This Blog Has Moved

As you may have gathered from my previous post and the fact that I haven’t fixed my sidebar, I’ve had enough of WordPress. Instead, I’ve decided to move to another blogging program, called Habari. It’s clean and easy to use and it gave me an excuse to redesign my blog into a minimalist design that I really, really like.

So, this blog has now moved to http://www.jdharper.com/blog

For those of you reading from RSS readers, this affects you too. But, here’s the good news: This is the last time you’ll ever have to worry about re-subscribing to this blog. My new RSS feed URL is, and will always be, http://feeds.feedburner.com/jdharper. Since I’m using Feedburner, if I ever have the need to move the blog again, it will be easy for me to change it behind the scenes. If you want to keep receiving updates from me, please subscribe to that feed.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you on my new blog!

EDIT: (I actually switched back from Habari to WordPress–it’s gotten better since I wrote this post. Still at the same address above.)

ENOUGH already

I got an email today informing me that my comments were broken. So I found out that the K2 theme that I use to display this blog had been updated to a new version. Installing that fixed my comments problem, but managed to erase my sidebar. GRARGH.

I’m really getting sick of WordPress. I may retire this blog and move to something else soon. We’ll see.

Marriage Stats

I had always assumed that the often-quoted “50% of marriages end in divorce” statistic was one of those bunkum urban-legend stats, akin to “75% of communication is non-verbal” and “you only use 10% of your brain.”

But it turns out the Center for Disease Control actually keeps stats on this issue. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this survey, which was obtained by face-to-face interviews in 1995 with more than ten thousand women (a representative sample of the US).

In particular, Table 21 (on page 64 if you’re following along) lists “probability of first marriage disruption by duration of marriage.” It includes both divorces and separations without formal divorces, separated into columns by years and into rows by different characteristics, such as education, income, and religion.

If I’m reading this chart right, 43% of marriages fail in the first 15 years, which makes the often-stated 50% estimate for all marriages sound pretty reasonable.

More interesting is the breakdown by categories. It looks like if you want a long-lasting marriage, the best thing for you to do is to be an Asian. 23% of Asian marriages failed by the 15 year mark, compared with 42% each of white and Hispanic marriages and 55% of black marriages.

Religion does play a role, but not as much as you’d think given how much the Religious Right bangs on about the sanctity of marriage. 40% of “Fundamentalist” marriages marriages broke down before the 15 year mark, compared with 37% of Catholic marriages, 44% of “Other Protestant” marriages, and 56% of those claiming no religious affiliation.

How seriously you take your religion makes a difference too. 39% of those who claim religion as Very Important to them had a broken marriage by the 15 year mark, compared with 45% of those claiming it as Somewhat Important and 54% of those claiming it as Not Important.

There’s a lot of other factors that they track, and not just about marriage breakdowns. There are tables about the likelihood of first marriage by age (75% of women are marriage by age 30), probability of cohabitation transitioning into marriage, and probability of remarriage after divorce. It’s fascinating stuff to explore.

Zanna

I learned a useful new word today from Karen Armstrong’s recent TED Talk about religion. This word comes from the Quran, which dismisses religious opinion as:

zanna — self-indulgent guesswork about matters that nobody can be certain of one way or the other but which makes people quarrelsome and stupidly sectarian

I’m glad to have found this, because there needs to be a single word to describe the sorts of arguments I hear all the time about religion, especially in the fundamentalist circles. It is unbelievable the petty arguments that I hear, and that I’ve participated in.

For example, there is significant controversy over whether Christians will be called up to heaven to be with God before the final seven years of Tribulation, or whether they will have to endure the Tribulation before being called up. This issue is quintessential zanna: People have divided up into “pre-trib” and “post-trib” camps over an issue which has absolutely zero bearing on Christians’ behavior.

Another example is the King James Only controversy, wherein one camp believes that God specifically protected the Textus Recepticus (the Greek and Hebrew source materials for the King James Bible) from copy errors, and the other camp believes that modern archaeologists have discovered better Greek and Hebrew source texts. This issue has literally divided Christian fundamentalists into two separate factions, when all the variations between the two texts could fit on a single piece of paper. It is absurd.

