Thursday, December 24, 2009

Plectanthrus Failing - An update on Future Projects

Today I broke my Plectanthrus 'Mona Lavender'. It was a bit sad. The bigger portion of the plant broke off, but it is still alright. I put it in water, and perhaps I can get another plant out of it. It has been a while since I have written about my plants.

The spider plants have been planted into the makeshift window planter, and they seem to be coming along nicely. However, they keep falling off. Not just the spider plants but that's how I broke my Plactanthrus. I can't wait until this weekend though. My plans will soon be complete, and it will prevent many of the issues I am currently facing. My plan is to put up no less than 3 shelves on my wall for plants and for the tank I will soon be obtaining which will house my gecko.

Which means I need to plan a trip to home depot. I don't have a car, so perhaps my mom will be able to help me out with this one. I am not that good at houseman work either, but I think I can manage some simple shelves. I also wanted to hang my keyblade on my wall, as well as the poster of my research I had from Vermont. This means I have a lot of work I need to do, which will most likely be done this coming Monday, my day off. I work Saturday morning, and on Sunday, I work the cafe in the morning, and the audit at night.

Saturday seems like the optimal time to do this type of work, but it is not. I have a friend who needs to return to Germany on the 29th, and Saturday may be the only day I have to see her. Also my girl is off of work this week, but because of my horrible work schedule, we wont be able to see each other much. So Saturday is also a day I have to see, and hang out with her. She may be able to help me out on Monday also. I need pots too for all my seeds, like the seeds of the petunia plants I have, and the Hibiscus seeds I have from Ernie as well. I am thinking that they might be also good seeds to put into the tank with my gecko. They grow very well and quickly. The only problem is the humidity in a tank may be too much for them. More on this later.

So I put the severed 'Mona Lavender' into water, and pretty soon it will need a pot. A big pot, since this plant is larger than normal. If I am able to successfully root this piece, then it will be the 3rd 'Mona Lavender" in my collection. I may also throw it into the mix.

As for the sundew I got from Ernie, it didn't make it. Perhaps it was too hot near my windowsill, or in my room. Either way life is hard for the greenlife in my room.

I can't wait for the spring. My Amaryllis is currently hybernating, but I cannot wait for it to come out of it's sleepy state. Till then, I will keep cuddling, and keep myself in a sleepy state.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Special Comment on The Lastest Healthcare Reform Bill by Keith Olbermann

By Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'
updated 9:16 p.m. ET, Wed., Dec . 16, 2009

Keith Olbermann
Anchor, 'Countdown'

Finally, as promised, a Special Comment on the latest version of H-R 35-90, the Senate Health Care Reform bill. To again quote Churchill after Munich, as I did six nights ago on this program: "I will begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing: that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, without a war."

Last night on this program Howard Dean said that with the appeasement of Mr. Lieberman of Connecticut by the abandonment of the Medicare Buy-in, he could no longer support H-R 35-90. Dr. Dean's argument is informed, cogent, heart breaking, and unanswerable.

Seeking the least common denominator, Sen. Reid has found it, especially the "least" part. This is not health, this is not care, this is certainly not reform. I bless the Sherrod Browns and Ron Wydens and Jay Rockefellers and Sheldon Whitehouses and Anthony Weiners and all the others who have fought for real reform and I bleed for the pain inflicted upon them and their hopes. They have done their jobs and served their nation.

But through circumstances beyond their control, they are now seeking to reanimate a corpse killed by the Republicans, and by a political game played in the Senate and in the White House by men and women who have now proved themselves poorly equipped for the fight. The "men" of the current moment, have lost to the "mice" of history.

They must now not make the defeat worse by passing a hollow shell of a bill just for the sake of a big-stage signing ceremony. This bill, slowly bled to death by the political equivalent of the leeches that were once thought state-of-the-art-medicine, is now little more than a series of microscopically minor tweaks of a system which is the real-life, here-and-now version, of the malarkey of the Town Hallers. The American Insurance Cartel is the Death Panel, and this Senate bill does nothing to destroy it. Nor even to satiate it.

It merely decrees that our underprivileged, our sick, our elderly, our middle class, can be fed into it, as human sacrifices to the great maw of corporate voraciousness, at a profit per victim of 10 cents on the dollar instead of the current 20. Even before the support columns of reform were knocked down, one by one, with the kind of passive defense that would embarrass a touch-football player - single-payer, the public option, the Medicare Buy-In - before they vanished, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the part of this bill that would require you to buy insurance unless you could prove you could not afford it, would cost a family of four with a household income of 54-thousand dollars a year, 17 percent of that income. Nine thousand dollars a year. Just for the insurance!

That was with a public option. That was with some kind of check on the insurance companies. That was before — as Howard Dean pointed out — the revelation that the cartel will still be able to charge older people more than others; will — at the least — now be able to charge much more, maybe 50 percent more, for people with pre-existing conditions — pre-existing conditions; you know, like being alive.

