Friday, October 27, 2006
On the bright side, by neglecting my blog I've been doing fabulously in my classes. Eh, I was never going to be a top-dog in the blogosphere anyhow.
Sporadic blogging in the near future. Regular schedule . . . eventually.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
A 44-year-old Saginaw man remains jailed today on charges of bestiality after he was seen engaged in sexual acts with a dead dog, Michigan State Police troopers said.
The man was arrested after police searched the area of Midland and Carter roads Friday for a man who ran away from a Bay County Animal Control officer. The entire incident was within view of a nearby day care center.
Troopers said a woman from the day care center called for animal control because there was a dead dog near the property which had been hit by a car several days earlier.
Before officers could arrive, the man showed up and began engaging in sexual acts with the dog, police said. The animal control officers also reported seeing the man involved in the sex act and as he approached the man, the man shoved him away and ran off.
Hat tip: Ace
I never heard about this in the news, but it's utterly ridiculous. I'm a person who's made up his mind on most issues, but I can't help but wonder how people who are undecided think about such matters.
I've read a lot of stories by people who had one political opinion and subsequently changed it after seeing the behavior and attitudes of the people on their side. If you're generally pro-Palestinian, what goes through your mind when the people on "your side" attack ambassadors and protest outside synagogues? When you're against immigration enforcement and reform, what do you think when "your side" assaults speakers and prevents them from giving their speeches?
I realize it's foolish to characterize any political movement by the looney toons at the edge of spectrum, but they're certainly the most visible, and they certainly bring your, um, perspective into the highest focus. Even if that is in a caricaturized format.
The conventional wisdom is that he's so popular now, so why not take advantage of it and just run for President.
I hear more from the arguments that Senators haven't made popular Presidential material in the last several decades because they have little to no executive experience. Still, I'm more convinced that he's too politically undeveloped to consider a Presidential bid. He's two years into his first term in the Senate. I won't discount that he was qualified to be a Senator, but also recall that his competition for the position was Alan Keyes.
Anyhow, most of the coverage the blogs are giving to this is divided between expressing why that would be a bad idea and lamenting the loving tongue baths the media seems to be stroking his ego with. Myself, I'm wondering whether or not the public at large would go for electing a political neophyte to office.
And of course, the requisite questions arise: Do they like him because he's black? Would he be elected just because he was black?
Her play was great; it was funny, creative, and poignant. Most of the other acts . . . well, they're trying. Good for them.
Some of the acts were interpretive dance. I'm not a big fan of this style of "performance art," and I've had some bad experiences sitting through it in the past. Thankfully there were other genres to break up the silliness.
Will be back to a regular posting schedule this week. Whatever "regular" is for this blog, at least.
Friday, October 20, 2006
If Democrats recapture the House, there is talk that they would begin impeachment proceedings against both President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Never mind whether or not such proceedings would go anywhere. If the proceedings were to succeed, then the next President would be the new Speaker of the House.
Could all of this just be a naked power-grab by the Democrats? I hate to sound cynical, but I wouldn't just brush it off. Considering the way they enjoy circumventing the will of the people by having the judiciary act almost as a super-legislature, I would put it in the realm of possibility.
Regardless, there is a lot is riding on this coming election.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
That's why we would like to take this opportunity to start a dialog with you, the conservative "values voter," by addressing an issue of vital importance to all of us -- the growing Republican homo menace.Heh. Funny.
(Hat tip: Ace)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A girl was placed in a science class discussion group with students who were not speaking english. She asked to be put in another group so that she could actually figure out what was going on, and the teacher had a conniption. A week later, due to the teacher's complaint, the girl is arrested for racism.
There are so many elements here to lay blame on I don't even know where to begin. The school? The teacher? The police? The laws?
The bottom line is that things are looking bad in Britain. If this were an isolated incident I'd brush it off, but stories like this are coming out of the UK at ever increasing rates. Britain may be one of the first societies to self-implode due to insanity.
I suppose the philosophy there is that you can't be homosexual and a republican. Even if Rogers is lying, this kind of thing could ruin that politician's life and career.
Democrats and liberals . . . is this really an acceptable strategy?
