semiotic_pirate: (Equally Large Boa)
NYClean – put it in the toolbar to eliminate the pesky wall

Economy: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/opinion/krugman-the-secret-of-our-non-success.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/business/global/chinas-slowing-economy-puts-pressure-on-american-exporters.html?hp&pagewanted=all

Farmland prices: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/us/across-corn-belt-farmland-prices-keep-soaring.html?pagewanted=all

Farming Techniques: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/big-smart-green-farming/

Really, it’s all about the ability to combine multiple crops (integrated agriculture and aquaculture, what was it called again?) and whatnot to not only feed the land/water, but to squeeze the most productivity with the least amount of industrialized inputs.

Fertility: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/opinion/we-need-to-talk-about-our-eggs.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fopinion%2Findex.jsonp

Snark: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/flu-season-health-precautions/

More Snark: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/tattoos-for-the-terrified/

Is it creepy to anyone else how closely condemnation of this personal decision ranges to other personal, bodily decisions, such as abortion? If you don't care to do it, who cares? But why do I have to hear about it?

Hanta virus in the Adirondacks of NY State (around Mount Mercy, how’s that for irony?): http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/10/22/us/ap-us-travel-brief-adirondacks-rodent-disease.html

Have you become a carrier? Living near to Livestock will increase the probability: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/proximity-to-livestock-raises-a-mrsa-risk/
If you are a carrier – does that mean that you won’t be infected in the bad way? Doesn’t this, technically, qualify as a self-mediated vaccination?

Don’t hate the chickens: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/nyregion/chickens-threaten-to-divide-park-slope-community.html

OMGZ! Salmon that eat ducklings, mice and muskrats!! http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/protecting-a-wolf-of-a-salmon/

Global Fisheries Meetup & TURF reserves: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/opinion/how-to-catch-fish-and-save-fisheries.html

And THIS is why I like to go for long, slow walks in the forest: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/science/david-haskell-finds-biology-zen-in-a-patch-of-nature.html?hpw&pagewanted=all It reminds me of a scene from Diane Duane’s “So You Want to Be a Wizard?” book, where the trees tell Nita that they spend long periods of time creating the perfect mosaics of leaves on the forest floors surrounding them. Haskell’s calling them “forest mandalas” because he includes everything around him and things that impact all of our senses. Very cool. His blog: http://davidhaskell.wordpress.com/

Yeah. Evernote has it right. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/us/in-silicon-valley-perks-now-begin-at-home.html?hpw&pagewanted=all When a company makes things more convenient for their workers – by providing laundry facilities on site, or using a house cleaning service twice a month for its employees, etc… These things make life simpler and less stressful for the worker, and enables them to concentrate MORE on work, when they are at work.

Note to Self: Must find out if the Munsters reboot, Mockingbird Lane will appear on HULU. It has a few people in it that I have loved in other stuff in the past…

One last article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/nyregion/pathways-in-technology-early-college-high-school-takes-a-new-approach-to-vocational-education.html?pagewanted=all&gwh=4BF55B5F6D4E4CF03122EDDBA4F026B8

Just amazing. Wish they implemented this everywhere; wish they’d had something more like this when I was coming through school at that age. With vocational/personality testing by guidance counselors so that a student growing up can have their interests and abilities tracked through elementary and junior high so that they are placed on the right track for them to be both productive and happy in life.

Mmmnn. Can you see that, for a little while today, I didn't get much work done?
semiotic_pirate: (Kiki's Gigi at Bakery)
Wherein there is some discussion about an article and mathematics, then I go into personal example and perhaps… just perhaps, the land of TMI.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/a-mathematical-challenge-to-obesity.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general

It isn’t that all of the really tasty and or affordable foods are very bad for us… No. It is that there is a “glut of food in America” – that we have too many choices. That there is an overproduction of food in the United States. I really don’t think that it is that simple. There is a whole industry formed around setting up a supermarket, in which food segments go where, which items go on which shelves and how to get people to traffic as much of the store as possible before they get to the checkout area so that they are sucked into impulse buying. There’s even some work being done (as elsewhere, like malls) of which sounds and smells should permeate the air in order to induce higher buying levels.

And don’t forget about all the advertisements pushing us to go out and dine at all the restaurants – whatever you do, do NOT look up how many calories go into your favorite dishes. Because it contains a horrendously, disgustingly level of fat and calories.

Should we even mention the idiocy of misleading labels regarding portions sizes? I buy this package of whatever, and think that the single package (since it seems to be sold as single serving sized packages) is one serving… but NO. It is in fact, around 2-3 servings.

No wonder we call it CONSUMPTION; it isn’t just about internally consuming something to turn it into energy to fuel our bodies.

Is this another of capitalism’s psychopathic/sociopathic symptoms?

Does anyone want to make an argument that color television and marketing of food products plays any part in the rise of obesity? From a television history wiki:

” By the late 1960s and early 1970s though, color sets had become standard, and the completion of total colorcasting was achieved when the last of the daytime programs converted to color and joined with primetime in the first all-color season in 1972.

By the mid-1970s, the only stations broadcasting in black-and-white were a few high-numbered UHF stations in small markets, and a handful of low-power repeater stations in even smaller markets such as vacation spots. By 1979, even the last of these had converted to color and by the early 1980s B&W sets had been pushed into niche markets.”


From the article linked to above:

” Between 1975 and 2005, the average weight of Americans had increased by about 20 pounds. Since the 1970s, the national obesity rate had jumped from around 20 percent to over 30 percent… You’ve been programmed to eat more.”

I also found this statement by Mr. Chow to be fascinating – in that it is something that we all intuitively KNEW but had never had the facts to back it up:

” That the conventional wisdom of 3,500 calories less is what it takes to lose a pound of weight is wrong. The body changes as you lose. Interestingly, we also found that the fatter you get, the easier it is to gain weight. An extra 10 calories a day puts more weight onto an obese person than on a thinner one.”

The mathematician goes on to say that he thinks that we should stop marketing food to children. Maybe, we should take it one step further and stop/limit the marketing of food? It is still going to be there in the supermarket for us to buy – why do we need to have it marketed to us? We all still need to eat. Right? What would change?

A while back, I made a deal with myself. If I started “craving” a food around the time I saw a commercial about that food (whether it be an item picked up at the supermarket or for a particular restaurant) I would consciously refuse to eat that food or go to that restaurant for 24 hours from the time the craving started. That has done wonders for my self-control of impulsive behavior, especially as regards to food consumption.

