Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's a sunshine day

Today has all the makings of legendary.

11:50 AM - Lunch will be served out of the trunk of Terry's car, in the basement of parking garage. Lunch will consist solely of Bud Light.

1:05 PM - The Onshore Division is going to the ball game! That's right, the higher ups have armed each of us peons with a ticket and twenty Astros Bucks. This is game three of a 3 game series with Cards. Interestingly enough, Game 1 was a 7-0 blank by the Redbirds, but the Astros managed to return the favor last night with a 7-0 shutout of their own. Today's pitching matchup is Albers-Pineiro, so there should be plenty of action on the hitting front.

Sure, the last place 'Stros are drawing dead right now, but they still have a month's worth of baseball to play spoiler for everyone else in the division.

5:30 PM - Live draft at our VP's house, with my boss, and several other managers. Accompanied by... more beer. And pizza. Something tells me that after 5 solid hours of drinking, this is the probably a very dangerous place for me to be hanging out. Just a hunch.

8:00 PM - Poker at Casa de Siy. Ahh, poker. It's become a weekly cleansing ritual, therapeutic in nature and calming in effect. A good way to wrap up the day (and part with all my cash).

So there it is.

Now I have 45 minutes to wrap up 3 hours worth of work.

Godspeed, friends.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Who is C-Diddy?

He is a god amongst men. A titan amongst mere mortals. He is the first World Air Guitar Champion from the U.S. of A. He is C-Diddy.

I strongly, strongly, STRONGLY suggest that you rent/watch Air Guitar Nation completely spoiler free (I think it's the only way you'll get the full force of its impact), but if you must get a taste of the pudding before you eat the pie, then witness C-Diddy in all his glorious splendor.


Skeet. Skeet.


Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

America's Got Talent

My love of life has just increased +1.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lucy's Legacy

Although I can trace my fascination with paleoanthropology (along with all other things paleo) back to early childhood, my first truly scholarly contact with the subject wasn't until high school, when I read Johanson & Edey's Lucy. It's actually one of the first "popular science" type works I can remember reading. For those of you unfamiliar with the work, it is Johanson's vivid and enthralling autobiographical account of finding "Lucy," a three million year old Australopithecus afarensis skeleton. Lucy is uniqe, not only in that she is an ancestor of genus Homo, but also in that she is 40% complete.

Suffice it say, then, that I am very excited about the Houston Museum of Natural Science's newest exhibit, "Lucy's Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia." The centerpiece will by Lucy herself, but the exhibit will also display more than 100 cultural artifacts of Ethiopian origin, including manuscripts and paintings of the ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Our pigeon-holing nature often makes it difficult for us to naturally associate any part of Africa with Christianity, but if I'm not mistaken, Orthodox Christianity is still the most practiced religion in Ethiopia (though I wouldn't be surprised if Islam has overtaken it by now), and it has a wonderfully rich cultural heritage.

The exhibit opens this Friday, and will run through April 2008; tickets are $12 with a student ID. Not to sound hyberbolic, but you really can't beat that price for this once in a lifetime chance to see Lucy. In 30+ years since her discovery, this will mark her first public display outside of Ethiopia - score one for the HMNS!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gob bless the American League

Every now and then the Rangers' chronic ineptitude transcends itself, allowing the team to defy the laws of the universe. Awesome.

Someone please tell me you were at least listening to this on the radio when it happened.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricanes are bad, mkayyy...

...but I'm not really complaining now that we finally have one in the Atlantic. I've had my tracking chart on the wall for dang near four months now, and I've been itching like crazy to pencil in and color storm movements on it.

Craving satisfied.

Also, Weather Underground is awesome.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 20, 2007

My ichthyocentric fixation

My latest obsession is getting an aquarium set up. I bought The Buddy a Betta last week (he named it Purple), and it's currently living in a gallon vase with a little shrimp named Rick and a moneywort plant - not so great of a life. I just started cycling a 20 gallon rectangular tank, so hopefully in about 3 weeks I'll be able to move them all over to more spacious quarters. Then I think I'm going to get a school of 6 or 8 Harlequin Rasboras and a couple Cory catfish for tankmates. My eventual goal is a 55 or 70 gallon tank with cichlids or maybe a marine setup, but that's a good ways down the line.

When I was younger, we kept guppies for a while. After doing fairly exhaustive research this go round, I've come to realize that I did pretty much everything wrong with respect to fishkeeping back then - overstocking, overfeeding, awful maintenance; I'm sure the ammonia concentration must've been off the charts. The biggest fish we had was named Slack. He used to go through death-resurrection cycles on a weekly basis.

Those of you familiar with the Memorial Acclamation used in response to the Mysterium Fidei may appreciate the fact that my brothers and I used to sing a (probably blasphemous, but definitely irreverent) song about the poor little fish:

Slack has died,
Slack is risen,
Slack will come again.

