will ruin the paints or inks;
don't want too much oxygen or it will actually start decomposing ...

The problem is that, having sat in a peat bog for 1000 years, the book is rather ... well .. rather wet. How to dry it out without destroying it? There will likely be quite a few dissertations addressing the many facets of this.

This link goes to a page, at the bottom of which is a .pdf file providing a summary of the conservation project. As both a scientist and an avid interest in the specific type of object, I was utterly enchanted. p. 9 has a before / after photograph of one of the first pages they've treated. Holy cow!

This is just soooooooooo coooooolll

DWI the Minnesota Way

DWI for what?

Duluth, Minn. (AP) — A northern Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to driving his motorized lounge chair while drunk.

A criminal complaint says 62-year-old Dennis LeRoy Anderson told police he left the Keyboard Lounge in Proctor on his customized La-Z-Boy after drinking eight or nine beers.

Prosecutors say Anderson's blood alcohol content was 0.29, more than three times the legal limit, when he crashed the lounge chair into a parked vehicle in August 2008.

Proctor Deputy Police Chief Troy Foucault says the chair was powered by a converted lawnmower and was equipped with a stereo and cup holders.

Did this thing get snow tires? What about the windchill up there in Duluth in January - does he have some sort of heater? And perhaps even more strangely ... is he in violation of the Clean Air Act for operating a vehicle which doesn't have a catalytic converter on it?

at the same time the Duluth News Tribune reports:
Number of deaths on Minnesota roads lowest in decades. I guess that's only because they're looking on the roads, and not the bar parking lots for moving violations.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

running hot? or cold?

Warm September segues into Cold October: aiming for record-breaking? Not me.

October temperatures are also way below average. After a very warm September (+5.5 degrees) we are running 8.4 degrees below average for October. So in a month, we've gone from the 11th warmest September or record to what may be one of the top 10 coldest Octobers on record.

Though I am very thankful for the above-average precipitation this month. It's been too dry for too long here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Impure Thinking leads to Treason

Interesting view of the "democratic process" regarding climate change / global warming policies. The author questions whether scientists can claim a moral high ground. Questioning global warming policy is, in some quarters, 'treason to the Earth' and her associated advocates. Pleasantly, a change from physical sciences to economics. A topic more scientists should be familiar with (beyond grant proposals).

"Less well-known pundits make similar points, suggesting that people with “incorrect” views on global warming should face Nuremburg-style trials or be tried for crimes against humanity. There is clearly a trend. The climate threat is so great – and democracies are doing so little about it – that people conclude that maybe democracy is part of the problem, and that perhaps people ought not to be allowed to express heterodox opinions on such an important topic.

... argue that if the science of climate change concludes that CO2 emissions are harmful, it follows that we should stop those harmful emissions ... since science tells us that speeding cars kill many people, we should cut speed limits to almost nothing."


This is just the best ...

Now, this is the kind of story which just warms the cockles of one's heart.

UnitedHealth Group, the nation's biggest health insurer [next door in Minnetonka], found itself in a touchy sideshow to the great health care debate Wednesday after a Colorado family came forward with a poignant story about how their 2-year-old daughter had been denied coverage.

Such decisions are not uncommon among insurers, but the case of Aislin Bates came with a twist -- she's healthy.

Now, if only we could shame the Health Insurance industry into doing something else, like universal coverage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

80 gallons of Legos

Really, this didn't start out being procrastination. I'm working on a class project that lead me to check popular media for some information. Of course, one thing led to another to another ... and this was the end of the procrastination trail of tears.

Mistranslations from German:

Schwanz ... or Schwanz ... ?

Visitors to a tourist attraction in Berlin have been making off with an unusual memento—the 30 cm long penis of a Lego giraffe.

The Lego phallus belongs to a six metre tall model that has stood outside the entrance to the Legoland Discovery Centre on Potsdamer Platz since 2007.

“It’s a popular souvenir,” a spokeswoman for the centre said Tuesday. “It’s been stolen four times now …”

The article (in its entirety) in Columbia Journalism Review covers several other mis-translations.
BTW: Schwanz is a tail. It's also a popular slang for penis.

Although, apparently in both translations, it was still €3,000.

$4,500 for 30-cm of Legos? That's only about 1-ft. Even if one assumes it was relatively round (the tail, not the reproductive appendage), how could it possibly be that much? The Lego store @ Mall of America sells Legos by the bucket; it's only $14 for a quart of Lego. Somehow, I don't see Legoland using a 80 gallons (305 L) of Legos to build a 1 foot (30 cm) tail.

The post concluded with: Relying on someone a few desks down in the newsroom, or on your memory from that year you went to Oktoberfest, is a sure-fire way to end up lost in translation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

71% chance

We had the nicest Summer I can remember in my entire adult life. Really.

I'm not entirely sure what constitutes a "mild Winter" here in the Northern Midwest. We're supposed to get one, I guess. And, based upon Sunday's visit to an orchard, the woolly bear caterpillars support NOAA's predictions. (A fact I pointed out as one was crawling up Jr.Gopher#2's arm, to the great distress of Jr.Gopher#1.)

The 10-day straight run of temperatures below 0°F ( -18°C) last January reinforced my need for long johns to survive waiting for the bus/train. It actually got to -25°F ( -32°C) one night; it was up to -22 at 7 a.m. Mind you, that's here in urban-warmed Minneapolis. Up in Ely & Embarrass, it was -36°F ( -38°C) with a wind-chill of -52°F ( -47°C).
The metric units are for Mr.Gopher & Dr.Nuke. Sorry, Joachim, I figure everyone ought to have goofy names, and The Nuclear Physicist takes too much time to type. If you'd rather something else, let me know.

Ug. I'm okay if the temps get to 0°F; they don't really need to go further to convince me it's Winter here.

Now, for those of you who get annoyed when older people - say, your parents or grandparents - say "it was colder in my day" ... well, it isn't really global warming. The method used to calculate windchill changed. Rather than measure wind speed at 10 feet above ground, they now calculate it at 5 feet. Less wind = less windchill.

At 0-10 mph, the old & new are about the same. By the time you get up to 100 mph, they're back to be the same again. So, if it's calm, or if you're in the middle of an F-5 tornado, you can tell Grandma that it's really the same as the last century.

bragging rights

This is one of the nicer pieces I did. Not as nice as I'd want, but I certainly wasn't embarrassed to present it to the SCA group. This is from the Great Book of the Middle Kingdom. It is a collection of all of the "official" ceremonies and the associated texts for each. These particular pages are the opening of the Crown Tournament. And, while not credited, I did the calligraphy on the opening page for the following section.

The calligraphy & capital letters are mine. The illumination is Pharamond's. In the course of my efforts, I did quite a bit of collaboration with him: me with a pen & him with a paint brush.

There are a few other pieces of mine I wish I had high-quality photographs of, rather than the photocopies sitting in my portfolio.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Calligraphic attraction

There is an International Exhibition of Calligraphy in Moscow. Barring the mediocre English on their website (by both the exhibit and contributors), it looks like there is actually something in Moscow I would like to see.There are a couple of pieces in their collection which are stunningly breathtaking. A couple contributors are German. Their brief essay (2-3 paragraphs) were in a spectrum of opinions as well as English competency. At least one of which I wish I could have read in German, because it didn't make a lot of sense in English.

Two of the pieces I particularly liked:

Truth, texts from Demokrit, Aristoteles, Leibniz, Feuerbach, Goethe, Schiller, Lichtenberg, La Mettrie, Hebel, Berger, by Joachim Propfe
If you look carefully at some of the dark & light shadowing is actually text.

Psalm 25:7, Remember not the sins of my youth, by Avraham-Hersh Borshevsky
this is one which took my breath away.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Great American Novel

Cinda contemplated what constitutes great American literature. Not being a professional writer, or a devout classicist, my literary consumption has been mostly popular stuff. Anne Perry, Robert Ludlum, Lois McMaster Bujold, Patrick O'Brian. I have read a couple of her recommendations, especially To Kill a Mockingbird.

No two people being the same, of course I paused to consider what I would recommend, if offering American literature to a foreigner. Something which paints a picture of life in America. How we, as Americans see our self-identity as Americans. Murder mysteries are all well and good, but does one paint a picture of America that is uniquely American? Love stories are popular, but does one demonstrate our idea of romance? Do we even have a monopoly on one flavor of love?

L.A. Confidential is an amazing picture of Los Angeles in 1952. All the glories of Hollywood, police and political corruption, the image that American was trying to give itself after the end of the war. The language used is uniquely American and uniquely 1950s. People don't speak like that any more. Removing the rose colored glasses of the Leave It to Beaver Era.