The other two things that I’ve recently “implemented” that have helped to cut down on my personal consumption?

One is that I “cut the cord” to the cable company. I don’t see as many commercials as I used to. And most of the commercials that I do see pertain to durable goods or services. Which, to me, are easier to resist.

The second thing that helps is that a LOT of the foods and dining experiences that are advertised these days are no longer on my list of foods I can safely eat. Gotta love that gluten intolerance. You lose weight from the decrease in overall inflammation as well as from the period where you have to adjust your mindset to what you can eat.

There’s a little correction down at the bottom of the article that confuses me slightly. I read it that, on average, out of three Americans, two of them will be overweight and one of them will be obese. Am I getting that right? I mean, when I look around at all the normal, average folk that surround me in day to day living – this seems about right. And that is truly scary. That the fit people are the outliers.

Another factor, that I touched on yesterday in the life satisfaction rating the United States has in comparison to other industrialized nations, is the time crunch issue. As a nation, our work/life balance sucks. Let’s looks at the life of an average individual: I drive a long way back and forth to work, (or deal with traffic that makes it seem like a long way) put in at least 8 hours at the office (because lunches and breaks aren’t paid I actually spend a minimum of nine hours at work, if I am honest), I go home and sit on the couch and veg out b/c I need to feel like I’m “relaxed” and it really doesn’t feel like I have the time to do much of anything else because, hell, I have to try and squeeze in 8 hours of sleep. I live primarily in a commuter culture, with no sidewalks for convenient and safe walking around my neighborhood and have no access to adult community playgrounds (like in China; you know you’ve seen them in Karate Kid). My average allotted annual vacation time is miniscule when compared to other industrialized nations.

Let’s see what my time crunch is, typically, on a daily basis:
0.75 hours getting ready (some people use more time)
1.50 hours round trip travel time to/from work (with traffic)
9.00 hours average per day at office
0.75 hours to get ready for bed
8.00 hours minimum sleep

That adds up to a total of 20 hours. This doesn’t even count the time taken to occasionally get things done on the way to or from work, say I want to stop at Starbucks in the morning (I hardly ever do that anymore, thank goodness, and my wallet thanks me for that fact) or fill up the gas tank and pick up the fixings for dinner on the way home… And don’t forget about meal prep and eating time – for dinner at the very least, yeah? And if, IF, you want to do any type of activity/exercise, this typically involves changing clothes and potentially having to drive wherever it is you will complete that activity. A maximum of FOUR HOURS of potential leisure time per day IS NOT ENOUGH. Most people sacrifice sleep, and we all know that isn’t a good idea. A great majority of people use weekend hours to get housework and other chores done, I am one of them.

Here’s a bit of information most women won’t share: According to my BMI results, I am 9 pounds into the “overweight” zone. The Human Weight Simulator linked to in the below article, based on a very complicated mathematical formula didn’t seem to tell me anything I didn’t already learn from my “Lose It” app on the iPhone… and a nutrition class taken about ten years or so ago. The app is based on how many fractions of a pound you want to try to lose in a week (½, 1, 1.5, 2) and your goal weight: the time it would take to do that isn’t explicitly stated.

According to the app (after some math is done), based on losing ½ pound per week, it would take 470 days to lose 33.6 pounds. I could consume 2085 calories per day and would have to walk a slow 2.5 mph for 30 minutes a day. The kicker of this program, though, is that as you lose weight, and enter that new weight in the tracker, the number of calories you can consume is modified. So it really isn’t as cut and dried as the results from the HW simulator.

According to the super-efficient mathematical equation, based on losing 33.6 pounds in 730 days, I could consume 2019 calories per day and would have to do some light walking for 30 minutes a day. That’s it.

The time it would take, according to the HWS, is 55.3% more than what the app calculated (though in truth, the app doesn’t calculate how long, it is just an approximator that allows you to easily track food consumed, activities done, and tracks changing weight… with pretty statistical graphs). One and a third years or two years, with two years seeming more likely. To me, that isn’t that bad and is probably a healthy and sustainable time frame in which to lose that amount of weight.

Why, if I claim I am only 9 pounds into the red zone do I feel like I need to lose 33.6 pounds? Because I don’t want to be on the edge of a “healthy” weight, as that is figured using the Body Mass Index.

http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

According to the BMI categories:

Underweight = < 18.5
Normal weight = 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight = 25 – 29.9
Obese = >30

According to this, my BMI is 26.4, and I would have to lose nine pounds to edge me down in the normal range. My “goal” weight, however, would put me at a BMI of 21.4. Neither too close to under or over, approximately in the Goldilocks zone of a normal BMI.

As a closing point:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/business/pepsi-and-competitors-scramble-as-soda-sales-drop.html?hpw&pagewanted=all

Let us not forget about soft drinks and other “fortified” beverages a.k.a. American Champagne.

Well… I’m off to go do that 30 minutes of walking.
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/05/dell-mads-christensen/

Read about this yesterday via Twitter. Spot on about Dell’s idiocy quotient. Nice example of exclusionary… and psychotic, corporate behavior.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/05/china-happiness/

Money only brings happiness (i.e. life satisfaction) up to the point when all basic needs are met and you have just enough excess to enjoy some vacations, etc. Definitely a sharp case of diminishing returns after that point. This and the article above truly are addendums to the capitalistic/corporate psychopathy that I touched on yesterday.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/05/republican-navy-biofuel/

*BOGGLES* What are these Republicans thinking? There is going to be a LOT of angry grain farmers and altfuel corporations up in arms if the House Armed Services Committee gets away with banning the DOD from making or buying alternative fuels. Not that I wouldn’t mind a decrease in grain commodity volatility that’s been occurring ever since those grains’ pricing has started to be linked to petroleum oil and other fuel sources. However, the case about products that are more expensive the closer to the R&D side of things they are and that the prices have a downward trend over time the longer they are available to be purchased and the more readily they are available to the general public. And to (pun) top things off… don’t they realize that once they STOP using altfuels, the price of petroleum based fuels is going to go up b/c demand will be up – and we all know about the status of the supply and control thereof. Sheesh.

As far as the invisible hand of capitalism aka “the market” being allowed to guide our use and support of alternative fuels… Do we really want a mindless psychopath in charge of that kind of thing?

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/05/onstar-billboards/

In other news… I am sooo glad I don’t have a vehicle with OnStar right now. Really, really glad. Use of in-vehicle cameras? Really?! Um. Invasion of privacy aside (because we all know no one reads the fine print in user contracts) this is scary stuff. And just because implementation of this isn’t going to happen this year, or even the next… That the patent exists at all indicates that someone has the bright idea of eventually, inevitably implementing it.

