cut on the bias

keeping an eye on the spins and weirdness of media, crime and everyday life

Thursday, June 27, 2013

And a year later....

That last effort at firing things up again went awry, didn't it? I've been stewing lately, so perhaps I will do it this time. But I will post several items before telling the world at large that I'm back. Wouldn't want to disappoint the masses again. If you're getting notices, bless your heart! I'll be having lots to say very shortly. I now return you to your previously scheduled life.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I haven't posted here for about two and half years. However, Facebook and Pinterest have nudged me toward starting this up again. I have more to say and share than those formats allow. So I will post here and link there. If any of you read my blog previously, back in the day, this will be less about politics and more about other things that interest me. While I'm still interested in politics, and will write some about that, I've gotten more cynical and less engaged by it in the past 10 years. It's good to express an opinion, even better to take some personal action. But too often chatting about it on a blog is like shouting in an echo chamber - satisfying and noisy, but not very productive. I want to talk instead about science, cooking, baking, needlework, writing, photography, my amazing family, and always, threaded through everything, God. I'm not so concerned about getting a lot of hits. It's more about having a place to post longer thoughts and collections of photos that I can then link elsewhere. If I get a lot of hits here... well, wouldn't that be a bonus! And thanks for reading. I do appreciate your time and value your interest.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cosmos, black holes and other entertaining things

I have a love/hate relationship with math and science. I love what they can do, and some elements of them perform very elegantly. But generally my brain does not move in math/science paths, so I struggle to grasp the details. What I do is read books written for people like me: those who want to know some concepts and latest updates, but don't want to have to know any mathematical equations before understanding it.

For Christmas I requested and received 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, by Michael Brooks. It's precisely what I like. So far I've worked my way through the first chapter, on the missing universe. Essentially, Brooks says that we know what 4% of the universe is made of - those bits we can see. But we don't know what the other 96% is made of - those bits we can't see. Is it dark matter? Dark energy? Or, looking ahead to Chapter 2, possibly the bizarre substance known in the 1800s as ether? (And no, it's not the ether that makes you go to sleep for an operation.) His stroll through the current state of things is illuminating, frustrating and exciting all at the same time.

Earlier this year, I got all in a tizzy about supermassive black holes, after watching a program on the Science channel. According to Brooks (or my understanding of what he says), we don't really know if they exist. We extrapolate their existence because of how matter and light and energy around them behave. Scientists theorize that black holes not only bend those elements of our universe, but also time itself.

I'm curious about these things for their own sakes, of course. But the intensity of my interest comes from what I learn about God from learning about His universe. Because I do believe in God, I do believe He created everything, that He is eternal, that everything He gave us in the Bible is factual and true. I don't think that science proves God is only a name for things we do not know. I think science proves *what is* in the physical universe, not what isn't or what cannot be experienced physically. Thus, science cannot prove God doesn't exist, even if it were true, and it really can't *prove* He does exist, in a definitive way. God is like science's explanation of the black hole, in part: we know He exists because of the way things behave around Him. And also because of Him, because He is the best answer to the questions about "How?" and "Why?"

One of the perennial questions is about the difference between science's current understanding of the age of the earth - millions and millions of years old - and the Biblical account of creation - six days, and then rest. People have tried to explain the discrepancy many ways. Could the six days actually be six eras/epochs? Could it be that God does not count time like we do? The list goes on. My answer? I don't know. Right now, with our current knowledge of the universe and of God, we *can't* know in any concrete way. What I do know is that when I find out the answer, likely when I am with God after death, it will make perfect sense. Ah ha! I will think. Of course! That works perfectly, and everything fits neatly into place without gaps or left-overs. What I am is confident that *there is an answer* that makes it all work.

All of my reading in science only reinforce that to me. In a way, my science explorations are part of my search for and worship of God. How amazing He is! I think often. And it humbles, too. When I read of the vast reaches of the universe, of all the minute creatures thriving miles under the surface of the sea, I struggle to grasp that the God of the Bible is this God, the one who did this. Outrageous that He'd have anything to do with me personally!

So the journey continues. I highly recommend reading in science. Subscribe to Scientific American or New Scientist. Stretch your mind and challenge yourself to learn more about God's mind. Absolutely, incredibly, thoroughly amazing.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I was squirrelish when squirrelish wasn't cool

Squirrel is quite the thing in Great Britain:

Mr. Henderson, who cooks with both poetry and passion, sometimes prepares his squirrels “to recreate the bosky woods they come from,” braising them with bacon, “pig’s trotter, porcini and whole peeled shallots to recreate the forest floor.” He serves it with wilted watercress “to evoke the treetops.”

