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Richard's Revenge




Rabbits and Christian theology

Some people hold the Christian bible to be infallible and literally true, an incontrovertible source of certain truth. I wouldn't quite go that far myself. Henry Morris, a prominent creationist and intellectual snake oil salesman, opined that the Creator of the entire universe could scarcely be mistaken about the date of its creation. I dunno. I discover myself saying every so often, "I did that?", and "I said that?". If I, the possesor of a modest and finite mind, have a certain capacity for absent mindedness and forgetfulness, then He who has the greatest of all minds, an infinite intellect, ought to have a correspondingly greater capacity for absent mindedness and forgetfulness, being, so to speak, perfect in His imperfections. I suppose that this theory is theologically unsound. It's a pity, though; it would explain so much.

Certain captious critics are wont to point to various passages in the Bible as evidences of imperfection and even outright error. One such passage is the classification of animals that chew their cud. A number of animals such as cattle are ruminants; they eat grass, partially digest it, bring it back up a wad of partially digested vegetable, chew on it a while, and swallow it again. According to the passage in question, rabbits are among the animals that chew their cud.

It turns out, however, that they aren't. Rabbits are sometimes classified as coprophages; however that also isn't quite right. (Coprophages are dung eaters. You probably didn't want to know that.) The deal is this: Rabbits are vegetarians (exceptions in Monty Python movies duly noted) that eat stuff like grass. The trouble with grass and such like food sources is that they take a lot of digesting, both chemical and mechanical. Nature's vegetarians have evolved a lot of tricks to rework partially digested food. Thus the ruminants that chew their cud.

Rabbits have their own trick; they wrap the partially digested material in a membrane, excrete it as a little pellet, pick it up, swallow it, and run it through the digestive system again. They don't actually chew that pellet, nor is it dung.

In short, though rabbits may eat kudzu, they aren't part of the cud zoo.

Bookcases and things that go in them

For the most part I haven't been reading much of late. I did read the new Harry Potter book and the novelization of the latest Star Wars movie. Both are rather better than their predecessors; Rowlings has the great advantage of not having to account for Lucas's dialog and plots. I reread "Anatomy of Programming Languages", quite a nice little book if you're into that sort of thing. I've started on Steven J. Gould's "The Hedgehog, the fox, and the magister's pox". It's a good read, but then his books always are. "Poker Face" is an interesting autobiographical book by Katy Lederer, sister of Howard Lederer and Annie Duke, stars of the television poker world. Katy tried her hand at professional poker, and settled for being a poet instead. Wise woman.

At the moment I am building bookcases, three of them to be exact. This isn't a trivial project; these are floor to ceiling bookcases, each one four foot wide, built out of solid oak. (Actually, the backs are plywood with oak veneer.) I had not previously appreciated how expensive real wood is; no wonder good furniture is expensive. Most furniture these days is made out of plywood and particle board with little bits of veneer on them for show. Walmart, bless its capitalistic, exploitive soul, will sell you a six foot tall book case (some assembly required) for about thirty dollars. They're made out of veneered particle board with cardboard backs. They're serviceable enough though the shelves have a tendency to sag. I'm replacing three of these wonders with my do-it-yourself attempts at fine furniture. The new bookcases will have twice the shelf space of the ones that they replace, shelf space badly needed at Chez Harter. The old book cases have been exported to my office where they provide utility shelving, holding sundry computer supplies and stack of unread copies of Nature and Science. I'm nervous about how it will all work out - I've never tackled anything quite this ambitious in the line of woodworking before, but I've been assured by Our Lady of The Large Black Dog that it will all be wonderful.

As of this writing the first is completed and is ready to be installed as soon as I clean the floor where it goes and repaint the wall that will be behind it. It is quite handsome, albeit with numerous small flaws that I fondly hope that no one will notice. It has been a learning experience.

(Added in proof. It is up against the wall and filled with books.)

Coffee

For years they have been telling us that coffee is bad for us. For years I have been ignoring them. I am an 8-10 cups a day coffee drinker, always have been, and likely always will be (my master plan to live forever hasn't hit any snags so far). Now they tell us that coffee is actually good for us, that it is a valuable source of anti-oxidants. Ha! I knew it all along.

Richard's Revenge

Many years ago I walked through Stonehenge. A few years later they closed it to the public. Sometime in the 90's I climbed the steps of the pyramid at Chichen Itza; they closed it to the public the next year. A dozen years ago I spent a week in New Orleans, recently destroyed by Katrina. Do you see a pattern here?

A few years ago I made several trips to Yellowstone National Park which, the scientist chappies tell us, is the caldera of a gigantic supervolcano. Be very afraid ...

This page was last updated September 1, 2005.
It was reformatted and moved October 16, 2006

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