Friday, October 31, 2008

1 Year

This blog is 1 year old! Wahoo!

I Just Don't Understand

I said in a recent letter to the BYU Daily Universe:

"It is a constant source of amazement for me how the self-proclaimed "Religious Right" can justify their elitist positions concerning the poor."

I am now more confused than ever as I see people that I trust and respect vehemently defend a corrupt and flawed economic system. When our voices become more raised in the defense of our wealth than in "providing for the general welfare," I feel a profound and deep sadness. I believe that until we realize that economic, social, and cultural strength derives from how we treat the most-destitute members of our community, we will never become the America that we think we are.

The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. And we think this is the path to a strong economy? If so, then it is not an economy I can be proud of. Is an economy that depends on a large poor population any different than one that depends on slavery? Do we honestly believe that by making the rich richer ("trickle down economics") and keeping the poor poor ("raising minimum wage = inflation") our country will actually become better? Do we honestly think that it is a greater sin to raise taxes on the rich than it is to grind the faces of the poor? Do we really think that something as essential as the right to stay alive is to be subject to the selfishness of capitalism?

I fear that our phobia of communism is pushing us to place that we, in our right minds, do not want to be. When the most powerful country in the world still has widespread poverty, what is wrong? When the most productive economy in the world  shares a thousand mile border with a third world country, isn't there something missing? (And I don't mean a fence to keep the poor out.)

Am I the only American asking these questions?

Or am I just the only one not so distracted by maintaining my wealth that I don't notice all the suffering around me?

I just don't understand how good people can support this proposed economic system.

I just don't understand...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The (Slightly Boring) Life of a Missionary

Missions are great, but missionaries get awfully bored!

I know I resorted to some pretty wacky stuff to stay entertained during my free time:
  • Trying for hours to catch gophers on a string
  • Seeing how many cheerios "our" dog could catch out of the air at once ( the way, it was 8)
  • Building a miniature wind-mill from a McDonald's toy and a dismantled CD-player
  • Growing Ivan the Ivy (he was such a happy potted plant)
  • Feeding our pet porch spiders
  • Learning to solve the Rubiks Cube in 1 minute and 42 seconds
  • Inventing a new martial art involving grabby things
  • And, perfecting the art of rotating my thumbs in opposite directions at the same time (mostly while tracting)
As evidence that I was not the only missionary to get starved for fun, I cite the following video:

Monday, October 27, 2008

M 42 - Orion Nebula

I'm getting better! For my second successful CCD photo my focus is much better and I improved my image processing skills a lot since last week (Notice the almost realistic colors!). I also took a long time polar aligning the mount to get the scope to track more accurately.

This picture is an LRGB composition with the green frame re-used as the luminance data. I spent over 12 hours on this picture! But that's not the actual camera time. I worked on a lot of different elements along the chain necessary to take a great picture, such as: better polar alignment, better telescope tracking, better focusing, and better image processing techniques.

Over the past week I spent four nights using telescopes until very late at night. It seems I've gotten into a weird state: during the day I read about astrophotography incessantly, and at night I'm up on the deck till the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps I've been infected with some strange disease.... I'm headed up there again tonight.

M42 Orion Nebula
Pictor 416XTE on 12" f/10 LX200
40 sec x 4 green, 40 sec x 2 red binned 2x2, 30 sec blue binned 2 x 2
LRGB Processed using Maxim DLL 2.11 and Astroart 4.0

Friday, October 24, 2008

First CCD Photo

This is my first tricolor CCD astrophoto. I took it last night from the BYU Astronomy Observation Deck.

Ya, sure, there's a lot of noise, and the stars aren't exactly point-sources, but hey, for my first time it's not bad!

M57 - Ring Nebula.
Pictor 416XTE on 12" f/10 LX200
30 sec x 3 green, 30 sec red, 30 sec blue, 30 sec beta-N
Images processed using Maxim DL 2.11

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm Really Sorry About Your Goats...

I had no idea. I'm so sorry. =(

Not Enough Fun

There's this little flash game I've become quite entertained by as of late. It's called Desktop Tower Defense.

(If you click here you'll never make it through your homework again... I promise! Fair warning...)

Basically you set up little mazes and cannons to blast little blobby "creeps" as they try to move across the screen. I've beaten the Easy, Medium, and Hard levels, but I'm struggling on a few of the Challenge levels.

So when I get tired of trying the Challenge levels over and over again, I try one of the Fun levels. Well, apparently in my last game I didn't have enough fun, because here's the screen after I lost.

LDS Environmental Stewardship

Here's a survey opened today asking members of the LDS church about their opinions concerning environmental stewardship. It doesn't take too long, if you have a moment you might enjoy taking it:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Biggest Joke on the Duck Ever

Mitch Hedberg is pretty much the funniest guy in the whole world.
We share a deep love of ducks.


I woke up this morning with a great idea for a post.

But now I have no clue what that idea was.


It probably wasn't that great of an idea anyways.


Here at BYU men aren't allowed to grow facial hair. (Who knows why...)

But I filed the piles of paperwork, met with a ruthless doctor, and paid an exorbitant amount of money (because I wouldn't sleep with anybody... otherwise it would have been free...) to acquire my very own beard card.

Yes, you heard correctly, yours truly has a beard card!

I think I will enjoy this bearding experience immensely.

I'm feeling more apostate already...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Social Uncertainty Principle

We're all familiar with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. But, in case you are so very abnormal as to not be familiar with it, here's an overview.

In the realm of the very small, particles behave far differently than we, in our gigantic, obese world, would predict.

The Uncertainty Principle states that for all mass (large and small) you cannot accurately measure position, x, and momentum, p, with better accuracy than Planck's constant divided by 4π.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Where momentum is equal to mass times velocity, p = mv, and Δ (delta) denotes the uncertainty of the quantity.

This means that it is impossible to know the exact position and the exact momentum of any object! The more you know about an object's position, the less you know about it's momentum. The reverse is also true, the more you know about an object's momentum, the less you know about it's position. You can't know where it is and how much it weighs at the same time!

The reason that we, as the gigantic obese people that we are, don't notice the Uncertainty Principle in our daily lives is because the quantity h is so very small:

Because h is so small, in our realm of bigness we don't care about that level of accuracy. It would be the equivalent of knowing our velocity, mass, or position to the 34 decimal place - nobody cares! But with atoms it does matter - in fact, it matters a lot. Thus the importance of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

So we arrive at the purpose of this blog entry. My physics professor has recommended an addition to the laws of the universe.

The Social Uncertainty Principle

Where P is one's knowledge of physics and S is one's aptitude toward social interaction.

According to this law, as knowledge of social interactions increases knowledge of physics decreases. Conversely, if knowledge of physics increases then knowledge of social skills decreases.

It is for this reason that I must get married young before I learn too much physics.

Otherwise I'll never stand a chance.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Dream

Last night I had a dream that if you wore a yellow hat you could teleport anywhere instantly. Then, as I was standing in the shower this morning, it suddenly occured to me,

wouldn't you get fat?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Staying Informed

This isn't a political blog, but I just couldn't resist. For all you Palin supporters out there, she seems like a great governor, but wow, she's a joke when it comes to being the Vice President. As evidence, I cite the following video: