You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded.
To the question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”
Atheist: Natural Morals, Real Meaning, Credible Truth

30 December, 2011

Will 2012 Be the Year of the Atheist?

Think Hitler (Christian­) and Jim Jones. Atheists are moral without the need for divine justificat­ion and bribery.
About Atheism
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

25 December, 2011

Skin in the game.

A Christmas Message From America's Rich | | Rolling Stone

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/a-christmas-message-from-americas-rich-20111222

People like Dimon, and Schwarzman, and John Paulson, and all of the rest of them who think the "imbeciles" on the streets are simply full of reasonless class anger, they don't get it. Nobody hates them for being successful. And not that this needs repeating, but nobody even minds that they are rich.
What makes people furious is that they have stopped being citizens.
Most of us 99-percenters couldn't even let our dogs leave a dump on the sidewalk without feeling ashamed before our neighbors. It's called having a conscience: even though there are plenty of things most of us could get away with doing, we just don't do them, because, well, we live here.


Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/a-christmas-message-from-americas-rich-20111222#ixzz1hZJuwzwJ

Take the test | Pharyngula

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/12/25/take-the-test/


22 December, 2011

Why does anyone like Ron Paul?

So, why are these people supporting a crazy, racist Christian fundamentalist?


Translate this joke please...


From: Khaghani, Mojan [mailto:mojan.khaghani@lmco.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 22, 2011 12:13 PM
To: Khaghani, Mojan; Hail, Tom
Subject: Conversation with Khaghani, Mojan, Hail, Tom
Khaghani, Mojan [12:02 PM]:
merry xmas
Hail, Tom [12:03 PM]:
poor puppies... to be made to pose for a mythical event like that.  animal abuse.
Khaghani, Mojan [12:03 PM]:
J
Hail, Tom [12:04 PM]:
Am I terrible?
Khaghani, Mojan [12:04 PM]:
no
some one sent me a joke
the title is farmers joke
all the people cc'd thought it was funny
but I did not get the joke
can you translate for me please?
> Cletus is passing by Billy Bob's hay barn one day when, through a gap in the
> door, he sees Billy Bob doing a slow and sensual striptease in front of an
> old green John Deere.
>
> Buttocks clenched, he performs a slow pirouette, and gently slides off first
> the right strap of his overalls, followed by the left. He then hunches his
> shoulders forward and in a classic striptease move, lets his overalls fall
> down to his hips revealing a torn and frayed plaid shirt.
>
> Then, grabbing both sides of his shirt, he rips it apart to reveal his
> stained T-shirt underneath. With a final flourish, he tears the T-shirt
> from his body, and hurls his baseball cap onto a pile of hay.
>
> Having seen enough, Cletus rushes in and says, "What in the world are ya
> doing, Billy Bob?"
>
> "Good grief, Cletus, ya scared the bejeebers out of me," says an obviously
> embarrassed Billy Bob.
>
> "But me 'n the wife been havin trouble lately in the bedroom d'partment, and
> the therapist suggested I do something sexy to a tractor."
>
> (Don't make me come splain this to you!)
Hail, Tom [12:06 PM]:
Ha ha ha!
Khaghani, Mojan [12:07 PM]:
I really dont understand anything
Hail, Tom [12:08 PM]:
Billy Bob was supposed to do something sexy to attract his wife.  But he misunderstood, being the country hick he is, and thought he was told to do something sexy "to a tractor".
Khaghani, Mojan [12:08 PM]:
why did he miss understood?
Hail, Tom [12:08 PM]:
an old green John Deere is a tractor.
Khaghani, Mojan [12:09 PM]:
I understood the same thing....
Hail, Tom [12:09 PM]:
"to a tractor" and "to attract her" sound the same in english.
Khaghani, Mojan [12:09 PM]:
ohhhhhhhhhh
Hail, Tom [12:10 PM]:
J
Khaghani, Mojan [12:10 PM]:
man that was hard
Hail, Tom [12:10 PM]:
LOL!

Why get married conversation...

My friend Violy wonders why Liz and I don’t get married and we’ve had this on-going conversation over the last few months in the hallway.  Yesterday I get this question about decency, that somehow being married is more decent? …

Continuing our discussion about marriage … the decency (conventional?) to introduce this is my wife/husband matters.

Me:
Why?
Who decided that married is decent, unmarried is not?  Isn&# 8217;t the nature of the relationship is what matters?  The label “married” has nothing to do if the relationship is good or not.

Barely 50% of US adults are married. 

Violy:
I am not going to click the link …
I got to thinking on my way to the ladies room that there isn 217;t anything you care about … in what people say or think about you.  What matters to you is what you think/feel about yourself.  I am not saying it is wrong to think that way.  It would almost be one is untouchable.

So can you feel hurt?  If you don’t care about what anyone says or think, then you can’t get hurt.

Me:
There are lots of things I care about.  I do care and it is important what people think of me and how I live.  I do care to be socially accepted.  But there are limits to what I will do to be accepted.  I will not pray to a make-believe god.  Nor wi ll I pretend to just to look like I do.  I care how people see my relationship with Liz.  It doesn’t need a label to be a good relationship.  I care that a loving, respectful, happy relationship is seen because that is what it is, without coercion by a religion or dogma.  The social norms have always changed and will change in the future.  You live in a world where the marriage label is important, but that may be a shrinking world.  You can have that world, it is important to you and I have no problem with it.  Just don’t expect me to conform to it.

Violy:
My views are too simplistic and narrow … I realized it after I sent the last email.  Sorry …

Me:
Don’t be sorry, it is worthwhile to discuss and think about these things.

