Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Poorly Written Science Articles

I posted this to my facebook wall a moment ago but it got truncated so I'm reposting it here...

First, the crappy article: Here

As a fan of science and, in particular, evolutionary science this article seems to be exceptionally poorly written, especially for Science Now (I sort of expect science writing like this from NPR and other mainstream news sources who seem to think evolution is a living, breathing thing, instead of a theory to be used to understand the world).

1) "And that... could be bad for the evolution of the entire species." What kind of poorly thought out sentience is that? Helen Fields, please explain to me what qualifies something as being good or "bad" for the evolution of a species? This strikes me as very similar to saying something is "bad" for the thermodynamics of a particle. It is nonsensical and doesn't convey any information about what is actually going on. Something can't be "bad" for evolution. It may decrease or increase the rate of evolution or alter the direction of species evolution but nothing about those is, in and of itself, bad.

2) "This experiment adds to evidence that evolution doesn't always lead inexorably to progress for the species..." I would argue that evolution rarely leads to "progress for the species". Looking around at the majority of the world's species of animals today, it seems relatively obvious that given a significant amount of time and the right evolutionary conditions, evolution leads to speciation and, likely, the eventual extinction of the originating species due to pressures from the new species or multiple new species.

To take human evolution as a case in point, it is widely accepted now that the common ancestor of humans and the apes no longer exists precisely because of evolution and the speciation of our common ancestor into at least two new species which competed for the same resources as it did.

I'm so tired of reading articles about evolution and evolutionary science that seem as informed on the matter as my elementary science book was 23 years ago.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Online Comic Strips You Should Read

One thing I've noticed about a lot of my new friends here in Tampa is that they seem to not read any of the online comic strips that I so love. In an attempt to remedy this, I figured I would do a quick post highlighting some of my favorite individual strips from my favorite comics. (click on the images below to see the whole thing).

First up, Penny-Arcade

Penny-Arcade is probably the most popular comic strip out there right now and is certainly the most popular online comic strip. Their humor tends to centralize around video games, D&D, and just nerd humor in general. Here's two of my favorite strips from them...

Next up, we have XKCD

While the art isn't necessarily much of a draw with XKCD (just about everything is stick figures) the humor itself is priceless. It tends to focus on general geek, math, and language jokes. Here's a couple of great ones from there...

And finally, my current favorite, Questionable Content.

Unlike the other two, you really don't have to be a computer, gamer, or D&D nerd to enjoy Questionable Content. As long as you have a bit of geek streak to you, relating to this comic should be a breeze. It is also the only one of the three that has a continuous ongoing story line, so once you start reading it, it can be a bit hard to stop. I highly recommend just going to the website I linked above, clicking the "random" button, and following the first story line that catches your eye (although if you do this at work, don't plan on getting anything done today). Here's a couple I really like...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Life in Tampa!

To say I'm loving my life in Tampa would be a drastic understatement. Besides the fact that it is just a cool place to live, with a ton of stuff to do every day of the week, I've also...

bought my first home

made some amazing friends

have a good job

and am dating a great girl!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Woot! Pandora Widget!

As most people who know me know, I love Pandora! Just wanted to write a quick post that they now have a widget that you can add to your Blogger sidebar (to the right there) by going to your profile page within Pandora. Pandora also added the ability to post what songs you are listening to onto your Facebook page, at some point in the last few days (I just noticed it this morning).

Thank you, Pandora!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Buying a Townhome!

Woohoo! I'm finally going to have a place to call my own! I've been regretting not buying my own place for about three years now, ever since I got out of the navy and settled for a crappy apartment in Edwardsville, IL because I didn't give myself enough time to find a place to buy there before starting my new job there. So finally, two jobs and three years later, I'm going to own my own place!

It's not huge and its far from my dream home but it is definitely something and fits my needs very nicely.

These are the pictures from the model they have set up for tours.

Needless to say, I'm super excited about the whole thing!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Playing Soccer Again!

