Thursday, December 28, 2006


In the past I've commented on my love for lists...I've even made a list of the top reasons I love lists, but I've never really written an entry dedicated to them. My love for them have grown over the past year in large part because they are the only thing that keeps me being productive on a day to day basis. I typically only have large goals with deadlines that are in the distant future, and no one really checks up on me on even a weekly basis. This won't be a problem but I'm actually quite lazy unless I feel pressure...I respond well to pressure but don't respond at all without some pressure. So I have relied on my good buddy the list to help me out and keep me accountable each day. So each day I make a list of jobs that I want to get done on that day and then feel I need to get everything done that day. Thanks to my competitive nature I will not stop (regardless of how late it is when I start) until I finish my list for the day. I even put on my list for today to write a blog entry...honestly I won't have written it if it wasn't on my list.

Since I only listed my top 5 reasons I love lists as a comment I will repost it here as an official entry....

1) Affords me the opportunity to use numbers while writing
2) I like organization...even though I don't do much of it
3) Can convey information quickly to others
4) They simply rock
5) Allows me the chance to just put my thoughts without connecting the thoughts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Objection to Christianity

I think there is a very fair question that any non-Christian can ask a Christian, and while I believe there is an answer to it I don't think it's an easy question. The question is: How can the god revealed in the Old Testament be the same god revealed in the New Testament? In the Old Testament God was going to war all the time, killing people left and right, nearly destroying all of existence, and requiring His people to follow very strict orders. Then we hit the New Testament and God is loving and compassionate telling us to turn the other cheek.

A couple years ago I received an email from a friend of mine asking me for my opinion on this because she had a friend that had sent her an email with his objections. Since I don't know who he is I'll just post his objection anonymously...

I have started to read the Bible, not to convert but just to know more about Christianity. How can you (you and every other Christian) reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the teachings of Christ? I am reading about God ordering massacres, financial rewards, condoning slavery, and describing himself as a "jealous God". Oh, and probably the worst for anyone on the Right, God ordered a tax on the people! Blasphemy!

My response I broke into two parts: (1) how can the God of the Old and New Testaments be the same God and (2) how could a just God do such "awful" things in the Old Testament (basically dealing with each specific objection he listed). Since my answer was pretty long I'm just going to briefly handle the first question and if anyone wants to read the entire response they can click here to read it.

The first question’s short answer is that God is both a just God and a loving God, and that the Old Testament focuses on His just side while the New Testament focuses on His loving side. This shifts the first question to whether it is possible to be both perfectly just and perfectly loving simultaneously. Now if there is a god either he is unjust and loving, just and unloving, or just and loving. The first two options are possible, but not worth spending time pondering. If god was unjust then good and bad would have no value because god would just do whatever he desires regardless of anyone’s actions, and if he is unloving than why should we expect anything good from him. So I’ll assume that it is intuitive that if a god exists he must be just and loving (otherwise god exists but nothing we can do on earth has any effect on him…which I find odd to think that an all-powerful being would create something and then be completely detached from it).

In order to illustrate how it is possible to be loving and just I’ll use an analogy. Let’s say that someone has committed a crime and the judge is about to sentence him. The judge would be just by handing down the harshest punishment possible (that is what the law requires), and the father of the criminal could show his love for his son by paying the fine to keep the son out of jail. Now if the judge was also the father than he would be both just and loving in this situation. This is exactly what Christ did when he died on the cross for our sins. God’s justice requires that sin be punished, but his love compels Him to redeem us from our sin. On earth we like to differentiate between sins and rank them based on which ones are the “worst”, but that is not what either the Old or New Testament says. It states quite clearly that any sin requires the punishment of death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 (NIV)

As for the Old Testament crack open Leviticus and you’re lucky if you can’t find the words “surely be put to death.” Note that death is not just death on earth, but a separation from God, eternal death. This is why Christ had to die on the cross to pay the price so that that we could be reconciled to Him. Otherwise we could not receive God’s love without God being unjust had He not paid the price Himself. This at least shows that it is possible to be perfectly just and loving, and how God accomplished this for us.

This answer obviously leads to the more difficult question of whether God's actions in the Old Testament are just (ignoring the irony around the fact that His creation is trying to judge God's actions). My response handles that question by focusing on the specific objections: God's vengeance and jealousy, slavery issues, financial responsibility, and God's politics (well actually just addressing the stereotype that Christianity = Republican). Give it a read if you're bored or actually interested.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Another Living Fossil

I just got word from my friend Tommie that yet another living fossil has been found…this time they call it Jurassic Shrimp. I said in a previous post that if they ever found a dinosaur they would just call it a living fossil and while this isn't 100 million years old it is on the same order of magnitude as the dinosaur. Oh yeah these guys went extinct “50 million” years ago. Perhaps they went extinct and then re-evolved to produce itself once again…man is that lucky.

