Category: Living

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Bye, Bye, Ruffy

Tonight our local veterinarian took Ruffalo, the rabbit we unexpectedly inherited. Ruffy is a cute bunny, friendly and energetic. He needed a better home than we could provide. If we didn’t have two rabbits already, he would have stayed with us.

I am sad to see Ruffy go. He was part of our family. But he needs a better family. The vet deeply loves animals, and I am confident she will find him a home. Yesterday, she sent out an e-mail to people she knows at National Institutes of Health (I provided photos). Several people asked about taking Ruffy. The vet may even keep him. She reminisced about the days when an Angora bunny hoped around the office and people would come by just to gawk at her. 

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Secretaries Don’t E-Mail

In March 2004, I appeared on PBS Newshour to discuss the European Union’s antitrust case against Microsoft. But I was by no means star of the night. The news show featured an interview face-off between Jim Lehrer and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I sat in another area of the same studio watching the Secretary answer Jim’s questions—well, sidestep many of them. The Defense Secretary struck me as out of touch, a sense I got more seeing him live than I ever have on television.

But even I underestimated just how out of touch is Donald Rumsfeld. Today, Newsweek columnist Mark Hosenball writes about the Karina hearings: “Congressional investigations of government responses to Hurricane Katrina have revealed that two of the nation’s key crisis managers, the secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, do not use e-mail”.

Uh, yeah. 

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Snow pelted Washington overnight. For once, the forecasters hit the mark. On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a storm warning from 6:00 Saturday to 6:00 Sunday, with projected snow fall between about 10-20 centimeters. By Saturday morning, the the weather service pushed the warning back to Noon and increased snowfall projections to about 15.5-30.5 centimeters.

I blew off the storm’s significance. At 1:00 early Sunday, accumulations on my back porch barely topped 2 centimeters. The situation dramatically changed in the four-and-a-half hours that followed. By 5:30, according to the measure of accumulation on my back porch, the storm dropped 28 centimeters of snow. 

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‘Live 8’ or Death

Two Saturdays ago, the family hauled off to Tysons Corner Center, so that my wife could shop at the New Balance store and my daughter at the Sketchers there. On a giant flat-panel monitor at the back of the Sketchers played Live 8, particularly Richard Ashcroft’s performance, with Coldplay, of The Verve staple “Bittersweet Symphony”.

The performance stuck with me, as did vague memories of Live 8, which I mostly missed. I certainly shouldn’t have overlooked the concert as much as I did. During summer 2005, I struggled through some logistical problems at work, which greatly distracted from many things that should have been greater priority. Events like Live 8 come `round maybe once in 20 years, if Live AID is any indication. 

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And Fish can Fly

Scientists force evolution? Maybe the folks over at LiveScience need to evolve their reporting. Adaptation isn’t evolution. Polypheniesm is typically environmentally caused; color change induced by environmental variations is to be expected.

Let’s look at ourselves, as example of where LiveScience falters. Homo Sapiens is considered to be one species, right? But there are different races, which, to my understanding aren’t considered subspecies. Racial variations would appear to have derived from environmental causes long ago. 

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Online Buying for Dumb People

I an in a foul mood because of Amazon affiliates. On January 17, my wife ordered textbook Japanese for Young People I: Student Book through one of Amazon’s affiliates. Twelve days later, we still don’t have the book, and another ordered with it.

I take the blame for the mistake. My wife asked my assistance when ordering the book, and being work rushed that day I failed to demonstrate diligence. I should have done what my daughter did: Check Amazon reviews of the seller. Many, many of the reviewers complained about long delivery times, no books received, or damaged items. I would have canceled right then, but I quickly learned that the seller provides no easy cancelation mechanism. So we gambled on the order, for which we received shipment notification on January 18, and lost. 

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This is Your Brain on Politics

Last night I fumed on about closed-minded evolutionists and creationists, neither of which is probably right but both think their position is absolute truth. Maybe science has an explanation for them in their good friends the politicians. today reports on a new study to be released about how politicians think. Researchers from Emory University MRI-scanned politicians’ brains while presenting them information about the “their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election”. The results were surprising, or maybe not, depending on pre-conceptions about politicians. 

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Theory Isn’t Fact

I find the ongoing debate about evolution versus creationism to be quite exhausting. Neither perspective really makes any sense, but strong philosophical and cultural biases play to favor one position or the other. The creationist’s biases are clear:

The Biblical seven-day account of the world’s creation; there are writings, supposedly inspired by God, which by their divine inspiration are indisputable. Evolutionists offer plenty evidence of dispute, such as the universe being more than 6,000 years old (I don’t doubt a much longer period of existence). 

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Hey, America, You’re Your Illiterate

American Institutes for Research issued a nice, tidy little study today: “The Literacy of America’s College Students” by Justin Baer, Andrea Cook, and Stephané Baldi. Apparently many college students nearing graduation lack basic skills to properly function. Nothing more important than the ability to balance a checkbook or, uh, read.

Speaking of literacy, why is the study’s title in lower case on the cover page? Here’s a good gift book for the report’s editors. 

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The Buck Stops Sales Here

Today may be a holiday, but my daughter has her first Japanese class. We’ve opened our home to other homeschoolers and the wonderful Japanese teacher.

This morning I followed a haircut at the local barber shop with a trip to the local CVS for some last-minute munchies for the Japanese students. One of my pet peeves: People using credit cards to buy stuff at stores like CVS or Rite Aid. Oh, how I just love to stand behind three or four people, each one buying a few dollars in items using a credit card. C`mon, who doesn’t or shouldn’t have five bucks in the wallet or purse—more purse, as most of the credit card purchasers do appear to be women. Is there some cultural or gender factor at work?