Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Please, Just Stop.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Ephesians 5:11

--I would once again like to point out the excessive use of cuss words among today's youth. This is deeply saddening. There ARE much better ways to express yourself, even if you don't believe it, and it CAN be accomplishsed without resorting to sesquipedalian loquaciousness. (And, no, I have no clue either if I've spellt that right. Spelled... spellt... now I've confused myself. The English language... groan... and don't get me started on our insane alphabet...)

I don't know, it may be just me, but many of the things that 'inspire' (sarcasm intended) modern youth to cuss are relatively minor things. Tripping on your way up the stairs does not count. Nor should engaging in a normal conversation with a friend on your ever-present cellphone count. Nor should it be the reflex reaction for any given unpleasant situation.

Just think... one day you're going to be called to account for every breath you took, every action you did, every thought that passed through your mind (willingly, at least), and every word you spoke. If that isn't enough to scare a man straight...

And there's always the point that though silence may be misinterpreted, it can never be misquoted. It's something to think about...

In Pace Christi,


Obligatory Honors Post 11/29/11

I'm not really sure what to write for this blog post. No offense intended whatsoever, but the forum was basically an ad for "STUDYING ABROAD"!!! Dr. Z (as Dr. Brewton appeared to be calling him) spoke for about ten minutes before running out ("Time is Galleons, little brother." Bonus points to whoever can instantly tell me who said that.), but he did stress to us the importance of studying abroad and learning multiple languages, including a sort-of joke that goes like this:

"What do you call a person who speaks three or more languages?" "Multilingual." "What do you call a person who speaks two languages?" "Bilingual." "What do you call a person who only speaks one language?" "American."

Which makes me feel very warm and fuzzy inside that I am taking German. I would also be taking LATIN, if this university would actually GET WITH THE PROGRAM and OFFER IT.

Yes, I know. I am very annoyed at the lack of Latin at UNA. Or Greek, for that matter. Greek sounds like a fascinating language to learn. Or Old English! I would love to learn Old English! Distant runners up would have to be Italian (finally I would know what are all the terms in my piano books... actually, I can guess half of them due to three years of Latin) or Old Norse... yeah, I'm weird. I read dictionaries and encyclopedias for fun. I love looking up the meaning of names and random words. Yesterday in my piano lesson I translated 'morendo' as 'dying away' even before my teacher pulled out her dictionary of musical terms. This somehow sparked a small discussion, which ended with me saying how I love etymology (kudos to Dr. Christy for throwing it in our German lessons) and her naming three relatives, each of whose names I knew the meaning of instantly.

(They were, by the way, Dante, Dominic, and Vincent. Good, old-fashioned, strong-sounding names. I love old names! Or, at least, names that MEAN something, instead of this let's-smash-two-names-together-and-name-our-poor-child-this sort of thing you see so often know. Anyway, Dante comes from 'durante' which is the Italian derivative of the Latin participle 'durans' which means 'enduring'. Dominic means 'of the Lord', which should make sense as 'Dominus' is 'Lord' and 'Dominicus' means 'of the Lord'. The days of the week in Spanish, anyway? I think Sunday is called 'Domingo' at anyway... And Vincent means 'victorious', from the Latin verb 'vinco', which means 'to conquer'.)

I am such a nerd. I am the queen of all nerds. All hail me, supreme ruler of dictionary-readers.

Aaaaaaaanyway, back to the discussion that should be at hand. The students who spoke to us about their own trips abroad had awesome Powerpoint presentations and notes and that sort of thing... which makes me feel very small as I had to give an oral presentation in English this morning about my research paper and I was pretty much the epitome of awkwardness up there in front of the whole class. The fact that I knew ahead of time I would only receive blank looks as I trotted out the myogenic theory of heart disease did not help. But the Honors students who spoke to us tonight had a much better fate. They even got us to laugh. I think it is a measure of your success if you can get your audience to laugh. An audience that is entertained is an audience that is relaxed and willing to be persuaded.