You have just agreed to purchase a product. If you do not, you will be breaking the law and subject to a fine. You have no control over how much you will pay for the product. The government will have virtually no control over how much the company will charge for the product. The product is designed like the Monty Python sketch about the insurance company's "Never-Pay" policy ... "which, you know, if you never claim — is very worthwhile. But you had to claim, and, well, there it is."

And who do we have to blame for this? There are enough villains to go around, men and women who, in a just world, would be the next to get sick and have to sell their homes or their memories or their futures — just to keep themselves alive, just to keep their children alive, against the implacable enemy of American society, the insurance cartel. Mr. Grassley of Iowa has lied, and fomented panic and fear. Mr. DeMint of South Carolina has forgotten he represents people, and not just a political party. Mr. Baucus of Montana has operated as a virtual agent for the industry he is charged with regulating. Mr. Nelson of Nebraska has not only derailed reform, he has tried to exploit it to overturn a Supreme Court decision that, in this context, is frankly none of his goddamned business.

They say they have done what they have done for the most important, the most fiscally prudent, the most gloriously phrased, the most inescapable of reasons. But mostly they have done it for the money. Lots and lots of money from the insurance companies and the pharmacological companies and the other health care companies who have slowly taken this country over.

Which brings us to Mr. Lieberman of Connecticut, the one man at the center of this farcical perversion of what a government is supposed to be. Out of pique, out of revenge, out of betrayal of his earlier wiser saner self, he has sold untold hundreds of thousands of us into pain and fear and privation and slavery — for money. He has been bought and sold by the insurance lobby. He has become a Senatorial prostitute. And sadly, the President has not provided the leadership his office demands.

He has badly misjudged the country's mood at all ends of the spectrum. There is no middle to coalesce here, Sir. There are only the uninformed, the bought-off, and the vast suffering majority for whom the urgency of now is a call from a collection agency or a threat of rescission of policy or a warning of expiration of services.

Sir, your hands-off approach, while nobly intended and perhaps yet some day applicable to the reality of an improved version of our nation, enabled the national humiliation that was the Town Halls and the insufferable Neanderthalian stupidity of Congressman Wilson and the street-walking of Mr. Lieberman.

Instead of continuing this snipe-hunt for the endangered and possibly extinct creature "bipartisanship," you need to push the Republicans around or cut them out or both. You need to threaten Democrats like Baucus and the others with the ends of their careers in the party. Instead, those Democrats have threatened you, and the Republicans have pushed you and cut you out.

Mr. President, the line between "compromise" and "compromised" is an incredibly fine one. Any reform bill enrages the right, and provides it with the war cry around which it will rally its mindless legions in the midterms and in '12. But this Republican knee-jerk inflexibility provides an incredible opportunity to you, Sir, and an incredible license.

On April 6th 2003, I was approached by two drunken young men at a baseball game. One of them started to ask for an autograph. The other stopped him by shouting "Screw him, he's a liberal." This program had been on the air for three weeks. It had to that point consisted entirely of brief introductions to correspondents in Iraq or to military analysts. There had been no criticism, no political analysis, no commentary. I had not covered news full-time for more than four years. I could not fathom on what factual basis, I was being called a "liberal," let alone being sworn at for being such.

Only later did it dawn on me that it didn't matter why, and it didn't matter that they were doing it — it only mattered that if I was going to be mindlessly criticized for anything, the reaction would be identical whether I did nothing that engendered it, or stood for something that engendered it.

Mr. President, they are calling you a socialist, a communist, a Marxist. You could be further to the right than Reagan - and this health care bill, as Howard Dean put it here last night, this bailout for the insurance industry, sure invites the comparison. And they will still call you names.

Sir, if they are going to call you a socialist no matter what you do, you have been given full unfettered freedom to do what you know is just. The bill may be the ultimate political manifesto, or it may be the most delicate of compromises. The firestorm will be the same. So why not give the haters, as the cliché goes, something to cry about.

But concomitant with that is the reaction from Democrats and Independents. You have riven them, Sir. Any bill will engender criticism but this bill costs you the left — and anybody who now has to pony up 17 percent of his family's income to buy this equivalent of Medical Mobster Protection Money.

Some speaking for you, Sir, have called the public option a fetish. They may be right. But to stay with this uncomfortable language, this bill is less fetish, more bondage. Nothing short of your re-election and the re-election of dozens of Democrats in the house and senate, hinges in large part on this bill. Make it palatable or make it go away or make yourself ready — not merely for a horrifying campaign in 2012 — but for the distinct possibility also of a primary challenge.

Befitting the season, Sir, these are not the shadows of the things that will be, but the shadows of the things that may be. But at this point, Mr. President, only you can make certain of that. There is only one redemption possible. The mandate in this bill under which we are required to buy insurance must be stripped out.

The bill now is little more than a legally mandated delivery of the middle class (and those whose dreams of joining it slip ever further away) into a kind of Chicago stockyards of insurance. Make enough money to take care of yourself and your family and you must buy insurance — on the insurers terms — or face a fine.

