Saturday, May 29, 2010

Athanasian Creed

HT to Father Hollywood for this:

The Athanasian Creed, what you MUST believe to be saved:

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cool Time Lapse

of stars and clouds over Cotopaxi Volcano

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Money weakens ability to savour life’s little pleasures | Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine


Today is Towel Day, where fans around the world celebrate the works of beloved author Douglas Adams, a master of witty prose and observational humour. Consider his description of money:

“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.”

Adams was right to highlight the perceived link between money and happiness. Many people dream of the life they could lead if they won the lottery, a world of mansions, fine restaurants, and first-class travel. But few consider the costs. These fineries could lead to enjoyment overload, compromising our ability to savour life’s simpler pleasures, whether it’s a walk on a sunny day or the taste of a bar of chocolate. This idea of wealth as a double-edged sword is widely held and while it’s easy to suggest that it springs from jealousy, a new set of experiments supports the idea.

Jordi Quoidbach from the University of Liege showed that richer people aren’t as good as savouring everyday pleasures than their poorer counterparts. Even the mere thought of money can make us take mundane joys for granted. Normal people who were reminded about wealth spent less time appreciating a humble bar of chocolate and derived less enjoyment from it.

Quoidbach’s study helps to make sense of a trend in psychological research, where money has an incredibly weak effect on happiness. Once people have enough to buy basic needs and rise out of abject poverty, having extra cash has little bearing on their enjoyment of life. Perhaps this is because money both gives and takes away: it opens doors to new pleasures, while making delights that were already accessible seem less enticing. Obsessing over wealth is like being on a hedonic treadmill – continuously running to stay in the same emotional place.

To begin with, Quoidbach asked 351 university employees, from cleaners to senior staff, to complete a test that measures their ability to savour positive emotions. Each recruit was asked to put themselves in a detailed pleasant scenario, from finishing an important task to discovering an amazing waterfall on a hike. Afterwards, they were quizzed in detail about how they would react to the scenarios, to see how strongly they savoured the experiences.

Using other questionnaires, Quoidbach also assessed how happy they were, how much money it would take to live their dream life, how much money they earned and how much they had saved. And as a final twist, half of the questionnaires included picture of a large stack of euros, while the other half saw the same picture that had been blurred beyond recognition.

He found that the more money the recruits had, the worse they were at savouring their positive emotions. Of course, it’s possible that people who appreciate their lot in life are less eager to chase after wealth. But Quoidbach found that a person’s savouring ability was unrelated to their desire for money. And even suggesting the thought of money, by showing them the euro picture, had the same negative effect, dampening their to the happy imaginings.

Regardless, the recruits also tended to be slightly happier the more money they had. Other studies have found the same trend, but Quoidbach’s important result is the money would have had a far greater impact on the volunteers’ happiness were it not for its negative effect on their savouring ability.

Of course, there’s only so far you can take the results of the questionnaires. A more objective experiment would be better, and that’s exactly what Quoidbach did. He asked 40 students to volunteer for a taste test. They were given a binder that included a questionnaire about their attitudes toward chocolate. On the opposite page, marked as material for an unrelated study, was a picture of either money or a neutral object. Afterwards, all they had to do was eat a chocolate.

Two researchers kept an eye on them and not only timed their munching, but rated how much enjoyment they were showing. The results were clear – the recruits who saw the money took 32 seconds to eat the chocolate, significantly less than the 45 seconds spent by the others. And on average, their happiness rating, as judged by the observers, was 3.6 out of 7, compared to a higher score of 5 for their peers. (Incidentally, the observers didn’t know which group their subjects belonged to, and their scores strongly agreed with one another’s).

These studies are part of a growing body of research showing that the link between money and happiness is more complicated than we might imagine. Elizabeth Dunn, who also worked with Quoidback, has previously shown that money can buy happiness if it’s spent on others, but that having money reduces the odds that people will actually spend it in this way! Dunn has also found that money is better used to buy happiness if it’s spent on experiences rather than goods. And here we see that wealth can undercut the very happiness that it boosts.

In both experiments, a simple reminder of wealth undermined people’s ability to appreciate life’s little pleasures, be they imagined ones or the very physical joys of chocolate. That’s a striking result and Quoidbach explains it best himself. “One need not actually visit the pyramids of Egypt or spend a week at the legendary Banff spas in Canada for one’s savouring ability to be impaired,” he writes. “Simply knowing that these peak experiences are readily available may increase one’s tendency to take the small pleasures of daily life for granted.”

