General Archive

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Boy Scouts to Allow Gay Youth

Boy Scout Logo with Rainbow FlagThe headline of this article says it all, Boy Scouts to allow gay members but ban on gay and atheist leaders continues. It's a step in the right direction, at least. As an Eagle Scout myself, I can attest to how important scouting was in my life. And I've mentioned before that I think it should be open to all boys who want to participate. It's absolutely wonderful that the organization has finally decided to allow openly gay boys to join. But the BSA still has a few spots left to address - gay leaders and atheists. I hope they can address those shortcomings soon.

Image Source:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Donate to Tornado Victims

Humanist Crisis ResponseI'm sure everybody has heard of the tornado that hit Moore Oklahoma by now. But maybe you haven't done anything to help the victims, yet. If you haven't, here's a worthwhile way to donate to charities that will help out:

Monies donated at that link will go to Operation USA and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Image made by combining sources from: Business Insider Australia and Foundation Beyond Belief.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

VW XL1 + E-mail Debunking - China's New "Little Car"

I got an e-mail the other day about a new car supposedly being made in China. The e-mail was partly true, and partly not true. But the truth is so cool that I can't resist blogging about it.

The e-mail claimed that a new car had been developed in China, with a bit of input from Volkswagen, and that the car got phenomenal gas mileage at an unbelievably low price. Well, the price point is unbelievable, and the car was developed by Volkswagen in Germany, not be a Chinese company with input from Volkswagen, but the gas mileage claim is real.

Here are some pictures from the e-mail. These are for the concept prototype, not a production version. The concept was known as the VW 1-Litre Concept Car. The 1-litre designation is because the goal of the car design was to be able to go 100 km on 1 liter of fuel. The car managed to meet that goal, needing just 0.99 liters for 100 km, or to put that in terms familiar to us U.S. readers, it achieved 238 mpg.

VW 1-Litre Concept Car

VW 1-Litre Concept Car

VW 1-Litre Concept Car

Image Credit: Unknown

Volkswagen had a second prototype similar to the original one but with several improvements, and then moved on to a production version. The production version is named the XL1. Here are a couple pictures of it.


Image Credit: Wikipedia


Image Credit: Car and Driver

According to Volkswagen, this production version only needs 0.9 liters to travel 100 km, or in other words, it gets 261 mpg. That's pretty amazing. And it sounds like VW is planning on putting the car into production. The catch? It's not cheap. According to a Car and Driver article, the anticipated price is around $50,000.

For those interested in reading more about the car, here are a few good articles on it. And for those interested in the original e-mail that prompted this entry, I'm including that below the fold.

More Info:

Continue reading "VW XL1 + E-mail Debunking - China's New "Little Car"" »

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Misleading Image of Bloggers

Just a short entry today, but it's something I've been thinking about for a little while now. It seems to me that if you only judged bloggers by what they blogged about, you would have a very biased image of that person. Take me, for example. I write an awful lot about religion and politics. And granted, I may think about religion more than most average people, and I'm always a little bit excited to talk about it if the topic comes up in conversation, but that's only if it actually comes up in conversation. If you came over to hang out with me at my house or grab a beer at the local bar, chances are pretty good that I'd never even mention religion or politics. I write about them here because partly because it's an outlet where I can express my opinions, but also because it's something I think people might actually be interested in reading. Nobody except my friends and family really cares what TV shows I've been watching, what I've been eating for supper every night, the chores I did around the house last weekend, the grades my daughter makes in school, how she did at her piano recital, or many of the other things I do or talk about on a daily basis. Like I wrote above, if you only judged a person based on what they wrote about in their blog, you would only be judging them based on a tiny fraction of their real life.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Fastnacht Day, 2013

Fastnacht Day is once again upon us. My daughter and I will be busy making fastnachts tomorrow morning in celebration. Since I don't have anything new to say from previous years, I'll just rework last year's entry a bit.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia CommonsDepending on where you are in the world, you may call tomorrow something else, like Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day. But from where I'm from in Pennsylvania, it's called Fastnacht Day (here's a link to the not-so-thorough Wikipedia article). Traditionally, you make potato based donuts, called fastnachts, supposedly as a way to empty your larder of all the fatty, sugary foods in preparation for the Lenten fast. My elementary school even used to give out donuts with the lunches on this day. So, in celebration of Fastnacht Day, here's my family's recipe for making them:

You're supposed to wake up early to make the fastnachts on Tuesday morning (they're freshest that way), but a few times I've made them the night before, and they're still okay. They keep pretty well in a brown paper lunch bag. I also like to put a little bit of powdered sugar into a ziploc bag, and a mix of granulated sugar and cinnamon into another one, to coat the fastnachts just before eating them.

To see just how popular fastnachts are back up in Pennsylvania, go have a look at this article, Fastnacht reminder -- order yours before Tuesday, with a photo showing some of the 2800 fastnachts that a local church made, or this article, Frying fastnachts for pre-Lenten splurge, about a fire company that's making 42,000 of them for a rundraiser. Here's an article from a couple years ago, Pre-Lenten fastnachts a traditional treat, describing how bakeries in Hagerstown started baking on Sunday night to meet Tuesday's demand.

A guy I worked with from Chicago mentioned a similar tradition up there - paczkis, from the Polish immigrants. But instead of a hole in the middle like my family's fastnachts (not all fastnachts have the hole), they have a filling, usually jelly or creme. I guess lots of groups have invented traditions to allow indulgence before a 40 day fast.

Doughnut Picture from Wikimedia Commons

Update 2013-03-12: I took a few pictures while we were making the fastnachts this morning. The first is my daughter rolling out the dough to cut more fastnachts, the second is the first batch frying up in the pan, and the third is the completed fastnachts. Note that we doubled the recipe, so that's twice as much as what you'd normally get. But we all three (my wife, daughter, and I) take them in with us to work/school to share them, so the double batch still goes quick.

Alex Rolling Out the Fastnacht Dough Frying the Fastnachts The Completed Fastnachts - Two Batches Worth


Selling Out