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Robots and Education February 3, 2014

Posted by regan222 in build, Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, DIY, Educational Ranting.
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It has been a long and tiring first day.  The TCEA 2014 conference is well and truly underway.  I take here a moment to organize thoughts and ideas sparked by what I saw.

First, we need to promote the robot class within the community.  We have a good start with winning third place in the Region X contest but we need to promote the course and its students to the school board as well as the younger classes.  We need people to continue.  We need to generate interest.  We especially need to promote the technology aspects to girls.  They stabilize and moderate the class.  Plus, they travel in pairs.  Like going to the Ladies’ Room; if you can get one girl you will get two.

Next, we need to secure all the funding sources we can find, especially in the community.  We need tech. industry contacts to help with grants and sponsorships.

We need to expand out from Lego, particularly in the direction of DIY (Arduino, Parallax, STAMP,or whatever).  I need to find out what is most useful in industry and what offers the best chance for employment success for my kids and emphasize that.  We need to be relevant.

Finally I need supper and a nap.  I am pooped and over stimulated.  It’s like going to Vegas; fun for a while but soon you get that headachy muzzy feeling that comes from too many people and too many conversations going on at once.  Tomorrow we do Smart Board Content Creation.  See you then.Lego puppy

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Chromosomes…Now you see ’em, Now you Don’t November 22, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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darwinAs a biology teacher I am constantly bombarded by the never-ending conflict between the forces of Creationism and the minions of Evolution. It becomes a new adventure in conflict management each year. Occasionally it becomes difficult as my own personal views enter the conflict and so I have chosen this opportunity and venue to present my own opinions.

As a committed Christian I am disinclined to embrace the scientific view that all life began as a random combination of chemicals in some primordial sea. It is, however, on rational grounds that my strongest objections are based.  The theory of Spontaneous Generation is described as “the hypothetical process by which living organisms develop from nonliving matter; also, the archaic theory that utilized this process to explain the origin of life. According to this theory, pieces of cheese and bread wrapped in rags and left in a dark corner, for example, were thus thought to produce mice, because after several weeks there were mice in the rags. Many believed in spontaneous generation because it explained such occurrences as the appearance of maggots on decaying meat.”   The theory was refuted completely in the 18th century and yet here we are in the supposedly enlightened 21st century, embracing the same idea. A combination of simple chemicals somehow mixes together with no outside influence beyond lightning or sunlight to form life.  The animate springs from the inanimate.  We are unable to duplicate or observe this phenomenon of generating life.  All efforts have been unsuccessful.  (See the Bubble Theory and the Primordial Soup Theory by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey).  No matter how many eons of time pass, the chemicals just don’t mix to form the necessary proteins.  Contrary to popular opinion, life doesn’t just happen, thus the necessity of a prime mover.

I have no difficulty with the idea of Natural Selection.  Selective breeding and its results are an observable and replicable phenomena.  We have changed many species to fit our wishes using nothing but selective breeding.  It stands to reason that if we can create a breed of horses only a few inches tall by breeding small horses to small horses then in nature, the continued breeding of the strongest, fastest, and smartest organisms would reinforce those traits and the genes responsible for them and by this process a species may be improved and even change its appearance.  However,  the miniature horses we produce are still horses.  They can still breed with normal horses and produce viable offspring.  Their chromosomes still match up with any other organism of the species Equus ferus caballus.  Chihuahuas and Great Danes are all still genetically compatible.  They are all biologically the same animal. Selective breeding, whether natural or otherwise, can improve a species or modify a species but it can not transform one species into another.  Selective breeding can change the frequency of alleles that already exist but it can not create new ones or remove old ones.  Selective breeding can make a bigger dog or a smaller dog or a faster dog, but it can not make a dog into a cat.

It is said the mutation is the source of drastic genetic change and I agree.  However, one of the by-products of Hardy Weinberg is that recessive alleles can never be bred out of a population.  The recessives continue no matter how much the dominant genes improve an organism’s chances of survival.  Should a dominant positive mutation occur, the original recessive stock should still exist as well.  Those gene frequencies can be reduced but can never be completely removed from the population.  Should mutation lead to man and monkey, the origin species of the mutation should still exist.  Mutation and Natural Selection are not enough to cause extinction.  Also, in the end, mutation is a universally destructive process.  Genetic mistakes in the form of Huntington’s Chorea, Spina Bifida, Turner’s Syndrome, and the like are all too common in our world.  The X-men, on the other hand,  have yet to make an appearance.  Given the general degradation of the natural environment and the prevalence of harmful chemicals in the air, water, and soil, the occurring of mutants is becoming more and more common and  the chances of a positive mutant decline daily.