Reference: Psychological Science or here

Image from Muffet on Flickr

More on happiness or money:





May 25th, 2010 Tags: , , , ,
by Ed Yong in Happiness, Neuroscience and psychology | 8 comments | RSS feed | Trackback >

So those folks who are driven to get more money tend to forget to smell the roses... we needed a study to tell us this?

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Elementary School

Hey, I remember these kids from elementary school!

Ah if only I'd had the laser eyes :-(

Helping Johnny Remember from ashleigh nankivell on Vimeo.

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Dopamine system in highly creative people similar to that seen in schizophrenics, study finds

New research shows a possible explanation for the link between mental health and creativity. By studying receptors in the brain, researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to show that the dopamine system in healthy, highly creative people is similar in some respects to that seen in people with schizophrenia.

So, turns out that they were right when they said that there is a fine line between genius and madness :-)

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

How to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull.

That unpronounceable Icelandic volcano is even hard for Icelanders to say :-)

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Saturday, May 22, 2010


Dan Cagle sent:

Here are some pictures I took in Astoria.The bridge is what I see setting at kitchen table.The river is 5 miles accross and about 1 mile from the ocean.The Columbia bar is one of the worst in the world,so they say,they being the Coast Gaurd...Its back to work tomorrow.The big tan building is what I am working on.Its the Clatsop county college.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Simply Fondue

Tonight Lora took Serenity and I out to dinner to celebrate life in general :-) 

Oh my!  I'm pretty sure we committed several sins by eating here tonight...

Not knowing what we wanted to eat we wandered down 1st Street in Livermore and finally wound up at a place called "Simply Fondue."  Sound harmless enough, right?  Well, we decided to have the Fondue Feast.  We started out with a bottle of local Livermore Valley Bent Creek Petite Syrah.  The first course was salad, I had the Greek salad with feta and kalamata olives, Lora had baby spinach with sliced strawberries and Serenity had her usual Caesar's.  In the center of the table are two burners where they put fondue pots.  Second course was the fondue, melted Swiss cheese in one pot, mixed with white wine and cheddar mixed with beer in the other pot.  For dipping we had various types of bread and fruits and vegetables.  Yummy!  Then the third course of meat and fish, sirloin wrapped in bacon, salmon, scallops, shrimp, chicken and six different dipping sauces.  The put a pot of hot oil on the burner for that and you cook your own stuff right at the table, very fun!  There are other ways of cooking available, in a vegetable broth or grilling or in Sangria.  This was also fantastic.  Finally there was desert, your choice of dozens of different melted chocolates with fruits and cookies and brownies and marshmallows for dipping.  They start with a flambe so you can roast the marshmallows.  This place is highly recommended for feasting.  Dinner took well over two hours and that's not including recovery time which will be several days I'm sure.  Here are Lora and Serenity roasting marshmallow over flaming chocolate... mmmmm.... life is good :-) 

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Come to the USA

I received the following video via email.  I'll respond below it so you can watch it before you start yelling at me :-)

Cute video right?  Sure it is.  It's also mostly nonsense.

To solve all of the problems in the video I advocate totally open borders, or better yet, no borders at all.  All of us here in the Southwestern part of the USA are sitting on ground that was once Mexico.  It was first overrun by hordes of semi-legal immigrants from the USA, then stolen outright using force of arms.  We hardly have the moral high ground to whine about Mexicans coming here!  As to all of the supposed problems they bring with them, well I can fix all of that in no time flat! 

1.  Abolish the INS, there would be no such thing as an illegal person anymore, so the employers won't have the leverage to force low wages and crappy conditions by threatening them with "La Migra!"  (Illegal people?  Just how silly can you be, next thing you know they'll say mushrooms and weeds and flowers are illegal!  See #5 below)

2.  Abolish all government handouts to the "poor".  They would be better cared for by neighbors, family and church.

3.  Abolish all aid to the "banksters" and to the "too big to fail corporations." 

4.  While we're at it we can do away with corporations as "persons" with civil rights, they are NOT people but businesses, their owners are people and they should be fully responsible for their actions instead of hiding behind the facade of the limited liability corporation, bunk.

