Friday, March 31, 2006

Eclipsed!

Unfortunately, yet another opportunity missed to see a total solar eclipse.  I've posted on these before, and continue not to have the funding necessary to fly to Libya or the like to go see it, however, through the magic of the internet...



Not only can you see still photos of it, but you can experience a full video of the event shot through a filtered telescope.  Also, thanks to NASA, you can plan your trip to see the next one!  Speaking of which, the next total solar eclipse to be visible in the US will be in 2017, on August 21, starting at 16:48 UT, and most spectacularly viewed from Christian County, Kentucky at 18:25 UT.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

My Brain...



Yup.  That's my brain.  I "volunteered" to have an MRI to help Mass. General's MRI center test out their latest and greatest techologies (I know one of the young ladies that works there), and despite putting me in a darkened tube for two hours while continuously playing the theme song from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", it really wasn't that bad.

It was amazing seeing them scroll through the wafers of my grey matter.  I was half expecting a little gnome to be there in the middle, but thankfully, that anticipation was wrong.  So, in the words of my test technician, I have a normal, healthy brain.  No tumors or voids or anything else that shouldn't be there.  Sweet.

Anyone see my soul in there somewhere??? 

V for Vendetta... in 15 minutes...



For those of you who have seen it, this is a Parody in 15 Minutes, by one of my favorite web authors, who doesn't post nearly enough work. An excerpt:

"Evey’s Opening Monologue

EVEY: "Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." Unless you’re American, or never got taught any history, or both, in which case I see no reason why gunpowder treason should even ring a bell. Here, have an explanatory flashback on the house."

Monday, March 27, 2006

USED!

Well, some of my photos have been used, anyways...



Check it out!

I got a write-up on Bostonist.com!  Gleeee

I've been handed several compliments today on my skillz.  Thanks to Phil and Wen (and Jaden, of course) for letting me borrow their flash... now the problem is, I need to get one of my own...

As always, you can see the hugeness of my Flickr gallery anytime.  Feel free to leave comments and notes on my photos!

Missing Link... not lost anymore?

"The hominid cranium – found in two pieces and believed to be between 500,000 and 250,000 years old – “comes from a very significant period and is very close to the appearance of the anatomically modern human,” said Sileshi.

More from the Mumbai Mirror.
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So there it is... maybe? For the last 100 years, archeologists and paleontologists have been slowly piecing together what they consider to be the record of human evolution. Of course, the problem with fossils is that they're old, and you can't really see them in action. There's plenty of scientific evidence for their ages, and occasionally DNA-matching is possible, but how much proof is enough? Where does the burden lie?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Financial Theories

So, for the past couple of months I've been using the great free tools at Yahoo! Finance to select stocks based on a number of criteria, and then cross-reference those stocks with the reports at TD Waterhouse in order to create a mock portfolio to see how well it performs.

The first set of selections was done in late November of last year. I selected 11 stocks then, all of which followed the same formula, and decided to hold those stocks for 90 days to see how they would perform. Out of those 11 stocks, four have lost money, and seven have gained. Of the seven that have gained, 4 have had a gain of 100% or more. I closed that mock portfolio after 90 days with an overall gain of 36% (a gain of almost $20 for every $50 put in), but continue to monitor it. Eventually it had gained as much as 42% before settling back around 36%.

My second set of selections was done in late January of this year. I selected only 3 stocks, again using the same formula, and have been holding those since. That portfolio is scheduled to be closed in late April. Currently, of those three stocks, all of them have gained. One has gained 47%. Overall the current gain is 16%.

The third set of selections was done in late February of this year. At that time 8 stocks were selected, and at present four of them have gained, and four have lost. The four that have gained have gained at least 10%, while the four that lave lost have lost a maximum of 3%. So, overall the portfolio currently has a gain of 6%.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, it's stock picking day. Today I put together my new mock portfolio to continue testing the market, to see if these indicators actually work or not, and I figured I'd share the love, maybe some of you will take what I've found and run with it; buying stocks left and right. I think it's fun to study this stuff, but I'm a huge nerd, so there you go.

So, today seven stocks were selected, each with the same selection criteria as the previous lots. Those seven stocks are as follows: ACTU, ARTG, CORI, IINT, JADE, NXG, and RNDC. Use this information as you will.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"The archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the world's Anglicans, says he is opposed to teaching creationism in schools."

"And for most of the history of Christianity ... there's been an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time," Williams said. (Story at CNN)

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So as I understand it, this is fallout from a 1982 resolution which basically said that literal creationism is too rigid, and too dogmatic.  Personally I'm not inclined to agree with the literal story of creation, though certain abstinations from scripture make it a lot more plausable.  Does the matter in which creation occurred really make that much difference to people?

Let's say, for instance, that God is more the laissez-faire type, letting things run on their own until things get a bit out of hand, at which point He steps in and takes the reigns in a bit on this Universe of his, i.e., the Flood.  What would keep an omniscient being from being any less likely to set our creation and evolution in process at point X, rather than creating us in an exact form which remained constant throughout eternity?

On the other hand, let's say God is more controlling in this existence.  Let's say he has His hand in everything, and constantly tweaks our existence to best fit his 'plan'.  Again, I think there is no incompatibility with the theory of evolution to this point.  Causing families to be swallowed up whole by the Earth or killing all the firstborn of Egypt are inconsequential to the larger being that is God, so why would it seem less likely that he has guided our evolution through steps?

I guess the inherent inconsistency with arguments for creationism lies in the timespans assigned for the purpose of the argument.  Some might state that God did in fact create the Earth in six literal days.  Some state that they were not literal days, but that He created the Earth over a span of many millions of years, perhaps even through the natural means science has explained to us at this point.  Still others state God set the whole thing into motion, and let the planet form through the aforementioned natural means.

Now, when explaining the creation of the world, those who use the non-literal argument (as a form of apologetics, in some cases) that it was not in fact six days of creation will also state that we were created in God's own image.  Why if God required more than six days for the creation of the Earth must the creation of humanity have been instantaneous and perfect in terms of the end result.  Is it possible that our evolution from 'lower life forms' or from slightly different humanoids was also a part of His plan for humanity?

If God can take His sweet time creating all that we see and hear, why force the same being to be so quick in creating us?