And I haven't even taken Speech! And I doubt Rhetoric in high school helped much... I basically read Aristotle's book and answered questions....

They really push this traveling/studying abroad thing. I accept the fact that it's a good thing, but I don't want to go anywhere right now. Let the people who have such things as social lives go first. I'd like to get used to college life before I do anything of that scale. As Dr. Brewton said, going after junior year is probably a much better idea. Ask me then and see what I'll say.

In Pace Christi,


Monday, November 21, 2011

Today Is Monday

Again, me and stupid blog post titles. Anyway, campus DOES look slightly less full than it usually does. People seem to be skipping class, I guess. Or at least some people are. I'm obviously not. I am being a good little clueless freshman and coming to class.

However, the upcoming break is making its presence known. The first couple of minutes in Calculus we discussed the probability of Arkansas going to the BCS. Yep. Personally, since Auburn obviously isn't going in that direction, I was willing to root for Alabama. I mean, it's like they're our sister college in Alabama (the state, that is), and most of my family wears crimson. But after LSU beat Alabama, I'm willing for LSU to go to the BCS (or even Alabama, if things turn out nicely... Stanford, Boise, and Oklahoma all lost... so does that make LSU the only major undefeated team around?). Anything as long as it is an SEC win. We have to prove that we rule the BCS, after all.

On a related note, it is nice to see that UNA survived the first game of the playoffs. I didn't see the paper this morning (and didn't really get to look at it yesterday), so I'm not real sure what this means. Does this mean we go up against Delta State again? That ought to be interesting. Invariably, whomever we beat in the regular season we lose to in the playoffs and if we lose to them in the regular season we beat them in the playoffs. Case in point two days ago.

Something must have been wrong with the victory torch early this morning, or someone simply forgot to turn it on, but it wasn't on. However, I came out of chemistry and it was on, so it was nice to see the pretty flames. Because flames are just pretty. And ON FIRE.

In Pace Christi,


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Almost Obligatory Pointless Thursday Post

Okay, I am officially stalking the Guillot in hopes of Oreo cake. I've been in there every day since and there has been no sight of the Precious. Chocolate pie, chocolate chip cookies, lemon cake with chocolate icing, but no Precious. They stole it from us, nasty tricksy hobbitses...

I got a copy of the new Flor-Ala this morning. I like reading people's tweets on the back. I'm glad to see someone else shares my opinion of the squirrels around campus. Dr. Bibbee told us on the first day of class that they were, in his words, 'rats with fuzzy tails', and they do seem to enjoy frolicking about and occasionally bombing hapless students with acorns. Don't say they don't, because they do. And they waste acrons by only eating half of them- that's so they can hit students on the head with the other half, I suppose...

The people in Lafayette should all be up by 9:00, right? At least I've never slept in past 9:00. (You may gasp in horror now.) So if I timidly plink away on the piano, it will be okay with everyone? My playing sounds much worse when I'm trying to play quietly and thus miss notes or don't hit the keys hard enough for the hammers to strike the strings (inside the piano... that's how a piano works, by the way. Open the lid while someone is playing sometime. It's cool).

If I did wake anyone up, I'm sorry! It must have been with the Star Wars Theme Song, if I did. Or the Imperial March (a.k.a. Darth Vader's Theme Song). It was very embarrassing when the Georgia band was playing that the other Saturday... :(  And, for your information, yes, I am the one today who was wearing a bright purple UNA t-shirt and an Auburn jacket. I'm confused that way. But it works out as long as we're not in Division I. On a related note, I hear we got rejected by the Ohio Valley Conference... Well, that throws a wrench in the system.

In Pace Christi,


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Obligatory Honors Post 11/15/11

Tonight our speaker was Steve Pierce from State Farm, who is also a UNA trustee. He focused mainly on leadership in his speech, trying to define what it means to have leadership. At one point, he even speculated that leadership is not a thing that can be learned; rather, it is something inherent that one either has or one doesn't. He warned that sometimes as a leader the decision one must make that is the best for one's community is not necessarily the most popular decision among one's community. I can understand that.

