Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I've had violent hiccups for the last two hours..

I think I'm starting to lose my mind.

Creation Museum to Redefine Science

The $27 million Creation Museum opened it's doors in Northern Kentucky on Monday. The Museum argues that the Bible is more accurate than evolutionary science, asserting that the planet is just a few thousand years old and that humans and dinosaurs once coexisted.

In an interview with NPR, Ken Ham, founder, argued that the Museum offers both sides of the creation argument - explaining that a fossil exhibit has a "creation paleontologist" and an "evoloutionary paleontologist" providing differing interpretations of the same evidence. Ham rejects the notion that science has a lock on empirical evidence.

"All scientists have presuppositions that they start with that determine how they interpret evidence, scientists were not around to see dinosaurs walk the Earth anymore than creationists can claim to have been present to observe Adam and Eve."

On the About Page at the Creation Museum's Website Ham's scientific beliefs are explicitly stated, "the Creation Museum will be upfront that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and practice, and in every area it touches upon."

The Creation Museum's mission?
"Exalt Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer through a safe, wholesome, family-friendly center for learning and discovery that clearly presents major biblical themes from Genesis to Revelation."
According to Wikipedia, science, in the broadest sense, refers refers to any systematic methodology which attempts to collect accurate information about the shared reality and to model this in a way which can be used to make reliable, concrete and quantitative predictions about events, past, present, and future, in line with observations.

According to the Creation Museum website:
"guests will learn how to answer the attacks on the Bible’s authority and will discover how science actually confirms biblical history."
The Creation Museum, built with private donations by the non-profit ministry Answers in Genesis, includes a 200-seat special-effects theater, a 40-foot-tall depiction of Noah's Ark and robotic, roaring dinosaurs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Are Some People Born Evil?

Perhaps its too simplistic a claim that one has a genetic predisposition to evil acts.

"It is easy to identify individuals who willfully degrade and destroy other human beings as "evil." Starting with the Biblical characterization of Lucifer as God's favorite angel transformed into the dark force of the devil and cast into hell, scores of evildoers fill history's hall of shame. In recent times, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and many others stand out as mass murderers. However, as a social psychologist I prefer to identify situational conditions that can facilitate or seduce good people into becoming perpetrators of evil, such as adherence to destructive ideologies, rules, roles, uniforms, group norms, along with processes of dehumanization, deindividuation and moral disengagement."

- Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., President, American Psychology Association

Monday, May 21, 2007

Physical Activity In Lieu of Drug Treatments for Depression

In the past decade, researchers have compiled an extensive set of data that shows exercise may combat mild to moderate depression at least as well as any other treatment.

A recent study at Duke University used a four-month program of aerobic exercise in people diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The subjects worked out for 30 minutes three times a week in groups. Their response was compared with that of similarly depressed patients who received either standard therapy with Zoloft or drug and exercise combined.

Patients in all three groups experienced equally significant reductions in depression symptoms. Combining two effective treatments, drug and exercise, added no benefit. Notably however, six months after treatment ended, fewer patients in the exercise group had relapsed into depression.

Animal studies show that exercise alters neurotransmitters involved in the regulation of emotion, especially norepinephrine - the changes are similar to those produced by antidepressants. It also appears to stimulate the vagus nerve, increasingly recognized as an important pathway of depression.

Exercise changes people's perception of themselves, providing a sense of accomplishment and positive self-esteem, thus reducing negative thoughts. And exercise keeps on working - people who continue to exercise have continuing reductions in the symptoms of depression.

Vladimir Krestovich Returns

Monday, May 14, 2007

Taco Town Pizza Crepe Taco Pancake Chile Bag

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Big Apple in the Big Apple - Switching to a Mac

Carrying the 65 pound box which housed my new computer was no easy feat. The brushed steel tower (which resembles a giant cheese grater) weighs fifty pounds.

The Mac Pro was too big to fit under my desk. And upon examining the interior one can see why. It’s voluminous with minimalist leanings. The components are clearly labeled; there’s plenty of room for expansion. One can install up to 16 gb of ram (in eight slots) and as much as 3 terabytes of storage with four 750 gb hard drives. This would make sense if you were a serious video editor.

I ordered the 2.66 ghz quad core with 1gb of ram and a 250 gig hard drive – this is the base configuration – there are also 3 ghz quad and eight core models. The only add-on was a Bluetooth adaptor.

I was able to get a discount by ordering through a student. It was pretty easy to do and led to a savings of $200 or so. I ordered 2 GB of RAM from an aftermarket vendor as Apple RAM is a rip-off. I plan on ordering another 2 GB in a few months.

5 GB should allow me to live the dream of running all my applications all the time without conflict or decreased performance.

So why did I buy a Mac? There are comparably priced PCs which offer similar stats. In the end, I’m of the opinion, that the operating system is far superior to Vista or XP. In every debate I researched, Apple was a winner – which is surprising considering they only have 5 – 6% of the computing market. Even hardcore PC users admit that Apple is better; the exception is gamers.

My first impressions of the OS 10.4 Tiger were good. I had anticipated waiting for the launch of 10.5 Leopard – this was postponed until the Fall so I went ahead and pulled the trigger.

First impressions?

The interface is clean – the system does not come pre-installed with a bunch of crappy programs – although there were a few I deleted right away. Uninstalling them is easy enough (one simply drags them to the trash can).