The Autobiography of Malcom X is a rather interesting picture of a very interesting man. The American dream of going from a nobody in poverty to being important; embracing freedom of religion and then embracing religion in freedom; and, of course, getting killed for bucking the system. A picture of the civil rights movement more likely to make whites uncomfortable than King's.

Atlas Shrugged yields the quintessential self-perception of American Capitalism. This is, of course, not how we practice that economic theory - but it is how Americans idealize it.** The Marlboro Man of Business - this is why Republicans idealize capitalism with utterly no governmental regulation - they think they're Hank Rearden or they're monumentally ignorant and think they're Jimmy Taggart. I read this while in high school & loved it without realizing it was an economic philosophy treatise. [Even at 15 I realized the personal relationship choices of the heroine really left something to be desired.]

Laura Ingall-Wilder's stories surrounding Little House on the Prairie paint a little idylic image of American Imperialist Expansionism in the 19th Century. Being almost-contemporary and written from personal experience, it might be rose-colored, but at least provides a very personal image of how White Euro-Americans look at the westward expansion into the prairies. Leave-It-To-Beaver of the 19th Century. This should be required hand-in-hand with:

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee is non-fiction, so it doesn't qualify as a novel; however, there aren't too many novels written from the point of view of the Indians. This is simply offered as a tool to better appreicate how Wilder's novels reflect the American view at the time which, for the most part, continues today.

** since writing this, the government has totally fucked us, and, boy, I mean fucked us ... and we've screamed for more more more more our socialist economic love-fest. Or that could be our communist love-fest, depending on how in love you are with government buy-outs. What fucktards are running our government? Oh, that's right, the same assholes who are benefiting from all this dumb-ass money distribution (upwards re-distribution, that is) ... but don't let me sound too bitter.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I can't vote her out ...

Local nut job apparently represents the conservative Catholic vote in Minnesota. Why can't people just go back to ignoring the ignorant? Stupid behavior and blatant false statements shouldn't be rewarded by the front page of the New York Times.

The state waits with baited breath to see whether sanity can prevail in the 6th District.

... but he's the only serious candidate here in the 5th District. Expecting a Republican to win here is like expecting palm trees to grow up in Bimidji.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

[review] Food, Inc.

If you have never slaughtered your own food, you should be required to see this.

"bigger, faster, fatter, cheaper" : a farmer's description about how MegaCorp demands your food be produced. I would put a name in, but I don't recall which one it was. There are, after all, only 5 or 6 companies in the entire United States of America which produced your dinner last night.

Yes, there are some disturbing scenes in the movie. Was it the outdoor one-at-a-time chicken slaughtering? No, it was the mechanized efforts to get sick and lame cattle into the chute for slaughter.

And, yes, as with any documentary film, there is the issue of:
>> selective editing of film
>> getting highly articulate people who really don't represent the norm to talk favorably about your point of view

As Mr. Gopher observed, it provided a refreshingly unusual view of the "good guys" not being angels. The Nice Farmer was still filmed slaughtering his chickens and beef. It's not like the director only showed the Bad Corporate Farmers being gross. And, it was a very sympathetic view of the poor guys stuck in the middle. They've got a farm, they need to use it, but they really can't do it without bankrupting their soul as well as their pocket book.

Farm for MegaCorp? It makes you a feudal serf. It's no different than 100 years ago living in a Company Town. Want seed? Buy from MegaCorp. Want to be paid? Do it Our Way.

One of the most pleasant few minutes of the movie was the section about Stoneyfield. The organic yogurt people. That would be the big corporate organic people. The CEO was interviewed about Wal-Mart becoming their new client. The other organic people despise him for 'selling out'. He thinks it's wonderful that The Enemy wants to sell organic. Why do they? As the Wal-Mart manager said, "because our customers want it".

The film crew accompanied some Wal-Mart sales-employees to a small family dairy farm in New England. The wife of the couple shakes hands and laughs as she says, "You know, I've never actually been in a Wal-Mart. We won't buy your stuff, we sort of boycot it." You know the WalMart guys must hear this a lot, because they managed to keep a straight face.

Yup ... pretty damn depressing. While underscoring the mantra: It's not inherently bad, it's the way they go about it that is evil. Well, keeping animals in feed lots was pretty much condemned outright.

Mr. Gopher & I went to see this after having dinner at Zeno's. No, neither Greek philosophy nor Greek food. Sort of the haute couture, "Look, ma, I'm spending a lot of money on dinner!" Well, in this case the $30 dinner for 2 which included a bottle of wine and movie tickets for 2 was a pretty good deal. We realized we don't normally consume a whole bottle of wine as we floated around the corner to the theater. Pleasantly it's near one of my favorite theaters (the Lagoon).

