Monday, May 18, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 35

The scientist yearns to find and eventually know the truth; the religious man wants the truth to fit his preconceived mold. So, as a result, the scientist alters his perception to conform to the facts, while the religious man tries to change the facts to conform to his beliefs.

I do try to avoid quotes ascribed to "Anonymous" as much as possible, but this one is so accurate and succinct that I wanted to include it anyway. Scientific thought is not instinctive for humans (we prefer to see patterns that we want to see, instinctively, which is why scientists must always be self-aware about their own biases), but it is the best way to truly understand the universe. Again and again we have found that conclusions we like (for example, the Earth is the centre of the universe) are not necessarily the conclusions that are correct, and it requires someone to put aside preconceived "truths" to discover that the actual truth is something more interesting than we ever thought possible. It's never popular (Copernicus refused to publish until he was on his deathbed, Galileo got put under house arrest by the Vatican, and Darwin is vilified by religious leaders even 150 years after publication), but that's just because some people are resistant to change and too proud to admit that they are wrong. Ironic, isn't it, that the very same religion that places pride as a sin also has too much pride to admit that some of the details of how they think the world came to be are incorrect, while the scientists they vilify are constantly behaving with humility by admitting their errors and adjusting their worldview according to new insights?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 34

I do not support religion because it demands that we give up our most important human asset, the ability to question. It demands that we simply believe. Isn't that true of any dictator, of any totalitarian society? Insofar as social development is concerned, nothing is of greater importance than the human function of questioning... Questioning led to the development of civilization.
~Vladimir Pozner

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Sweater Design Odyssey, Part 2

So, yesterday I took the sweater apart and started over. But I didn't cry and I didn't slam my head into walls. At first, I thought I might do both those things; I initially was frogging several rows of hard work because I failed to pay attention to my own decreasing notes. However, once I got the work off the needles, I tried it onto my hips and discovered that I could have fit a third bum cheek in the space the sweater bottom wanted to enclose. And I am not a skinny girl. So, in a way, screwing up the decreasing to the waist made me catch a much more devastating and much more important problem that I might not have otherwise noticed until I got to the armpits. Silver lining on the dark cloud of moronic mistakes, I suppose.

Did I mention that I'm terrible at picking up stitches (especially lace stitches) onto the needles again once they're off? Before I realized that I was making myself a maternity sweater, I was ready for tears because putting it back on the needles after frogging was an exercise in futility. I freaking hate yarn overs. Thank goodness I ended up starting over, or else there may have been a balled-up pile of bamboo yarn in the corner rather than a reborn sweater on new needles. I was that close to giving up on this project.

Before I totally tore it apart, though, I was smart: I measured gauge again. I found that it was significantly different on the circulars than it had been on my little gauge swatch (what the point of that was, then, I don't know), and then recalculated everything. That, plus the re-planning, took several hours and I failed to do the laundry again as a result. The boyfriend is going to run out of clean socks in short order, but he'll survive until my knitting crisis has gotten under control. Priorities, people, priorities.

Now I had to move onto a shorter circular needle set and cast on about 70% of the stitches I had before. I'm now on row 1. Again. Lessons learned: one, do gauge swatches for projects in the round in the round, and two, don't just talk about putting in a lifeline - freaking do it! Just because one repeat goes well doesn't mean you're not going to make a mess of things partway up from there. Especially if you're me.

Part 1 of this saga of trying to design and then knit a lace sweater can be found here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Atheist Quote of the Week 33

The philosophy of Atheism represents a concept of life without any metaphysical Beyond or Divine Regulator. It is the concept of an actual, real world with its liberating, expanding and beautifying possibilities, as against an unreal world, which, with its spirits, oracles, and mean contentment has kept humanity in helpless degradation.
~Emma Goldman