Gotta love those poor attempts at liturgical humor.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 17, 2007

Don't fight it, Richard...

Meta-irony exists. It's everywhere. We live in a post-modern world, for pity poop's sake.

Embrace the meta-irony. Sign into myspace and drown yourself in it. By recognizing it, you are forever justified in laughing at pretty much everyone in the world.

What an endless source of entertainment.

I hope Squelch doesn't mind me re-printing this:

THAT is wit.

Labels: ,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Black Sheep

I don't know how Black Sheep managed to fly under my radar up until this point, but it looks fucking great.

It's good to see that someone in New Zealand has taken up Peter Jackson's splatstick torch (his Bad Taste and Dead Alive are essential classics for any fan of the genre.)

Looks like it's off to the Angelika sometime this week to check this one out...

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Mexicans are winning

From an article in today's Chronicle:

Today's Census Bureau data shows the latest population estimates for counties as of July, 1, 2006...

The minority population in [Harris] county is 2.5 million as of July 2006, or 63 percent of the total 3.9 million residents. In 2005, the county's population was 3.7 million.

There were an estimated 1.48 million Hispanics in Harris County in July 2006, or 38.2 percent of the county's total. That exceeded, for the first time, the county's estimated 1.44 million Anglo residents, who make up 36.9 percent of the population.

That marks a significant reversal since 2000, when the Hispanic percentage in Harris was 33; for Anglos it was 42.

The county's Hispanic population now ranks second in the country, tied with Miami-Dade, and behind Los Angeles.
Don't like it? Have more babies!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Philosophia ancilla theologiae.

From "On Canons:"

Most textbooks in the history of philosophy follow what might be called the Sleeping Beauty narrative: Philosophy thrived on its own from the pre-Socratics to Plotinus, at which point the Christian Church intervened with a faith-based philosophy (a contradiction in terms in this telling), at which point philosophy went to sleep until awakened by the Frog Prince Descartes, who kissed the slumbering Lady Philosophy awake with his method of radical doubt, hauling the entire scholastic past before the bar of reason, leaving it in tatters and philosophy finally liberated.

Gilson, however, retorted that, far from poisoning philosophy with a sleeping potion, faith illuminates from above the path reason would follow in any event if it only had a map and a flashlight. Philosophy’s goal has always been the truth, but it has to grope because it can’t see that far ahead. To understand Gilson’s thesis, think of it this way: When one is first studying algebra, say, especially when using one of those teach-yourself books, the problems are given in the front to work out on one’s own, with the answers keyed at the back. Now, if one works out a problem only to discover from the answer key that one got it wrong, one knows then and there that one was wrong but not how or why. For that one needs to go back and retrace one’s steps and see how one can rationally prove both the false step and the true path.

Similarly in philosophy, a Christian already knows on the basis of revelation that materialism is wrong, which means that any philosopher arguing for materialism must have made a wrong step, or more probably several, somewhere along the line. But that fact alone is not enough to refute materialism. One must then put oneself in the shoes of the materialist and walk through his arguments with him and point out his errors by the rules of rational thought and not by revelation.

Of course, in viewing philosophy as ancilla theologiae we do not relegate it to a strictly submissive or functional role with respect to theology. Rather, we reaffirm the "necessity of the link between the two sciences and the impossibility of their separation" (see Fides et Ratio).

To use the Maritainian metaphor, the nature of theology is that of guidepost to philosophy; theology illuminates to philosophy paths to follow and potholes to avoid, but it is still up to philosophy to judge its own conclusions based on the rationality of its arguments. The benefit of such a situation is that philosophy is thereby more apt to pursue answers to "higher" questions (questions of a metaphysical nature), rather than be bogged down by the unavoidable (and ultimately pointless) infinite-regression loops associated with postmodernism and decontruction that are, somehow, still all the rage.

["On Canons"]

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


When I woke up this morning, the little blue light on my Wii was flashing - system update!

I checked on it before I went to work, and, well, zzzZZZ.

Highlights include a clock on the Wii Menu, enhanced search function in the store, and improved mobility around the Message Board.

Gee, this is great.

To be honest, I've been terribly, terribly disappointed with my Wii. Zelda was an engrossing experience, but it was also 25 hours of gameplay that I have no desire to re-live any time soon. I own Wario Ware, and it seems like it would be fun - if only I had three other people to play with me. Resident Evil 4 and Paper Mario interest me, but I can't seem to muster up the will to spend money on either of them at this point.

