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26 February, 2004

The Odds On God

News item: Physicist Puts the Odds of God at 2-to-1.

Stephen Unwin calculates the probability that God exists at 67 percent. The idea of math favoring God by a 2-to-1 ratio is cheeky. So is the subtitle to Unwin's new book, "A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth," a flourish from Crown Forum's marketing department that makes the author wince.

Boldly, Unwin plugs evidence of God into this theorem. He points out, for instance, that giving money to the homeless with no thought of reciprocal reward is evidence of good -- and good is more likely to occur if God is in the universe. At another point, Unwin weighs natural disasters -- such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer -- to swing the equation against the probability of God. After six sets of evidence consideration -- ranging from the existence of evil to the case for miracles -- the probability comes out at 67.

Better yet...

For those who want to run their own version and set their own probabilities, his book includes a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for individual tabulation.

Here's a link to Stephen Unwin's Web site.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

The Origins Of "J-Walk"

Did you ever wonder why this blog is called J-Walk? Here's the story...

Many years ago, I opened a dial-up account with a local ISP. I was assigned the user name jwalk (my first initial, concatenated with the first four characters of my last name). I think I could have changed it, but it seemed fine. I also had a web site address at the ISP, and the URL was:

http://members.cts.com/crash/j/jwalk/

That URL, oddly enough, is still valid. It simply points to another site -- which is long gone.

Not too long after that, I started selling an Excel add-in. I needed a name for my company. I decided to use JWalk for one reason: It was part of the URL for my web site. And to make it sound more official, I added "And Associates." I even formed a corporation, JWalk And Associates, Inc.

Eventually, I realized that I should have my own domain name. jwalk.com was taken, so I settled for j-walk.com. When I started this blog, I didn't realize that a blog should have a catchy and descriptive name so I just called it the JWalk Blog.

Then, about a year ago, it dawned on me that JWalk (without a hyphen) is probably confusing because the domain name has a hyphen. So I changed everything to J-Walk. And then, to confuse things even more, I got a new domain for the blog: j-walkblog.com. All of my other stuff is still at j-walk.com.

Here are some other jwalk sites I found:

So, indirectly, that old ISP is responsible for my company name and this blog name.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Google Is Messed Up

You know something's wrong with Google when a search for bush cheney re-election displays a link to the J-Walk Blog on the first page of the results.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Mel Gibson Quotes

From MSNBC: Mel Gibson says his wife could be going to hell.

Mel Gibson has come under fire for being hard on Jews in his film "The Passion of the Christ" - but apparently, he feels that Protestants are also doomed to damnation. In fact, it looks like Gibson, a conservative Catholic, believes that his Episcopalian wife could be going to hell.

Gibson was interviewed by the Herald Sun in Australia, and the reporter asked the star if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. "There is no salvation for those outside the Church," Gibson replied. "I believe it."

He elaborated: "Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it."

Is Mel Gibson really such a religious bigot? That's one more reason why I'll never watch his new movie.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Foolish Democrats

Yesterday, in a comment, I said:

I've mentioned before that I don't like politics. Therefore, I don't actively seek out amusing political stuff. Bush is in power, so he's a much easier target and appears more often in the news. And besides, I just don't like the guy.

Show me something that makes the Democrats look foolish, and I'll gladly write it up.

In response, "wok" posted this link from Right Wing News: If The Bush Administration Lied About WMD, So Did These People.

The article contains a quotes from Democrats about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Since no WMD were found, this article makes some Democrats look foolish. For example:

"I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force - if necessary - to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." -- John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

Mission accomplished!

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Letterman's Top Ten

Everybody knows about David Letterman's Top Ten lists. Here's the list from last night.

Top Ten Things Heard Outside The New Mel Gibson Movie

10. "Hey -- no shoving, Monsignor!"

9. "I don't know why they added subtitles -- everyone speaks Aramaic"

8. "I'm hoping my medium Mountain Dew will miraculously be changed into an extra large Mountain Dew"

7. "These 'Lord of the Ring' films are getting odder and odder"

6. "Was this really based on a book?"

5. "Twelve dollars for a movie ticket? Now that's a sin, am I right, people?"

4. "The Pope loved it almost as much as "Barber Shop 2'"

3. "Uh...I don't feel like dinner right now."

2. "That was awesome when Trump fired Pontius Pilate"

1. "Don't tell me the ending"

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Steve Breen Cartoon

Steve Breen is an editorial cartoonist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. This one appeared in yesterday's paper.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Protect Yourself From Terrorism

This appeared at the FOX News site last year: How to Reduce Chances of Being a Terror Victim. It's a list of 26 tips. A few excerpts:

3. Don't rely solely on the government to provide you with crisis or threat information -- do your own research, too.

OK, so how does one get access to terrorist documents?

