Unanswered Questions

I am a daily reader, and a frequent commenter, at Vox Popoli[1]. The proprietor, Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale), has a number of rules for his blog. Rule #2 states that assertions must be supported and that direct questions which are relevant to the topic must be answered. Refusal to answer such questions can result in being banned from participating in the current discussion, as well as subsequent discussions.

It can be interesting to see a banned individual post comments, which then sometimes receive responses, only to see them vanish on a subsequent page refresh.

Lost in time, however, are the unanswered questions that resulted in bannination. This means that the damned have no chance to redeem themselves. That might not be a bad thing, given the personalities of those who have been banned.

Nevertheless, creature of mercy and curiosity that I am, I've ventured an attempt to provide a place where these unanswered questions can be collated and, perhaps, someday addressed by the various parties.

For now, it is hand crafted HTML. It requires manual labor to format and organize and ought to be integrated with CoComment, somehow. It won't scale well and the user interface leaves a lot to be desired. If it proves popular, I'll write some code to help manage the data. It is a labor of love, which means I will retain sole discretion as to what gets posted and when it gets posted.

Without further ado,
Unanswered Questions.

[1] I think I write more there than I do here.

Shiny Things for Suckers

While preparing another blog entry a television commercial caught my attention. The spiel was for a gold-plated buffalo nickel for the special deal of only $19.95. Limit five per customer!

The pitch stated that the coin was plated with 31mg of 24 karat gold.

Let's do the math. 31mg
is 0.001093 ounces. Today's gold price is $1096.63/ounce. So the gold in each coin is worth $1.20.

$19.95 + 4.95 shipping and handling = $24.90.

$24.90 for $1.20 worth of gold? Only if you're stupid.

The website is
here. If you visit, turn your sound off beforehand since a commercial video starts playing immediately.

What a racket.

Dad in People Magazine

My father was featured in People Magazine, Volume 4, Number 5, August 4, 1975. (link to .pdf)

[Update 12/30/09]: My sister writes, “I remember when they were writing the article. The photographer even came to one of Sam's baseball games, but the photos never made it in the magazine.”

1998 Duluth Wildcats

I’ve been carrying this plastic card in my wallet for 11 years. Since I’ve started digitizing the VHS tapes of my son’s football games, I decided it was time to digitize this, too. I think that #10 should be “Hutzel”. It looks like the trailing “l” was mistakenly appended to #18, “Alex Gooding”.

W. R. Felts, MD: A Brief Video Biography

This video is a brief biography of my father, shown at the Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner given by the Arthritis Foundation on May 4, 1993.


What Every Father Wants to Hear

“I’m going to kill you!”, said my daughter to me on Christmas day.

Since she is heading off to college soon and because she has been using my 7 year old laptop that has a broken DVD drive and a hard disk that is developing bad sectors, my wife and I decided to get her a new laptop for Christmas. Of course, we told her that she wasn’t going to get one -- that I wanted to wait until nearer to when she leaves for school so that we could get a newer, updated model. At best, we would get her an iPod Touch to replace her aging iPod Nano.

We wrapped the MacBook Pro, labeled it “from Dad to Rachel”, and put it under the tree. Two days later, I wrapped my wife’s iPod Touch, labelled it “to Rachel from Dad”, and switched the label on the MacBook with “to Mom from Dad.” As my children had been checking the presents daily, this bit of misdirection caused some delightful puzzlement. Delightful to me, anyway.

Christmas morning, we arranged gift distribution so that Rachel would open the iPod Touch early and that Mom would open the MacBook last. Finally, when Mom was given “her” package, I stopped the proceedings, told Rachel to give Mom the Touch and to open “Mom’s” package. She uttered the words every father wants to hear when she saw what it was.

Christmas 2009

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. ... And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” -- John 1:1-4, 14.

Evidence for God

One of these days, I want to start a series on evidence for God. Until then, an exchange over at Vox Popoli gives a brief glimpse into the approach I will take.

John Loftus, the author of
Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, wrote:

I think because of this [cultural indoctrination] we ought to all be agnostics. Are you willing to join me in this? I argue that agnosticism is the default position. Anyone who leaves the default position has the burden of proof. I'm willing to accept this. Are you?

My response:

Of course not, because you make the fallacy that there is one default position.

Philosophy/theology is like geometry -- both start with "self-evident" truths which admit no proof. From there, a framework is constructed using reason. If that framework is self-consistent, then the task is to see which one corresponds best to "reality" (but even the nature of reality is different under each framework).

Furthermore, one's framework controls the types of evidence that can be seen. But, typically, the atheist/agnostic doesn't realize this, and so has a faulty hermeneutic for evaluating evidence.

Without knowing the details of these positions, it's impossible to correctly evaluate evidence.

Loftus also said,

I too protest the lack of evidence and care of God in our world. I do so by declaring myself an atheist. ... It’s an intellectual protest. Such a God is either impotent or uncaring. A distant God is not much different than none at all.

Typical atheist claptrap. “I don’t see any evidence for God. Yet, I don’t know what evidence God might provide, or even the type of evidence I might accept, or whether or not God will provide the evidence I deem acceptable. Furthermore, I haven’t even shown that I’m capable of even noticing that evidence, much less evaluating it correctly.”

God is distant? The irony of writing this at this time of year must escape him.

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. -- Hebrews 1:1-3a, NRSV.


Global Warming

My take on the theory of anthropogenic global warming is best summed up by Newton’s third law of academics: For every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD.

A SlashDot poster asked, “Why Are People Getting Worked Up?” and said:

Regardless if global warming is a problem, we should ALL strive to lessen our effect on the environment. Restricting emissions that may not heat up the planet, BUT have noticeable problems on health of humans and wildlife. I feel like I have to remind people that even if global warming is false we should always do what we can to conserve our resources and lessen pollution.

My response was modded +5, Insightful:

If I were to be "worked up" it would be because it is not rational to do the right thing for the wrong reasons. And when I'm told, "oh, well, even if the conclusion of AGW is wrong it still means we need to do such and such" then I become immediately suspicious. I don't like handwaving. The data should stand, or fall, on it's own merits.

Having to resort to an
appeal to consequences to make one’s case makes me immediately suspicious that the case is not strong enough to stand on its own.

Proud Father, III

Today, my son told me that this semester he earned his Master of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. On to his PhD.


In which I feed a horse, Serenade, a carrot. Rachel took the video with my iPhone.


Proud Father, II

My daughter received her first college acceptance letter today from Liberty University. She is waiting to hear from SCAD, and is contemplating applying to Belhaven College. View her portfolio.