This provision must go. It is, above all else, immoral and a betrayal of the people who elected you, Sir. You must now announce that you will veto any bill lacking an option or buy-in, but containing a mandate.

And Sen. Reid, put the public option back in, or the Medicare Buy-In, or both. Or single-payer. Let Lieberman and Ben Nelson and Baucus and the Republicans vote their lack-of-conscience and preclude 60 "ayes." Let them commit political suicide instead of you.

Let Mr. Lieberman kill the bill — then turn to his Republican friends only to find out they hate him more than the Democrats do. Let him stagger off the public stage, to go work for the insurance industry. As if he is not doing that now.

Then, Mr. Reid, take every worthwhile provision of health care reform you legally can, and pass it via reconciliation, when ever and how ever you can — and by the way, a Medicare Buy-In can be legally passed via reconciliation. The Senate bill with the mandate must be defeated, if not in the Senate, then in the House.

Health care reform that benefits the industry at the cost of the people is intolerable and there are no moral constructs in which it can be supported. And if still the bill and this heinous mandate become law there is yet further reaction required. I call on all those whose conscience urges them to fight, to use the only weapon that will be left to us if this bill becomes law. We must not buy federally mandated insurance if this cheesy counterfeit of reform is all we can buy.

No single payer? No sale. No public option? No sale. No Medicare buy-in? No sale. I am one of the self-insured, albeit by choice. And I hereby pledge that I will not buy this perversion of health care reform. Pass this at your peril, Senators, and sign it at yours, Mr. President. I will not buy this insurance. Brand me a lawbreaker if you choose. Fine me if you will. Jail me if you must.

But if the Medicare Buy-In goes, but the Mandate stays, the people who fought so hard and so sincerely to bring sanity to this system must kill this mutated version of their dream, because those elected by us to act for us have forgotten what must be the golden rule of health care reform. It is the same one to which physicians are bound, by oath: First do no harm.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dawkins Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The greatest show on earth is a must read for any educated person. It not only outlines the evidence for evolution, it also is an excellent book to debunk creationism, and intelligent design. From fossils to DNA, from embryology to comparative biology, from ecology to genetics, all signs point to evolution by way of natural or artificial selection. One of the best parts of the book is when Dawkins explains, that even without the fossil evidence, using only contemporary species, comparative biology, DNA evidence, and embryology, we still have a perfectly valid case for evolution. As a matter of fact, the entire idea of missing links is completely misleading. Every fossil ever discovered is a missing link to some other species, unless the species represented by the fossil went extinct. If it did go extinct, it still has characteristics that are represented by many organisms of the time.

But one of the most important chapters were the chapters where evolution has tried to compensate an adaptation from the past that no longer is valid. For example: how the vas deferans wraps around the urethra on it's way to it's final destination, as opposed to a direct route. Or how our bodies are not fully adapted for bipedalism, which brings about problems such as back aches, and foot problems.

One of the most shocking chapters was the appendix, when Dawkins talks about studies that have been done to poll the populations of the U.S. and Europe to gather their opinions on evolution. I consider this chapter the most telling of all. While it measures simple things, such as, how many people believe in young earth creationism vs intelligent design vs evolution, the deeper implications are astounding. In reality, once the evidence is presented, in such a way as Dawkins has presented it in his book, it is obviously unquestionable. Evolution is a fact, whether individuals believe it or not. It is my personal belief that such studies are not really a poll on the publics opinion on evolution, but a poll of ignorance in general. The more people in a population do not believe in evolution, the more ignorant the population is.

It is a shame that Dawkins didn't spend more time going over the implications of these polls in the appendix. I suspect it may be because he wanted to stick to the facts and not insert his personal opinion about God into the argument. It was obvious that the study from Turkey, the most religious state in the poll, also had the lowest percentage of the population believing in evolution. It seems to me that intelligence and religion are inversely correlated. There were only 3 or 4 studies mentioned in Dawkins book, but I am sure there are more. If your interested in the implications of these studies from the U.S. you should see Dawkins TED talk on militant atheism:

Overall, I think anyone with the language capable of understanding this book should read it. There is a need for biologists to reach out to the general population. There is a gap between common knowledge in the professors of this world, and the common knowledge of the common people. The two need to be merged either with seminars available to the public, or something of that nature. Dawkins and others have taken a major step by actively giving seminars and writing books.

I would imagine it would be difficult for someone in the sciences to reach out to the general public precisely because of the misconceptions. What types of mind numbing questions will be posed, and more importantly, who will be offended. I stand on Dawkins side, we NEED to offend people. And we NEED to answer each of those questions as best as we can, each and every time, with the patience as if it were the first time the question was posed. Ignorance needs to be eradicated, for the sake of peace. Peace through knowledge, knowledge through learning, and as always, patience prevails!