I coached soccer for a bit over the spring / summer but I'm finally going to start playing in a league again, two leagues actually, for the first time in about ten years! Just one more reason that I'm loving my life in Brandon, FL so far.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Should Be Looking In South Korea?

I recived the following from OkCupid about a week or so ago. Like everything else on their site the "% match" is based on my answers to various questions vs. the answers of my chosen intrest group (in my case single, bi/straight women) and what percentage of the answers match up.

I didn't find anything to suprising about the U.S. Map portion. I get along well with girls the northeast and pacific coast but not so much the mountain or deep south states.

I never would have guess that South Korea and Japan would be my top locations throughtout the world though.

A Map of Love: your best female matches by state
target: USA | sampled: 35681
Your Worst States
Arkansas — 71.5
Alabama — 71.6
West Virginia — 71.6
Oklahoma — 71.7
Mississippi — 72.0
Your Best States
Massachusetts — 76.8
Maryland — 75.8
Oregon — 75.7
Virginia — 75.7
Minnesota — 75.6
A Map of Love: your best female matches by country
target: World | sampled: 17296
Your Worst Countries
Indonesia — 60.8
Philippines — 63.0
Ukraine — 63.0
Egypt — 63.7
Thailand — 64.9
Your Best Countries
South Korea — 78.1
Japan — 76.0
Switzerland — 75.2
Israel — 75.2
Denmark — 75.1

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More from the 1st annual BEB Expo

I didn't realize that these videos were online till yesterday. Having found them now though, I feel it is my duty to share them with the world. If you don't know Nate or Elliott than some of the funny may be lost to you. For everyone who does know them though, these two clips are pure gold.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flow Chart to my Heart

Last post for the day, I promise. OkC selected me as one of their users to try out their newest feature.

Here is the result: Flow Chart to my Heart

New Job!

I finally got myself a new job about a week or so back. It's with a company that I almost had a job with a few months back, before I decided to go to school for the summer, Rev1 out of Tampa, FL. This, of course, means that I'm moving... once again. As much as I'm looking forward to not living in Illinois any more, I really had hoped to not have to move once again so quickly. As I've said before, I love to travel but I'm really getting burned out by the constant moving of everything I own from one place to another. On the plus side, with this move I already have several friends in the area, so at least I don't feel like I'm starting completely from scratch.

So six days from now I'll start my tip down to Tampa. The trip in total is going to take me about 5 days. In part because I don't really want to drive any more than 8 hours a day and I also have to swing by my parent's house in Michigan to pick up Bear, who's been staying with them since early July. My apartment lease ran out a few days back and it is easier to get friends to let you live with them for a week when you aren't bringing 50 lbs of chaos along with you.

One of the great things about the trip is that it gives me an excuse to drive near where Steph lives again and spend a few hours hanging out with her. I'm not sure if I've mentioned her in my posts before now... although I'm pretty sure I haven't. Steph is an awesome, smart, dinosaur obsessed geek that I met a few months back through OkC. We went on a date a few weeks back and both had a great time. If circumstances were different and we didn't live so far away from each other (a distance which is about to triple) I would be very interested in seeing where things went with her. As it is though, I've gotten a great friend out of it. We are planning on spending a day at Kings Island, outside of Cincinnati, basically pretending to be kids again.

Then, after a quick stop in Atlanta for a night, I'll be in Tampa, FL. One of the main reasons I'm looking forward this move is that it will put me back in a city located right on the water, something I sorely miss from growing up in St. Clair, MI. The combination of high diversity of population and water front city should lead to many great times while I'm there!

Stolen a foot and a half

So I stole this idea for the author of A foot and a half, which you can get to from the link on the right of this page. I highly recommend checking it out since it is very well written and Jesse does a great job of bringing the funny.

The idea that I'm stealing from him is exploring where the "next" button at the top of this page will lead me. I'm doing it in part because I'm a bit curious to see what others are writing and because the only other thing I have to do at the moment is calc homework and I would just rather not do that right now.

So, here goes...

