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Kalina's Dad

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Conversation with Kalina on Origins [11 Mar 2011|11:11am]
 Lina, look.  That's the cat factory, where they make cats.  [Points to sign for Alban Cat company, makers of caterpillar tractors]

Daddy, cats don't come from a factory.

Oh yeah, well where do they come from?


Well.. God made the universe.. but I think kittens come from mommy cats.

Where do mommy cats come from?

Grandmommy cats.

Well, where do great, great, a thousand times great grandmommy cats come from?

That's a good question. [Pause to think] You know how babies are like their mommies and daddies, but not exactly like them...?

Yeah.  But that's just because you're peach and Mommy is brown.  

But even if the mommy and daddy are the same color, the kid is still a little different.  Like your cousin.  Her mommy and daddy are brown, but she doesn't look exactly like her mommy or daddy.

Yeah, ok.

So the first grandma cat didn't look exactly like cats today.  In fact, everything started with tiny little animals like specks.  And their kids were a little bigger, or a little smarter, or a little different.  And eventually we got all the different animals we have today.

But Daddy, where did the little speck animals come from?

I don't know.   People have ideas.   Some people think they just grew from dirt.  Some people think they came from another planet.  But then where did the other planet get them?  Some people think God made them.  

But who made God?

That's a very good question.  I don't know.  Nobody knows.  Maybe even God doesn't know.  Some people say God is eternal, that God was always there.  But really, they don't know either.  

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Dogs make good neighbors [19 Oct 2010|12:46pm]
Better than fences, seriously. The dog has to go out, and when I'm out walking her, people come to say hi and play with the puppy. Violet has me interacting more with my neighbors than I have in years.
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Fog and toad are friends [30 Sep 2010|11:15am]
It's been soggy lately, lots of rain and humidity. The local amphibians like it, I've seen some big toads out in the front yard. Fortunately the dog seems wise enough to leave them alone. I'm not as enthusiastic about the wet weather, but it does beat 95-degree August.
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Violet's Song aka "Carpe Canem" [06 Sep 2010|08:19am]
Tune to Ke$ha's "TiK ToK"

Wake up in the morning and I gotta pee quickly
Grab my leash, I'm out the door I'm gonna hit this city
Before I leave, bare my teeth, steal some food from the cat
'Cause if I leave for the night, I ain't coming back

I'm talking nipping on people's toes, toes
Grabbing at all your clothes, clothes
Chewing up the bones, bones
No-stopping, taking in the fresh breeze
Sniffing at all the tall trees
Trying for a little bit of treeeat

Let's Walk! Round The block
Yeah I'm a little pup
I'mma whine
till I see the sunlight
Let's walk, grab your socks
and the doggie don't stop, No

Let's Walk! Round The block
Yeah I'm a little pup
I'mma whine
till I see the sunlight
Let's walk, grab your socks
and the doggie don't stop, No

Ain't got a care in the world, I got floppity ears
No money and no pockets but I'm already here.
And the dudes are lining up, and you know that they're sniffin'
But I kick 'em to the curb, unless they look like Brian Griffin

I'm talkin'bout, everyone getting stunk, stunk
Rolling in all that gunk, gunk
Stop me if I'm eating junk, junk

Now we go until they kick us out, out,
Or the police shut us down, down
Dogcatcher shut us down, down
Dogcatcher shut us..

Let's Walk! Round The block
Yeah I'm a little pup
I'mma whine
till I see the sunlight
Let's walk, grab your socks
and the doggie don't stop, No
(Repeat x2)
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Donald Duck and Galileo [23 Mar 2010|12:07pm]
"Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe."
-- Galileo Galilei

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Darpa Balloon Challenge Update [07 Dec 2009|08:05pm]
Yay MIT:)

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The lung flute [17 Nov 2009|08:03pm]
gross, but cool.

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Bouncing water droplets [15 Nov 2009|05:56pm]
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civil rights, majority rule, Abraham Lincoln and gay marriage [05 Nov 2009|02:43pm]
I really liked this post by an Andrewsullivan.com reader:


"Equal rights and the consent of the governed are the principles that make self-government intelligible in the first place. Without them, of course, there are no real limits to what majorities can enact, including doing away with democratic rule."

If voting and democratic government are not ends in themselves, but only (fallible) ways to achieve the more fundamental good of equal rights for all; then it makes sense to put limits on what a powerful majority can do to a minority, even via the democratically-expressed popular will.

But on the other hand I'm not entirely confident that we can accurately enshrine eternal principles, which, once proclaimed and affirmed, must not be afterwards altered by the votes of living citizens. There's no way to fix a screw-up.

The bill of rights and the constitutional amendment process seem a makeshift compromise at best.
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Paging Mrs. Frisby [03 Nov 2009|04:14pm]

According to Science Daily, Hobbie-J was able to remember novel objects, such as a toy she played with, three times longer than the average Long Evans female rat, the smartest rat strain. Hobbie-J was also better at remembering which path she last traveled to find a chocolate treat.

Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia and East China Normal University developed Hobbie-J 's superior brainpower by transgenic over-expression of the NR2B gene, which in turn increased communication between NMDA receptor sites maybe a hundred milliseconds longer than normal, just enough to enhance learning and memory. NMDA receptors (and their NR2B subunits) are the controlling molecular structures for synaptic plasticity and memory.
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Studying the sex life of fruit bats, link slightly NSFW [29 Oct 2009|08:04pm]
Just in time for Halloween

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Another wacky contest, with a $40,000 prize [29 Oct 2009|04:16pm]

"The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of ten moored, 8 foot, red weather balloons located at ten fixed locations in the continental United States. Balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roadways.

A $40,000 cash prize will be awarded to the first entrant to submit the latitude and longitude of all ten balloons."

The fastest method I could imagine would be to write a computer program that would search for red blobs on Google Earth or other mapping sites, and get a bunch of people to search through the thousand photos the program flagged.

But DARPA suggests that this is a social networking challenge. Maybe there's a quicker way to do it by crawling people's websites looking for "red balloon", as people randomly see the balloons and mention them in their blogs, LJ posts, facebook posts, etc.
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Rob Balder rocks (and not just in concert) [18 Oct 2009|05:55pm]
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Ig Nobel Awards [06 Oct 2009|12:21pm]
The 2009 Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded:)


As a materials scientist by training, I like the Chemistry and Peace winners particularly; but they're all doing great work.
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Instructions [03 Oct 2009|10:54pm]
Massively impractical on a large scale, but I can imagine some businesses where this would be an improvement on the status quo.

(Note: some images in link moderately NSFW)

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We should put lithium fluoride in the tap water, it's a twofer! [22 Sep 2009|03:33pm]

Is there lithium in sea salt?
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Great XKCD [04 Sep 2009|10:40am]
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Quoted for Truth [24 Aug 2009|09:29am]

Tech support is easier than it looks
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You can't always get what you want. [17 Aug 2009|09:48am]
How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting.


I like this article. The distinction between the chemical pathways for "wanting" and "liking" is intriguing. I wonder what would happen if you gave the rats control of an electrode for their own "liking" centers?
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Anachronistic 80's remix [31 Jul 2009|12:10am]
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