31 July 2005

Jesus Christ Superstar: It's an odd pleasure of growing older that you remember when things were different. I was in high school when Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS) the album was released and also when the play was first performed in NYC. I saw it with friends in 1971 or 72 (that school year...I don't remember the exact date.) and it was a big topic in the Franciscan-run Kolbe High School I attended. I remember too the discussions about the theological flaws in it, in the wording of the Last Supper, in the overly human personality of Christ, the casting of Mary Magdalene as a hooker, etc. The discussion in Christ circles raged to a greater degree than the Harry Potter debates of today.  One of the friars pointed out that, like the miracle plays, entertainment did not have to be theologically perfect to be a good thing. Like the Last Temptation of Christ, JCS looks at part of the fundamental story of Christianity from a different angle. If it humanizes Christ at the cost of some of His Divinity, if it makes Judas into a more sympathetic fellow than he was, well, its isn't the Gospels and it kept fairly true to the story. The big problem is it skips the really important part on Sunday morning.

I still remember the image and voice of the fellow playing Judas. My image of Jesus and Mary M come more from the movie I think. In some ways, its almost like the Secret of Father Brown - a spiritual exercise where you imagine how you could commit the sin that horrifies you. Sadly, I can see myself, I do see myself betraying Christ for silver. Thankfully there is forgiveness for without infinity mercy, I'd have no hope.

We saw the Denton Music Theatre's product of JCS last night for our 22 wedding anniversary. With the kid. Okay, it's not the most romantic evening we've planned but it was fun. The production was well done and the folks playing a lot of the roles did a good job. Judas was well sung if a bit over acted, Mary M was, I think, the same lady as did Maria's best friend in West Side Story with that lovely voice, and both Pilate and Herod were very well sung if oddly interpreted. The goddess disagrees with me on Jesus, but I think he was under voiced and poor done. He looked like a bad Mormon interpretation of Jesus and he just lacked the range needed. I'm not sure I'd have noticed before a week with Ms. Miller, but his voice just fell out in a lot of the sounds. I've always loved the "nor doomed Jerusalem as well" piece and his voice couldn't carry the high notes. A lot of the highly emotional pieces were also underpowered. Overall thro, it was worth seeing and if you are in the area, you should go see it.

What was really amazing through was how main stream Christian this controversial musical has become. The flaws that initially made people demonstrate are now accepted as flaws but the response seems to be it's a play, not scripture. Churches and organizations that one protested it and accused it of trivializing the Gospel now support and produce it.  It makes me wonder what people will think of Harry Potter and all that fuss in 35 years. One problem with our faith in the US is the emphasis on individual experience and express is we forget things like the Iconoclastic and Arian controversies lasted hundreds of years.

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Light blogging tonight: I'm decaffeinating, it dang hot, Ben is running at high speed, work has me swamped, and the priest at our mission has decided marriages and births are either too unimportant or too much work to sing "many years" for. The good news is I may get to move back to the church I miss so much, because between this and refusing to bless travelers when his wife requested it, the goddess is pissed too.  So I'm just going to sulk tonight and not blog until I calm down.

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30 July 2005

Happy 22nd Anniversary, Connie!

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Moderate Muslims, huh? Now I have no idea how good the source is but isn't this interesting? Would they lie? Well, the Koran says you can use any means to conquer and force the infidel to submit.

Tim Blair has some great quotes in No Excuses. Basically that was my experience dealing with Saudis in the past and it seems to still be that way even in the US. A non-Moslem is less than a woman and all know how well they are treated. Moslems will not be friends with a dhimmi and they are nice to you only as long as they think they can us you or if they fear you.  While I am being politically incorrect, anyone know how to translate "Constantinople and Alexandria will be freed" into Arabic?

In better news, over in Pakistan, they are expelling foreign students from the country.

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Various things:  In no particular order, MCI actually is worse than Fed Ex/Kinkos to deal with...A day without coffee is like a day without air - no, decaffeination is not going well...The mandolin strings from Jazzmando are awesome. Much clearer sound and lower tension so playing all closed positions doesn't suck as bad... Audie earned her shodan in Hoshinroshiryu this morning...Noah called from the Jamboree and he's having fun and working on his rockers. He hopes to get a couple of the odder merit badges done too.

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29 July 2005

Biology is not optional:  There's this furor in Massachusetts about what names are supposed to go on the birth certificate and whether Mother and Father should be replaced by something else. Now I know I've discussed before the fact our biology has certain rules that are not changeable yet by technology or modern medicine, despite what the feminist lobby may tell you. So unless cloning has gone way beyond anything I've read about*, making a baby still requires a father (male with fertile sperm) and a female (fertile eggs with stable womb.) Now I realize these days that they may not be the one raising the child, but I still think they should be recorded on the birth certifcate as this is where the little beasties genetic code comes from. With the great amount of information now available about the genetic roots of diseases, these names are what should be recorded, not who happens to be standing in the delivery room. When these things were first decided on, babies all came by the normal route and in most cases, to the two folks who made them.

This makes as little sense as the idea that privacy and civil rights means you can not force people with STDs to tell you who they slept with or to quarantine people with diseases like TB until they are safe... A free society doesn't not mean anything goes.

* requiring a fertilized ova, which means a sperm was involved somewhere.

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AGGGGRH!!!  My physician just told me to cut the coffee down to 2 cups a day max. I think I'm going into the garage to hang myself now. I drink 2 cups before 6 am.

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A pre-2/24 conservative: Taranto in today's piece calls Andrew Sullivan that. Does anyone who is truely conservative buy that? Moderate maybe but conservative I can't see. The man is too much a creature of the coastal elites to be really be a conservative and its been evident in his writing all along. (We skip the hypocrite discussion for today...)

UPDATE: The LEO test on Sullivan proves me right.

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Carnival of Recipes is up here. Yum! Other carnivals: The Carnival of the Insane Optimists, Bonfire of the Vanities, the Christian Carnival, and the Carnival of the polite but AR Vanities. And Russ has the Carnival of Cordite up.

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Jamboree Update: Noah says that's its cooled off a lot and his buddy, Josh, won an art contest at the Jamboree. He's sounds much better and even managed to find the Eastern Orthodox Group for Sunday's Services. He's a bit worried about finishing all his rockers as the lines are really long as everyone is making up for lost time. He was a bit concerned that Orthodox Service didn't say Russian. I blame the priest here and the  "you must be as Russian as possible and 19th Century Russia is the high point of Orthodoxy" cult he pushes . Danged ethno-philes.

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S. 397 Update: Hell, I hope I am reading this wrong but it appears that amendments were added to weaken the bill by regulating the magical armor piercing bullets, except crimes involving children, and a few other things. Looks like the GOP is selling out gun owners again and they wonder why I keep refusing to pay up and become a life member?

UPDATE: The bill passed about 5:40 pm. No 50 caliber restrictions were added. No idea yet about the amendments mentioned above.

UPDATE 2: The two amendments the NRA-ILA email mentions are: an amendment by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) passed, which requires federally licensed dealers to provide a "secure gun storage or safety device" with the sale/transfer of every handgun (does not apply to long guns) and another amendment by by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) calling for increased penalties if "armor piercing" handgun  ammunition is used in the commission of a crime. <sigh> What the hell is that for? And what horrid little door does that open? Hopefully it will get killed in conference.

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Science et al: the Bad, the Good, and the Weird:  Harry Potter and the True -Believers: no not Christians thinking he's a demon worshipper, but instead those who have no concept of the science and technology that advocate. Worstall discusses how Greenpeace et al advocate destructive policies and theft as they preach the gospel of recycled is better. It's a common story of environmental idiocy: plastic bags are a bitch to recycle and yet the same moonbats want us to us those instead of paper which can be recycled.

National Geographic from the doctor's office (yes, the heartless bastard above) has an article on ships found by the tomb of Aha the Fighter, the first dynasty ruler who united Egypt. They were clinker built, like the ones people make today and the boys and I are planning to make this winter, athro we'll use the tape and putty method instead of weeds.  Dang cool!.

The same issue discussed how Civil War battlefields were bing eaten by suburbs in the East and how conservation of them is needed now. This same point is made in the delightful ""Confederates in the Attic" that I read while waiting for my family to come home evenings at the Protein Stability Conference. While traveling with the hardcore re-enactors, visiting old battle sites, and traveling across the Eastern part of the Old Confederacy, Horowitz noted the urban sprawls encroachment onto the battlefields of the War between the States. Important history to be preserved, more so to us since the goddess is of the blood of the Lion of North, General Joshua Chamberlain. As a rebel friend of mine said, if you're gotta marry a Yankee, might as well pick a descendant of the best of them.