21 December, 2011

Take the risk of thinking for yourself


"Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way."

As did Hitchens, my grandfather Evan lived his life like he didn't know enough, couldn't know enough.



19 December, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011
"Hitchens is gone. His brain – which was everything he thought, felt, remembered, and all the insight he had to offer the world – no longer functions, and never will function again. The same fate awaits us all. Without regret, Hitchens seemed to understand the flip side of this reality – we are the lucky few who get to live. So make the most of it while you can."

I'm going to miss Christopher Hitchens


North Korea and heaven. Heaven would be worse.

08 December, 2011

The Wind Storm of December 2011

There was some wind in California last week (Nov 30 to Dec 2 2011) that caused problems all around the state.  In Santa Cruz County, we had power outages all over, especially in the mountains where I live the wind in the redwoods played havoc with the power lines.  The wind wasn't particularly strong, but the power lines were clobbered everywhere.  We lost our power Wednesday morning and it wasn't restored until Saturday night.  The cell tower near here went off line.  The cable tv/phone/internet also was out from Wednesday evening until Sunday.  But no damage to our house.  No limbs through a car or the roof.  The little generator kept the fridge cool, the TV running with old TiVo recordings, and the most important, the sewage pump to the septic tank.  Propane heat for water and warmth!  No problem!

So what happens?  Liz gets a nail in a tire coming home Thursday.  I see it Friday morning.  I tell her to take my car to work and I'll drive my truck in.  She is nervous about my car and asks about the lights... I mention something about them coming on automatically and point to the switch.  Coming home from work Friday and she calls me, "Tom, your car won't start!"  Huh?  Did you push the clutch in?  "Yes!"  Did you try turning the key all the way off and then try again?  "YES!"  Uh oh.  Did you turn the lights off when you got to work?  "YOU TOLD ME THEY WERE AUTOMATIC!  I am going to cry!"  Wait!  Do the lights come on when you open the door?  "NO!"  Oh hell.  Ok, I'll come jump start it.  I am an hour away.  I get there, battery is pretty dead, and successfully get it started and we get home.

Saturday.  You take my car to work and I'll get your tire fixed.  "Ok!  You would do that for me?" I had to make up for confusing her about the lights on my car.  She takes my car and goes to work, I get her car on level ground and change to the spare tire, no problem.  I drive it to Firestone and they patch it for "free" since I bought the road hazard insurance, and I pick it up on my way back from the airport.  So far, good day.  I get home and fire the generator back up since the power is still out.  Liz is still gone.  Shortly she calls.  "I'M STUCK IN THE ROAD ON HWY 9!  YOUR CAR WON'T MOVE!"  Oh no.  What do you mean it is stuck?  "I can't get it into gear to get moving!  I've tried, the flagman tried, people are honking.  I HATE YOUR CAR!"  The engine is running?  "Yes.  PG&E is working on power lines and a lane is blocked and we had to wait until it was our turn to go around them."  Oh.  I know.  Another Jetta feature.  Is the clutch petal stuck down on the floor?  "Yes!"  Stick your toe under it and lift it up.  "Wait a second... that worked!  BYE!"  Liz got home safely.  The look she gave me wasn't too full of hate.

Sunday.  Got up, went to town for breakfast and then came back home.  Ok, lets put the fixed tire back on Liz's car.  Hey Liz, want to see how this is done?  "Ok."  Got the tire and jack out, set the jack under her car, loosened the lug nuts, jacked up the front.  Taking lug nuts off.  One off.  Another off.  Uh oh.  No.  The third one is totally jammed up.  It won't come off.  It won't even tighten back up.  CRAP!  (Liz would tell you I wasn't really this calm about it.)  Tightened the rest back up.  I gave Liz her car keys back and told her to go to Firestone and get that fixed.

17 November, 2011

07 November, 2011

Evan Chappuis

Yesterday my grandfather Evan Chappuis passed away. He was well past the age of 101 and doing very well living in his own home, sleeping in his own bed. He had around him family and friends who he could talk to when they came to visit. I am sure he enjoyed the World Series last month and was probably reading on his latest electronic book up to his last day. Evan was always trying to learn new things and never stopped. He was constantly reading history, figuring out the new tools of the world like GPS and cell phones, trying to understand our politics, and concerned with those less fortunate than him. Evan and my grandmother Juen were generous to those in need, my first memories of charity was through them and later I recognized the efforts he provided to his communities.
I have known all of my grandparents, I know that many people are not so fortunate. All of my grandparents were strong people in their special ways and taught me things from their strengths. From Evan I learned integrity and honor, a strong work ethic, and the importance of being part of my community. I could see that as a CPA people trusted him with their money and their finances, I could see that he took that trust seriously. I could see his dedication to the support of his wife and daughters and to his brothers and sisters. That dedication expanded to support his friends and community. And that community was large, it was the cities he lived in, his state of California, his nation, his ranching community, and his aviation community.  I may not have appreciated all of this immediately as I grew up, but it is obvious to me now and it should be to all who know him.
I'm sure we all appreciate the things that he did for us, the good times he was part of, the bad times he helped us through, in the accomplishments that he made in his life. He will long be remembered in our memories and in our histories.

31 October, 2011

FW: Funny

Stupidity isn’t illegal.  It isn’t a disability either.

