So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Ethnicity. that of my father and his father before him
Location Altadena, CA
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The Link To Zanzibar's Past
This is my page in the beloved art community that my sister got me into:
Extra points for people who know what Samarinda is.
The Phases of the Moon Module
The Tree and the Telephone Pole
I Do Not Know Their Names
Today I am Young
A Night Poem
Siren of the Sea
If I Were a Dragon
To the Dreamers Leave the Sky
The Honor of the Oyster
Return From San Diego
A Late Summer's Night
Of Dragons and Men
The Edge of the World
The Snake's Terror
Metaphysics and the Middaymoon
Of Adventures in Foreign Lands
The Rogue Wave: The Unedited Version
Adventures in the PRC
Voyage of Discovery
Drinking the Blood of Goats
Ticket for a Phantom Bus
Os peixes nadam o mar
Three Villages Far Away
The River Weser
Children I Should Have Kidnapped, Part I
Let's Get You Out of Those Clothes
If Underwear Could Speak
Croc Hunter/Combat Wombat
Only My Favorite Baseball Player EVER
Aw, Larry Walker, how I loved thee.
M: Science and Exploration
T: Cook a nice dinner
Th: Parties, movies, dinners
F: Picnics, the Louvre
S: Read books, go for walks, PARKOUR
Su: Philosophy, Religion
The Reading List
This list starts Summer 2006
A Crocodile on the Sandbank
Tales of the Alhambra (in progress)
Dark Lord of Derkholm
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
The Lost Years of Merlin
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (in progress)
Atlas Shrugged (in progress)
A Long Way Gone (story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone- met the author! w00t!)
The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time
From Magma to Tephra (in progress)
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Harry Potter 7
The No. 1 Lady's Detective Agency
Introduction to Planetary Volcanism
A Child Called "It"
Is Multi-Culturalism Bad for Women?
Americans in Southeast Asia: Roots of Commitment (in progress)
What's So Great About Christianity?
Aeolian Dust and Dust Deposits
The City of Ember
The People of Sparks
When I was in Cuba, I was a German Shepard
The Golden Compass
Clan of the Cave Bear
The 9/11 Commission Report (2nd time through, graphic novel format this time, ip)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Animorphs #23: The Pretender
Animorphs #25: The Extreme
Animorphs #26: The Attack
A Journey to the Center of the Earth
A Great and Terrible Beauty
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
To Sir, With Love
Alice in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Hunger Games
Shadows and Strongholds
The Jungle Book
Beatrice and Virgil
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
No One Ever Told Us We Were Defeated
The Name of the Wind
Tao Te Ching
What Paul Meant
Lao Tzu and Taoism
Sand and Sandstones
Lost Christianites: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew
The Science of God
Great Contemporaries, by Winston Churchill
City of Bones
Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne
Stranger in a Strange Land
The Old Man and the Sea
Flowers for Algernon
Au Bonheur des Ogres
The Road to Serfdom
De La Terre ŗ la Lune (ip)
In the Light of What We Know
Devil in the White City
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
How to Be a Good Wife
A Mote in God's Eye
want to read: Last Hunger Games Book, Honeybee Democracy, The Bell Jar
Thursday. 10.26.06 10:54 pm
::Not-so-near collision with drunk girl on the sidewalk who was weaved into my path suddenly because she was drunk and looking backwards and not watching where she was going::
Me: oh! Sorry.
Her: OMG! Ride your bike on the street why don't you!
Me: Or you could not take up the entire sidewalk, you stupid, drunk bitch.
Ok, so I didn't actually say that. But I was thinking it really really hard in her direction.
Sunday. 10.22.06 10:17 pm
For some reason when I look at my "Writings" page, the text of the writing goes off the side of screen and you can't read whatever was written on the rightmost side of the page. How can I fix that? I tried adjusting the code after
But I can't figure it out.
I'm mad at my friend because he promised to come to breakfast and meet my mom today and then he totally cancelled like a loser. He didn't even call me to cancel-- he called my other friend who was coming. Funny how people you rather like make you more angry when they're flakey than people you don't like as much. It's like you like them, so you want them to do right and live up to your expectations. If you don't like them, you're just like ok, whatevs, culaterzman. Lame. The other day in Geophysics we learned about the so-called Lame Constants, named for Frenchman Gabriel Lame. HAHAHA. I couldn't help laughing until I was going to die. My geophysics prof didn't think it was funny at all. What can I say, that happens to me a lot.
