Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where's your local chapter?

I have recently discovered the joys of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason group. I have added their radio show to my list of podcasts, and despite its inherent cheesiness, I would certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys quick updates on science and scientific issues on both a national and local (Albuquerque, NM) level.

What's that you said? You don't live anywhere near New Mexico? Fear not! Groups such as this have been popping up everywhere! They serve many purposes: debunking pseudoscience, delivering science news to the non-expert and layperson, and providing a grass-roots resource to those wishing to help advance good science. I encourage everyone to at least have a look at what's available near their hometown.

The board, the powder, and the breeze.

My prediction concerning the snow fall last weekend came true (see the last line of this post.) Box 1663 was nailed with 5-6 inches; the Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges had 8 inches by daybreak Friday morning. This meant...

  1. The roads were a mess. They don't salt in this area, which meant snow was compressed to ice.
  2. The lab shut down for the day. It was my day off anyway, but now everyone gets a free one. Adult snow days are way better than kid snow days (if you use them right.)
  3. Santa Fe ski area was pure powder, making my second time snowboarding an absolute dream.
After one trip, I made the full commitment and bought boots, bindings, and a board. After a bad experience with rental equipment, my Flow bindings -- featuring a drop-down highback for step-in connections in any boots -- performed perfectly. I love my board so far (Gnu Carbon High Beam MTX Wide), but the conditions were vastly different from my first outing making it hard to compare the performance of this board to the rental I had last time.

I spent a lot of time on the beginner hill, but was linking turns and gliding -- not falling -- off the lift by lunch. I did a few runs on the regular hill (~1000' vertical) before my body gave up, which was just enough to get over my fears. It was a great time and I can't wait to go again.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Win in Texas.

Oh, man... that was too close!
As Dr. Plait points out, the 7-7 tie means that we're likely to see this again in Texas. We dodged a similar bullet in here in New Mexico.

China is at it again.

How about I open up the real posts with a rant?

I have become a passionate defender of free speech. Open forums to share ideas are paramount to the advancement of society -- especially in science. China doesn't think so. It appears that youtube has been blocked again, the last time being the ban during the Tibet riots.

An initial, and perhaps well-founded, reaction to this story may be, "so what?" So what if the Chinese are cut off from youtube poop edits of Billy Mays and fifteen-year-olds proclaiming that high school problems really matter? A large percentage of youtube is dedicated to crap. Even though it's funny crap, of what importance is it?

As it turns out, there are youtube videos dedicated to serious debate, the proliferation of ideas, and good ol' fashioned, healthy free speech. Take as an initial example the Beauty in the Universe channel, which is dedicated to exploring knowledge of the Earth and nature. Or, more importantly, DonExodus, who works diligently to educate people on the origins and diversity of life on Earth, all the while fending off the onslaught of creationists who insist on poisoning the well of knowledge. These are only two of many contributors who submit material that educates viewers
and challenges worldviews. They make people think. This cannot be underestimated.

Now put this into the present context. During the Tibet riots, youtube was banned in China to keep citizens in the dark about what was happenin, to preserve positive views of the Chinese government. It is a method of control. It is subversive. The internet is more than jokes and porn, it serves as a medium to distribute knowledge of the world around this. To choke it off is deplorable. And it is happening again.

It just started snowing at PO Box 1663. This should make for an exciting weekend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hold this space, please.

Yessir, I done have a blog. I will not be posting too much just yet. Soon, however...