13 October, 2011

This is my 1st post using Dragon dictate on my Mac. I'm trying to not use the mouse too much. I'm trying to learn how to dictate to the computer, control it, and write something that is intelligible. So for right now this thing seems to be doing okay. So, all I have to do is to be able to compose my thoughts in such a way that I can dictate them out clearly.
The pain in my wrist gets pretty intense by the end of the day. It isn't in the carpal tunnel, the pain is in the tendons to the side of my wrist. I am currently using ergonomics, Aleve, aspirin, and anti-inflammatory cream. Usually through the day I can manage the pain with a glove and posture although the pain usually starts as soon as I sit down at the keyboard in the morning.
This is can be a test of how much that ranting I can do and see how much it actually gets before his 1st rent a gobbledygook. Wow, it knows how to spell gobbledygook! So here goes. I cannot believe how much time Republican Congress has wasted on antiabortion legislation that didn't need to be done that doesn't need to be legislated. I need the longer. This is awkward, I rant at the computer all time and now I'm tongue-tied. How freaking stupid.Okay, I need to practice some more. Maybe I should try something I know more about.
On Sunday this weekend the Monterey Bay 99's are going to have a fundraiser for their aviation scholarship program. They sell airplane rides for $.10 a pound. I will be flying my Bonanza in this charity event along with several other airplanes that Sarah has scared up. Usually this is pretty fun, most of the people really have a good time seeing the world from the sky in a small airplane. The bonanza is flying very well right now, oil leak has been fixed, it has a new battery now that makes starting a whole lot easier. Last year this event got rained out surprisingly. We ended up in the EAA hangar eating hotdogs that were supposed to be given to the public coming to visit. The weather so far looks really good for this weekend. So all I need is for my 60-year-old airplane to not break.
Well I tried a blog post with the Dragon Dictate and it wasn't too bad. This is probably a good way to practice so maybe I'll make some more blog posts can be more prolific. The level of pain is certainly a lot less this way.

11 September, 2011

Out of Body, Roger!


I love Radiolab.  Particularly this one.  Out of body experiences.  Listen.


10 September, 2011

9/10/11

19 terrorists attacked the US with box cutters.  It took us nearly 10 years, an additional 6000 dead and 60,000 wounded, $2 Trillion to kill Osama Bin Laden.  We may be safer, we are not stronger.  We are in debt, our military exhausted, our politics in deadlock, our people fed up with our leaders.  Our civil rights and freedoms are under question and attack.  Who is winning?

28 August, 2011

Irrational belief in rhino horn power...

"IPSWICH, England — The Ipswich Museum contains many alluring and potentially theft-worthy items, including a spectacular 2,000-year-old gold-leaf Egyptian death mask on loan from the British Museum and a rare Hawaiian cape featuring feathers from the extinct o’o bird. But when two thieves forced their way in after midnight on July 28, they were seeking something else entirely.Never mind that their target, a large rhinoceros horn, was still attached to its owner, which had been standing blamelessly in the museum since 1907."


And now they are stealing horn from museums? For some reason the killing of rhinos for their horn so that some inadequate prick somewhere can pretend to be enhanced sexually with it enrages me. (yeah, what else is new?) Why is that? Could it be the stupidity of a totally irrational belief in rhino horn power causing the slaughter of thousands of people.... oops rhinos?

25 August, 2011

The demon hunter

An emerging Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and the return of Jesus, is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role.
I am not sure if to be worried or happy.  Perry must not become President.  I don't think that is likely if the Republicans nominate him, but the fact that he could be nominated is frightening in itself.  Like Richard Dawkins recently said:
" There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

"For the past several years... the NAR has run a campaign to reclaim what it calls the "seven mountains of culture" from demonic influence. The "mountains" are arts and entertainment; business; family; government; media; religion; and education.
"They teach quite literally that these 'mountains' have fallen under the control of demonic influences in society," says Tabachnick. "And therefore, they must reclaim them for God in order to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth. .."
They are looking to gain control and remove the demons that are preventing the second coming of Christ.

19 August, 2011

Naked ladies. How do they do it?

These have been blooming all over Santa Cruz county over the last few weeks.  All at once.  How do they know?  How do they know when to bloom?  Some clock?  Some hormone?



10 August, 2011

Fwd: solutions

From my friend Vicky. 

Sent from my iPod


this is a cool letter from my friend Myles.
 
Our ancestors made it through the age of the dinosaur - I think we can make it thorough this.

We are not out of bullets - what we are lacking is a historical perspective.  When the world reacted with fear and pulling back in 1929 it exacerbated the problems and exacerbated, if not led to, a massive world wide depression.  Many of the wise heads have been saying, and I have been agreeing, that the turn around will happen if the government steps in and starts stimulating the economy with public works/repairs.  It is not sexy and it increases our debt but our debt can not be paid off if we are not paying taxes and unemployed people do not pay taxes.

Look at California where a minor increase in jobs has caused our debt to go way down.  What we have needed - all along and long before this crisis - is jobs.  That is a major reason why the Arab world is rebelling - jobs - they want jobs.  There is plenty to do.  Even I could come up
with enough ideas ideas to keep millions employed.  If we put our heads together we could turn this mess into a bright future.

But we continue to recoil in fear and as we cower the walls fall around us - when we should be bracing the walls we are just staring in shock as they fall.  The so called conservatives among us need to be sidelined before they can get us all the way back to the middle ages where a tiny percent owned everything and nearly everyone else lived short hard lives in perpetual poverty.

I am looking at the bright side also - there seems to be a faint noise in the land of people realizing that we do not need this monster military.  In my opinion we could turn a large portion of that enterprise towards fixing our infrastructure - at least then we the people would have something when the dust cleared - instead of mountains of spent shell casings we could have fixed bridges and built new schools.  And the builders would actually learn something useful - as opposed to the latest method of killing each other they could learn how to work with concrete (I know... I know...)