Of course, this behavior is hardly new for Christianity. The Arian schism in the second century AD (where people argued vehemently for decades over whether Jesus was the same substance as the Father, or whether he was of a similar substance as the Father) threatened to tear the early church apart. Century after century, Christianity breaks into smaller and smaller factions, usually over the weakest of differences.

Zanna, all of it. Paul calls it “carnal” –fleshly, unholy behavior. Enough.

When we fight over zanna, we substitute love for one another (by which all men are to know that we are his disciples) for animosity. We trade the peace of God for unholy conflict.

But the worst thing about zanna is the fact that while we argue over the things we cannot know, we neglect the things that we do know. We neglect the Golden Rule. We neglect our duties to the poor and the fatherless. We neglect the kindness and humbleness that Christ exemplified. People die lost and alone while we argue over metaphysics.

It’s time for peace. It’s time to come together and to admit that we all worship the same God. We all want to live in peace here on Earth, and we all ought to be kind to each other while we’re down here. Let’s stop guessing at the details of the divine plan and start doing what we all know we should be doing instead.

How to Update the Fujitsu T4215 to Vista Service Pack 1

I got to wondering the other day: Why hasn’t Vista Service Pack 1 showed up in my Automatic Updates yet? It’s been out since March. So, after some investigating, I discovered that Vista SP1 has problems with some laptop hardware drivers, and the T4215 has several of these drivers.

After some hours of struggle, I was finally able to get my computer upgraded to SP1. Part of the problem is that the main Fujitsu site doesn’t have the drivers you need on their web site at the moment. So, here’s what you have to do to update the T4215 to Vista SP1:
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This sounds about right: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as conducted by ABC

After seeing part of the democratic debates on TV a couple of nights ago, I think that this is an entirely accurate portrayal of how ABC would handle the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

LINCOLN: In my opinion, slavery will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me, did an Elijah H. Johnson attend your church?

LINCOLN: When I was a boy in Illinois forty years ago, yes. I think he was a deacon.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you aware that he regularly called Kentucky “a land of swine and whores”?

LINCOLN: Sounds right — his ex-wife was from Kentucky.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why did you remain in the church after hearing those statements?

LINCOLN: I was eight.

DOUGLAS: This is an important question George — it’s an issue that certainly will be raised in the fall.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you denounce him?

LINCOLN: I’d like to get back to the divided house if I may.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you denounce and reject him?

LINCOLN: If it will make you shut up, yes, I denounce and reject him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you denounce and reject him with sugar on top?

LINCOLN: Yes.

There’s more. Frankly, no matter who wins, I’ll be glad when the election season is over.

Nature is Fascinating

So, we’ve all heard about how bacteria are starting to adapt to our antibiotics, right? (It’s standard-issue survival of the fittest stuff–the bacteria that can best survive antibiotics survive and reproduce, leading to more antibiotic resistant bacteria.)

Well, apparently, there are now bacteria that literally eat our antibiotics. The bacteria cited in the article can, if necessary, live only on antibiotics.

The good news is that these bacteria aren’t the kind that attack humans, but the bad news is that they’re “closely related to those that cause cystic fibrosis (Burkholderia cepacia) and blood infections (Serratia marcescens).”

On the one hand it’s terrible, because as we continue to overuse antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and the like, this is going to happen faster and faster until the antibiotic-resistant strains of our most dreaded diseases are the most common strains. On the other hand, it’s fascinating to hear about these new strains of bacteria evolving right before our eyes.

Upgrade In Progress

I’m in the process of updating to WordPress version 2.5. The site may look weird for a few minutes.

OK, I think we’re good now. Fingers are crossed, but I think I’ve fixed the problems that cropped up in the theme. Let me know if anything looks obviously wrong.

On the good side, they redesigned the backend that I’m using right now to type this, and it’s a lot prettier. Much less messy. So far, I approve.