According to Schleiden, Schwann and Virchow, all living things are composed of, and give rise to offspring composed of cells.  Cells are the fundamental functional, as well as structural, units of all organisms, and the ONLY place cells can rise from is another cell.  I accept that with only one concern.  Given that life on Earth began at some point AFTER the Earth came to be, where did that original cell come from?  Cells as a vehicle for DNA and heredity are the only forms of life that we can find any record of, or can even imagine.  Absolutely no evidence of any other form of life can be found within the fossil record or in extant species.  As with spontaneous generation, cells don’t just happen.  The structures are too complex and precise to have just spun up from nothing.  Cells are orderly and elegant structures.  The idea that they could have somehow come to be spontaneously by trial and error is chaotic and messy.

Well there you have it.  This is my justification for my beliefs.  Please don’t bother to comment on how backward, misinformed, or deluded I am and I will not remind you of your ultimate destination when you leave this world for the next.  In the end, the only thing we can be certain of is that we do not and can not know what really happened.  The scientific method requires duplication and repetition to validate a theory.  As these things have not been possible and continue to be impossible, so validation or proof remain beyond us.  An honest scientist will refer to evolution and its attendant ideas as theories and it is only the sensationalist and pseudo-intellectuals who declare them to be absolute truth.  Matters of faith, on the other hand, require no such validation.  Faith allows the surrounded and defeated soldiers of the Alamo to turn aside the attack of a much larger army.  Faith persuades the martyr to face lions and tigers and bears (oh my) rather than renounce their beliefs.  Faith powers revolutions, creates heroes and moves mountains.  Only a fool discounts or denies the efficacy of faith.

Relativity and Time Dilation September 17, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Computer and Technology, Educational Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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Albert-Einstein-007Some days just seem slower than others. Perhaps there is a reason for this beyond a lack of patience.  During a recent physics lecture I was introduced to the idea of Time Dilation with respect to differences in velocity between two objects.  Albert Einstein, the distinguished gentleman to our left, initially described the effect in his work on special relativity.

For the better part of human history we have considered time to be invariant.  One second is one second no matter who or where you are.  In his paper, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies“, Albert Einstein proposed and supported the idea that time was, for the most part, based upon one’s frame of reference.  Galileo and others had suggested the idea many years before but Einstein’s work provided the math to support the observation.

An event, any occurrence that can be plotted according to time and position in space, can be observed relative to a frame of reference in Space-Time.  Einstein also defined space and time as two sides of the same coin.  Both are inextricably connected.  Thus an event may be located in reference to it’s location along the X, Y, and Z axis as well as a point along the time line.  Within it’s frame of reference, the velocity of a moving object may be accurately measured and known.

However, if the event is viewed from a different frame of reference it is possible for the coordinates to appear different to the observer.  In effect, the position, translation, and location in the time line may appear quite different.  Time is not a constant.  The new positions in space time may be calculated through a modestly complicated series of equations called the Lorentz Transformations.  Using these equations it is possible to take the X, Y, and Z coordinates and the time line position of an event in one frame of reference and determine the new position in space and time in another frame of reference.  Does anyone else need a Tylenol?

For a practical example, imagine two space vehicles traveling past each other in opposite directions, passing close enough so that both crews have a view of the interior of each other’s craft.  As they pass each other and both crews observe, the clock in each of their respective ships would appear to be keeping correct time while the clock in the ship across the way would appear to be going slower as it passed.  It turns out that not only do the clocks appear to be going slower but they indeed are moving at different speeds with respect to each other according to the frame of reference of the observer.  The difference in time (Δt) for both frames of reference may be calculated using the Lorentz Translations.  Time is not a constant.

There are many consequences to this strange behavior of time.  One of the most interesting is the idea of “Time Dilation”.  As an object moves away from the Earth, for example, and its attendant frame of reference, time for the object remains constant but the time stream on the Earth moves much faster.  One popular example is the “Twin Paradox”  One identical twin leaves Earth on a space ship and returns, for him, a few years later only to find that his or her identical twin is now very elderly.  As the velocity with which the frames of reference separates, the difference in the two time streams increases.

2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

God is not bound by our conventions.  We are not able to observe from His frame of reference.  In a real sense He is just beginning creation and, at the same time, ending it. He moves through time just as we move through space. In a sense we really are “already over on the other side.” If you are saved you are as sure for heaven as though you were already there. We have to read the book from front to back but God can see both ends at once. There is a lesson here somewhere but I am just not smart enough to bring it out.

A Grim Fairytale August 27, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting.
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schoolI read this today while sitting and waiting for the copy machine to finish. I did not write it but I am paraphrasing it. I would give credit but the author was not listed. Like many things, it is something I WISH I had written:

A Grim Fairytale.
Once upon a time there was a king who decided to honor the greatest and most successful of his subjects. He declared a holiday and called all his subjects together for a banquet to celebrate the best of his kingdom. One by one, the wisest and best of his subjects were called up to receive honor and rewards for their service to the kingdom.

