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Spencer Neff

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November 9th, 2005

12:45 am: Q.E.D.
The Frivolous Theorem of Arithmetic:
Almost all natural numbers are very, very, very large.

Define a "very, very, very large number" to be any number greater than some k. There are finitely many natural numbers less than k and infinitely many natural numbers greater than k. By the definition of almost all, almost all natural numbers are therefore larger than k, and thus by definition, "very, very, very large."


Current Music: Satie - Trois Danses de Travers

November 6th, 2005

09:52 pm: Michael Moore is a funny guy.
And a big, obese, lying douchebag.


"I don't own a single share of stock!" filmmaker Michael Moore proudly proclaimed.

He's right. He doesn't own a single share. He owns tens of thousands of shares – including nearly 2,000 shares of Boeing, nearly 1,000 of Sonoco, more than 4,000 of Best Foods, more than 3,000 of Eli Lilly, more than 8,000 of Bank One and more than 2,000 of Halliburton, the company most vilified by Moore in "Fahrenheit 9/11."

If you want to see Moore's own signed Schedule D declaring his capital gains and losses where his stock ownership is listed, it's emblazoned on the cover of Peter Schweizer's new book, "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy."

And it's just one of the startling revelations by Schweizer, famous for his previous works, "Reagan's War" and "The Bushes."

Other examples:

* House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who proclaims her support for unions, yet the luxury resort, the vineyard and the restaurants she partly owns are strictly non-union. While she advocates tough new laws enforcing environmental regulations on the private sector, the exclusive country club she partly owns failed to comply with existing environmental regulations for the past eight years – including a failure to protect endangered species.

* Noam Chomsky has made a reputation for calling America a police state and branding the Pentagon "the most hideous institution on earth," yet his entire academic career, writes Schweizer, has been subsidized by the U.S. military.

* Barbra Streisand is another proponent of environmentalism, yet she drives an SUV, lives in a mansion and has a $22,000 annual water bill. In the past, she has driven to appointments in Beverly Hills in a motor home because of her aversion to using public bathrooms.

* Ralph Nader plays the role of the citizen avenger – the populist uninterested in wealth and materialism, pretending to live in a modest apartment. In fact, he lives in fancy homes registered in the names of his siblings.

This is not just a book of "gotcha" journalism, explains Schweizer. He says the dozens and dozens of examples of "liberal hypocrisy" he cites in his book "are of central importance in evaluating the validity and usefulness of liberal ideas."

"Using IRS records, court depositions, news reports, financial disclosures and their own statements, I sought to answer a particular question: Do these liberal leaders and activists practice what they preach?" he writes. "What I found was a stunning record of open and shameless hypocrisy. Those who champion the cause of organized labor had developed various methods to avoid paying union wages or shunned unions altogether...

Current Music: Kings of Convenience - Misread

October 20th, 2005

11:12 pm: Who? Mike Jones.
"Guys, if you don't follow me on this chapter, you'll be loster than a snowflake in Hades."
"Well, if you ain't drop-dead-stupid you'll get that one!"
"Spencer! What are you doin' with my Dancin' Bear?!"
"And that's a fact."

--Mr. Jones

Current Music: Satie - Nocturn II

September 3rd, 2005

12:02 pm: Decemberists!
The Decemberists! Orlando HOB, September 28.
Find him! Bind him! Tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters! Drag him to a hole where he'll wake up naked, clawing at the ceiling of his grave!Collapse )

Current Music: The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge

August 31st, 2005

10:44 pm: Joy!
Life, I love you! All is groovy.

Current Music: The Kinks - Lola

August 27th, 2005

10:53 am: Good Fortune?
It looks like it to me! And it feels so, too, at night, to fall asleep smiling and with nothing suppressed. It is an unbelievable, unbearably wonderful lightness. And the smiles make sleep easy.

Welcome back! To everything you have missed out on!

Current Music: The Go-Betweens - Lavender

August 24th, 2005

06:48 pm: Teter/Google
So a few nights ago was my first all-nighter of the year. Didn't sleep at all, got the shit done at 6AM, took a nap, went to school, felt proud of myself. I'll try really hard to not have to do that again.

Google has instant messaging now, and it's totally awesome. It's a really clean, simple interface, and the coolest part of it is that it's built around voice chat. Get it so I have some more people to talk to, and add me (spenwah~at~gmail~dotcom). You need a Gmail account to sign in. If you don't have one, you need to, because it's better than any other webmail (plus it has POP3 access), and it's free. Give me an email address and I'll send you an invitation for it if you don't have one and want the instant messenger.


Current Music: Tom Waits - Don't Go Into that Barn

August 17th, 2005

04:07 pm: Beautiful
Azadeh Moaveni is an Iranian expatriot who grew up in California and later returned as a journalist. This is from the introduction of her new book Lipstick Jihad, and I just love it. I'll be reading this one soon, hopefully.

