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Friday, March 31, 2006

Last Day for Carnival Submissions!

This is the last day of the month (and also the last day to submit to the Darwin is Dead Carnival).

In my business, it was a very significant day. Vendors are paid month to month and have quotas from quarter to quarter. Thus, I put in about a 12-hour workday full of angst and excitement and negotiation. The technical term for my state of mind now? I am FRIED!

Therefore I intend to wait a day before I answer my various commmenters, or try to put together another post full of quotes and so on. I am just beat like a drum. It appears that I made the biggest deal of the month for my company on this, the last day, and that is a very good thing. But I am glad it is over and I can try to relax now.

One way I like to relax is to watch my fish. We have three tanks. The small ten-gallon holds a Pumpkinseed (bluegill) fish who we call "Mr. Personality" who is not yet a year old. He will very soon outgrow his tank. I bet we can keep him for at least ten years.

The second tank has a few live-breeders, all Swords and Platys, it is a 29-gallon tank. I have some juvenile Plecostomus and a couple of Botia/Loach fish in there. The live-breeders are colorful and the special moss we have in the corner helps provide cover for baby fish. We will probably move Mr. Personality into this tank and buy a new one for the live-breeders.

Both of those tanks are downstairs, where we have the big screen TV and the surround sound stereo and two couches, a loveseat and a church pew (!) from one of my previous churches. This is where the teens and pre-teens like to hang out and where we go to watch movies, or 24, etc.

The third tank is the one I watch most often, the one in my office upstairs. It is a 55 gallon tank with a few Barbs and Tetras, some Corydoras Cats, a Red-Tailed Shark, two upside-down African Catfish and two Plecostomus. The Cory Cats, there are six of them and they sometimes tend to herd, they are the James Browns of the tank, the hardest workers. The Barbs and Tetras often school, but the Barbs also engage in many oddball activities. They like to float almost in a headstand, which looks rather odd, and they will also do a mating dance in which they "kiss" and spin in blurring circles. I have also seen them line up to put their bodies in the flow of a bubble stream and be flung up to the top of the tank.

The Red-Tailed Shark likes to "herd" the Tetras and Barbs into the East half of the tank, for some reason. He will chase them into that end, and the ones who do not go willingly he will chase all over the tank until worn out. We really don't know why. He gave up trying to herd the Corys and Plecos and now ignores them as if they don't exist.

My Plecos are both over seven years old and both almost a foot in length each. They have learned to come up to the top of the tank when I open the hood, to get first crack at whatever food is served up. But when it is worm cubes, the Cory Cats have learned to come up to the top of the tank and fight with the Plecos for control of the cubes. These learned behaviors are at odds with the normal behavior of both species. Corys usually stay at or near the bottom of the tank, other than the occasion in which they take a breath. They are abdominal breathers, and once every hour or two they will rise to the top to grab a breath. They resemble "scrubbing bubbles" normally, continually working hard to find something to eat at the bottom of the tank, industriously sticking their noses into every crack in the process. When they want a breath, they wiggle like they are getting incredibly angry, and then shoot up to the surface to take a quick breath and just as quickly dive back down to the bottom.

The Barbs and Tetras have learned to be more aggressive when worm cubes are presented, for if they don't rise to the surface and "hit" the cube they may find that the Plecos and the Corys will get it all. Needless to say, a worm cube or two makes for a big happening in my largest tank. Only the upside-down cats stay out of the fray. They like to move and feed nocturnally even if they are too big to hide out during the day now. They each have a hiding place and their bodies stick out from behind their place now, places that covered them completely when they were only an inch or two long. Do they know or care?

What does this have to do with anything? Not sure, but the fish relax me when I take a bit of time out to watch them. So this post is kind of like an internet version of watching the fish. My mind wants to relax.