The first to be called was a famous doctor. He worked tirelessly to cure one and all of every disease known. He gave his time and efforts to rich and poor alike. Of all the physicians of the kingdom, he was the undisputed chief and yet he was a modest and kind-hearted man. As he walked up the stairs to the throne, clothed in the finest garments, the crowd burst into cheers. The king presented him with great rewards for his service to the kingdom.

The next to be called was a brilliant engineer. He had given his life to building great works to benefit the kingdom. He built vast bridges, tall towers, and mighty buildings and each construction was of the highest quality. He knelt before the king, arrayed in the finest garments money could buy, the picture of success. The king heaped praise upon him for his contributions.

One after another, the best and brightest of each profession was called forth and the king presented each with honors and awards for the skills they possessed and the contributions they had made to the kingdom. Until finally the last name on the list was called.

A modest looking elderly gentleman stepped forward. His clothes were clean but threadbare and worn. His shoulders stooped slightly and he squinted through spectacles as he approached the throne. “There must be some mistake”, said the king. “I wish to honor the most successful of my subjects”. “This fellow does not look like he has contributed much at all.”

The wisest of the king’s councilors stepped to his side and said, “But your majesty, this is the teacher who educated all of these other men.” “He taught the doctor to read.” “He taught the engineer to count.” “He is responsible for making them what they are.” “He taught them knowledge but also gave them wisdom and compassion as well.”

The king came down from his throne, took the old gentleman by the arm and escorted him up and sat him in the king’s chair. “What possible reward can I give you”, said the king. “What would you ask of me after all these years of service?” “As you are responsible for much good in my kingdom, great will be your reward.”

This is a wonderful story but remember…it’s a fairytale. Educators spend a lifetime in a career with little monetary reward and often, little respect or acknowledgement from society. We do what we do because it needs to be done. The work is its own reward. Often educators are capable of making a much more lucrative living in some other field but be glad that they don’t. Think about it for a moment. If no one taught, what would you have learned. If you can read this fairytale, thank a teacher.

And Finally…Here’s something we hope you’ll really like August 24, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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This is the final edition of Regan’s Rant on Internet Safety and Security. I would like to warn you about the fastest growing crime in the world – Identity Theft Fraud. The anonymity of the Internet is its biggest appeal. You can be whomever you think you are and no one can gainsay you. This situation, however, makes fraud as simple as introducing yourself to someone. People on the Internet, even good people, are not ever who they say they are. It’s hard enough to get to know a person in person. If all you hear are their ideas and thoughts, without body language, or facial expression, or life behavior context to back them up, then you do not have an accurate picture of the person. Much research is currently being done on the Internet by bringing two or more people together, allowing them to get to “know” each other online, and then introducing them in real life and getting their opinions. They are almost universally surprised when they do finally get to know their “friends”.

Identity theft is defined as assuming the identity of, or representing yourself as, another person for some personal gain or reward. There are any number of reasons for people to do this but the most common is to defraud government benefits. Social Security, welfare, HUD Housing, or any government agency that provides support is vulnerable to this sort of attack. In a recent case in Yakima, WA a man using the identity of a deceased Texas resident was able to get welfare for YEARS before any noticed.  Recently a ring of 5 Russian nationals was indicted for conspiring to sell 160 MILLION credit card numbers.  There are only 200 million or so people in America.  And finally, from our “How Romantic is THIS” file; A couple financed their Disney Engagement trip with money scammed from Seniors online and in person.

Someone goes through your trash and gets a credit card application. They are sent out all the time. They fill it out with a bogus social security number and mail it back with a PO Box instead of the home address. Nine times out of ten they will get a credit card with YOUR name on it registered to YOUR home address. They will max the card, you’ll get the bill and then when it gets declined, find a new “patron” and start over. It is much easier than you think to get a credit card because creditors are desperate to get all the customers they can and don’t often check the applications as carefully as they should.

Social Security numbers on the Internet and the names they belong to go for about $5 apiece on black market web sites. Blue Cross policy names and numbers are more in demand. They run about $600 per number. Quite often you will never know that you are victim of identity theft until something goes wrong. You could be a resident of, and voting in, another state for years and never know it because there is no requirement for any official ID at any voting facility in any federal election. Sometimes all it takes is a library card. If a felon can only get a utility account established in a small town somewhere using your name, then they are set for life. A current utility bill is usually enough ID to establish an account with a “rent to own” facility (you should not use these) and then once they have established themselves as YOU, the sky’s the limit. You will start receiving collection calls from people and companies you have never heard of. Your utilities may be disconnected and various items may be repossessed. Your income tax refund or paycheck can be sequestered. All in all, a bad day.