6. Never check luggage at curbside check-in at airports;

I'll bet those sky caps really like this advice.

7. Spend as little time at the airport as possible; avoid heavily glassed areas.

Don't most airports have huge glass windows? And don't you need to arrive at least two hour early because you never know how long those security lines will be?

9. Try to fly on wide-body planes; terrorists often avoid hijacking them.

Right. So people are supposed to select their flights by the type of aircraft used?

13. Try to avoid crowded areas, especially in large cities; avoid public transportation and major tunnels and bridges during heavy commuting times.

In other words, stay at home.

14. Never stay in a hotel with an underground parking garage and never park in such a garage -- terrorists love car bombs.

You're supposed to choose your hotel based on the type of parking garage?

16. Store a decent amount of cash someplace in case ATMs malfunction.

Better to have a burglar steal your cash than risk an ATM breakdown.

17. Carefully inspect mail before opening; check for return address, postmark, excessive postage, etc�

So if there's no return address, call the FBI?

18. Never take the first taxicab in line; hail a moving cab instead.

Right. Terrorist taxi drivers always go to the head of the line.

20. Know what to do in case of a biological, chemical or nuclear attack in terms of symptoms, decontamination, etc�

And how does one acquire this knowledge?

26. Do not live or work in a highly urban area that most likely would be a terrorist's target, such as New York City, Washington, D.C., or San Francisco.

OK everyone. Pack up and move to Topeka!

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Unusual Fragrances

At Demeter Online, you can buy perfumes with some unusual scents. Such as cucumber, dirt, holy water, cinnamon toast, thunderstorm, and tomato. 150 in all.

Here's the description for the poison ivy scent:

If the hot weather finds you hiking through cool forests, this fresh, pure outdoor scent will make you long for those nights of camping out. Poison Ivy captures the clean smell of freshly rained-upon plants and untainted air on a cool summer night.

(via Pop Culture Junk Mail)

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Are You A Cynic?

Take a short quiz at BBC News: Are you a cynic?

Although I didn't understand some of the questions (it has a distinct British slant), my results are:

You're really only a second-rate cynic. Actually, you aren't cynical as much as world weary, and sometimes you have a point. One thing though - laughing at children isn't nice.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Wired Magazine Covers

I didn't realize that Wired magazine has been around since 1993. But it's true. And here's a Wired cover gallery that shows 'em all.

Shown here is the very first issue, which I actually remember. Issue 1.01, from Mar/Apr 1993.

I subscribed to Wired for a couple of years. In fact, I used to subscribe to about a dozen magazines. But now I don't subscribe to any. And the Internet is to blame.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Snakes In A Can - Cheap

Go to Super Cool Stuff and get quantity pricing for the always amusing Snake in a Can trick.

If you order 24 dozen, they are only $0.53 each. You'll be the hit of every party you attend for the rest of your life.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Best Time To Visit

Can you use Google to determine the best time to visit a particular place? Apparently, you can. See Google Best Time to Visit.

The script searches the Google description tags for "best time to visit" plus whatever the user types in. Returned are the two months with the highest counts in the descriptions of Google. Supposedly you should visit between these two months. The script also guesses whether it is between month1 and month2 or the other way around. You might still end up in the alps with your skis in June, though.

For example, I learned that the best time to visit Death Valley is better October and March.

This is one of several Google-related apps on Douwe Osinga's Google Hacks site.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

The Liberty Bill Act

Have you ever heard of the Liberty Bill Act?

A bill before Congress, H.R.1785 and S. 244, initiated by students, to put an abridged version of the Constitution on the back of U.S. currency.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

JFK Assassination Theory

I've never heard of this particular JFK assassination theory: Did The Limo Driver Shoot JFK?

In this overhead view of the limousine and its occupants, the trajectory of a bullet that would cause this kind of wound has been traced backwards to the point of origin, which is the right shoulder of William Greer, the limousine driver.

The evidence used is, of course, the famous Zapruder film. If a similar assassination were to occur today, it would probably be recorded on hundreds of digital cameras, video cameras, and phone cams. In other words, it would be much more difficult for a limo driver to get away with such a dastardly deed.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Top Web Sites Then And Now

From iMedia Connection: That Was Then, This is Now. It shows the top ten web sites for 1996 and 2004.

Posted on 26 February, 2004

Wood Sculptures

Amazing wood sculptures by Livio De Marchi.

The material has been transformed by him with ironical sensitivity that brought him to create sculptures that keep perfection of detail as well spontaneity and essence.

During his artistic evolution he worked first in marble, then bronze, and eventually in wood. But wood has always been his favourite material because it gives him a vitality which other materials do not.

Posted on 26 February, 2004