Let’s go one step further: I personally know people that work at advert type companies that have databases full of handy information that could be coupled with this patented product idea to create targeted ads that could (gasp) be flashed on those handy nav screens whenever you come to a complete stop. At every stop sign, light and every scenario of stop and go traffic of any kind you could be bombarded with targeted ads. A lot of us have already been preprogrammed to put up with this type of behavior on the internet. Why not real life?

Where’s my opt out clause? I want to preemptively file one somehow, somewhere (like registering on the Do Not Call list) so I don’t have to deal with this asshattery when it finally gets to rollout phase.

And the DH wonders why I questioned his decision to save a few dollars up front in order to buy the cheaper advert version of the Kindle?

Silliness:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/jeff_pearlman/05/09/jetman/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

OMG! It’s a real life Buzz Lightyear! People are comparing him to Evil Kineval but really, he’s Buzz Lightyear. I seriously would like to see him appear on SNL and say “To Infinity, and Beyond!” That. Would. Be. Fantastic. And: I want my own kerosene jetpack powered rigid deployable carbon-Kevlar wing… Do you think, if I started a Kickstarter in order to buy one of these things, people would help me make that dream come true? Nah. I didn’t think so either.

Elsewhere? Insanity:

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/iranian-rapper-faces-death-threats-bounty-over-song/?hpt=hp_c3

Anyone who insults the sanctity of Islam, any one of the great prophets, the Imams, and Sadigheh Tahereh (the prophet’s daughter) should be executed – according to Iran’s Penal Code, Article 513. Death to artists!

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/15/justice/mississippi-highway-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

People in Mississippi are getting pulled over by an individual posing as a police officer and getting shot. Death to motorists!

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/killings-lead-to-question-can-you-wait-before-pulling-over-for-a-cop/?hpt=hp_t3

People are being encouraged to dial 911 if they are pulled over and other actions to take in order to avoid being killed by the random wacko.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/15/european-union-forces-attack-pirate-targets-on-somali-shore/?hpt=hp_t3

Not really insanity on behalf of the EU Naval Force, but rather on the targets of their attacks. I don’t take this personally as a pirate as I am more in line with the Pirate Party than with the slaughtering and looting kind of pirates… Death to pirates!

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/15/us/california-missing-fbi/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

Okay. A guy in the FBI, working in the counterterrorism arena… missing. What if it isn’t a case of suicidal tendencies and more a matter of being kidnapped and squeezed for information? Anything is possible, and I am rife with speculation about this for some reason. Some of the details of the search set off some red flags in my subconscious and proceeded to bubble up into my conscious brain.
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
http://fairfaxcity.patch.com/articles/us-ranks-as-25th-best-country-to-be-a-mother

Not sure if anything needs to be said about this article that isn't obvious to those reading it. How can we make it better in the U.S. for people to be parents? You constantly hear the right wing making innuendoes and speeches akin to how the decline in the birth rate is making it easier for immigrants to come in and so forth, and of course the whole anti-abortion stance... After reading this article, one has to wonder how they can sync their need for American women to pop out more kids when the environment to do so in is so much worse off than in ALL the other industrialized nations.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/14/new-obama-ad-seeks-to-undercut-romney-record-on-jobs/

Wouldn't it be interesting to make a connection to the “Greed is Good” Wallstreet film… Gecko = Mittens?

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/05/obama-newsweek-cover-gay-president-/1?csp=34news

Misleading title and magazine cover may create a bit of hoopla and mixed feelings for both supporters and detractors of the president. I get where the author of the article is coming from but Newsweek is putting this image on its cover for the sensationalist reaction that it will engender and not because it is a good representation of the content of the article.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304451104577392261536405038.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

No. Dads are the new “co-parents” you misleading idiotic title makers. Seriously?! Did the WSJ just proceed to denigrate women and their role as mothers… lemme guess, on Mothers Day? I guess the “stay-at-home Dad,” Dad/Father monikers aren't sensationalist enough? Oh, and Universality forfend that the WSJ might even contemplate a situation where it is a gay couple that either adopted or surrogate-sourced a child… It almost seems like they are attempting to say that a majority or average amount of men do more than women in the parenting role (in their opinion) but refrain from saying so because it would be an outright lie; some men DO do more than their partner/spouse, but it has been negotiated that way in the relationship. The fact is that each couple has to learn what works best for them as individuals, and that each couple also can’t assume current status quo is going to work for them for the life of the relationship. The breakdown of who does what (chores, etc) occurs according to preference, ability and negotiations when it is something both abhor to do. And let’s not stop there – what about the relationships that are made up of more than two people?

This was the best quote from the article, IMHO: “As men adjust to contemporary family life, Mr. Coltrane speculates that American culture may be on its way to phasing out the gendered roles of "husband and wife" and "father and mother" and replacing them with the functional roles of "spouse and parent."” I thought this was the best part of the article because it actually touched on the fact that spouse and parent can be functional roles without having a gender or sexual orientation attached to it. Wonder when people will start discussing renewable term marriage contracts as a replacement for the "till death or divorce" setup we have currently.

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/05/alt-text-scams/

Interesting and relevant.

http://www.wired.com/design/2012/05/identity-protection-wallpaper/

Tinfoil hat for your HOUSE! Sweet. They should make it industrial strength for house “wrapping” underneath the siding (like something you can layer on underneath the insulation layer). But this is not going to affect WINDOWS and what about people who like to sit on their deck? Somewhat useful…

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/opinion/a-better-pro-bono-plan.html?_r=1&hp

This should be changed to say Minimum, 50 pro bono service hours PER YEAR by all licensed lawyers. I mean, really, how can he even think about setting up destitute clients with unlicensed legal representation? For shame! However, a pro bono tax credit with a cap might be a really good incentive to get the entire profession in the mood to do some good for their communities. Of course, there will be caveats about not representing wealthy people for free or any of their normal client base, etc.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/business/media/audiences-now-rarely-drawn-to-live-television.html?ref=business?src=dayp

This is the reason I rarely watch things on SyFy or CBS… or any other channel that doesn’t make it easier for someone to watch their programming without having to have a cable subscription. I love my HuluPlus – and as long as their commercials don’t cut into the programming too much (BTW HULU, pay attention here: for each block of commercials, they should only last a total of 3 minutes, TOPS, and three blocks is enough for a ½ hour show, five blocks for a 1 hour show… and stop putting ads at the END OF THE SHOW, I AM NOT GOING TO WATCH THEM {it only started a week or so ago, they stick a block of commercials into the space between the end of the show and the show’s credit roll} bad enough you put them at the beginning of the show). Both of the mentioned channels have onerous online streaming experiences and do not offer their content to services like HuluPlus.