(Hat tip: Ace)
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy -- almost impenetrable forests of 10-feet (three metre) high marijuana plants.
General Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defence staff, said on Thursday that Taliban fighters were using the forests as cover. In response, the crew of at least one armored car had camouflaged their vehicle with marijuana.
"The challenge is that marijuana plants absorb energy, heat very readily. It's very difficult to penetrate with thermal devices ... and as a result you really have to be careful that the Taliban don't dodge in and out of those marijuana forests," he said in a speech in Ottawa.
"We tried burning them with white phosphorous -- it didn't work. We tried burning them with diesel -- it didn't work. The plants are so full of water right now ... that we simply couldn't burn them," he said.
Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hiller said dryly.
Those crazy Afghans and their drugs.
They also give voice to a critic, who says that the sample size of species is too small to draw this conclusion, and that any noticed pattern is just a coincidence, noise in the data.
Which is exactly why I'm often skeptical of this variety of research. Interesting, yes, and you can draw reasonable conclusions. However, this isn't the kind of research where you can run multiple trials and verify your data. You're looking at historical aspects and data derived from biology/geology/astronomy etc. records. The questions there are usually focused on how you obtained the data and whether or not you're interpretting it correctly.
The only reason I keep skepticism of the research is that with such a limited sample set (we only have one Earth, after all), it's hard to determine whether or not someone is interpretting the data properly.
Oh well. I'm a biochemist. What would I know about orbital cycling and its effect on the climate and speciation?
Actually, I think tongue piercings are probably the stupidest piercing. Well, second stupidest. There are certainly more sensitive areas where I don't think I want to break any skin.
Let this article be a bit of advice for those who think nature intended for you to shove metal rods through your tender bits.
Why is it wrong to harm other people?
You could ask when, as well, but we'll stick to this for now. Have fun.
Bumped to the top, because I want to see what everyone has to say.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Not to bring back Cold War containment strategies, but I can't imagine that military action against North Korea isn't being considered by the administration. The current regime in North Korea was, until recently, crazy but mostly toothless. If it becomes a Chinese puppet, the South Koreans might find themselves rather uneasy, and understandably; it was the Chinese who helped the North Koreans in the original war.
Would the US go to war with North Korea? Not without the approval of the Chinese, and I doubt they'd let the US expand its hegemony in the region so easily. Japan already gives them cause for concern; another western foothold in the area might be more than they could bear.
Would the US go to war with China over North Korea? It's a possibility, though I'm hesitant to guess how much of one. With troops invested in Iraq, the military is going to be less interested in starting a full war elsewhere in the world, especially one as taxing as a war with China would be. Could the US win a war against China? Again, with troops in Iraq, it would be a much harder endeavor. We already have a military presence in South Korea, but not nearly enough to fight the full might of China. I hate to say it, but I imagine the only way to quickly and easily win a war against China would be the use of nuclear weapons, and I don't think anyone wants to open that Pandora's Box.
I ask whether or not the US would fight, but I imagine that South Korea would be a bigger instigator in this. I imagine their government having more to say about China taking over North Korea than the US would, but if South Korea went to war with China, we would be dragged into the fight almost immediately.
So, if it comes to it, does North Korea have the strategic significance that the US would fight China for it? Maybe. I can't say either way. I suppose we wait with baited breath to see what happens over the next several months.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
You see, I tried searching some of my students out on Facebook. Facebook pages have privacy settings where you can allow only your friends to view your page, preventing the public at large from getting a glimpse. Some of my students did not think to do this. What I found on their pages was . . . interesting. Here are some relevant screen-captures (click for full size):
The names and faces were blurred out for their protection. The net is full of weirdos, after all.
Here's some helpful advice girls: Be careful what you put on the internet. You never know who might end up reading it, such as somebody who grades all of your papers.
And to the rest of you students out there: If you're going to slam your teachers on the internet, you'd better be absolutely certain your teachers will never see it.
Unfortunately, they only have a graphical version of the letter, no text. Still, it's a lengthy piece of work. If I get the time to read it in its entirety, I might share some of my thoughts on it.
