• Lucy

    Filed under Uncategorized
    Dec 31

    Our cat Lucy died this morning. She was about 16 years old. She had a squamous cell cancer in her lower jaw that was untreatable. Diagnosed last August, she really did surprisingly well for longer than was expected. It was only in the last week that she was definitely not feeling good.

    I adopted Lucy and her brother, Roy (who died on 9/12/2001), when I lived in Minneapolis. They were part of a litter of kittens that a stray cat had birthed in the outdoor window well of a house belonging to a couple of women my vet knew. The women were looking for homes for the kittens, the vet knew I’d just lost my cat Gus, and a match was made. The two women came to my house with Roy and Lucy. They were so sad they had to give them away! The were especially fond of Lucy who, even as a little kitten, had an adorable silly personality.

    I think those women would have been glad to know that Lucy had a long life with people who loved her and took good care of her.

    Lucy was a feisty little cat who loved climbing. When Mark and I were first married, my cats and I moved into his townhouse in Manassas, Virginia. Mark had a pair of expensive, custom-made curtains in the living room — the kind with a valence and swags and all that. (I hated those curtains — ugly!) One day, Mark came home from work to find that Lucy had climbed the curtains. She was up at the top, hanging off the valence, with this excited expression on her face like “Look what I’ve done! Isn’t this cool!?!!” Heh, heh… I have to admit, I didn’t discourage her from future climbing expeditions. It was a good way to get rid of the curtains. :-)

    Although Lucy was an “indoor cat”, she did get out of the house a couple of times when we were living in Iowa. One time when she got out, she climbed up a neighbor’s tree and wouldn’t come down. So there I was, standing in my neighbor’s yard, calling for this cat — trying to be all enticing, you know? — and my neighbor (who was a weird crazy lady) was giving me dirty looks out her window. I’ll bet it was at least a half an hour before she finally climbed down! Sigh…

    Lucy was an unusually playful cat for her age — almost right to the end. She was very kitten-like in behavior and appearance. She used to make this great noise when she’d first see you: Brrrrrt!

    We’ll miss her.

  • Dec 26

    I began reading Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel by Rebecca Goldstein months ago but I never finished it. It’s not that the book wasn’t good. It was. I was just … preoccupied with something. (I have no idea what.) I just ran across the review of it that I’d begun putting together, though, and I think it still makes relatively interesting reading, so… here it is.

    I’m a Platonist.

    I believe there is an essential unchanging reality and that the purpose of science (and mathematics) is to discover the nature of that reality. Like Gödel, I believe that numbers exist independent of us and that concepts such as evenness and oddness, square roots, and such are hard realities of the universe that exist entirely outside our own minds.

    I believe that when reality seems slippery — as at the subatomic and cosmic levels — it’s only because of limitations in the human mind and not because reality itself is slippery.

    This is all very obvious to me — and it’s not because I’m uneducated about “potentiality” and “uncertainty” or am entirely reliant upon experiential reality. I simply reject the notion that our human inability to accurately predict some kinds of phenomena is a reflection of some quality of reality itself.

    You can’t see the entire system as long as you are a part of the system. Einstein knew it (relativity) and Gödel knew it (incompleteness).
    Truth is abstract — and mathematics is the language in which it is written.

  • Dec 26

    D.C. Humane Society Hopes to Curb Killing
    The Washington Humane Society has announced a five-year goal of eliminating euthanasia of adoptable animals brought to the D.C. shelter, potentially saving the lives of thousands of cats and dogs by finding homes for more of them and preventing unwanted births.

    Hurray for the DC Humane Society! At least they’re trying. Here’s how it is: If you’re going to have pets, you’ve got to neuter them. Period. And you’ve got to keep them inside — unless you live WAAAAY out in the country. Then they can go outside during the day, but only if you’re with them to monitor what they’re doing. And you’ve got to take them to the vet at least once a year for their shots and an exam.

    Too many people treat animals like possessions — throwing them out, like an old rug, when they grow tired of the animal or when caring for it becomes more work than they want to do. Our cat George, for example. George was a stray who’d been hanging around our backyard for a while. When I was able to get close enough to really look him over, I could see that he’d been living outside for a while. His fur was pretty dirty and his paws were rough and dirty. It was only after we brought him inside to live with us that we discovered he’s deaf. He’d obviously been someone’s pet at some point. He’d been neutered and declawed and he was very likely an expensive cat — he’s a Japanese Bobtail. But he’s a high-strung cat. He’s very aggressive. VERY aggressive. And he’s had ongoing bladder problems (now under control with medication) that made him pee in the wrong places for a while. So, someone put this cat outside to fend for himself — this deaf, declawed cat. It’s a good thing we found him before a dog or a car did. People who treat animals like that are horrible and, frankly, the world would be a better place without them.