As the some of the wise founders saw it, and I agree, we can fight when we need to fight.  We don't need to be constantly fully prepared for every war like contingency.  When the Canadians attack just give me 6 weeks of training and I will be able to pull whatever trigger they tell me to pull.  After all - our species has excelled at fighting for countless millennia.

Myles

07 August, 2011

August 2011 Young Eagles

It ended up being too foggy to fly kids on Saturday but I got the neighbor kids up in the air on Sunday.  The forecast was the same for both days, but all of the sudden Sunday after opened up big time.  A beautiful day to fly.  The two boys below got to fly.  I am sure these girls will come back, they and their mother are local to the airport and really wanted to fly.








 

02 August, 2011

Pissed off again.

The FAA is down to air traffic control only.  Congress, on a much smaller scale is stuck because of the same thing, desire to regain power in the Senate and Presidency.  Tens of thousands of jobs are put out because the Rethuglicans won't compromise at all.  The key sticking point is a Republican rider that makes it harder for air and rail workers to unionize.  They are shutting down thousands of jobs because they want to make it harder for workers to unionize.  How un-surprizing.  Obama has screwed up over the last few weeks working on the deficit.  It isn't a deficit problem... it is a recession and economy problem.  He has let the Republicans define the debate to be about the deficit when what he was handed was a recession and the need to recover.  The Republicans failed since Reagan to do anything about the debt when times were good and now are screaming about it now that we have to invest and pull ourselves to get out of this recession.  They know this.  They don't want the American people to realize we were driven here by their actions and inaction.  They want to regain the Senate and White House in 2012 at all costs.  Jobs and the American economy is a small cost to them.


31 July, 2011

More Chevron

View Your Message
___________________________________
Subject: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent: July 31, 2011 03:12 PM EDT

You Wrote:

Hey, thanks for the nice note in my bill saying my minimum payment has increased because of my past late payments. I didn't bother going through the calculations to see if my current minimum payment was right. Strangely it fails to mention late fees that were refunded due to your inability to get GE money to correct their billing emails which caused the problems to begin with. I've always paid my bill in full whenever I could discern I had a bill. 

I wish I could avoid in the future any more use of Chevron products and this credit card. But you are the only aviation fuel supplier at my airport so we are stuck with each other.

25 July, 2011

Pretty funny.

Jenai stops me on my way into the building and apologizes for falling asleep in a big design review meeting last week. 

1.       I didn’t notice

2.       I fall asleep in meetings all the time

3.      ;  I’ve had about 4 hours of sleep, the likelihood is high I will again today

 

 

 

10 July, 2011

Teach the controversy!

It cracks me up every time I hear "students should make their own decisions" about evolution vs ID vs creationism taught in schools. Especially when in the same breadth only abstinence sex education is acceptable in many places. No condoms or birth control. No choice on abortion. No questioning the bible...


09 July, 2011

NTSB: Four dead in Watsonville plane crash including two children - Santa Cruz Sentinel

NTSB: Four dead in Watsonville plane crash including two children - Santa Cruz Sentinel



WATSONVILLE — Four members of a Santa Cruz family headed to a weekend getaway with relatives near Yosemite National Park were killed when their four-seater plane plummeted into the grounds of Watsonville Community Hospital, authorities said Friday.
David Houghton, 44, wife Dede, 44, and sons Luke, 12, and Ryan, 10, all perished in Thursday's crash, which witnesses say occurred after the plane turned sharply offline after taking off from Watsonville Municipal Airport.

It is hard when people who contributed good to the community are lost suddenly, especially when there was so much more lost with with them and their sons. All it takes is a mistake or two and the laws of nature will deal swift consequences if any are broken. We know and try to understand those laws, we don't always succeed in satisfying them all in our endeavors. Endeavors are what makes life worth living.

30 June, 2011

28 June, 2011

Yum!

So after dinner Liz says she has some special desert and she'll bring it to me.  I pause the Dexter.  After some noises and bottle openings she brings me a coffee mug of ice cream and IBC root beer.  Mmmm... root beer float!  :-)  She goes back into the kitchen to make her's.  More mug rattling and bottle opening and...  "Hey!  Does yours taste all right?"  "Yeah, mine tastes fine!" I say.  "This tastes like soap!"  She pours it out and gets a clean mug, scoops more ice cream and more root beer into the mug and comes in to sit next to me so we can continue to watch Dexter.  "This still tastes like soap!  What is wrong with this?"  That is when Liz notices that she had opened a bottle of Fat Tire.  We laughed and laughed.  :-)

15 June, 2011

LM News... more layoffs.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems to Eliminate Approximately 1,200 Positions Lockheed Martin
"Space Systems, which currently employs approximately 16,000 employees in 12 states, will implement a broad-based workforce reduction of roughly 1,200 employees by year-end. It is anticipated that middle management will be reduced by 25 percent, with significantly smaller percentage impacts in other levels and disciplines."
Oh hell. Here we go again. I wonder if I should start looking for a new job just to head off the pain and agony of WARN notices and wondering if I'll get replaced. Probably.

