Near Heresy

12/11/07 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

With the new big-screen TV at the Taterbed, we do not have the capability of watching video tapes.  Older movies, particularly the holiday “chestnuts”, are typically on tape, so we have to decide whether to watch on the old small TV, buy a DVD version or just go without.  My favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas with Crosby, Kaye, Clooney and Ellen was scheduled to be shown on one of the local channels I can get in with my antenna, in HD.

 It was with eager anticipation that I tuned in the movie, and the opening scenes were great.  You could see the background details of the beautiful sets as well as the nuances of the facial expressions better.  With a broadcast like this you expect about 7 minutes of movie followed by about 4 minutes of commercials.  When they returned from the first commercial break, it seemed like some dialogue was missing, but I didn’t mind too much.

 The next scene was the famous “Sisters” duet.  After the song they chat at the table (boy-girl, boy-girl), and then Kaye and Ellen get up to dance so the other two can talk.  At this point the number “The Best Things Happen When You’re Dancing” starts, but they cut to commercial just before it was supposed to start.  I’m not a big fan of dance, but I really enjoy watching them use the whole set.

 As it turned out they had cut out the whole dance number, and I was understandably upset.  I then had to put one of the youngsters to bed, so I missed a chunk of the movie and retuned at the point where the gang meets in the club car on the train.  As nice as Bing Crosby sings all of the songs in the movie, I love to hear him sing “Snow”.  Once again, they stopped the movie just before the start of “Snow” for a commercial break, and then after the commercial they were in Vermont.  Ther had cut out the “Snow” number!!

 It was at that point I left the room and could not watch anymore.  It should be illegal to cut out so much from a movie.  Instead I went to the Amazon site and found some satisfaction that will hopefully be delivered soon.  My favorite version of a Christmas Carol with Albert Finney may be in the box too.

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Selection vs. Evolution

12/11/07 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Well, they’re at it again, trying to hammer speculation and inference down our throats. Foxnews gave a report on some propaganda from the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. EVOLUTION IS ACCELERATING! Watch out or it may crash!

As a (formerly) well-trained scientist, I was under the impression that evolution arises from mutations, where a mutation is some unexpected change in a living organism (i.e. a newborn with a second eye where only one was expected, lungs where there used to be gills). Let’s see if this report describes mutations:

Most anthropologists agree that humans first evolved in Africa and then spread to other areas, and the lighter skin color of Europeans and Asians is generally attributed to selection to allow more absorption of vitamin D in colder climates where there is less sun.The increase in human population from millions to billions in the last 10,000 years accelerated the rate of evolution because “we were in new environments to which we needed to adapt,” (Henry C.) Harpending (an anthropologist at the University of Utah) adds. “And with a larger population, more mutations occurred.”

In another example, the researchers noted that in China and most of Africa, few people can digest fresh milk into adulthood.

Lighter skin color, need to adapt, better able to digest milk … sounds like selection rather than evolution to me. Anyone who has worked with farm animals and husbandry can tell you the difference. Modern turkeys today raised on a factory farm barely resemble their wild “cousins”. The farm turkeys are so top-heavy from their enlarged chests (more white meat!) that they run the risk of literally falling and not being able to get back up. That is selection and not a mutation.

Two years ago Harpending and colleague Gregory M. Cochran published a study arguing that above-average intelligence in Ashkenazi Jews — those of northern European heritage — resulted from natural selection in medieval Europe, where they were pressured into jobs as financiers, traders, managers and tax collectors. Those who were smarter succeeded, grew wealthy and had bigger families to pass on their genes, they suggested. That evolution also is linked to genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and Gaucher in Jews.

It’s funny (strange) how in the same paragraph they go from “natural selection” to “that evolution”. I think it’s more than just semantics, as there is this desire from anthropologists and others to actually put their hands on something they can call “evolution”, rather than relying on digging stuff out of the ground and dealing with gaps in the ‘logical’ progression of amoebas to men.

While it’s fascinating to see how man has changed over the millenia, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we’re evolving. God has blessed men with plenty of variety and different capabilities in order to survive and thrive in the different parts of the world He created.

Spud Speak 9

12/07/07 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

– Yeesh, I’m still getting over the sad-pathetic display of football from last night.  It looked like the bowl season started early with the Inept Bowl, as both the Bears and Redskins squandered opportunities.  After Grossman was hurt, I had a hunch Griese would be too rusty to do much of anything.  When you add the poor offensive line play, it’s no wonder the Bears could not score enough to win.

– I just caught it this morning, the preview for the next Narnia movie, Prince Caspian.  I’m too lazy to dig up a link, though it should not be too difficult to find.  From what little I saw, it looks like they movie makers go to the kids meeting the Prince much earlier in the movie than in the book.  It was nice to see Aslan on the screen again.

– I also saw a preview of Speed Racer.  Hmmm, I’m not sure how well a 60’s cartoon will translate to a modern-day live action film.  They do have John (Flintstones) Goodman in it, though.

– We’re still wrestling with misbehavior from the two youngest, while the oldest has his moments as well.  Kristal doesn’t look forward to picking up the youngest from daycare, as she inevitably has to hear about the reasons the girl “earned” a red mark on her report.  It’s a little more difficult with the middle boy, as he “mysteriously” clams up if you try to get him to describe what happened during the day.

– We did get good news last week that the birth mom’s appeal will be heard this month, and if things work out for us the paperwork from the state court will be ready in a few months.  From there it will take several more months until the adoption can be finalized.  They (social workers) would not commit to a range of time, but it looks like maybe September.  I asked if a fruit basket would help move the paperwork along, and they said it wouldn’t hurt.  They followed up by giving names of stores for gift certificates.  I think they were joking about the last part.  Maybe.

– It’s going to be slightly more chaotic at work the next few weeks, as more network equipment arrives and the new company’s equipment is brought on-line.  They keep talking about us “being available” the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but it’s still not clear what will be needed (for now).  Right now feels like the calm before the storm.  I’m reminded of a corollary to the Chinese “blessing”:  may you have an interesting job.

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