Anyone know if HBO or any of the other “pay” channels have subscription by show services? That might be a good idea for them to bring in more subscribers. Maybe networks should serve themselves ala cart to consumers directly, through “aggregater services” like HuluPlus or even on the device itself (like my Roku). That – would be great.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/logic-and-neutrality/

This article caught my eye b/c it has a great drawing of Spock talking to Sherlock Holmes. When reading through it, I was impressed by the erudite nature of the article itself. Good thought provoking stuff, something for the mind to chew on slowly in order to savor the taste of all those cool words.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/opinion/backward-on-domestic-violence.html

Getting mixed feelings about this… should it just get passed and then amended later? No. Looks like the current version as approved by the Senate should get passed. What the hell is the House thinking? *disgust* Why rip out all the wonderful stuff the Senate put into the bill... AND remove a list of currently protected people? IDIOTS!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/opinion/sunday/fables-of-wealth.html?src=me&ref=general

Wow. Just wow. So corporations are sociopaths/psychopaths and about 10% of the people who work on Wall Street are psychopaths… does capitalism encourage/reward socio- and psycho-pathic behavior? I've had discussions with people about the corporate personhood claptrap but hadn't heard the capitalist argument before. Very interesting. Glad I work for a cooperative.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/opinion/sunday/the-amygdala-made-me-do-it.html?src=me&ref=general&pagewanted=all

Final article of the day for me was this little tidbit. I had a flashback to Adam Sandler's Waterboy film when I saw the title. Now I am waiting for someone to site these various books in a legal defense... Perhaps put forward by a lawyer, representing someone pro bono ala my above argument, in NYC?

What say you mateys?
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
Here's why:

Credit Card Reform Long Overdue

Under the new rules millions of credit card users will avoid retroactive interest rate increases on existing balances, have more time to pay monthly bills, receive more notice of changes in card terms, and pay fewer penalty fees and late charges. Here’s a brief summary of the major changes.

Rate Hikes: The ability of card issuers to hike rates on existing balances will be limited. Also, rates on new advances can increase only after the first year and a 45-day advance notice of the change.

Universal Default: Issuers will not be able to increase interest rates based on "universal default," a practice of raising rates based on a cardholder’s payment record with other credit issuers. Some major card issuers have already voluntarily ended this practice.

Due Dates: Issuers will have to give cardholders "a reasonable amount of time" to make payments on monthly bills. This is interpreted to mean at least 21 days from the billing date. Many issuers have squeezed due dates down to impractical levels.

Time of Payments: Card issuers will no longer be able to set early morning or other arbitrary deadlines for payments on their due dates. The standard cutoff will be 5 p.m. Also, if an issuer does not accept mailed payments on weekends or holidays, those days cannot be considered in a late payment.

High Interest First: When people have more than one card with an issuer, the issuers can no longer apply payments to the lowest interest accounts first. Payment above the minimum required will have to go to the highest interest account first or be divided proportionately.

Over Limit Fees: Over limit fees will be prohibited if consumers exceed credit limits because of holds or blocks placed on transactions (temporarily adding a deposit amount is common with charges at motels and on car rentals).

Double-Cycle Billing: Issuers will be limited to computing finance charges on transactions in the current billing cycle and will no longer be able to go back to the previous cycle. Double-cycle billing is a practice that catches consumers who pay off their balances in full in one month but not in the next.

These are the reforms that will affect most consumers. There will also be additional disclosure requirements but few people read those disclosures anyway. These are much needed and long overdue changes to end some very abusive practices. Unfortunately the new rules won’t take effect for another year and a half in July 2010.

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Anybody else excited to hear this news?

Posty Post

Dec. 26th, 2008 06:39 pm
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
The Netherlands' Delta Committee rocks. Click through to read an amazing article about the Dutch 200 year plan to protect their country from rising sea levels on account of global warming. Amazing diagrams and interesting pictures. Now that is prudent and rational planning. Now this makes me want to visit Amsterdam and the surrounding countryside of the Netherlands even more.

risk = (probability of failure) x (projected cost of damage)

Maybe if they had actually USED this equation for New Orleans, the damages and horrifying results of Hurricane Katrina wouldn't have occurred. This equation has been in used by the Dutch and for high-end engineering risk analysis since the 1950's, by the way. Other than the Dutch, it is usually only used by fields like nuclear power, aerospace, and chemical manufacturing.

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In the never-never land of created wants, enter the Mitsubishi LaserVue 65" Black DLP HDTV - L65A90 which is a laser-powered television with a starting price of $7K. Yowch! But it is capable of producing a 3D image… and it's got the best color, clarity, high contrast, etc. of any television out there… and it runs on 1/3 the energy of an LCD, 1/4 that of a plasma television… Maybe I'll be able to talk myself into the purchase of one of these someday, after the price drops considerably. With a 10.1" screen, 12.6" in depth with the stand and 136 lbs… Wow. Would need to upgrade the furniture too. At least other flat panel television prices are plummeting.

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Ummmm… What?! What's that you say? Pay especial attention to the comments below the article [livejournal.com profile] ginmar; maybe you can use them on the various stereo people you encounter in your life. *no hugs here* There are also a lot of insightful comments about the use, misuse, and worth of torture further down in the comment stream.

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Gives another layer to the meaning of the term kissing cousins, doesn't it? Dispassioned analysis of the genetic affects of intermarrying with your cousins as well as a handy-dandy figure showing where first-cousin marriage is outlawed. Very interesting. Genetically, I think it becomes a problem when the intermarriage of cousins happens multi-generationally. Meaning the first set of cousins' children marrying and then their children, etc. When the gene pool is limited by locality, this can be the outcome because the offspring tend to stay close to the epicenter of their birth, and their choices are narrowed further by having intermarriages between cousins above them in the family tree. Of course, all this reminds me of discussions of family trees in the Harry Potter novels. There are implications of everyone being related to someone, somehow, over the centuries. But, the most interesting comment in the article itself comes very quickly: "laws against the unions are a socially legitimized form of genetic and sexual discrimination." Who's the finger of blame going to be pointed at when the neochristians hear this tidbit? I bet they (as well as all the middle-aged couples looking to get their sprog on) get severely tweaked over the comment that it is comparable to restricting women over the age of 40 from childbearing because of an equivalent risk of birth defects.