Other chefs may be less lyrical, but they are no less enthusiastic. The Famous Wild Boar Hotel in Britain’s Lake District serves squirrel Peking-duck style; at Matfen Hall, a grand country house hotel, it is layered with hazelnuts into a terrine; in Cornwall, it can be found baked into the iconic meat pie known as a pasty.

My father would be appalled, yet amused.

The reason for the spurt of squirrel-eating in England is the advent of the gray squirrel from the US, fondly known from public parks and roadsides all around the country. They have seriously encroached on the habitat of the native red squirrel since their arrival in England. A cry of "Eat a gray, save a red!" has rung from the rafters of many a restaurant.

Who knew how fashionable my family was all those years ago?

My dad is a big-time hunter. He spends a little time with a gun over his shoulder more days than not doing the year. He hunts deer, squirrel, rabbits, doves, grouse, whatever is in season and relatively nearby. And since he hunts it, I grew up eating it. I must confess, however, that I no longer have a taste for it. I am strictly a White Meat girl - chicken, turkey, pork - except for beef (ummm... beef) and ham. I don't do chicken wings. I don't like the darker parts of a pig. I will eat the occasional venison and enjoy it; it's especially good ground up in chili, where the stronger flavor enhances the dish. The others... not so much. However, it's a flavor thing, not a squeamishness thing. I say, hunt to your heart's content!!

The article also gives helpful hints, including: "squirrels must be shot in the head; a body shot renders them impossible to skin or eat..." which would be a surprise to my dad. But this riddle is solved by the next bit of advice: "Skinning a squirrel is “difficult and unpleasant,” the food writer Leslie Mackley said, adding, “You have to fight to rip the skin from the flesh.” Well, yes. Few animals care to be accommodating in losing their skin. In their judgment, the skin wasn't made for ripping from the flesh. It was made to cover the flesh. So removing it is bound to be inconvenient and messy. From what I've seen, dressing out any animal or fish is "difficult and unpleasant". I'm very glad someone does it, though, because eating them is neither.

And in this time of global financial downturns, be grateful that eating the latest haute cuisine involves little more than a stroll into the woods behind your house with the appropriate firearm* loaded and at hand.

* Don't ask me what the appropriate one is. I am a disappointment to my father in my failure to master gunsmanship.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"We want you to succeed"

President-elect Obama met with the current and surviving past presidents today, at a luncheon hosted at the White House by President Bush. The group met with reporters in the Oval Office before the meal, and President Bush welcomed Obama with these words:

"We want you to succeed."

I think that's exactly right and what should be in the hearts of every American. Now, what we each think "success" means ranges over a broad spectrum of political beliefs and approaches. But the basic message, to me, is this - "We want you to guide this country in a way that will leave America better off at the end than at the beginning, or at least no worse." That's a pretty tall order. We can also debate "better off" or "no worse", but I think we all know the essence of that. We want to stay free. We want to be safe. We want to stay relatively solvent. We want to worship God as we choose. That's all.

So, President Obama will be in my prayers, sincerely and frequently. I hope God will guide him and the country through the rocky years ahead. And I hope Obama tends more to rationalism than liberalism. It's our best hope.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To write or not to write? In your Bible, I mean.

Do you write in your Bible? Do you underline passages, make little notations, draw arrows? Does having a heavily-written in, scruffy Bible mean you study it more than someone who doesn't?

That's a question posed in this post. The comments raise more questions.

I generally think that someone with a well-marked Bible probably has done a lot of studying, but I don't assume that someone who doesn't mark it up does not study. That's because I don't mark up mine. I find the underlining and notes to be distracting. Instead, I take notes in separate notebooks. I don't like to read from other people's Bibles if they're marked up; the underlining and notes sift the emphasis and range of thoughts I might have. I'm not always reading a passage for the same purpose as I read it last time, but if I've emphasized some aspect of it by marking it, it's hard to shift gears and read it for the meaning in the current study.

But that's just me. What about you?

I've looked at life from both sides now

Are atheists persecuted in US society for their anti-god views? Or are the very religiously devout the ones facing more public disdain?

This article says "Yes".