National Geographic was once know as the first place a boy could see a breast. After reading the article on homo florusiensis in the same issue, I have to wonder if they are still working on that assumption. We'll just skip the cuteness of calling these things "hobbits" despite my urge to beat the author to death over it. The small bones are shown and the finding discussed but the artwork flies off into some weird political correct never-never land that has no relationship to any science. We get clay reconstructions of the face and then artist drawings that bare no resemeble to the clay build-ups. Dark skinned and hairy, and shown in one picture as hiding in terror while a larger more modern like person comes by. Apparently the mythos of homo sapiens as the pre-historical killer of everything still exists. The best is the hunt scene. These creatures apparently could work together well enough that they killed large game. However, the author has them all naked (naked? in brush? Someone gelded the boy or what? Ouch!) despite the fact they made spears and skinning knives. I know what I'd cover first. Secondly, despite the dark, hairy, and brutish faces, they have fair and harmless bodies. The woman's breasts are actually firmer than many college girls. So, is the artist a PC idiot or is National Geographic still working on the "boobs for boys" theory of sales?

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28 July 2006



You have a great birthday at the Jamboree and come home in one piece.

Dang, He's now a teenager. Where did I put that hammer?

UPDATE: He called in and he's okay. Very homesick today, but I told him holidays away are always hard. We also reminded him that feeling can be changed and to keep doing stuff until he felt better. He sounds like he is having fun overall and that he's doing things. It's cooler too and that will help.

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Friends, Old and New: Gee, too bad the Carnival of the Damned Optimists is up already. Last night, Wuzhong called. He's back from Bejing and wanted me to drop by today since its been 3 months. While we were guzzling tea, Jonathon dropped by. It's been a year since our paths crossed. Then when I picked up my emails, Jonathon Dotson, my fellow Dread Cow-zen Lord, had written from China after almost a two year period of silence. Wow.  And then everyone was at Woodcraft so I caught up on visits there.

On the ride home, I had lunch (well, he had lunch, I had a cookie and some horrid coffee...think week old church coffee) with the young gentleman who writes Dallas North Thirty. After a nice chat about growing up on various types of farms, the place of cows on the intelligent ladder (above cedar stump but below geckos), the current state of affairs with the national jamboree, and a bit about the social ordering of cattle and horses, we parted with vague plans to do this again someday... Not a bad guy for one of them there redneck gay conservatives. (Sorry, Bruce, you missed it but the offer stands...)

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Gun Lawsuit Bill up for a vote today: According to the GOA, anti-gunners are trying to attach amendments. Jonathon, you are going to have to teach me to do what you do. Here's their email:

Your immediate action is needed.  Anti-gun amendments will be voted on Thursday morning, July 28! GOA is very concerned that the Republican Senate leadership is on the verge of compromising away your Second Amendment rights. The U.S. Senate is currently considering a much-needed bill to protect the gun industry from being litigated out of existence by frivolous lawsuits. That bill, however, has been co-opted by anti-gunners and is being used to pass gun control proposals such as a measure requiring mandatory "lock-up-your-safety" trigger locks.  Action in the Senate today made it absolutely clear that those amendments WILL BE VOTED ON!

GOA has told every Senator that no anti-gun amendments will be acceptable to gun owners.  A vote for S. 397 with any bad amendments on it will be rated as an anti-gun vote in our famous Candidate Ratings, to be published prior to the 2006 Congressional elections.

ACTION:  Please e-mail AND CALL your two U.S. Senators immediately. (Phone calls are needed because time is very, very short and staffers might not get your e-mails to individual Senators before the voting starts.)  Regardless, tell your Senators that a vote for S.397 containing any anti-gun amendments will be rated by GOA as an anti-gun vote.

The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

UPDATE: Not sure I am reading this right, but it appears 25 amendments were attempted. The vast majority of these were from people like Teddy Kennedy and Chuck Schumer. If I am, the only ones still under consideration are:  one to make clear that the bill does not apply to actions commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act (Frist) and this stupid one requiring a trigger lock to accompany the transfer of a handgun (Reed/Kohl). Hello? WTF?

UPDATE 7-29-05: As of  this morning, the trigger lock amendment is approved. What the hell? Are we setting up gun owners for a fall over some sort of storage law? And why the hell is this the business of the Federal government?

More here

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27 July 2006

Explain something to me: What the heck is it with young (i.e. college age) girls these days and no underwear? I mean in jeans yet? It seems to be more and more common, and when they are bend over so far that you got plumbers crack syndrome, its apparent it ain't a tong. It's 50:50 on the bra for those that don't too, so it ain't just "to hot to wear undies." Doesn't it like chaff or something?  I got used to painted toenails but this is just too strange, and no, its not sexy.

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Wow: If you haven't found this blog, excuse online magazine, by Michael Yon about a free-lance journalist working in Iraq, you need to. And then add it your daily reason. (hattip to Glenn).  I haven't read reporting like this in a long time: actually out with the troops instead of safe in a hotel.

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Noah Update: Well, he's back with his troop and, except for being a bit homesick, sounds fine. Tonight is the official opening and Pres. Bush is supposed to speak to the scouts. Noah is very excited about that. We told him to drink lots of water...

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26 July 2005

Boy Scouts Update: Thanks for all of you who emailed. Noah, who is at the National Jamboree in Bowling Green, Virginia, is fine and having a good time despite the 5 deaths this year. He says its hotter than hell and wet too.

BTW, the ACLU is continuing their persecution of the Scouts so watch your United Way donations, etc and if they drop the BSA, drop them. And if you were to guess, at what point can you start calling an entire organization traitors? Just asking, 'cause the ACLU passed the hypocrite threshold a long time ago...

UPDATE:  Dang! He's in the infirmary with heat exhaustion. He's okay, doesn't need an IV, and will be up and around tomorrow but the goddess is in full raccoon mode...

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Sauces for grilling and pasta:  Yeah, I was going to do a soup recipe this week but its 106 F at 7 pm and soup seems like a bad idea. So let's look at a recipe for this Georgian Green Sauce (Adzhika)

 10 cloves garlic. Peeled

2  celery stalks with leaves, chopped

10 green jalapeno or scotch bonnet peppers, coarsely cut up and de-seeded

2 red bell peppers (or green), coarsely cut up and de-seeded

2 cups of chopped fresh dill

1.5 cups of chopped cilantro

½ cup of red wine vinegar

 Now, what goes go with grilled meat and sausage? Pasta!  And what goes good with pasta? Pesto!

So how about Cilantro Pesto since everyone makes regular pesto and summer in Texas means lovely and cheap cilantro?

2 c. cilantro leaves

3 cloves of minced garlic

1 tbsp lemon juice

¼ c. olive oil

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Combine cilantro and garlic in food processor. While processor running, drizzle in lemon juice and olive oil until pureed. Stir in salt and pepper. Cover and chill. We freeze it in ice cube trays and then store the cubes in the freezer. Serve 2 cubes over a pasta with a lot of surface area (for 4).

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Serious stuff in a non-serious manner: There are people who can successfully use humor to get a fairly major point across: in the Orthodox world online, we have the Onion Dome, which on its good days, can make a hell of a point. Other people can do so similarly: someone once pointed out to me when I was gagging over the angel fad that "whatever these things are they ain't angels. Think about it. There is gotta to be a reason people who see angels throw themselves on the ground in terror and scream "don't hurt me." And the first thing angels seem to say is "Calm down. Don't be afraid." Now the sad thing is the people who normally need to hear stuff like that, like say the ethno-philes* in Orthodoxy, tend to not have a sense of humor. See the Onion Dome's page of dis-grunts, for example.  The goddess says the only thing she misses from her childhood is the Joy of Christ: not that its lacking in all of Orthodoxy, it just isn't there in our parish as we tend to the extreme rigor type. <sigh>

However, if you have never read Dave Meurer's books, you should. Boyhood Daze is a great book on fatherhood and Daze of our Wives, well, its true but read it when she is not around, okay. He's got one in his latest Out on a Whim that hits hard. It's just a couple of pages on prayer, but in it he makes the point: prayer for most of us is not a conversation with God in the sense of a two way talk. To quote:

The conversations that Moses and Abraham had with God were, in fact, real conversations. They weren't "spiritual impressions", that these guys "sensed" as they "listened with their hearts." You don't fall on your face and almost commit a hygiene lapse over a mere "impression."

Similar to something Fr. Hopko mentions in his tape series on prayer where he talks about what prayer is. In fact, the fathers point out we are to pray whether or not we feel we are getting a response. In many of their examples, the response is not from God but from demons and the smarter monks realized it.

A monk was in his cell praying one night when a demon appeared as an angel of light. "God has seen your great effort at prayer and is pleased with you. He wishes to honor you with great gifts." said the demon. The monk replied: " You have the wrong monk. Maybe in the next cell? I'm a terrible sinner" and when back to his prayer. Enraged, the demon disappeared in a flash of fire.