He also said that a leader must research their decisions before deciding anything. Again, one would think this is self-explanatory, but many people do not do this all the time: just look at the newspapers at the stupid things politicians and famous people do. You read the paper and you think, "What an idiot!" And yet we don't often think about our decisions as much as we should, either.

Another important part of making a decision, Trustee Pierce said, is looking ahead to the consequences of one's actions and decisions. All possible results must be included when making a decision. You cannot make a decision for your community if you do not first study what sort of impact it will have on your community. These results must, however, be viewed impartially. Many people want something to have a desired effect so much they will steamroll ahead regardless, not bothering to really check if their decision will have those results.

Take the decision to extend St. Florian Road to Industrial Park. It's a stupid decision. There's no other word for it, and I don't say that just because I live on the road. People complain about the traffic situation in St. Florian, and I know it can be bad... for about twenty minutes of the day, around 5:00. And you're telling me that building a major thoroughfare and ending it in the middle of a tiny town whose roads are farm-to-market roads that are simply not designed to handle that sort of traffic is anywhere near a good idea? I don't have the figures, but I do recall that traffic into St. Florian will increase by several thousands, while only lessening the traffic on the existing major thoroughfare of Church Road (no, I can't think of the County Road number at the moment; no one uses it) by only 100 cars or so. Yes, great idea. And the Industrial Park already has far many more egresses and ingresses than most industrial parks. Is it so vital that it needs another?

Rant finished. Trustee Pierce also insisted that leaders must not take the easy way out and go along with people for various reasons, because they are afraid of confrontation, etc. He said you must be willing to stand up for the right thing to be a leader. He also said that sometimes true leadership is never acknowledged or rewarded, implying that a true leader must be humble and willing to admit his own mistakes. (Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings comes to mind...)

He also gave us one of his favorite quotes (I love quotes!), this one by Helen Keller: "What a shame it is, to have sight and no vision."

In Pace Christi,




That Oreo cake was really bothering me during chemistry lab, so I went to the Guillot first thing after I got out of class and the cake was gone! THE PRECIOUS IS LOST! I feel so dejected! I think I shall have to go crawl away in a corner and cry...

Well, the best I can do is go back tomorrow and hope for the best. If not, there was some other kind of cake next to the refrigerated sandwiches and sushi (eel roll sushi...? NOT my thing...) that appeared to be labelled 'Hawaiian Wedding Cake'. But if it has nuts, scratch that... I don't like nuts in a lot of stuff.

That looks weird in print. Oh, well, I'll take raisins in stuff. I'm just weird that way.

In Pace Christi,

Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with My right hand of justice.

Isaiah 41:10

In Pace Christi,


More Things I Have Learned About Una

Okay, you remember the drill. I list random things I have discovered about UNA in no particular order except probably that of increasing randomness.

1. I know now where Rogers Hall is. It probably helps that we only go past it every day on the shuttles.

2. Someone on campus is losing paperclips. I've picked up at least four on the ground, and three of them were in the same place- on the slope behind Bibb Graves, going up towards the library. The other was on the ground in front of Bibb Graves. Well, I shall start a paperclip collection. One is green and another is yellow so I shall have all sorts of pretty colors.

3. Schoolchildren have invaded campus! I don't know where they're coming from, but they're here- little midgets in matching shirts jumping up and down and (sort of) following their teachers around. I suppose they come to see the lions, but I'm not sure if that counts as a full field trip. Maybe they also go on a little tour around campus and someone tells them stuff... wholesome ghost stories about the different buildings on campus, perhaps?

