Friday, August 29, 2008

Web Design 101 Section 666

Argh. I'm just about ready to throw my hands up in defeat! My limited knowledge of CSS and HTML is bumping up against the few blogspot templates available to me. Last night, I accidentally clicked SAVE TEMPLATE while I was previewing new looks, so now the old Depth Deception is effectively gone. I must say, I like the lightness of this new design, but formating the gifs that make the rounded edges for the header and footer is just not coming together. On top of that, it seems I'm using the exact same template as my cousin. I'd rather appear somewhat original, at least to my more frequent readers.

More and more, I think I'd like to scrap everything, pay the money for a domain name and hosting, and have someone design me a fresh, simple website that can act both as an online portfolio as well as a blog. Unfortunately, I'm also very cheap and not keen on paying the money to get me that eye-popping website. So I guess I'll just continue to stare enviously at those with more talent.

Joe Davis (hat tip to my cousin)

Justin Harter

Matt Agnello

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Ode to the Planet of the Apes

I've been meaning to do this entry for a long time now. In case anyone has yet to see the original Planet of the Apes, I must recommend it as required viewing. The film is one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time and an engaging, albeit occasionally cornball, exploration of the conflict between science and religion, race and class, reason and faith, and young and old. I suppose I should also compliment Jerry Goldsmith's rousing, visceral score.

Here's a snippet of the film's take on the Scopes Monkey Trial.

Fortunately, someone was kind enough to break the film down into 10 minute segments and post it on youtube. Here are the links for your and my future viewing.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12

I'll also include this write-up from the youtube poster:

The first and best version of the story. Forget that overly dark silly ridiculous remake in 2003 by Tim Burton... Many early science fiction films are now, quite inadvertently (and in most cases undeservedly), objects of camp attention: we laugh at the silly makeup, tin-can special effects, and the naive "high-tech" dialogue. Planet of the Apes is no such film. Its intelligent script(by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame), frightening costuming, and savagely effective conclusion (which needs no big-budget special effects to augment its impact) remain both potent and relevant. When Colonel George Taylor (Charlton Heston) crash lands his spacecraft on what seems to be an unfamiliar planet, he is captured and held prisoner by a dominant race of hyperrational, articulate apes. However, the ape community is riven with internal dissention, centered in no small part on its policy toward humans, who, on this planet, are treated as mindless animals. Befriended and ultimately assisted by the more liberal simians, Taylor escapes--only to find a more terrifying obstacle confronting his return home. Heavy-handed object lessons abound--the ubiquity of generational warfare, the inflexibility of dogma, the cruelty of prejudice--and the didactic fingerprints of Rod Serling are very much in evidence here. But director Franklin Schaffner has a dark, pop-apocalyptic sci-fi vision all his own, and time has not dulled the monumental emotional impact of the film's climactic payoff shot.

What's a Diorama?

Hey you smart people, help me out. I've come across this word "ontology" a few times now, and I've looked it up and studied it a little, but I simply can't make it stick. I can't make it work for me. It feels useless and confusing.

I'm counting on you Justin, Mr. Philosophy major, to sell me on this word. When and why should I use it?

"The study of the nature of existence." Don't we have clearer, more common words for this? Isn't this science?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Aha! Moment

Recently, I read a nytimes article about the modern-day struggles and strategies for teaching basic biology in high school and it got me thinking about my early education. I realized there was one piece of evidence that started me on evolution and common descent, one example that made the diversity and similarity of all life make so much sense that I was inspired to explore the theory further.

Whales. Prior to any understanding of the theory of evolution, whales made no sense to me whatsoever. Why would there be a creature of the sea that needed to breathe air to live? Why would such an animal exist while plenty of other sea creatures managed to "breathe" the water just fine? And why did whales flex their tail fins vertically rather than horizontally like fish?

Finally, in late elementary school, the answer was revealed. Whales evolved from air-breathing land animals, separate from the older phylogeny of fish, and their blow-holes and vertical tail flex are remnants of that more recent ancestry.

"AHA! So simple and elegant! It all makes sense!" I thought. And from there, my interest in biology bloomed, and I applied the theory to other examples, and I had new and ever more exciting "aha!" moments, and I'm happy to say that journey of discovery continues to this day.

So, did any of my readers have a similar "aha!" moment? Is there a particular example or set of evidences that sparked an interest in biology and personally sealed the deal in regards to the explanatory power of the theory of evolution?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

lol wtf

Looks like Orangina is trying to corner the lucrative Furry market.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday, Mom!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sony Back From the Dead

I bought a good-as-new Sony PS2 slim at goodwill today. I paid 25 bucks. The retail price is $120. Not a bad deal.

Not only does it seem to work great, but it has somehow brought a few of my ps1 games back from the dead.

