metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

Comment with an interest in being interviewed and I'll think up some questions for you. Comment with some questions and I'll try to answer them.

Watch out, the hippie germs are contagious. )
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
It's a fantastic excuse to drink Tuborg beer and eat those crackly-with-sugar butter cookies.

In a previous life I sat on Media Council at Dawson and didn't stand up for the Plant's right to be obnoxious in the Gay Leprechauns Incident. We actually hauled the editor over and took the whole thing way too seriously. I kind of regret that, I hope they're managing to be good and offensive from time to time.

Boycotts are all well and good, and sanctions have their place, but the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments bullying Denmark over some cartoons... time to raise a can of cheap beer in solidarity.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
I will be very disappointed if our otherwise budget-conscious governments decide to help (by ceding land or kicking in funds) build a giant religious structure, as Mr. Jaziri Saïd is suggesting (for the record, any cathedral still acting as a cathedral's upkeep should be the problem of the church using it). Just because all the cool mid-Eastern monarchies' taxpayers are kicking in, doesn't mean we should.

In other news, the donated computer continues to flake out. Gift horses and all, I guess, but I can't pass my old clunker on without a reliable replacement, and this new one isn't it just yet.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Something from Ideas (on Radio One) earlier this week (Thursday?) was rattling around in my head... they got Philip Yancey, who's one of the better apologist writers out there (in my experience), talking on the subject of rumours of god, and one of the things he unpacks is an anecdote of some atheist friend of his acknowledging that the conditions for human-ish life are pretty unlikely given the range of possible values for all kinds of physical constants and initial conditions in the universe. Yancey goes on to express appreciation that although his atheist friend stayed an atheist, that he acknowledged the improbability of all those factors lining up to allow life, and elaborate that this forms part of his case for a creator — that it's just too unlikely otherwise.

The first thing that gets my goat is the lack of acknowledgement of conditional probability... the standard and well-established way to level the probability argument is to point out that whatever the probability of conditions being sufficient for human life, the only way to be human and observing them is for them to happen. Sitting here in time, being human, the probability of that happening is more or less 1. There seem to be vast stretches of space that don't contain humans, and the universe took a very long time (if you choose to trust physics over Genesis) to spit us out. So maybe we are unlikely, and we would be rightly surprised if we saw people sprouting up on every wandering bit of space debris. Probability doesn't spring out of nothingness, it only has meaning once you set conditions.

But, maybe more fundamental here, is the assumption that somehow the alternate explanation is that there are huge roulette wheels turning setting all the constants and everything after that, and that an absence of god somehow runs right to everything is stubbornly random. No god doesn't mean no logic, far from it. Cellular automata need some ground rules and they're off doing their thing. Math needs some axioms and given some time, some branches of thought are wandering around category theory. We can watch pretty undistinguished functions over time churning out discrete-time systems and they'll settle into patterns. We can set calendars and clocks with trust that gravity will do its thing more or less the same way as it has over the recorded past. They don't get bumped around when somewhere allows gay marriage or a new mixed-fibre clothing sweatshop opens. So we're the settling down of, or at least a temporary plateau in, the particular progression from whatever starting conditions we got. We're pretty stable as cluster points go. Just because things have settled into something, doesn't mean there was some master plan from the get-go. That works for my life and probably for many of you readers... without taking the analogy as proof, doesn't it seem possible that works on a bigger level, too?
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Brother Howitzer of Compassion.

Get yours.

And DO read the article!
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
This started off as a somewhat ranty response to someone trying to tell me that their god was the source of all good things... but I think it's central enough that it shouldn't just be cast off into the ether for one person to reject. It's probably glaringly obvious and been thought of many time before, but here it is.