Gopher Recommendation:
2 - Definitely go see it on the big screen (at matinee prices). Like good special effects, it is more powerful on the big screen.

and ...
The $30 Cheap Date Night Special @ Zeno's is worthwhile. Yes, that's what it's called.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

and they wonder?

okay, so I wrote this at the end of July as I was planning my trip back to Lansing

MSP - ORD - DTW: . . . Northwest Airlines: there & back = $219

MSP - LAN: . . . Northwest Airlines: there & back = $475

MSP - LAN: . . . VW Passat: there & back = $120

StPl - Lansing: . . . Amtrak train: there & back = $192

And they think they'll convince me to fly? And then have to rent a car & pay for gas anyway? And they wonder why they're losing money? I might do it if I thought there was a snowball's chance in Hell of

a) getting a comfy seat without someone's elbows in my ribs
b) getting anything to eat
c) arriving on time

just getting (a) and (c) would be great.

Amtrak would get me (a) and (b) and (c) ... but it would also take an entire day to get there plus an entire day to get back.


Monday, October 12, 2009


Who should play this character?

There is a “book club” supplement in the novel I read recently (The Black Hand, Will Thomas). A few questions intended to spark discussions. One of the questions: “If this was made into a film, who would you cast as the characters?" Interesting, and one I sporadically contemplate when reading a book for the 2nd time.

One of my favorite authors in the past couple years has been Martin Cruz Smith. (Why do people insist in using all 3 names? What would be wrong with simply Martin Smith? I don’t recall ever seeing another author by that name. Sharon Kay Penmann? Lois McMaster Bujold? ... anyway ...)

Smith wrote Gorky Park, and several sequels. Arkady Renko is central, yet never deeply described physically beyond tall, thin, serious, pale and black haired. Who would I cast? I saw a chacter in The Bourne Supremacy and - pop - I thought, that’s who I would cast. Given the actor, Karl Urban, is a Kiwi I would likely not have contemplated it, other than that he was playing a Russian cop in Bourne. Tall, slender, black hair, pale skin and about the right age for the initial books.

William Hurt played the character in the '80s movie, which I just don't see. But, how much of the character's description influences our perception of the character as a person? The Black Hand has a central character, Thomas Llewelyn, who is repeatedly described as being short. The description actually reminds me heavily of my friend Calum, who matches it fairly well.

Sometimes one changes the character’s sex between source material & movie. Either specifically or generally. The Bourne Identity had a female assistant (Julia Stiles): if the character was in the book (I don't recall), it would assuredly have been a man. Ditto Bourne Supremacy (I never read) with Joan Allen. Ludlum in 1970 simply wouldn’t have made a Deputy Director of the CIA a woman. Puck in Midsummer Night’s Dream as a man or woman? Would that choice effect the interpretation?

Sometimes casting one character can force other casting. A production of The Marriage of Figaro at MSU had Figaro played by a black man. Should that influence the rest of the cast’s color? This particularly intrigues me. Watching the Bourne movies (1st & 2nd) this week, I wonder why the entire cast is white. What difference would it have made to have at least the extras be black, brown, purple, whatever...? I’ve never been to Moscow, but Berlin is certainly not monochromatic these days. Even if one only considers the Turks.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

[review] Apocalypse Meow

Apocalypse Meow is a graphic novel story of a unit of American soldiers in Vietnam. While not specifically mentioned, it's set during the height of the war. It's interesting. STFU&GBTW posted it on his blog that he was intrigued by a video clip posted on (of course) YouTube, see below.

The different nationalities are different species. American Bunnies (they're cute, therefore they're not rabbits), Vietnamese Cats, Russian Bears, French Pigs. The video is updated to today, so the enemy soldiers are camels. This is not for children. The events span the experiences of American soldiers there, guerilla warfare, never knowing who to trust, not knowing when you'll get out, "American military advisors" in countries that you haven't gotten around to invading yet, corporate interference, believing you're there for some Holy cause ... holy cat shit, Batman! It's actually the Middle East!

It's a quick read in 3 short volumes.

Gopher Rating:
3 - borrow it from a friend/library
(unless you're into military history, in which case, I'd give it a 2)

video for Cat Shit One

The soldier-bunnies in the books were the unit Cat Shit One (the original title of the books, no doubt modified for American sensibilities).

