Reader Questions…

Alce writes…

As a recovering astronomer, though, I have to say that the sun isn’t still; it’s going around the Milky Way at 220 km/sec relative to the Milky Way’s halo. I can’t even remember how fast the Galaxy is moving relative to Andromeda. But you knew that.

Yeah, i knew that….but with the planets all moving with the sun around the milky way and the solar system moving with the galaxy all around space, I figured it could be considered ‘still’ relative to the Earth.
Courtney asks…

And now what are your views regarding life on other planets?
Happy pondering!

The universe is pretty much all the same ‘stuff’ from one end to the other, and around and around. All the same elements and all that spread out mostly evenly. Of course, there are globs and gloops and planets and stars, but on a universal scale, it’s pretty evenly spread out.
With that in mind, it’s pretty reasonable to guess that all of the factors that went into making life here, could probably happen again elsewhere. We already know that there are similar type stars with similar type planets and in a universe this big why not. At this point, however, it’s all conjecture and philosophy, but I accept the possibility of other life.
BUT….are there bipedal humanoids? blue people with slightly bigger foreheads? beings that look exactly like us but have an extra heart and pretty good hair? meh. We are shaped specifically by our evolution and our evolution is driven by specific factors, or more specifically it’s driven by a number of specific factors that just happened to have occurred when they did in the order they did. Are we mammalian because the dinosaurs were wiped out? Had they not been wiped out would they have gone further? If the specific electrolytic recipe of the ocean had been slightly different would fish have been able to transition to freshwater? Develop the kidneys and skeletons necessary to survive in the freshwater?
Then there’s the timing issues. Maybe they hit their pinnacle 2 billion years ago and are gone. Or are 2 billion years from sentience. Add distance to the mix and it is a distinct possibility that the earth will never ever come in contact with any form of other life.
Auntie Sue wonders…

now can you tell me how the cream center got into the twinkie?

Auntie Sue, when will you learn? All questions can be answered by faith and the bible.
Psalm 107:9
For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

I suggest you pray on this.