I find grace among real people in the present, who are gracious not due to their role in the cosmology, prophesy or some covenant made with people long dead or cobbled together into a historical gestalt, but due to effort, inclination and rising above the call of duty. Same goes for love — maybe the love I feel from people and feel for people is not perfect and world-shaping, but it's beyond what people's natures and obligations require, and beyond what I can stick into a little rational-self-interest box, and beyond describing sometimes, so it's special. There are people out there like that, theists, atheists and undecideds, more than any theology of a fallen world would care to admit. Perfect? No. Permanent? Probably not — some of them quite transient, some of them enduring within the bounds of what people can manage. Patient with my boneheadedness, neglect and foibles? Well, not infinitely, but again, often more than I deserve. It may not be infinite bounty out here in atheist-land, but unless you compare it to the infinity attributed to a god of the gaps and asymptotes, it's good and real and sits firmly in my sense of the real rather than the theoretical or faith-based.

Sometimes I can think I feel God — some part of my Nazarene experience was spent interpreting the world that way — but there's a better, more beautiful and simpler/more-complex/more-subtle explanation out there. One time when I was still going to the Church of the Nazarene and in its thrall, I told my mom about all the stuff I felt God was doing for me. She responded by reminding me that I had a part in that (which is all well and good to be humble about, I guess) and that other people — mere, soft, squishy mortals — did too (chalking them up to just being little pawns of some puppet-master god is just plain ungrateful if you believe in free will). What does that leave? The contributions of animals and inanimate objects? Well, I don't know about you, but it's been certain people and the occasional sentient critter that have been supportive and loving over my 24.5 years... these are the influences I can be thankful for because they had a choice, and they had limited strength and time and perspective, and they were still more gracious and loving than some basic sense of civility or mere pleasure in being friends of family might require. I brushed my mom's words off at the time somehow, but they've stayed with me since.

real entry

Oct. 12th, 2004 01:00 pm
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Spent the weekend in North Carolina (or rather, 33% traveling to/from NC and 50% in NC) to attend my high school friend David’s wedding to a midwifery instructor from North Carolina (they met in Australia and are going back there... good thing they didn’t tie the knot down there, it’s out of Greyhound range...). The trip was an adventure, the ceremony was simple and beautiful (and quite, er, evangelical... but it’s their party and they’ll proselytize if they want to)... I was chief monkey suit technician to the groom, but none of that wedding party stuff for me. The speeches at the mid-afternoon reception were carefully crafted this time (no “frumpy” remarks, unlike at David’s brother’s recent wedding) and we sent the couple off throwing little vanilla sprinkles at them. I hadn’t met Darcy until the day of, but after all the happy stories, ecstatic e-mails and grinning jpegs from David, I felt like I knew her a bit. My mental picture didn’t have that NC accent, but otherwise she lives up to all the hype... I think the two of them will be happy together and complement each other...

Us Quebeckers got together for supper afterwards at a place that the hotel concierge told us was good and reasonably priced... it turns out their lunch menu is reasonably priced, but hey, David will only get married once. The beef table d’hôte was really good, and probably due to being closer to Texas than I’ve ever been, freakin’ huge.

Long distance Greyhounding is a skill, I think... finding a good seat, packing your carry-on with appropriate food, reading material and soft pillow-surrogate clothes, selecting seat-mates for one’s state of alertness and sociability... I think next time I’ll try to travel with a friend or two, but solo is a stretching experience.

Now I’m back, in the home stretch on the FQRNT scholariship application ($15K a year for two years of M.Sc. if it is accepted)... my transcript and award history is so-so, so I have to have a real smacker of a CV and statement of intent. Wish me luck: deadline is Friday, shortly after my Complex Analysis midterm...
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Some pictures from the St. Jean Baptiste garden party chez [ profile] moonlightjoy and [ profile] emjayne... much pulchritude!

get your scandalous pixels here! )

Gonna get on an aeroplane soon and hope I have someplace to stay when I get there.

Gonna finish the book I thought was going to keep me occupied if I couldn’t sleep on the plane. Everyone, go read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It’s well-written, although it does have the sci-fi bludgeon feeling that comes from having to be explicit about stuff we have no experience of and it tries a little openly to deal with some heady issues... but there’s enough humanity in there too.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Got a toaster for the office -- well, actually replaced the home toaster and moved it here, but we’re one step closer to the perfect office. Next steps: a couch and a coat rack.

