The Many Facets of Insect Vision

Check this wonderful site to see like an insect sees!

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Highlights & Resolutions for 2018

2017 was great (at least personally, maybe not nationally, LOL) so let’s propose some ways 2018 can be just as great.

1. Pleasure Reading

I loved reading material that the general public could care less about. This primarily included college textbooks, especially on science, which I have always vacillated on their worth. And most of their material tends to bear little relevance to life, unless if I work in that field after college. Basically, texts tend to choke. I’m better off reading popular books, googling the information I need (or want), which is different from a textbook (which potentially gives you a know-it-all attitude toward a whole branch of knowledge, which also varies what book is used, as those on the market differ. Again, the professor decides the text to be used.)

Reading, whether fiction or nonfiction, and for whatever audience, takes much discipline to finish by the book. I think this whole textbook craze is just a yearning to spoil my degree amidst many challenges. It is definitely worth the wait.

It’s a myth that I don’t like fiction. The truth is if I was willing to start a novel, I might get distracted, since there’s so many choices out there. And I’m not anti- nonfiction either. I love to learn, always have and always will. But, when I’m trying to get facts, the popular press suffices, whether printed or online.

2. My third (and final) community college before transfer to a university.

My first two courses at this place, Montgomery County Community College, shall be political science and a speech course. As for future courses hopefully by a university, I’ll just leave that to God for now. Suffice it to say I’ll be busier anyway, and as a perfect segue to the first note, as a student, I’ll be in a place to use textbooks!

3. Thrift & Generosity

There are many ways to be thrifty. Don’t buy things you don’t need. Find the best vaue of a product (which might not be the cheapest, but will hold you over for some time. See what you have before you buy more. And of course, learn from past shopping woes to avoid “buyer’s remorse.” I despise mentioning this a third time, but college texts are a prime example.

Despite popular opinion, thrift does not preclude generosity and giving, once your standard expenditures are taken care of. Luke 21:1-4 discusses the poor widow that gave all her money. While this is extreme, what is important to understand that it is proportional. Furthermore, better budgeting will allow for many purchases, be they donations or anything that (typically unwittingly) could lead to giving.

At the same time, helping can hurt. In many cases, charity can lead to dependency, entering a vicious cycle will demand more supply of giving. (Pardon the economic pun). On the other hand, we don’t want a whole bunch of “Scrooges” not spending anything beyond core needs.

Conclusion

As I leave my 20s this year, we thank the Lord that we have gotten a bunch of blessings in 2017. Pray that 2018 I will get even better wisdom from God’s Word

Why Faith Goes Beyond Mere Reason

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  – Matt. 6:34 ESV

I spent some of last night’s wee hours struggling with such cares concerning what are the best subjects (if any) to learn.  Since my chief interests are in the sciences, but include many other areas as well, I thought, concerning the ideas of practicality and usefulness of such knowledge, could be totally beyond use.

But as I have observed many times in the past, much of my knowledge will pay good dividends.  For example, why does bird excrement contain white and dark portions?  (Urinary products, primarily uric acid, are excreted in a combination with the actual feces.) Or, speaking of white and dark, the “white” breasts and the other, “dark” poultry portions (i.e., drum, thigh, and wing) represent differing rates of metabolism in the muscles (which, basically, is the meat before slaughter).

Physics is the reason why a Volvo commercial is false if it was to stop suddenly in the face of an obstacle.  Good for the rescued kid crossing the streets, bad for the driver with her inertia paced on her by a sudden stop.  And another ill-advised product I actually own:  an alarm clock that projects on the ceiling in the dark.  But here’s the catch:  in dark enough conditions, the center of the retina dominated by cones, will not respond in darkness.  The certain portions of the alarm clock numbers cannot be seen directly, so unless you skim around, you may get the wrong picture.  Likewise, you can’t see a dim star looking directly at it,  but you can when you look next to it.

I could go on and on about these things, but knowledge of any kind is a good investment no matter what it is used for.  After all, may come in handy in various situations.  For example, two botanical words:  “pinnate” and “palmate” refer to leaves concerning the veins of the leaf, compounding (when leaflets, while isolated, are really one subdivided leaf), and even the pattern of lobes on certain leaf margins.  (Thank you, Britannica.  But sorry, I can’t infringe your copyright, so no picture here!) Together with many other traits that are useful for identification, it may led a nice hobby to observe properties of plants.

And reason is a gift from God, despite many secular claims otherwise.  But all these unbelievers:  atheists, agnostics, deists, secular humanists, freethinkers, whatever, consider reason superior to religious doctrine (which is obvious by their disbelief of God).  Reason is good, but if it gets to an excess, it could take it into a powerhouse of planning and worrying about what could happen, rather than trusting a loving God and His providence.