Most of us don't get answers in a direct way in prayer, and often the feelings we read as answers are a demonic as the monks vision. Muerer suggests that maybe we go with the impression because the Bible just might have instructions telling us to do something we don't want to. Prayer can be a convenient excuse for not doing what really should be done. I know of a pastor who claimed to pray all the time, yet he seems to have no time to go visit the sick, or do any of those pastoral tasks that it was obvious he doesn't really like to do. Despite a strict focus on forms and rules, the Love of God, the "doing for the least of my brothers" seems to be a forgotten commandment. It's easier to stay and pray. The problem is that the teachings of the Church tell us this is a trap, a very dangerous one.

A monk was praying in his cell, when he recieved the gift of a vision of God, the Heavenly Hosts, and the Saints in their Glory. Just as the vision appeared, the bell rang for taking food out to the poor and it was his turn. Weeping and crying, he forced himself to get up from his prostration and go to what he was supposed. Later he came back and wept bitterly for the lost of the vision. He heard a soft voice and in the corner of his cell was an angel who comforted him and said "Had you stayed and neglected those under your care, you would have fallen into prelest* and been damned."

Sadly for me, the problem is not praying instead of doing things. Heck, I'll do anything rather than pray. I've spent years wrestling with that, listening to people feed me the line that Muerer debunks so well. And I know that the teaching is there if you really read it. We are commanded to pray. We aren't promised that God will speak to us like He did Moses, heck to steal from Meurer again, the other Israelites were told touch the mountain and die, not come on in and talk. Why should I expect better? We aren't promised warm feeling or spiritual impressions. We are just told to do it and at some point, that's enough. There is something to be said for obedience even when it doesn't make sense and isn't fun.

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25 July 2005

Quote of the Day: ""The plural of anecdote is not evidence." Phil Davies. Damn, I wish I said it. I think it was originally said in relationship to a martial arts discussion but it sure fits a lot of places. Like with Teflon...

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24 July 2005

It's been hectic here: Noah got shipped off to the National Jamboree at 3 am 2 days ago. You should have seen the Delta counter at Delta with 281 scouts plus about 50 adult leaders getting checked in. I felt pretty sorry for the business people on that flight 'cause the kids were pretty wound up for the trip and probably not going to sleep.  Then we came home and tried to finish up from our trip last week. Since my laptop is now back, I had tons of business emails to get answered. Ben however is overjoyed about being an only child for 2 weeks.

So while I've been playing Dad, the Carnival of Cordite and the Carnival of Recipes are up. No one appreciates dumplings..<sigh> but I fixed the recipe anyway...

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Life mimics Art: I think that Steve's little project, Huffington's Toast, is in trouble. The whole point was mock the arrogance and liberal insanity at the Huffington Post. Now, Steve and his collaborators are talented and twisted people, but its damn hard to do that to something that has gone http://www.huffingtonpost.comso far off the deep end that they are self-mocking. Read this or this and tell me you didn't have to check the page title five or six times to make sure you weren't at Steve's site.

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Roberts: Danged if I know. I did love the picture of his kid misbehaving at the announcement thro. Except for the fact she's got an issue with the unitard, there's a lot of good stuff about Roberts at Ann Althouse's blog. (Hell, I'm impressed. Free-style is tough but Greco-Roman wrestling is brutal.) Now I don't have a clue about Ann other than her blog, but this post pretty much convinces me that she never shared the parochial school experience as a kid, nor does she understand that whole male bonding thing. Any one who attended Catholic school, especially those run by the religious orders, for either religious reasons, to get a better education, or to avoid the violence in public schools (me for the latter two) is familiar with the kinds of pictures in the NYT article. There is a closest and a depth of friendship in an all male environment that I think you need to experience to understand. That didn't mean that we weren't as obsessed with getting some as the teenage boys in co-ed schools, especially as in my first year where we didn't have a sister school.  I had several classmates that married late and were better Christians than I in terms of chastity. The one classmate I had who was gay became a monk, which isn't a problem I guess 'cause monks don't have sex. As far as I know, he stayed chaste too.  I also know Orthodox folks who are single, divorced, or different and follow the teachings on chastity. The whole issue is something only Wonkette or a secularist could take seriously (I don't believe Ann meant it that way btw) In fact, given Wonkette's obsession, one would be surprised if she claimed otherwise: she reminds me of a long off-color joke about an innocent marrying a Greek.

Read the comments too. Some good stuff and some absolute insanity like one argument that reduces to "marriage means what I want it too." Was that Tweedle-dee or Tweedle-dum in Alice?  It's kinda amazing that people will look for anything to hang on someone who doesn't follow their standards. I guess I should worry too: I swam in a Catholic High School, have also done blood and contact sports, have photos in a savate unitard, married late, and have strong male friendships. Hmmm, maybe someone should mention this to the goddess...

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First Freon, then chlorine, and now Teflon(hat tip to Ann Althouse) Our society seems to be unable to deal with cost-benifit analysis and the legal system sure doesn't help. First we replace a good coolant with half-assed toxic ones, then we start talking about on bad chlorine is. Now some idiots are looking at the fact that a pre-cursor to Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene, PTFE) is bad news and if you degrade the stuff, its nasty as evidence the whole thing is unsafe.<sigh>

PTFE, because Teflon is a trademarked name and DuPont is not the only manufacturer, is a polymer with a carbon backbone and fluorines attached. Think of a string of pearls with the fluorines attached to the pearls. A semi-crystalline polymer (a material having both crystal regions and disordered regions), it has a glass transition (Tg) about 135 C and a melting point about 335 C. It degrades about 600 C. Like most polymers, its mainly inert and because of the fluorine groups very very slick. Currently there appears to be no evidence of it interacting with humans and it is used extensively in medical devices, stets, catheters, to patch and replace veins and arteries, in containers and tools needing to resistance corrosion, etc. It's also used for surface that need to be keep clean, althro polyethylene is too, as well as clothing, etc.  The most familiar use is in non-stick cookware and here's where it gets interesting. Notice that the instruction on non-stick materials advise you not to heat them above their Tg. I'm not sure who claims what but my non-stick wok says not above 300 F (148 C).

Heating PTFE up to its Tg makes it easier to damage, and to its Tm even more so. Materials normally soften at the Tg and become easier to deform, less scratch resistant, more permeable... The current claims seem to be based on two possibilities, and quite honest having spend a couple of hours on the web reading these stuff, I ain't buying it. First is that one of the components used in making PTFE is toxic and can cause cancer in rates. We're all heard the bullshit about forcing feeding rats gallons of saccharin, no? Anyway, a component used in making a polymer, especially on that is applied to the final product in a baking cycle is very unlikely to be present in any measurable amount. PFOA, the beastie everyone is interested in has a boiling point of 186 C, right about where coatings are baked on. Think about sticking a water dampened sponge in a oven at 100 C (the boiling point of water)...yep, its gonna dry out. As Dr. Whelan points out, PTFE is know to have no PFOA in it, not surprising considering the processing The PFOA documents from the EPA are available here.

The second claim is that heating an empty PTFE coated pan to 485 F (251 C) causes toxic particles to come off and these are bad for you. They also claim if you heat it higher, you can get degradation products. One the first point, the studies I found via Google were not even close to what I would accept from a graduate student. For example, if you go here, they measure temperature and smell the buring plastics (the pictures show plastic handles on the pans). No methods like measuring weight lost from the pans, measuring what's in the air, isolating the handles from the heat, etc. Basically, I won't give this work a good grade at an undergraduate science fair.

PTFE is often accused of poisoning birds when pans are overheated. Bob brought this up in the comments section over at Althouse's blog: while I was digging, Bill pointed out that birds have very delicate lungs and lots of stuff in a kitchen can harm them, which explains the whole canary in a coal mine. (Both the custom and the blues number, I guess) Similarly, this article reports that butter fumes will do in birds too. Lots of things really if you look around. So not only is the PTFE link hard to prove but the data is not clean as polymer fume fever is difficult and vaguely deifined and mammal lungs ain't bird lungs. So it really looks like fishing for money....

JunkScience has a ton of links if you want to read more.

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21 July 2005

More Attacks in the U.K.: Fox reported this morning more bombings in England. One injury and several unexploded devices...thank the Lord. Since Britain tends to be less obsessed with civil liberties than the U.S., and they were already looking at some harsh new laws, it will be interesting to see what happens now. Closing the madrasa would be a good start, followed by forcible deportation of people advocating terrorism. Since they also have the advantage of being an island, their borders aren't the weeping wound they are here.

So are we going to learn from this, or is our government going to continue to whore itself to business interests that want cheap labor and politically correct special interest groups that claim any restrictions on immigrants or organizations with ties to terrorists is discrimination? To quote someone I forget: "Nothing says the Bill of Rights was to be a suicide pact." If the Kelo decision is valid, then we should have more leeway with other interpretations too (like allowing citzens anti-tank weapons? Yeah!....oops sorry lost it there..)