It's so small! It's adorable!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good News, Everyone!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Problem with Catholic Writers

From the perspective of an ardent Catholic, and my favorite author, Flannery O'Connor. Now, in all honesty, O'Connor is specifically criticizing Catholic readers, but I think the same criticism could be levied against many Catholic writers (Tolkien and CS Lewis, I'm looking at you).

"Ideal Christianity doesn't exist, because anything the human being touches, even Christian truth, he deforms slightly in his own image...[The tendency of Catholic readers] is always toward the abstract and therefore toward allegory, thinness, and ultimately what they are looking for is apologetic fiction. The best of them think: make it look desirable because it is desirable. And the rest of them think: make it look desirable so I won't look like a fool for holding it."

-- The Habbit of Being: Letters. Edited by Sally Fitzgerald. New York, 1969. Pg 516.

I've always wondered what it is about the Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia, or even His Dark Materials, that I find off-putting. I think generally it is an aversion to fantasy. But when I read O'Connor's words, I realize there is another dimension to my distaste and it lies in the "thinness" and apologetic nature of the writing.

For instance, when Gandalf the Grey sacrifices himself in the first novel, it is a heart-stirring and tragic act of heroism and selflessness. And then what happens? He comes back as Gandalf the White, even better and with greater power!

Now what reasonable writer would do that? By bringing Gandalf back, Tolkien effectively removes all of the tragedy and beauty of his original sacrifice. The same can be said of the lion Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia. Perhaps it's just a matter of personal taste, but I think both writers might have done better to drop the Jesus allegory all together so as to preserve the emotional impact of their sacrifices, even if they might have lost a few rabid Catholic readers along the way.

I believe as Flannery O'Connor believed, "The writer is only free when he can tell the reader to go jump in the lake."

Then again, perhaps that's what Tolkien and Lewis are telling me.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Featured Doodle -- The Rocker

So I was a little bored at work and I noticed a poster for the upcoming movie "The Rocker" lying on the ground next to me. I decided to sketch it. Not too shabby, I'd say.


For comparison:


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Little Factoids That Will Blow Your Mind

At least, they blew my mind. I picked up both from Richard Dawkins's excellent series, "The Genius of Darwin."

First up: Imagine your mother holding hands with your grandmother, and your grandmother holding hands with her own mother, and so on and so forth all the way back to the mother ancestor of chimpanzees and man. How long do you think this chain of ancestry might stretch? Around the world? To the moon and back?

WRONG. The answer is just 300 miles.

Ready for the second factoid? There is more genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees than there is between an ass and a horse. And an ass and a horse are sometimes known to produce offspring... Bring on the Humanzee!


I just want to add a footer and get the gray section of my sidebar to line up with the blue part of my posts. Why are they so tough with this template? ARGH!

Growing Pains

It's that time again. I'm going to be making some changes to the blog. I'm tired of the slow load time. I'll probably abandon my space theme (seems the link to my old background image is broken anyway) and also start getting rid of some of those eyesores at the bottom of my sidebar.

I'm open to any other suggestions.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Simpsons Tackle Creationism

It's been a long while since I've seen much of the Simpsons. The series continues to lack the soul and wit of the earlier seasons, but it's good to see their heart is in the right place:

In what I imagine was a lame attempt at a Marge joke, she wonders, "what evolution will make next? Maybe a bird with a people's face?" I couldn't help but think of Japan's Heikegani or samurai crab.

This species likely evolved its peculiar body shape following many generations of unintentional artificial selection.

EDIT: Oh fiddlesticks. It seems the truth about the samurai crab may be much more coincidental. Interestingly, I picked up this example from the very same Carl Sagan program!

Monday, August 18, 2008


What the--?

The sentiment feels vaguely familiar...

What About Money Wasted on NEW Videogames?

So, about a week ago, my brother and I walked into a Toys R Us and were surprised to find they had one last Wii Fit in stock. Against my better judgment, I dropped $100 on the device and now the whole family is wigglin' and jigglin' the pounds away. Sort of.

Actually, I don't know how aerobic the games and workouts are, although a few of them certainly leave you winded. Probably the best feature of Wii Fit is its ability to graph and track your weight and Body Mass Index. Seeing just how much you've gained or lost from the day before is a surprisingly effective exercise motivator.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

August 15: Dissemination of the Immaculate Ejaculate

So apparently, some strange young man decided to park outside Blockbuster, strip his clothes, and masturbate in his car. A concerned woman was so affected that she attempted a citizens arrest by blocking his car with her own and calling the police. The offender managed to escape, but not before the woman could write down the license plate and make of the car. The police later tracked the man down and, presumably, arrested him.

Yeah, that's pretty gross. And if I had kids, maybe I'd be pretty upset. But that woman went through a lot of work wasting her entire night to bring that man to "justice" for exercising a harmless biological function. I mean, I could appreciate calling the police if the man was out in the parking lot, naked, ejaculating on customers...and his ejaculate was poison gas. But as it stands, the whole thing seemed pretty harmless.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, why did that lady have to go and ruin my fun?

