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Monday, April 16th, 2012

Subject:How the Space Shuttle Destroyed America
Time:10:41 am.
I've been pondering lately, and I think I can trace almost all of America's major problems to the existence of the Space Shuttle program.  In brief, here's what I'm thinking:

In the 50's, 60's, and 70's, there was a massive influx of kids getting into science and engineering fields.  Most of them if you asked would tell you they were interested in these areas because of the excitement of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.  Most of them would have wanted to be an astronaut but of course only very few get to do that.  But more important than leading to a mass of kids who can't be the astronauts they want to be it lead to a mass of scientists and engineers that were excited about innovation.  In the 70's, 80's, and 90's this lead to leaps and bounds forward in technological innovation that drove our economy into overdrive.  We dominated the world with our advanced technology and we prospered.

But those scientists and engineers are mostly retired now, or at least they've lost their edge with age.  Their innovative youth is long behind them.  And in the 80's and 90's the kids were no longer inspired to get into science or engineering, instead they were getting into investment banking and becoming lawyers and CEOs.  These are fields where brilliant innovation can be very dangerous, as they are areas where greed is the primary driving force.  All that furious innovative power was turned towards finding better ways to screw people out of their money, and as a result we had credit default swaps and all the other madness that crashed our economy in the past decade or so.  At the same time the death of scientific and technological innovation in America gave time for the rest of the world to catch up with us.  You no longer have to hire American workers to get your advanced technology built, you can go overseas for it where the labor is much cheaper and still have it done well because they aren't any less advanced than we are anymore.

What changed?  Why did kids lose interest in science and engineering?  I suspect it was mostly because they were no longer inspired by our space program.  There is no doubt that the Space Shuttle was a pretty descent low earth orbit science platform and it's fine for doing some more hands-on satellite work, but mostly what it was was boring.  After the first few launches there was nothing interesting to see for anyone that wasn't already into science and engineering for other reasons.  After three decades of thrilling advancement on the frontiers of space we decided to settle for a glorified orbiting Greyhound bus and we lost public interest.  And so our brightest kids were instead inspired by TV and movies, which at the time meant movies like Wall Street ("greed, for lack of a better word, is good") and The Devil's Advocate ("law is the ultimate backstage pass").

And that's how the Space Shuttle - by utterly failing to inspire an entire generation - helped cause our economic collapse and the now endemic loss of interest in science and technology by almost everyone.  The only way we can turn it around is to immediately start serious plans for manned missions to - and permanent bases on - the Moon and Mars.  Although starting with permanent stations at the L4 & L5 points would probably be a firmer foothold into space and still just as exciting and inspiring.  And if we don't do this our next wave of misery will be all the inspired kids looking to innovate in the fields of government and health insurance administration, two more fields that are probably best left uninnovated lest we further destroy ourselves.
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Friday, November 12th, 2010

Subject:A Different Approach to the Gay Marriage Debate
Time:11:27 am.
This morning I thought of a different approach to the issue of gay marriage.  It's really an issue of Freedom of Religion.  Take for our example a devout Christian who is also a homosexual.  No doubt he or she has spent many hours debating with himself (or herself) about how his own sexuality intersects with his religious beliefs.  In the end he would have to conclude that because he has always felt this way - has always been attracted to men, even if he denied it to himself at first as he was growing up - then it must be because this is the way God has made him.  So it must be okay.  But rather than give up on Christianity, he still believes devoutly in Jehovah and wants to follow His laws as much as is humanly possible.

He could decide to suppress his true feelings and marry a woman and just be unhappy with his life.   But he knows that is not what God wants for him, as his God is a loving God and would not torture him so.  He could devote himself to a life of abstention, not pretending to be something he is not but also denying himself the love and happiness that marriage brings.  But surely God does not want that for him either.

Yet he is devout, and the only option left open to him - namely "living in sin" and having a committed relationship with someone to whom he cannot be married - is not acceptable.  He refuses to engage in pre-marital sex, and sex is an essential component to any healthy committed relationship.  His religion requires him to marry.  Yet he cannot.

There are those who say that they are not opposed to gay unions as long as we don't call it marriage.  "Separate but equal" is their proposal.  The counter to that solution is that in order to support that they have to admit that they are supporting - nay, requiring - sex between unmarried people, which is just a much of a sin that carries the same traditional punishment of stoning.  Surely it would be better to allow gay marriage, thus reducing the number of sins they will be committing by one.

Of course this argument doesn't help with the "homosexuality is a choice" crowd, but they are so amazingly brain-dead that nothing will help with them anyway.  I've tried asking them "so when did you decide to stop being turned on by those of the same sex and be strictly heterosexual, and what led you to making that choice?" but they don't understand that point at all.
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Monday, July 26th, 2010

Subject:A Must-Make Movie!
Time:5:17 pm.
This is the movie I so very very muchly wish was really going to be made.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Subject:Calling all Twitterers/Facebookers: I need help...
Time:4:13 pm.
There's something I'd like to try with one of our developmental reading and writing courses, but I need help with it.  The problem is that students these days - especially those that need the most practice reading - hate to read.  So I was thinking perhaps one approach would be to give them good writing in a format that they're most likely to already be comfortable with.  Which brings me to Twitter and Facebook.