The trailer, below, is intriguing in a way the 2-D comics can't be. The violence is more vivid. And it twists one's perception about the application of violence. Do we emotionally respond to torturing or shooting or executing cute plush bunnies in the same way we do about humans? Well, as an editorial ... we can't respond the same way, since the American Government censors out ability to do so. Perhaps that alone makes this worthwhile, to force some emotional engagement in the gov't dictated vacuum.

I'm really looking forward to seeing this. The author's website presents information about Cat Shit One, the original title of the books. Says 'coming soon early 2010'.

Friday, October 9, 2009

[review] Religulous

wow ... #3

no, not another jr. gopher!

There are very, very few movies I’ve ever despised enough to walk out of. Boogie Nights was repugnant. The only reason I didn’t walk out was because I was @ the theater with a friend. Afterwards, we walked out in silence. Eventually I asked in an odd tone of voice, “so, what did you think?” We both vowed never to sit through another movie so god awful horrible, even if it meant leaving the other one in the theater.

Pulp Fiction: yup, I must be the only person in America who thought the movie sucked. I can’t tell you why. Nothing specific struck me, just the awful movie. I don’t want to watch it again to figure it out.

And now .... (drum roll, please) ...

Religulous: you have got to be kidding. This should have been called Ridiculous. Because, while Mahr might be funny, this wasn’t. If someone had just told me that it was a 2 hour effort to ridicule and despise people for their religious beliefs, I wouldn’t have bothered. Well, I only bothered with the first 30 min.

Mahr’s claim that he wanted to understand this bizarre phenomenon of deism was a self-serving lie - he didn’t want to and didn’t bother to try. The note on IMdB reads: "Bill Maher's take on the current state of world religion." It isn't. He just runs around pondering with this smirk on his face "I don't understand ..." There was no effort to understand.

Strangely, he interviewed quite a diverse group of people in 30 min.:
  • a bunch of truckers who have a chapel at a truck stop in a converted (of course) tractor-trailer.
  • a minister who is a recovered homosexual married to a recovered lesbian whose mission in life is to convert the rest of Gay America to the wonders of a life with Jesus.
  • the head of the National Academy for the Advancement of Science
  • a former Motown star who epitomizes the "Jim Baker send me your money for God" type of evangelical preacher

There was no effort to solicit anything truly intelligent or articulate from them. Nope, just asking questions to elicit a previously determined answer. Come on - the fellow from the NAAS was articulate.

If they had only a) made an effort to be funny/satirical or b) not tried to pretend to be a documentary ... well, I might have been more likely to at least watch the whole thing. A review stated: It's not what the movie is about, it's how it's about it. If so, Mahr totally failed by losing my interest 30 min. into the movie.

Gopher Movie Rating:
Go floss your teeth.

I understand the appeal of wanting to understand why people believe what they do. (Mahr doesn't, but that's okay.) I would really have been interested in this as a serious movie.

I never asked my friend the Nuclear Physicist and devout Catholic why he, as a scientist, believes in a divine God. One would assueme a man who spends his time trying to observe the bizarre mysteries of the unseen and uncertain wouldn’t have so much difficulty believing in God, rather than neutrinos.

I suppose I could ask Mr.Gopher, another physicist and devout Catholic why he believes in God. It seems an incredibly personal question, even for one’s spouse. (A truly insane confluence of talking about sex yes, but not Faith?) Well, something to talk about besides our taxes Friday when we play hookie together.

I’m a scientist. Although I’m not a physicist, and not always so sure about the devout Catholic. I think like many, part of my justification for this belief is not discussed publicaly. Mystics make most American Catholics uncomfortable. We tend to accept the mysticism of saints and messiahs, but not ourselves.

And, apparently unlike some, science doesn’t threaten my faith. The more I studied physical chemistry, the more convinced I was that there was a god. How could so much of the universe be described by mathematics without something behind it? I cannot imagine any scientific finding capable of repudiating the existance of God. I can only imagine the more knowledge we have of the natural world simply reaffirming this.

A naval pilot once stated that after a night-time instrument-only bad-weather landing on an aircraft carrier, he had no problem believing in what one cannot see.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Help! I've turned into a soccer mom!!!

written last week

There's a protest @ the Y on Lake Street tomorrow morning (10 a.m., if you're interested - the one near the Light Rail station). Some bunch of Nazis are planning to protest the Y's scheduled anti-racist seminar. (only 4 turned up) I asked Mr. Gopher if he wanted to go. The only reason I asked at all is because Jr.Gopher#1's soccer game is at 9:30. Political protest of right-wing assholes or our child's sports fun? Mr. Gopher replied with no hesitation that he didn't want to go, as he considered them a relatively harmless bunch of clowns.