I realized today that I have attended nine years of post-high school higher education
classes in my lifetime. Three years of normal, secular universities (at three schools, non-consecutive) and three years of seminary (at one school, consecutive) and three years of technical training ( at four schools, non-consecutive) and out of those nine years, I had to work while going to school during seven of them. I have three certificates and/or degrees from these institutions but my resume in this regard sounds like that of a scion of a rich family who becomes a professional student rather than go out into the real world.

I work in the Internet industry these days. It is dog-eat-dog and it is constantly changing. What you knew last year is generally defunct today. One has to scramble to stay near the cutting edge. There is extra reading to do, seminars, all of that stuff. Hoping that such activities help stave off Alzheimers...

In terms of knowledge, I considered what some of my commenters had said and I will say a few things about that. I know far more about Biology than the average guy, but far less than the average Microbiologist. I know more about Math than the average guy, but less than a Mathematician. In the sciences, I am familiar with them but not a master of any of them. I love History and Literature but don't claim real expertise in either field. I believe it is Dan S who pointed me to a posting by a science writer who warned against going beyond "my tether" in the field of science and it may be that I have, indeed, gone beyond from time to time. I think I have a couple of posters who fervently would agree with that assessment!

My expertise, other than within my profession, likely tilts toward the Bible. I have done a great deal of study of that book and taken classes in the doctrines, the original languages and even the events surrounding the compilation of the texts of that particular book. In addition, I am pretty good at trivia in general, music and sports trivia in particular and can do a reasonable impersonation of a Sabremetrician in baseball. I was reading Bill James before reading Bill James was cool...and that ceased being cool ten years ago.

So how did I wind up with a blog that seems to be mostly about science? (some commenters have called it a "hilarious anti-science blog?") Gee, it seems that creation science is a hobby of mine and because I began posting about that it has turned into the major conversation on the blog. Discussions with Darwinists have taught me a great deal (mostly about Darwinists, but also some of the ideas they have transmitted) and caused me to further study the positions I take and the information I value in this one area. I really had a great post I wanted to make today but being mentally exhausted it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Anyway, to the readers, to the guys who comment, for a minute let us forget our various positions on issues and just be who we are. Hi, I am a father, the lover of a great woman, a friend to a few, a sports nut, a trivia buff, a reader, a lover of movies and music, a writer of poems and songs, a singer (who has been paid to sing in the past, thank you very much), a lecturer (who has been both paid and comped to speak at conferences and events), a grandfather (dude, you must be OLD), a teacher, a writer of sorts (who once used to be paid to write) and owner of a sarcastic quick-wit who loves puns and stupid jokes. My wife and I kid about my current title, "The Mouth Of God" regarding the blog as it now stands. Yeah, I am a big mouth all right. I admit it, though.

I know what it is like to hit the winning home run, and what it is like to miss the shot that would have won a championship. I know what it is like to hold my child immediately after birth and cutting the cord, welcome him or her into the world. I know what it is like to be praised and to be humiliated. To stand before a large crowd and receive thunderous applause. To face the prospect of bankruptcy. To bury a close relative before his time and mourn. Life, right? Ups and downs.

We pass comments back and forth about issues, usually. But for this one day, for this one post, if you have a comment why not tell me WHO you are. Forget your politics (Yes, I am a conservative but you likely knew that) and your scientific stance and all of that. Who are you? One of my commenters turns out to be a gifted artist. Another is a music buff who can rock out on the guitar. Another is a gifted martial artist. Yet another turns out to be able to frame a picture with a camera and make it a piece of art.

Just for today, forget Darwin and Behe and all of those guys. Who are you, what do you love to do? I promise to get back on point tomorrow, really!


creeper said...

Happily married; my wife does volunteer work for a child advocacy organization. Father of two rockin' cool sons, under 10 years old.

I work in the media business and spend most of my time at a computer - which is why I often get sucked into blog conversations. Politically I'm fairly centrist/mixed - in general, fiscally conservative, socially progressive, and not much of a fan of either extreme right or extreme left positions. I avoid echo chambers as much as possible and generally seek out opposing opinions so I can learn more about a subject. I find that when defining a position against an opposing one useful information comes out, and based on the facts presented I either adjust my position or find it confirmed.