    And while I’m at it, let me just write a few words about breeders and the people who buy “pure-bred” dogs and cats. Unless you’re a sheep rancher who needs a good herding dog, you’re really wasting your money — and perpetuating a condition that’s actually bad for animals — by buying a “pure-bred” animal. “Pure-bred” animals have more health problems than mixed breeds. Worse, when you buy a “pure-bred” dog or cat, you are in essence condemning to death a mixed-breed animal who could have been adopted from a shelter.

    I understand that people will often buy a “pure-bred” animal because they want the animal to have a certain kind of personality and they’ve been persuaded (by breeders) that buying “pure-bred” is some sort of guarantee of this. That’s pretty much complete bullshit. While it’s true that some characteristics can be broadly associated with certain breed groups (particularly in dogs), you don’t need a “pure-bred” to enjoy those characteristics. So, if you want a small dog with lots of energy, it’s probably a good idea to look for a dog with some terrier in him. You don’t need a “pure-bred” Jack Russell. If you want a small fluffy lap-dog sort of thing, you don’t need a “pure-bred” Lhasa Apso. A fuzzy mixed-breed is just as likely to have the personality you want — only without the health problems and without supporting the inherently abusive breeding business. As bad as dog-breeding is, cat-breeding is even worse because there are so many more mixed-breed cats who need homes.

    Well… anyway. That’s what I think of all that. On a mostly unrelated note, this morning an opposum came up onto the deck looking for left-over squirrel peanuts. Cool! They’re so strange looking!

  • Dec 25

    Remembering a Victory For Human Kindness:
    On Christmas Day near the village of Fromelles, members of the 6th Battalion of the Gordon Highlander Regiment met their German enemies in a 60-yard-wide no man’s land and together buried about 100 bodies. A service of prayers and the 23rd Psalm was arranged. ‘They were read first in English by our Padre and then in German by a boy who was studying for the ministry,’ a 19-year-old second lieutenant named Arthur Pelham Burn wrote to a friend. ‘The Germans formed up on one side, the English on the other, the officers standing in front, every head bared. Yes, I think it was a sight one will never see again.’

    91 years ago today, goodness and simple decency prevailed, for a little while at least, over hate and violence. I think most people have this desire for peace within them–if they can only put aside their political and social prejudices long enough to recognize how much they really have in common with others.

    The issues that divide us are so petty compared to all that unites us.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  • Dec 22

    Salon.com | “The law is king”
    “The fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy,” [Bush] said.

    No, Mr. Bush. Circumventing the laws the of the United States is helping the enemy. By your actions, you’ve made a mockery of the very principles of democracy you claim to be promoting in the Middle East. You have shamed this country and you should step down before you can do any more damage.

  • Dec 22

    Salon.com News | Bush’s impeachable offense
    “The fact is, the federal law is perfectly clear,” [Jonathan Turley, professor at the George Washington University School of Law] says. “At the heart of this operation was a federal crime. The president has already conceded that he personally ordered that crime and renewed that order at least 30 times. This would clearly satisfy the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors for the purpose of an impeachment.”

    Well. It’s about time the media started talking about impeachment. It’s really been a bit of a mystery to me why only a few Democrat congresspeople have brought it up. Maybe after the mid-term elections, when the Republicans lose their majority (and they will lose their majority), the Democrats will no longer be afraid to enforce the law. I swear, we’ve got the whingiest bunch of Democrats in office these days… and they’re not even whinging! They’re just sitting there with stupid sheepish looks on their faces. What will it take to knock some sense into these people? Here’s my promise to candidates from my part of northern Virginia: the first one who publicly calls for Bush’s impeachment has got my vote.

    In the meanwhile, I’ve also got to wonder why the Washington Post is only now (and only in small-to-medium sized headlines) beginning to very tentatively suggest that maybe…just maybe… what Bush did was criminal. In this salon.com article, a Post staffer suggests that the paper is waiting until a whole bunch of congresscritters start calling for impeachment. What the fuck? The truth of a situation doesn’t become somehow more true just because a lot of people have finally come to recognize it as the truth! It’s the job of newspapers like the Post to report all the facts — not to only report the popular facts. Jeez… and this is the paper that first reported on the Watergate break-in? Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

  • Dec 21
  • Dec 21

    Senate Blocks Arctic Drilling Provision
    In debate before the cloture vote, Stevens told fellow senators, “We know this Arctic. You don’t know the Arctic at all.” At issue, he said, was “2,000 acres of the Arctic,” the amount of land in the refuge that would be opened for drilling. “Is that worth this fight?”

    Why, yes, Ted. It is worth the fight.

    Jesus — is Ted Stevens ever a prick.

    He tacks this goddamned “drilling in the Arctic” thing onto a defense bill at the last minute with the apparent presumption that people will be so anxious to pass the defense measures that they either won’t notice the Arctic drilling part or they’ll be willing to overlook it. It’s true that Stevens has brought all kinds of money back to Alaska. They love him there. They even named the airport after him. But, like Americans in the “lower 48″ before them, the Alaskans see so much wilderness around them that they don’t fully appreciate that it’s limited.