Atheists constantly remind us that they cannot be elected president. But what about the deeply, openly religious, those who express their religious devotion through anything more than anodyne ceremony? Yes president Bush can ask the country to pray. But we cannot picture Eugene McCarthy, who led his supporters in the Catholic rosary, winning office either. Atheists may complain that Americans think it rude to say, baldly, “There is no God.” But Americans find it just as rude to say, “There is only one true, holy, and apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation.” Or, “there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.”

It's interesting, and sad, that many Americans are more willing to claim that global warming is absolutely true than to agree that God exists and He has told us how to obey and serve Him. The article points out that some high-profile men identifying themselves as religious leaders don't actually teach religious doctrine. Instead, they teach "spirituality" without the potentially distressing burden of real obedience to real rules laid down by the real God. The general consensus of society is that believing anything in the religious realm that carries the necessary corollary that someone else's beliefs are wrong, is completely out of line.

I don't quite get the value of belief in a god who more closely resembles a genie in a bottle than the all-powerful Creator who reveals Himself in nature as well as in His Word, the Bible. How can a god who conforms to the preferences of modern society stand as the Creator, Guide and Savior to all societies at all times? There can be few standards that survive that kind of malleability. It makes God servant instead of master.

As for the atheists... this article inadvertently supports the understanding that committed atheists are following their own anti-god, and as such themselves are "religious", albeit not spiritual.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today's snark

I really need to stop reading articles by Elite Writers who make Anthropological Junkets into Middle America. They are always unkind, in a "let me tell you, girlfriend!" after-work-gossip kind of way. The superiority just oozes off the page until you want to pull on gloves. It doesn't make it better when the writer admits to succumbing to the low-brow behavior he's writing about, with self-deprecating air.

The latest is an article in the NYTimes about a year-round Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. The store is a vast repository of every cliche and then some. I would find it fascinating, fun and just a little scary. The article's writer viewed it like a representative of a superior race of aliens set down in a backwater of Earth: he found it quaint and earnestly tasteless, populated by a people who knew no better than to think it was a wonderful thing.

I'm just so tired of it.

New flash: Ignorant toothless white hillbillies tend to be fat

There is so much about this article that makes me fume that I nearly set my leather couch on fire. A small sample:

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — As a portly woman plodded ahead of him on the sidewalk, the obese mayor of America's fattest and unhealthiest city explained why health is not a big local issue...

Culture and history are at least part of the problem, health officials say.

This city on the Ohio River is surrounded by Appalachia's thinly populated hills. It has long been a blue-collar, white-skinned community — overwhelmingly people of English, Irish and German ancestry...

... the region is a clear-cut leader in dental problems, with nearly half the people age 65 and older saying they have lost all their natural teeth. And no other metro area comes close to Huntington's adult obesity rate, according to the report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from 2006...

There's a connection between education and lack of exercise, too, said Dr. Thomas Dannals, a Huntington family physician.

"The undereducated don't know the value of it. They don't have the drive for it. There's a reason you're successful, you've got drive. The same is true for exercise," said Dannals.

See? Toothless ignorant white hillbillies.

I agree that being overweight is a struggle for far too many people in this country, including me. I don't have a problem with the AP doing an article on it. But this business of writing a snarky little article bringing up issues that have no demonstrable association with weight is just pathetic.

Does being overweight track with being white? Especially "Irish, English and German"? I would say overall no more than being black or Italian. Does it track with being blue collar? I doubt it. I would agree that it probably does track with poverty and lack of education, but not because the people who are poor and poorly educated are stupid.

And why bring up toothlessness? Does lack of dental hygiene and its consequences track with fat? Or was it just a fine opportunity to bring up another characteristic of those pathetic white Appalachians?

I think encouraging people to live healthier lives is a good thing. I think making that kind of lifestyle easier is a good thing. I think teaching about healthy living in schools is a good thing.

And I think this article is a written smirk-fest by someone who feels greatly superior to all these white Appalachian hillbillies with big bellies and no teeth. And why not? They're one of two populations* it's still politically correct to deride and mock.

*The other would be bitter gun-clinging religious folk. Interestingly, quite a few of those fat ignorant toothless white Appalachian hillbillies would fit in that category as well. A twofer for the superior crowd.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best books? What do you think?

A book blog on, OMNIVORACIOUS, is listing their vote for best books written by authors from or in each state. Naturally Kentucky was a challenge. There are as many books chosen as the state has electoral college votes, so that is eight from Kentucky.

I confess to not having read any of them except Hunter S. Thompson's. I will set myself the task to do so. Although... I'm not sure I need more reason to feel obligated to make changes in my world.