Security measures to prevent this sort of thing are simple. Invest in a cheap Office Depot cross-cut shredder and use it. Keep things like credit card offers, utility bills and receipts, old bank deposit slips, in fact ANYTHING with your name and address that could be used to do anything needs to be shredded. DO NOT JUST TOSS IT IN THE TRASH. There are fortunes to be made for persons with no morals and little hygiene. If you are willing to crawl through a little garbage at the dump then you can find all SORTS of useful things. It is VERY common for thieves to drive around in front of the garbage truck rounds and check out dumpster to find whatever documents the household may have thrown away. As most trash rounds are during the business day, you will never know they were there until you start getting bills.

Don’t post anything online that a friend of a friend might see. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Recent research has shown that a great majority of people respond to friend requests on social media almost automatically. Everyone I have asked has at least SOMEONE on their friend list that they really don’t know. “It said he was friends with a friend of mine” is the common response. Never do they realize that the goal of a fraudster is to get a friend relationship with one person and use that person’s friend list as their fishing ground. Facebook goes so far as to SUGGEST people for new members to friend. Talk about making life easy for the crooks. Be SURE you know who your friends are. The best online friends are people you already know.

Disinformation is still your best tool. Don’t give out your real birthday. Don’t put addresses in your profile. Don’t even list your home town. The less you give thieves, the harder it is for them to work. Choose an online name and make sure it is not traceable to your real name and address. TURN OFF geo-tagging in pictures that you post. Do you really WANT to tell a predator that your toddler plays at a certain park in a certain area, every Tuesday? If you are going to post a trip destination online, make sure you are already home first. Then you can tell everyone how great a time you had and not worry about someone taking that opportunity to clean out your house.

These are just some ideas. You can most likely come up with many more on your own. Research identity fraud on the Internet. Know exactly WHO your kids associate with online. Be aware that, just like anywhere else, the Internet is a place where hazards are. Now you know…an knowing is half the battle. (Does anyone remember that commercial or is it just me?)

OK So Now What Do We DO About It? August 22, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics, Science and Technology.
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Yesterday I began a diatribe on the dangers of the online community. I think it only fair then if I offer some advice about handling the perils of the cyber-world. There are many different strategies that can be effective. What I suggest is just a compilation of the most common and useful.

The first and foremost strategy is the universal mantra of any system of self-defense. Be Aware of your surroundings. You can’t go wrong if you pay attention. Are you on Facebook? There are certain ads or offers you need to avoid. Are you posting an image? Is it one you want your Gran’mother to see? Are you making a brilliant political observation on Twitter? Would you mind if your boss read it? Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing. You wouldn’t walk down a dark city street without looking around. Why should you do that on the Internet.

Rule Two says, “They don’t need to know everything about you.” Would you consider yourself a Facebook customer? Guess how Facebook considers you? You are INVENTORY. Just like those cheap plastic dish mats at Wal-Mart or the cheapie low budget DVD section at Hastings, YOU ARE PRODUCT. What are they selling you ask? Why, they are selling YOU. Your name, address, phone number, likes, interests, web browsing habits, shopping habits, spending habits, credit history is ALL for sale. One of the fastest growing industries today is data mining. Facebook is classified by the Federal Government as a data mining company, NOT a communications service. Every time you add a movie that you liked or enter your job or education level into your profile you are paying them. They take this information and sell it to people like Amazon or any other online marketing presence so that they know what to sell you. Have you not noticed that when you buy something on Amazon, the ads of Facebook immediately change to whatever it was you last bought. Advertising is being targeted at you based on your life. Search for something on Google and see if they don’t start targeting those items to you in the ads on Facebook or Twitter. Its a network. They are all connected and the sole purpose is to get you to spend money. As far as it goes, this is not a bad thing. However, if you are looking for a job and your prospective boss purchases information about you it can directly impact your chances. According to the Bureau of Nosy Statistics, 67% of employers have passed over a candidate THIS YEAR alone for information they obtained online without that party’s knowledge. The upside is that a like percentage of employers have hired people because they were impressed with their online presence. If you are posting pictures of your latest drunken spring break shenanigans in Mazatlan, which group do you think you will fall into?

One of the best ways to protect yourself is to present calculated disinformation to the machine. Make up a birthday, for example. A prospective employer finds your profile at MadamSpanksalotsFreakyFetish.com but because he can’t recognize you behind that rubber gas mask and the birthday is different from what is on your application they can not use that against you. Don’t fill out ANYTHING with your correct name, birthday, place of employment, religious affiliation, or other things that can impact a person’s opinion of you unless you are comfortable with the consequences. This is ESPECIALLY important for children and teens. Predators of all kinds search social media constantly for personal information that they can use to get an inside track on your children. People who know you in person will already know what your birthday is and will likely not send you a card anyhow. Internet people don’t NEED to know. They are not going to send you a card either. People you have been chatting with for three months are NOT your friends. Don’t tell them that you are “at the movies” or any other status like that. What you are really posting is “my house is empty, please come and steal my stuff.” This is especially bad if you have your address or home town posted as well. Would you take out an ad in the local paper saying “We are on vacation and won’t be back for a while? Why would you do that online where people actually READ the stuff?