    More than 10 billion barrels of crude oil are estimated to lie under the refuge, and President Bush has repeatedly urged that they be tapped to help ease U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

    Bush is such an asshole. The only rational solution to our dependence on foreign oil is to reduce (and eventually completely eliminate) our use of oil period. Duh.

    God, but these people really piss me off… bunch of short-sited fools.

  • Dec 21

    “Dan” linked to this blog entry in his comment on my “Are People Coming to Their Senses?” post:

    TCS: Tech Central Station – Why Intelligent Design Is Going to Win
    It doesn’t matter if you like it or not. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s true or not. Intelligent Design theory is destined to supplant Darwinism as the primary scientific explanation for the origin of human life. ID will be taught in public schools as a matter of course. It will happen in our lifetime. It’s happening right now, actually.

    Okay, I’ll bite.

    First, referring to Intelligent Design as a “scientific explanation” betrays a complete misunderstanding of what science is. One might argue that since “science” is just a word it can mean whatever we want it to mean — but that simply is not true. You can call a pig an eagle, but that won’t make it fly. Intelligent Design is a religious idea. That’s what it always will be. Science — REAL science — has given us everything that makes the modern world modern. Few people are ready to abandon the benefits of science and return to the Dark Ages. That’s why, as the majority of people in this country seem to be putting their brains back in gear, Intelligent Design will continue to lose support. (Consider that all eight of the pro-ID school board members in Dover, PA were voted out of office in the last election. Before the controvery there, people in Dover just weren’t paying attention. Now they’re paying attention.)

    There’s another reason why Intelligent Design is losing ground. When a person accepts Intelligent Design as an explanation for the complexity of life on earth, they are, in essence, saying “I’m going to quit trying to understand this. It’s too hard. I’m not smart enough.” People are beginning to realize that Intelligent Design is a symptom of intellectual laziness — and intellectual laziness inevitably leads to cultural decline. We can’t afford to get stupider. If we want to continue to advance as a species, we need to keep getting smarter and science — real science — is the only proven way to become smarter about the world around us.

    Finally, the creation of Intelligent Design “theory” and the increased influence of fundamentalist religions are nothing more than predictable reactions to a rapidly changing world. When people experience an unsettling rate of cultural change, many find comfort in the idea of a supernatural creator who’s in control of everything. They may turn to unambiguous black-and-white explanations of how the world works. This sort of intellectual back-sliding is always temporary. I have no doubt that Intelligent Design — like so many other fanciful ideas of the past — will eventually be nothing more than a slightly embarrassing footnote in the history books.

  • Dec 21

    Hot Points – A blog by Go Daddy founder and president Bob Parsons
    I insist that if someone is calling me and I don’t know them, that they immediately get to the point with what they want.

    I love this post by Bob Parsons. And I love the picture of Bob on his web site. He looks like such a hard ass. And I’m very fond of Go Daddy and have several domains registered and hosted with them.

    Bob is absolutely right that you do not owe strangers any of your time. You simply don’t. In some ways, Bob’s more polite to these strangers than I am. He, at least, warns them that they have 30 seconds to get to the point. What I sometimes do when a stranger launches into a long spiel about isn’t it a lovely day today and a happy holiday season to you and yours and let me explain this fabulous opportunity to you… is I just set the telephone down on the kitchen countertop and walk away. Who knows how long the idiot on the other end of the line will keep yapping before he realizes there’s no one there? My signal that it’s time to hang up the phone is when I hear that loud beeping “no connection” sound.

    When you telephone my home, you are entering my personal space. If I haven’t invited you into my space, I don’t have any obligation to talk to you. Period. I should just hang up on you but, I have to admit, I take a certain sadistic glee in letting you waste your time talking to nobody.

    As everyone who knows me well already realizes, I pretty much hate the telephone anyway. And I loathe voicemail. It’s disturbing, the number of people who don’t know how to leave a decent voicemail message. Here’s how to leave voicemail, fools!

    1. Speak VERY clearly.
    2. State your full name at the beginning and the end of the message and, if the person you’re calling isn’t a personal friend or relative, SPELL your last name.
    3. Give your telephone number slowly and very clearly. TWICE.

    Northing irks me quite like having to listen to a message 2 or 3 times in order to decode who in the hell is calling, what their telephone number is, and what the hell they want. Oh, and like Bob Parsons, if you’re a stranger calling with some message to the effect of “I’m about to make an important decision and I need your imput before I can do so!”, forget it. You’re not hearing from me, fool. You think I don’t recognize a lame-ass sales scam when I hear it?

    If you want to communicate with me, the best way to go is email. But get to the point, okay?