Seriously, I think its going to take more death here before we get serious about this threat and I shudder to think what it is going to take to get us to realize China is going imperialistic again.

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Moderate Moslems: Huh? I'm beginning to believe the only moderate Moslems are the marginal ones like some I work with: the ones who seem to be the equivalent of  reform Jews in how they treat the Law.  Apparently, a large group of  moderate Moslems say suicide attacks are really okay. When your so-called moderates say, "well, yeah our religion permits suicide attacks against occupier", and doesn't define that term, and no one in the room even objects to the comment, you have a hard time convincing me you ain't just lying to the unbelivers to stop them from looking too closely. After all, all the world is to be under Sharia law and we infidels are all occupiers of what should be the House of Islam. Read their book already. "Make war on them until all have submitted to Allah"

So by the most open interpretation of that comment, suicide bombers can operate anywhere in the world. More limited, I guess Spanish and Southern France, all of Russia and most of Eastern Europe, Greece, Malta, etc are occupied because they were all once ruled by Moslems and are not now. Seems like a bit of weasel language to me.

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Carnival Time: Despite a bit of juggling, the Christian Carnival made it up on time, the Bonfire of Vanities (Got to love his enthusiasm for fire...I wonder if therapy would help?) and its antithesis, the Carnival of the Vanities are both up. The latter is dang clever, although I almost feel obligated to challenge him to a duel over where he stuck me. The Carnival of the damned Optimists is late as Russ must be recovering from all those foul cats.

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20 July 2005

Another .50 ban attempt and the other news: Sen. Feinstein is trying to attach a rider that bans 50 caliber target rifles* to S-397, the Senate Bill to ban frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, which is expected to come to a vote in the US Senate sometime next week. The bill itself is a  needed law to shield firearm makers from lawsuits which are really attempts to drive them out of business. Now, it says something about the legal system in the US that a legally made and sold product can get its manufacturer sued when it is mis-used in a crime by someone who isn't legally allowed to own it. (and what it says ain't good - Editor) The bill appears likely to pass and Feinstein appears to be either trying to derail it or get another gun banned. Either way, she'd win. So write and call your senator and tell them you want a clean bill passed with no amendments before places other than California and Columbus, Ohio ban these guns because they seem scary... For a look at how scary, see here.

Columbus, Ohio meanwhile has learned that if you ban guns, it might have consequences. You know you can lose business? The NRA announced Monday  that its 2007 meeting, which was scheduled for Columbus and normally brings a city thousands of visitors and millions of dollars, will be held somewhere else. Having worked science conferences, I suspect this means the NRA will lose big bucks in security and other deposits but, dang, its about time. Their losses are nothing like what Columbus will lose. There is a reason cities compete for conventions like this. In Texas, we have had good results boycotting places that post the required "No CCW" sign. Maybe applying it on a larger scale can get this cities to re-think anti-gun laws like this.

But, Mr. Technogypsy, doesn't that mean you are trying to over-rule the people? Isn't that anti-democratic? I can just heard the liberal screams. Well, despite the fact that that I should not be obligated to spend my money with people who do things I don't like, there is good evidence gun restrictions have little relationship to what the people want. (We'll skip mentioning that pesky 2nd Amendment for now). The Fifty Caliber Institute has a history of the 50 BMG ban in California and the evidence suggests that the ban was passed over the objection of more people than supporters of it. To quote: "Of additional note is that the Assembly Committee on Public Safety File contained an extraordinary amount of letters opposing Assembly Bill 50 when compared to the sparse handful letters supporting passage." Would politicians sneak a law thro the majority didn't care about and that more people objected to than supported if it fit their anti-gun agenda? Well, of course, us hoi polloi don't know what's good for us anyway.

* I am still trying to get a copy of her amendment. I think it just would be the 50 BMG but, with Feinstein, Lord knows.

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19 July 2005

Slave to Necessity: One of the more interesting things in Western Christianity is the legal theory of Justification and its implication that God, like the pagan gods of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse, is limited by necessity. The normal description of Christ's act of Justification is that the debt owned God is so great, so un-payable that only a God-Man could pay it back but that God is required to demand this payment. This appears to have started with ideas of Roman legalism and St. Augustine, developed with the Scholastic ideas of laws and grace, and then reached it climax in the Reformation. Calvin carries it farthest with the Penal theory where God's law requires God to demand payment. The position was one of the major problems, if not the major problem, seen by the Patriarch of Constantinople when approached by Lutherans shortly after Luther's death to discuss communion between the Churches. The Orthodox response is best summed up by the response of an American Bishop when the Protestant concept of Justification was explained to him: "That's not funny." On being convinced that this was really a theological position and not a horrible joke, he said: "God is God. He has no limits. He can do what He wills."

The Western view of God is very much a reflection of the western concept of society and rulers where certain laws restrict and restrain actions. It's an old pre-Christian concept. The Greco-Roman gods were limited by necessity and fates as the Norse gods were bound by their weird, their dooms. All their power could not over come the fate awaiting them.  This isn't the concept in the East, where God most often discussed in terms of what He is not. Often God's reasons are not understandable by us and He is not driven by necessity but instead love. So the Orthodox discuss of redemption has not only the idea of ransom but also of sacrifice.  St. Gregory the Theologian said: "The Father accepts the sacrifice not because He demanded it or felt any need of it, but on account of economy." A modern teacher, Fr. Hopko, quoting Chrysostom answers the question to whom was the ransom paid: not to the devil, for he had no claim on God's creation being a thief, not to God Himself for what loving God demands a ransom from his own Son, so then who? He suggests reality, as divine economy sees this as the best way to save mankind. Does it make sense? Not really, but I still don't get the Divine Presence nor the Resurrection at the Divine Judgment. I think the important point was while God the Father accepts it, He had no need of it because "God is God."

I think the understanding that God is not limited by anything is an important one today. We seem to be trying to make our God too small, too much a part of what social and political views we favor. Now some issues, despite the sellouts of certain Christian Churches on issues like pre-martial sex, abortion, greed, etc, are so important you can't help but be driven a certain way. For example, for any Christian trying to follow an orthodox faith, voting for a political party that has abortion-on-demand as a plank is near impossible.  Church position on it is clear. So it is for pre-marital sex, gay marriage, unlawful killing, discrimination... You really have no choice in this if you accept the teaching the Church has had for centuries. We need to be careful because He is beyond our comprehension and we live in a fallen world where what is natural may not be right. We can't assume that something that is, is right. However, He doesn't change and right and wrong are not social constructs. Hence the comfort we can take from His promise that the Spirit will be with us until He returns.

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18 July 2005

Remembering Mary Jo Kopechne: Today in 1969 Ms. Kopechne was either killed or let drown by Senator Ted Kennedy, a crime has never been truly investigated thanks to his family's influence. And this man claims the leadership of the Democratic Party as well as wraps himself in the mantle of his slain brothers. Growing up in the NE, I'm no fan of any Kennedy but both of his brothers were better men than Ted.

So the next time you hear Teddy making his insane claims, remember, unlike Ted,  no one has ever suggested Pres. Bush drowned a young woman. (Hat tip to Ray Lanham for reminding me.) Maybe we should all send Teddy a reminder...

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Fatwas on bloggers?:  I would have figured the Little Green Footballs or Allah is in the House would be the first but to my knowledge Chris at Anarchangel is the first blogger to get a fatwah issued calling for his death. Personally I think trying that might be a bit messy for the enforcer, especially in Arizona where the concept of an armed citizenry is still practiced. Anyway, this fits in with the fatwahs issued against Rushdie and Manji, who also dare to disagree with the Islamic mainstream and to the general impression of how Islam works I received so long ago in Saudi Arabia. (Hit tip to Gullyborg)

This apparent tendency of Islam as a whole to react violently to any disagreement, be it damaging the Koran, mocking the Prophet, or arguing against certain practices is why you are starting to hear more anti-Muslim comments from people in the US and Europe. It appears that Moslems can not live in cultures where they have to give respect to people they disagree with. Islam appears to be unable to deal with a secular or even pseudo-secular world. There also appears to be little or no moderate voices in Islam: in the US, CAIR and its like admit to wanting us all as dhimmi. They have never, to my knowledge, admited that Moslems can be wrong, that Moslems can commit crimes, etc. For CAIR, its always the poor innocent Muslim being picked on, regardless of the amount of  blood on their hands. After all, its not a crime if it was a dhimmi killed, is it. They were noticeably absence when the Free Moslems against Terror had their march in May: all 50 or so of them.

I know a fair number of Muslims who agree with the two links above: the sad thing is they appear to have no voice. FMAT is a start but how many more can CAIR get to turn out for a pro-terrorist rally? I know at UNT what ones sees is Moslems demostrating against the US and never against terror. I've also heard the scuttlebutt on campus about the campus Islamic groups attempting to shut up Jewish and Christian students. I know they tried threatening the OCF because they didn't like the Orthodox position. This crap can't be solved by outsiders unless you want the kind of solution Japan applied to Christians before it closed itself off.   You need to shot your own dog or someone else will...

