Sunday, June 24, 2007

This weeks science lesson - Physics

The 1964 Messenger Lectures
"The Character of Physical Law"
Richard Feynman

I was just made aware of these newly available Feynman lectures by Blake at Science After Sunclipse. I thought it would be nice to put them together in one place and in order...
Lecture 1 - The law of gravitation, an example of physical law
Lecture 2 - The Relation of Mathematics & Physics
Lecture 3 - The Great Conservation Principles
Lecture 4 - Symmetry in Physical Law
Lecture 5 - The Distinction of Past and Future
Lecture 6 - Probably and Uncertainty - the quantum mechanical view of nature
Lecture 7 - Seeking New Laws

Friday, June 22, 2007

Silly kitty...

...I would think that would be a little uncomfortable after a while.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Needs caption

Cat has been lazy lately, what would make a good caption for this one....

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hope you have magnum conexus

Sometimes when I get board with the stuff in my iTunes library...

...I look around YouTube for music. I find all kinds of interesting stuff like this, or this, or this or even THIS (need to learn your elements?).

Then I came across a few versions of O Magnum Mysterium. It's one of those pieces that choruses bring out when they think they can do it really well, especially the Lauridsen arrangement. The UST Alumni Singers from the Philippines do a great job, and they only have 16 people...

On the other hand...

Usually when someone posts a performance of themselves on YouTube, the comments are supportive. Maybe it's because this group isn't the typical amateur, and it doesn't help that the purists like to see this song done right. Check out the savagery of the comments! It's not clear who the group is, but they look like they are in Kings Hall at Newcastle University in NE England.

It is a bad performance, but why would I waste my time coming up with a response...especially when there is good stuff like this to keep me busy.

It's also done as an orchestral piece (hay, their middle schoolers...). The quality of all these versions are limited by the fact that they are on YouTube. For some good versions check your library for Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna, Los Angeles Master Chorale or O Magnum Mysterium, Robert Shaw

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Every Day Systems

This guy is making too much sense. A simple diet, without having to buy lots of diet stuff...a simple exercise routine, without having to buy fancy, expensive equipment or join an expensive gym....they are going to have to shut this guy down! You better read it while you can.

Monday, June 4, 2007

More on chaplains already...

A couple of months ago I brought up the hypothetical situation of a state department employing a chaplain, like the Legislature does. Just today I found out about the case in Indiana where the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has been employing a chaplain for the last year, for $60,000. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed the case in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis on behalf of four Indianapolis resident (only 4!).

This is exactly the thing I was worried about with the trickle-down justification of mixing religion and government. The Congress does it, so state Legislatures feel they can do it, so city governments feel they can do it, and so on... One of the justifications for the program by a FSSA spokesperson was “The U.S. Congress has had them forever.”

The only response from FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob – who is named in the suit – was, “Sometimes you know you’re right by who opposes you.” That's the best justification he can come up with for why the program is legal...this case should be easy. I've been asking since Easter for a good justification for chaplains in the legislature other than 'historical tradition', and I still haven't heard anything.

I hope that this works its way up to the Supreme Court and a ruling is made about all chaplain programs in positions other then the military, prisons, etc (which I mentioned where in a different category).

Friday, June 1, 2007

Chaplains in Minnesota - Part 2

I see that a few people are checking out the post from the "Blog Against Theocracy" about chaplains... There are a few things to correct from it.

Dan Hall is no longer the chaplain of the Minnesota State Senate. The current chaplain, (according to a January '07 Star Tribune Article) is Rev. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. McDonough is also chief operating officer of the archdiocese and considered second only to Archbishop Harry Flynn. McDonough has been a frequent advocate for the church at the State Capitol.

The comment was made to the previous entry that Dan Hall received no tax money for being chaplain of the Senate, but is funded through donations. Maybe you are thinking of his role as president of Midwest Chaplains, which is a 501(c)(3). In it's 2005 tax filling (publicly available on the internet), Midwest Chaplains reported a revenue of $76,906 and it's one paid employee (Dan Hall) made $62,500. I assume he doesn't make as much, if anything, as the leader of the Bachmann Prayer Team, or any of his other ventures. His pay with Midwest Chaplains isn't an issue, I'm not donating any money to him. He can give himself a million dollars if that's what people want to give him.

The House chaplain gets $2000 per year, and $35 per prayer (visiting chaplains receive $35). I'm looking into how the Senate pays it's chaplains, but I'm sure it's a similar honorarium. The Senate chaplain makes $25 per prayer plus milage if requested. The fact that it is very hard to find out anything about the office of chaplain is disconcerting in itself. What's the job description?

Even if the position of chaplain was volunteer and there was no money used to support it whatsoever, there are still issues with government appearing to endorse one religion (Christianity, in this case).

One of the issues I had with the position of chaplain in the Legislature is that the chaplain is proselytizing to state employees (the members of the legislature); by way of the prayers at the beginning of the sessions and, as Dan Hall admits, in their offices. The current Chaplain has also expressed his interest in proselytizing to legislators. In January, McDonough told the Star Tribune...
Q: Any plans to do lobbying on the side?
A: No, this role is not related to my official role with the archdiocese. I'll only be trying to lobby the senators into heaven.
That clearly shows his intent to proselytize on the job...and this article in Politics in Minnesota [I see this link is now behind a paywall - 11/5/13] mentions the lobbying he appeared to do against the bill that would extend the civil statute of limitations for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Dan Hall and Rev. Kevin McDonough may be great guys. If they feel their calling in life is to proselytize to people, fine...they can walk down any sidewalk and do a Kirk Cameron (I hope they don't forget to bring a Banana), but when they are given an official position in the government, that creates an unnecessary relationship between government and religion.

My original question still stands. As 'awesome' as you might think it is to have a 'Chaplin'[sic] at the Capitol...can you provide any legitimate reason why there should be one other than 'historical tradition'?

Update 11/5/2013: The Star Tribune has just done an article mentioning Rev. Kevin McDonough lobbying at the capitol. When will they do an article questioning the need for chaplains altogether?