...Just kidding!

* in biology, immaculate means unicolor.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bigfoot Retires

Is this the body of Bigfoot? It's making national news. I just watched the press conference. Not exactly convincing. But my interest is piqued.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Anthony Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

"My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species ... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms."

In another letter to Carrier of 29 December 2004 Flew went on to retract his statement "a deity or a 'super-intelligence' [is] the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature." "I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction."

In 2007, in an interview with Benjamin Wiker, Flew said again that his deism was the result of his "growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe" and "my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself – which is far more complex than the physical Universe – can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source."

-Anthony Flew, confirmed Deist, which means he rejects the notion of a persaonal God. Not to mention, the state of his aging mind and his relationship with Christian apologist Roy Varghese are somewhat suspect.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pachelbel is EVERYWHERE

Resistance is futile!

Official Olympic Athlete Inspector

My goodness! To escape some of the morbidity of that last post, here's a picture of Dubya enjoying his time at the Olympics.

Lehargic or Zen?

Since college, my approach to life and death has evolved to a point in which I'm unsure if I should rejoice or worry. The ambition from my earlier years has all but drained from me. Most days, I now have a strange readiness for death. Panic attacks and natural dread still remain, but they are diminished. It's almost like the stirring, classic song "Ol' Man River."

"Heart gets weary/ and sick of tryin'/ I'm tired of livin'/ and scared of dyin'!"

Beautiful. So am I healthily resolved or am I merely depressed? Have I reached some religious state of peace or am I clinical? I don't know. About the only thing I do know is I don't want to suffer decrepitness and the death of my loved ones, so I'm fairly intent on eventual suicide, although hopefully not until I am of a ripe age.

I think I've already got my tombstone inscription picked out!

I like it; I think it has the appropriate sense of dark humor. Although, it costs an awful amount of money to bury and erect gravestones, wasteful burdens I wouldn't want my survivors to bear, so cremation may be a better alternative. Has anyone else given much thought to the fate of his or her remains?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Featured Doodle -- Jay's Two-Face

What would it look like if I applied my cartoon style to Batman's Harvey Dent?

Jay's Two Face


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Reflection of My Father

Looking back on these last few work-intensive days, I've noticed the reflection of my Dad staring back. It's strange; I never thought of us as particularly similar. In fact, I've always kind of resented how much time he devotes to his own profession.

But, dare I say it, there has been something ever so slightly exhilarating about over-working myself. I've found that I'm unintentionally emulating my father's work habits: I try to do everything myself, I work long hours, I skip my breaks, and I generally eat less than one meal a day.

I've always looked at my Dad's habits as strange, self-inflicted punishments. But I think there is also a dangerous and exciting element of pride that motivates pushing the limits of good sense. I just pray I don't enjoy the taste of that poison too much more.

Firebombing Japan and the Atom Bomb

A clip from the breathtaking documentary, "The Fog of War."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Internet Meme Timeline

Ever wonder when and from where the Hamsterdance or Bananaphone originated? This comprehensive timeline is an impressive trek through the origins of popular internet memes.


24 Hours in Two Days

It is done. Only 1 short job and one longish job tomorrow. Hooray!

My feet hurt.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Here Comes the Pain

I'm working nearly 12 straight hours tomorrow and then another 12 the next day. Hopefully I will not collapse. I may have to buy myself something to keep my spirits up.

I'd really like a new wallet and I've got my eye on the Magic Wallet.

Or maybe a Smart Car...

I recently got my hands on a copy of Guitar Hero On Tour for the Nintendo DS. It's surprisingly good and has a better track list than its bigger console brothers, at least so far as Sam and I are concerned. However, this game causes some serious hand cramping, so buyers beware.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

In Defense of WWII

[Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V]

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Mate Branding

In a very sweet gesture, my brother has recently purchased a promise ring for his girlfriend, a gift the two will exchange and make vows to stay faithful while they are away at different colleges.

I have never been much of a fan of jewelry (except for that time I won a gold-colored dragon necklace from a crane game when I was 12! How cool!). It always seemed frivolous and expensive. Where's the utility?

Well, now the utility of wedding bands and promise rings is fairly obvious, even if the bearers are unaware. They're not just signs of affection, are they? They act as a kind of branding, a signal to other potential mates that says, "Hey, back off. This one is taken."

People realize this fact and even rely on it as a crutch in moments of defense. Just tap your ring twice, say "I'm taken," and this magic spell will deter most interested parties. But have you ever considered the strangeness of this ritual? The symbolic ownership of another individual is a little disheartening. Moreover, there is an awesome yet belittling effect that lingers in the realization that we have succumbed so readily to forces of sexual selection, that those deeds we do out of kindness and love may have darker, deeper evolutionary significance.