04 June, 2011

Recollections of a Vagabonde: Riding on the TGV Train No. 9321 to Brussels, Belgium

Recollections of a Vagabonde: Riding on the TGV Train No. 9321 to Brussels, Belgium:
"fly44d said...
Despite being a pilot, I've always enjoyed riding trains! :-) Thanks for opening the memories."
I do like riding trains. Too bad there are so few good ones in this country. I'd like to see the California high speed line get built, but I bet it gets scrapped. Too little too late probably, I don't see our politicians having the will to get it done.
Trains... From East Pakistan (Bangladesh) to northern Norway to California. I am going to spew out some memories:
  • California Zephyr - riding in the observation dome.
  • Dacca to tea country and back - crowded with people hanging on everywhere. Very slow and rickety.
  • Oslo to Bodo Norway - seeing the sun not set one summer day, Bodo was as far north as we could get on the train.
  • Bonn to West Berlin - East German guards checking ID at the borders in the middle of the night
  • Frankfurt to Mainz - Traveling by myself for the first time in a country where I didn't speak the language
  • Malmo - Spent the night locked in the train station with some old women for safety

02 June, 2011

Answers in Genes: Show me the Sausages!

This cracked me up. Very nice.

Show me the Sausages!


"A philosopher designs a marvellous sausage machine. A scientist comes
to marvel at this wonderful creation, and raises an eyebrow.
The philosopher says, 'Ah, behold the wonderful cogs and sprockets and
temperature-controlled mixing chambers in my wonderful machine -
surely you can see how it must produce the most fantastic sausages!'
The scientist says 'Yes, that is all very interesting. Show me the sausages.'
The philosopher says 'How dare you, a mere scientist, question my
wonderful philosophical reasoning?'
Scientist: 'I'm not questioning your reasoning - I want to know if
your machine really produces sausages.'
Philosopher: 'Can you point to any flaw in my argument that it
produces sausages?'
Sci: 'I don't know - I just want to know if it produces sausages. Here
is some meat. Why don't you feed it through and see if you get any
sausages?'
Phil: 'And sully my wonderful machine with mere offal?'
Sci: 'You said it was a sausage machine. I want to see the sausages.'
Phil: 'Are you questioning my ingredients?'
Sci: 'I'm just questioning whether it produces sausages or not. Show
me the sausages.'
Phil: 'Ah, so you cannot attack my premises and you cannot attack my
argument. Therefore I'm right and you lose.'
Sci: 'Don't be such a melodramatic prancing arse. Show me the sausages.'
Phil: 'The sausages inevitably flow from the argument. You see my fine
machine. You can even inspect the meat & onions. The sausages
necessarily flow.'
Sci: 'Show me the sausages or I'm off to Tesco.'
Phil: 'You are a mere scientist with no understanding of philosophical matters.'
Sci: 'Bye.'

- Sent using Google Toolbar"

30 May, 2011

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story' | Science | The Guardian

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven; it's a fairy story' | Science | The Guardian:

"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark"

A couple of comments I liked this morning

An Ohpelia Benson comment:
God I hate sanctimony. I hate it more than some worse things, probably – it grates on me more. I hate it when people make it very obvious that they think they’re super-good people, sent to Enlighten all the rest of us.

The truly “nice” people I’ve known didn’t/don’t do that. They don’t do anything even resembling that. They just are kind and unself-obsessed and easygoing. They just do it, they don’t tell you they’re doing it, they’d laugh if you told them they were doing it, they don’t lecture you about doing it, they don’t talk solemn bullshit about doing it, they don’t give themselves big hugs every ten seconds for doing it. Not one of them is remotely sanctimonious.

A PZ Myers coment:
complexity and design are independent properties of an object. One does not imply the other. You cannot determine whether something was designed by looking at whether it is complicated or not.

28 May, 2011

Lliz's graduation.

Yay!  Liz graduated yesterday with her Master's in Special Education and her level 2 teaching credentials.  Quite the relief!  We got some pics with her professors and then went to dinner with Becky, Bram, Allena and Heather.

21 May, 2011

Field Trip

120 3rd graders from Calabasas Elementary School came to WVI on 20 May on a field trip.

Note to the organizing teacher and the volunteers I had with me:
Yasmin,
I got the thank you letters from the classes and have had a good time going
through them.

Your kids were very well behaved but more importantly were interested and asked
a lot of questions.  It was my pleasure to let them in my plane and to talk to
them about flying and the airport.  I am sure the other volunteers feel the
same.  I hope to see them again around the airport, because airports are cool!

To all the volunteers ("airport people") who helped out:
Chris, the loudspeaker worked great, thanks!
Theresa, thanks for the great ideas, display in the terminal and putting up with
us
Rob, thanks for getting power up and being Rayvon's mechanic
John, thanks for the airplane to show and bringing a great friend who got 120
kids through map reading exercises
Dennis, thanks for showing your plane and let the kids climb in
Mary, thanks for leading the crowds out to the compass rose and back, did you
get your walk in?
Juan Carlos, thanks for the models and ground school help
Jim, thanks for the help on the ramp and ground schools
Abby, thanks for showing Theresa's airport info in the terminal
Rayvon, thanks for the great intro speech and showing your beautiful Bonanza.

I hope I didn't forget anyone.

It was a good day.
Tom

09 May, 2011

Email with ChevronTexaco customer service...

Subject: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent: April 15, 2011 05:13 PM EDT

You Wrote:

I am pretty pissed at getting another late charge. I went to paperless
statements and set up an alert 10 days before due date but your alert
message obviously was not enough to catch my eye... the 'Sender' is 'GE
Money for your Chevron and Texaco Credit Card'.... that doesn't even fit
within the Sender field and what do I care about GE? CHEVRON is who I
am Paying! The first characters should be CHEVRON! The subject is
'Account Alerts'. You know how much junk mail I get with that? Put
'Chevron Bill' in it!

Additionally, your web system won't allow my online bill pay to access
this account and send it my bills so I can easily see a bill is in,
balance, due date and pay it. Chase does it fine, what is wrong with GE
& Chevron? Get with the 21st century. I am about to stop using the
card. I was because I got a discount on fuel for my airplane, but
getting another late charge has wiped all the savings out.