4. They sell Oreo cake in the Guillot! I should have got some today instead of a more nutritious sandwich... if only to use up the last fifteen dollars or so on my Mane Card. I'll be there tomorrow, however. Let's hope there's still some. If not, I will be very sad and may even blog about my sadness because of the lack of Oreo cake. Oreos are one of the best foods in the world, because they are made of chocolate. WIN. Chocolate is one of the most important substances known to man, along with cheese.

5. It IS true that UNA communicates with its students primarily through email. We are all supposed to have a mailbox, and they told us in SOAR to check it every week. So I faithfully check it every week. However, there has been nothing in it for the past 6 weeks. Some people obviously don't check their mailboxes, because some have yellow flyers in there from the Matisyahu concert.

6. The flags look pretty on the bridge.

7. Apparently, a dude checks/cleans the Harrison Fountain (it IS called that, right?) every morning. At least, I've seen a dude fiddling around with it a couple of mornings. It probably helps that I get to campus by 7:40 and sit by myself in my classroom in the Math Building for ten minutes with my head on my desk and thinking, "I hope class hasn't been canceled and I am sitting here in this freezing/roasting room for nothing..."
The dude was in the fountain one afternoon, complete with rubber gear to not get wet.

8. What is with the temperature in the buildings? I know most of them probably have old heating units and stuff, but seriously... In the summer the air was on and it was 60 degrees in the Math Building and in Wesleyan. You could hardly sit on the desks in the Math Building for fear of frostbite. Ditto for Wesleyan. To top it off, they had fans going constantly in the language lab in Wesleyan. Now you know why I dubbed it the meat locker. Now that it is fall, however, they have turned the heat on and now it is 80 degrees in those buildings. I walk in, take off my coat(s), and fantasize about opening windows.

9. The Darby Drive parking lot scares me. There's so much broken glass at the far end of the parking lot. I routinely swerve to miss a patch of it in the morning... probably doesn't help that I insist on parking at the far end of the lot. I mean, when I get there in the morning (usually) there's only about four other cars, if that many. I can park wherever I want. But I am a person of habit and like to go for the same spot over and over again.

10. What will it take to get UNA to offer Latin? I'll write a petition if anyone else is interested... Does anyone know the president's email address? Maybe we can swamp his inbox. Or perhaps I should just starting bugging Dr. Christy, since he's the head of the foreign language department. Does he know Latin? He seems to know everything else. It's most disconcerting when he suddenly says something in French (or even Dutch... or was that Flemish?) when trying to explain a German term.

In Pace Christi,


Friday, November 11, 2011

This Is A Completely Pointless Post

I'm wearing my new boots.

I told you this was a completely pointless post.

But I am very proud of my new boots! My old ones were falling to pieces and I could no longer delude myself into thinking they were anything other than that. So we went first to the co-op and looked at Muck boots but pretty much everything there was too big for my feet. It was all men's sizes you see... and the smallest was like a 9, and I needed a men's 7 to equal a women's 8 (I think I have that right). But then we went to Tractor Supply Co. and found some that worked (after thirty minutes of wandering around the shoe section and laughing at bright yellow rubber boots and rock-hard cowboy hats). At first I thought I wouldn't be able to get my feet out of a pair. I sort of fell over trying to dislodge the boot. No permanent damage was incurred.

We eventually had success and now I very much like these boots. Not only are they especially handy for rainy conditions (tennis shoes and rain puddles do NOT mix!), they are very warm. And I like the clomp-clomp sound of them. Plus they are very handy for stepping on the toes of annoying little brothers. If you have little brothers you know precisely what I mean.

Of course, now I feel like Sadie from the Kane Chronicles, who loves her combat boots so much she sleeps with them on. Which is weird, because I don't really like Sadie that much...

As an aside, DR. DIAZ ROCKS. We had no chemistry today due to it being Veterans' Day.

In Pace Christi,


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, and what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2

As an aside, this is my 61st post.

In Pace Christi,


What Is It With Me And Papers?


Why, oh, WHY, do you have to assign another paper right when I was trying to do my English paper? Gah! At least you picked a topic that I can discuss intelligently without looking at a book beforehand: the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. How I love to make fun of those crazy Roman emperors.