Rule Three is KNOW HOW TO USE WHAT YOU HAVE. This is VITAL for parents of teens with smart phones. You need to be able to pick up your kid’s phone and know immediately who they have been texting, calling, or posting to. You need to know EXACTLY what pictures they have posted and to what services, and you need to know what web sites and chat rooms they visit. Learn the lingo. If you are looking at your children’s text history and you see someone sending GNOC to your daughter, and her reply of CD9, you have a problem. He just asked her to get naked on camera and she, rather than screaming and throwing the phone in disgust, told him that her parents were in the room. This is not a good sign. This link will take you to a dictionary of common texting terms. It would not hurt to look.  According, once again, to the Federal Agency responsible for keeping up with stuff like that, 70% of ALL teens are involved in sexting.  (If you don’t know what that is, ask your teenager.  I promise that they will.)  51% of high school girls have sent a sexually explicit photo to a boy in their class.  It happens daily.  It happens in big cities and little country towns.  It happens in California and in the Bible belt.  The WORST thing you can do is think that your kid is not involved.  In many areas it is a rite of passage in MIDDLE SCHOOL for girls to send topless pictures to boys they have a crush on.  Other GIRLS pressure them into it.

Rule Four; if you choose to purchase online, buy from a reputable dealer.  If you buy from an individual, use a certified and reliable “go-between” like eBay.  I know that 1000 Megawatt laser on Wild Weasel’s Laser Emporium looked cool but if they ask you for a credit card and don’t send you to a secure site (https: and not http:) then you need to give it a miss.

Next, DON’T store password in your device, especially a phone.  They get lost all the time.  If someone finds it and browses to your amazon account, your stored password in a golden ticket to max out your credit card.  Don’t take online marketing sites up on their friendly offer to establish an “account” to make purchases easier.  You enter your payment information once and then you can “one click” purchase items.  This is a recipe for disaster.

You really don’t need me to tell you these things.  All you have to do is pause and think for just a moment before you post, blog, or buy anything in the virtual world.  Make sure your children a emotionally and mentally mature enough to handle the responsibility and temptation of Social Media before you send them out the door with a smart phone and unlimited data plan.  Remember that ANYTHING you put into a digital format of any kind and post anywhere is suddenly public domain.  There is no such thing as privacy.  By posting it you agree to whatever terms and conditions the website owner can dream up.  There are no rules.  It can be fun or dangerous depending on you taking responsibility for yourself and your family.  Tomorrow night we will discuss identity theft and geotracking in photos.  See you then.

CSI workshop Thoughts August 9, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Science and Technology.
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Would this be useful?  I think some

Momentum…Get Carried Away June 4, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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The largest moving object on the Earth is the Jahre Viking (also called the Knok Knevis or Happy Giant).  This ultra-large crude carrier weighs an amazing 260,941 tons and is so big it can’t navigate through the English Channel; it carries a cargo close to its own weight when fully loaded with crude oil.  Amazingly, when steaming full ahead an emergency stop requires 5.5 MILES of ocean.  That is an unbelievable amount of momentum in one object.

Momentum is defined as matter in motion.  Anything that is made of matter has the property of momentum.  This includes every physical object in the universe that is moving.  The amount of momentum an object contains is dependent on two things; how massive the object is and how fast the object is moving.  Mass, for our purposes, is the amount of “stuff” an object contains.  It is often confused with weight but the latter is a measure of how gravity acts on mass and not the mass itself.  Velocity is simply how fast something is moving in a given frame of reference.  Frame of reference is important but beyond the scope of my sermon.  We’ll get into that when we talk about special relativity later.  Meanwhile, just remember that momentum is mass in motion.

How can we apply these principles to the Christian experience?  While salvation is spiritual and not physical, it is possible to find allegorical similarities.  Momentum generated by a moving object can be transferred to other objects as it comes into contact with them.  Transferred momentum can cause an object to start moving, if it is stationary, or change direction if it is already moving.  When we as Christians come into contact with worldly things our spiritual momentum is affected.   We find ourselves being influenced or moved in other directions, away from the direction we are traveling, away from the destination that God has in mind for us.

Exodus 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

It is easy to get caught up in the momentum of the world because it is so pervasive.  It surrounds us.  It moves past us in the opposite direction.  Overcoming this sort of momentum requires a constant energy output.  If we once relax we are caught up and we begin to change direction.  A small fish swimming upstream against a powerful current must continue to move forward because if he stops, or even slows, the current will drag him back and erase all the progress he has made.

The Devil uses this sort of weapon to great effect.  We are designed to care about what others think of us.  The world expects us to behave as they do.  When we try to swim upstream or oppose the world’s momentum we are viewed as aberrant or abnormal.  No one, especially a young person, wishes to be viewed as different.  This is what makes peer pressure an effective way to elicit or modify behaviors in teens.  During the formative years it is important for people to feel secure in their place in the world, especially because during the teen years everything is changing so fast.  They desire a sense of stability.  To oppose the direction or momentum of the group is to sacrifice stability.

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Proverbs 1:11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the             innocent without cause:

Proverbs 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into                the pit:

Proverbs 1:13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:

Proverbs 1:14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:

Proverbs 1:15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:

Proverbs 1:16  For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

We are commanded in scripture to flee this sort of trap.  The best way to avoid peer pressure and all the dangers it entails are to make sure your peers are going the same way as you.  Momentum can work for good in this case.  If you associate with a Christian peer group you will find it much easier and more comfortable to move in the right direction.  Accountability within the group and stability when you are on uncertain ground will help you rather than hinder.  The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians…

2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

While most interpret this to mean married, it applies in every relationship a person can enter into with another person.  While it is important to witness to the lost, it is highly likely that if you surround yourself with a worldly peer group you will find yourself more affected by their influence than they will be by you alone.  The group has the greater momentum than the individual.

How should the Christian travel through this world?  How should we respond to the opposite flow?  The scripture is very plain in its response.

Romans 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Remember that in Christ we are new creatures.  Our minds and spirits are renewed by the process of sanctification.  As we travel the Christian path, as we study God’s word and seek His will in prayer we are changed.  We receive both mass (more faith from the study of God’s word)…

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

As well as velocity (more speed because any moving object, as it gets closer to the source of attraction/gravity affecting it, picks up speed.  Gravity is all about acceleration, not constant velocity.)  The closer we get to God, the faster we move toward Him.  As spiritual mass and velocity increase, so our spiritual momentum, the ability to resist changes in our spiritual direction, increases.  It requires much greater force to slow or turn us away.

The principle only works if you are already moving in the right direction.  In order to resist the all-pervasive flow of the world’s momentum you must have the renewing that Paul talked about in his letter to Romans.  In order to escape being conformed to the world you must first be transformed by the blood of Christ, shed on the cross of Calvary for your sins.  Without that you are trapped like a tiny minnow in a mighty river.  Now is the time to be free of the flood.

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What d’ya mean I Can’t Marry Cousin Ethel?? May 28, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, Religion, Science and Technology.
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1 comment so far

If anything I write ever stirs up controversy then it will be this missive.  We have been taught from infancy that it is bad to marry within the family.  Each and every rural population has its jokes about inbreeding and mental and physical deformity.  One of the first things we have to explain to any toddler is why they can’t marry Mommy or Daddy.  Here is an interesting question…Why not?

Genesis 5:4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight-hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:

Genesis 5:6 And Seth lived an hundred and five years and begat Enos;

How?  No other people were created  by God.  Seth did not  beget all by himself.  A woman was involved.  I propose to you that Seth begat Enos of his own sister.  There are simply no other choices.  How then can it be that the human race, being born of incest and inbreeding, is not so riddled with genetic flaws as to be rendered unviable?  See, I told you it was going to get controversial.

In the late 19th century, an obscure Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel discovered the keys to reproduction and the prediction of traits passed on from one generation to the next.  He is considered to be the “Father of Modern Genetics”.  While the discovery of the chromosome and gene were still a long way in the future, Mendel developed a methodology to determine what traits might be passed on from one generation to the next as well as being able to predict the results of mixing various traits.  His experiments crossing various garden pea plants with different physical characteristics led to the discovery that traits were not simply an average mixture of the parent’s characteristics, as had been previously believed.  He discovered an orderly and predictable scientific process at work.  Genetics is the study of heredity and how traits are passed from parent to offspring.  It is through the use of genetics that we will find the answer to our initial question, but it is through scripture that we will find the true justification for the answer.

We need some vocabulary to begin with.  There are, for our purposes, two kinds of physical traits: dominant and recessive.  They both spring from genes which we receive at fertilization from our parents.   We each receive two genes for every trait we possess.  Our eye color, height, hair texture…everything about us is a trait controlled by genes.  We get one from our Mother and one from our Father for each trait.  It is the interaction between these two genes that tells us if we got Dad’s nose or our Mother’s eyes. This is a VERY simplified version of genetics that does not take into account incomplete dominance or traits based on the effects of multiple genes.   It will, however, serve for comparison and is completely correct scientifically.

