Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Make Snow Ice Cream (Video)

Lots of people from the south are probably trying to dig up their snow ice cream recipes. Here's a video I made with my now-wife (from Connecticut) after I showed her how Alabamians use that stuff they hate so much to shovel:

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas trees make non-Christians feel excluded, researchers say

Merry Christmas! Now cut it out.

Researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, say a 12-inch Christmas tree caused non-Christians and/or those who don't celebrate the holiday to feel excluded, thereby lowering their sense of self-worth.

(Read the story on

Social psychologist Michael Schmitt, who led the study, said non-Christians and non-celebrants felt their sense of self worth lowered after entering the room with the tree, while all but one Christian/celebrant who participated felt their sense of self worth increased by seeing the tree.

He suggests toning down Christmas displays in public places to make non-Christians feel less left out.

But following that line of thought would lead to an entirely different conclusion.

(This is just a thought experiment, so don't get angry -- I'm only making a case full of Schmitt's own reasoning to show it's ridiculousness.)

Argument: Christian (X) and non-Christian (Y) each have a self-worth level of 5. (1 being lowest and 10 highest.) Each walks into the room without a Christmas tree. X and Y both leave the room still at self-worth level 5.

Next, X and Y walk into a room with a 12-inch Christmas tree. Y now feels worse about himself (down to level 3), but X feels better (up to level 8).

Our proposed solution is to remove the tree and leave both X and Y at level 5. This is great for Y, but worse for X. Should X be forced to suffer just so Y's feeling's won't be hurt? Maybe. But wouldn't a better solution be to raise both X and Y to level 8 -- or higher?

Now we need to figure out how to make that happen.

Ricky Gervais from 8 to
In a related item, funnyman Ricky Gervais writes on The Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog on how his older brother convinced him within one hour to stop seeing Jesus as his hero at age 8 and become an disbeliever in God altogether.

Gervais says it doesn't bother him if others believe in a god, but there's no science for it, so he doesn't.

It's mostly an intelligent read, but he does pull out the canard that science is superior because, among other things, "It doesn’t hold on to medieval practices because they are tradition. If it did, you wouldn’t get a shot of penicillin, you’d pop a leach down your trousers and pray."

This argument always gets a bug up my bum because some (not all) scientists are so fond of saying that something isn't true unless it's been proved by science. Gervais himself argues in this very piece that it is impossible to prove God's existence through science, therefore it makes perfectly good sense that he doesn't exist.

By this reasoning, if someone had by happenstance mixed up a batch of penicillin during the Middle Ages it wouldn't have cured anything because there was no scientific research to prove that it would. Leaches would have worked better.

No, I can't prove through scientific methods the existence of anything outside this physical reality; I can prove it through spiritual methods. Anyone who doesn't have -- and doesn't want -- the instruments to measure those things can't see it.

You should follow me on Twitter here and Facebook here.

(Photo: Christmas Tree by Anna Cervova)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Elephant named Elephant? Not very creative

The Birmingham Zoo in Alabama has just added an elephant to its upcoming "Trails of Africa" exhibit.

They got the 29-year-old bull, named Buldwagi, from Disney in Florida, The Birmingham News reports.

Buldwagi, it turns out, means "elephant."

So the Disney people, who came up with Mickey for a mouse (after first coming up with Mortimer for same mouse), Donald for a duck and seven different names for dwarfs, could only think up to call an elephant Elephant. That's sad.

If I were raised by a pack of wolves I wouldn't want them just calling me Human in their wolf talk. Be creative. Think up something to do with my personality or appearance. If you look at a picture of Buldwagi you'll notice that he has only one tusk. He lost the other in an accident when he was very young.

There's you a name, right there: Unitusk. Or Accident-Prone. Or Piano Key Donor.

Wait, wait: Tusk Tisk.

Whatever you go with, he won't care. He doesn't speak human.

But, you're thinking, they don't actually call him Elephant; they call him Buldwagi, which, since he is an African elephant, is Swahili or something for elephant.

Not so. It's Seminole.

Yes, apparently there is a word in Seminole for elephant. Probably something descriptive, too, like "Giant With Snake Nose Who Dances with Uncreative Nomenclature Givers."

You should follow me on Twitter here.