Seriously, my high school world history book was awesome. Most of what Dr. Bibbee has taught us sounds familiar (no offense meant). And it loved the Roman emperors! In fact, I think it blamed them the most for the fall of the Roman empire, along with the people themselves. Rome prospered when its people worked hard, worshipped gods that embodied natural virtues (and crusaded against Moloch of Carthage, to whom children were burnt alive in sacrifice), and had to fight for survival. When they became masters of the Mediterranean, they developed a love of luxury that I think ultimately killed their empire. Roman citizens no longer wanted to work in the army, so they hired barbarian auxilliaries. Etc., etc.

The rise of Christianity, however, didn't kill the empire or even help kill it. The empire's attempt to kill Christianity killed the empire. You would think the bad guys would learn, but noooo... 2000 years of trying to stomp us out, and we're still around. I think someone from that time even noted it: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity." And they were right.

I was a little annoyed when Dr. Bibbee said Christians did not serve in the Roman army. Out of all the points I could have brought up with him, that was the one I chose. Incidentally, tomorrow is the FEAST OF ST. MARTIN, WHO WAS A ROMAN SOLDIER BEFORE BECOMING THE BISHOP OF TOURS. Take that! He's the most famous for cutting his cloak in two and giving half to a begger, who then appeared to him that night as the risen Christ, saying, "Martin, stil a catechumen, has covered Me with his cloak."

Ha! Today, by the way, is the feast of St. Leo, another awesome guy. Let's put it this way: Attila the Hun was advancing on Rome. The emperor, too cowardly to do anything against him, tried to leave the city and was killed by the citizenry for his efforts. (Ha!) Pope Leo, meanwhile, takes charge and goes out to parley with Attila. Attila agrees to the pope's request to spare Rome. Later he mentioned that the whole time he was talking with Leo he could see a man standing next to the pope, threatening him with a sword if he did not do as the pope said. Leo was very devoted to St. Peter, the first pope, you see...

Yeah, the popes got the papal states over a period of time, largely because they were the ones who actually DID SOMETHING when the last few Roman emperors fled.


Soooooo, I did the outline for Dr. Bibbee's paper yesterday. Today I did the first draft for my English paper, which, if I haven't mentioned it, purports to demonstrate that saturated fats and cholesterol do not cause heart disease. Yes, laugh at me. Then go google the Myogenic Theory of Heart Disease and make faces at the words 'myocardial infarction' while I laugh at you. (By the way, 'myocardial infarction' seems to mean 'stuffing the heart muscle' in Latin. I'm sure it doesn't, but it looks that way. Personally, every time I see 'infarction' I have a mental image of a fart gone horribly wrong and imploding in the heart... but then I have two younger brothers, so that's probably expected.)

And, yes, I wrote the whole paper today. It only took me 6 hours. I write better in one sitting.

An annoying fact: I have German tomorrow at 9, and history at 1. Dr. Diaz was completely awesome enough to cancel chemistry for Veterans' Day. However, that does leave three hours for me to kill in the middle of the day. Perhaps I'll lurk in the library again. I prefer lurking in the library to the Guillot. (GUC, to those of you who STILL don't know the building names... You know who you are... Your guilty smiles give you away...) Lurking in Lafayatte (ooh, nice alliteration) is okay too, even if I am magnetically attracted to the piano and it will probably take a crowbar to pry me off of it.

There's an idea. I can bring my piano books tomorrow (well, some of them) and play something OTHER than the eleven thousandth rendition of Fuer Elise. I do love the song so, though, primarily because it's got my name, but surely it gets old after a while? I have a Star Wars book. :)

In Pace Christi,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yes, I Am Still On The Face Of The Earth

My blogging rate has slowed down of late. Probably because schoolwork is setting in. I still have to do research about the causes for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire for Dr. Bibbee for tomorrow. Don't worry, Dr. Bibbee, it will get done. I like learning about the Roman Empire. I've just had a lot of stuff going on yesterday and today.

