Friday, September 30, 2016

Notes from the Mad Science Lab: Glow In The Dark Spiders

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today, Savage Laboratories is pleased to announce the release of our latest invention.

In this cage is an ordinary house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum. Johan, can you put that on the screen? Excellent. Now, the American House Spider is generally harmless, and helps keep typical houses free of other pests. However, they are also a source of fear and revulsion for many people. Indeed, my new girlfriend has a morbid fear of spiders, and asked me to "do something about them" after accidentally encountering a spiderweb in the back yard one evening. My son, on the other hand, finds the creatures fascinating, and forbade me to destroy them.

Such challenges, I submit to you, are the very heart and soul of Mad Science.

So, if you will return your attention to the screen, I will demonstrate the Savage Labs solution to "the spider problem". Observe what happens as we lower the lights in the room... That's right, the spider is glowing. Now you need no longer fear that you might be surprised by the unexpected appearance of a spider in your house. All you need do is turn off the lights, and you will immediately know the location of every spider around.

Clearly, a single spider is not sufficient by itself, so you be pleased to hear that within the next three to five years, all spiders will glow just as this one does. Indeed, owing to the nature of the retroviral delivery system we have employed to make these changes, the effect will be visible on all forms of arachnids. And, before you ask, the chances that the virus will cross the species boundary and create a race of blood-drinking, eight-limbed superhumans are actually quite small.

Mad Science, ladies and gentlemen: making the world better for you, each and every day.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Writing Advice and Story Structure

If you can't read the brightly colored graphic, it says:
A story should look more like:















Taken from this post.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Seasons of Life

I'm currently suffering from the depressing suspicion that I'm not on a new season at all; my life has basically gone into re-runs.

("Oh, yeah! This was the episode where he was trying to finish a project and his boss kept interrupting him to test something in a completely different program! I remember that one.")

I mean, we're doing okay. We have food, clothing, shelter, and a working marriage. We even have some money to spend on frivolities. This isn't any sort of acute crisis. It's just a recurrent feeling that I'm not making any sort of progress; that I'm stalled, blocked, walled in. I can do enough to keep up, but only barely. I can't seem to get ahead.

I probably need more sleep. Maybe some major life changes, too. (I can work on those in my copious spare time, right?) I dunno. We'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Homeless Appliances

From my recent documentary about the lack of care available for aging appliances, here's a photo of an elderly television sleeping rough on the side of the street.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Conference Recap, On A Personal Note.

And then, at the very last, this one:

September 16 at 1:59pm:
Some of you may be wondering how *I'm* doing after all this. So, just this once, I'm going to break my own rule and post a selfie.

Conference Recap, Trip Home

This series of posts began with the discovery that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket to last week's conference. The chronicle of his adventures begins here, if you want to go back and catch up.

The trip home was actually, blessedly uneventful. When you're traveling by plane, this is a good thing.

September 16 at 1:31pm:
He was VERY eager to get home...
September 16 at 1:52pm:
Ah, the touching reunion at last! It's good to be home.
It was a big adventure for a small action figure. Thanks for coming along with us.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Conference Recap, Day 5

This series of posts began with the discovery that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket to last week's conference. The chronicle of his adventures begins here, if you want to go back and catch up.

It seemed like it was going to be an uneventful morning, until...

September 15 at 10:23am:
So, he slipped away from the conference to explore the castle...
September 15 at 10:42am:
Honestly, he's incorrigible. That's him on top of the castle wall.
September 15 at 10:57am
Annnnd now he say he needs a solid, full meal if he's going to "take the next step". Should I be worried? I think I should be worried.
September 15 at 11:26am:
Apparently he needed a big lunch so he could head off to explore the wilderness beyond the castle. I guess I'm taking my own notes for the next session. ::sigh:: Interns these days...
September 15 at 3:47pm:
Well, at least now I know where he went...
September 15 at 3:48pm:
Apparently it was part of a plan.
Right, so: the message says, "After hours of tireless exploration, I have made my way to the mysterious headwaters of the sacred river. Legend says that there is an ancient city of pure gold here, but legend is clearly lying. No city, no gold. Still, maybe the discovery will make me famous and I can get speaking engagements or something."
September 15 at 10:13pm:
Passed out in front of the toilet. I mean, okay, it's the last night of the conference, but I *knew* it was a mistake to turn him loose on an open bar. We have to get on the plane in the morning!
So that was the end of Thursday, and also the end of the conference. There was nothing left but the trip home. Surely that would be uneventful... right?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Conference Recap, Day 4

This series of posts began with the discovery that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket to last week's conference. The chronicle of his adventures begins here, if you want to go back and catch up.