The Reptile Expo and other updates

Exactly one week after the Reptile Expo, and I still feel like I need a gecko. A crested gecko. Those little guys are so nice, and cute. Don't believe me? Look Here:
They handed me a gecko at the show, and I fell in love. So I have some requirements, of course, before I buy the gecko. And this is going to turn into an ongoing project for me. According to I need to get the habitat ready by the 24th of next month. This gives me a one and a half month period to get a tank and put some cool things into it. I was thinking that perhaps one of my Plectranthrus 'Mona Lavender' might do well in a tank.

If you remember, a small piece had fallen off when I was moving to the Bronx. I put it in some water, and viola, it set root. Plectranthus is notoriously easy to root in water. So this is no surprise. After such a long time in NY, I finally managed to find time (and money) to go to Walmart, and buy some soil. What happened afterward was magic. All the spider plants that I had put to root were still in water, together, in, what I would call, a tangled mess. I ended up planting about 6 of them in a windowsill garden planter, but I cannot put it on my windowsill because it is too cold. So it lies in my room. All the other spider plants were thrown out. I seriously had too many anyway.

I also planted the Plectranthrus in soil, and in a pot that Ernie gave me (thanks!!!). He also gave me some seed of a Hibiscus plant, which was thought to be endangered. I also have the thousands of petunia seeds from this summer, but I need a starter mix to get them started. I am thinking about planting one in a small pot I obtained in Vermont. I painted the pot so one side reads Don, and the other reads Jon (for Donna and Jonathan). I threw out the big petunia Donna had. It was just too big, and it was always producing seeds. Hopefully all the seeds retain the same attributes. It might also be interesting to throw some of these seeds into the tank with the gecko, when I get it.

I also need to consider doing this project on low budget terms. I hardly have money to do much. I know it is supposed to be this way, since I am just starting work after college, but I didn't know it would be this difficult. I thought I would at least have enough to get my own place, if I wanted it. Of course I was wrong. Perhaps Ernie can give me one of those tanks now?

Anyway, until then, I will finish up the last two chapters of Dawkins book, and lounge around, like these two turtles at the expo.

Also, an in depth review of Dawkins book will come tomorrow or the day after. Also a rant about our sense of smell and ability to taste as it relates to our terrible sense of memory.

Stay tuned

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Call to Herp Breeders!

Have you ever seen the Gecko gecko? The common name is Tokay Gecko. I used to own one a long time ago. It has long since died, but that gecko has traumatized me for life. It was nasty, and always snapping at me when I was trying to clean it's tank. In truth, it has bitten me more than once.

I originally brought it because it was beautiful and big. I figured that as long as I kept it well fed, it would be happy. This is not the way things have turned out. The more I fed it, the bigger it got, and the more unhappy it was!

For those of you who have no idea of what I am talking about, here is a picture of a Tokay Gecko:

While it does look beautiful and elegant, I have to admit, it was meaner than a picked on pit bull with a thorn in his ass and a score to settle. Many other animals seem to be domesticated just fine. Tokay Geckos are not in this category.

However I am not losing hope. I know that recently, the silver fox has been bred to be domesticated. You can read about it on wiki here. On the bottom of the wiki article, there are also links to the primary literature dealing with this issue. It is amazing that the fox was domesticated! I really want one, not only because they look cute, but because the implications of "wildness" seem to be directly correlated with genetics. In other words, a domesticated fox, with a differing genome than the foxes in the wild is a direct test of the evolutionary theory. Without evolution, this would have never happened. Of course, natural selection played little role in the domestication of the fox, but selection from a human hand, or from nature, go hand in hand. Here is a page from Cornells website about fox domestication, with more primary literature as references.

So now for the challenge. I am asking for herpetologists to undergo a similar experiment. Tame the wild beast! Gecko gecko with it's current aggressive phenotype is not suitable as a pet. While it may be a voracious eater, it needs to be tame to be in the homes of human beings! If it can be done with a dog, it most certainly can be done with geckos. It may be difficult at first, because so many individuals seem to display an aggressive phenotype. However, if a "not so aggressive" phenotype does exist, it needs to be exploited! These are the individuals that we need to mate with others, so that we can select amongst the most tame.

Of course an experiment of this nature will be difficult at first. For example, choosing non aggressive adults does not necessarily mean that their tameness is due to genetics. It can be that those individuals have acclimated to being handled by people. For these reasons, the offspring of these experiments need to be handled as little as possible so the true genotype can be determined. On a side note, it might do breeders well to select for individuals who are not only tame genotypically, but contain the right genetic code so that they have the ability to "learn" to be tamed easily. This second point is important also. We need geckos which can learn the way in which their handlers handle them. People treat their animals differently, so this ability will make Tokays more acceptable as pets for more people.