5.  Legalize all drugs, there would then be no drug wars or drug lords or violence related to the buying and selling of such things.  Do away with the DEA, BATF and the FBI.  These serve only to oppress us anyway. 

6.  Disband the Navy.  We only need the Coast Guard, the Navy is all about projecting imperial force around the world.

7.  Reduce the Army by about 90% and put it on our borders in case of armed invasion by Canada or Mexico.  Realistically no one else has the lift capability to get here and conquer us.  Close all bases outside of the United States, they are not needed to protect us from Mexico and Canada.

8.  Do away with all of the rest of the alphabet soup of Fed Agencies and programs.  FDA, SS, SSDI, SSI, FHA, FEMA, ADA, CDC, NASA, DE, AFDC, FDIC, FAA, OSHA, TSA, Homeland Security and all of the rest of the swarm of parasitic vermin sucking off of the government tit and serving no real purpose beyond crushing what few freedoms we still have managed to retain.

9.  Follow the United States Constitution to the letter, not allowing the courts to "reinterpret" it to mean that the government can do anything it wants to because of the "interstate commerce clause".  The Constitution was intended to limit the government's rights, NOT OURS!

10.  Eliminate all foreign aide, including supporting Israel.  If you want to send a bunch of your money to some distant land go right ahead, just don't try to make me do it.

Once all of that is done then there will be no problem letting in new people, they will be on their own and need to be productive to make it, there won't be a big bloated handout machine for them.  Not that most illegals actually use these services, they don't.  Most immigrants work hard for low wages and try to keep a low profile so they aren't sent back to places that suck even worse than the conditions they are in here.  Most of our handouts really go to native born Americans and foreign governments and to big corporations.

So, we don't need to have gestapo check points every 10 miles demanding to see our papers.

What we need is freedom and sadly that is what we just don't have here anymore.

1 -- Larry Devich It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Just say no

Father Hollywood linked to this short video from B5 as a way of saying no to Nancy Pelosi. 

I like it as an inspiration to all freedom lovers to say NO to the government over most everything, from schools that are NOT "better than nothing" to government imposed "health-scare" and the drug war that does far more harm to society than drugs could ever do, just say NO.

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Anyone who knows me knows I really can't stand so-called contemporary worship or worshitainment.  I'm all about the ancient liturgy of the orthodox evangelical catholic [Lutheran ;-)] church, so this video strikes me as especially funny and right on.  They have a formula, a recipe.  In fact they have a liturgy in these churches, they just don't like to admit it!   Unlike the real traditional liturgy, which is 90% + scripture quotes and the rest time tested and carefully crafted prayers and meaty theologically sound hymns, this stuff is made up on the fly week by week, which makes it weak.  What makes them think they can do better than than what the church has found useful for the last 2000 years?  Enjoy :-)

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Sorry about the volcano video

Just click here to see it.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights

Wow! The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch is amazing stuff. I had no idea they were using such strong hallucinogenics in the 1400's. Check out the scenes in the right hand panel especially, what a bizarre mind :-) Of course I love the whole thing, very cool stuff.

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Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ponzi scheme operator gets 20-year prison sentence

And yet "Social Security" is legal... go figure :-)

By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

Friday, May 14, 2010

(05-14) 16:55 PDT San Francisco, CA (AP) --

As more than 100 distraught and angry victims looked on, a federal judge on Friday sentenced a seemingly small-time neighborhood accountant to 20 years in prison for operating a $50 million Ponzi scheme for three decades.

Roberto Heckscher, 56, pleaded guilty in October to a single fraud count. His massive fraud was uncovered in June when he ran out of money, was unable to recruit any new investors and could no longer hold off his creditors. Heckscher turned himself in after attempting suicide by overdosing on pills.

His sentencing hearing lasted for more than three hours while U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston listened to several of his victims tell her about lost nest eggs, college funds and homes.

"My days are bleak," said Evelyn Fahnbulleh, who lost $187,000. "I'm destitute. Penniless. I just feel hopeless."

Former Los Angeles Rams football player Bob Fields angrily denounced Heckscher as a thief for the $1.7 million he lost.

Heckscher read a prepared statement apologizing to his victims. Heckscher said he started the scheme in 1979 after suffering big stock market losses and was never able to pull himself out of the hole he created. Heckscher claims that he never benefited personally from the scam and lived modestly.

"I have lived an exemplary, violence-free life," Heckscher said to catcalls and sobbing from the gallery.