So, Chris, for what's it worth, we're with you. Holler if we can help. (For example, if you need to convert that long colt ammo into cash...)

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Dumplings: Two variations on potato dumplings, the first as a side dish called Bandurkovo Halushki.

 2 large grated potatoes, grated

1 egg

1 tsp salt

3 cups flour

½  lb cabbage, finely chopped

4 tbsp shortening (butter okay)

2 small onions, chopped

1 tsp salt

 Combine the flour, eggs and salt. Add the potato and enough water to make a soft dough. Blend well and make little balls about the size of a teaspoon. Drop into salted boiling water(about 1 tsp salt per quart). They are done when they rise to the surface. Drain. Keep warm. Brown onion in shortening. Add cabbages and fry slowly until brown. When mixture is brown*, pour over Halushki. Mix well. Serve hot.

 * can add 1 tsp black cumin or caraway seeds for effect....so you can tell the kids "bugs."

The second recipe for these makes a good dumpling for soups. We normally added them to beef or chicken soup. You can also use them as a substitute for gnocci. I'll type up a soup recipe for next time.

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

3 eggs

½ cup water

1 large grated potato

 Combine the flour eggs and salt. Add the potato and then enough water to make a soft dough. Blend well, scoop out teaspoon to tablespoon sized lumps, round, and then drop into salted boiling water (about 1 tsp salt per quart). When they rise to the surface, they are done so remove with a slotted spoon and drain

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16 July 2005

Protein Design Conference 3:  Finally solid state studies where I can actually understand more than just a general over view. Some cool stuff on how the formation of glasses affects the storage life of protein-excipent mixtures. It was also cool to see work I did on a lark, getting Ms. Ewa to run some sugars for metal levels, on a vendors sales literature.

Our science project on the deceivability of trout with flies continues, and catch and lease can also be translated as not having to clean the silly things. Fresh water fish usually taste funky anyway. The goddess and cubs ran down to Colorado Springs to visit the godkids and so I have the evening to my self. Sounds like fly-fishing, mandolin music, and beer. Tommorrow we're off across Kansas and then home.

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Liberal Anti-religious Bullshit: There's this weekly little news email that Robert Park of the University of Maryland puts out weekly.  Dr. Park has never seen a liberal position he dislikes nor a science program run he couldn't run better. Like most liberal academics, Park isn't what one would call a model of tolerance either, but I am really surprised he's this dense. From his July 8th What's New:

4. CATHOLICS TOO! ARCHBISHOP FINDS A LITTLE INTELLIGENT DESIGN. In yesterdays New York Times, Cardinal Schoenborn, editor of the official Catechism, rejected John Paul IIs supposed acceptance of neo-Darwinism when he said evolution was more than just a hypothesis. Schoeborn goes on to quote Pope Benedict XVI, We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Well, that's it, if we believe in science we're on our own. On the other hand, the Church's position is evolving.

(Spelling and grammar corrected - Editor)

Duh. Catholics, like many faiths, believe God created the world, made man with an immortal soul, and has a plan. Catholics were one of the first Christian faiths to say the science of evolution was a possible method. For example,  Teilhard de Chardin was a scientist, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher as well as a priest of the Jesuit order whose was involved with paleontology and evolutionary theory early on. While the Catholic Church like the Orthodox Church has no problem with evolution as the method, they believe in a God Whose Hand guided it. John Paul, like other popes, never accepted neo or any other kind of Darwinism. He accepted evolution as the method by which life came about, but they was never any acceptance of a casual, meaningless or random process. Schoenborn does not say evolution isn't acceptable and  the previous pope never proclaimed that position as dogma despite it being the commonly held one in the RC. Theistic evolution is the term usually used. Dr. Park seems to be twisting words to indulge in his fondness for mockery and his disdain of religion, complete with sophomoric humor and bad puns. The sad thing is Dr. Park sends this crap out as a supposedly science news email...

Ah, yes, tolerance for other people's beliefs: more evidence modern liberals are "the poisonous flowers" we were warned would bloom. But they know so much better than we do...


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15 July 2005

Protein Stability Conference 2: Poster sessions today. Our poster on High Ramp Rate DSC and the Tg of pure proteins is up. We'll see how challenging the dogma that these transitions are undetectable flies. Derrick is off in Hawaii at a wedding so I'm supporting it...How do you pronounce lysozyme again?

Still laptop-less so I'm still using the manager's PC - It's like being totally out of contact with the world.

UPDATE: Poster was very well received and I got some excellent suggestions on how to extent the work

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14 July 2005

Protein Stability Conference: You gotta love a conference that starts off with puns: What about U? The first couple of talks discussed calculations of steric hindered protein chains in solution and how U, the protein in solution, settles into the native structure, N. 

By the way, brown trout are hitting on caddis flies. Just saying...

Today's sessions concentrated on theroy and Tm, which is a bit away from what I do, bur some neat work appears to show that proteins retain some structure in solution. A neat concept that need to be expanded to the rest of life was the "Principle of Minimal Frustration." While it was applied to protein folding, I think it may be what I am looking for in life in general. I normally don't approve of science to philosophy crossovers, but the title is so cool I may just make an exception.

In the evening, we ran down to Denver and spent several hours the Tattered Cover, followed by dinner with my favorite modernist Terry and Ms. Jenna. I think she just about killed Noah from embarrassment...<grin> Pre-teens make great mental chew-toys. They took us to this amazing Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Grill. It's just down the street from the Tattered Cover on Wynkoop and that meant the boys wanted to go back again after dinner too.

And Troutgrrrl, the rainbows hit on grasshopper flies as well as nightcrawlers. Ben swears by bread in stocked areas too, although I am not sure that is kosher.

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13 July 2005

The Tangled Bank #32

Welcome to the Tangled Bank, a carnival of posts of science and science related topics. I'm got the interesting opportunity typing this up as I sit in the back of the room at the Protein Stability Conference, up here at 10,000 feet plus in Breckenridge, Colorado. So I'm science blogging while science conference blogging... interestingly almost none of this sessions posts deal with proteins and protein stability.

<sigh> I wrote that yesterday during a session of the conference before my laptop smoked. The hard-drive is gone.  I had a whole post planned using protein structure and expression as the model. Ah well, "the best laid plans of mice and technogypsies" as the poet said... So I'm typing this from the Conference Center office and the local Internet Cafe/Oxygen Bar.  I am going to list the posts as I read them in order to get this up today. Ausing stories and clever jokes will have to wait for next time.

Regular readers (ha! all three of you...) of this site know that I'm both a practicing chemist as well as, let not be too subtle about this, fanatical Eastern Orthodox Christian. I've never seen an issue with science and faith, and actually never even ran into the evolution isn't Christian group until my last year of graduate school where somebody at Wesleyan University sponsored this debate. So it is reassuring to see over at Atheism Guide, they've posted a book review on "Perspectives on an Evolving Creation."

"The prevailing assumption, spread and encouraged by the Christian Right, is that the standard scientific model of evolution contradicts orthodox Christian beliefs; therefore, it's not possible to adhere to orthodox Christianity while also accepting the truth of evolution and the explanations of evolutionary theory.  That there may be something wrong with this is demonstrated by the existence of so many Christian scientists."

 Hmmm, I'd disagree only in that I'd say "some parts of the Christian Right" instead. Speaking of that part of Christianity, Mona over at Monado is ranting about a creationist on the book-crossing Website.

Atheism Guide also did a book review on With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality,  which looks at the common belief is that sex really only exists for procreation and that pleasure is merely a byproduct. What if the belief is wrong?

Dave at Orac Knows also is having trouble with creationists, having been spammed. (Heck, he could get mine: not only do I get creationism but I also get salvation spam, Nigerians, and incontinence aids. The last really worries me.) He also looks at where we are 80 years since the Scopes Trial...

Also looking backward is Richard at the Friends of Charles Darwin, who in honor of  Robert FitzRoy's 200th birthdate, points out Mr. FitzRoy was "a thoroughly good chap despite his faults." And he invented the weather forecast!

Meanwhile RPM at Evolgen looks at random mutations and natural selection.  Sadly it seems we will not be seeing mutations like the Fantastic Four. Seriously, the discussion of random and non-random is a very nice explanation.

Over at Thoughts from Kansas, Joshua looks at the results of a Harris poll, which has some very strange results. I'd like to have seen the questions myself, as some of the weirdness could be do to the phrasing but then again, it could just be there.

Questions people probably don't want to answers include "What, exactly, is wrong with acting like a monkey every once in a while?" Matt at Pooflingers Anonymous asks and the blog name should tell you his answer.