Religion: raised Lutheran, now atheist, but not anti-religious. I think religious beliefs can be beneficial on an individual level, and some religious institutions can be beneficial on a community level. "To each his own" is my stance on this.

Areas of interest: writing, cooking, film, mythology, fine whisky.

Music I like: mostly classical music, movie soundtracks, some electronic/trance stuff.

Since we're putting our sabers down for the day, Radar, perhaps I could pick your brains on your area of specialty - the Bible - on a completely unrelated topic:

A friend of mine is working on a piece of fiction that features a character who, after having committed a terrible crime in his teens, turns to both law enforcement and religion with the zeal of the converted. He tracks down criminals but is not interested primarily in punishing them, but instead saving their souls.

So far, would that make sense from a strongly religious position (such as your own), Radar? Even if it is perhaps not a correct or church-approved position (don't know if it is), could it make sense? If not, why not?

To what extent, and under what circumstances, can a Christian reasonably use the "eye for an eye" kind of thinking in the pursuit of hardened criminals (on a scale of, say, the FBI ten most wanted list)? To what extent would he have to, or be able to, balance this with "hate the sin, not the sinner" kind of thinking?

What are some specific Bible references for "eye for an eye" and "hate the sin, not the sinner"? Can you think of any other related cites for either or both of these?

Also, could you point us to some good Bible verses (or specific parts of the Bible) that refer specifically to the treatment of criminals, how their souls can be saved?

To what extent is it essential for a criminal to confess his sins in full?

I think those are all the questions we had for now. Thanks in advance if you can help us with this, Radar.

radar said...

Creeper, you are the rock star of the day! I will make a small post out of this topic, and it really is a great subject. Since one of my sons is a sergeant in the MP's and I have some buddies who are both in law enforcement and are Christians I can assure you that there are many, many people who struggle with the issues you raised. I'll do this today.

Nice to know more about you and your family!

creeper said...

Thank you very much - looking forward to it!

This question is in reference to a piece of fiction, so feel free to use any hypothetical scenario. Specific bible references would be especially useful, since my friend is thinking of alluding to these in the character's dialogue.

I thought this kind of approach to a character was pretty interesting. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a character like it in fiction, or in the movies.

creeper said...

Actually, an example that is very much the opposite springs to mind: the Biblical quote (Ezekiel 25:17) that Sam Jackson spits out in Pulp Fiction before he kills someone, right at the beginning, and that he then pontificates about in the final scene in the diner.

(Most of that quote was made up by Tarantino anyway.)

IAMB said...

Let's see...

Formerly in engineering, decided I liked microbiology better, but planning on going back for anthropology as well sometime in the future because it really appeals to me. After that perhaps something in journalism, if I haven't died by then.

Divorced father of a six year old girl. I also enjoy playing guitar and piano (and occasionally singing). Besides that, I'm a competitive trapshooter who also enjoys frequent dart games and the occasional poker game.

At the moment I work as the safety/sanitation/operations guru for one plant in a large food processing company (not my favorite thing, but I can't complain since they'll keep paying for school as long as I keep doing my job).

I also get great pleasure out of cooking (especially thai), good books and movies.

That should more or less cover it, in short.

radar said...

Creeper, I hope my post provides some fuel for the fiction writer's creative fires.

Oddly enough, my son and I watched "Pulp Fiction" last night. Well, I saw the last half of it, but I have seen it twice before. I usually cannot stomach Tarantino as being just too profane. But I am able to tolerate "Pulp", for it is a bit less profane than anything else of his I have seen (or tried to watch before giving up) and it is IMO a brilliant film.

Say, IAMB, are you a Moby fan by chance?

IAMB said...