Wherein I offend creationists and maybe some other people…

When life gets me down I go and watch some Ray Comfort videos. For some reason, watching him chase his circular logic, poor understanding of physics and utter disregard for the truth just cheers me right up. The guy has all these bubble gum rock star metaphors that he uses to prove his belief system. The awesome thing about metaphors is that they take a very complicated situation and reduce is to factors that are theoretically of the same relational value but easier to relate to. I use metaphors all the time to explain things, I think in a very visual way and it allows me to turn non-visual concepts into easily envisioned situations.
The danger with metaphors as instructional tools is that often the relational values are not equal to the initial concept. So while the metaphor is quick and easy to understand, it ends up supplying a necessarily false explanation to the original situation.
Ray Comfort will often hold up a reproduction of the Mona Lisa and present this argument, “because this painting does exist I know that it must have a painter”. This is easy and true. It is a painting, we can apply the scientific method if we wanted to a determine that indeed, it has been painted and to have been painted, an agent had to act as the painter. From this he says that one does not need scientific proof that the universe has a creator, the existence of the universe necessarily means that it had to be created.
And that creator is god (specifically the Judeo-Christian anthropomorphic representation of god as found in his KJV Bible).
But that’s where his argument gets false. First, he uses the term “creator” intentionally. The word “creator” is an inherently anthropomorphic concept. Because he already has you accepting that a person painted the Mona Lisa, it’s easy enough to fold the creamy deliciousness of ‘creator’ and ‘god’ into the mix.
I could hold up a painting. This painting would not be the well recognized Mona Lisa, but something perhaps only one or two other people have ever seen. Perhaps one of my neighbors painted it. Maybe some paint spilled on the canvas and kind of looks nice. Again, we can agree that the existence of the painting necessarily means that an agent acted as the painter. Unlike the Mona Lisa, which has much verifiable documentation as to its provenance, my painting merely exists as the creation of an unknown and unquantifiable creator.
What if someone were to stand up and claim to know who painted it? What if they had in their hand an email they had printed out saying that 12Pound Moon Harry painted this painting? How does he know this is true? The email says it, sure, but can he provide corroborating evidence? What if someone else says “no! I got an email today saying that Plantagenet Jane painted that picture!”
Are both emails equal? In the absence of corroborating evidence do we pick one over the other or do we investigate further? We continue to investigate. We cannot just pick based on this information.
Unfortunately, Ray Comfort’s Mona Lisa metaphor actually mixes two philosophical/scientific issues. The first if the Prime Mover/First Cause issue and the other is the existence of a god in some form or another.
The argument that the mere existence of the universe is evidence enough of some larger force at work and a force that big must be god, isn’t entirely accurate. The first cause is simply that agent which which did act in some way to cause the creation of the universe. Astrophysicists and cosmologists do not know what the first cause or prime mover was. The search for this answer has gone on since the beginning of time and will go on for a very long time. Most religions agree that their particular god or gods were responsible for the first cause. That’s cool. The issue, however, is that accepting a concept with no independently verifiable data is ‘faith’ and that belongs in religion/philosophy. Science and learning cannot just accept the unverifiable, that is the antithesis of science.
You can have faith in a god and still work to learn and decode the mysteries of the universe. These things are not mutually exclusive. Just because we learned that the sun was not a chariot driven across the sky each day by Hermes, doesn’t diminish the awesomeness or reality of the sun. All it does is add a better foundation of knowledge to future endeavors. Learning that the sun is still and the earth revolves around it allowed mathematicians and scientists to measure and calculate the world in a much more accurate way. This does not negate faith.
Does a god exist in some fashion? Depends on who you ask. Ultimately, believing in a god requires faith, something I do not have.
Ray also quite often confuses the big bang with the prime mover with the origins of the matter of the universe. These are all different things. The big bang describes the actions after 10-43 seconds after the first cause. So this means that from the moment of zero to 10-43 seconds (a really really really small sliver of a tiny fraction of a bit of one second) the actions of the universe are not part of the big bang. From 10-43 (or 10-15 depending on which model you use) to 100 million years later is the big bang. The big bang does not explain the origins of the matter in the universe, it does not relate any information about the prime mover. The big bang is merely a model of the development of the universe from one point in time (10-43 seconds) to another (100million years).
Where did all the ‘stuff’ in the universe come from? Scientists do not know. This is important. Scientists do not know. God? not necessarily. Unlike Ray and his ‘beliefs’, science is not static. It is not a final answer. It is forever moving forward and discovering. It is not enough to blindly accept that if we don’t know now it must be because we can never understand later. It’s okay not to know something.
To say that the big bang theory violates the first law of thermodynamics is also incorrect. We don’t know where the energy and matter came from. We do not know what existed before 10-43 seconds. No scientist claims that the universe was formed from nothing.
As for evolution violating the second law of thermodynamics (that systems tend toward entropy when isolated), well, the key word is ‘isolated’. The earth is not an isolated or closed system. A closed system receives no influence in the form of energy from outside of it. Earth is a great big wide open system with a nice nearby star constantly dumping energy onto it.
Now, I am going to go take a nap before making dinner. Next time, I’m going to go on and on with my issues regarding the tree of knowledge because whoa! if that one single tree does not just bug the everloving shit out of me!