I suspect you are just making it so that fees get collected. Make it
easy for me to miss a bill so you collect another $20. Prove me wrong
please

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject:Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent:April 18, 2011 01:16 PM EDT

Customer Service Wrote:

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Chevron and Texaco
credit card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.

Account is owned by GE Money Bank - Member FDIC. GE Money Bank is
considered a federally chartered bank.

After reviewing your account history and in the interest of good
customer service, we are crediting your account for Late Payment Fees in
the amount(s) shown below (if applicable). The credit for this amount
will appear on your next billing statement. Please refer to your Credit
Card Account Agreement for information about fees that may be assessed
and how those fees may be avoided.

Late Payment Fees: $20.00
We appreciate you as a valued Chevron and Texaco customer. If you have
any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us
via the Online Message Center.
Sincerely,
M. Nammavaly
Customer Service

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card Billing Inquiries
Sent: April 24, 2011 01:56 AM EDT

You Wrote:

Thanks for the $20 back. I suggest you get with GE Money Bank and get
them to clarify their alert text. Telling me to read my Account
Agreement is not a solution to the problem. Your customers are humans,
not machines. It is up to you (a customer of GE Money Bank) to make the
system friendly to your customers. I am one of your customers. I have
choices. I may not choose you in the future.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Chevron and Texaco Credit Card BillingInquiries
Sent: April 25, 2011 01:58 PM EDT

Customer Service Wrote:

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Chevron and Texaco credit card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.

We appreciate the time you took to provide your input. We strive to learn from our past experiences and your feedback is very important to us.

Great customer service and satisfaction are an integral part of our business. We understand your disappointment and would like to keep you as a valued customer.

Please accept our sincerest apology and allow us the opportunity to provide you the highest level of customer service in the future.
We appreciate you as a valued Chevron and Texaco customer. If you have any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us via the Online Message Center.
Sincerely,
HarithaG
Customer Service
Account is owned by GE Money Bank - Member FDIC

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Excellent listening skills Chevron!



05 May, 2011

04 May, 2011

Thoughts of this weekend

This last weekend, actually the five days from Thursday morning through Monday, have been a roller coaster for me.  I took vacation to support the EAA B17 visit to Watsonville.  Additionally the 7th Day in the Sky (DitS) event took place on Saturday.  These were to be totally separate events and not merged at all which was probably successful.  From a participant's point of view the events were probably fun, a good time, and meaningful.  The comments about the DitS displays and flight simulators are sounding good.  I had kids in my plane totally blown away by being in it, acting differently than their parents normally see them.   The B17 visitors I met as a docent on Friday and Sunday were amazed by what their uncles, grandfathers, fathers, and husbands flew in and conditions they fought in.  One lady only managed to get a little out of her husband before he died about being a B17 co-pilot, but she knew he had bailed out of one through the bomb bay as the plane burned.  She finally saw on Sunday how hard that must have been, that the little he told her about the war was but a drop in the bucket of what he had gone through.  On Friday a young lady and her grandfather were there, he was telling and showing her, for the first time apparently, about being a gunner in the belly turret of the B17, how he had to squeeze into it after takeoff with his parachute only half attached.  She watched as other vets surrounded him, asking questions and sharing experiences from the war.  It seemed to open a whole new relationship between her and her grandfather.  I think there were many such stories from families of veterans.

Not all went well however.  Thursday I caught an earful from the owner of the aircraft repair shop next door to the EAA hangar where the B17 parked.  Getting that large four engine plane into it's spot for the first time was complicated by cars on the ramp that weren't supposed to be there.  The B17 was going to blow crap into the repair shop's doors and make a  mess, the owner was enraged and let me have it.  I got the full depth of his contempt for me and my ability to manage the ramp for this plane.  Unfortunately this is the shop where I was going to have my plane's annual inspection done, where its been done since 2007.

Thursday evening I managed to get my plane in the air, the battery, for a change, had enough charge to get it started.  This may have been the last time I fly N1844D.  I don't have enough money to do the annual inspection, easily a $5000 job this year with a 5 year propeller inspection due.  Last year's inspection and repair cost $8000.  I can't do that again.  It is grounded now with the annual inspection expired.  I wanted to fly it one last time on Saturday after DitS was over before the last inspection expired, but the battery was dead and I didn't have the energy to try to recharge it.

DitS on Saturday was a disaster from my point of view.  I was in charge of the display ramp and aircraft and I utterly failed.  I didn't check in with each pilot as they arrived, I didn't ensure they knew the rules, I didn't even keep track of who showed up.  When families started to go up for rides, I didn't move those planes off the display ramp, I should have ensured the families knew there was no insurance to cover them other than what the pilot had (if any), I had no knowledge of who was flying, I had no knowledge if their medicals and aircraft inspections were current.   Even worse, people started wandering across the active, unprotected ramp, to the B17.  To get there they had to pass the fuel island and aircraft with engines running.  We watched and tried to guide people and aircraft but it was a zoo.  I saw one small child start to run towards a turning propeller, fortunately stopped quickly by a parent.  As a pilot commented, this situation was appalling.  My feeble attempt to redirect people was of course futile.  I needed to anticipate this to begin with by putting up better signs and barriers to get them there, I needed to actively stop it once it started.  I did neither.  I had heard the FAA was going to be at DitS.  I didn't even remember that.  Amazing.  My greatest fear is that my friend Don French and his staff will get in trouble with the FAA.

