Archive for March, 2009

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iApprove: xkcd.

March 31, 2009

It isn’t often that you find a truly nerdy webcomic.  Sure, plenty of webcomics are slightly nerdy (Weregeek, College Roomies from Hell), but very few of them dig deep into the nitty-gritty of nerddom.

xkcd has it nailed.

It’s a funny thing about this comic.  I have no idea whether the title is insanely obscurely nerdy or just a random string of consonants.  The art style is practically nonexistant (all of the characters are stick figures).  But the humor… the humor is witty with a level of elegance that one doesn’t typically find outside Mensa clubs.  (Speculation, unfortunately.  I am unsure that Mensans really have a sense of humor.)  One strip, for example, is dedicated to that crazy dream everyone has where they’re back in highschool and have managed to miss all their classes for the semester.  Other strips cover strange habits that the author has developed just to mess with people’s heads (such as adding “no pun intended” to the end of sentences that contain no puns.)  The tagline is “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” and the comic manages to touch on each of these subjects with solid intellectual wit.

Quick warning, though: some of the humor may not be appropriate for children.  Sex, though non-explicit, is an occasional topic.

Read it at http://www.xkcd.com/

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Well, that was embarassing…

March 31, 2009

Apparently April 1st isn’t until tomorrow.  And here I had about two and a half pages of script written. 😛

Not a problem, though.  I deleted the stuff I had, so I’ll have to start from mental notes tomorrow, and I’ve gotten a few things figured out that I can work on before then.  Plus I can do some last-minute cracking on my sister’s project, do some laundry, get a shower, and finish vacuuming the floors.

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iApprove: Strange Sea Creature Battle.

March 30, 2009

Over at Pharyngula, I came across this marvelous video of a cuttlefish stalking its prey, complete with enthusiastic Japanese voice-over.  Stand in awe of the cuttlefish and his tongue-jutsu.

Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4RU8dbeMMQ

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Welp, Script Frenzy starts tomorrow…

March 30, 2009

As is to be expected, I’m excited, nervous, and a bit anxious.  It is, after all, a dramatic undertaking – one which I will have to balance with several other activities.  As I have mentioned, April is gardening season.  In addition, my sister is placing pretty heavy demands on me to help with “our” project.  I should be quite busy this April.

With that in mind, I’ve made a list of things I will need to do today and in the upcoming month…

  1. Get up-to-date on all the webcomics I read today.  Then see if I can go the entire month without ever reading them.
  2. Vacuum all the floors in the house, including the linoleum bits.  That will greatly reduce the amount of housework I have to do during SF.
  3. Let my little brother have significant quantities of computer time.  Notebooks may be my friend this April.
  4. Play TFOS with my siblings at least twice.
  5. Finish making the hairs for my sister and continue to supply input for that particular project.  Drag the inspiration out kicking and screaming if I must.
  6. Carve the remaining sections of my script from more-or-less whole cloth.
  7. And, of course, continue to update iApprove more or less daily.

What fun.  I’ve finished catching up on the webcomics already, so now I’m going to attempt #2 and #3.

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iApprove: The Blind Watchmaker.

March 29, 2009

I admit, I envy Richard Dawkins to a degree.  Being an actual biologist, he is qualified to do something that I am not: to make statements about evolution based on numerous observed facts, rather than cobbling something together based only on physics as I understand him.

And perhaps that’s as it should be.  It seems utterly ridiculous to me that for my “belief” in evolution to be held credible, I must have a complete working knowledge of evolutionary biology at the ready to counter any question someone throws at me.  Nonetheless, that exact view is held by many critics of evolution: that one would have to have a complete working knowledge of the subject, including the methods by which every unusual body part could ever have developed, in order to believe that evolution could happen.

I suspect that this is probably because of their own experience with belief.  The sort of people who are most likely to criticise evolutionary theory are accustomed to an all-or-nothing, house-of-cards sort of truth – one in which the removal of any piece will cause the entire theory to crumble.  They fail to understand the proper method in which we create scientific theories: that is, if evidence proves said theory to be false, then the theory is either modified to include the new evidence or exchanged for a more accurate theory.

But I digress.