Every other game is a shitty movie tie-in or something ridiculous like Chicken Shoot or Cooking Mama. I knew the risk of going with Nintendo again was the danger of being oversaturated with "kiddie" titles, but I really had confidence that they would try and push the envelope a little; this was the system that was code named "Revolution" for fuck's sake. It's tough to revolutionize anything if in almost a year of existence, you've failed to release anything that anyone wants to play.

What has disappointed me the most to this point, though, is the shitty, shitty online experience. Especially after spending so much time on Xbox Live, and loving every second of it, the Wii's online functionality is complete and utter shit. First of all, you have to actually know someone - in real life - before you can add them as a friend and before you can game with them. How many 13 year olds does Nintendo think I know? Contrast this to Xbox, or PS3, or any PC gaming experience in which jumping into a random game where you can talk shit to kids you don't know and will never meet is half the fun.

The Wii Virtual Console is the one thing that Nintendo has gotten closest to right so far, and it's still not quite perfect. They've actually released a decent number of games from their older systems, as well as games from the SEGA, Turbo Grafx 16, and NEO GEO systems. Very, very cool. The bad? Games downloaded from the Virtual Console are only playable off the Wii's built-in 512 MB flash memory. Trust me when I say that those N64 games are memory hogs. Sure, you can transfer games to an SD card to make space for new downloads, but who wants to play memory shuffle with a library of 20 or 30 games.

I know, I know - bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, moan. Hopefully, Mario kart will come out soon, and all my worries will be forgotten.

Oh wait, I still won't have anyone to play with.

Fuck it.


On the lighter side, here's a little toilet humor. I just went to took a piss; there were two other guys already at urinals. The other two guys are taller than I am. There was still an empty urinal, though, so who would come in next to fill it but the shortest guy on the floor - a little guy named Chuck!

And THAT's how slow of a day it's been, folks.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Sagan Paradox

It is coincidental that as I now re-read Carl Sagan's Cosmos, I run across this month-old piece from Doublethink about the implicit religiosity of the vocally non-religious Carl Sagan. In a lifetime of writing and lecturing, Sagan's skepticism was never in question; and while he was never as derisive toward religion as the now in vogue antitheists are, even a small sample of his writing yields a potshot here and there.

Sagan's paradox, however, was his unflinching belief in the unproven:

“Those who wished for some central cosmic purpose for us, or at least our world, or at least our solar system, or at least our galaxy, have been disappointed, progressively disappointed,” Sagan said. “The universe is not responsive to our ambitious expectations. A grinding of heels can be heard screeching across the last five centuries as scientists have revealed the noncentrality of our position and as many others have fought to resist that insight to the bitter end.”

For Sagan, science had exposed the nullities behind most traditional human cosmologies. During an exchange with an audience member, Sagan raised the “concept of God as an outsize male with a long white beard, sitting in a throne in the sky and tallying the fall of every sparrow.” “For that kind of god,” Sagan said, “I maintain there is no evidence. And while I’m open to suggestions of evidence for that kind of god, I personally am dubious that there will be powerful evidence for such a god not only in the near future but even in the distant future.”

Sagan’s Gifford Lectures are filled with such statements. Reading through them, however, you are struck by an odd juxtaposition. Sagan spent the lectures heaping criticism on orthodoxy -- but he also spent ample time discussing the search for extraterrestrial life. And here his tone seemed altogether unskeptical. Discussing extraterrestrial intelligence, Sagan said, “We have to be extremely careful.” We must “demand the most stringent and rigorous standards of evidence precisely because we have profound emotional investments in the answer.”

The phrase “profound emotional investments” is a clue to the paradox underlying Sagan’s Gifford Lectures in particular and his worldview in general. That is because, while he never stated so publicly, Sagan believed in the existence of extraterrestrial life. He didn’t believe there was the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the position he took in his writings and public appearances. No. He believed in the fact that there are extraterrestrials. And not Unidentified Flying Objects -- tales of which he worked actively to debunk -- but “superior beings in space, creatures so intelligent, so powerful as to resemble gods,” according to his biographer Keay Davidson. These beings in whom Sagan believed inhabited societies “millions of years old,” wrote Davidson. They had “developed technologies unimaginable to us.” They did not know war and were willing to share their knowledge of the cosmos freely. “In short,” Davidson continued, they were “all powerful, all knowing, all loving.”
This last bit on his belief in the nature of extraterrestrials is made explicit in Contact, in which Ellie has a vision, a revelation, an epiphany - a religious experience - after seeing with her own two eyes evidence of the "breathtaking diversity of beings and cultures..., a vision of a populated galaxy, of a universe spilling over with life and intelligence, [that] made her want to cry."