Jan at a World of Speculations looks at treasures of the sea: these bright blue velella jellyfish lying on the shore , blown off-course by a storm in the open ocean and looking like a Toys F Us shipwreck on an Oregon beach.

A less friendly but still lovely beastie is Red Erenna for P.Z. Myers of  Pharyngula. Glowing red, and found only in the depths, what a nifty creature. (It's not fair. Biologists get the cool photos. All thermal traces look kind of the same.)

Troutgrrrl of Science and Sarcasm proposes that anything of value must be engineered and then gets around to address the fact science education and communication may need improvement.

Fire ants and sex. John at Evolving Thoughts discusses the Science article of fire ants and the weirdness of their reproduction in females are from Venus but males are from.... Now if we can only find a way to kill the danged things so I can use my yard again....

From Snail's Tales, we hear of the snail that rode the continents. Despite the fairy tale like title, Aydin is taking a serious look at Zoogenetes harpa's distribution in the world.

Mad cow disease in the US?  Radagast at Rhosgobel looks at the recent mad cow disease case in the US, and looks a bit into the USDA's testing protocol, the FDA's regulation of feed, and provides some background on prion diseases. An important and depressing concern if you love BBQ...

Jenn has a post on meeting and eating invasive plants at the Invasive Species Weblog. She also includes some good advice about handling japanese knotweed too.

City dweller ecology: Mike sends us a brief analysis of the geology and avian ecology of the urban archipelago, New York City from his site, 10,000 birds.

John at A DC Birding Blog visits Meadowlands and discusses its not-so-common moorhen. As he points out, if your vision of New Jersy is what you see from the highway, you're missing a lot. It's not all like Mordor...(Sorry, I have kin there and couldn't resist.)

My fellow Texan, Peter, from B and B is pleased to report that the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission will live on." NASA's recent decision to prolong the life of one of its most useful, earth-observing, satellites is good news indeed.

Phil from the Bad Astronomy Webpage has a series going on Deep Impact. His third post on the topic goes into the urge to explore in human and to school kids collecting 300 pounds of pennies.

Steve of Socratic Gadfly sent us "There’s evolutionary psychology and then there’s Evolutionary Psychology" which discusses the difference between the upper and lower case versions and the problems with the former.

Dave of Cognitive Daily sends us two posts. First, how hard can it be to see? The computer is obviously right in front you as you read this, but it turns out that two identical events can look quite different--context matters quite a bit, and bears little resemblance to the actual physical principles affecting the event. So, do we have momentum in our heads?  Maybe our perceptions of visual events are easily shifted by context, but surely our memory for things we actually do is more accurate.  Not according to a fascinating experiment that shows not only how easy it is to convince someone to make a false confession, but also how it's possible to make someone believe, and even reenact their own lies.

Cave bears are just plain cool but then again this is a bear friendly site. So John's post at John Hawks Anthropology Website on cave bear genomics was interesting for more than just the technique of metagenomics.  Sadly it doesn't appear that we'll be seeing any soon. John, more serious than I, discusses how this approach may be applied to Neanderthals.

My own post this time is looking at the science of simple things again: in this case the rheology of peanut butter and cold cream.

Thanks to Dr. Myers for letting me host this and, despite the rumors, the next Tangled Bank will not be hosted at Cognitive Daily on July 27th as Dave will be hiking the canyons of Utah instead. Right now it tentatively it's going to be at Evolgen. Otherwise you can check the Tangled Bank homepage later this week.

I'll try to get Trackback and links out later today. Right now the nice lady wants her PC back...

UPDATE: Anyone who included a trackback should now have been pinged.

UPDATE 2: Oops.  I forgot to include Richard of Philosophy, et cetera whose submission discusses the ethics of voluntary amputations.

UPDATE 3 on 7-15-05:  Haloscan is currently down. I'll add new trackbacks later today.   All trackbacks should be done now.

UPDATE 4: Now listed in the Ubercarnival

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12 July 2005

Up to Breckenridge: We made the run today from Colorado Springs to Breckenridge with stops in Colorado Springs for coffee with Marc, in Denver for a quick stop at the scout shop, and lunch at the Tommy Knocker Brewery in Idaho Springs for green chili buffalo burgers and chili ale. We also picked up the annual 2 cases of their root beer. Then up to Breckenridge, where I made sure the instruments still work before tomorrow's exhibit and the rest of the family hit the bookstore and fly-fishing stores for licenses and whatever the trout are eating this year. It's an amazing lovely town for a place with 70% the partial pressure of oxygen you get at sea level.

Ever read "The Last Battle?" Higher up and farther in....that could be the caption for this part of I-70.

Lake Dillon, which is much higher than I remember it from last year.

And we are finally here. Where the hell is the oxygen bar? (First and third shots by Noah and second by Ben, btw.)

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11 July 2005

Oklahoma? Huh?: We got out of Amarillo about 11 am as I had to link in for our month teleconference. The rest of the family hit the local Indian Museum and a Cracker Barrel. When everyone got loaded up, we started following 87 across the flat plains of the Texas Panhandle. Besides a ton of road kill and a large gas flare, there ain't much out here. Enough mesas and cones to remind you this was once all sea bed. That and the various dinosaur museums and dig sites. Ben was really fascinated with allthat as Noah was at that age.  Some-where along the way, my navigator misread a turn and we realized something was wrong when we hit the Oklahoma state line.  So we ran up to Lamar, Colorado and over to Pueblo. In comparisons to that part of Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas are really not flat. We did see a wind farm a bit south of Lamar, and that was pretty cool. We made Colorado Springs in time for supper with my godsons there. I missed seeing the oldest and their father as they are off at scout camp. The younger three have all grown since my last trip. The big hit was the sausage. Their father doesn't hunt and they were fascinated with the fact we brought some venison sausage. "Mommy, its from a deer!" When they found it was from Noah's deer, I think he attained heroic status for them.


I just realized I will be putting the Tangled Bank together this week at U. Co. Protein Stability Conference. How cool is that!

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10 July 2005

Amarillo, Texas: After service today and the BSA Jamboree meeting, we packed up the mini-van and headed up to Amarillo. It's an interesting exercise in topology to get a DSC and a TGA into the back of a mini-van along with four fly rods, clothing for 2 boys and the goddess, and my normal haul of work stuff.  It was a long drive and we stopped in Childress at the Texas Stop sign (Dairy Queen) for dinner. Just after the sunset in Memphis, the goddess sprung a speed trap going a few miles over the speed limit. The ticket costs about twice what it does in Denton. I wonder how much of Memphis' budget comes from that? (Editor - a bunch based on the number of cars pulled over)  After that, we got treated to the lovely sunsets common in this part of the word and made it into Amarillo about 11. Sadly the BBQ I like up there was shuts down at 10.

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9 July 2005

Silk Road Martial Arts Symposium: This shindig will be held next week in Colorado and they run an auction to help cover expenses. Earlier in the year, when I had more time, I committed a couple of things for them. So if you will be there, here's what I've made. The laminated bowl is a real gem: some of the nicest work I've done. So anyway, going across, the laminated bowl, the monkey pod bowl, and the whole mess...


No, the jows aren't labeled yet, as I had to run out for more labels. Genuine "Dr. Happy Bear Jow." Those of who you get to Castle Rock, well, I'm jealous 'cause Doc is cooking again.

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UK Terror: I hadn't posted because I wanted to find out if our friends in London were okay and because everyone in the blog sphere is writing about it. Luckily this time everyone was safely accounted for. Despite all the discussion about this and all the talk, it seems the liberals haven't changed their tune: its our fault that terrorists kill people. Nor have we seen the moderate Moslems demonstrating in the street against terror. Although there have apparently been some posts and comments at blogs...

Lots of good stuff but what it still comes down to is simple: there are people out there that hate us and want to destroy us. And there are people here that want to help them if it hurts Bush and the USA. So when do we start playing hardball? After someone slips a dirty bomb into LA from Mexico?

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Lemko Nut Cookies: Gotta get the baking in today as we're on the road tomorrow, so here's another of Grandmother's recipes for cookies. This are filled with either prune butter, poppy-seed or nut filling as were the roshi.

1 lb. butter

4 Tbsp of sugar

3 egg yolks

2 large spoon of baking powder

1 Tbsp vanilla

4 cups flour

½ pint sour cream

Mix together. Kneed until smooth. Roll out in a 1:1 flour and sugar mix. Cut into rectangles and then fill with apricot jam, sour cherry jam, nut or poppy-seed filling or prune butter. Cook at 350 for 25-30 min. Cool on wire racks.

Prune butter: Cook about 2 dozen dried pitted prunes in about 1 cup of water with 2 tsp sugar. When soft, drain and run the prunes thru a food mill. Allow to cool and use as filling. Texture should be about the same as creamy peanut butter. If lekvar isn't part of your upbringing, you'll be surprised at how good it is. And it counters a certain side effect of the poppy-seed filling. This same approach of re-hydrating and using a food mill can be used to make the apricot and cherry fillings too.