As for me, if I ever get a gecko, it will be a species that is calm and docile. Like those Ptychozoon Kuhli:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Working Woes

On Tuesday, I am going to Atlantic City, with other people in my job. I was invited by my boss, who decided to take everyone who wasn't working to Atlantic City. I have no money, but since he is paying the travelling expenses, I figured I would go. There is also an indoor pool (or so I am told by Cynthia), but I am in no position to wear swimming trunks. My body type is not the type to be flaunted. I desperately need to work out.

I also work Wednesday morning in the cafe, so I hope our little Jersey trip does not take too long. Working the morning shift usually means I need to get up at 4:30 in the morning, to leave at 5:30 to be at work by 7. I also plan on bringing my book. I am not into gambling at all, or Atlantic City, but for the job I will go. I suppose there will be many photo ops, and cool places to be. But I think in reality, I will mostly be reading The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins. I just hope I don't get persecuted (as I have been before), by my religious coworkers. I might just need to let out my militant atheism on them.

But I guess the big story this week is Thanksgiving on Thursday. I had invited my friends, Anja, Morgane, and some other people over to my house. My mom always cooks the most amazing dinner, and I know my friends are far away from home. I figured I would give them a home away from home on Thanksgiving. Also, I haven't worked on Thursday for about 4 weeks. So I was sure I had Thanksgiving day off. Unfortunately, I didn't I am working from 4p.m. to 12 at night on Thursday. As a result I had to cancel on all of my friends. Hopefully the hostel does something, because I know I will be hungry. We should have a Thanksgiving here, especially since I won't be able to eat when I get home, which most likely would be between 1:30 and 2 a.m.

I actually feel really bad for cancelling on my friends. They are going back home soon, and I really wish I had more time to spend with them. Perhaps I may find time on Thursday to attend the parade in the morning. I also have Friday off, but I have to come to work to pick up my all important check. The reason this check is important is because this will be a very important weekend.

The Reptile Expo is this Sunday. I plan on going with my good friend Ernie DeMarie. It will be awesome to see him again. I feel Like I haven't seen him in forever. In all honesty, I haven't seen him since before this school year started. I may also go as far as to buy a carnivorous plant or two. Perhaps some Drosera, or a Sarracenia. The Jewel Orchids are also very pretty. They are sold mostly by the Black Jungle, but there are other vendors there as well.

Ernie still has the gecko I gave him to take care of a long time ago. He now has it as a class pet. It is always interesting to see the gecko eat. I have been told, that even after all this time, he is still a voracious eater. My current landlord does not allow me to have pets, but pretty soon I will be able to move out. If I ever find another job. My current job is really cool, but I really don't make a  lot of money. I pay rent, but I think nobody seems to care. My expenses are starting to pile up now that I have a credit card. I don't worry. I will pay it off when I can. When I can...

It is late at night, and I am feeling very chill, looking at music videos on the television. There is no one to check in, and when the bagels come in, I will wrap them. But for now, it is only me and John Mayer:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Long Walk

As many of you know, I am not the fittest person around. I have tried many times to change this to no avail. I love food too much. Case in point a 1650 calorie ice cream with caramel and bananas, consumes on Friday, while I was out with Donna and Anya. It was ice cream/dairy!

In all honesty, I really need to work out more, but I find myself without time or resources to do so. I was looking online, and I also found that walking is a great way to loose weight. I love walking. I walk all the time. So tomorrow (Sunday the 22nd), I will personally walk from 118th Street and 7th Avenue to Grand Street, while tweeting major landmarks along the way. This walk alone will be legendary!

I plan to first walk down to 110th Street on 7th avenue, then down to 5th ave, then down 5th to Washington Square Park, on 7th Street. From there to Broadway. from Broadway to Grand, and that will be my spectacular walk. I plan to start it as soon as I finish work, at about 8 a.m. in the morning. If you want to join me, call me! I would love some company on this long walk. If you are not in NYC, but would still enjoy following me, then you can join me on twitter at

I am not sure how long the walk will take me, but I do plan on walking briskly, to get more of a workout. Depending on how well it goes, this may be a common routine for me. I hope it does go well. I often wonder if such a walk would do anything to improve my overall health. Of course it can't do anything to make my health worse. Unless there is an iHop on the way. That would be bad...

If you have any comments questions or concerns about my long journey, feel free to email me at

You can also follow me on facebook, and on the left hand panel of this blog!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Intellectual Road is a Lonely Road

I just started reading Richard Dawkins Greatest show on Earth, and I must say it is one of the best books I have read on the subject of evolution. It is clear, concise, straightforward, and unquestionable, as facts go. However, there are some people in my job who choose not to believe in evolution. This makes me wonder if they also deny the holocaust, and the fact that the world is round.