Don't really listen to him much, actually. I do need to expand my music collection a bit one of these days. A lot of the time I like a bit heavier stuff, though techno is good if I'm in a rare dancing mood.

Anything from him you'd really suggest, since we're on the subject?

creeper said...


Kill Bill is probably less profane than Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown, but I still think Pulp Fiction is the best one by far.

Juggling Mother said...

Oh well, late to the party as usual!

you can get to know me on my blog if you feel like it - it's a personal journal type thongy, but a brief synopsis:

Mid-30's, marrid, mother of three (5 year old boy, mildly autistic, 2 year old girl, 1 year old girl), from a large, East End london family, I escaped the city less than an hour after my final high-school exam & went off to try and expand my horizons first by travelling, then Uni, then multi-careers, and now through online debating.

Have mostly worked in the leisure industry, then teaching & training, but will probably try something new soon.

Politically I grew up in pseudo communist household, learned that was rubbish very early on, but still have leanings towards left of centre politics. Argue regularly with my mother:-)

religion wise, i was brought up sort of Jewish, but have been a confirmed aetheist since childhood.

I am tone-deaf and have little interest in music - i like it well enough, but am unable to make any value judgements:-)

i have never seen any Tarantino movies - I tried Pulp Fiction twice & gave up after abou 15 mins each time.

i like reading - sci-fi, fantasy, mythology, history & biography, the theatre when I could afford to go:-(, can take or leave film - but Aggie is a big fan, so I try to keep up to date:-)

what else? Oh, i study Law part time, have a tattoo, and spend summer weekends pretending i live in the 14th century.

That probably coveres it. Any questions?

creeper said...


"I hope my post provides some fuel for the fiction writer's creative fires."

Thank you very much - my friend is going through it right now (and very happy with the info) and I'll be talking to him about it shortly. Will probably be commenting on that post then.

Again, thank you very much for the effort.

xiangtao said...

Hmmm, well lets see here

I have a BA in International Studies (German language, lit, and culture) an obsession with learning languages, or anything else that strikes my fancy. It seems that I will be a perpetual student.
My true love is music, which I play, write, and record (samples available at for anyone who might be interested)

Juggling Mother said...

Oh yeah - if we're going for the "what makes me extraodinary" factor, I have coached two Olympic medallists - but sadly many years before they went to the Olympics:-)

(they were already international athletes by the time I left though!)

highboy said...

Married (happily) for 6 years. Wife is studying to be a Christian School Teacher. I'm studying to be a Pastor. Just had our first child.
Served in the Navy. Both of us worked in the restaruant (fast-food) business.

Areas of interest: Football, wrestling, writing, cooking (love seafood, Japanese, Chinese, Thai)

Music: Everything

Ministries past and present: Rape counselling, drug and alcohol counselling, Big Brother, currently working on a ministry geared toward veterans.

Hobbies: Helping my brother, who is a political consultant in Pennsylvania, our home state, hating the Steelers.

xiangtao said...

Since she brought it up (mrs.aginoth that is) I also spent seven years on the USA Gymnastics national team for trampoline and came pretty close to the olympics myself.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says

OK, ok, here I am . . . I'm no good at these things, can't we pass a bowl of m&ms around and say a fact for each m&m or something . . .?

It's fascinating to hear about everybody, though . . .

Ok, me . . .happily and recently married (coming up on one year!) to a wonderful woman, one of the kindest people I know (hey, she married me, after all!); she's a kindergarten teacher in inner-city Philadelphia, and deserves medals. I've bounced around doing various things: majored in archaeology (and let me tell you, it's an amazing feeling to hold something in your hand that last touched human flesh hundreds or thousands of years aogo, and has been lying hidden all that time up to the moment you uncovered it . . .); worked in a tiny family-owned independent bookstore, the kind people stop into for a chat, run into friends, and have the owner greet them with the newest book in a series that they like; worked in a museum; went into teaching (urban middle school), went out of teaching, at least temporarily; currently, among other things, trying to write a children's fantasy novel. Let me stress trying.