Jurassic 'shrimp', Neoglyphea neocaledonica, believed extinct for 50 million years, found in Australia's Coral Sea (Image: B Richer de Forges)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quick Rant

I’ve got to do it…I know we are all just sucking it up and accepting the fact, but someone needs to point out the facts. Michigan was flat out robbed of their national championship shot. I understand that their destiny was in their hands with the Ohio St. game, but supposedly there is a bowl game that is advertised as the national championship game. If that is in fact the championship game than the number one and two teams from the regular season should be in that game. So lets suppose that this spot is between Florida and Michigan (I’m sure if Florida would have lost to Arkansas I would have to say it was between Louisville and Michigan). I’m going to make a quick comparison of the two teams.

(1) They both have only one lost and both were on the road (EVEN)
(2) Florida played 4 two 25 teams while Michigan only played 3 (Florida)
Of those games Michigan average opponent ranking was 6.3 and Florida’s was 10.5 (Michigan)
(4) Michigan lost to the number one team in the country that is undefeated while Florida lost to Auburn which finish 9th in the country with loses to Arkansas (#12) and unranked Georgia (Michigan)
(5) Florida lost by 10 points while Michigan lost by only 3 points in a game that went right down to the wire (Michigan)
(6) Common opponent – Vanderbilt…okay while Michigan scored more points on them and gave up fewer I’m going to call this one even because both teams did crush them (EVEN)

So basically Florida’s only claim to the spot is that they played one more ranked team than Michigan. The bottom line is that Michigan deserves to play in the national championship, but the BCS would rather avoid the controversy that would occur if Michigan did beat Ohio State. See if they let Florida go then even if Florida pulls off the win they can say that both teams had one loss, but Florida won the head to head match up. My argument that Michigan would still be the rightful winner of the championship if they split with Ohio State is that Michigan would have won on the neutral field in the bigger game. This of coarse would not set well with the rest of the country, but the way people feel about the outcome should not be the deciding factor.

Alright I’ll let it go now…I’ve got it off my chest so I feel better. Now I’m going to say some nice things about the Buckeyes so all you diehard Michigan fans may want to stop reading now.

I hope that Ohio State goes out and completely crushes Florida, and that Michigan completely crushes USC. That way everyone will be thinking while watching two wasted bowl games that they could have seen the two best teams in the country play each other again if only they could have stomached the idea of a rematch. I was in Florida for the first game and the bar I was at was packed with people watching the game and I didn’t see anyone wanting it to end.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Picture Post

I know I’ve become a rather poor blogger, but frankly I just don’t have much ambition to do much of anything. I don’t even read other blogs (yeah I’m so lazy right now that I don’t even want to do my procrastination activities). Even though I’m not willing to put much effort into anything I shall still post something by making use of two great things…(1) lists…no need to think about how to connect thoughts or statements, just put whatever you want and (2) pictures…no need to form your thoughts into any kind of rational form because a picture paints a thousand words. So with no further ado…here are some pictures I would like to share.

(1) Schmocktoberfestive (Schmocktoberfest IV)!

The winner of the pumpkin carving contest...if you couldn't tell the party took place during the MLB World Series...even though the Tigers lost I'm still proud of them

I don't have a good picture of the best costume winners (however I will give congrats to Mike and Karen on their costume) so I'll show this penguin

(2) Trip to Tampa Bay
Here I'll share a quick story....I went to Tampa Bay for a conference just before Thanksgiving. It was suppose to be a nice "break" from the work I had been doing, but due to some interesting timing I actually had to take an exam while at the conference. The professor that is teaching my class was also going so while I was down there he just gave me the exam and I took it in the hotel room. Also while the pictures show a nice looking city it actually is completely took me over an hour to find a candy bar, which I had to purchase from a vending machine in a parking structure.

St. Pete Times Forum...home of the 2004 Stanley Cup winners. This is the view from the balcony in my hotel room.

This is another view from my balcony but looking out at the rest of the you can tell I had a really nice view while taking my advanced acoustics exam

(3) You Discussed Me!

Ok this one isn't so much of an event but something that brings me a little bit of joy each time I have to go to the lab. While preparing for the experiment in Memphis Ciara and I would have some play time in the lab (above you see her trying to stump me at a game of hangman), and one day she said the phrase "you discussed me." Seriously say it out cracks me up. Thankfully no one will earse the hangman or the "you discussed me" from the blackboard so it still gives me a laugh when I go down there.