I am not trying to insult their intelligence, or say that they are worth less than me because I believe in evolution, but I do feel like I am cast as an outsider because of my atheistic beliefs. Just because I believe I am normal because I stand perpendicular to the surface of the earth. I also consider myself average, because in most things I fall within one standard deviation of the mean. But still I am an outsider. Atheists are the least trusted group in america, below homosexuals, and trans people. I still fight for all of our rights, but I hate being cast as an outsider.
And the solution is not as easy as just waking up one day and believing in god. It is not as easy as just waking up one day and saying that Intelligent Design may be possible. Intelligent Design is impossible. Given the assumptions of intelligent design, there should not be so many breeds of dogs. The dog breeds evolved by macroevolution caused by artificial selection. And this has occurred within the time frame of recorded history. Dachshunds and Great Danes are reproductively isolated, and given the Biological species concept, should be considered different species. And they did evolve from a common ancestor, what we know to be the wolf.
And what about the German who domesticated foxes? This is important because it shows that wild animals can evolve to look and behave differently than their predecessors.
But this again does not disprove Intelligent Design. The fossil record disproves it alone. NEVER have we found dinosaur bones with the bones of modern man. And rarely do we find fossils of contemporary species deep within the history of the fossil record (like Ginko). If humans lived during the same times as the dinosaurs, why don't we see their fossils together in the fossil record? And why don't we see chicken fossils with mastodons? And why don't we see orchid fossils with Stegocephalia? It is because these species did not coexist!
What makes evolution elegant as a fact is that evolution can be proved without going into supernatural explanations. Science needs theories based on facts. Not on assumptions which cannot be proved! The existence of God is an assumption of ID which cannot be proved. So ID breaks down as a scientific explanation. Also ID does not leave us with many hypotheses which can be tested. And all the hypotheses which ID does come up with are quickly falsified. Here are a few examples.
Example 1- Fossil Record
Evolution hypothesis:
Since species are constantly evolving, we should be able to see different fossils at different periods in time.
ID hypothesis:
Since species have existed in their current form, since the beginning of life, the fossil record should contain species currently living at any given point in the fossil record.
In example 1, if we look at the data, we can quickly REJECT THE HYPOTHESIS from ID.
Example 2- New Diseases
Evolutionary Hypothesis:
Since evolution is at play, new diseases should evolve over time, from bacteria which were previously harmless, or from diseases which were not that deadly.
All diseases that occur today have always occurred, and no new diseases can ever come about, because all species that exist have always existed in their current form.
In example 2, ID fails as a hypothesis again. SARS, H1N1, and many other new diseases have come about within a human lifetime. Not to mention that Aids is a fairly new disease. Also diseases like tuberculoses can not get stronger in ID, because they would have to evolve into stronger diseases.
People who don't believe in evolution don't have a grasp on any explanation for life. Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. I guess that is why so few americans choose science majors. They don't understand basic concepts in life. This is sad, because they live life.
The staff where I work don't believe in evolution. I am alone. Ignorance has seperated them from me and from the true human condition. How sad.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Platonic Cuddling

I was hanging out in the Pace University library today, and the question came up as to whether platonic cuddling was possible. Now, before I begin my logical rant, I want to define what I mean by platonic cuddling. Platonic cuddling is a close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace that is not sexual in nature. Earlier today, I learned about another definition of platonic, from Anja, my friend. She explained to me what I now know was one of Plato's philosophical views, whereby a person or relationship is platonic, or free from physical desire. Urban Dictionary also has a definition for platonic cuddling, but it sounds more like a friends with benefits situation. I have also seen platonic cuddling between members of different species, like the tiger and the girl picture in this blog.

But in this blog, I merely want to talk about cuddling in a platonic nature. Is it possible in theory? and, probably more importantly: in what situations will platonic cuddling be acceptable?

Cuddling is a purely physical act that is done for many reasons. Usually it is for comfort but it may be used as a falling action after climax (sex), or before sex as a form of rising action, most commonly known as foreplay. However it doesn't always have to deal directly with sex. Many times people cuddle just to be comfortable, and to feel a certain closeness. That closeness is what most people find non-platonic about cuddling.

However, it is my personal belief that platonic cuddling can be achieved without the closeness usually felt in cuddling. Another friend of mine disagrees. She believes that cuddling that is platonic in nature is not achievable, merely because the closeness, and emotional aspect of cuddling would overcome any friendly aspect of a relationship. Again I disagree. Cuddling is a physical act, while usually associated with emotion, and closeness, it does not necessarily need to be associated with them. If a close embrace, like a hello hug, need not be emotional, then why does cuddling need to be emotional? Especially when it is done merely for the physical comfort and not for any emotional comfort.

Some forms of cuddling are undoubtedly platonic, and include an emotional aspect, that one might call love. I think any type of cuddling between best friends, are platonic. Many times people feel a love for their best friend, that is non sexual, but one that is more reminiscent of love for a family member. A mothers embrace for a child is platonic, as well as embracing a friend to comfort them, such as when they are crying after an emotional day. Embracing a close friend and giving them a shoulder to cry on is an ultimate form of platonic love, and it includes cuddling.