Um . . . like Mrs. A., I was brought up kinda Jewish, but have been an atheist since childhood (my parents were nothing so interesting as pseudo-communist, although watching the news during dinner tended to involve many angry remarks about Reagan . . .), and I'll generally agree with creeper in terms of attitudes towards religion. I grew up in the Bronx (spending most of my time in the American Museum of Natural History), but now live in Philly (waves to highboy somewhere - whatever our differences, we agree about the most important thing, that is, Steeler-hatred. Feh!)

I've managed to bring to a wide range of creative hobbies (from painting to poetry) not so much a lack of talent but a kind of negative talent, impressive in its own right. I love cooking (hey, I can make a really good spinach-tofu soup!), gardening, and all sorts of nature-related things like hiking, etc. (Moving all the slate and border stones in the yard the other day, I found quite a few eastern red-backed salamanders - somebody has a good blog post on them here - mostly the lead-backed kind. They look at first glance almost like giant blue-gray earthworms, especially if they're trying to hide, and have tiny little legs that look ridiculously fragile, and don't give a clue to how fast they can move once they get going. A large number have been relocated, and are hopefully doing well.)

We have no children yet, but a cat who we found as a tiny lost baby, and is somewhat oddly socialized due to being brought up by humans (what, the wolf asked her pups, were you raised by humans?!)

Um, politics . . . as I get older I find myself becoming much more conservative; at this point I've moved so far to the right that I'm more or less a liberal Democrat : ) . . . politics-wise, I'm mostly boring, albiet with some slightly odd ideas (I tend to see government as a necessary way of dealing with all the difficulties we face in the modern world due to recent social changes- by which I mean agriculture . . .)

Love music, mostly folky pop, a little electronica, some hip hop, 80s rock, and a good bit of completely uncategorizable stuff . . . have a weakness for Miyazaki movies (ie, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle - It was a pleasure meeting you , even if you are my least favorite vegetable! (can't swear I'm remembering that right) - and so on - oh, the poor kodamas!.), Joss Whedon things (Firefly, Firefly, go rent Firefly! and Serenity!), some BBC stuff (Mrs. A - do you know if Life on Mars is any good?), etc . . I read cereal boxes if that is what's on hand; my bookshelves (of which I have to buy a few more . . .) are full of sci-fi/fantasy books, novels, gardening books, mythology, history, anthro, archaeology, geology, natural history, field guides, bio and paleontology, ed. books, etc.)

Um . . . I have an inexplicable fondness for diet cherry vanilla dr. pepper?


-Dan S.

Juggling Mother said...

I loved Mife on Mars - but more for the fantastic reminders of how far we've progressed in 30 years, and how awful the 70's were (I remember them, but you forget the drab decor, the lack of facilities, the basic technology and the attitudes of people!) than for the slightly dubious plotline.

Not sure how well it will translate to the US - our cultures were further apart then I think. But as a piece of social history it's unparralleled - mostly because it is so easy to watch:-)

creeper said...

I spent my courting days in Philly, on account of my then-girlfriend, now-wife going to college there. Many happy memories. We stopped by last summer - just for a few hours unfortunately - and wandered around the South Street area.

I've been a big Miyazaki fan since about 1990. And even though I've only been there less than a dozen times, I love the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.

radar said...

I noticed that Xiangtao really rocks out....too bad I don't speak latin. I could make out a few of the words. I plead guilty to not wanting to work hard enough to translate the whole thing.

IAMB - ironic, but you should go and check out the Xiangtao link. IAMB is everywhere!

Techno is kind of a musical salt I sprinkle on now and then. Not sure but I guess the Play CD would be my choice.

Dan - They now have berries & cream Diet Dr. Pepper...excellent stuff. If not for DDP I would be stuck with water! Or Diet Pepsi...urk.