I find it interesting that some of the articles linked to below this one are: Women, Trust Your Nose: Inbred Men May Smell Bad. And Calling Jerry Springer: Embryo Mixing Could Make Three-Parent Children where the term (new to me) trinogomous relationships is used. I think, in the case of the latter article, the more genetic mixing the better… Look at what it could do for mitochondrial based diseases! Are we on the edge of the reproductive freedom forefront? Between all of the above and gay marriage - I would say a resounding yes. I also would say that any child that is born wanted and is well cared for should be welcomed. Not as many commentors in this one, but the few ignorant dissenters are thoroughly trounced by the intelligent folk.

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Did anyone on my f-list know that you could auction off this little Monopoly rule:

"The main rule that tends to get ignored is the auction. If you land on a property and don't want it, it goes to auction. That's what tends to slow things down and put a lot of people off. If you don't get houses built it will go on forever."


Interesting BBC article about board games, where Monopoly is touted as a game that takes social interaction to "new heights" by placing a premium on negotiation. Hell. I didn't realize you could make deals to waive interest, exchange property, or form strategic alliances. Well maybe the latter… Tactics that are said to be common in multiplayer games. Maybe I just never played a game with enough people. Another game highlighted, Diplomacy, is touted as a game requiring the playing of the opponent as much as the game which is finding favour outside the home as an "educational tool." Interesting. I didn't know that a game that's central attraction lies in the negotiations, alliances, betrayals, poker faces and backstabbing… where you are expected to lie at every turn and constantly second guess your opponents intentions would be used as an educational tool. Yeah. Who am I kidding? Sounds a lot like life in the worst circumstances - circumstances that all of us must face at one time or another. For the unlucky, they face those circumstances constantly. The final sentences of the article separate the skill sets acquired nicely. Soft skills that games teach us:

"How to win and lose with grace, how to play nicely with our families; and how to dissemble, cajole, and gull our way to victory."


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Earlier today, I met with CoB, his brother and nephew - and they were laughingly teaching the toddler Chinese phrases and joking about preparing for our "Chinese overlords" a la Firefly universe beginnings. I was reminded of the conversation, over lunch I might add, when reading the following article, especially when I hit this part:

"In hindsight, many economists say, the United States should have recognized that borrowing from abroad for consumption and deficit spending at home was not a formula for economic success."


Can't everything be seen in hindsight when you are looking for it? Hrmphf. Now it is being said that Chinese Savings Helped Inflate American Bubble… No. Us greedy grubs did it to ourselves, you blighter.

On another Chinese note: a traveler's perspective of feeling like going from the Jetsons' to the Flinstones' when coming back o Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong. No kidding. Time to reboot our infrastructure indeed.

"My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover."


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Thought provoking article about for-profit charitable aid companies in the sin of doing good deeds. When they get more done for the charity in question, I applaud them. When they defraud the people donating to the charitable cause, this is when I have a problem. Hell. I loved it that Barnes and Noble did the "buy a book to be donated to needy children drive" this year… LOVED IT. I hope whoever gets the copies of The Hobbit and Ramona Quimby - Age 8 enjoy their first reading of them as much as I did. When businesses do things to help other people, when they (and no, I don't know if B&N fits into the whole category here) make it a point to act in ethical, sustaining, world/community building ways - while reigning in the business propensity for over-compensating the upper echelons of the business - good things happen. Businesses can do good even as they do well. That should be drilled into our children throughout their lives. Every person's actions have an effect in the world that can ripple out and affect people half a world away. Just because you aren't aware of that consciously does not mean it doesn't occur.

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Goo Goo! May B.H.O. go the way of F.D.R.

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Wish I had been able to be around to give the service people (mailman, firehouse, police station, the mechanic, etc.) boxing day gifts. I've done it a few times in my life. Usually it is a tin of home-baked goods or something like that.

"It is on Boxing Day, after all, on the “feast of Stephen,” that “Good King Wenceslas” looked out and saw the snow, “deep and crisp and even.” The cold was notable not for its beauty, but for the hunger that it brought with it. The king calls for food, wine and “pine logs” not for his own feast, but that he and his page may “bear them thither” to give to the poor… In the 19th century, the “boxes” of Boxing Day were either literally boxes of gifts or money, given by employers to staff and servants."


However, boxing day isn't just about giving to the poor, it is (I gather) about giving to those who work for you - either directly or indirectly. I got a bottle of wine from my manager before he left for holiday vacation. Yay! Just remember, today, your "servants" are out-sourced workers. The housekeepers, the dry cleaners, recycling and garbage collectors, delivery people and so forth… It is also a time for what is termed "duty visits" where you go and visit that obnoxious relative that you would never usually go and see. Ha! Don’t just keep “the Christmas of the belly: keep you the Christmas of the heart. Give — give.”

Must remember as well when Maundy Thursday rolls around. It is supposed to have a similar purpose - giving alms to the poor.

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Gorgeous house in the background, neh?

The article that it is associated with, however, has a stupid title that is contradicted throughout by itself. Oh noes! You have to clear off the solar panels! You knew there would be a trade-off during the changing of the seasons when you installed the darn things, and no amount of poo-pooing in an article can make it seem like no one would know that days are shorter during the winter in the northern hemisphere. And, no, ice is not flung like javelins from spinning wind turbines. Sheesh.

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More cheers for the Kindle and the beginnings of the passing of the "early adopter" phase of the e-book craze. Bring it on! Go paperless, people! Someday, the only books people will own on paper will be their ultimate favorites - or maybe even those won't need to be paper anymore. The easiest way to turn fetishist bibliophiles on to ebooks would be to start making/selling book/paper scented candles to burn when reading so you can elevate the ambiance of the moment.

In related news, and my last bit of writing… Finally... Crowdsourcing your tech support needs. It is something that I've done more and more often over the last few years. In addition to all the sites mentioned in the article I would like to applaud the advent of YouTube and the helpful how-to videos have helped immensely as well as being able to use Google to search for help using a short description of the problem. Way cool. Keep it up, internetz!

And now… I go cuddle with CoB. Huzzah!

Posty Post

Dec. 19th, 2008 07:19 pm
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
Amish are Ultimate Early Adopters of Solar Energy: Read about it here. Totally not surprising.

Solar Company - Provide Power to 90% of Grid and Cars: Article here.

DOE Report: Wind could power 20% of US Grid: At the very least.


Grid diagram from the article below.

Stanford study: PDF of Stanford study cited in the below article.

Latest study says the electric grid could support far more wind and solar: Yeah baby.

NYT article linked to in above article: First page here.

New theory on why the housing bubble burst: Fingers are being pointed at the Clinton Administration.

Bonuses versus Profits: Where a lot of the money all these now near-bankrupt screwed companies flushed

It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/movies/19wond.html?em Looking at "It's a Wonderful Life" through a new filter and finding an asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams… that and its prescience on the perils of trusting bankers. In the real world, George would have still faced prosecution and possible prison time. Interesting how the article also points out George's consistent cruelty toward Mary. Interesting take on this Holiday classic.

It's a Narnia Christmas: A very good article about the melange of traditions and myths that are contained in the universe that C.S. Lewis created. Though I have to reiterate that I was so upset when, in the latest movie version, Father Christmas doesn't have any presents for the Beavers… Talk about dehumanization of the talking animal population… The premise of the article, though, reminds me of a scene in the Hogfather - how gods and myths are retooled over the centuries to fit the current needs of society.

Seven Pounds - http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/12/19/movies/19seve.html - A flop… I think.

Home Births: An interesting development in the whole childbirth arena. Not surprising considering the ease of catching a deadly disease or infection in most hospitals these days.

Finally: three articles about your closest relative: chimpanzees and bonobos:

One

Two

Three
semiotic_pirate: (foamy french fry assault)


Antidythera rebuilt by a British museum curator! I think CoB and I watched the history channel about this thing at some point not too long ago. And, in actuality, the article reports lower down that the rebuilder, Michael Wright, is a former curator at the Science Museum in London. Maybe he got a little obsessed with recreating the gadget?

Meanwhile… why do I think they should've covered the "solar hybrid" prototype in photovoltaics instead of just the roof? The "PV Prius" (and "PV Highlander") would only get a solar-power range of *gasp* 5-8 miles. Waste. Of. Effort. It is a kit, put out by Solar Electric Vehicles for $3,500, and the company openly admits that "the kit will probably appeal only to hard-core greenies." Expected cut in CO2 emissions - over the LIFETIME of the vehicle is around 9,000 lbs.

An insightful melange of comments posted for the article state: Read more... )
Elsewhere…

Bush Shoe-Toss Immortalized in Games and Animations - including a Matrix like animation where Bushneo bends over backwards to avoid the oncoming shoes. There's purportedly a WoW version, LOLcats and lots of other animated GIFs below the article on Wired. I am particularly fond of the Three Stooges clip.



Sock and Awe lets you toss shoes at the Prez. Sure to be popular with millions.

Meanwhile, al-Zeidi, a journalist based in Cairo, Egypt, is well on his way to becoming the international hero of Bush haters. A Facebook group dedicated to al-Zaidi — who capped his shoe-toss with the soon-to-be-immortal words, "This is your farewell kiss, you dog!" — already shows hundreds of fans.

However, that self-same Iraqi journalist is facing up to seven years in prison for his actions.

Durgham al-Zaidi (the man's brother) said Muntazer had been taken to Ibn Sina hospital in the heavily fortified Green Zone after being badly beaten by security guards and suffering a broken arm and ribs, as well as injuries to an eye and a leg. It is unknown at this time (and, really it doesn't matter because police abuse is police abuse) whether the injuries were sustained while being overpowered during Sunday's protest or after his arrest (when it is reported that he was interrogated by Iraqi officials).

More here.

In other news:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

*headdesk*


Oh, and Mr. Bush better not grant this pardon request.

Is anyone out there surprised with the news that the CIA is full of MASSIVE FAIL? This is beyond blue screen proportions people.

Bad Reuters… The following pun would have been better if they had just said "to pay" properly and let us snicker at the implied word play rather than bludgeon us like we are idiots who would not get the pun without the flashing red arrow pointing at the wig-snatching offending word.

And, yet another reason I'm glad I never made the move to Facebook - which dropped $13MM… And what is this "informal market" where public investors can buy stock from employees? Wake up SEC, why are you allowing this workaround to the "free-market" system?

In closing:

Scientists say they now have unambiguous evidence that the warming in the Arctic is accelerating.

That's right….


That's pretty unambiguous, isn't it?

See also this article for further global warming insanity.

It wasn't a pyramid scheme, Mr. Gallacher, it was a ponzi scheme. Do your research people.

Oh! Ancient City Unearthed in Peru… which shows evidence of human sacrifice. Yipes! Maybe when Antarctica is finally unearthed from the melthing ice we will find a bunch of ancient cities there too. Because, you know, it is pretty much the same as if we were down there actively digging down through the ice to get to the ground. That, and we will end up having to live in what is now polar regions, as far away from the super-hot equator as possible, in order to survive in the future.


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Now... I am being tortured with Jerry Seinfeld episodes. But there is a bright light on the horizon - there's a NEW holiday Muppet movie on NBC tonight that I'm looking forward to. Yay!
semiotic_pirate: (Juicy Oranges)
Before the posty goodness begins, I will type a little about the "torture" I just put myself through. Enjoyable torture though. Finally got back to my personal training - got assigned a new trainer - and it went brilliantly. Excellent workout, just what I wanted, etc. Pushed me into muscle failure in a good way. Enough positive reinforcement to keep me motivated but not giving me any slack when I didn't need it, challenging me here and there when I was doing really good at something. I left feeling like a big bowl of quivering jelly and happily satisfied.

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Work it stem cells, work it!

Wait, wait… Senator-elect Franken? Al Franken? Neat! Let the recount begin so he can get on with his job! (CoB, want to move to Minnesota?)

Using humor as a tool in psychiatry. It is helpful for the patient and the caregiver. Who could've imagined that humor, laughter, could affect the humours?

Plastic water bottles and the linings of soft drink and food cans… BPA may interfere with chemotherapy. Interesting, that BPA is being found to act on cancer cells similar to the way estrogen does - by inducing proteins that protect the cells from chemotherapy agents.

“It’s actually acting by protecting existing cancer cells from dying in response to anti-cancer drugs, making chemotherapy significantly less effective,” said Nira Ben-Jonathan, a professor of cancer and cell biology who has studied BPA for more than 10 years.


Warning labels containing caffeine content are being considered for "energy" drinks. Some of which have the equivalent of 15 cans of soda. The American Beverage Association is opposed… of course. This, while another study links these "energy" drinks to increased riskiness in teen behavior. Like teens need another boost on top of their hormonal fluxes to induce risky behaviors.