My mom and I had a really fun weekend though, we went out on a motor boat in the bay with my roommates and motored all the way across the state. Then we docked the boat and had lunch, then got back on the boat and motored away. My roommates over-heated the motor, bottomed out, almost killed the battery.... it was exciting. It's always a good idea to go boating with a bunch of people who don't know anything about boats and don't have life jackets.
Pale Blue Dot
Sunday. 10.22.06 11:36 am
It occured to me, in thinking about the nature of the human soul and its place within the chemistry, biology, and genetics of the physical Earth, to think about what it would feel like to discover that the soul is just a strange artifact of a mutation in the genetic code, and, with a centrifuge and some plastic and glass lab equipment you could remove it, and grow a person without one; or remove the part of the brain that gave that impression from a person who grew up having it. If in fact God himself was simply an artifact of the odd chemistry of the human mind, which for some reason wants to make us believe that He exists.
What if Life on Earth is alone in the great expanse of the Universe (or multi-verse! that's for another post!), and our feelings that we aren't alone here are as accidental as life itself. It would be ironic, really, for life to arise, live for several billion years, and then be eventually extinguished in another 4.6 billion years when the Sun becomes exhausted and dies. Why? Because no one would be around to witness it. No one would laugh at us for thinking that life had a purpose. No one would chortle at the idea that we believe our emotions were our own and not the result of a short-lived chemical imbalance. No one would witness the passing of a billion lifetimes, the births and deaths of a trillion individual people.... not even to come here too late and examine what we left behind.
I don't think that's true, but it's trippy to think about it that way, isn't it?
Thinking like that recalls for me some things that Carl Sagan said. If you meet pretty much any astronomer, chances are that he's obsessed with Carl Sagan. The people of my generation don't really understand the obsession, but Carl Sagan did have some interesting things to say. I'll just rip the thing I found just now when I was looking for the exact quote for the name of this entry whole-sale from where I found it, which was http://www.bigskyastroclub.org/pale_blue_dot.htm
On October 13, 1994, the famous astronomer Carl Sagan was delivering a public lecture at his own university of Cornell. During that lecture, he presented this photo:
The photo above was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990 as it sailed away from Earth, more than 4 billion miles in the distance. Having completed it primary mission, Voyager at that time was on its way out of the Solar System, on a trajectory of approximately 32 degrees above the plane of the Solar System. Ground Control issued a command for the distant space craft to turn around and, looking back, take photos of each of the planets it had visited. From Voyager's vast distance, the Earth was captured as a infinitesimal point of light (between the two white tick marks), actually smaller than a single pixel of the photo. The image was taken with a narrow angle camera lens, with the Sun quite close to the field of view. Quite by accident, the Earth was captured in one of the scattered light rays caused by taking the image at an angle so close to the Sun. Dr. Sagan was quite moved by this image of our tiny world. Here is an enlargement of the area around our Pale Blue Dot and an excerpt from the late Dr. Sagan's talk:
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
Sunday. 10.22.06 11:06 am
Indeed, the fact that so many different kinds of life share so much genetic code is one of the main reasons that scientists believe that life only originated once, and therefore that all life has descended from a single ancestor. If life had originated more than once on the Earth in different places, there is a high probability that a lot of our genetic code (especially the "filler" code, that is there but doesn't appear to actually do anything) would be different depending on which group you and your species was descended from. But then the question has to be- why didn't life arise several times?
The Earth was born about 4.6 billion years ago. Signs of life on the Earth appeared soon thereafter... in fact, signs of life, in the form of trace fossils, can be seen in the record almost as far back as the record goes. Now of course the record doesn't go back until 4.6 billion years- because of the Earth's extremely active lithosphere, old rocks are eroded, metamorphosed, buried, melted, and subducted to the point that we can't find many rocks much older than about 3.5, and most of those are metamorphosed igneous rocks, meaning that they were rocks cooled directly from magma, which wouldn't contain evidence of life anyway, which were then distorted so much that even if it did it couldn't be recognized.