The computer is fast – all that RAM comes in handy. I can tell when browsing, where Firefox alone is taking up 500 megs of RAM with 25 separate tabs open. Web applications like GMAIL and an AJAX inspired BlogSoop backend load much faster than on the PC.

At first I was very frustrated by some of the differences in keyboard layout. What’s the deal with the Open Apple Key?? It’s in a terrible position for copying and pasting stuff – an activity I find myself doing quite often. It took me about two hours to reconfigure the keyboard so it behaves as a PC. This was no small feat. If Apple wants to draw more PC-users away, they should make it a simple process. The core differences are the ALT & CNTRL keys as well as the Home & End Keys.

The stupidity of a one button mouse speaks for itself. It’s completely nonsensical to not have two buttons. While I do like the ‘Mighty Mouse’ rolling track ball, I decided to set up my own mouse instead. I had to spend some time configuring a back button. I recommend finding a mouse with a 4th button near ones thumb. Going “back” a page on websites is the second most commonly used method of navigation on the internet.

I was able to "find" copies of Office 2004 (for MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint) as well as the new Creative Suite 3. (I need to better version so I can exploit the Bridge functionality – which now makes sense that I have a computer powerful enough to run all programs in parallel.)

One feature I love is the ability to minimize an application and have it hide away out of site and mind. In Windows one always has to see open programs in the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Another great feature is Spotlight, a computer wide keyword search – functionality Windows has finally introduced with Vista.

A further complaint is related to the way windows are displayed without a solid background. I find this distracting. I don’t want to see my desktop if I’m working on something. This will be resolved with the introduction of ‘Spaces’ in Leopard, where one can alternate between four different desktops.

It also seems that the Mac was not set up with dual monitors in mind. The menu bar, which in PC’s is always at the top of a running application, is permanently fixed to one screen. So, for any applications running on my second monitor, I have to mouse all the way over to the far left corner to access the menu.

All in all, I’m happy with the switch. I feel much more elegant in my computing. I’m sure I will only continue to enjoy the Apple as time passes and I adjust.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Lifetime in Computers

When I was five years old my father brought home an Apple II GS. It was pretty slick at the time - 16-bit, 4096 colors, a mouse and a user friendly interface. It had no built in hard drive, just a 5.25" floppy drive.

A few years later my family switched to a PC, I believe I was eight or nine at the time. It was a Zeos running on an Intel 386 chip. After a few years we even set it up to a 9600 baud modem and signed up with a Prodigy account. My username was PWXR07E - I used to look at the weather maps, literally in awe of the digital age which had sprung forth.

I believe the hard drive held about 180 megabytes. At the time I remember discussing the enormity of the drive with my buddy Danny Wilansky...could you ever fill something THAT big!?

The machine ran on Windows 3.1 and featured a desktop-like feel. I had a blast playing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego". Oftentimes one had to switch back to a DOS interface to access certain applications like "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing".

The next series of machines do not stand out in my mind. They were all PC based...we upgraded to Windows 95. The computers did their job; we switched from Prodigy to AOL at some point. AOL did a good job tricking Americans into believing their service was the only means to connect to the "World Wide Web".

When I reached high school we had access to a cable modem (cable TV came to the Cress household at this time as well). By Senior Year I found my way to Napster...the best and easiest way to share/steal music that has been or ever will be...with the exception of Bittorrent perhaps.

When I went off to College I had a Sony Vaio. I really liked that computer. It was the first time I used Windows XP - a vast improvement over Windows 98/2000. I was able to use it effectively for four years...the trick being to keep it clean and not install a milieu of junk on it. I performed a clean install the day I brought it home; most PC manufacturers load computers up with an excess of useless programs...like AOL.

After College I got an HP Pavillion Laptop. It's a huge machine meant to serve as a desktop replacement. Why I decided to replace a desktop with a huge and almost immovable laptop I'll never know. The machine worked well, although the hard drive failed not too long after buying it.

Tired of a laptop screen I purchased a 19" Dell Flat Panel...a year later I sold it and upgraded to a 24" Dell wide screen. The extra screen space has a HUGE impact on productivity.

After three years on the machine I decided it was time for an upgrade. While most consumers find themselves buying computers less often - in large part because they don't use applications which require the type of processing power that comes with newer machines - I was itching to get something faster.

I had purchased more RAM for my HP about a year ago to run Adobe InDesign. I have about 1.3 mb worth now. While the operates well enough it can get slow and will run out of memory when high-draw applications like Adobe Illustrator. And I have a dream...

I want to be able to run all my programs all the time. Even the high demand programs.

Well, after (almost) a lifetime of PC's, I've returned to my Mac roots. I'll tell you all about the switch in my next post.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Matt Cutts' on the Fountainhead

Via a comment on his Blog

Doug, I’ve read enough Ayn Rand. At the point where someone criticizes Google and you think “How Ellsworth Toohey-like!”, you know it’s time to step away...

East Harlem's Rise

Wrote a piece on the rise of East Harlem. You can check it out over at BlogSoop.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Establishing Rules of Telephone Etiquette

Too often, I find myself calling someone back after being disconnected and getting their voice mail - only because they were trying to call me back at the exact same moment.

It's time we laid some ground rules. If I call you (initially) I'll call you back...just sit back and wait. If you called me, I'll expect a call back in a few minutes.

Got it? Got it.

You're such a cute little taco, MMmmMmM!!!!!!!!


This picture of you.

I think I need to eat it!

You are so cute I want to jump into your blog and SQUEEZE THE LITTLE DOUGLET!!

- Anonymous email.