Saturday, October 25, 2008

Brattleboro Reformer endorses Obama

The Brattleboro Reformer in today's editorial endorses Barack Obama for president:

We have been inspired by the Obama campaign's inclusiveness and how it has captured the imaginations of American of all ages, It's a campaign that has used the words "we" and "us," instead of "me" and "I." It's a campaign that speaks about hope and change instead of fear and anger.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Mind your own body

Dualism of all things has been in the news.

From the radio program, "On Point", a discussion about the new book, Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict between Faith and Reason.

In New Scientist: Creationists Declare War Over The Brain

Here is the basic question: Is there a distinction between mind and body?

If there is, then it's possible that we were created (or "intelligently designed") and that the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

If there's not a distinction - i.e., the mind is a product of the brain or some other physical processes - then we have nobody but ourselves to blame.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How to become a grave digger

As I passed by Baker Cemetery the other day I saw a guy from the waist up, halfway into a hole. He was wielding a shovel, and there was a pile of dirt to his right. It's unusual these days to see someone manually digging a grave and it got me to thinking "How does one go about becoming a grave digger?" I figure in this economic climate it's a job with some security since people are always dying. Of course, there is some competition with the cremation industry, but there are still plenty of bodies needing graves.

So I dug around and found some information on the web about the grave digging occupation. Consider this post a little starting point for those who aspire to go six feet under and get paid for it.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

How many leaves change color?

I remember trying to count the number of falling leaves in my back yard on an autumn day and quickly losing count when even a gentle breeze came along. It was an exercise in futility and, looking back, probably not very useful. The Nashua Telegraph, however, did go to the trouble of estimating how many leaves change color in NH (608 billion!).

So I wonder how many leaves change color in Vermont? Since NH and VT forests are similar, I'll just borrow the article's estimate of .73 tons of leaves per acre.

Now I just need some statistics about deciduous (or hardwood) acreage in Vermont. The Vermont Division of Forestry's publication, The Forests of the Green Mountain State, states:

Northern hardwoods,specifically, the northern hardwoods forest-type group, accounts for 67 percent of Vermont’s 4,628,900 acres of forest land.

Nice. That comes out to 3,101,363 acres of colorful foliage, which is 2.26 million tons of leaves. So at one tenth of an ounce per leaf, Vermont has 724 billion leaves that change color.

No wonder I couldn't count them all.

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