I'm looking for a list of people on Twitter and/or Facebook that are 1) interesting and entertaining to read, 2) not too difficult to understand, and most importantly 3) regularly use proper grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.  From this I'd like to come up with a recommended reading list that can be reliably engaging and serve as a good example to these students.

I've done some digging around on Google and have some ideas, but I wanted to throw this out there to anyone still reading my LJ.  Do you have any suggestions?  

If you like this idea enough to ask other people you know as well, please by all means do.  The more the merrier.
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Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Subject:Happy Everybody Draw Muhammad Day
Time:9:22 am.
Today is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.  It's a day to celebrate freedom of expression in the face of violent religious opposition.

I am not a good artist ... scratch that; I am a very bad artist.  So this is what you get from me on this fine day:

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Monday, May 17th, 2010

Subject:Quote of the Day
Time:5:25 pm.
Upon seeing two angry drunken Canadians starting to  fight during a Canada Day celebrations, Bill of LRR went up to them to break up the fight.  How did he do it?

"I just started singing Oh, Canada and they stopped fighting."

Canadians are so adorable!
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Subject:Is there a quantum physicist in the house?
Time:3:25 pm.
I liked the graffiti in my last entry so much, I was thinking it might make a good bumpersticker.  But I already have one similar enough that I have to pick one or the other.  So!  I need opinions.  Which of these is funnier?

"Heisenberg may or may not be my copilot."

"I may or may not brake for Schrödinger's cat."     (thanks SJO for catching my silly spelling error)

On the one hand, Schrödinger's is a funny word all on it's own.  On the other hand to those who don't get the joke it might imply I'll run over a cat.  Then again the first has some possible religious connotations that might be undesirable.

What do y'all think? 
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Subject:Quantum Graffiti
Time:9:12 am.
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Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Time:12:45 pm.
The DVD arrived today in the mail and I'm watching it at lunch.

It's so good I threw my panties at my monitor.

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Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Subject:smart herd
Time:8:25 am.
My car made some friends this weekend:


Note that there's about four more past the end that you can't see in this image (including mine).  We drove down to Galveston, rally-style.  There was much smiling and pointing from those we passed, and more than a few pictures taken.
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Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Subject:Why I'm Not Allowed to Have Kids, Part 73
Time:8:50 am.
"Merry Christmas!" exclaimed the young child of a friend of mine.

"Christmas?" I inquired, appearing perplexed.  "What's that?"

"OMG?!" she responded, clearly in extreme shock.  "How can you not know about Christmas?!  Why do you think everyone wears red and Santa brings us all presents?!"

"Oh!" I smiled, "I think your Daddy's been making up stories again.  Come sit down and let me tell you the real reason for the holiday season."

It all starts with Thanksgiving.  You remember Thanksgiving, right?  I bet you had turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce and at school you may have even dressed up as caricatures of indigenous peoples.  Well, Thanksgiving is great and all, but the problem is that all that food attracts Pilgrims.  Now, Pilgrims aren't bad people, but they don't really take a hint well and once they show up they sort of infest the place.  I had two arguing with each other all the time about what to watch on TV!  They're fine company for awhile, but after about a month it's really time for them to go.

The thing about Pilgrims is they're what are called "religious fundamentalists".  That means they're afraid of the Devil.  That's why they don't approve of singing and dancing, because it attracts the Devil.  You know about the Devil, right?  The guy dressed in red carrying around a pitchfork and a big bag of coal, with his bushy white beard and big sharp claws?  His real name is Satan.  And nothing frightens Pilgrims more than Satan's Claws!  So every December 24th, about a month after Thanksgiving, Satan travels to every house in the world in one night and frightens away all the Pilgrims.

That's why we sing songs this time of year, to let him know it's time to come.  And that's why you have to go to bed early that night.  Because Pilgrims never ever sleep.  So all the good boys and girls go to bed early so that he knows they aren't Pilgrims and doesn't try to scare them away!

The presents are another story.  For that you can thank the Elves.  See, when the Pilgrims run away they drop most of their stuff.  Elves are the finders of lost things, and the evening of December 24th is their busiest day of the year.  They take all the Pilgrims' lost things and wrap them up for safe keeping.  But they also like to pull pranks, and they switch around all the tags.  So you end up with something that belonged to someone else and think it's a gift, while some kid in Seattle is enjoying your old Optimus Prime that you lost last week thinking it's a gift for him.