In other news, a fan in a baby's room can lower the risk of SIDS.

Limited data is touting the effects of a new, unusual bandaging tape called Kinesio tape. Comes in a wide range of colors. Company website here.

What the heck is a Petaflop? Breaking barriers in supercomputing.

Tongue-in-cheek notice delivered upon the release of the Monty Python YouTube Channel as reported here.

"For three years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube," the tongue-in-cheek notice rants. "We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we've figured a better way to get our own back."


BRILLIANT!

Brilliant stuff concerning Doctor Who (before the Tardis) from the BBC. Newly released documents, which reveal the 1960s conception of Doctor Who, show how nervous the BBC was about producing a sci-fi show.



Alternatives to the Tardis were discussed…



The Doctor without his time-travelling police box is difficult to imagine, but its creators initially proposed he journey through space in an invisible machine covered in light-resistant paint.

When BBC producers were devising the show in the early 1960s, they thought viewers should see no machine at all, only "a shape of nothingness".

The BBC's head of drama Sydney Newman, who commissioned the first series, insisted an invisible machine would not work and the doctor's vehicle should be a strong visual symbol.

Wisely, writers also said a transparent, plastic bubble would be "lowgrade". But a seed of the Tardis idea is sown when they suggest using "some common object in the street" like a night-watchman's shelter.

These discussions are revealed in six previously unpublished documents, now digitised on the BBC Archive website.

...A plot written for the original Doctor but rejected, called Troubleshooters, can be seen in Torchwood.

Posty Post

Nov. 17th, 2008 07:19 pm
semiotic_pirate: (Giggle Loop)
It was a long, draining day where I worked very, very hard on difficult problems. Of course, I had a few minutes this morning before the hordes descended to write up a post.


Awesome "synthetic" (bio-) fuel company - Amyris leading the way with plans to make 200 million gallons of synfuel a year at $2 per gallon by 2011. Another plus - they'll generate a lot of real living-wage factory jobs where people are employed making actual products they can afford to buy themselves. But will they be able to pull it off?

USB 3.0 is coming, and man is it going to be fast! It's said to deliver a tenfold increase in data transfer speed when going head-to-head in a USB showdown with the 2.0 tech. This is also likely to signal the death of FireWire/IEEE 1394. Which, I guess, would the the Betamax?

Waiting until Friday for the Google Mobile App so that I can do a voice-enabled search on my NEW iPHONE! Yep. Christmas is around me; I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.



Oh. And, after seeing Quantum of Solace three times this weekend… did anyone else notice the plethora of hip alternate fuel vehicles? Too bad the vehicles don't actually exist. BAD FORD! Shouldn't tease us like that, you bastards!

However, to be built by Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies and coachbuilder Fisker Automotive (designer of BMWs and Aston-Martins). This new car will use an innovative plug-in hybrid technology called Quantum Drive (come one...meant for Bond), a hybrid electric/gas power plant that can be plugged in at the owner's home garage for easy charging, and also refuel at any gas station on the road.



Building an alt-energy power plant is risky and expensive, but thanks to a new ruling by an Environmental Protection Agency panel, building a coal plant may become riskier and more expensive. So it is good that the EPA Coal Decision Levels Playing Field for Wind, Solar. And that, said the Sierra Club's chief climate counsel, David Bookbinder, is good news for new clean tech companies.

Want to see the new high resolution map of U.S. per-capita carbon dioxide emissions and read the discussion about said map? Go here.


Bad Texans! Or are those emissions floating over from Mexico?

The recession is also driving the greening of the electronics industry. Yay! Driven by saving money, stricter policies on disposal of waste - and who's held responsible for them - and the marketing to retain positive public relations. Bottom line thinking, yes, but we are forcing the industry to comply to make it good for their bottom line to do so. Economics 101 anyone?

Finally, my photog geek friends: turn your flatbed scanner into a giant camera!
semiotic_pirate: (Dreaming)
From yesterday:


Google chases skype with new gmail video chat: CHAT!

This day is psychiatric science - World's First Frontal Leukotomy: details here

What the heck is up with TroopTube? article here

Found here: TroopTube

You have got to be kidding me. I am outraged, because the jury in the trial on the MySpace Cyber-bullying case MIGHT not be told of teen's suicide: Nice...

The influence of Corn (the industry, its subsidies, and ingredients derived from) on the fast food industry, from objective, factual data sources OR How U.S. programs are subsidizing obesity: right here

Also - obese kids have "middle-aged" arteries, displaying as much plaque buildup at 40-somethings: shocking

Most interesting Jargon: Cowpooling. Most worrisome: Dark Trading. read definitions here

I've already reported about at least one of these items: Cool tech realized from sci-fi movies (specifically Minority Report): Yep!

OMGZ! Glad I haven't bought my scooter yet… Check this out! Want!

Greenies are bad for dogs. Specifically the toothbrush looking ones, for indigestibility. Must tell Mom

ABC's news report on them: More greenie scandal That's right, they can lodge in the intestines.

Supreme court is siding with the U.S. Navy in dispute over sonar use as it concerns whale safety. WTF?!



Mortgage Rescue Plans Aren't Enough. Who woulda thunk it?



Baby born after ovary transplant:
Does this mean that someday, men will be able to have babies?

It's not just about being pretty, OR Why oddly sized and misshapen fruits and veggies shouldn't be ostracized from the market: Ugly is in

Makes me sick: Acid Victims "Stay in your place and stop questioning our authority!" Is what it is saying to me. That and "you don't deserve to be educated." Grrrrr!

Huzzah! Uruguay to decriminalize abortion: one step at a time

Google is helping to track the spread of the flu - and I wonder what other epidemiological tracking this will be utilized for: Article here

Here, it is reported by CNN: FLU! We may have a two week lead on where the flu is traveling.

And this study chronicles drug-resistant TB in the U.S. - scary stuff

Will Obama be a realist as well as an idealist? discussion here

Dean Kamen, the guy for whose company I almost interned at, is helping release the Deka Revolt - a hybrid electric (plug-in) car where the other half of the hybrid equation is a STIRLING ENGINE! Rock on! drive on!



Here's the wikipedia entry on stirling engines: Yep. No comment on the cut away diagram of the rhombic drive beta configuration design… *raised eyebrow*

Oh. My. This is not good publicity for the KKK: Nice. Now your killing your own too?