September 14 at 6:28am:
Roomie is having a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Can't say I blame him. Yesterday was pretty busy, and today is going to be just as long.
September 14 at 7:54am:
Made it to our first session. He still isn't very awake, though.
September 14 at 9:59am
Networking with other conference-goers during the break!
September 14 at 11:40am:
Well, we finished lunch.
September 14 at 1:05pm:
Ready to take notes on the next session...
September 14 at 4:40pm:
"Hertz?" I asked.

"Only when I laugh," he told me.
September 14 at 6:36pm
Oh, my. I hope he knows what he's doing. If he keeps me up all night with drunk music-less karaoke, I'm going to be very annoyed.
That took care of Wednesday. One more conference day to go, and then we'd be through. Unfortunately for me, well... You're going to have to check in tomorrow to find out what he did!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Conference Recap, Day 3

This series of posts began with the discovery that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket to last week's conference. The chronicle of his adventures begins here, if you want to go back and catch up.

September 13 at 6:18am:
Bit of an adventure on the way to breakfast this morning...
September 13 at 12:24pm:
He may be a little too adventurous for his own good.
September 13 at 2:08pm:
Taking notes in the session...
September 13 at 3:54pm:
Making new friends at the conference.
That was pretty much it for Tuesday. There was an activity scheduled for that evening, but I skipped it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Conference Recap, Day 2

This series of posts began with the discovery that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket to last week's conference. The chronicle of his adventures begins here, if you want to go back and catch up.

September 12 at 7:22am:
Annnnd, we're off and going on day two!
September 12 at 12:30pm:
Day 2 continues apace.
September 12 at 6:29pm:
He stopped to look at the turtles and alligators.
...And that's it for today! Or, um, for last Monday. Whichever. Whatever. More coming tomorrow, so be sure to check back!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Conference Recap, Day 1

Okay, so... Remember how I said I didn't have anything interesting to post? That's because I was thinking in terms of blog posts. And while I was out of town at the conference, I really didn't come up with anything to post here on the blog.

Meanwhile, on my Facebook feed, I was actually quite active... and apparently very amusing. So, since I'm going to be up to my neck in upgrades, catching up after a week away, and general being-back-at-workness, I'm going to reproduce the activity from last week's FB feed over here on the Blog o' Doom. The drama began on Sunday, the first day of the conference...

September 11 at 7:53am:
So, in the process of going through airport security yesterday, I discovered that one of my son's toys had hitched a ride in my pocket. Apparently he's attending the conference, too.
September 11 at 9:31am:
Taking a break from the training session. He looks ready for whatever comes next.
September 11 at 12:35pm:
He appears to have found the lunch buffet successfully.
September 11 at 1:56pm:
It seems that short legs make for a long walk.
His screen says: "First day of conference. I am definitely getting my steps in."
September 11 at 4:21pm:
This guy is HARD CORE. A full day of training, and then he goes free climbing?
September 11 at 7:10pm:
Finished dinner. Now he's come back to my room to watch a movie. Good night, everyone.
Check in tomorrow for the next thrilling installment!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

There's always time for tea

Yes, I'm still out of town. No, I don't have anything interesting to post.

Probably the best thing that this conference has going for it is that the tea is not only plentiful, but actually good quality stuff. You would not believe how much tea I've had over the last two days.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Unconvincing Apologetics: Created Or Not, Part 2

So... back in December, I encountered a fellow named Tony Terrana when he commented on Bruce Gerencser's Facebook page. I summarized the exchange and what I thought of it here after Bruce got annoyed and banned him. (It's probably worth following the link and reading that, if only for context.)

Well, today he commented again.