I've never tried it but I would if membrillo (quince paste) would work...hmmm, I bet someone in Dallas carries it.

For the other fillings, go here.

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8 July 2005

I hate FedEx Kinko's: Now I am not sure this is universal but I dropped a poster for a conference next week off today and the service set a new low. Heck the USPS was more pleasant for passports. The local office's big printer is down so they have to send it to Lewisville and that means it can't be back until Tuesday of next week. After I explain I am leaving Sunday and would go somewhere else (to three seperate people until I got to the production manager), they realize "Oh, yeah we can email it down and bring it up this afternoon". Sounds great. So I go pick it up and the fonts on their copy of MS PowerPoint don't match mine and the words are overlapping, text has run together, and image colors are wrong. The counter person says that's my problem and it can't be redone until Monday (its after 5 so almost everyone is gone). And btw, that package I wanted to ship? Well, since I don't know the Zip code they can't accept it because they have no way of looking a Zip Code up. And no, they can't go online and look. It's not done.

Next time I'm using Cooper's Copies and Postnet. Those people at least come to work...

And no, the manager has not yet returned my call....

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This Week's Carnivals: They're up: Christian Carnival, Carnival of Vanities, Carnival of the damned Optimists, Carnival of Cordite, and, yum, the Carnival of Recipes.

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6 July 2005

The Bonfire of the Vanities #105: Independence Day Edition

 Here we are again celebrating the self-acknowledged worst posts in the Blogphere or the Online Magazines to use the newer buzzword, in the only carnival never to have been Instalaunched proving even Glenn has standards. While everyone else was out celebrating the 4th of July (well those of us in Red States, I have no idea what you Blue Staters were doing), I was here with a bottle of cheap tequila and these posts. It's been a painful an interesting read. And it is in a strange way a wonderful thing, because we actually do live in a country where the First Amendment guarantees us the right to be incredibly tasteless, tacky, and in some cases, down right scary in our post. Well, until the Supreme Court decides that amendment too is not a individual right and that the common good includes both good writing and interesting posts. When that happens, we'll all be heading to Club Gitmo for being associated with this bonfire. Until then, lets be thankful that posts like this are fairly rare. So in order of which I read then, we begin with:

Rick over at the Right Wing Nut House is in a funk and rightly so. He's upset about those people who claim that dissent and treason are really patriotic. Hmmmm. I'd recommend a good lie-down, a reading of the rights of man, and some rope. You gotta have a oak tree around there somewhere and what could be more patriotic than tying a protestor to it? Kinda like a big yellow ribbon. Now where is that half-starved bear?

The Conservative Cat's Human Pet is disturbed (No, not like that...well yeah but that isn't what he's writing about) about finding this in his attic. Anyone with cats should be concerned over finding things, but I'm not sure whether that is one of them.

Over at Willism, they are rubbing OU and TAMU's face in the fact the UT came in second for the cup in 2005. Now personally, I wouldn't boast about coming in second to a school in California but hey, this is UT we are discussing...

What can you say? Starting with a bad pun, the only thing that could make this post worse would be to include a slideshow of all the pictures of  relatives and places involved. I'm sending Mike a bill for the liver replacement.

While we are the topic of information I really didn't need, Yoshi at Multiple Mentality got trapped in the Atlanta airport and decided to blog about it. Whatever happened to suffering in silence?

Harvey at Bad Example asks the question is anything tackier that boasting of your ecosystem status? I'm assuming this is a rhetorical question because we all know the answer (and I hope a marauding wombat trample him.)

I've heard a lot of excuses for getting caught at porn sites but over at Mean Ol' Meany, they got a new one. Seriously I had the same problem my friend and used the same excuse. I'm still sleeping in the shed. So if you find that bum, hit him for me too.

Hmmm. a4g over at Point Five has a mandatory boring post about horseshoeing. Now personally I find a lot of things boring but this isn't one of them. You got a more interesting life than mine if driving nails into the foot of 1000 pounds of pissed off pony bores you.

Starbucks Ice Cream? Sean of the American Mind loves ice cream and loves free ice cream even more but from a coffee shop? Now, is that cheap or just addicted?

One of those days? Coffee with CrankyBeach tells of going to lunch and finding out her PC hates being left alone.

Nikita is pushing judges to replace Justice O'Connor. And I'm actually not sure why this one is here. Must be the tequila but anyway...

ArmyWifeToddlerMom has moved her comments to Haloscan and well, expected more profundity than this... complete with a Mae West reference.

Steve Pavlina posted on Star-Trek and says his readers think he's a commie. Hmmm. At least he's got readers and comments...

A gay cat, Abby, and a metal pose. All very odd, yet Andrew Ian Dodge says its the way to spend a Tuesday evening. Okay-dokey.

Speaking of very odd, Heather at Angelweave gives us a Dutch lesson. Brian over at Musing from Brian J. Noogle says it really an Getcher urban legend.

Beth at my Vast Right Wing Conspiracy can't leave the oddities alone either. She's got to tell us about the world ugliest dog. A scary photo from such a sweetie. While you're over their, read this and think about helping a bit if you can.

Ah yes, fireworks. Crystal of Crystal Clear (hmmm. does that refer to polystyrene, scientology, or diamonds?) posts about NASA little 4th of July fireworks. It must be a guy thing because the answer is obvious to me: "why not?" Seriously, to a guy, exploding large rocks with big projectiles is dang cool...

Susie of Practical Penumbra has a gift for stating the obvious. Actually its so obvious you got to wonder why even say it? She's dead on but really we all knew that...

Normally I like pictures of pretty girls. SF of Give me Spirit Fingers Dammit give me the exceptions that proves the rule. To think a hat can make such a difference. I'm going to lay down now and drink a bit more.

And to close up this issue, I though I was into self-abuse hosting this. William Teach of Pirate's Cove proves that I'm really not that bad. He goes to Move On and then wonders what ever made him spent time there... My question too, heck, even hosting this thing is more fun.

That's it for this week. Thanks (or something) to Kevin at Wizbang for starting this and let me host.  See you next week at File it Under. (Dear God, I hope they have better booze than I did.)

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Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

I am sorry I couldn't make your party. Can we close the borders up now?

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5 July 2005

Skip Talbot

Skip founded the FCSA and may have been the driving force in making shooting big 50s at long range a sport in the US. I never met him but his writings and the FCSA's magazine lead me to buy my own 50. Skip collapsed on the firing line at a .50 caliber meet in Raton New Mexico with a ruptured spleen last week. He died Friday from complications. May Christ God have mercy on him.

May his memory be eternal and may Perpetual Light shine on him.

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Biscotti: While the burgers were cooking, we decided to try making biscotti from this recipe we found somewhere. It took a few tries, but here is what we ended up with.

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter

1 tsp anise seed

1 tsp almond extract

2 cups white flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder (not soda...powder)

1 cup sliced un-blanched almonds

Beat sugar and eggs togther until creamy. Add melted butter, anise, and almond extract. Mix well and add flour and baking powder as it mixes. Add nuts. Mix until a thick but smooth batter results. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but batter will keep a couple of days.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove dough and shape into a 1.5 inch high rectangle about 9" by 6" on a single layer un-greased baking tray. Cook about 30-35 minutes until lightly browned and the center is done. Remove from oven and tray, then cut into 1/2 inch wide strips. Place back on tray with the cut side down and cook until browned, about 15 - 20 minutes. This can be longer if the first step was too short. Doesn't seem to hurt the taste any. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

They almost look like real ones, don't they?

Makes about 12 pieces. Goes great with espresso for breakfast too.

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Science of Simple Things-looking at cold cream and peanut butter: I was trying to explain rheology to a bunch of singer last week and ended up looking at cold cream and peanut butter to answer the question "Why would you want to do that?" Rheology is the study of material deformation and flow and despite the big words is basic to lots of what we all do. For example, think about cold cream. When you scoop it out, it feels crispy and clean and holds together on your fingers. As you spread it, it shear-thins, a fancy term for the tendency to spread easier the fast you move it, allowing you to get a thin even coat. To remove it, vigorous rubbing with a towel causes it to thin to the point where it is almost liquid and be absorbed on the cloth. Overnight, as it sits in its jar, the crystal structure reforms so its nice feeling the next day. The material is actually tested and tuned to act this.

Similar problem are found in paints and coating, peanut butter, salves and lotions, and sauces. Look at peanut butter: it needs to be thick as it comes out of the jar on the knife (or in our house the spoon - which then goes directly on the tongue). When it hits the bread, it need to thin very quickly under the shear so the bread doesn't tear and it spreads easily. Then it need to stay there as it goes to the mouth as drips aren't good either. So rheology is used to tune how much oil and how it is homogenized into the nut meal to get the properties right.