I went to the book club meeting in Lafayette today. Free lunch! Free food is always the best kind. And this was some very good pizza. And THEN they had a dish of mini candy bars! I officially LOVE you, honors program guys! Yes, I am a chocoholic. And not very apologetic about it, either.

I didn't really have many ideas for making the Honors Program more starfish-like, however. All of the suggestions and reasons put forth were valid and worth consideration, I felt. However, I don't really know how to implement starfish techniques. I think personally I am more comfortable with a spider-like network (if only because the simple logicality of it appeals to me) but I appreciate horizontal, not only vertical, communication in such a layout (Dr. Bibbee pointed this out Monday... or was it Friday? ... with his little chart on the board with how the Roman Empire worked under Caesar Augustus. Everyone reported to their superior, and the superiors ultimately reported to Augustus. That worked great as long as they had a good, capable emperor. With insane emperors, however... you get the picture.) Anyway, I think I operate on a bit more of a starfish-like pattern. I really don't know. It's hard for any person to truly know themself. We're a little too close to ourselves to analyze ourselves completely without bias.

Anyway, now for the obligatory part of this post.

Tonight our speaker was William Lee, a commercial farmer. Cue happy dance of joy on my part! As soon as I saw the slide of a tractor and planter, I knew this would be a good speaker for me. Everyone else may have been sitting there with zero comprehension or close to it (and perhaps nodding off a little, especially in the back), but I was sitting in the front with rapt attention. I come from a family of farmers! I live on a farm! I like hearing about farms!

In fact, I was probably the only person wishing that Mr. Lee would get more technical with his discussion! If he had started listing the model and year of every piece of equipment he owns and described in great detail its function, I would have loved it. I love hearing about equipment and the differences. My only regret is that it goes in one ear and out the other. I can't hold onto it. If I could write it down, however, with nice little charts and mnemonics, maybe I'd remember it all better.

Anyway, Mr. Lee does primarily row-cropping (and I understood that term even before he explained it!!!!). He has about 3,000 acres, some of which are near International Paper's Courtland mill. I don't know if his are the fields that have the very neat irrigation system with the pipes-on-tires contraption that wheels across the field, but, whatever. It was neat meeting the owner of fields that I have driven past.

Towards the end of the forum, he showed us some pictures of his equipment. They were all green. They were all John Deeres. After several green John Deere tractors, a very impressive green John Deere 12-row planter, a green John Deere sprayer (he said it could do 600 acres in a day!), and other green mobiles, he said, "This is not a John Deere commercial." To prove his point, his next picture was of his homemade soil-sampler mobile, which had been painted red, white, and blue. He said, "I took a picture of it because it was not green." It was a jeep-y thing he bought for $1000, cut a hole in the floorboard, and rigged up a thing so he could take a soil sample without climbing on and off of a four-wheeler. Very ingenious, I thought. It even had a GPS. Cool.

He also had a picture of a John Deere combine picking cotton, and then sequential pictures of said combine unloading a bale of cotton without stopping. The bale looked like the big round bales of hay, but I had not known they had machines to make such bales of cotton. It was very cool.

Mr. Lee didn't get around much to talking about values, but he did mention that he believes strongly in conservation (ironically, they use herbicides to kill the straw they use for cover...). He said he believes in 'leaving the land in a better shape than he found it', which is a very good goal.

He also had a quote by Benjamin Franklin, which was the only part of his talk in which he spoke too quickly for me to write it down. (Most of the time he spoke rather slowly and had a delightful Southern accent that is nice to listen to after so many doctorates... no offense meant. But I really like listening to the Southern accent and secretly regret that I don't have more of one myself.) So I can only paraphrase the Ben Franklin quote. It went something like this: "There are three ways by which nations gain wealth: one, by war, as the Romans did, which consists of plundering other nations; two, by commerce, which is mostly stealing; and three, by farming."

