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Just playground tactics, no "rabbit in a hat" tricks, just that ol' classic rap shit from Jurassic. [09 Feb 2008|10:52am]
I'm preparing for my upcoming physics 422 (electrodynamics) exam. So far the assignments have just been ridiculously hard; ten or so of the brighter students in the honours program (and I) take about two weeks to go through one, using nearly all of our spare time. This compares with the pleasant afternoon grinds through the 330b (complex math) assignments. I was told what was on the midterm last year and it was a little over the top.

The real downside (aside from possibly bombing the exam and having to drop the course) is that I won't be able to make it to Anon Scientology* protest in Vancouver tomorrow. I probably didn't have enough time to pick up the Guy Fawkes mask anyhow. Oh well, time to get to work.

* Scientology Links:
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[19 Jan 2008|01:03am]
The Latest Emily: People should be thankful [that they're put in Guantanamo Bay] and not being sent somewhere worse.
Me: Land of the Free.
E: We [Americans] get the job done.
M: Huh....

Chock another Emily up there.
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Fascinating [16 Jan 2008|10:17pm]
This video shows the excavation of an Ant Colony. The structure of the city and the scale of the project are truly remarkable.
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Good Answer [11 Jan 2008|11:53am]
Someone pointed out that most of the Republican presidential hopefuls don't deserve to run for high school hall monitor. I agree, but I have to say that Ron Paul is the exception. While I don't support all of his views, he sticks out like a sore thumb as the most intelligent and honest man on that stage by a country mile.

The original comment that I saw with this sums it up: "The pitcher aims for his head and he knocks the ball out of the park."
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[10 Jan 2008|11:59pm]
This sums up my thinking on the matter rather nicely.

If you haven't been to see Edge.org's annual question, go check it out. Basically, a wide variety of academics publish their thoughts on various matters. I'm too tired to explain, but it's always worth the read.
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More Tired Ramblings [10 Jan 2008|10:58pm]
Today was pretty decent. I have a slight grasp on what's going on in particle physics and a reasonable understanding of my E&M, although the homework for the latter looks far, far harder than the homework for the former. This scares me. I need to decide if I'll have enough time to do both and work, or if I should drop one or the other (and if so, which). If I could do both that would be awesome, but I'm not sure if I can really handle grinding through that many monstrous, tedious assignments. Huh. I'm getting pretty burned-out.

If you decide to try Lord of the Rings Online, roll a hobbit. The shire is a much more interesting place to start out than crappy ol' Elfville. Man, I'm finding that game quite boring.

Coworker 1: So, I'm just finishing my psychology degree.
Me: Awesome! What are you doing it in?
C1: A mix of things, but I'm applying to grad school for spiritual psychology.
M: Seriously? Spiritual psychology? You mean neurotheology or something similar?
C1: No, transpersonal psychology.
M: Oh ... uhm....
C1: Anyhow, will you help me pick out a photo for my grad portfolio?
M: Sure.
(Rummaging through her photos.)
M: This one, definitely this one!
C1: Why that one?
M: Because you can clearly make out the collective unconscious in the background. See?
(Queue Benny Hill music.)

Coworker 2: Hey Mike, do you know a lot about quantum physics?
Me: A little, why?
C2: How much is a little?
Me: All of the undergrad stuff, including honours.
C2: Okay, good. So I was wondering: does quantum theory prove that dreams are as real as reality?
Me: I don't think so, what do you mean?
C2: You know, we're made of molecules, right?
Me: Sure....
C2: And our souls control where those are placed, right?
Me: Not to my knowledge, no....
C2: Okay, but like ... you know when you're dreaming and you forget your waking life?
Me: Yeah sure.
C2: Well ... and your soul controls where your molecules are...
Me: I really don't see how this connects to quantum mechanics....
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Lacking Sleep [10 Jan 2008|07:22am]
Every morning at 7am I realize again in a most visceral way that I'm most emphatically not a morning person.

Yesterday was spent up at UVic. I had intended to get some work done in both my math and particle physics classes, but I only ended up getting the math done after arguing with the people at the pro-life booth for nearly an hour and a half. It's odd asking someone who is trying to "inform" others on the topic of abortion if they believe that a blastocyst constitutes human life, only to be asked: "what in the heck is a blastocyst?"

[Edited when I caught myself spelling, 'blastocyst' as 'blasticyst'. Go team!]
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[06 Jan 2008|10:14am]
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Yarly. [05 Jan 2008|12:47pm]
Only a few more days of solid work before I get into solid school work and experience bij again. And by 'bij' I mean poverty. Trying to get the new site together in time is proving to be kind of a bonky experience.