There are entire chapters in Cosmos, Sagan's most popular and well-known work, as well as in most of his other works, devoted to speculation on where and how extraterrestrial life will be found. Granted, the probability of its existence is favorable: (1 - (1/100 billion)) = 1. I also believe there is life elsewhere in the universe. But for a skeptic and dogmatic empiricist to express a belief in something so uncontroversially unproven, and damn near unprovable (if humanity exists for another 100 million years, I'd say the odds are still stacked against us ever getting our hands on any cold hard evidence) reveals a certain inner dualism.

I mention this not as a critique against Sagan; rather, I understand both his belief in something unproven and his genuine sense of awe - at the universe in general, and humanity in particular - as natural human responses to simple observation. After all, the most basic, primitive, and instinctual religious act one can make is submission to the forces of nature as forces beyond human control. The hyper-empiricism of the Sagan type simply crystallizes this instinct and holds onto as an end, rather than taking it as a starting point for theological discourse; it accepts a materialistic naturalism, but denies a natural law.

The argument that I always think carries most sway is that our very self-awareness and thus our existence is an ontological impossibility in a strictly material universe - the old "you can't get more out than you put in" - but that's a different story for a different day. Even now as I refresh myself on Sagan's writing, I can't help but be impressed by his longing for something - or, more precisely, someONE - out there in the universe that would give him that "Ellie moment" in Contact; the sad part is that a severely dogmatic, and thereby severely handicapping empiricism denied him that awareness during his lifetime.

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 03, 2007

I'm the Leprechaun!

Everone's already seen this but me, it seems.

"It could be a crackheaaaad!!"

God bless them.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 02, 2007

'Cruelty-free' sex: Rejecting meat-eaters as sexual partners

First, I will refer you to the University of Canterbury's (*breath*) National Report on the Perspectives and Experiences of Vegetarians and Other Ethical Consumers.

"Ethical Consumers." I like that one.

Based on responses to the survey around which the authors framed this report, one of the authors coined the term "vegansexual" to refer to "people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners." In other words, a vegansexual is a vegan who only fucks other vegans.

Here are some vegansexual quotes (and my comments on them) that made their way into the report:

I believe we are what we consume, so I really struggle with body fluids, especially sexually. [As do I, friend; that's why I get uneasy whenever my date orders the tuna melt.]

I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance. ["Jesus, George, it's a miracle I was even born!"]

I couldn't think of kissing lips that allow dead animal pieces to pass between them. [Lucky for you, all you have to kiss and/or pass through your lips to make me happy is my very much alive, and verily throbbing member.]

I imagine that most vegansexuals must be women; after all, the average man can't afford to be this discriminatory. Sure, there are plenty of chicks that I can't fucking stand*, but that just gives me more of a reason to donkey punch them once I've got them in the doghouse. This includes every nubile, young PETA skank who decides that getting naked is an effective means of protesting anything.

Yes, Meredith, I believe that's my final answer. Donkey punches for all. It's the anti-"cruelty-free sex." Boo ya.

*The short list: career driven women, the kind that want two or fewer children, politically outspoken women, the ones who fashion themselves as the "intellectual type," sloppy women, "sexually liberated" women, the ones who treat misogyny as if it were a concrete reality

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Encore is Comcastic

The Houston area cable market recently made the shift from Time Warner to Comcast. Two good things have happened since then: my monthly cable/internet bill is five dollars cheaper, and I now get the Encore movie channels included in my Digital Plus Bullshit Package.

The Encore movie channels are pretty much awesome, but they are wrecking my once rock-solid Netflix schedule. With the 'Flix I make a concerted effort to consume at least 3-4 movies a week, and when I'm running at full capacity I can do so. My problem now is that there is always something so terribly bad yet so terribly watchable on any one of the Encore channels at any given time that I have started cutting into my Netflix time to watch movies on cable.

Just in the last week, I've re-watched or seen for the first time all or part of the following movies (working from memory here, so I'll inevitably miss a few):

Chain Reaction, starring Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman
Commando, starring Ahnold and Rae Dawn Chong
The Serpent and the Rainbow, starring Bill Pullman
Opposing Force, starring Tom Skerritt and a very hot Lisa Eichhorn
Eraser, starring Ahnold and Sonny Corleone
P.S., starring Laura Linney and Topher Grace (and which should be renamed P.O.S.)
Say Anything, starring John Cusack and whatever that lame-ass chick's name is
Revenge of the Nerds, starring John Goodman and James Cromwell (er, I mean, Robert Carradine and a bunch of other typically 80's looking nerds and jocks)
Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions, starring Scott Bakula (I fucking love Scott Bakula)

As you can imagine, it's difficult to make it through 49 episodes of Gundam Wing - much less a 380 movie queue - with distractions like these. I'm going to have to start blocking these channels from myself until the weekends roll around.

Speaking of, Netflix's Online Movie Viewer is a fucking godsend for these slow days at work. Hooray, Netflix.

Labels: , , , ,