The kitchen cabinet that holds my pots and pans is a mess. An absolute horror of disarray and disorganization this cabinet is.
It’s not that my posts and pans don’t fit in there, they do! They all nest neatly one inside the next, all matching stainless or anodized aluminum, very pretty. Also have a stack of super cheap IKEA fry pans for the hardcore abuse type cooking. It was all nice and neat when I moved in back in 2005. It remained neat for a good while, but lately…
Lately the cabinet has taken on its own sort of persona.
No, let me rephrase that for accuracy…
Lately, the cabinet has taken on a reflection of MY OWN persona. This cabinet is a metaphor for all the times I did not learn my lesson! Oh yes. Now the pots and pans are crammed in there willy nilly. All smushed and at unreal angles, bigger pots on top of smaller, fry pans scattered here and there, nothing really fits. In fact, it takes me longer to cram things in there so that the door will shut than it would if I just reorganized it and did it right!
I know this! This is a thing I know!
In fact! IN FACT! This was one of the more popular sentiments* shared with me by adults when I was younger, “you know, it would be faster and easier to just fix the problem than build a hugely insane work around.” I’m clever, I know that! I knew it then and I know it now! It’s not that I didn’t learn. I remember all those ‘lessons’ meant to teach me ‘responsibility’. It’s not that I didn’t learn, it’s just that I never really cared.
it’s true
yeah, it would take me less time in the long run if I just reorganized the cabinet. You know what would save even more time? Eating the vegetables straight out of the bag in the freezer, then I would not even have to deal with washing the pans!**
I’m 35. I remember when my parents were 35. They did adult things like be responsible and have nice tidy kitchen cabinets. on the other hand, I seem to remember they never actually spent much time keeping said cabinets tidy and organized. If I recall correctly, I was the one tasked with keeping things neat and tidy and organized. It was part of a regiment of lessons concerning responsibility. If I spent my childhood learning how to keep kitchen cabinets organized and the benefits of wiping up juice immediately after spilling it on the floor, then as an adult I would be able to do these things effortlessly. I bet they were pretty pleased with this plan.
It seems, however, that I learned something entirely different. The thing that I learned was that as an adult you can get your kids to do the things you are not interested in doing AND you can pretend like it’s all about life lessons!
I guess the real onion in the ointment is that I never had kids…and the dogs are too damned lazy and thumbless to have any ‘real’ responsibility. Crap.
* other popular sentiments were “don’t you feel bad getting your friends in trouble” and the favorite, “but you have so much potential! you’re smarter than a D average”
** I would also stop wearing pants completely in order to save on laundry times, but the afternoon manager at the grocery store gets all uptight about partial nudity in the cereal aisle.

this thing this

First and foremost…the effexor update…
Dropping from 319mg down to 300mg was rough. Really rough. I spent a lot of time being very upset, crying, hating people, feeling like I had the flu, sleeping and also hating people. At the same time my hormones did their monthly plummet and that…exacerbated things.
David and I decided that I will stay at 300 until I am fully stable again. So I’m thinking probably 2 weeks at 300mg and then I’ll move down again.
Everything else?
Well yes, the other things…
David convinced me to go to trivia night at Merlin’s Rest on Sunday night. That shit was hard. I’ve never done bar trivia, but David had been going with some of his friends and finally I joined in. They said most bar trivia was pop culture and current events stuff. I can do current even news stuff, but pop culture would kill me. The trivia at Merlin’s Rest was a lot of news, history and science. Needless to say, I had an awesome time, even if we did score rather poorly (Why the hell could I not remember the Indus River??? Seriously! That was the answer to 2 questions!). I’ll have to study up better for next time, and it seems that Dingley has a thing about cows and I should probably learn about cows too.
Been feeling creative lately and have been pumping out purses for sale…of course mostly they sell before I can get them on Etsy, which is a pretty damned good deal if you ask me!


Speaking of Etsy, I put up some new yarn the other day. MMMMMM caterpillar invasions!
And, this week is David’s spring break which we kicked off by laying in bed and discussing ancient Sumerians! Nerdy? not as nerdy as this:
The other night I had a dream in which many nutty things happened. At one point I was trying to find David and I was calling out to him, but he wasn’t responding. Then I realized that I had to call out “my mermaid man” except in Italian in order to get him to respond. Huh. I don’t speak Italian. In my dream I sat there trying to figure out what the Italian word for mermaid might be. Then I remembered MANATEES!!! Manatees belong to the order Sirenia! They were often mistaken for mermaids and Sirenia is Latin for MERMAID!!! I figured it all the fuck out in my dream! “Mia Sirenio Uomo!!! Mia Sirenia Uomo!!” Obviously it’s not grammatically correct Italian but the nerd factor of that damned dream was so huge it cannot be measured. damn.
Oh, yeah and he DID finally respond to me, he’d been in the bathtub in the house that had been built around the gigantic elevator doors…the doors to the elevators to the basement of the parking garage outside the the small town Nebraska arena where the minor league basketball teams had their championship games (we had a suite in the arena and we used a fake credit card to pay for it but they didn’t care and even gave me a new tire for my car!). The elevators were not working, so I went across the street to the houses built around those elevators to see if maybe it was a system wide issue or just something wrong with those elevators. When I looked back the house was on fire and David was inside! People were throwing snow on the house and I ran up and broke all the glass in the windows so the people could breathe.
And this is where we came in, I had to find David because he’d been in the burning house. I needed to make sure he was okay.
and now might be the time for the big sandwich.