Had lunch with Nick from Emerge today, shop-talked, philosophized, swapped background information and useless trivia and generally had a good chat.

Got the slides to fold into the T.O. presentation, so one less worry. Have train tickets, passport, ideas, suit, confidence... should go OK I think.
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
Realizing I’ve come back to some stuff from my early literature search with new eyes -- that I’ve come down a couple of notches on Gips’ list of shape grammar-related programs but that if I keep my nose to the grindstone I may be able to coax a working interpreter of some generality into existence and tackle some part of the subshape problem... if I can do that, it’ll be a good summer. If I can coax something which whittles down a complex pattern by a few discovered rules... it’ll be a good year compressed into a summer :)

The new team environment here is nice, I’m actually the only one in the office who was here last summer -- although in some cases, it’s because a co-worker got his own office. I’ve got more supervision, less felt pressure and feel generally saner than last year... and conference presentations to look forward to...

Home life is pretty good. The roomies are looking for people to fill my and Jinny’s rooms, they’re touring the place from time to time... I’m not sure if we have a roommate for my soon-to-be new place but I think we’ll open it up again soon if we don’t hear from the prospect we’ve been holding it for.

Had supper at the Brotherwoods’ place last night along with [ profile] funny_socks and a half-dozen other people from Emerge who I now know a bit better. It was a nice, long supper (about four hours of eating, drinking and chatting) with fantastic food (courtesy of Sue and Amélie) and wonderful company and ambience... even if I was about ready to drop from exhaustion (work + showing another Edmontonian around on Monday + miscellaneous activity), I had a good time. And a good sleep after.


May. 2nd, 2004 09:51 am
metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
My grades are in, it’s official: I’m done undergrad, and my average marginally better than when I started: so I’m not losing my touch, I guess! The aforementioned stats test went really well... I must’ve aced it based on my final grade. The actual ceremony is in June, but for all intents and purposes, that’s that!

Had a great past few days: Thursday, [ profile] funny_socks and I came to supper (chicken stew with dumplings, red wine brought by [ profile] funny_socks, sherbet and almond squares for desert) with the parents, sister and miscellaneous critters in Ormstown. They like her and she likes them... yay! Kudos to her roommate, who was the lone outside voice telling her not to be afraid of my folks.

We came back on the somewhat-too-early bus Friday morning, had breakfast in NDG at Oxford’s (the downtown location is better, I think -- they charged us to switch coffee to tea and for jam for our toast -- kinda un-classy in my humble opinion), then I trundled off to Lachine by train (I love the AMT -- eleven pothole-free minutes on a spacious if somewhat drab train for a trip that takes 40 by bus) to do some computer-fixing, came back and got analyzed by the career counselor types at C&D (because a Master’s degree isn’t a life’s work and because I thought it might be fun to get MBTI-ed). After that, met up with [ profile] funny_socks who lent moral support and posed for the non-nekkid bits of an art project wherein I’d volunteered to strike a non-pose with a non-expression to help an artist play with the idea of individuality through clothes and skin.

To finish the day, went together to celebrate Sari getting older with Mexican food -- by this point I was somewhere between slap-happy and unconscious, but having fun.

Slept really well after that.

Yesterday, went up to Beaver Lake for a church picnic thing, talked, hiked, munched hamburgers and corn, supplied cookies (chocolate/white chocolate chip), avoided getting burnt to a crisp (thanks to the sunblock-generosity of Tanya), enjoyed the first scorching hot day of summer...

It’s been a good few days.

Now I’m editing a paper for Toronto, listening to the radio and being generally relaxed and happy. Meeting this afternoon, full-time work starts tomorrow... I should probably sort out library privileges for this summer, now that I’m not an undergrad and not yet a grad student...


metawidget: A platypus looking pensive. (Default)
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