Mr. Lee did try to express that farmers find some sort of transcendental satisfaction in their work that is lacking in other professions, a sort of quiet inner joy that farmers have and which drives their efforts. He even said he couldn't express it as he would like, but I think I know what he means. Did you know that the only profession divinely mandated by God in the Bible is that of farming?



In Pace Christi,


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Today is Thursday. But You Knew That Already.

Yep. When I can't think of a title for my completely pointless blog post, I aim for snarky. As you can tell, it really doesn't work. I have a weird sense of humor.

I wish I had known it was going to rain before I went out the door this morning. (And, yes, I do seem to be in the habit of posting some rain-related quote every day it rains. Don't worry, I'll run out of them sooner or later.) All I saw was that it was cloudy. But as I was halfway into town it began to sprinkle. It's not so bad dashing to the shuttle, but walking across campus in the rain... not so fun. Especially when your tennis shoes get wet and then soak your socks, because your socks don't dry for hours. Not fun at all. So I did a mad dash across campus, jumping puddles and running up the hill to the math building.

I can understand the purple ribbons on everything for Spirit Week. (It IS Spirit Week, isn't it?) But the pink bows... OCTOBER was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is November. Can we get out of the pink hoopla by now, for goodness's sakes? I don't know how much more aware I can get. And whoever put two enormous pink bows on each of the benches around the ampitheater.... gah. It's so gaudy. And garish. And ghastly. And I can think of a bunch more g adjectives, but I'll just leave it with this... gollum, gollum...

Yes, I can do a very good Gollum impersonation in real life. Why I might think that is a good thing, I have no clue.

We did our compare and contrast essays in English this morning. I did not find it very hard at all, because I picked a topic I know very well- the Lord of the Rings and Narnia. I compare/contrasted Boromir and Edmund. I also shot for overkill as I picked 3 compare points and 3 contrast points. I got three full pages out of it though, so that is good.

Did I mention lab has been a mite more exciting the past few times? Last week we set magnesium on fire. (We love torching things in chemistry lab!) Unfortunately we had to put it in a crucible so we could not watch the pretty flames. This week we boiled stuff. We also broke a lot of stuff. One of the girls across the bench broke a beaker, we dropped our watchglass twice (fortunately it didn't break either time) and then the group down from us allowed their beaker to boil over it and sort of had a watery explosion. I'm not really sure what it did, but the beaker fell off and broke, glass went everywhere, clouds of steam were billowing off it, and everyone in the room was staring. Finally the guy said something along the lines of, "I guess we'll have to start the experiment over."

In Pace Christi,

Es regnet, Gott segnet. - It rains, God blesses.

In Pace Christi,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit. - Called upon or not, the Lord is nigh.

In Pace Christi,


Obligatory Honors Post 11/1/11

Neat number, that. 11/1/11.

ANYWAY, Dr. Mike Moeller, aka the Wizard of Tuna (for reasons unbeknownst to me... but he did have it written on his lab coat) was our speaker tonight. He started off strong by pouring liquid nitrogen on the floor (and it gave those of us sitting in the front row quite a turn, I assure you). He then proceeded to 'freeze' his finger in said liquid nitrogen, all the while assuring us that it was quite safe and that you had to do it at a certain rate: too fast, and the cell membranes of your finger would rupture; too slow and ice crystals would form in your finger and they would rupture the membranes. After pulling his finger out of the liquid nitrogen (did I mention he was wearing two pairs of gloves) he tapped his finger with a hammer and then slammed the hammer down on it.

It was a cork finger.

Needless to say, he did yet again another very good job of thoroughly terrorizing us in the front row.

Then he began his serious presentation. He began with the premise that science is objective and deals with facts while values are subjective and deal with feelings. I take issue with that. I am not a moral relativist; I am am moral absolutist. I believe there are definite rules of right and wrong. And I do not believe it just because I want to (though that IS a lesser reason), which would make it relative, and I don't believe those rules are just for me or just for other people. So I wouldn't say values are subjective. People's perceptions of them are subjective, relative, and subject to change, but right and wrong don't change.

