Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sympathy for the Jews and Arabs

I've always had some sympathy for the Palestinian Arabs.

After World War I, Europeans had good news and bad news for the Palestinians. The good news was that we freed them from the oppressive Ottoman Empire. The Bad news was that the Jews were returning by the million.

How would we in the U.S. have responded if one day, millions of Native Americans showed up on our doorstep, with both the intention of taking their land back, but also the means to do it?

Displaced European Americans, crowded into concentration camps in Canada and Mexico would surely plot their revenge, including a fair amount of terrorism against the returned natives. Governments in Mexico, Canada and European countries would be tempted to support the terrorists as local sympathies go to refugees.

That would never happen, of course. Unlike the Jews, displaced Native Americans didn't flourish in foreign countries to return centuries later, much stronger than when they left.

If I were a Palestinian Arab, I would probably be a big time terrorist.

I have sympathies for the Jews too.

After nearly two thousand years in exile from their homeland, they survive as a unified culture. That's never happened in the recorded history of man. It gives some credence to the idea that they just might be God's chosen people.

It happened, in part, because they passed down the hope of returning to their homeland from generation to generation. The Jews were prepared to survive in exile by their much shorter exile in Babylon before the first century C.E.

You can't blame the Jews for wanting to return to Judea. Always an outsider and often persecuted, life in permanent exile is no walk in the park.

If I were a Jew I would probably be a big time Zionist.

It doesn't help that Jews, Christians and Muslims all hold as a key element of their religious culture that one day, God himself will put one of them in charge of Jerusalem and condemn the other two to hell.

It's amazing to me that this small spot of land, smaller than the state of Mississippi, would spawn three huge cultures. I have to believe that there is some superior force guiding the destiny of men. Perhaps that force intends that Jews, Christians and Muslims learn to live in peace and use that peace as a structure to build a true, world-wide peace.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spam Magnet

I get a lot of spam. My Google Mail account has a folder just for spam and it stays at around twenty thousand pieces all the time.

Gmail automatically deletes items in the spam folder older than thirty days, so that means I get around twenty thousand individual pieces of spam every month.

Can you imagine? If all this junk mail were physical rather than virtual, my postman would have to deliver the mail with a fork lift.

Granted, my email address is plastered all over my website, but that's still a huge number.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sad Giraffe News

Thursday I posted about a baby girl giraffe born at the Jackson Zoo. Sadly, yesterday the zoo announced that the baby died overnight.

They don't have a cause of death yet, but will perform an autopsy. The baby seemed healthy and was gaining weight.

Life is such a mystery. It seems impossible that such a beautiful creature could just expire like that. Beauty can be fleeting so be grateful when you experience it.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Baby Giraffe at Jackson Zoo

Monday, Giraffes at Jackson Zoo had a new baby female.

The Jackson Zoo has been very successful breeding Giraffes over the years. Diamond, the baby's mother has had six successful births. Because the zoo only has room for two adult Giraffes, babies are sold to other zoos when they are old enough to be separated from their mother, usually six months to a year after birth.

Despite a nearly six foot drop, Giraffes give birth standing up. As is common among grazing animals, Baby giraffes can walk almost immediately after birth.

Zoo veterinarians diagnosed this new baby with weak tendons in her back legs. As a precaution, they wrapped her legs in tape and she is expected to make a quick recovery.

The Giraffe exhibit was originally built in the 1950's. It is the last exhibit in the carnivore moat structure between the original zoo entrance and its current entrance. These exhibits are constructed of concrete formed over steel frames. The giraffe exhibit is somewhat unique, in that visitors have an interior section resembling a cave where they can view the bedtime stalls for the giraffes.

As was common at the time, the exhibit originally featured concrete floors to facilitate cleaning with a pressure hose. It was later determined that the concrete was bad for the animals' hooves and joints, so nearly twenty years ago, the zoo merged the giraffe exhibit with the newer camel exhibit which had a dirt floor. The move also gave the animals more room to stretch their considerably long legs.

Clarion Ledger Article
Jackson Zoo Website

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Paranoid Theory 415: Sex Sells

Embarrassment Can Help Your Career.
Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton were both pretty, but remarkably talentless blonds headed for obscurity. If The Love Boat were still on the air they would have been guests long ago. But then, "leaked", "private" sex tapes rocketed them to super-star status with both their names in the top ten-percent of all-time Internet search terms.

People have long suspected that one or both starlets were secretly in on the release of the tapes in hopes of just this effect. Even if these two weren't involved, it's not hard to suspect this might not be a bad idea for those willing to do anything to promote themselves.

Disney Dollars
Nobody spends more time and effort developing their intellectual properties than the corporate sharks at Walt Disney Inc.

Currently, Disney's current hottest properties are High School Musical and Hanna Montana. Teeny Bopper stardom is short-lived though, so it's not hard to suspect that Disney might be very interested in discovering the next step to protect these cash cows.

Recently, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, one of the stars of High School Musical, had nude photos of herself leaked to the internet, making her name one of Google's hottest new search terms. Soon afterwards, photographs of Hanna Montana star Miley Cyrus' naked back were huge news, even making it as a "hot topic" on ABC's (a Disney Company) The View.

One Plus One Equals....
Cyrus is fifteen, Hudgens is eighteen. Now, I'm not saying that Walt Disney Inc. intentionally leaked scandalous photographs of these young stars to promote their careers, but there are millions of dollars at stake here and corporate slime-balls being what they are, you have to admit it's a possibility, no matter how sleazy.

If you're still not convinced, consider this: Britney Spears was once a Disney product before her hit song, Baby Hit Me One More Time went through the roof on the heels of its sexy MTV video.

All this might just be unfortunate coincidence, but you have to admit; as conspiracy theories go, this is a heck of a lot more likely than Newt Gingrich blowing up the Twin Towers

Monday, May 5, 2008

Shakespearean Trivia

I love Shakespeare.

Not the man from Stratford, he's pretty dull, but Shakespeare as a genre has it all. Mystery, Drama, politics, humor, love, beauty, melodrama, you get the idea.

Mental Floss blog published an article on little known facts about the bard's remarkable Scottish Play, Macbeth. Elizabeth Lunday even explains why it's called The Scottish Play.

Read the entire article here.

(image information: Victorian Actor, Sir Henry Irving as Macbeth)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Make your own Soapbox

If you're like me and enjoy sharing your opinions with a world that never asked for them, then you'll love this do-it-yourself soapbox paper model.

All you need is a printer, scissors and white glue to assemble this working model. You actually can stand on it and orate, but you have to be a very small person.

Available at Mike Hungerford's site.

Soapbox models also make great gifts for a know-it-all loved one.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What is Random?

The concept of Random chance is one of the cornerstones of atheism. It presumes that our existence comes as the result of random events impacting other random events rather than some sort of conceptual direction. The only problem is, random doesn't exist.

When we say "random" what we mean is that the outcome of an event is unknowable because it results from processes either unknown or so complex that they are virtually unknowable. That's a far cry from saying "stuff just happens". Stuff doesn't just happen, stuff happens as the result of other stuff.

Computers are really good at complex calculations, and among computers there is no such thing as random. For programs where we wish to introduce a random element, computers use a random number simulator because they cannot calculate random numbers on their own. It is just a simulation though, if you know how the random number generator works, then the outcome is completely predictable.

Now, saying there is no such thing as random is a long way from proving an anthropomorphic, paternalistic "God" who punishes sins and runs our lives like some sort of giant puppeteer, but knowing that nothing is truly random and that all things have a rational cause makes the existence of a higher power of some sort logical.

Official Ted Lasso