Dominant traits always express themselves.  They always show up if they are present.  If black hair is dominant over blond and one parent provides the genes for black hair then it does not matter what the other parent offers.  The child’s hair will be black without fail.  The other gene is considered recessive.  It does NOT express unless both parents provide the same recessive genes.  For example, if blond hair is recessive then the only way a child can have blond hair is if both parents provide a gene that codes for blond hair.  Ah ha, you say…My hair is blond and one of my parents has dark hair.  How can that be?  Your dark-haired parent is, what we call, heterozygous.  They have the genes for dark and light hair.  The dark hair manifests in them but they have the ability to pass on blond genes because they still carry the recessive they got from THEIR mom and dad.  If you have genes that are the same from both parents, both your hair color genes are black OR blond then you are considered homozygous.  If you have one black and one blond gene then you are called a heterozygote.  I hope the vocabulary does not get too intimidating.  Remember, “homo” means “the same” and “hetero” means “different”.  Dominant shows up always but recessive only shows up when dominant is not around.  Now we have the basic understanding to carry on our investigation into all matters matrimonial.

Genetic flaws tend to be recessive in nature.  This is fortunate for us or we would have a great many more birth defects than we do today.  Genetic flaws or birth defects can only happen when both parents provide genes for some trait that are flawed in some way.  They must have the same genes with the same flaws.  In other words they must be homozygous for the recessive trait.  Remember that…same gene from both parents with the same recessive characteristics in order to create a birth defect.  Now, where are we most likely to find someone with the exact same genetic flaws as ourselves?  Hmmm, I wonder where such a person would most likely be?  Is it logical that someone in our immediate family would have the same genes, and if so, then the same flaws as us?  You and your siblings each got your genes from the same source, your parents.  Different combinations each time kept you and your siblings from being identical twins or clones but you can see enough physical similarities in each other to know that this is so.  Ah ha!  Is THIS why you can’t marry Cousin Ethel?  The same genetics at work within you were at work in Seth and his sister.  What is different?

Inbreeding or line breeding has a valuable place in animal husbandry.  We line breed horses and other livestock in order to increase the odds of getting a particular trait or characteristic.  Usually these traits are recessive.  If we breed outside the family then the odds of losing the trait go up.  Inside the family line the odds of getting those genes to fall together in a foal, while still not 100%, are much higher.  Along with this discovery we find that blood lines which are heavily line bred also tend to have a lot more genetic flaws and faults.  Often we get the combination we want but also often we get some tragic birth defect that results in a still-born or unviable offspring.  Line breeding or inbreeding does nothing more than increase the incidence of homozygous recessive genes by making the available gene pool smaller.  It does this by limiting the gene pool to relatives who already have many of the same gene combinations.  Remember, homozygous recessive means two copies of the same gene for a recessive trait.  The trait can either be one we want or a defect that we don’t want.  Does it seem like I am making an argument AGAINST marrying Cousin Ethel?  Would having offspring with a close relative increase the odds of a genetic flaw or birth defect?  Yes and No.

Inbreeding, as we know, does nothing more than increase the odds of getting a recessive trait to manifest.  That is not necessarily a bad thing unless the trait is bad.  Here is our problem.  We ALL have bad genes.  Every one of Adam’s children carries one or more genetic defects.  If we attempt to procreate with someone in our close family we greatly increase the odds of combining the same bad genes from each parent and getting a recessive flaw to manifest.  If we marry outside the bloodline then, while both lines are still flawed, it is likely that each parent will bring DIFFERENT recessive flaws to the mix and none of them will manifest.  Remember, they both have to be the same trait with the same flaw for a recessive to show up. It is still possible to have a genetic flaw because occasionally more than one family will carry the same flaws.  The odds, however, are greatly reduced..

Genesis 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

Genesis 1:7 And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Genesis 1:8(a)  And God called the firmament Heaven.

Dwell on that scripture for a moment and try to visualize it.  I used to think that firmament somehow divided different bodies of water on the land like shore between two oceans.  However, the Bible tells us that there is water below the sky, or heavens, and water above.  Most Bible scholars believe that at one time the earth was surrounded by an atmospheric layer of water.  According to these verses, there were waters above the air and water below.  This extra layer of moisture, whether it be liquid water somehow, or more likely a thick layer of water vapor, would have changed the composure of our atmosphere and also provided a great deal of extra protection from the UV rays of the sun.  Remember, when this existed, the Earth was still a paradise.  The environment would have been very different.  Also remember at this time, the only possible means of reproduction was through inbreeding.

Now, fast forward a few generations to the time of Noah.  God has seen the wickedness of man and decided to destroy the Earth.