First, let me say that if there were any country I would support military action against,
That being said, the Bush administration chose a path of military action against
This is especially significant because
This is the specific point of contention amongst most people when it comes to arguments about military action in
Saddam’s program for weapons of mass destruction was probably more advanced than Kim Jong Il’s when the War in
Saddam’s weapons program was a big threat because of his relationship to the terrorist networks. It’s unlikely Saddam would ever have been allowed to build missiles that could target the
However, the lack of any relationship to terrorist networks (so far) makes the threat level smaller. We can only hope that Kim Jong Il isn’t so suicidally crazy that he would drop a nuke on
Ultimately, I would call the North Korean weapons program an attempt to prop up the current regime. In the future, Kim Jong Il may try to sell any weapons to terrorists in order to make money for his destitute country. It is most likely also an attempt to dissuade military action against his country.
This is where I think the major difference lies in the Bush administration’s approach to policy between
The involvement of
All of this makes for a major distinction with
While I’m sure a unified
I’m open to alternative explanations and interpretations of US actions in this area, but this is my best understanding of the situation.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Over at his site, he has the answers to a teaser "quiz" he wrote from the early access. Interesting stuff. It's worth reading.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Arguably, those religions are obligated to wear such adornment (although the veil is debateable in Islam), while crosses are optional in Christianity. Still, her argument has some merit. A turban is okay but a necklace isn't?
Britain has had issues with this kind of issue lately, and the natives seem to be getting fed up with policies that favor Islam and other religions over Christianity.
Also, apologies for the delay in posting lately. Part of the delay? We've a new cat in the family, so part of my time has been spent trying to acclimate it to its new surroundings.
Check it out:
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Next, this comic from Least I Could Do:
Sorry for the inconvenience.
His example was with the differences between men and women. Scientists thought that men were superior in terms of their brains. When it was found that male brains weighed more than female brains, this was considered their proof. When the argument turned around that elephant brains weigh more than human brains (in other words, so what?), they then argued that it was the ratio of brain weight to body weight . . . except this favored women. And so came more rationalizations, etc.
Society has a much different temperament these days (Russell wrote this particular essay in 1932), but here's the money quote:
But the alliance between politicians and pseudo-scientists is so strong that it will take a long time before such facts become commonly known. The general public cannot tell which among scientists is to be trusted and will therefore be wise to be very sceptical whenever they hear a man of science giving a confident opinion about a matter on which he has strong prejudices. Men of science are not supermen and are as liable to error as the rest of us.It's a bit of general advice worth bearing in mind; that PhD next to your name doesn't shield you from uncritical thinking. I included the first sentence along with the quote because, whatever the issues where that he was writing about then, I'd say the relationship between scientific advocacy groups and politicians of any persuasion has become ever more complicated.
Think global warming. You have scientists on both sides of that divide spouting different facts and announcing either the salvation or doom of mankind. The truth of the matter may not emerge until this topic leaves the realm of politics.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The second was a collection of essays by Bertrand Russell. It was on the same shelf, so it picqued my interest. It should make for some interesting blog material. What I really find neat is that the essay was akin to the modern blog post. Short vignettes on some topic or another. I look forward to writing about it.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
You submit them a sample. They sequence your DNA and turn it into art on a canvas. They'll also do your fingerprints.
Possibly best to avoid this if you're a criminal. Just throwing that out there.
Incidentally, Christmas is right around the corner *hint hint*.
In a bit of irony, they were also actively campaigning on a raise in minimum wage in Missouri. It's ironic because this emerged after the group in question started stiffing its workers on their minimum wage pay.
Nothing brings out political shenanigans like an election cycle.
Hat tip: Gateway Pundit
"She told me she had to go buy the donuts for her Singles with STDs group. Point taken."Ouch. Although I suppose I would rather hear a break-up/turn-down line where they make it sound like you're better off without them, rather than the other way around.
Still . . . ouch.
Can a non-religious person act morally? Certainly. Can a religious person act immorally? Again, without a doubt. What, then, is significantly different? I would argue that a religious (i.e. Christian) person is less likely to act immorally. What does government have to do with this?