But cuddling can also be done horizontally (like on a bed, floor or couch, where both parties are lying down), which may, to some, seem like something more. Many people might argue that horizontal platonic cuddling does not exist, but in theory, I can think of at least 3 situations in which it does. Accidental, Purposeful, and Group Cuddling can all be considered platonic forms of horizontal cuddling.

Accidental horizontal cuddling can best be explained by example. Lets assume we have two individuals, who happen to be friends without sexual, or physical desire for each other. These two individuals may be doing some mundane task, such as watching a boring movie, fox news, or homework. Lets now imagine that these two individuals fall asleep, and while unconscious move into a position that is comforting for them both. When one of them wakes up, they may find comfort in the other persons warmth. While this is a physical pleasure (much like the pleasure we all feel in the morning hours when we are warm under our blankets), it is very much platonic in nature.

Purposeful cuddling can also be a form of horizontal platonic cuddling. An example of this can be cuddling to prevent cold, cuddling to give a person a shoulder to cry on, or cuddling to fight some sort of political agenda (like cuddling for peace). This type of cuddling is also dangerous, and can easily be cheated by any one of the party. How many times have we not seen a movie or television show where two people are freezing and the male suggests to the female that they both get naked and cuddle since the best heat is body heat. Now you know it can be cheated, and you have been warned.

Cuddling in a group is one of the last ways cuddling can be platonic. Think it does not exhist? Here is proof!

Now, I don't know what you readers think, but these people look extremely comfortable! Peaceful, nonsexual group cuddling between friends, unfortunately, is something not often practiced here in the U.S. I believe this type of cuddling has a very calming effect on the human psyche. I also believe that if people cuddle more often in groups, we may care about each other more. Perhaps it is only when we feel each others warmth, when we look into each others eyes, and when we pay attention to the awareness within our friends, that we can really know the true value of a human life. Platonic cuddling may not be widely practiced, but used in this way, it has the power to prevent wars.

On a slightly different note, the reason this blog entry exists is a statement to the nature of the human condition in 2009. In my opinion nothing could be more beautiful than caring so much for another person that you decide to simply take some time out to pay attention to them. Paying attention to what someone is saying is gratifying to the person talking, but paying attention to a persons inner being, the awareness or presence within the human body is another level of communication in which words cannot describe. This type of comfort may make a person feel vulnerable, which is why so many of my friends object to the idea the platonic cuddling is possible.

In reality the vulnerability they feel is normal. How often do we have someone peer into our true being without having to go through words, race, class, gender, or sexual identity. Cuddling is a form of breaking bearers between people, and, by paying attention to another person (and not just the physical person, but the awareness which is in each of us now), then true closeness and clarity can be achieved.

The fear of vulnerability may not be the only reason my friends are afraid to admit platonic cuddling exists. It may actually be deeper, such as a fear of intimacy. How many times have we actually felt someone else's awareness and presence? How many times have we stopped to acknowledge someones existence, not through words, or showing compassion, but by just lying down and enjoying someone else's ability to share a moment, and a space with you? If this seems too intimate, then it is unfortunate. I firmly believe that acknowledging someones presence can easily be done with cuddling, and the awkward intimacy someone might feel comes from not being payed attention to enough.

People are always on the cell phones, or trying to be funny, or showing a persona that is not them true selves. I am not a word, or a personality, or an emotion. I am a human being. I go through ups and downs, and the only part of my being that is consistent is the being within me that is attentive. The one that is here now aware of my surroundings. The presence of a sentient organism. Perhaps those more spiritual than me may even go as far as to call it a soul. We have lost touch with each other, and perhaps noticing each others soul is the only way to reconnect. It may be the answer to all of our problems.

Platonic cuddling should not be shunned as impossible but should be sought after. Only through love can we end war, even if it is just the love of a friend, or the love of an embrace. It need not be sexual or embarrassing, or awkward. Love is simply this: the ability to notice another persons soul. The sun does it every morning, with it's warmth upon my face. I can honestly say, I have never felt more alive and present than when I am cuddling. Not sex, nor happiness, nor excitement can emulate the emotion of calm, warmth, and attention given to me when I am being embraced by a close friend or girlfriend. Cuddle away. Love each other. And please, for the love of one another, and to show respect, keep it platonic.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Michael Moore's Will They Ever Trust Us Again?

I just finished reading Michael Moore's book, and I must say it is a very compelling pro troop piece of literature. All of the stories were written from troops, or from family and friends of people who have, or are currently serving in the U.S. military.

It is no secret that in the era of GWB, and in the post 9/11 America, U.S. patriotism reached a point where it became muddled with other ideas, such as support for the war. Supporting our troops and supporting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are two different things. I first want to thank all the troops who are fighting in the war currently, and I also want to thank all the troops who have fought. It is because of you that this country is great. I also want to thank other patriots, such as Michael Moore, who have decided to point out injustice, and to fight for a cause. It is because of you, that Americans have a better understanding of the war, and the issues facing our troops.