Mrs A the coach! Interesting, that. I know what you mean about the 70's although here in the US I would also include massive monoliths known as automobiles that drove like cabin cruisers.

xiangtao said...

Perhaps not so ironic as the names came into being at roughly the same time from the same source (Matt happens to be my brother) and trust me, he's well familiar with the music.

IAMB said...

"Well familiar" is a bit of an understatement.

You really should take the time to translate the lyrics though... they might give you a good laugh.

radar said...

You guys being brothers, that explains it! I suspect the "goat" lyrics are in latin in order to make "mean old fundamentalist Christians" suspect a demonic intent. I still have my Koine Greek textbooks but really in seminary we kind of passed by most of the latin since it was a translation from Hebrew, Aramic and Greek anyway.

Me? I don't think rock music is of the devil. Heck, I have over a hundred CD's of CHRISTIAN ROCK by guys like Keaggy, Guardian, White Heart, etc. I also have a lot of stuff like Robin Trower, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Concrete Blonde and so on. If rock is of the devil I have gone very badly astray.

Anonymous said...

Dan S. says:

creeper: "I've been a big Miyazaki fan since about 1990"
Hey, Disney's recently-ish released/rereleased various things on dvd . . . (as well as trying to piggyback some other Studio Ghibli stuff, I think . . . (it's so odd that they has the U.S. video rights . . .)

Spirited Away was on tv a few weeks ago - one of the days I have to buy it - and seeing it for the somethingnth time, I still think the train journey near the end has to be one of the most beautiful scenes in modern animation. Of course, any film with a daikon (radish) spirit is worth watching just for that . . .

If anybody saw and liked Howl's Moving Castle, the author of the book it's based on (Diana Wynne Jones) has a bunch of fantasy novels for kids and adults out, all of which are great . . .

"And even though I've only been there less than a dozen times, I love the American Museum of Natural History in NYC."
Did you see the old fourth floor - dinosaurs, etc. - before they redid it? Grumble grumble much better the old way grumble grumble all glitz and glitter grumble grumble . . .

Although - oh my, their website has gotten very fancy - if you go on the Hall of Advanced Mammals virtual tour, you can just about see the fossil horses off to the side . .. . : )

I love that place - used to go and just hang out there as a kid. That and the Bronx Zoo . . .

What did you think of recent Philly? I've been told it's changed a good bit (only've been here a few years) . . .

radar - berries & cream diet dr. pepper?! really? I have to try to find some . . .
A while back when they had holiday spice pepsi out I went over to the wawa (non~midatlantic people - like 7-11, buut much cooler) that was across the street from where we were living (a situation directly related to me putting on a good 10 or so pounds at least) to try some. I walked back and came inside drinking it, made what was apparently a hideous face, exclaimed that it was completely disgustin'! . . . and absent-mindedly finished the bottle. Ever since then I'm not sure my wife quite trusts my gustatory judgement . . .

But even that's not as bad as diet pepsi. I can't understand what makes it quite so bad . . . incidentally, coke with green apple syrup is quite good, and has the additional perk of looking like bubbling swamp water . . .
(why does nobody ever take me up on this and try it? I don't understand . . .)

mrs. aginoth - for me, the 70s just are harvest yellow and rust-orange flower-design wallpaper. It would be neat if they made an American version of the show (although that worked so well for Coupling . . .)

I can't get into the new Doctor Who they've started showing on the Sci Fi channel . . . what's up with actual production values? Where are the aliens looking as if they've been made by a talented fifth grader with a pocketful of small change?

-Dan S., being menaced by what appears to be a trash can with a plunger stuck to it . . .

creeper said...

Hi Dan,

"Did you see the old fourth floor - dinosaurs, etc. - before they redid it?"

I used to go there in the 80's, so I'm guessing that was the old way. Do they still have that enormous whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling? Or am I thinking of some other place?

South Street hadn't really changed all that much, I have to say, and from what I saw of the rest of Philly it didn't either.