Which is why December 26th is known as Boxing Day.  Before the Tolkien Treaty that was signed with the Elves in 1936, they used to just leave all the presents in the house where they came from.  Then it would be your brother that got your Optimus Prime, and you'd be angry and fight with him over it.  That was Boxing Day.  But in the treaty the Elves agreed to always take the presents to different houses far away, so there wouldn't be any fighting.  Not every country signed the treaty, though, which is why they still have Boxing Day in Canada, and why Canadians are so polite the rest of the year after being tired of all the fighting on Boxing Day.

In return for this, in the treaty to the Elves we agreed to stop making them out to be little winged floaty guys, like Pixies or Fairies.  Instead from now on we have to make them out to be cool tall handsome guys with bows and arrows.  So next time you watch The Lord of the Rings, be sure to give thanks, because without Thanksgiving Legolas wouldn't be anywhere near as cool as he is.
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Monday, October 19th, 2009

Subject:Micro Loans and You
Time:7:00 pm.
If you haven't heard of Kiva.org, then let me tell you about it. I just learned of it thanks to telophase. Perhaps you've heard of microloans? If not they are basically small loans given in poor countries to small entrepreneurs. They do a lot of good for the local economies and have amazingly high repayment rates (at least when given to women, apparently).

Anyway, Kiva.org allows you as an individual to assist with this. The people you see already have their loans, but of course this means the financial institution can't help someone else with the same money. So, they "sell" their loans to you to get the funds they need to continue their business, and when that person repays their loan you get your part of it back. You can take it back or give it to someone else.

I guess it can be best characterized as sustainable recycled charity.

Anyway, I just invested in four small business, and felt like sharing:
My four investments...Collapse )

THIS is how you do charity in a capitalistic global economy. It's elegantly powerful. I like it!
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Friday, September 18th, 2009

Subject:Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!
Time:11:05 pm.
To help you gear up for this finest of holidays, here's a couple of videos!

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Friday, September 4th, 2009

Time:11:01 pm.

Originally uploaded by tprjones
From the top of the world's tallest monument column my car doesn't look so tiny. Well, it does, but no more so than any other car would.
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Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Subject:Boudin Kolache?!
Time:12:09 pm.
Perhaps I've been watching too much Alton Brown. But when I taste this delicious boudin kolache, I can't help but ponder the collision of culinary heritages this simple pastry calls forth.

On the one hand there's the boudin, a quintessentially Cajun invention. In it's sharp spicy bite you can taste the beleaguered refugees from French Canadia as they find their new home in southern Louisiana and mingle their heritage with their more urban Creole neighbors in New Orleans, who lend a touch of the Mediterranean in the use of crisp aromatic flavor notes.

On the other hand, there's the kolache, a Czechoslovakian device. Brought to Texas in the late 1800s with the waves of Czech settlers, this simple melding of sweet bread with basic flavors is deliciously endemic to many rural communities in this region. It's very much a working-class foodstuff, as it's believed the original invention was designed to be a self-contained meal to be taken to the fields thus removing the necessity of stopping work for lunches.

This is as much of a clash of culinary heritages as Sushi Tacos would be. Yet the cajun fire and czech sweetness combine beautifully. They're as different as Rap and Country, yet like Kid Rock they draw from both backgrounds equally well, melding them in ways both surprising and pleasant.

But I am not a nutritional anthropologist.
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Monday, August 24th, 2009

Time:8:53 pm.
I just installed a touch panel on my latptop. It works beautifully! I hate the touchpad so much, and this is enormously better. And installation wasn't 100% trouble-free, but it was still quite easy to do overall; the problems I had were related to my computer instead of this new part.

I think it's going to drop my battery life by about 5%, which is worth the trade-off. And the module that runs it does get a bit warm, so there's a new hotspot in the thing (I tucked it down in the lower-left corner).

Still, I'd recommend considering it for any laptop for which they make one. It's good stuff.
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Monday, August 17th, 2009

Subject:A New Friend...
Time:7:32 pm.
Today my car made a new friend.

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Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Subject:A NEW CAR!
Time:5:44 pm.
So, I just bought a new car! Well, used, but only barely as it only had 7,123 miles on it.

More pictures behind the cut...Collapse )

I wonder if I should give it a name or something. I've never done that before. But then this is a pretty unique little car.

Now I need to find good bumperstickers for it. How about: "large car = small penis... you do the math."

Comments: Read 5 orAdd Your Own.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Subject:This is not my country.
Time:5:13 pm.
Mood: angry.

This is not my country:

... "It is ironic that a system that was founded because of the people’s anger toward an oppressive monarchy is now making the very same mistakes made by the Shah of Iran."

"It is a disgrace to see the system that condemned what the shah of Iran did — killing people to silence their voices — is now doing the same."  ...

... "The hypocrites, who secretly hijacked the popular revolution of Iran and imposed their will on us, have now dropped all pretense and are openly handing us the ‘royal treatment’ still fresh in the minds of countless Iranians."  ...

... "This is a war zone. This is not my country." ...

Comments: Add Your Own.

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Time:4:18 pm.

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LiveJournal for TPRJones.

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