The truth of the matter is, to be non supporter of health care reform, to support the war (while americans are dying needlessly, and without reason), to say gay people do not have the right to marry, is the equivalent of not caring about anyone. People who do this are mostly selfish rightwingers. But it is not only the republicans, and conservatives, but also some people who consider themselves liberal! Some people who consider themselves liberal believe they don't need to hear the stories of the people in war, because they know the people in war are suffering. Or they don't want to hear about PTSD, because they say it is too depressing, and they reply "why do you always have to talk about war all the time?"

Here is a clip from Good Asian Drivers. Maybe after listening more people will care:

A Refund!

It seems like just yesterday when I was on purchasing my first copy of Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth. However, it was a lot longer.

In September I purchased this book. It is supposed to be one of the most compelling arguments, to date, in favor of the theory of Evolution. Of course, the number one most compelling argument ever put forth was Darwins Origin of Species. But I just had to read Dawkins book. I had read Dawkins work before, a book many atheists hold as their bible, called, The God Delusion. It puts forth the argument for atheism. But after a long waiting period, it became apparent that I wasn't going to receive the book. The seller wrote to me telling me she sent it, but after the standard waiting period no book came. She promptly refunded me my money and shipping and handling. $18.99.

This worked out in my favor, since I found a new copy of the book on for less than $18. My only hope is that this copy arrives in my hands soon.

I finished reading the dangerous world of butterflies, and the diamond of darkhold.

I am currently reading Will They Ever Trust Us Again by Michael Moore. It is a compelling argument against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, straight from the soldiers and their families. This book is really an accumulation of letters sent to Michael Moore from soldiers who are against the war.

What surprised me was the right wing propaganda that is so rampant in todays armed forces. The way it is described, it sounds like a breeding ground for republicans. It is also pretty sad, since the armed forces attracts so many underprivileged young people looking for opportunity, but unaware that they are signing their life away.

Overall, it is one of those books that should be read, while seeing movies like Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Zeitgeist.

But until The greatest story on earth comes, I will have to find something else to read.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Graveyard Shift

Some people think that working the graveyard shift is a walk in the park. They should walk 8 hours in my shoes...

Working the graveyard shift is difficult, because it is the shift where people are the most drunk. Drunk people checking in. Drunk people checking out. And drunk hobos without reservations trying to get a place to stay for the night.

The worst part is, the people who come late to check in, after they were charged for not showing up for the night. Everytime someone calls asking about our check in time, I let them know it is between 4p.m. and

I personally believe this is a large window of time to check in. However, I let people know that if they need to do a late check in (after 1.a.m), they should call the front desk so someone can write a note in their reservation. So why is it that I get people checking in for the 24th on the 25th at 4 a.m.? Don't they need to know they have to check out by 11? It seems pointless. but the worst part is setting up their reservation again after it has been cancelled and charged for not showing up. Now I am not complaining, I have a great job, and it is a lot easier than other jobs, but refunding a payment to a customer who was charged is not the best part of my night.

I am not alone however. I do get some company from Danny, the security who works the night shift here. He is a good man. Although the two of us know, from firsthand experience the consequences of working this shift.

Our sleeping schedules get messed up. Imagine breaking night, in a place where the lights are on and the music is blasting. I like to listen to palladia. They always have an interesting mix of rock, country, pop, and hip hop. Yeah, I said it right, and don't worry, I'm confused too.

But I keep myself busy. We restock the fridge, and make sure everything is ready for the person who is next on the shift. This includes keeping the work area clean, answering emails, and even taking all the pages of people who checked out, out of our files marked "in house" . But I love working at the L. It is an awesome job. I sometimes get upset when my coworkers start to preach to me, but in the end I love meeting new people. Each shift is an 8 hour speed dating special. I don't fall in love, or even hook up with guests, but it is very similar. Even if I did, I know it will never work out because they are all from out of town. This whole long distance thing never works out.

But by meeting new people, I am starting to notice some bizarre trends. I don't want to make any negative comments about any people from any particular country, but I am noticing some trends. Does that make me a racist, if the people who frequent this hostel, from particular regions all have similar traits? Not that they all have a particular trait, but the propensity for specific traits is higher in some populations than in others. Noticing trends does not make me racist. It just makes me more savy, and it better equips me top deal with people. Don't judge me!

What is really sad is when you develop a close relationship with a customer, and then that customer has to leave, or has a problem that I am unable to solve. This must be how the health insurance companies feel. They promise people they would help pay for medical bills, and then when something comes up, they bail. There is one customer in particular... Joel, a coworker, claims she praises me, but I don't believe that is completely true. She is always really nice to me. She is a lot older than me, but we always kid around. She has had some problems with other people who work here, and I always have to convince her to stay. She has never given me any problems when I work my shift, and I don't know what problems she had with other people, but it makes me sad to see her upset. I guess that comes with the territory of friend.

It is also dangerous to get to know the guests to well. Not only because of the conflict of interest it creates, but also because some guests get too comfortable.

But I wont say anything bad about them. So I am going to go now.