Author Archive: Hank
Hank was born of bird-watching bushwalking music-loving parents from whom he gained his love of nature, the universe & bicycles. Today he's a musician, non-profit aid worker, beagle keeper and fair & balanced internet commentator - but that just means he has a chip on each shoulder.
“Did you know there’s totally science behind muffins? Totally ruined muffins for me.”
Ah, the wisdom of youth. That particularly large & shiny pearl came from a blazered private school girl of perhaps 15 who I was standing next to (almost on top of) on my Connex-brand cattle-truck – I mean, “train” – this morning. Girl Student (henceforth “GS”) was bemoaning the fact that in her cooking class her teacher explained that the release of carbon dioxide during the cooking process was responsible for the rising of muffins and for the tiny little pockets of air that end up being formed in all things baked. So, in response to this new but unwanted & unwelcome knowledge, GS now proclaims her hatred for – or at least new found apathy toward – the little round cakes she used to love.
Naturally, her comment got me thinking. Does GS approach every mundane mystery in her life in such a manner? Would she disavow Myspace if she figured out that barely any of those seventeen thousand and eighty-four “friends” of hers actually qualified for such a title? Would she stop catching the train if she knew a tad more about electricity? What if she found out what keeps planes in the air? Sweet flaming crikey, no more summer trips to the Whitsundays then (probably a good thing, it’d totally suck to find out how that big hot disc in the sky is making you slightly darker). Safer stuck at home I guess, with just the TV/Wii/Blu-Rayer/microwave/mobile phone for company … on the other hand, perhaps not. Perhaps all those modern wonders are just a fresh crop of parades waiting to be stripped of their brilliance by the acid rain of knowledge. You never know what awful, awful knowledge might leach into your brain if you sit on the remote and accidentally switch to the Discovery Channel.
At the Red Cross, we get lots of mail.
Mostly it’s our own reply paid envelopes with cheques in them, sent in response to a quarterly mailout. In a time of crisis (like now: redcross.org.au) it’s all kinds of envelopes from all kinds of people with lots of different stamps for me to harvest and decorate my cubicle with. Sometimes, amidst the cheques and postal orders, we might also get a letter or card from an old digger or Red Cross lady with a “The War” story, or perhaps a tale of how the good ol’ Red Cross came through for them when they were in a POW camp. We also get people complaining about how much mail we send them because it must cost us so much money to send all those letters (the complainants usually use our own reply paid envelopes – or call our 1800 number – to do so, which, um, costs us money). Occasionally we even get white-hot rage and four-lettered, multicoloured profanity in response to such a mailout (that’s for another adults-only post).
Even less frequently, we get poetry. The following – well, I guess you could call it a poem as I’m not sure what else it should be called – came in a card attached to a donation . . .
eriophora biapicata Thought I’d post something different – a little taste of home. Literally from my own backyard in fact. This is a female eriophora biapicata, or Garden Orb-weaving spider (females are about one-quarter to one-third bigger than males). Unlike many Australian arachnids (and most Australian wildlife in general), this species doesn’t want to kill [...]
Following from this post, which describes questions assembled by apparent atheist-to-theist convert Lee Strobel, posed to Hemant Mehta (and destroyed by Greta Christina and Ebonmuse) I decided I’d ask one or two questions of my own of theologists/apologists. Obviously I have my own thoughts on these questions but I really want to see answers from believers on these matters (even from non-believers who are playing Devil’s Advocate!). Also, I realise my questions may be in some ways incomplete or even naive, both to theists and non-theists alike, however the following are what occurred to me after reading Strobel’s questions (and the ensuing dismemberment of them), and I present them more or less how they appeared in my mind.
Without further ado, let us begin.
The questions, summarised, were of this calibre:
(1) Assuming that events of Jesus’ life are accepted historical facts, please provide a naturalistic explanation of the events following the crucifixion.
(2) The universe is remarkably fine-tuned for life, doesn’t this suggest involvement by a higher entity?
(3) Explain how something can come from nothing.
(4) Do you ever doubt your atheism?
(5) Can we trust our minds to be relaying to us an accurate picture of the universe?
Both Greta’s and Ebonmuses’s responses, while more or less echoing my own thoughts on each topic, are of a succintness and calibre that for now escapes me
Why indeed? Please read this excellent article by Johann Hari at the Independent, detailing the tragic hijacking of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights by religious bigots. Here’s a taste: Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and [...]
I love the COTG and have been following it since it was in its venerable 80s. There’s always a great range of articles and perspectives and I’ve found quite a few blogs who’ve ended up bookmarked for daily visits, so do get over and have a browse (oh yeah – one of mine’s in this carnival too!).
As (to the best of my knowledge – please correct me if I’m wrong) I’m the only Aussie here, I thought I’d give you a quick primer on the land of my birth. But not by my own hand. I’d just bugger it up.
Douglas Adams, writer of the five-part and inaccurately-named Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Trilogy, seemed to equally adore and fear this wide brown land and penned the following survival guide to Australia, pre-dating Lonely Planet by many years and being a lot more accurate with the information he provided. Except for the bit about snakes: Australia is crawling with the bastards. Of the top dozen deadly snake species on this planet, we have more or less all of them. But I can forgive Douglas a small error. After all, it’s impolite to call attention to the grievous errors of a deceased person. Unless they’re named Hitler.
[Photo: Douglas Adams signing books (2000). (from Wikimedia Commons)]
Anyway, without further ado, I present:
DOUGLAS ADAMS’ GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA
Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the Bottom half of the planet. It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting sea. Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology and plate tectonics, but they still call it the “Great Australian Bight” proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but they can’t spell either.
The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place. Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent, island, or country, Australia is considered all three. Typically, it is unique in this . . .
Don’t let the Whitehouse door hit you in the arse on the way out. On the other hand, I hope someone jams your pinky finger in it. And smacks you in the nuts with an army boot.
But, seriously, now that he’s gone, I guess we can’t rag on Dubya anymore. Sure, he’s given the world enough material (both unintentionally comedic, in a painful, Ricky-Gervais/Steve Carell-in-The-Office kind of way as well as just plain tragic) to last the next 8 years, but have pity – he’s unemployed now. He’s likely to stay that way too – given his oratory skills it’s doubtful he’ll be able to make a living on the lucrative public-speaking circuit like his silver-tongued predecessor Bubba Clinton. But hey, there’s always Pop to turn to. Hell, who do you think got him his last job? And the one before that? Oh well, he’s got plenty of time to work on his golf game – and no pesky-ass reporters asking him about boring shit like wars or deficits or hurricanes or drowned cities.