And that was my very antidote, around 2:30 this morning, I put such matters in the hands of God, and immediately saw a better insight of the information.  Now I am much happier, and was asleep just after about 3 AM (and slept till 8 or even 8:30)

So, if you get anxious or frustrated from excessive reasoning, especially when it deals with personal problems (as opposed to appropriate uses of reason, such as asking questions and observing what happens as say, in scientific research or financial planning), turn it to prayer!

Bottom line:  Focus on learning for now, then you’ll have a arsenal of knowledge to use for different needs.  As always, one day at a time!

Putting Technology Where it (Could) Belong

Tonight, I moved the computer to a strategically better place, which happens to be the, yes, dinette set in my apartment!

Bedroom Desk
My bedroom desk, that has now become low-tech.

 

Computer On the DInette
The computer’s home now, where it has been previously placed.

 

Let’s do a “SWOT” analysis:

Strengths:  The computer is now nearby my 1981 print Britannica set (as well as a useful supplement to the modern Britannica internet service) and many other great books.  It also serves as further discipline for the lust issues (sparing the gory details, of course!) which has been, thanks to faith in God, plummeting.  And of course, many other great websites.  My room without the computer allows for quality study without the cares of the internet or other computer applications (the king of them, in my opinion, is most likely Facebook).

Weaknesses:  Many other books are in my own room, so both sites can mutually could be “lending libraries.”  In other words, not only does a book taken from the bedroom need to be returned, but a material taken to the bedroom must also be returned.

Opportunities:  Move as many books as possible from my room to this “information station,” as well as obtaining more bookcases as appropriate.  This allows one library per my apartment.  When I want to get down and dirty with such a reading or study, I shall take it to my room until I’m finished, and thus return them to the (single) home library.Threats:  While there is no loan period (after all, it’s not a true lending library, it’s hyperbole), they should be put back when I am done using them.   The key enemy here is laziness, an trait that makes the autism spectrum a liability.  Also, I put so much debt (not in money, but progress) toward books when the earlier portions are attacked by others.  Therefore, willpower aided by God and His Word will get me success.

Interestingly enough, this SWOT analysis was done after the move.  I must be a good strategic planner already!  Yet, a SWOT analysis is a very helpful tool!

Cheers!

Cracking the “Cuss Code”

 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:7-10, ESV)
Eureka! I now have figured out why kids aren’t good candidates to curse.  There is a hierarchy involved, consisting of three groups of source meanings.
 
1). The “negative divine words”: hell, damn. These are not true curse words, as long as they are used in their context (i.e., a religious one).
2). The “butt words”: a*s, s**t. The former originally was used for a donkey. If used that way (which is rare nowadays), it’s not a swearword. It’s often used in many idioms, as well as compounded with “smart” or “dumb.”  The latter is synonymous with feces. (It is often used either symbolizing meaning “junk” or “stuff”, or as an expression of anger)
3). And finally, the “f-bomb.” Literally it refers to sexual activity, but it has been a widespread swearword used for many applications.
 
About children and their “innocence:” the first category will work its way through the preacher’s sermon. The second category, pertaining to the butt and excrement, is just goofy. And the third, final, and most serious swearword, the “f-bomb,” for obvious reasons, should NEVER be used before the parents share “the birds and the bees” with them.  Once they get into the nitty gritty, by secular standards, the floodgates open.  Swearwords are often a tool to emphasize and deepen the message one is delivering.

Now this may apply to adults in the secular world, but what about Christian adults?  In the above Scripture, from the Epistle of James, a unique NT book that applies the faith discourses of the Pauline epistles.  (James was supposedly a relative of Jesus, perhaps a half-brother, namely, conceived by both Mary and Joseph. His epistle is probably one of the oldest in the NT. ). Since God is the Great Author of all Scripture, it still applies even if it was pre-Pauline.

As seen in the above passage, the tongue has enormous power.  You can bless or curse with the same mouth.  So, whatever you do, I hope you understand the truth about swearing, at least someday.  Adults, with their sophistication, may no longer be “innocent,” but they still can be virtuous, kindly, and good citizens both in their earthly country, and the Kingdom of God (given that they are Christian, but again, only God can choose who gets salvation or not.)

A Tale of Two European Stores

A voice says, “Cry out!”
    And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
    their constancy is like the flower of the field.
 The grass withers, the flower fades,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
    surely the people are grass.
 The grass withers, the flower fades;
    but the word of our God will stand forever.
(Isaiah 40:6-8, NRSV)

Anyone near Philly remember the French store Carrefour? It had only two locations in the US, quite nearby each other both closed in 1994: Franklin Mills Mall (now Philadelphia Mills, started 1988), and Voorhees (a New Jersey* suburb of Philadelphia, launched 1992). Since its US demise occurred when I was only six or so, I don’t remember much of the store, except a few bits-and-pieces.  (Source: Embarrassingly enough, LOL, Wikipedia)

 
On the other hand, another foreign store that is wildly popular among Americans (and most likely here to stay): Sweden’s IKEA. It not only offers Scandinavian-style furniture, but offers a great cafeteria offering Swedish cuisine, including their world-famous Swedish meatballs. (Some people think their food is “doctored up,” especially people who bear Swedish descent). But who am I to speak for the Swedes? I’ve never been there! Anyway, they sell products from Sweden (and perhaps elsewhere in Scandinavia), and perhaps from kid’s tastes (or even an ultra-American adult taste, LOL), a “bistro.”
 