Last night Jenn, John and I met up after work and enjoyed some Lotus Pond before heading back to our place for some Flight of the Conchords and Tetris. Actually, we stopped by John's place first. His apartment building is so interesting. There are all of these covered, carpeted hallways that look as though they are indoor hallways, but in fact open up directly to the outside in little covered walkways. I've never seen anything like it. The place is quite neat.

Anyhow, I'm off to get ready for work (I get to work with Pema, which I'm looking forward to).
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Sweeney Todd [02 Jan 2008|12:46am]
After spending a New Year's dinner with my mom and Jenn, Jenn and I met up with Fairen and Eric to watch Sweeny Todd (the latest from Tim Burton). I have to say that I really enjoyed it. I wasn't familiar with the musical going in--I've been living under a rock for all intents and purposes lately--and it hit me off-guard. It was witty, gorey, subtle (at points) and dark, with beautiful visuals and strong performances from all involved.

I wanted to mention also that Silver City is kind of a depressing place. There's something about the cheapness, the pop songs playing over the techno from the arcade machines and the neon lights that lends the place a really unsettling air.
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It's Been Busy [01 Jan 2008|01:50pm]
[ mood | Foggy ]

So much has been happening. First, I want to thank Nick and Esme for the party invite and vegan pâté. That was very thoughtful. Much math and music talk was had and enjoyed. Second, the shindig at Rachel and Geoff's place last night was tons of fun. I don't think that there could have been a larger showing of acoustic guitars outside of a Mogwai unplugged show. I met a fellow who I'd been through a war with. (And who said there are no foxhole atheists?) Also, discussing Middle Eastern Politics (of which I am trying to be a little less in the dark about, but after avoiding politics for so long it's hard to get educated overnight) with Rachel was quite fun.

I've been trying to do some reading as well, mostly some textbooks for next semester (complex variables and particle physics) but I've been especially enjoying Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. I feel that I'm a little less of a pessimist in the longer term since I've read it. Chris read to me a little section of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it was incredible, so I have to add that in somewhere. I sometimes wish that I weren't so woefully illiterate, having spent so much time grinding my knees to dust on my skateboard while my friends were reading the classics. So I have that to fit in and Dennet's Breaking the Spell. There's a lot more here, especially in relation to Kurzweil's book, but I'll have to save that for later.

After working nearly every day, I've managed to save up enough for rent, groceries and I'm pretty much right on budget for paying school fees. Hooray for personal finance roller-coasters!

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[25 Nov 2007|01:13pm]
Some friends of mine (Graham and the LRR crew) are raising money for Child's Play (a charity that donates toys and games for children's hospitals) by playing Penn & Teller's Desert Bus mini game (from Smoke & Mirrors). If you are a gaming nerd, you probably already know about it. If not, the game is to drive a bus from Arizona to Las Vegas in real time, without going over 45 miles per hour. Once you get to Las Vegas, you get a point, turn around and drive back to Arizona. It takes 8 hours to play one way, is the most boring video game of all time, and the LRR boys are grinding it out. So far they've raised ~$8000 for the charity.

Go here and check it out.
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The Stock Price of HAL [25 Nov 2007|01:12am]
The past few weeks have been a mix of incredible slacking and dashing madly through chapters of my textbooks in order to race through assignments. It's payed off, I'm holding at ~90% on my assignments for both classes. Still, I'm (once again) completely fucking bombing my easy course (honours quantum) and killing my hard course (E&M). I'm thinking that perhaps I should adopt the opposite strategy of my GPA concerned friends: avoid like the plague those classes dubbed "easy" and only take the "hard" ones. Otherwise I might not make it into grad school!

Iran: Where Is It?
Over a conversation with a friend a few nights ago, the realization that war with Iran was almost inevitable struck me pretty hard. Even the senate and Hillary Clinton are on board with this one, and she's the front-runner here. My friend informed me of a Republican debate where the candidates were responding to questions about the use of nuclear force against Iran, to halt its nuclear weapons program and they said that, "if they had to, they'd use it." All except one, Ron Paul, who asked if they had gone mad, apparently.

While I don't claim to be the most politically well-informed, I like to think that I can follow simple logical arguments (I know my detractors would object here, but grant me this tentatively for the sake of argument).