"It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange... How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

-- Eomer and Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings

As always, Tolkien says it much better than ever I could. And, yes, I felt the need to put it in large, bold print. Should it have been in all caps as well?

Dr. Mike also said that science is not scientists. Scientists are not Mr. Spocks. He said values intersect with science in three different ways- epistemic, culturally, and when they emerge from science.

I was probably the only one among the students who knew what epistemology was before he told us tonight. It's the study of knowledge! Or, indeed, how we know things. (I read philosophy books for fun...) Dr. Mike listed some things that scientists like: simplicity, reliability, testability, accuracy, precision, generality, heuristic power (discovery and invention), novelty, controlled and unbiased observation, peer review, confirmation of predictions, repeatability and statistical analysis, universalism, and communism. And, no, not Communism with a capital C. He means good communication among scientists. What he said scientists don't like include: error, fraud, and pseudoscience. And I agree on the last three. What professional would not dislike a quack?

It was when Dr. Moeller introduced the concept of Ockham's Razor that I began to wonder if he had minored in philosophy or something. I was, yet again, probably the only student who knew what the Razor was (and, no, I don't think he lived in the first millenium). Basically, it means take the simplest explanation of something. Whether Ockham intended it to be that way or not, the Razor is used to get rid of troublesome ideas such as angels and demons, as Dr. Moeller pointed out.

Personally, I think that is bad science. The simplest explanation is not always the true one. We just don't know. Paranormal activity MAY be ghosts. (In a previous post I mentioned that I do believe there can be ghosts.) Crop circles COULD be done by aliens. We don't know. Personally, I think that if we can't DISPROVE something, it's rather silly to just toss the idea out the window without giving it serious consideration. But people don't want to be held accountable for their ideas, so they love cowering behind science and avoiding the thought of possible eternal ramifications of their actions. No, I'm not trying to convert anyone here. But if you can't disprove God, you shouldn't harp so much about the fact that you can't prove Him. And there are very nice proofs in science and in logic that He does exist.

Cambrian explosion? DNA? (Read Numbers Up.) The differences between macroevolution and microevolution? The Big Bang itself? The insane odds that life could even develop, the odds that conditions would be perfect enough on Earth for life to develop? The fact that almost all cultures have believed in some sort of deity?

I need to get back to the topic at hand... Sorry. But stuff like this is kind of personal for me.

Dr. Mike Moeller wasn't afraid to be controversial, like a bunch of our speakers. For how our cultural values affect science, he said it affects what studies are conducted (does it ever) and what sort of funds they get. For values emerging from science, he brought up stem cells.

Since I've already gone off on two separate rants by now, I'll just throw this out on the table: why did he not mention adult stem cells not a single time???

Adult stem cells have a much higher rate of success. What cures there have been from stem cells have come from adult stem cells.  Plus, you don't have to destroy any completely innocent human lives in the process. I think it was a bit unfair when he turned the issue back on embryonic stem cell naysayers when he asked us what we should do with the embryos that are already frozen. It was a bit like saying, "Clean up our mess for us." I would be tempted to say, "You shouldn't even be doing it in the first place?" To be fair on my own part, I really don't know what to say. I don't know enough about it to say. I'm not majoring in cryonics. But it really depends on whether or not the frozen embryos (I also noted how he cleverly avoided the use of the word 'embryo' as well) are dead or not. If they are dead, they should be honorably buried. If not... well, that's another can of worms.

This is what happens when the rules of right and wrong are skewed, turned on their side, inverted, torn to rags as slogans and attacks, and plain thrown right out the window. It's been this way since Eden and it will be this way for the rest of time... but that doesn't mean I have to like it. The sad fact of life is that it seems to be only getting worse.

In Pace Christi,