Empty advertisement blog - next

Art Blog - next

3 posts of poorly written poetry - next

Blog from a high school age guy in India. Actually seems like it could be interesting except it is relatively new and he just doesn't have many posts yet - next

Blog dedicated to MMA - next

Poorly translated Japanese Blog - next

Untranslated Japanese Blog - next

Untranslated Korean Blog - next (I'm starting to lose hope of finding anything interesting)

Untranslated Spanish Blog - next

Song of the day blog (might be interested if our taste was at all similar... it's not) - next

At this point I've given up on keeping track of uninteresting blogs - next, next, next... next.

Found one with Regina Spektor drinking vodka as the background for the title. I have to think there is a good chance I would be interested in this one if not for it being written in Russian - next

Went through a few more and I've now given up. I'm not sure how Jesse managed to get so luck as to find an interesting blog so quickly. Most of what I found seemed to be about the obsessions of various teeny-bopper Asian girls and poorly written advertisements.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


My ex-girlfriend found a stray dog at the local nature reserve and, some how, I'm now dogsitting for the night.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No tolerance for intolerance

I disagree with Andrew Sullivan:
The critique of her seeming preoccupation with her heritage nonetheless seems valid to me, but it's also a little - how does one say this? - 1995. The underlying arguments about affirmative action are still relevant, of course, but their salience seems less potent now. I'm not sure why - perhaps the war and the recession and the debt make the intensity of those fights seem like a luxury of a time of peace and prosperity and fiscal sanity. Perhaps Obama has made racial diversity less threatening to some.
I think the racist views that Sotomayor appears to hold could be very damaging for her. There seems to be something about my generation, especially those of us who have invested a lot of time and energy into our education, that drives us to have a deep dislike of racist views, regardless of the race of the person holding them.
I certainly have zero tolerance for racism and, off the top of my head, I can think of many friends of mine, of a wide spectrum of political views, who share my lack of tolerance.

I'm very interested in hearing what other people have to say about this. Does Sotomayor potentially holding racist views and allowing those to influence her judicial decisions bother you? Do you think there is something unique about our generation (the edge of Gen X and Gen Y) that causes us to feel especially disdainful towards public figures holding racist views?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Not Impressed but Not Surprised

As most must know by now, President Obama has announced he will be nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the supreme court.  At this point I find myself agreeing with the assessment of this nomination over at The Volokh Conspiracy 

My general sense is that she is very liberal, and thus likely to take what I consider to be mistaken positions on many major constitutional law issues. I am also not favorably impressed with her notorious statement that "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Not only is it objectionable in and of itself, it also suggests that Sotomayor is a committed believer in the identity politics school of left-wing thought. Worse, it implies that she believes that it is legitimate for judges to base decisions in part based on their ethnic or racial origins.
The more I think about it, the more this nomination bothers me. In particular, I'm having trouble getting past Judge Sotomayor's statement that, " ...I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

That statement strikes 
me as rather racist on her part and, had a white male judge said something equivalent, I have to believe the left would be throwing a fit about it this morning.

It also brings up the issue that my ideal justice would work to suppress their personal experiences when ruling on the constitutionality of a law. Justices are meant to decide cases based on the text of the law and the way in which it was meant to be applied, not in the way in which they personally think it should be applied.

Time will tell but I believe that this is going to end up being just one more thing on the growing list of moves by President Obama which disappoint me but don't surprise me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Horror in the Congo

The brutality and tragedy of what is going on in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo is stunning and absolutely heartbreaking.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around the situation and Mishlai does a far better job of summing it up than I could right now.

What's going on over there can't really be properly called rape. The term applies, but it isn't a strong enough word, and that's really saying something. What Congolese women are enduring is the intentional, systematic destruction of their bodies, their families, and their society. Think firing a bullet into her vagina. Think bayonettes. Understand that this is rape-as-a-weapon and not rape for it's usual motives.

I highly recommend clicking the link above and reading his full blog entry.  Be warned though, the details of what is currently happening in the DRC are extremely graphic and disturbing.  He also has a number of links to news articles from people on the ground there and the official reports submitted to various subcommittees of congress.