I think a good example might be the difference between western democracies and communist governments. All the communist governments I can think of work very hard to stamp out religion, or at least keep it hard-pressed under the government's thumb. This results in a society, or at least a government, that is mostly non-religious. The end result? Well, communist governments tend to be hopelessly corrupt, ruthlessly brutal, and ceaselessly paranoid. Is this a consequence of being non-religious or just communist? I suppose it's hard to say, given that the latter is always accompanied by the former.
This isn't to discount corruption in western democracies. There's a degree of corruption in every government, no question. I'd wager that communist governments end up being more corrupt than religiously neutral western democracies.
Not that that's a good argument for religion. I wouldn't find it convincing that the religious are 37% less corrupt than the non-religious (just making up numbers here). If you think about the philosphy, though, there's at least something worth grabbing onto here.
Plato wrote about a farmer who finds a ring that grants the wearer invisibility. With said invisibility, the farmer could commit any misdeed without fear of repurcussion. He could even, if he were clever enough, dethrone the king and set himself up as ruler. Plato wondered what it was that might prevent a man in such a position from acting out on the darker desires of human nature.
I think the religious person, thus, has the advantage there in that there is a moral system instituting a level of control in their life. Fail-proof, no, but it is there nonetheless to deter the religious man from doing whatever he can get away with. What deters the non-religious man from doing whatever he can get away with?
That's it. I'm just thinking out loud, so to speak.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Not all fundamentalism is religious in nature. The impulse to violence, driven by mannichean certainty, is present in many folks. Those who reject conventional religion still may have that primal urge to smite their diabolic foes. The urge is still there; it simply manifests itself through a non-religious (or actually a quasi-religious) belief system.Cheers.
This post is news that is just weird and goofy, or didn't fit into the other categories I selected. Enjoy!
Viewing God as male leads to domestic abuse
Of course, I don't expect anything different from the Episcopal Church, but it's still bizarre. The reasoning is poor at best, and it's just another symptom of a sickness in the church. Dr. Mohler wrote about it once. The essence was that liberal theologians were trying to break new ground by challenging core tenets and aspects of Christian theology, declaring that they were unsuitable as parts of Christian orthodoxy. However, it eventually progressed to the point where there was nothing left; with nothing left to challenge, there is nothing on which to base a faith. A church full of John Shelby Spongs . . . not a pretty picture.
Harvard committee recommends returning religion to curriculum
This I find interesting. Harvard did begin as a seminary, so I suppose it's only fitting. Still, knowing how many of the academics at Harvard feel about religion, I can only wonder what kind of classes will emerge from this kind of policy.
Moron recovering from 2-story escape
This is a hilarious story, once again highlighting how combining drugs with practical jokes means college students will always have great stories to share.
Hemmorhoid cream not for the face, according to makers
I didn't realize this was something they actually had a problem with. Thanks for the tip.
Teens learn hard way that nude beach has been overrun with perverts
Ah, Australia. I suppose one would expect perverts at a nude beach, but this seems out of control. Highlights: Girls are offered money for oral sex; upon fleeing, they encounter a man masturbating in the bushes; when they return to their car, a couple is copulating on it.
Youth asking for salary is stripped, paraded
Amazingly enough, he's not a grad student.
Slang of the 1920s
Well, this is just the bee's knees.
Prince offers strippers money to quit their jobs
Sounds like the guy is a feminist, really. I'm impressed.
Coolest. Teacher. Ever.
Unless you're against eating children. Then you might not like him.
This is the ultimate DIY home project. This guy transformed his basement into an 80s style arcade, including ambient music and sound effects piped in through speakers.
The pictures are amazing. I wish I could do it myself.
Friday, October 06, 2006
I don't know exactly, but get me in on those controlled studies. Aw yeah.
Nobel Prizes in my areas of interest, for: RNAi gene silencing and crystal structures of RNA polymerase-II in action.
Honoring the more, um, esoteric contributions to science, the IgNobels this year honored such projects as determining why woodpeckers don't get headaches and discovering that the best way to treat the hiccups is with a finger up the rectum.