I want to know who decided to fly kids and families.  Who selected and arranged the passengers.  What were they told.  Why was I not told.  But then if I had been on the ramp instead of showing my plane, I would know these things.

I like showing my the plane and interacting with the kids, parents and visitors.  Being in charge of aircraft movement and crowds is obviously beyond me.  I don't do it well, I shouldn't be in charge of it.

25 April, 2011

Pascal's Wager

You two give me the same reason to believe which is called Pascal's Wager.  You are ok if you accept the gift and it is true, nothing to lose if it isn't.  Well, that isn't true.  I have a lot to lose if I accept and it is wrong.  I lose thousands of hours of my one and only life hoping/praying/working for a better life afterward, I lose the ability to make decisions for myself in order to follow dogma, I lose the ability to look at the world objectively and have to say "god did it", it would cost me my sense of awe, wonder and importance of this life, the one life I have, since  "god did it".  Prideful?  We are insignificant smears of carbon on an insignificant pebble around an insignificant star.  What pride is in that?  Pride is thinking that there is a god who has a plan for you out of this hugely massive universe.  That is some serious pride.  Have you read any of the links I sent you?  I watched the crap movie on ID.  Scripture means nothing to me other than a source of ridicule.  The other problem with Pascal's Wager is, which god is the right one?  The Jewish one?  The Muslim one?  The Christian one?  Which Christian one?  You gotta get it right, especially since the Muslim and Christian ones are mutually exclusive.  Rational thinking and evidence tells me there is no heaven, hell or god(s) and belief is a waste of time.

22 April, 2011

Good Friday?

Today we celebrate the torture and execution of a wandering homeless man who heard voices and spoke about what he thought of the world he lived in.  And also the great zombie uprising that resulted.

17 April, 2011

Paul Ryan: corporate shill in the highest order


Obama: “Eliminating the health care bill would cost us $1 trillion dollars,” the president said. “It would add $1 trillion to the deficit. So when Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure, he’s just being America’s accountant and trying to you know be responsible, this is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill — but wasn't paid for. So it’s not on the level. And we've got to keep on you know, keep on shining a light on that.”

"I would like to hear what Ryan has to say on why when Bush was the president, being worried about spending and deficits didn't matter.
Bob: So what about that Congressman?
Ryan: Look, I can go point by point on all of those things, but I don't see how productive it would be to get into a partisan bickering match with the president. I'm just not going to do that because we got things to do.
Yes, "America's accountant" says he has things to do like destroying Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He can't answer for his votes under Bush honestly because then it would shine a light on him that confirms he's nothing more than an ideological partisan hack and professor of junk science.
Why hasn't the media asked the same of all Republicans who voted to destroy the government's budget surplus under George Bush by voting for his tax cuts for the rich and not funding two wars? If you look at real dollars, those funds could have fixed Medicare and Social Security possibly for generations.
I'm sick of hearing that Ryan's plan was courageous. I like Fareed Zakaria's show and find him credible on many levels, but he said the same thing about Ryan. It wasn't brave, it is a bill of lunacy aimed at destroying everything FDR and the Great Society stood for. It's like the Beltway hasn't noticed what Tea Party and conservative lawmakers have been doing the last few months. Everything that ensures this country will protect the working class, the sick, the poor and our seniors has been targeted. Ryan's Junk Science plan would not only make the rich richer, but painfully cripple the other 98% of America for generations to come. That's not bold, that's mad. Ryan absolutely should have to explain his votes under Bush--and what he thinks Americans 45-54 should do under his plan if something catastrophic happens.
Oh, and Ryan also voted for TARP and the auto industry bail outs if any Tea Party patriots care to remember? If anything, it shows he's a corporate shill in the highest order."

12 April, 2011

Little Ricky Santorum

Unlike Palin, Trump, Beck, or Bachmann, Santorum scares me. If he were to win the Republican nomination for 2012, the culture war that would erupt in this country would be ugly. It would have to be a no-holds-barred street fight. Nothing civil or democratic at all about it. He is as bat-shit crazy as Beck and doesn't look like it.

10 April, 2011

The One-Percenters - Roger Ebert's Journal

The One-Percenters - Roger Ebert's Journal


What puzzles me is why there isn't more indignation. The Tea Party is the most indignant domestic political movement since Norman Thomas's Socialist Party, but its wrath is turned in the wrong direction. It favors policies that are favorable to corporations and unfavorable to individuals. Its opposition to Obamacare is a textbook example. Insurance companies and the health care industry finance a "populist" movement that is manipulated to oppose its own interests. The billionaire Koch brothers payroll right wing front organizations that oppose labor unions and financial reform. The patriots wave their flags and don't realize they're being duped.

Where is the outrage? People are not paying attention.

27 March, 2011

Why am I moral?

Another rabbi embarrasses me « Why Evolution Is True:

"I’m pretty sure that Rabbi Jacobs, like nearly all Christians and Jews, picks and chooses his Biblically-based ethics. Why? Because he has an innate sense of what actions are right or wrong, or because he doesn’t think that god’s expressed will comports with modern secular reason and “well being.”

Those, by the way, are also the sources of atheist ethics."

Why, as an atheist, am I moral? Why don't I take and use as I please? Because not following reasonable social standards would not promote the well being of me, my family, my community. Where do those standards come from? From rational reasoning and consensus in the community. Sometimes that consensus isn't all that rational, especially when it is based on theology and belief in magic. But there is no sign that any of it had to come from any gods. Except for the commandments like not to worship other gods and to stone unbelievers to death. Those sound like rules to help keep the priesthood in control of the masses and are not really morals.