I'm not sure what the proper response is to this madness, only that a way to stop in needs to be found, and quickly.  The one suggestion I've seen so far, that everyone can help out with, is donating to the International Medical Corps, a group that is doing everything they can to help the civilians caught in the middle of this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Can't find the words

I'm having trouble finding the words to express how I feel about this article I just read over at Reason.com

An Afghan court has sentenced Ghows Zalmay to 20 years in prison for blasphemy. His crime? He translated the Quran into Dari. Religious experts testified it was an accurate translation, but it didn't include the original Arabic text, and the court found that blasphemous.

A feeling of great sadness is the best I've been able to come up with so far but that doesn't begin to express the depth of sorrow that I feel for this man.

As I'm typing this out I find myself wondering why this act of cruelty, among the millions people do to each other every day, seems to strike me on such a deep and personal level?  Is it because it touches on my feelings towards religion in general?  Or perhaps because it reminds me of exactly how little the human race has changed as a whole since the times of Martin Luther?  Perhaps it is because this feels like a victory of close mindedness over open mindedness?

I'm not sure, maybe it is a combination of those reasons or something else entirely.  Regardless, if I did believe in a God, I would be praying for Dr. Zalmay this evening.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why hello, Square One, how are you today?

Well it's been a bit of a tumultuous time since my last post.  I'm single once more after a year and a few months of a relationship that I thought, for quite a while, might be "the one".  I now find myself living in a rather expensive two bedroom apartment with my dog and the ex-girlfriend's cat, thinking to myself, "Damn it, this place was just starting to feel like "home" and now it's back to square one".  At this point I'm fairly certain that the part of my brain that is suppose to supply intuition as to what might and what might not be a good, long lasting relationship is seriously damaged.

I also find myself trying to decide where I want to go from here.  I'll probably stick around the Peoria area for the moment, if for no other reason than I've already signed up for the last of the college classes I need to finish my degree.  After I get done with that though, I may start looking very seriously at job opportunities on the west coast.  I have a couple of good friends out there and I don't especially like living in the Midwest.  Of course, that would mean a big move again and, after living in something like eight different places in ten years, the idea of moving again is not a pleasant thought.

On the plus side, Jess and I just decided that we are going to Live at the Five Spot tonight.  So when all else fails there is still good music, yummy booze, amazing food, and great company to get me though it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It All Makes Sense Now!

I've been trying to make sense of the Obama Administration's handling of the current economic crisis for a while now.  Do they really think they are doing the right thing or are they just pumping huge sums of money into the economy to look like they are doing something?  

This is by far the best explination for their actions I've seen so far though: Link

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Didn't I just do this last year?

So, along with many other people, I'm going to be getting laid off from Caterpillar this coming Friday due to work force reductions.

I don't really have a whole lot to say about it at the moment other than I've already updated my resume.  It's still a relatively rough draft but, if you don't mind, take a moment to look it over.  The format is a little bit messed up simply because I copy and pasted it.  That being said, any suggestions or comments are welcome.


To obtain a technical position which utilizes my experience in troubleshooting, preventive maintenance, system analysis, and operations.

Professional Summary:

Military veteran with an exceptional background in troubleshooting, preventive maintenance, system analysis, and system operations. Skilled in working under time sensitive conditions while maintaining an extremely high level of proficiency and competence. Experienced in performing maintenance on and troubleshooting electronic, pneumatic, hydraulic, mechanical, nuclear, and cryogenic systems. Self starter with a strong desire to excel in a variety of challenging situations.


Caterpillar (Volt Technical Resources) June 2008 – February 2009

Research Development Technician

  • Design and build multiple test benches for the testing of manual and automated embedded software applications.

  • Coordinate and perform hardware testing; including thermal cycling, HALT, and vibration.

  • Thoroughly document results of testing, create detailed reports, and communicate results to senior engineers.

  • Fabricate numerous test harnesses, test boxes, and test panels.

  • Act as Point-of-contact for shipping and ordering lab parts and components, for both internal and external sources.

