What is Evolution? What is Love?

2007 Oct 29

The English word "love" is an entity with multiple meanings. Under its big umbrella, it includes a continuum of meanings from sexual desire, to friendship, to altruistic care. The interesting part is that it is possible for the whole range to exist simultaneously in a relationship. However, only parts of its meanings may be true in some other relationship. For example, the newlyweds love each other, he loves his buddies, she loves her baby; same word, not likely the same meaning.

As humans, we may make use of this defect in the word, as for example in this conversation: "Do you love me?", "Yes, I do." If that is all that was said, then each person probably chose their own meaning. And the same thing happens with the word "evolution".

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Convincing Nay-sayers of Evolution?

2007 Oct 25

A guy on the internet by the name of Rob has written a piece suggesting a means of convincing people of the veracity of Darwinian evolution (evolution as the explanation for the origin of species). He used the illustration of three modern systems that function surprisingly well. He thought they each had similarity in operation to Darwinian evolution. The mechanism for the success of these systems has been hard for people to grasp. Likewise he thought that because people have found the mechanism of Darwinian evolution hard to understand, maybe that was why they rejected it. Therefore these systems might be used as teaching cases to convince people toward Darwin.

Wikipedia

The first system is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is somewhat controversial because many people find it hard to trust as a source of authoritative information. Since anybody on the internet can change its contents, how could it be reliable? And yet at least one study showed it to have accuracy similar to Encyclopedia Britannica.

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The year of the Berries

2007 Sep 3

This has been the best year in my memory for wild berries. And today I must have eaten a pound of huckleberries and blackberries!

I explored two parks that I never before had visited. I walked their trails, took in their sights and ate their berries. Both parks are in forested valleys. The main trails in Terrace Creek Park were gently sloped and sometimes paved. Yost Park is quite steep in places. It's trails were nicely maintained with bark or other surfacing.

Logging was once a primary industry in the Pacific Northwest. Many of these old-growth evergreen trees had become huge. Loggers characteristically cut them off above the place where the trunk widened into the roots. Since they decompose slowly, these stumps from trees logged even a century ago are still commonplace. And huckleberries love to grow out of old stumps.

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Alan Starts at Philips

2007 May 21

I talked with some of the mechanical engineering guys at work about what opportunity there might be for Alan to work the summer at Philips. Alan submitted his resume and dropped by to talk with some of them informally when he was here during his Spring Break. After he got back from school, they invited him in for an interview. And then they offered him a summer internship position. He started today.

It was interesting to see what paperwork he had to go through. I have been at Philips for 20 years now. (Originally it was ATL which was bought by Philips.) So it has been a long time since I have seen the starting-employment routine. I am certain that I didn't go through some of the things they had him sign for (e.g. background check authorization, etc).

It is pretty cool to go in to work with your son. However there are occasional transportation issues to consider. For instance, I have a few more classes to complete yet. So tomorrow I leave from work early - before Alan is done.

My Last Class

2007 Apr 12

I have started my last UWB class: Multimedia and Signal Computing! And I am scheduled to graduate in June!

I am definitely getting tired of taking classes. I don't know if it is because the end is so close or if it is because I haven't had a break between quarters like usual before.

I think the class content will be interesting. Some of it involves math that I haven't used in a very long time, so I feel the mental rust. Other parts are very familiar. Sometimes the two parts occur in the same lecture! So I am sitting back and relaxing some times and other times I am taking careful notes.

Most of my previous classes I have not owned a laptop computer. Now that I have one, I am taking it to all the classes (even though I am taking my notes on paper this quarter). I might use it to look up more detail on Wikipedia or through Google when the material of the moment is not too difficult. To me, it adds quite a bit of interest to the lecture.

Religion & Society

2007 Apr 2

Alan wrote a paper for a class at school about some ideas for revitalizing society. This got me thinking:

Religion is the human manifestation of a spiritual system. That which is spiritual is non-tangible and not under the control of humans. And yet spiritual influence may be the most significant influence we perceive in our lives.

Humans need guidance to access the spiritual realm because we do not perceive it natively as we do the physical realm. And religion is the primary means of that guidance. (But religion also gives humans spiritual influence. This can be a risky thing!)

  • For talking purposes, let's us ignore questions regarding which religion is correct. And lets also agree that genuine and complete truth does exist in the spiritual realm.

Spiritual values are a primary source of human values and religion is the conduit to them. Religion has historically been the most powerful means of uniting people. Therefore, we can see that religion can be the best means for creating vital communities.

Fiber, Fever & a New Class

2007 Jan 29

Last weekend, I got sick. I think it was some sort of 'flu'. I had two days of low fever: I only went above 100F (37.8C) once. However, I was quite weak until this weekend. Since I don't usually get sick, the whole thing was quite surprising.

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