In addition to the rational, reasoned morals, there appear to be innate morals that we come pre-wired with. Most of us couldn't abuse our children or harm our parents or attack for no reason our neighbor. There is plenty of evidence this is not learned but innate in our brains. Religion tries to claim ownership of these morals but it is clear we and many mammals come with them ingrained. Thus the free will argument rages, I am not free to harm my daughters because I have these ingrained morals holding me back. The religious say without god, I could. I don't think so. Could you? Seriously?

25 March, 2011

Godless in Tumourville: Christopher Hitchens interview - Telegraph

Godless in Tumourville: Christopher Hitchens interview - Telegraph:

"His outspoken advocacy of atheism made Hitchens a very public figure, and has made his illness a very public one, casting him as some sort of antagonist in a battle with fate, the Almighty or, if you believe in neither, random and merciless bodily malfunction. As he has written, 'To the dumb question, “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply, “Why not?”’"

First LockMart-Built Milstar II Satellite Marks 10 Years In Service

First LockMart-Built Milstar II Satellite Marks 10 Years In Service: "The first Milstar II military communications satellite, built by a Lockheed Martin team for the U.S. Air Force, has surpassed its 10-year design life of on-orbit service, providing our nation's warfighters with secure and reliable communications since its successful launch on Feb. 27, 2001."
My, time flies... That was actually a rough time in my life and for my daughters. Their mother and I had just separated the summer before and nobody was happy. The greatest regret in my life is the hurt I caused my daughters in that time period. I don't know what I could have done better. It was a hard time. The good thing is I met Liz two months after this launch, things got better after that.

23 March, 2011

One of those days.

Liz is grumpy, Ernie had poop stuck in his butt, my car had an inch of water in it, and the cat is dying.

Update:  The cat is not dying.  Yet.  He is 20, it could happen any day.

14 March, 2011

AC Grayling on the evils of earthquakes

Thanking god for what?

"For if he is not competent to stop an earthquake or save its victims, he is definitely not competent to create a world. And if he is powerful enough to do both, but created a dangerous world that inflicts violent and agonizing sufferings arbitrarily on sentient creatures, then he is vile."
Why bother worship that which can't help, won't help, or is incompetent to help.

13 March, 2011

Rapture on 21 May 2011

We'll see if it happens...


I drive by this every day on my way home.  I understand these may be all over the country since this is a nationwide radio network.  Or maybe not, am not sure.

"THE END OF THE WORLD IS ALMOST HERE! HOLY GOD WILL BRING JUDGMENT DAY ON MAY 21, 2011"
The crank's name is Harold Camping out of Oakland, CA.
I am not sure I want this guy's image on my blog, but he's been at it for years, he graduated from Berkley as a Civil Engineer, he had to have been halfway intelligent at some point.  But then engineers aren't known for being the most skeptical.  A guy who works for me knows he hears ghosts.

The faith of idiots

"God said it, we believe it, that settles it."


A Condell video, short and concise.

11 March, 2011

Finding Truth

Wallidjan,

I watched the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GADt13X3OBI).  It said nothing other than what you've already said... look around, stuff is complex, there must be a god because stuff is complex.  Someone must have created it all.

How did the flawless order of the whole universe come into being?
Who provided the delicate balances in the world?
How did living beings, incredibility diversified in nature, emerge?

Asking these questions and resigning (submitting) yourself to the easy answer of "god did it" is the way to The Truth?

I am sorry.  No.  Not going to happen.  These questions have very good, god-free, answers.

It isn't flawless in any way.
Nobody.
Evolution.

You kept saying how complex the inner workings of a single cell is.  Yes it is.  But it is understandable and even though I am not a micro-biologist, I know they have very detailed knowledge of how proteins and DNA and all the other compounds of the inner cell work to do the things they do.  The knowledge base of cell mechanics is huge and there is no magic involved.  You are going to claim a designer had to have put it all together.  No, there are natural paths to how the cells evolved.  Chemical reactions are predictable and traceable.  It isn't magic.  How chemistry works isn't magic, it is even easier than biology to test and examine since now you are dealing with the basic elements and chemical reactions.  And these are predictable from the mechanisms of quantum and particle physics.  All the way to the big bang we can trace how things work.  Our universe is probably only one of infinitely many, each with it's own characteristics.  This is the one we exist in.  It is that simple. No god necessary.

A month of listening to the Nature podcast would show you how much they know about the inner workings of cells, physics, chemistry, cosmology.  
http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/

"A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss, beautiful talk on the creation of the universe.  Clear, easily understood, and it even makes sense!

Short clip to tease you to watch the long version: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfOL_oGgRVk

Long version: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo
Very much worth the  time.

Pull yourself out of the grips of this medieval backward belief, it will only drag you down with it.

Tom

God's Gift of Evolution

God's gift of evolution and natural selection...

“the gift of creativity that God bestowed on the creation” – meaning the blood and screams when animals are shredded by predators. Thanks a lot for the “gift.” ~ Ophelia Benson
If that "loving" god dumped us off after creating life to sit back and watch what happens, it is a fucking bastard.  Almost every animal on this planet dies a violent, messy, painful death.  Evolution is messy.  All life is messy and almost nothing perfect involved in it anywhere.  Everything is a compromise from what existed before.

02 March, 2011

Living Without Religion - A Campaign by the Center for Inquiry



"To hope, to care, to love. We have all experienced these powerful, fundamental feelings. They help define what it is to be human. These important elements of a fulfilling human life are experienced by religious and nonreligious people alike.

Find out more: http://www.livingwithoutreligion.org."

The only thing I dislike about this: "Living without God." Like there really is a god.