Linde Group: May 2006 – June 2008

Operations Technician

  • Understand, monitor, and take corrective actions to ensure product quality.

  • Understand, monitor, and take corrective actions to maximize plant efficiency and minimize downtime.

  • Have participated in several major plant evolutions, including start-ups and shut-downs, contributing to the safe and efficient restoration of the plant to operating condition.

  • Participated in trouble shooting and repairing equipment due to unexpected failures.

  • Maintained detailed production logs and records.

  • Qualified to issue hazardous work permits.

  • Facilitated communications between on-site management and the remote operating center during plant failures, allowing for a minimum of downtime and loss of product.

  • Verify and implement OSHA safety standards prior to major contractor work.

  • Qualified to perform analysis and quality review for certificate of analysis.

  • Ensure plant site is maintained as a secure and safe environment.

  • Perform required plant maintenance.

United States Navy: May 2000 – May 2006

Reactor Controls Division Leading Technician: August 2005 – May 2006

  • Experienced in performing preventative and corrective reactor plant maintenance on all reactor instrumentation and control equipment, and radiation detection and monitoring equipment.

  • Supervised and directed more than twenty nuclear qualified electronics technicians in the performance of preventive and corrective reactor plant maintenance.

  • Performed quality assurance audits on reactor logs to monitor trends and identify abnormal conditions, and to ensure complete accuracy

  • Diagnosed electronic system malfunctions, leading to minimum down time of the effected reactor plant systems.

  • Responsible for ensuring the accuracy of reactor plant technical manuals, making recommendations to correct inaccuracies, and writing up technical paper work to allow for inaccuracies to be corrected.

Nuclear Reactor Operator: February 2002 – May 2006

  • Ensure safe and continued operation of the nuclear reactor during a variety of plant conditions on two classes of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Plant

  • One of eight personnel out of thirty chosen to stand reactor operator during the department’s yearly operational readiness exam.

Wire Free Communications Technician: August 2002 – July 2005

  • Responsible for development and implementation of WIFCOM (wire free communications) training program on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

  • Trained over 600 reactor department personnel in the use of the WIFCOM system.

  • Responsible for performing preventive and corrective maintenance on all WIFCOM equipment

Electronics Technician [Nuclear]: January 2001 – May 2006

  • Skilled in troubleshooting electronic systems to the component level using schematics, wiring diagrams, and technical manuals.

  • Aligned, adjusted, and calibrated electronic equipment within exact specifications using frequency counters, digital multimeters, oscilloscopes, visicorders, and high-accuracy pressure gages.

  • Analyzed and interpreted test data to ensure the proper operation of millions of dollars of complex reactor instrumentation and control equipment.

Volunteer Experience

  • Youth soccer couch for U17 coed: Fall 1999

  • Southwestern Illinois field office manager for a United States presidential campaign: January 2008 – March 2008

  • Southwestern Illinois county coordinator for a United States presidential campaign: January 2008 - February 2008

  • Organizer of a volunteer group located in Edwardsville, IL: September 2007 – June 2008


  • Perusing Bachelor's Degree in Nuclear Engineering Applied Science and Technology from Thomas Edison State College (estimate graduation Fall 2009)

  • WIFCOM Technical School, Lynchburg, VA (2 weeks)

  • Safety Programs Afloat course, Norfolk, VA. (1 week)

  • Naval Nuclear Prototype, graduated January 2001, Ballston Spa, NY. (24 weeks)

  • Naval Nuclear Power School Enlisted, graduated August 2001, Charleston, SC. (24 weeks)

  • Electronics Technician Nuclear Field A School, graduated February 2002, Charleston, SC. (28) weeks

  • High School Diploma, St. Clair High School, St. Clair, MI, 1998

Security Clearance

  • Maintained a Confidential and Secret level security clearance from July 2000 - 2006

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Different Point of View

I just read this post by Gary Arndt of Everything Everywhere a little while ago and felt that it was worth sharing.  It is a view of the Arab world that you most likely will never hear from American news media.  