Genesis 6:4  There were giants in the Earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Though man has been driven from the Garden of Eden, the overall creation has not really changed.  The Earth is still, baring the things set forth in God’s curse, a paradise.  No one has ever heard of DDT or Mercury or PCBs.  Any natural water source is good to drink.  The environment is pure and free of toxins and poisons that we today take for granted.  While the race of man is multiplying, it is still a small enough population that all procreation is carried out between relatives.  These people, while infected with sin from Adam’s fall, have wonderful genetics, thanks to their proximity to the original, God created genes, as well as their environment which has nothing in it to harm them and, in fact, still has many features in place, like the excess layer of atmospheric moisture, to protect them.  One of the leading causes of genetic damage is UV rays from the sun.

What changed?  If we read the biblical account of the flood we get a clue.

Genesis 7:10 And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the Earth.

Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.

The last verse tells us that something unusual happened.  This was not just rain.  We lost a fundamental protection during the flood.  The world was change in other ways than just being covered with water.  The layer of moisture circling the atmosphere that had provided an extra layer of protection against harmful solar radiation fell to Earth and was no longer available to us.  I suspect that prior to the flood there had never been a sun burn and afterwards they began to appear.  Noah and his family, safe within the ark, still carried near perfect genes, but now he and his descendents were exposed to environment that no longer protected and nurtured them.  Damage began to accrue.

Now fast forward a final time to the present day.  Our streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds are too toxic to drink from.  Our air is very nearly unbreathable on many days.  We put the worst kinds of chemicals into our bodies in the foods we eat and we are almost all obsessed with the idea of tanning.  Are our genetics different from those people of Noah’s time?  You better believe it.  The human genome went from being a near perfect collection of information to a library filled with holes and errors.  Closely related people have the same errors.  Closely related people should not have offspring, NOT because inbreeding itself causes problems, but because inbreeding brings together parents with the same types of bad genes.  God knew exactly what was happening to the human genome.  That is why He prohibited inbreeding in Leviticus after having approved it in Genesis.

Leviticus 18:9 The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

Once again, God is protecting His children.  He knows that even by THIS time, the human genetic code is so riddled with damage that inbreeding greatly increases the odds of a birth defect.  The inbreeding itself is not the problem, it is the genes that it combines.

Surely you have to be wondering “What is the point to all this?”  Am I in favor of incest?  Heaven forbid.  We can, however, draw a spiritual lesson from this physical discussion.  Before the fall of man, our genes were perfect as was our environment and our spiritual condition.  When Adam sinned, damage was done, not only to our spiritual DNA but to our environment as well.  Each birth following the fall produced a new organism but each new organism contained the same old damaged DNA, just recombined into new traits.  We, at least our genetics, were present with Adam when he fell.  The same genes in his cells are still floating around today in ours.  We suffer from the same malady, both physically and spiritually.  The only way to fix the problem is to find some new, undamaged material to work with.  Jesus is often referred to as the second Adam.  Just as God created Adam from the dust, so He prepared a body within Mary for the Lord Jesus to inhabit.  Regardless of what you might think, NO PART of Mary or Joseph’s DNA was found in Jesus.

Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:

The author is speaking as Jesus here.  He acknowledges that God prepared the body that Jesus inhabits.  There was not combination of human DNA here.  Had there been, Jesus would not be who he was.  He would have been physically, if not spiritually flawed, and could not have been the sacrificial lamb which, the law required be flawless.

Here is our source of flawless material.  Without Christ we are damaged goods.  We can never be perfect because we are just taking the same old flaws and recombining them into new combinations of mistakes.  Only through Christ can we become the new creatures we need to be.

 

And now for something entirely different… May 17, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Books, Educational Ranting, General Ranting, News and politics.
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3 comments

Sorry loyal readers, I have no words of wisdom tonight,  just a question.   Where do they lose it?  I spent the last few hours video-taping a Kindergarten graduation, 5 and 6-year-old smiling faces walking across a stage like it is the most important thing in the world.   You could tell that each one of them wanted to be exactly where they were.  They were interested and engaged (the goal of every teacher for every student) and yet I know that in just 12 short years, when it is time to do it for real, fully 3/4’s of these bright eager little faces will be completely disinterested and likely even vigorously opposed to education.  Where do they lose it?

What causes a few kids to blossom in the educational system and a good deal more to completely withdraw from it.  I am assuming that the small rural high school I teach at is not so different from the thousands of others that cover the back-roads of America.  Is it this way everywhere.  Too many kids start off eager and interested and end up sullen and resentful of the time that they spend in school and I want to know WHEN it happens.  I have filmed this same graduation now for 3 years and the kids each year aren’t that different.  I have seen 5 classes of seniors graduate and I find that the pattern holds true every year.  If anyone has a suggestion I would like to hear it.  I know we talk about testing and engagement and edu-tainment but honestly I have seen nothing that I consider useful.

The floor is now open.  Anyone have an opinion?  -nite all.