The strongest apologists (that I've found so far) for the position of attacking Iran have informed me that immediate war is necessary against a mostly defenseless nation, that hasn't attacked anyone in the last century, for four reasons:

1) They might be able to develop nuclear weapons by 2017 ... at the earliest. (Oh dear lord, this one alone calls for immediate assault! That's less than ten years away!! Diplomacy has failed! Bomb them now before they kill us all!!)

2) They are going to start a ground war with Israel. No, really. A ground war with Israel. Look at a map and try to picture how that would happen.

3) Some guy named 'Ahmadinejihad', whose name they can't spell (although they mostly agree that 'Jihad' is in there). I think that they mean this guy:

That's right, this fellow, Ahmadinejad, who can't find a suit his size (he always looks to me like he's just raided a thrift store), the translation and meaning of whose speeches we can't even agree on (granted, he appears to be a deluded dick re: civil liberties, homosexuality and the holocaust). But all of this is beside the point, because he's basically a powerless puppet-head anyhow. Death to the thrift store shoppers!

4) Civil rights abuses due to Sharia law. Well, yes, we can all hopefully agree that stoning people to death for adultery/being raped is a terrible thing indeed. But does this validate launching an air strike that is going to kill tens of thousands of innocent people?

Not to worry though, it'll be a surgical air strike and over quite quickly, we are reassured. As my friend said: "sounds like we've heard that one before ... but when?"

So again, I don't claim to be the expert here. If someone can think of a reasonable motivation for going to war with Iran, I'm all ears. What do you think?
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[21 Nov 2007|07:30pm]
Pathetic. I can only assume that this will backfire from the get-go, exposing the holes in their arguments more clearly than before.

When Ben Stein talks like this I can't tell if he's just honestly incredibly ignorant about science or if he's the sort of scum that is lying through his teeth about it while trying to sell to the fundy market. Given that many of the scientists in this movie were lied to about the nature of the interview....

Link to a critique.
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The Future of Science Fiction [17 Nov 2007|06:50pm]
Somehow in between working on my assignments and watching snippits of Woody Allen flicks I missed having my daily Earl Grey. This devastating blow was perhaps more than compensated for when I found what very well may be the future of Sci-Fi.

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Just more filler. [13 Nov 2007|10:41pm]
I have been discussing things elsewhere, I'll post some of the stuff in here if I get around to it.

From another board.Collapse )
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[04 Nov 2007|05:17pm]
While I'm here, I'd just like to leave a link to what may be the greatest movie created by humans: Slumber Party Massacre 2.

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[04 Nov 2007|05:08pm]
A few months earlier, for horror movie night, we had rented A Nightmare On Elm St. 3. Sadly, the DVD didn't begin with the Dokken music video.

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Ah, religion and morality. [03 Nov 2007|12:49pm]
Fox News was reporting on some Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia. The chap was giving advice on how to beat one's wife. Charming. I love how, although he talks about the women being human beings, he is distinguishing how they should be beaten differently than an animal--also considered property. Thank goodness that they have this solid religious foundation for morality, or those women would really be in trouble.

Oh, and before it's mentioned: yes, I'm aware of the spots in the Qu'ran that talk about kindness to women. The trouble is, for every verse like this:
Sura (30:21) "And of His signs is this. He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy..."

There's a verse like this:
Sura (4:34) - "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
Yes, surely....

Still, something feels a little suspect here. This has been going on for a very long time and Fox hasn't commented on it before.... I realize that these quotes are from Saudi Arabia, but ... it seems like the war machine is gearing up for Iran, I wonder if this has something to do with that?

"Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore," he tells the men to tell their wives. "If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly.

"He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child -- slapping them right and left.

"Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this."

Classy guy.
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[01 Nov 2007|11:40pm]
I didn't even know that it's World Vegan Day. That's no problem, because I still have nineteen minutes to celebrate with some manner of cruelty free soy meat substitute. Tobacon? Tofurkey? Tochik'n McNuggets? Tokidney?

Seriously though.... I went out this evening to Pierrot Le Fou:

I enjoyed it, but I always wonder if Godard isn't a bit sexist. He seems too bright for it, but hey.... I suppose bright people are generally the best at selling all manner of casuistry to themselves. Or maybe his films are just making a statement about people's commodification of each other, in the same way that he makes other Marxist comments? That's got to be it, actually.

I'm doing really, really well (~A) in E&M and terribly in quantum. Bah! I was writing my midterm on nine hours of sleep over three nights. Still, no excuse for failing it.

Oh well, eleven minutes left in World Vegan Day, I'd best make good use of what little time's left.
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