I was quite shocked that he considered them harmless. Personally, while I don't see them as being an immediate danger to society, they present a real hazard. I didn't get a chance to ask if this was due to the fact we're in the States and not Germany. We see racism through different filters. The expression of racism has a very different history in our respective countries. The efforts chosen to eliminate it have also been very different.

His opinions on the NDP (the new incarnation of the Nazi party**) have been quite unambiguous about their potential danger to Germany being quite real. Maybe American Nazis aren't so much of a threat because the percentage of non-whites in America is so much higher than in Germany? Or just the specific and significant place in their history is absent here.

It seemed to me (filtered through a cultural chasm as well as trying to read a newspaper in a foreign language) that people in Germany seemed to be shocked that the NDP managed to get a few people elected recently. Whereas, I personally would not be surprised at all if quite a lot of people here got elected on a euphemistically defined platform of racist nationalism. (They're pretty much all called Republicans - not that Democrats aren't racist, but they tend not to be as nationalistic.) Why would I not be surprised? Because I can look at the government & see it has already happened. What else would one consider the last 8 years' policies, if not nationalism? Well, I guess arrogantly self-centered and self-righteous would be equally valid labels. I would sincerely like to believe that a group publicly espousing white supremacy wouldn't be able to be elected.

People like this are out making noise for self-serving attention-seeking purposes to just piss off sane people. Would it manage to undermine them if they got no attention? No media coverage; no counter-demonstration; no acknowledgment by passersby? I can see how it would fuel their ego if only a handful of people showed up, letting them try to paint their ideology as unassailable. If dozens show up (as I expect tomorrow) (it turned out to be about 200), it lets these social retards pretend to be some oppressed minority struggling against The Mud People or Race Traitors. But with no audience ...? How can they create some mutual self-identity without a social mirror?

I once heard a suggestion for deporting them all to Germany, if they're so much in love with the Third Reich's policies. Of course the same person was intending these people to run into a government who would - unlike ours - smash them like sociopathic cockroaches they are. Let them go see what oppression of their political opinions really is. I personally wouldn't wish it upon the German people.

Michael had fun at the soccer match. See photos here.

** thinking of providing a succinct explanation of this, I went to Der Spiegel's English pages; as expected, there's a page explaining the different major parties' platforms. There is no entry for the NDP - only the big 5 (CDU, FDP, CSU, & Greens). I guess they've taken the "ignore them" position due to their real minority.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Raisins to the Rescue

Wisconsin prisoner tries to escape with bag of raisins, slashes hand

Wisconsin prison officials say an inmate is in solitary after he tried to escape from Columbia Correctional Institution.

Department of Corrections spokesman John Dipko says 49-year-old James Frederick was supposed to pick up food carts when he bolted for the perimeter fences.

He had stuffed his clothes with newspapers to protect him from razor wire that lined the top of the first fence. He also had a large bag of raisins with him.

Frederick still cut his hand on the razor wire and fell back to the ground. His bag of raisins got stuck in the razor wire.

Dipko says Frederick escaped from Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution in 1981 but was recaptured.

The Columbia escape attempt occurred about 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday.

Bumper Sticker of the Month

Suburbia: where they cut down all the trees & name streets after them.

Last night's excitement

Over near the Pillsbury silos just north of the river, some underground storage tanks are getting removed. They're burning off the remaining propane. The Jr.Gophers thought it was pretty impressive - we had a field trip last night to enjoy the sight in the dark.

Photo: Mpls Strib, Jim Gehrz

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jr. Gopher #1 plays football / Fußball / soccer

Photos are located on a Facebook page

Photos are of Jr.Gopher#1 - the 2 girls are our next door neighbor (the blonde) and the girl across the street (the brunette).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Red v. Yellow

Courtesy of Auntie STFU&GBTW, the boys have a rather large tractor/trailer. It's big enough for a 2 year old to sit on to "drive". It has 2 proportionally large cars: one red (Jr.Gopher#1) and one yellow (Jr.Gopher#2).

This is their current favorite video. Don't bother to turn the sound on - it's just repetitious electronic dee-de-dee-ta-dee.
(ed. Mr. Gopher recommends leaving the sound on, to let the rhythm help drive the excitement).