While the vast majority of Iranians despised the clerics and dreamed of a secular government, no easy path to that destination presented itself. In the meanwhile, revolutionary ideology was drawing its last, gasping breaths. Its imminent death was everywhere on display. You saw it in when the Basiji kids, the regime's thug-fundamentalist militia, stopped a car for playing banned music, confiscated the tapes, and then popped them into their own car sterio. You saw it when the children of the senior clerics showed up at parties and on the ski slopes, dressed in Western clothes and alienated from their parents' radical legacy. It was there outside the courthouse on Vozara Street, where young people laughed and joked as they awaited their trials and lashings, before brushing them off and going on to the next party.

Iran's young generation is transforming Iran from below. From the religious student activists to the ecstacy-trippers, from the bloggers to the bed-hopping college students, they will decide Iran's future. I decided I wanted to live like them, as they did, their "as if" lifestyle. They chose to act "as if" it was permitted to hold hands on the street, blast music at parties, speak your mind, challenge authority, take your drug of choice, grow your hair long, wear too much lipstick. [...]

As I sort through the clothes [from my two years in Iran], peeling veil from veil, it is like tracing the rings of a tree trunk to tell its evolution. The outer layers are a wash of color, dashing tones of turquoise and frothy pink, in delicate chiffons and translucent silks. They are the colors that are found in life—the color of pomegranites and pistachio, the sky and bright spring leaves—in fabrics that breathe. Underneath, as I dig down, there are dark, matte veils, long formless robes in funeral tones of slate and black. That is what we wore, back in 1998. Along the way, the laws never changed. Parliament never officially pardoned color, sanctioned the exposure of toes and waistlines. Young women did it themselves, en masse, a slow, deliberate, widespread act of defiance. A jihad, in the classical sense of the word: a struggle.

-- Azadeh Moaveni, "Lipstick Jihad"

Current Music: Scriabin - Op.8 No.11

August 11th, 2005

05:08 pm: School/God/Dinosaurs
New schedule that I like much more!

Calc - Gabbard
Physics - Bailey
Psychology - Sieg
AP Chem - Jones

I've been leafing through George H. Smith's book The Case Against God, and these three paragraphs are really standout excellent:

If the theist has no difficulty accepting an uncaused god, why does he complain when asked to accept an uncaused universe? There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that the natural universe is in any way dependent upon some supernatural agency. On the contrary, the concept of causality makes sense only within the context of the natural universe, and to demand a cause of the universe is nonsensical.

Now consider the idea that nature itself is the product of design. How could this be demonstrated? Nature, as we have seen, provides the basis of comparison by which we distinguish between designed objects and natural objects. We are able to infer the presence of design only to the extent that the characteristics of an object differ from natural characteristics. Therefore, to claim that nature as a whole was designed is to destroy the basis by which we differentiate between artifacts and natural objects. Evidences of design are those characteristics not found in nature, so it is impossible to produce evidence of design within the context of nature itself. Only if we first step beyond nature, and establish the existence of a supernatural designer, can we conclude that nature is the result of conscious planning...

In exchange for obedience, Christianity promises salvation in an afterlife; but in order to elicit obedience through this promise, Christianity must convince men that they need salvation, that there is something to be saved from. Christianity has nothing to offer a happy man living in a natural, intelligible universe. If Christianity is to gain a motivational foothold, it must declare war on earthly pleasure and happiness, and this, historically, has been its precise course of action. In the eyes of Christianity, man is sinful and helpless in the face of God, and is potential fuel for the flames of hell. Just as Christianity must destroy reason before it can introduce faith, so it must destroy happiness before it can introduce salvation.

The second paragraph demonstrates the case for theism as the original pursuit in circular logic. We must start with the assumption that God the Creator exists in order to argue that God exists.
The third paragraph is definitely my favorite, probably in the whole book. I've made comments here and in others' journals stating essentially the same thing, that Christianity views humanity as a gross and sickly thing, and that this clashes violently with my view of man as heroic and valuable in his own right. I was excited to come across Smith's similar observation.

A new Dinosaur Comic! T-Rex and Utahraptor discuss utilitarianism.

Current Music: Rautavaara - Angel of Light

August 10th, 2005

11:34 pm: Problem 85
I solved problem 85 and feel much better about myself, and especially about the upcoming year, substance dependency factors aside.

Calculus I - Gabbard
Physics I Hon - Bailey
Anatomy/Physiology - Wilson
Spanish II - Spindler

This is very likely to change tomorrow. I'd like to move Spanish to next semester and replace it with AP Chemistry, and in that case, perhaps drop Anatomy, as that particular course load would look rather intimidating. On the other hand, I'm one of only two boys in the full classroom.

In conclusion: life is good. And Utahraptor reassures me. Where the fuck were you three weeks ago, Utahraptor?

Current Music: Eric Whitacre - hope, faith, life, love
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