Sunday, November 25, 2007

The difference between atheists and theists

   Remember a couple of years ago, when the movie The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was coming out? Remember all the atheists trying to organize a boycott of the film in cinemas? Remember all the atheist parents sending letters to their school principals asking for the Narnia books to be pulled from the library shelves? No, you don't remember that?



Maybe that's because it never happened.

   You see, atheists are not afraid of being exposed to ideas contrary to their own. Atheists do not try to shelter their children from media that might suggest points of view that differ from the one they hold. Atheists arrive at their opinions through the use of reason and logic, and are perfectly willing to allow their own children to arrive at their own conclusions the same way..even if those conclusions are different from their own. In fact, atheists actively encourage their children to explore many points of view in order to help them see the world as it is, not as we would have it be.

   That's the difference.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A fifth of 100 movies

   Here is the fifth set of ten of the 100 movies I really like, which, in case you're bad at math, brings us to the halfway point. Unlike Jaquandor, from whom I stole this meme, I have made no attempt to order or rank these in any way. In fact, I applied a random number generator to my initial list in order to ensure the movies appeared in no specific order. Yeah, I know, kinda geeky.
   Anyway, here are the first four segments of this list, in case anyone is interested:
      Part the first
      Part the second
      Part the third
      Part the fourth

The Sixth Sense - I watched this movie with my wife. I had heard the big spoiler about it. She had not. It was like we watched two different movies. It ceratinly made for an interesting discussion afterwards. Of course, then we had to watch it all over again, so she could see all the 'clues' I had picked up on, because I knew to look for them.

Shanghai Noon - Sure it's silly, but it's silly in a good way. Wilson and Chan play off each other quite well. Funny line: Chan's character is named Chon Wang. Wilson's character mishears it as "John Wayne," and tells him that's a terrible cowboy name, and he should change it... I guess you had to be there.

Memento - You can read about this movie all you want, but you won't really understand what people are saying about it unless you watch it. It is filmed in a non-linear fashion, with one storyline progressing forward and one progressing backward until they meet in an unexpected fashion. I really, really enjoyed this one, and highly recommend it.

The Iron Giant - "I Superman!" We saw this in the theater when it first came out. I think it was one of the first movies we took Matthew to see. He was quite young. We had no idea it was going to end the way it did. He cried for hours.

Ruthless People - Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold and Helen Slater pretty much do the best they can here, but they are outshone by Danny Devito like the sun outshines the moon. The man was inspired in this film. I'm giggling here just thinking about it.

Monsters Inc. - Pixar again. 'Nuff said.

Ice Age - Pretty much my favourite thing about this movie was the short featuring the prehistoric squirrell going after the acorns. Follows the Pixar formula: well known comic actors voicing the characters, and top notch animation bring an excellent story to life.

Titan: AE - Holy cow! This is the animation edition of this list, I think. Titan:AE is notable because it is well done conventional animation in a CGI world. Excellent sound on this if you have a surround system.

Back to the Future - "One point twenty-one jigawatts? ONE POINT TWENTY-ONE JIGAWATTS!!??" Michael J. Fox was the big star at the time, but Christopher Lloyd carries this movie with his slightly loopy antics. Kramer owes just about every gag he ever did to Lloyd.

Bull Durham - I love the Crash Davis character portrayed by Kevin Costner in this film. He seems so real, so grounded, so at ease with himself. If I were Susan Sarandon, I'd have said, "oh, my!" as well.

<< previous ten                    next ten >>

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let's try this again, shall we?

   So, I was casting about at the grocery store for vegetable ideas yesterday afternoon. I'm not much of a fan of vegetables, so I try to find new and different ways to prepare them that might actually, you know, have some flavour. I decided to try a carrot dish.
   Now, I didn't actually buy any carrots, or any other ingredients for the vegetable dish for that matter. I figured I had everything I needed at home. I picked up some Italian sausages and some portobello mushrooms to grill, though.
   When I got home, I realized that the carrots I had in the fridge were rather old and grungy, so I had to do something else. Luckily there were a couple of fresh zucchinis in there from the weekend. I had originally intended to just saute up some slivered carrots in lots of butter, onions and garlic, but when the recipe morphed over to courgettes, it kind of grew in the process. Here's what I did:

Spicy Thai (sort of) stir fried zucchini

Zucchini (Duh!)
Shallots (or your choice of onion)
Asian chili sauce or paste
maple syrup (if you don't have any maple syrup, any kind of sugar will probably do - I just like to substitute maple syrup everywhere sugar is called for because it tastes so damn good)
sesame oil
peanut oil

   I cut the zucchini in to sections about two inches long, cut those in half lengthwise, and then sliced them to get pieces that were rectangular (about 1x2 inches) instead of round. Just my own little ideosyncrasies about cooking; I dislike round slices. Never mind.

   Thinly slice shallots and garlic. In a pan, put a drizzle of sesame oil and a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil (if you're alergic, substitute your own light oil of choice). Heat the oil on medium-high until a drop of water sizzles then add the garlic and shallots. Stir fry for a few moments. Before the garlic and onions start to brown, add the zucchini. Stir fry until zucchini just starts to soften then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir together juice of half a lime, a little bit of chili sauce (to taste), and about a teaspoon of maple syrup. Pour over vegetables in pan and allow to simmer for a couple more minutes.
   Done! Plate and serve. Pat and I found it very yummy. Your milage may vary. Let me know.

   While you're eating, here's the Wikipedia article on zucchini. I found it fascinating.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You lose

    Grrr! I was writing a post about a delicious dish I created for dinner tonight, and, through an inadvertant mouse click, I navigated away from my edit entry page. When I clicked 'back' I returned to an empty text box, and no amount of cajoling (read swearing) would bring my words back. Now I'm just too damn mad to rewrite what I had, so you all miss out on my yummy stir fried zucchini recipe. Unless I cool down enough, and the muse retakes my soul (gak).


Monday, November 5, 2007

Tech support

   An actual telephone conversation I had today...

Paul: I'm having difficulty setting up my new wireless router.

Tech Support Person: May I have your e-mail address please.

Paul: My email address is

TSP: And how do you have the router connected?

Paul: I have the computer connected to the router and the router connected to the Comtrend AOL DSL modem.

TSP: And what kind of modem is it?

Paul: Uh, it's a Comtrend AOL DSL modem.

TSP: And who is your ISP?

Paul: ...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

If I had a million dollars...

   The Wired blog, and Gizmodo have been watching a bit of drama unfold between the James Randi Educational Foundation, a high end audio cable company, and an audiophile magazine editor. For the JREF, it's business as usual. Hotshot shoots his mouth off. JREF accepts his application for the $1,000,000 dollar challenge. Hotshot discovers exactly what "proper observing conditions" means. Hotshot starts backpedalling, and trying to needlessly complicate his application. Hotshot withdraws from the challenge.
   James Randi has seen this drama played out a thousand times, or more. But for many, it's all new. After watching the current "hotshot" play his hand, the Wired blog posted this article:

10 Tips For Dealing With James Randi: Claim Your Million Today!

A couple of pertinent excerpts:
• Don't lose your temper. Don't get into preliminary cockfighting. Randi is a master at delivering insults and responding to communications in such a way as to make you look foolish. Before test protocol negotiations have even begun, anything you say will already have been used against you. The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge is as public a spectacle as there is, and the chances are that between you and him, only one of you has a half-century's experience as a professional showman.

 • Don't forget what you're getting yourself into: boring, exhaustive testing by people who think you're full of shit. If you go into it thinking it's going to be a cute studio one-shot in front of Johnny Carson, imagine what happened to Uri Geller happening to you twenty times. If you can't pull off your trick/power/feat with statistically significant results outside of Randi's lair,going inside of it is simply idiotic.
   My personal favourite, though, is the last point:
• Do have paranormal powers. In fact, fulfilling this one suggestion lets you ignore all the others, and all but guarantees the cash will be yours. What are you waiting for?
   That last one underlines the holes in all the arguments Randi's detractors use. The simple truth is, if these people could actually do what they claimed, no more, just exactly what they claimed, then the one million dollar prize would have been won long ago.