Monthly Archives: November 2013

Take a Drive With Me

I published this piece in 2007 and sent a copy of it to Mazda's west coast design center.  They are now making a very similar car to the one I describe here. It is a pleasant fantasy to think that I might have had some influence on their design. Take a drive with me in my new hybrid vehicle.  Well, this vehicle doesn’t exist yet, except in my imagination.  Before we jump in and take off on this imaginary ride, let me describe my vision. This car is built by Mazda.  It has a rotary (Wankel) Read more [...]

Adages and Aphorisms by Ambrose – Part 2

This is the second part of a collection of my favorite quotes from "The Devil’s Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce. You can find the first part here Edible: Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm. Effect: The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order.  The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other – which is no more sensible that it would be for one who Read more [...]

Adages and Aphorisms by Ambrose – Part 1

If you are not acquainted with Ambrose Bierce, you should be.  A literary figure of the 19th Century, he is little known today, but in his time, he was admired by no less a writer than H. L. Mencken, who said that Bierce’s “The Devil’s Dictionary” was “the most brilliant stuff, first and last, that America has ever produced … the true masterpiece of the one genuine wit that These States have ever seen.” “The Devil’s Dictionary” is a collection of sly and cynical observations Read more [...]

Cars, Computers, Cameras and the Wright Brothers

Note:  I first published this in 2009.  Since then, the march of technological progress has continued...but sadly the problems I describe are still awaiting a solution. I went to my local electronics store to buy an SD card for my wife’s camera.  After browsing around, I ended up buying a 4-gigabyte card for about eight bucks.  That works out to 0.2 cents per megabyte of storage.  I thought about the memory card that I bought back in 2000.  We were about to leave on a cruise to Alaska, Read more [...]

A European Adventure

We were anticipating our 2009 trip to Europe, expecting the two weeks cruising on the Danube and Rhine to be an exciting adventure.  It turned out to be a bit more exciting than we would have preferred. This was our second river trip on the Danube.  Both were on Viking River Cruises, starting in Budapest.  Three years earlier, we went downriver to the Black Sea.  This time, we were going in the opposite direction, up the Danube, through the Main-Danube Canal to the Rhine, ending in Amsterdam. We Read more [...]

Christmas Busybodies

Busybody: noun;  a person who mixes into other people's affairs; meddler; gossip Every year at this time, as predictable as snow in Saskatchewan or icicles in Idaho, it happens.  The bleating about the “oppression” of Christians starts anew.  Usually, it is triggered by some evangelist group that wants to place a nativity crèche on a courthouse lawn or a public park. When non-Christian groups object, the cries of anguish begin. A department store hangs a sign that says HAPPY Read more [...]

The Evolution of an Atheist

Blaise Pascal, the famous 17th century French Philosopher and mathematician had some advice for those who were undecided about the existence of God.  In what has become known as “Pascal’s Wager,” he argued that, given a choice between believing or not believing in God, the wise decision is to believe that God exists.  “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” A believer will gain eternal life if God exists, but if not, he will be no worse off in death than if he had Read more [...]

The Problem is Self Righteousness

Everybody suffers from it…except me, of course.  Well, I sometimes get up on my high horse about gas-guzzling SUV’s, but that’s different.  I’m right, and I am just trying to help out all those poor deluded people who don’t get it.    Even when I ascend the pulpit and thunder, “Repent, ye wastrels!”  That’s not self righteousness.  Of course not! Here’s a definition from the dictionary: “Confident of one's own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic and intolerant Read more [...]

Why Do We Do It?

Yup, your worst fears are realized.  The “it” I am talking about is SEX! Obviously, we do it because it is pleasurable, right? But hold on, if that were the only reason, we would have sex with anybody and everybody.  There must be other reasons we choose our sex partners. Billy Crystal crystallized one view of it when he said: “Women need a reason to have sex -- men just need a place.” This suggests that while men are pretty much “on the make” all the time, women Read more [...]

A Genius…and a Global Warming Skeptic

In an entertaining and provocative article in Atlantic magazine, Kenneth Brower takes a journey into the mind of Freeman Dyson, one of the most brilliant and productive scientists alive today.  A Nobel laureate for his work in physics, he has made significant contributions in many other scientific fields.  But one of his most famous “contributions” is his openly skeptical views on global warming. Brower asks, “How could someone as smart as Dyson be so dumb about the environment?”  Read more [...]