So Dolores (Dee) would you opt for the bistro, or the cafeteria? (I hope the latter).
 
This may be a pain sometimes, yet it may be a true blessing to speakers of languages other than Swedish. Instructions for building IKEA furniture are strictly pictorial, for they must be globally standardized.

Incidentally, building an IKEA project could be a great task for a person with high-functioning autism, who happens to be non-verbal.  But watch out!  If done in a sheltered workshop, not only might it embarrass “co-workers,” but they could get a competitive (“real”) job!  Now that’s innovation!

Also, while they do set jobs overseas, and thus it is rare to see “Made in Sweden” for an IKEA product, this really doesn’t matter, because they are willing to export worldwide!  With most likely little to owe anyone.  The US, on the other hand, only wants to import.  Maybe that caused the American demise of Carrefour, because all these French goods may have been unattractive to us (think escargot, LOL), or simply the fact that France and the US just tend not to see eye to eye.  But that’s ancient history.  If stores were a boxing or wrestling match, the competitors, in this case, IKEA and Carrefour, the latter would get lots of KO’s.  Carrefour still thrives, however, in many other countries.

But, as they say, all good things shall come to an end.  After all, IKEA didn’t expect to be this good in the USA.  They thought, “why share it with the country that has everything.”   Carrefour didn’t share that success in the US.  But who knows?  You could have too much of this good thing (namely, Swedish furniture), that is, once our country can’t stand it (not only mentally, but perhaps physically!)

Three words that are the heart and soul of economics:

Supply and demand!
*International (and some domestic) readers:  New Jersey is a separate state from Pennsylvania, which is where Philadelphia is located.  However, Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) borders New Jersey on its east side, by the Delaware River, making much of New Jersey a suburban area to Philadelphia, together with its Pennsylvania suburbs to the west.  Alas, concerning these bridges, you have to pay tolls to cross over the river, at least in one direction.

Genius Has Its Costs (As Per Two TV Shows)

So tonight is this fall’s most “genius” night for TV, across two American TV networks!

First I watched, “Young Sheldon” (CBS, 8:30pm)  was tonight’s premiere of a prequel (set in 1989) of current sitcom leader “The Big Bang Theory.”  The 9-yr-old Sheldon, which, due to his super-high intellect, got into high school, but he could not socialize properly with the other kids.  He studied the entire student handbook, and rather than focus on his schoolwork, he would complain about his fellow classmates, picking on violations of dress & groom code.  This enters other spheres as well, such as church (questioning his fellow members about some moral issues, analogous to his behavior at school), among others.  It shows Christians should use our intelligence (or any gifts) to his glory, and be modest about it.  It was quite hilarious, and I’ll try to a loyal viewer!

The next show, on ABC this same night, at 10pm was “The Good Doctor.”  It involved a doctor who was also an autistic-savant, perhaps in his 20s.  Based on knowledge he learned in medical school, he was ambitious to become a surgeon.  At an airport, using his rich human anatomy knowledge (probably a photographic memory involved?), when a boy fell through a glass, and had bleeding in his neck and was unconscious, and needed some serious emergency attention, such as CPR, etc., he was there.  Here’s the twist:  he would, like Sheldon in the other show, question authority.  He may have those “Gray’s Anatomy” figures filled in this head to help him, but most other doctors wouldn’t want his advice based on such.  The more seasoned doctors had the experience, which in the  medical profession, typically leads over strict knowledge.  I may have high-functioning autism, but I could never memorize those anatomical figures.  Remember, he had that “savant syndrome,” which while perception and memory of the sharp detail is amazing, common sense was trailing.

The board eventually welcomed this new surgeon into their hospital.  There’s a catch, though could be in the OR, he couldn’t perform surgeries!  So he was a spectator watching the team of surgeons do their job.  Also, his motives were inappropriate:  One is money, the other is the death of a pet rabbit and a childhood friend.  (Or as he said it, “they went to heaven”). Well, if one is officially dead, get over it!  Surgery won’t bring them back.  If the hospital is a typical secular institution, that would not be the best way of communicating it.  Overall, he had no empathy.

So while “Young Sheldon” was a pleasant sitcom, “The Good Doctor” was a little far-fetched.  But they share a common theme:  humility is key when dealing with professionals — or even peers.  (Phil. 2:1-11)