Oddball question….

November 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm (Particle Physics) (, , , )

I’ve heard that, in the early days of pumpkin pie, it wasn’t made with the pumpkin in the filling – the pumpkin was put in the crust, and then another type of pie used to fill it (possibly pumpkin, possibly other.)

Does anybody know where I might find a recipe that has a pumpkin-based crust?


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November 17, 2009 at 4:13 pm (Politics, Religion) (, , )

The Catholic church has declared that, unless changes are made in Washington D.C., it will have no choice but to suspend social services in that district.

Now, what changes does it want?  Does it want the city to evict any abortion providers there?  Does it feel that the city’s crime rates are evidence that their services aren’t doing anything, and they would be better applied elsewhere?  Does it feel that the politicians who work there are too sinful to service the district?

Nope!  What it wants changed is a proposed ordinance that would make it necessary for the Church to extend the same benefits to married gay employees that it does to married straight employees.

This ordinance would not make it necessary for the Church to perform or provide space for gay marriages.  It would only make it necessary for them to not discriminate against gay employees.  Employees.  They can feel free to sermonize against the evils of homosexuality all they want.  They can feel free to tell those employees, day in and day out, that they don’t deserve to have their relationships recognized, or to receive the blessings of the Lord.  They can feel free to bar their doors to gay couples who want to get married.

All they have to do is recognize gay married couples as having the same legal rights as straight ones.  Because it’s the law, and… well, they’re not that exempt from the law.

What was it that Christ said again?  Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s?  At any rate.

If they’re required to do this horrible, despicable thing, they’re going to cut off all services to D.C. charities, leaving thousands without support just as winter’s rolling in, because they simply can’t stomach the idea that the gay employees providing those services have the same legal, secular rights as the straight ones.

And they expect to win this fight.  Why?  Because they hope desperately that they can throw the blame on the politicians, instead of themselves.  The politicians, by taking the rights of the gays over the well-being of the homeless, those heartless bastards.  The gay community itself, for not backing down and asking the politicians to stop when the threat was made.  Everybody except the Church, at least in the eyes of the faithful.

They’re turning the homeless and needy of Washington D.C. into hostages, ladies and gentlemen.  Think about that for a minute.  “Do what I want, or I will do something you don’t want me to do that harms an innocent third party.”  What is that?  Hostage taking.  Extortion.

And if they do get away with it – which they just might – it will send a very, very dangerous message.  They will see that they can get away with all manner of similar stunts.

“This neighborhood is home to an abortion provider.  We’re outta here – we’re pulling a Lot, and not even looking back to make sure the Lord will smite you, ’cause we know he will.”

“This state recognizes gay marriages.  We simply cannot, in good faith, provide services in Iowa anymore.  The faithful may still enter, for to do otherwise would be contrary to God’s will, but the doors of the church are otherwise barred.  So sorry – blame your politicians.  Connecticut too, by the way.  We’re just packing up and moving to Maine.  Anybody who voted in support of it?  Welcome to excommunication, and GTFO.”

They can’t get away with this.  Yeah, everybody on the outside who hears about this think it’s ridiculous, but the people inside who are true believers… many of them will probably accept that this is a Sodom and Gomorrah situation, and the Church’s judgment.  I really hope they don’t, and believe that eventually this sort of jackassery will result in a schism of substantial proportions.  Already, the attitude of organized Christian churches in general is driving many otherwise faithful individuals away from the churches, Catholic or otherwise.  Eventually, they’re going to have to split up… or they’re going to cause a new Reformation.

Can’t wait for that to happen, as long as there’s not as much burning of villages in the process.

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Guest post: Good News/Bad News

November 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm (Politics) (, , , )

After a dead week up here, we get a guest post from Vorex, sometimes commentor, sometimes political debator with myself off the list.  I’ll post my own response later on, but for now, thanks for chiming in, Vorex!


Followers of climate change politics will not be surprised that recent news out of Stockholm indicates a practical impossibility of any binding agreement at Copenhagen. It really shouldn’t have taken a disagreement on how the thing would be funded, the fact that every nation in the world is turning up with a ‘you go first’ attitude has made it clear that these talks would be ultimately fruitless. So in the absence of the political will necessary to address this on a global scale what do we have? Well, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that it won’t be as bad as some are saying. No matter how bad warming gets it won’t be the end of life on Earth. That’s remarkably hard to do without physically breaking the planet, and even then it’s a job and some. It won’t even be the end of human life on Earth … we’re now so numerous and so technologically equipped that we could probably survive, in some form, even an acute disaster like a catastrophic asteroid impact. We’d manage the gradual creep of climate change. Some of us, anyway.

 The bad news is that it’s not all going to be OK. Oceans will rise, and become more acidic. Sea life, much more abundant than land life, will be affected. Changing climactic conditions will alter the viable range of plants, including food crops. Land will be submerged, some of it highly valuable, some of it highly populated. Most of it problematic. The people of the future will live in a world which is geographically and ecologically quite different to today.

 One of the many distractions taking place in this arena is the question of whether warming is anthropogenic, that is to say are humans responsible? I don’t see that it really matters. The implication in the question is that if it’s not our fault then we don’t have to do anything about it. It equates ‘natural’ (in the sense of not man-made) with ‘benign’ and couldn’t be more wrong. The eruption at Pompeii was ‘natutral’, the recent pacific tsunami was ‘natural’, hurricane Katrina was ‘natural’ and the meteor impact which lead to the K-T boundary was ‘natural’ … but is it safe to say that we would expend significant resources on each of these events had we known with certainty they were coming.

 For that matter, every mass extinction to date has been entirely natural … and yet managed to wipe out vast swathes of life on earth. There remains a debate as to whether we are currently experiencing a mass extinction event (the Holocence) and whether this is anthropogenic or not. Ultimately, again, I think the question is irrelevant. Wherever the extinction event came from (if there is one) we can either act to prevent it, or not. It’s either worth it, or not. Those are really the only two options.

 The same is true of climate change. We are currently in an advantageous climate, and we can either work to preserve it (regardless of the source of change) or not. Politically, it would seem that we have chosen ‘not’.

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