The point of this whole discussion being that in the conditions of early Earth, life must have arisen fairly quickly, in terms of geological time. I mean, we're talking a couple hundred million years after the Earth was formed. Plus, you have to reserve a fair amount of time for life to evolve to its simplest form: the one-celled organism. A one-celled organism, though much simpler than say, a human being, is so complex in its use of DNA, RNA, permeable membrane and all of their counterparts, that it must have taken a fair amount of time to develop that level of complexity itself. It must have taken time to, as they hypothesize, absorb structures like mitochondira and chloroplasts from being independent organisms into the cell as we know it today. That suggests that life, in the environment of the early Earth, was fairly easy to make. Otherwise, statistically, we would have to call upon long time scales to explain how something that is not easy to do by chance ended up happening anyway. So if life was fairly easy to make in this environment, why was it made only once? It would make more sense that in the time where it was easy to make life, life originated in many places at several difference times. It could be that it did arise several times, and our style of life (using DNA and RNA and so forth) was so much more successful that it outcompeted every type of life into extinction before we even had a record of it.
It could just be that yes, it was a huge longshot and life isn't really that easy to create, and it just so happened that things went just right and life was created early on in Earth's history. I mean, it only has to happen once. We don't have any other case studies right now. The key would be to find a banana that didn't share 50-60% of our genetic coding- that would be the truly amazing discovery, because then it would suggest that that banana evolved and originated completely separately from all other forms of life. But no such banana has ever been found.......
You=Genetically related to a banana
Tuesday. 10.17.06 10:20 pm
Just so you know, you also share like 38% of your genetic code with a common banana.
*edit: No, you guys are right, it really is more like 50-60%
But you do have to give the banana credit by understanding that the banana's genes carry the instructions for the entire plant.
The Human Genome Project
Tuesday. 10.17.06 6:45 pm
So. I talked to my friend Route 66. She works for the government in an underground lab on a military base outside of Washington DC, in the field of molecular biology. A lot of the people in her research group were on the human genome project. She was telling me the story of a woman who had an illness which resulted in the doctor's deciding that she needed a partial lobotomy. They gave her one, but it had unintended consequences. She felt like there was another being close to her, a presence that was right next to her skin. Sometimes it was below her, sometimes next to her, but she couldn't get rid of it and obviously it was freaking her out. The doctors and scientists took careful note of when she felt the presence and where it was, and they were finally able to determine that the presence was really just her own self, and the partial lobotomy had adjusted her awareness of self so that it wasn't working quite right and she imagined herself to be some several inches to the right or left of where she actually ended. In doing this, and knowing what part of the brain she'd lost, the doctors and scientists were able to narrow down the part of the brain that controls the sense of self- where you imagine your "self"- (your soul, if you will) in relation to your body. Which is really weird because if you can isolate the self (and distort it), what else could you possibly isolate and distort?
Route 66 was also telling me how amazing it is how close the DNA of humans and chimpanzees are. I mean, you've all heard "98%", but think about that... think about the billions and billions of base pairs that go into the human genome... you could go for a million base pairs and they'd all be the same. So what makes humans different from apes? The church wants to know- what gives humans a soul, while chimps do not have one? What separates man from the animals? Well that's a good question... a big difference between humans and apes is the fact that chimps have 24 chromosomes and humans have 26. Not too long ago everyone thought we had 24, but they figured out it was 26. So 26 chromosomes, eh? That means that in the past, the last two chromosome pairs must have split in the case of humans, or maybe more likely fused in the case of chimps. The Catholic church says that this fact could reconcile the Church with evolution, because perhaps it was at this time that God imbued man with a soul, making him in his own image, and leaving the chimps without one. This might suggest that the capacity for a soul was coded into those base pairs at the center of the last two chromosomes, which were destroyed when they merged with the other ones in chimps to make 24. Well, that simply means that the soul, or at least the coding for it, can be found on a particular chromosome pair, hidden in a particular sequence of genes.
HOW FUCKED UP WOULD THAT BE?!?!!?!?
So if it were indeed true that the coding for your soul was part of your genetic make-up, you could obstensibly figure out where it was coded. Then you could obstensibly test your theory by modifying that part of the genome.
Or removing it.
I wonder who would be the first to volunteer for that experiment?
Moral of the story:
1. Science is amazing
2. Though the human mind is infinitely curious, there are some things that we never, ever, really want to know.
3. Route 66 is like the most interesting person ever
*note*. Route 66 and I decided that, upon the isolation of the soul from the human genome, we might be tempted to throw ourselves out the nearest window/off the nearest cliff. If we can be restrained, we might move into the mountains into caves and never speak to anyone ever again. You are welcome to join us as long as you stay at an appropriate distance such that none of us ever catches sight of any of the others ever again.
I am a PC MD
Tuesday. 10.10.06 12:01 am
I'm proud of myself right now because I had a terrible, crippling virus on my computer last night at this time, and now it seems gone. It probably isn't gone, but at least I got the computer back working again. I deleted EVERYTHING. Even DivX and AIM and RealPlayer and Quicktime and itunes... everything. I'll have to reintroduce them one by one. I also threw away the music that I had downloaded which probably gave me the viruses. I love those songs, that's why I waded back into this piracy, virus-filled-territory to get them. I missed them that much. I was going to stop after getting them back and get back out of Limewire as soon as possible. But it wasn't soon enough, because the viruses got me. I am particularly going to miss "Les Feuilles Mortes" by Edith Piaf and "Songs about Rain" by some country artist. I'd been hankering for those two forever. These songs and all of the songs and audio files helpful for movie-making are really hard to come by except illegally, because they aren't recent and they aren't marketed by a record company. The new Napster and itunes is really only good for mainstream new stuff. Sigh. The songs are sitting there in my recycle bin. I could just pull them out, right now. It's possible that they're clean and the virus-covered files were the ones that I played yesterday before I realized they were empty or faulty. Maybe I'll just back up my entire system and then try it. But somehow, superstitiously, I attribute my ability to beat the virus in part to righting the wrongs I had committed by pirating the songs in the first place- and secondly from the fact that I went out and bought a CD. Death Cab For Cutie gets the money that I had been denying Edith Piaf.
I made my first writing. If you read it you'll likely surmise that I'm slightly off my rocker, no doubt. I tried to write it a little bit in the format of the Greek philosophers so it would seem more like an essay on metaphysics, which is kind of exactly what it is. Yeah, that's what I waste my time doing when I should be studying the formation of wrinkle ridges on the moon inside a 13-floor library on your average gorgeous Saturday.
Saturday. 10.7.06 11:36 pm
This gives me goosebumps all over my body:
"Wer reitet so sp√§t durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er fa√üt ihn sicher, er h√§lt ihn warm.
WHO rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.-
Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht? -
Siehst, Vater, du den Erlk√∂nig nicht?
Den Erlenk√∂nig mit Kron und Schweif? -
Mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif. -
"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Elf-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Elf-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."-
"Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir!
Gar sch√∂ne Spiele spiel ich mit dir;
Manch bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch g√ľlden Gewand."
"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."-
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und h√∂rest du nicht,
Was Erlenk√∂nig mir leise verspricht? -
Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind;
In d√ľrren Bl√§ttern s√§uselt der Wind. -
" My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Elf-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."-
"Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn?
Meine T√∂chter sollen dich warten sch√∂n;
Meine T√∂chter f√ľhren den n√§chtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein."
" Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."
Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort
Erlk√∂nigs T√∂chter am d√ľstern Ort? -
Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau:
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau. -
"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Elf-King his daughters has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."-
"Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine sch√∂ne Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch ich Gewalt."
Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt fa√üt er mich an!
Erlk√∂nig hat mir ein Leids getan! -
" I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty,dear boy!
and if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Pull sorly the Elf-King has hurt me last." -
Dem Vater grausets, er reitet geschwind,
Er h√§lt in Armen das √§chzende Kind,
Erreicht den Hof mit M√ľhe und Not;
In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.
The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,--
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.-"
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
found on http://members.tripod.com/~pnkeese/_poems/erlkonig.htm
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