Consequently, I will not be getting hiccups again. Ever.
Northwestern Lab Explosion
Apparently there was an explosion in one of the labs at Northwestern. Two were injured, but not seriously.
I miss all the fun stuff.
Quantum information teleported from light to matter
Hmm . . . quantum data transfer . . .
"Johnson, did you fax me that report?" "I both did and did not fax you the report, sir. We won't know one way or the other until you check the machine."
Scientists to make human-rabbit hybrid
Showing that some people have no qualms about playing God, some scientists are set to fuse animal cells to rabbit eggs to get 99.9% human . . . er, embryos. Not sure what specie it will actually be.
Supposedly this is about stem cell breakthroughs. They don't really specify what this will teach them, but hey, anything for science, right?
I understand the positions of the schools. Like so many other youthful squabbles, this kind of thing can spill into the halls, even if it originated outside the building. It's good to put a stop to it while you can.
Still, the admins had best keep a tight grasp on it. If it really does violate freedom of speech, such as punishing controversial religious/political views for being "disruptive to class," then the schools will have gone too far.
Columbia Students Attack Minuteman Founder
Quite the story. College Republicans invite the Minuteman founder to speak at the school, and protestors storm the stage and end up attacking the guy. Freedom of speech . . . when it's the right kind of speech, I guess.
Michelle Malkin has the low-down, including video.
Banned by YouTube
Speaking of Michelle, some of her anti-jihadi videos were yanked by YouTube for being offensive. She thinks the charge is dubious.
If I understand correctly, the process for complaints on YouTube is such: You "flag" a video if it is inappropriate or offensive. If a video receives enough flags, the admins remove it, no review process needed. If a user has enough videos removed, their account is suspended. Again, no review process.
While I suppose that's the easiest method for a site as large as YouTube, it certainly seems like a bit more discretion would be advised for their admins, given the nature of the intertubes.
Still, I thought I'd toss out my final thoughts on the subject and then move on. Well, I'll move on. Everyone else can feel free to discuss it as you please.
My own approach to animal intelligence is largely experiential. I don't know much about the scientific studies regarding the field (animal ethology, apparently). Still, this article from wikipedia on animal cognition was somewhat helpful. What did I take away from it?
1) The people who actually study this are, apparently, divided. They can't seem to decide whether animal intelligence is just an illusion of mechanical responses that simply seem intelligent, or actual reasoning skills. They don't know if the cognitive processes are similar to ours or not. They argue over the proper way to interpret experimental results.
2) They still don't compare to humans. Not that I needed the article to tell me this, but it's nice to know. The fact of the matter is, however much intelligence you want to attribute to an animal, it will never, ever compare to that of a human being. We can argue over whether that is a difference in degree or type, a distinction Ryan was right to make. But the difference is there and it can't be ignored without a degree of intellectual dishonesty.
3) The argument has gotten away from my initial point. The initial idea was, "Why is human life more valuable than animal life?" I defended it with a reference to intelligence based on the inifinite potential that human intelligence represents. Whatever animal intelligence may produce, it offers us no benefits. Animal intelligence tends to produce only further survival for the animals. Human intelligence, on the other hand, produces all those things I defended as products of man's intelligence: society, culture, music, art, technology, science, medicine.
Thus why human life has more value than animal life. As I see it, the only real way to discount this is to render all accomplishments of civilization meaningless, a resort to nihilism.
And unless this discussion takes a turn that sparks my interest, that's all I have to say.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
On the bright side, I caught up on about 4 weeks worth of cartoons and Stargate.
Possible blogging Tuesday night or Wednesday. I would advise against holding your breath.
In the meantime, something just for fun: I recently bought a slew of music off of iTunes on a whim (aside from the free music being given away through Facebook). They are, in no particular order:
Anberlin: Never Take Friendship Personal (album)
Anathallo: Luminous Luminescence in the Atlas Position (album), Floating World (album)
Thrice: The Artist in the Ambulance (album), The Illusion of Safety (album), Vheissu (album)
Lots of good stuff. Also, from the music being offered through Facebook, I really got a kick out of Junior Kickstart by The Go! Team. No pun intended.