Some food products exploit other properties to get a good "mouth feel," the term used for how something feels in the mouth. Texture is very important (think of cold French fries) and when chewed the material experiences a lot of shear, so it tends to thin. Too much thinning can make it seem wrong or diluted.  Sometimes a material may have or be designed to have a transition at mouth temperature. Coconut oil has a polymorph, the transition from one crystalline state to another at just about mouth temperature. This helps it have a nice smooth feel. Sometimes the oils or fats need to be a bit hotter, and those are the foods that taste better hot. Ice cream is actually a very complex example as the mixture of butter fat, ice crystals, air volume, and milk solids are all adjusted to make it smooth. 

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Filioque again: Scrolling thru the Blogdom of God, I tripped over this site Orthodoxy, a strict Catholic site (yes, I am annoyed at the name but it is a very good site in that the author lies out Catholic positions as clearly as you could hope for) and found two things of note: a link to all of Chesterton's works online and links to approved Catholic dogma and beliefs. The latter is important because one of the biggest problems I've run into with Roman Catholics is the belief the Orthodox are separated only by schism. On the other hand, I believe the teaching of the Orthodox Church, based on the rite of Chrismation for Roman Catholics, is they are heretical. In your acceptance to the Church, an ex-Roman Catholic is called on to renounce all those heresies of the Roman Church. So we got a bit of a difference already in how serious this split is.

Anyway, a while ago, Russ asked me to post on the Eastern Orthodox viewpoint of the split and I did without really looking at the Catholic position. The link to the Catholic library above has the imprimatur of the Church so its a good bet this is the official story. I orginially was going to respond in a line-by-line manner but quite honestly I am not sure I would be able too without cursing. Some of the claims made here are not only non-historical but self contradictory. What is of interest is that the Catholic position seems to be almost totally focused on the powers of the papacy and the differences in doctrine caused by the Roman Catholic Church's alteration of the Creed are either ignored or minimized. The Creed with and without the filioque is in their opinion the same. It's just words....

Ah, no. The Creed represents a statement of what was revealed to the Church about the nature of the Trinity and it was declared at the Councils to be unalterable because God does not change. It takes a very special loss of humility to claim you have the right to change it on your own* and then to state that the new and old formulas are really the same. The Orthodox resistance to changes in the creed is older than suggested in this statement, starting even before Photius** and his excommunication of the pope in the 800s and continues well after the official split in 1054. In the 1200s attempts to re-unite the Churches under a pro-papacy Patriarch and an Emperor desperate for troops failed because of this dogma and others introduced by Western Churches. Reading the Roman Catholic version of history, it is interesting to see the relationship of the Orthodox Churches reduced to the Patriarch of Constantinople being an anti-pope, rather than what he really is, the senior Patriarch of the Orthodox Sees. The fragmented nature of the Eastern Churches this article blames on the Turk's Conquest (with more than a little help from the West) existed from the earliest days in the East. The West, with its single See, was the oddity.

From the Uniate experience in the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches are also very aware of what Rome wants in re-union. Submission to papal auorithy and those pesty little dogmatic issues can be ignored. Well until it suits the Roman Church to force the issue like they did in the US in the fifties, where Uniate priests were expected to shave those danged beards, get rid of the wives, and by the way, add the filioque into the Creed. Similarly today, what a friend of mine calls "brown catholics" are being pushed by the mainly Manichean*** establishment in this country to move away from their form of Catholicism: pushed hard enough some of them are leaving the faith.

Words have meanings and these meaning should and do have implications in how the Church lives. As Orthodox, our first pray to the Holy Spirit to enter us and allow us to truly pray. The worship of the Trinity echoes throughout Orthodox worship and the worship is important because the cycle of prayers and services is what builds a firewall, if you will, in a child's soul. The lifestyle of being Orthodox still fills and floods ones whole life and when you are a self-centered young man of 20 something, sometimes those firewalls stop you from going too far a field. I know that part to be true. And the Creed is a center part of this life. The Creed states we believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, the very God of Gods incarnate in the flesh, who lived and died in fact, not play acting, and then rose from the dead. In it we affirm the primary of God the Father as the source of all, and the Holy Sprit as Lord and Giver of Life, who spoke through the prophets.

* Actually even scarier to me are the people who claim no Creed but Christ. You have to wonder what they worship. Without the agreed on definition of the Creeds, what lets you decide whether some group. like the Mormons, are Christian? Heck, some Gnostic and Pagan sects accept Christ as a divinity, but what they mean by that is open to discussion.

** For a real idea of how serious the differences are, look at a Catholic versus Orthodox history of his life.

*** that's probably the wrong word as my catholic friends call it something I can't spell. I'm not philosopher nor do I really want to be, for as one of the Fathers said "what does Athens have to do with Christ?"

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4 July 2005


Happy Birthday, USA!

2 July 2005

Carnivals I should have linked to: Include the Bonfire of Vanities, the Christian Carnival, the Carnival of the Vanities, the Carnival of Cordite and the Carnival of Recipes. In addition, if you hadn't read the Carnival of History or the Carnival of Comedy you should. Just got too busy here to post much.

Sorry, folks, I know the amount of work this takes and that you only get paid in links for it. Thanks.

1 July 2005

Alexander Wrap-up: I finished the Alexander seminar and am now talking in a tenor as Ms. Miller scares me to death. Apparently in my attempts to reach bass, I do something called fry to my voice and she corrected me on it. Phyllis was a great instructor and since she does a Republican version of tai chi, we were able to work on apply the Alexander Techniques to my forms. I haven't gotten this low in years. She was also quite impressed with the Turnipseed work and I guess I need to add that to my winter wish-list. The best part was really being trapped with musicians for a week. The difference in both world view and in approaches to problems was enlightening.  Overall, time well spend. However, I suspect for most things the technique is like any other supplemental activity: if you ain't practicing 1-2 hours a day, it isn't going to help you get good. I hadn't really thought about it but one reason I'm always running of late is adding that hour a day of mandolin to an hour of shing yi. No wonder I'm not turning much.

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Friday's Gun and Shooting Trip: Well, its Friday and than means some excuse for a gun photo. We spend the morning, while was in the high 80 (cool weather!) at the North Texas Shooters Association in Sanger. Mainly deer rifles for the boys, while I worked on getting some resemblance of skill back with my .44 magnum. Besides burning thru a fair bit of .243 ammo, they also played with my Anschultz .22. I picked that gun up years ago from the safety director at Fina's old Big Spring labs and have really never shot it. I've always used the Remington my Dad gave me as a kid. Anyway, they have really gotten found of it. It looks pretty similar to the 64 Multi that Anschultz currently sells. I've always wanted one of their target rifles like their Super Match but actually would use it less that the fifty. By the end of the morning, the boys were grouping and I was finally on the paper.

After that, we skipped down to Bass Pro Shop for lunch and more ammo to hold me over to the next gun show. After having been to Cabela's earlier in the week, I was surprised at the difference in feel and product lines. There is a lot of overlap but Noah summed it up as Cabela's feels like a gun store and Bass Pro like a fishing and camping store. Cabela's does have a great selection of ammo including 458 Win Mag and three brands of .50 BMG rounds including tracers. The boys also found the X box hunting games. However, the food doesn't match the Big Buck's brew pub and there is no Black River Stout. It's nice to have both and all this ammo just makes me tingly. After that, well, of course, a book store. Where else with those 2?

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Branding: I've done Shing Yi Chuan for years and along that path, pick up formulas for a few of the linaments and rubs used for sore muscles, bruises, and body conditioning in the martial arts. I've been told that I am still listed as selling those things are some places on the internet. I did sell them from Roaches of the Intellect but haven't figured out a new home for them. Anyway, my favorite artiste who still hasn't got her web page up did another bear. (Original here). So how's this for a label? Better than the old one using the Dark Lord of the North as no one ever caught that reference. Few get that the name of Lo Chang's comes from the insane Taoist alchemist in Hughart's the Bridge of Birds. I still figured I'm morally safe as I did including those warnings on the label and its not my fault if it wasn't properly understood. "God gives a chance" as the Basque say.  This time the label should be adequate as a warning I think. Would you trust these two?

UPDATE: Yes, the above does explain my gavatar and my blogger picture. The five circles is a simplified form of Sifu Gong's emblem. His senior students still use it. I simplified it 'cause I couldn't get it to look right in drawings and as an expression of my limit of understanding. I envy my class brothers in NYC and Phoenix a lot, having direct access to what may be the last remnants of an Imperial period martial art. Is it different? You bet. So different the self-proclaimed experts at Empty Flower did not recognize Sifu doing snake form as shing yi. You can't go thru two purges (the Republican re-orgnaization of martial arts and the Cultural Revolution) and come out unchanged. Besides it's always easier to change and simplify things. "When the false dharma appears, it drives the true dharma from the world."

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