It was the same comment. I mean, word for word, the same odd little block of text.
The Paradox of The Burden of Proof:

From our subjective perspective - either some higher-level creative Intelligence is responsible for our existence or not. There is currently no publicly-known, objectively-verifiable, scientifically-reproducible, peer-reviewed evidence sufficiently leading to proof that either is the objective truth. It is a choice to believe one or the other is the truth. Whichever you choose - you are using the concept of faith. Faith is belief without proof. Objectively speaking - only one is the truth and our subjectively formulated opinions or lack thereof have no effect on that objective truth. Such is the nature, beauty, and glory of The Truth - He is perfect and unbreakable.
So I queried him, and I got exactly the same response that I got last time, except without the bit about whether or not I believe in boots. Seriously:
Michael Mock - I'll simplify for you.
Do you perceive the following statement to be true or false?
1. From our subjective perspective either some higher-level creative Intelligence is responsible for our existence or not.

How about this one?
2. Of the two subjective possibilities mentioned in the preceding statement - only one of them is the objective truth.
So I responded again, and he "simplified" again. (For "simplified", read "reiterated".)

This time, I pointed out that I understood what he was saying, and I was impatient for him to quit saying it and move on to the next point.

(I should note that I'm assuming, at this point, that he's a person who has a selection of rote responses that he pastes in for most of his answers. The alternative -- that he's actually some sort of bot -- has occurred to me. In either case, it's a rather frustrating thing to attempt to have a conversation with him. I'm also having vague flashbacks to my attempts to interact with Dennis Markuze, which suggests some other mildly troubling possibilities.)

So, having pointed out that the points he was trying to make were so blindingly obvious that I was actually confused by why he'd insist on putting them out there, and repeating his own points back to him, I got this:
Michael Mock - right - what I am saying is so obviously true I should not have to say it - but many people do not understand these fundamental truths with respect to this conversation.
Well, first of all, these aren't "fundamental truths". They're starting assumptions for something that might eventually become an argument for Deism. And even then, I'm not sure the first point is actually undeniable; there's always the possibility that the actual situation is more ambiguous or more complicated than his either/or dichotomy suggests.

But maybe the dude thinks that this is a complete argument. It's hard to see how, but maybe... because right after posting that, he stopped responding. Now, maybe he's gone to bed, or maybe he's off having dinner, or maybe he's gone out to a club or something. (Or maybe he is a bot.) Maybe he'll come back and respond at some point.

But the fact that he posted this nothing-argument on an atheist's page, and a quick glance at his Facebook page, YouTube page, his website (which is full of odd, vaguely lyrical pseudo-scriptures which are peppered with actual Bible verses), and his Google+ Account (which is nearly empty)... well, all that leads me to believe that he isn't angling for anything as simple or basic as an acknowledgement that Deism is a defensible philosophical position. Whatever his specific beliefs, he isn't a Deist. His website looks like he's playing with a particularly gnostic and/or mystical sort of Christianity, something where God is knowable and active in people's lives, and probably the world at large. So I'm baffled as to why he would stop here. He hasn't shared his beliefs, or even laid any sort of groundwork for them.

So I'm going to give it a couple of days, maybe longer. And then there will be a follow-up post, if only so I can vent my frustration by taking apart his rhetorically-cute little comment. (Does that make me a small and petty person? Eh, whatever.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

About to be out of town again...

I'm out all next week, and this week is pretty crazy (between being only four days long, and trying to be ready for the conference. So I have no idea what will be going on here on the Blog o' Doom, but I suspect the summary is "not much". With any luck, I'll make it back without being eaten by zombies. Or velociraptors. Or zombie velociraptors.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Real Parenting Conversations: Hatred and Shoes

A snipped of conversation from this morning:

Secondborn, the first-grader, having just been told that he can't take the giant Transformers gun-arm to school: "I hate everyone!"

Daddy, from the bathroom: "As long as you have your shoes on while you're doing it, that's fine!"

Music: SOS

The Abba song, but covered by Portishead:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Recommended: So, You Must Talk To The Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones

Since we seem to be on a Women In Headphones theme today (seriously, who would think that was a good idea?) I also submit the following for the pleasure of anyone who hasn't read it yet:
So, You Must Talk to the Woman Who Is Wearing Headphones

Recommended: This Vote Is Legally Binding

I have nothing of my own to share today (seriously, I can barely make the words with the little keys in front of me) but I enjoyed reading this:

This Vote Is Legally Binding