Wednesday, 24 October 2007

A Tuesday of note (or: Admitting your aggression towards the DMV and Intelligent Design)

Though some of you might envy the fast-paced lifestyle of a theoretical physicist, you may be surprised to learn that it generally involves quite a lot of sitting around - not yesterday. I barely had a chance to glaze over in front of my computer at all! Let me describe some of the more interesting experiences.

First, let me say that after fully two months of owning my now-famous POS car, as of yesterday I had yet to have transferred the registration from the old owner to me. The dude who owned it has been almost constantly out of the country, and there have been continuing issues with getting proof from his bank that he'd paid the car off and could sell it (despite the damn thing being 15 years old). Anyway, I finally got the proof yesterday, and I needed to rush to the DMV immediately to transfer registration, because the dude was going out of town again in a few days, and I wanted to get it taken care of in case there were problems. Obviously, the actual act of being at the DMV was boring as hell, and took three hours of my life, which I will never get back. However, what I did find interesting was observing the people around me waiting. Wow, there was SO much aggro! (this guy does a great stand up act about this) You could really feel the negative vibes coming off of people, and all around me there was constant muttering about how angry they were and how unfair it all was, and how they should open another freaking window, etc. You constantly feel like everyone behind you is going to leap in front of you in the queue, so there is this tenseness where you kind of feel like you have to defend your position. One sweet little old lady behind me, who was totally smiley and nice when she first got in line, kept trying to edge in front of me, and was close to boiling over by the time we got to the head - and I really thought she was going to make a scene. Frankly, it was all this anger surrounding me that stressed me out about being there, more than anything else. It really gets under your skin - I don't like the feeling. And actually, when I did finally get to the counter, the woman who helped me was extremely nice, helpful, sweet, and friendly (I definitely did not expect this). Clearly, these people are trying as best they can to get to everyone, and it would just be a more pleasant (well, less unpleasant) experience if everyone would just chill out. But I guess that is not going to happen - so next time, I'm taking my steel-toed boots so I can stomp on anyone who gets in my way.

The other thing I wanted to say something about was the Intelligent Design meeting that the Student Y held in our building yesterday. Now, the Lord knows (and will probably strike me down because of it) that I'm not a fan of ID. But if they want to go off and have little discussion groups and talk about how science is nonsense, then I'm not going to get involved (actually, that may or may not be true... depending on my mood, sometimes it really pisses me off, and I have to jump in where I'm not wanted). However, what really got me was that not only was the title of the meeting, "The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design," but they had to have it in the Applied Maths department (MY science building!) in order to try and prop up their "scientific" credibility. And let me put it bluntly - this shit is NOT science. Question evolution? Or any scientific theory for that matter? No problem! That's what science is really all about - skepticism and questioning. However, the higher goal of science is to replace ignorance with knowledge, and hopefully some kind of understanding. These people want to replace understanding with ignorance. To them, the answer is - if I don't immediately understand something, let me replace it with GOD. Anyway, let me not start ranting about it, because I don't have the time right now (maybe later). My point was that it pissed me off that they decided to use MY building for their own nefarious ends (mwahahahaha). So I put the word out to all the people I know here at UCT, and asked them to join me in attending this lecture, to try and rebuff their nonsense. We actually got a fairly good science contingent together - we easily made up at least half of the attendees. The whole thing was somewhat disappointing, though, because the majority of the meeting was just the presentation of a propagandic movie on ID. Then at the end, they had a "scientist" from UCT (well, an anatomist from the med school, which is not the same thing) get up and talk about how people could be "theists" as well as scientists, and that clearly evolution works on "microscales," but it is only in the large jumps that they want to invoke God, because there evolution doesn't work. Without any actual reasoning to show WHY it doesn't work, other than that he can't imagine how it does. And then there were five minutes left for people to ask questions (read: fight with the creationists). Me and Jeff totally dominated this part of the discussion, but the guy had to run off to perform some kind of experiment or something, so they had to cut it off. It was very disappointing, because during the stupid movie I got myself all pumped up on things I wanted to say, and then was left with no outlet. Actually, there were a couple of interesting discussions that took place immediately afterwards amongst the scientists, but the religious dudes took off very quickly, with promises of a return next year (classes are over this week, so they will have to wait until the students come back from vacation). Anyway, like I said, quite disappointing. There was creationist blood in the water, but nothing of any substance to feed on...

1 comment:

phamos818 said...

But Alex, Kirk Cameron told me that since there is no such thing as a Crocoduck/Duckodile, then that means the earth HAS to have been created by a magical man on a cloud. I mean, it's just common sense. (Plus, Kirk Cameron is dreeeeeamy. If Luke Perry told me to believe in Satanism, I'd probably do it.)