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Lora is on Wondermark!

Cool, what I am convinced is Lora's number one goal in life:  "Going back to sleep after the alarm goes off every single day." has been immortalized by Malki on Wondermark...

-- Larry Devich It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"My" Neanderthal ancestors


Last week I mentioned a story about scientists having now detected evidence that Homo sapiens sapiens (Us) interbred at some point in the past with Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Them, specifically DNA obtained from several Neanderthal individuals discovered in Croatia, thus the "My" in the title.) This would have occurred as humans were leaving Africa on their way out to populate Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, since all of these peoples have the Neanderthal gene trace (1-4% of the genome) while those groups that remained in sub-Saharan Africa do not have this trace at all. I was quite pleased to hear this as it introduced all sorts of interesting possibilities for wild speculation, and if there is one thing I love it's wild scientific speculation. :-)

This does present some difficulties for the Reasons to Believe theory of Old Earth Creationism, where humans are considered to be a special creation, not evolved from previous hominids as most other scientists believe. RTB holds that those hominids that precede humans in the fossil record were animals with some unique abilities like tool making, advanced cognitive abilities and such but that they did not have the Imago Dei, or the Image of God. They hold that the Neanderthals were a separate species from true humans. Listening to their most recent podcast on the subject I felt that they were still struggling to deal with the new information and they really hadn't figured out a good way to shoe-horn it into the theory. I'm sure they will eventually twist it into some sort of fit but it seems they are being forced to reach pretty far on this one.

Oddly enough this does not present any significant difficulties for the Young Earth Creationist crowd such as Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research who have always maintained that the Neanderthals and Homo-Erectus type of hominids were fully human anyway, so that interbreeding is not an issue for them.

The news also is not a problem for standard evolutionary theory of course, it's a surprise but it was always a possibility, they just had not had any evidence for it before now.

Two bits of speculation that the RTB people put out yesterday are that the "reason" God allowed this interbreeding with "animals" (they maintained that Human-Neanderthal interbreeding would have been the sin of bestiality in their podcast) was to introduce racial diversity into the population after the flood as part of the tower of Babel dispersion event. In other words it helped to make people different enough that they would avoid each other and move away to different places to live. This speculation was based on the fact that a few years ago it was announced that Neanderthals were pale skinned and red haired, and that one of the differences they found in the genomes of the non-African populations was on a gene that selects for pigmentation. I suppose then that for some reason this lighter skin color would have been selected for in Europe more than most other places. It is known that the lighter skin allows a more efficient use of limited sunlight to produce vitamin D for example. This interbreeding event would explain where that gene came from in the first place while not requiring a random mutation to explain it, which is pretty cool. The second bit of speculation was that this news makes it almost certain that Adam and Eve were black Africans, which is also pretty cool :-)

I continue to think that RTB has the best basic model to work with from a biblical perspective. God clearly created different species IMO, but just how narrowly you define species is open to a lot of debate and is fertile ground for study (or better for me Wild Speculation!) I tend to think that the divine interventions to create new species were less frequent than RTB thinks, so that there are many related species extant today that have evolved through natural selection from a common ancestor. I think probably horses, zebras and donkeys for example descended from a common ancestor. I don't know where the lines would be drawn but I think it very unlikely that fish evolved into land dwelling reptiles or reptiles into mammals. Of course the main biological creation event would have been the very first life. There is no remotely plausible scenario that gets you from ordinary non-living chemicals to a living cell. Every single explanation I've heard of for the origin of life, other than it being designed and specially created, is laughably unlikely to have happened.

I look forward to hearing more on this over the next several months and even years, science is always learning new things which makes it endlessly fascinating. This should be fun to watch :-)

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Listening to Music

How I listen to music has changed over the years. 