Like Taking Roast Lamb On A Stick From Strangers

I had an experience yesterday which was interesting to say the least. In the morning I checked out of my room and walked several kilometers to the Nizwa Fort. I could have taken a taxi, but I figured the walk would do me good. When I got back I got my bags and went out to the road to hail a taxi. Some guy pulled up to me offered to give me a ride.

Actually, I only assumed he was offering me a ride as he spoke no English and I spoke no Arabic. I was only going a short distance to the roundabout down the road where taxis would wait to take people to Muscat. Muscat is about 90 minutes from Nizwa and the cost of a taxi seemed pretty cheap from what everyone has told me.

The man who picked me up told me he was going to Muscat and would drive me there. By “told me” we sort of gestured and figured out what we were saying to each other. He had to get his car washed then we could go. His name was Fazid (I think. Again, that wasn’t totally clear).

We were supposed to be ready in 30 min, so we went to a coffee shop nearby and had something to eat. (the coffee shops here seem to be more diners or restaurants than cafes). We got some saffron rice and chicken. I offered to pay but he refused.

I must admit my American travel sense was tingling. As an American, you are raised to be suspicious of anyone offering you anything: candy, free rides, free vacations in exchange for listening to a time share pitch, or five CDs for only a penny, are all things which should be viewed cautiously. I had no idea if this guy was a serial killer or what. Then again, only a American would probably assume that someone trying to help was a serial killer….but I digress.

After two hours, the car was washed and we were ready to go. This entire ride was only going to save me about $6, so I easily could have said “thanks but no thanks” and taken a taxi, but I decided to go with it. (As an aside, all the cars in Oman are really, really clean. They give tickets for unwashed cars. Likewise, all the buildings are clean and look as if they have been recently painted.)

We took off down the very nice highway to Muscat. The Nizwa/Muscat highway is as good or better than any stretch of interstate you will find in the US. Four lanes, divided road, on ramps and off ramps, and most of the road has lighting. He put in a CD of the only music he had which was in English for me, which turned out to be some of the nastiest hard core rap I’ve ever heard. I had no idea who the artists were, but one song was from Eminem. The funny thing is he probably had no idea what they were saying.

As we were going down the road, the sun set and he eventually turned off the road. He said something in Arabic but I didn’t understand. Was he taking a short cut? Was he stopping to see relatives? Was he going to the ditch he was going to dump my dead body into? I had no clue.

We ended up going through a small town where he pulled over to buy some lamb kebobs from a vendor on the street. Again I tried to pay, but he refused any money. We pulled out again and eventually got back onto the highway.

Eventually as we got to Muscat I told him I was going to Ruwi, where I wanted to stay. I don’t know where in Muscat he was going or if Ruwi was far out of his way, but he gladly took me there, dropped me off, shook hands, and left.

Since I’ve been in the Middle East, I’ve met surprisingly few Arabs. Most of the people I met in Dubai were Indian, Pakistani or Filipino. In Oman I’ve met western tourists and here to most of the people you deal with in hotels and restaurants are Indian. Fazid was the first Arab I’ve been able to spend any time with…..and we couldn’t speak a word to each other.

In the end, he bought me lunch, a kebob, drove me to Muscat and paid for gas. He didn’t accept any money nor expected anything in return. He just picked me up off the street and drove me 160km.

When people ask me if as an American I’m scared of being in the Middle East, I’m going to tell them about Fazid. Not only is there nothing to be scared of, these are some of the nicest, most generous people you will meet on Earth.

I know that for my own limited exposure to Arab culture while I was in Dubai there were one of two reactions to me and my friends from the Arabs we meet and saw.  From those that we just saw on the street but really had no interaction with there was just an air of indifference.  From the Arabs that we did interact with though, they were always curtious and friendly towards us. Whether they were shop owners, waiters, taxi drivers, or just a random person we happened to end up talking to, they were always friendly and ready to help in whatever way they could.  Their friendlyness also came off as much more genuin than the fake feeling southern hospitality I came to know so well during my state side travels in the navy.