HI HI HI!!! I am doing the thing that is looking for you!

HI HI HI!!!Oh my god!!! HI!!! Okay! HI!
HI! My name is Chester12Pound and I am the age that is 3 and I am a thing that is the North American Meatball Terrier and I am the truth that is AWESOME
About the thing that is Chester (me)
Name: Chester 12 Pound
Nicknames: Munson, tunk, puntsen, ONOMONKEE, Little one, asshole, Duke Chester III of Nokomia
Height: Approx 12 inches at the thing that is my shoulder
Weight: 34 pounds
Build: Solid as a meatloaf
Age: 3
Color: White with black patches and grey deckles
Eyes: Root Beer
Sex: Boy
Hometown: Nokomia
Education: Two Dog Obedience Classes
Living With: The Lady, The Man and Maddie
Puppies: No
Wants Puppies: Sigh, they did the thing that was the neuter
The things that I like
Favorite Song: “He’s the Munsonite”
Favorite Book: “Biscuit: From Plain to Peanut Butter, How One Treat Changed the World”
Favorite Movie: The one that is me and Maddie at the Dog Park
Favorite toy: OH MY GOD!!! My TOY!!!! I love my toy so much and no one can ever do the thing that is touch my toy! I have to do the thing that is bury my toy so that no one can touch it, not even MADDIE!
Favorite Activity: OH MY GOD!!! The Dog Park!!! Do you do the thing that is go to the dog park! Because I love to go to the dog park and it is the thing that is so much fun!!! and I can do the thing that is run around like a CHESTER and there are the dogs that are the other dogs and they like to run with CHESTER (me) and I can make peewee wherever I want to make a peewee and sometimes there is the thing that is a toad that has the insides of the toad on the outside of the toad!!! and OH MY GOD!!! If you find that! If you FIND THAT TOAD!!! You can do the thing that is roll on it like this SZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZSZS and it smells like the thing that is the best smell ever and it gets on you and you smell like a toad that has its insides on the part that is the outside and when you roll on the toad sometimes the insides of the toad go on the outsides of YOU!!! and at the dog park you can smell the things that are every where and you can run and you can jump on Maddie and then you run away from Maddie and the thing that is true is that Maddie can’t catch me and knock me down except for the times that she does that.
Likes: Peanut butter biscuit, the way that a butt has a smell, my special bed, Maddie, making peewee, my toy, my bones, special hugs, when the lady makes the thing that is roast and I can have some, ear scritches, belly rubs, stinky toads, mushy dog food, doing the thing that is hauling ass around the yard, chasing the man, the basement, naps in the sun, carrots, peanuts, forehead kisses
Dislikes: baths, THE MAILMAN, when the thing happens that I am in trouble, boxers, car rides, sharing, being the thing that is alone, when Maddie finds my toy!
The things that are the things that maybe you are
You should be the things that are the good and the nice and also like to go to the dog park and run run RUN with me (Chester) and go on the long walks and take turns smelling the butts and the pee mail and finding the things that are the biggest smells and making jokes about the man picking up the poop and helping me knock Maddie down and maybe then do some cuddles and have a peanut butter biscuit! Is this a thing that maybe is a thing we could do?


okay!!! BYE BYE BYE