When I was a kid I listened to AM radio then FM radio and records of course, from the stack of old classical 78 rpm records my parents had, to 45's and eventually to an extensive collection of several hundred LP albums.  I missed out on the age of 8 track tapes because that was such a short period of time and I didn't have any money then.  I had many cassette tapes, mostly recorded from my LPs.  I listened to the records on a number of record players or "stereos" as we called them back then.  Cassettes were perfect for the "Walkman" that I used for several years.  I listened to radio on the stereo and on a black plastic mono transistor radio, so very high tech! :-)

My vinyl album collection vanished in two waves, the first in the mid 70's when I heard a fire and brimstone preacher at Evergreen Christian Center in Olympia Washington preaching about how evil they were and how you couldn't be a Christian and listen to rock and roll.  (Please visualize me rolling my eyes now, thank you.)  I tossed dozens of now classic rock albums into the dumpster at the apartment I was at, and watched as kids from the complex jumped in after them and took them home.  Made them happy at least :-)  Later I accumulated even more evil rock and roll, once I realized what a load of rubbish those money grubbing lying fundamentalists were shoveling.   I lost that collection when my ex-wife confiscated them during our divorce :-(    My cassette collection I took with me but the age of the CD came along and I eventually donated all of the cassettes to my daughter after noticing that I hadn't had a tape player for some years and they were just gathering dust. 

I still have hundreds of CDs.  I never listen to them though.  I burned all of them to MP3s so I could listen to them on my computer or on MP3 CDs on a special combination CD/MP3 player and later on my iPod.  About this time came a period of downloading MP3s from Usenet and from various pay services, many thousands of tracks eventually.  I never listen to them anymore either, not even on the iPod or my Blackberry which I briefly used for that purpose.

These days I see no reason at all to "own" music because of the easy availability of customized streaming music stations such as Pandora or Slacker Radio.  Both have free and pay versions, I use only the free versions.  I'm sure there are others out there as well but these two are my favorites and of the two Slacker is the best in my opinion.  Slacker allows me to "cache" stations on  my Blackberry so that I can listen even if I am out of signal reach for a while.  Both let you set up stations that only play music you like, many different stations for different moods.  I can plug my Blackberry into my TV or into another Stereo to listen without headphones and the quality is good enough for me, I'm no audiophile anyway.   There is so much music, similar to stuff I like but that I never heard of before, that I have been able to enjoy since these services started that I no longer use my huge music collection at all... except in the car where I sometimes plug in my old iPod to the CD player or put in MP3 discs or even listen to the radio on some occasions.  Of course this is only because I haven't figured out how to get my Blackberry hooked up to the car, once I can do that I will no longer use any of those I'm sure.

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The World

With so much going on in the world I am sorely tempted to post some political screeds about Our Glorious Leader and his choice for the Supreme Court or the Greek financial crisis or any number of similar things. But I'm not going to do it! What amazing restraint! ;-)
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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Friday, May 7, 2010

A few more from Del Valle

Del Valle

Long delayed, here are some photos from the SFBUN campout at DelValle a couple of weeks ago, fun was had by all :-)

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Blue Yoda

Yoda (aka Serenity) was feeling blue tonight...

It's sidewalk chalk btw. :-)

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BBC News - Neanderthal genes 'survive in us'

How cool is this? I always suspected I was "part Neanderthal" :-)

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Sheldon for 05/07/10

Amusing but... but? Well it seems to me that you only continue to ask the "Huge Existential Questions®" if you didn't get really satisfactory answers the last time around. I feel like the Gospel pretty much answers those questions, when rightly understood of course. You CAN be a Christian and believe in the gospel without really "getting" it, then you will probably continue to struggle with the HEQ's. Anyway, enjoy :-)

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Sheldon for Friday, May 7, 2010 || Share a laugh: forward this strip to friends!

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Police doing it right

Of course if this was Oakland they would have pumped 20 or 30 rounds into it and called it a day after ten minutes or so.

Growling sea lion pup pulled from under police car

AP – This Wednesday, May 5, 2010 photo released by Jim Grant shows Kevin Robinson, senior animal care specialist …

SAN DIEGO – A sea lion pup has been captured after hiding under a San Diego police car for four hours in the middle of a road. Police Sgt. Jack Knish says officers got a call about 4 a.m. Wednesday that the pup was crossing a street in the Ocean Beach area.

Knish says an officer parked his car in the middle of the road and went to investigate. That's when the sea lion came out from under another car and scuttled under the patrol car.

SeaWorld experts retrieved the growling pup at about 8 a.m.

Rescuer Kevin Robinson grabbed it by the tail and put it in a net. Robinson says the pup, who's less than a year old, was dehydrated but uninjured. He says the pup weighs about 25 pounds — less than half what it should weigh.

Robinson says it will be released within two months.

-- Larry Devich It is more blessed to ask forgiveness than permission

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Police Brilliance

I know the police are not selected for their intelligence but this is simply pathetic... and crappy shots too, 7 shots to kill bambi?


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