Since I have been thrust into this situation – a rather uncomfortable and antagonistic world in which the phrase “there are no lay evolutionists” holds far too much weight – I will do my best to get the information I need so that I may defend my “beliefs” to the fullest.  In the meantime, rather than egging me about the minute details of evolution, check out Richard Dawkins’ video, The Blind Watchmaker:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fgf-g8jJ7Q

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iLOL’d: Study: 38 Percent of People Not Actually Entitled to Their Opinion.

March 28, 2009

While browsing Unreasonable Faith, I came across a link to an article from The Onion that struck a few familiar chords – and my funnybone.

While I don’t feel it’s my place to say who is or is not entitled to their opinion – oy, the social problems that could arise if we began limiting such things – I think that everyone has run into at least one person who seemed to be so mind-bogglingly stupid that they were not even qualified to think about the subject they were spouting about, much less forming an opinion on it.

Read about it at http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/study_38_percent_of_people

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BeingGreen: Staying Warm & Cool Without Electricity: Part 1.

March 27, 2009

Well, it’s not exactly winter or summer, but a recent cold snap has brought to light a particular topic: how to stay warm (or cool) without using large quantities of electricity.

It’s human nature, of course, that when we get too hot or too cold we try to fix it.  And it’s human nature to look for the easiest method possible, which generally amounts to cranking up the thermostat.

And there are, as usual, a few problems with that.  For one thing, a single temperature is rarely suitable for everyone; someone’s liable to be too hot or too cold.  For another thing, air conditioning uses power, which costs money and has environmental impacts.  While it isn’t often feasible to lay off the air conditioning entirely (especially here, where temperatures can reach >100 degrees in the summer), you can usually reduce its running time and still keep warm fairly well.

To that end, I present Part 1: Staying Warm.

The first step is a big, looming one, of the kind that might terrify casual greeners, but is fortunately a one-time procedure: removing any window drafts.  This is best done when the outside air is cold, since cold drafts are very easy to detect when the house is warm; it may also be possible when the air is hot.

You should first go through your house, turn off all fans, and close all windows.  Make sure that they are tightly sealed, with no visible cracks; any window that cannot close fully should be noted as faulty and replaced.  Once the windows are tight, check for invisible leaks: stand in front of the window and feel around for patches of cold air or cold breezes.  Move around if necessary, and consider asking another person to double-check.  Any windows with leaks should also be replaced.

(Note: It is possible that, no matter how thoroughly you check, some leaks may go undetected.  The only way to discover these is to sit in front of the window for long periods of time, employing whatever methods you usually use to keep yourself at a comfortable temperature, and note if you are unusually cold anywhere.  Cold feet are a sure leak detector.)

(Second note: All leaks may not be in the windows.  Floors, ceilings, skylights, and vents can all let in cold air.)

Once you’ve completed Step 1 – or if, for some reason, you are incapable of doing so at the moment, but would like to save on electricity anyway – you can tackle the remaining steps, which are mainly small things you can do to increase your personal heat without warming the entire house.

  1. Wear footwear.  If you’re like me, and are usually more concerned with keeping your feet cool than warm, this can be a problem.  If you don’t want to track dirt around your house on your shoes, it can also be a problem.  The best solution I’ve found is to keep a pair of fuzzy slippers on hand and wear them when I’m really cold.
  2. Wear enough clothes.  Sweaters, longjohns, and the like can all be extremely useful, though it can be time-consuming and annoying to pile on the layers.  A warm, fuzzy bathrobe makes a good quick fix, and withstands a considerable amount of cold.  Frigid hands benefit from gloves, though you’ll want to leave the fingers off when you type.
  3. Drink warm fluids.  A cup of hot chocolate or coffee in the cold can be very soothing.  If you have it in a ceramic or glass mug, keep the mug around; it stays warm well after the drink is gone and can used to warm cold fingers.
  4. Acclimate yourself to cooler temperatures.  Start reducing the thermostat setting a little bit at a time, allowing yourself to adjust to each setting before you move it down again.  You may never get to a point where you really feel warm in lower temperatures, but you should find it easier to get and stay that way without cranking up the heat.

Of course, staying warm at work or in bed is a slightly different matter than during the day in your own home.  Some of these tips can be carried over, but some situations will require improvisation.  You’ll need to employ your own ingenuity to deal with these situations as they arise.

Good luck!

(Stay tuned for Part 2: Staying Cool.)