I hope this means they're going to put things in plain language: Pro-homeowner stuff
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
Religion vs science: can the divide between God and rationality be reconciled?
By Paul Vallely
Saturday, 11 October 2008
Article from The Independent


''A clergyman in charge of education for the country's leading scientific organisation – it's a Monty Python sketch," pronounced Britain's top atheist, Richard Dawkins, recently.

The problem was that Reiss, as well as being an evolutionary biologist and population geneticist, is a non-stipendiary priest in the Church of England. When he said recently that science teachers should answer questions about creationism if pupils asked them he was deemed to have been advocating the idea that British schools should teach the idea that the world was magicked up (complete with fossils and ancient geology) just 6,000 years ago – and then tell pupils to make their own minds up between that and the theory of evolution to which the overwhelming scientific evidence points.

The hapless Reiss made it clear that he insists creationism is scientific nonsense. But a handful of the Royal Society's most eminent members began a campaign to have him sacked. Sir Harry Kroto, Sir Richard Roberts and Sir John Sulston said in a letter to the president of the Royal Society: "We gather Professor Reiss is a clergyman, which in itself is very worrisome." We must all now be on the look-out, it now seems for Revs under the beds.

The idea that science and religion are incompatible is a fairly recent import into contemporary culture. It has been given huge credence by the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The pronounced motivation of Islamic fundamentalists in 2001 hammered home that some people are prepared to inflict outrageous acts of inhumanity in the name of religion.

Yet the roots of the shift in attitude go back much further. "It came about because of a perfect storm – a wide range of factors came together," says the atheist philosopher Julian Baggini. Among them were a shift from liberal to evangelical Christianity in Britain, the rise of creationism in America, advances in scientific techniques in biology and changes in public perception on issues as disparate as homosexuality and assisted dying.

But we are leaping ahead here. The relationship between science and religion has had a long and chequered history since the settled days of the medieval consensus, which saw faith and the natural sciences as part of a cosmic whole. Galileo put paid to that with his insistence that the earth revolved around the sun. The Catholic Church, which saw man and his planet at the centre of the universe – and which already felt its authority threatened by the rise of Protestantism – locked horns with him. The clash became a metaphor for the irreconcilability of scientific materialism and biblical literalism.

Things changed with Isaac Newton. His laws of physics led to a world view which relegated God to background status as the designer of a clockwork world which he wound up and then left to its own devices. Newton's celestial mechanics brought an advance in our scientific understanding but didn't really work for a faith that wanted to believe that, through the historical Jesus, God had become, in the words of the song "a slob like one of us".

Next came Darwin. At first many saw his theory of evolution as a threat to religion but mainstream Christianity soon accepted evolution as the answer to the "how" of creation, leaving the "why" questions of meaning and morality to faith. Science and religion exercised authority over two discrete compartments of life between which there could be no link.

But through the latter half of the 20th century a synergy developed. In cosmology the science of the expanding universe and the Big Bang chimed in with a moment of creation. The inherent uncertainty that quantum physics discovered at the subatomic level overturned Newton's mechanics and created room for a "God of the gaps". Process theology embraced evolution and said men and women are called to play a part in an ever-ongoing creation. Advances in neuro-science showed that mental and spiritual phenomena depend upon biological processes, undermining the old dualist notions about body and soul and offering a more holistic body-mind-spirit axis.

"Attacks on religion, when I was a student in the Sixties, were largely on political grounds," says Dr Denis Alexander, the Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion in Cambridge. "It was seen to be on the side of capitalism and the rich." In Anglo-American philosophy, says Baggini, "religion was seen as wrong but as something that didn't really matter much. The world was going secular and eventually it would just die out."

But the rise of Christian fundamentalism in America in the past few decades – the word fundamentalist in its religious sense was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in only 1989 – was mirrored in a milder way in Britain too. Liberal Christianity, so long in the ascendant in the Church of England, began to lose ground to evangelicalism. "Non-literal Christianity failed," says Baggini, "because it doesn't capture the popular imagination. The certainties of evangelical Christianity appeal more to those for whom the attractions of religion are on a more visceral level." This appeal was symbolised through the 1990s by the Alpha course on the basics of the Christian faith devised in London by a curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, which has since been used by more than 10 million people in 160 countries. The idea that the miracles of the New Testament may have been metaphors rather than literal truths suddenly went out of fashion in Christian circles.

Throughout this time scientists such as Richard Dawkins had evidenced a disdain for such simple certainties. In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene there were a few side-swipes at religion and in 1986 in The Blind Watchmaker he conducted a sustained critique of the 18th-century deist argument that the world is too complicated to have sprung into existence by accident so a rational observer should conclude that it must have been designed, just as someone finding a watch would conclude that somewhere there must be a watchmaker who made it. And by 1991, in response to the question of why evolution had allowed religion to thrive, he had coined the notion that religion was a virus.

But it was the terrorist attacks in 2001 that turned Dawkins into an Alpha atheist and transformed him from an academic backwater into a populist ideologue. Before 9/11, he said, religion may have appeared a "harmless nonsense". But the attacks in New York showed it to be a "lethally dangerous nonsense". Previously, he said, "we all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful!" The gloves were off.

But another prominent atheist, medic and secularist, the Liberal Democrat MP, Dr Evan Harris, is not so sure that 9/11 was the nodal point. "It's not the main thing to scientists," he insists. "When you talk to them the thing that comes up most often is the influence religion has had on science in America under George Bush." Religious pressures there have had direct impacts on a wide range of policy – from a ban on public money being put into stem cell research to a refusal to allow US aid programmes to hand out condoms to fight Aids in Africa. "Scientists who are publicly funded can't go to conferences and speak without being obliged to stick to the Bush line," says Harris.

Advances in bio-technology have opened up new areas for disagreement. Test tube babies, embryo selection, saviour siblings, stem cell research and animal-human cybrids have all created new battlegrounds between those who think that an embryo is a person from the moment of conception to those who think it is merely a cluster of cells before implantation or even birth – and all variety of opinions in between.

"There is a definite danger of our desire for research outstripping our capacity to anticipate the ethical implications of those advances," says the feminist theologian, Tina Beattie, whose book The New Atheists argues that Dawkins & Co misuse Darwin and evolutionary biology as much as the Christian fundamentalists misuse the Bible. "Some scientists experience religion as merely an irritating brake on their striving to do new things." The public, after a list of scientific disasters from thalidomide and nuclear weapons to BSE and the stealing of dead children's organs at Alder Hey, are much more suspicious, judging that "scientists have problems policing their borders".

From a very different perspective Andrew Copson, the director of education for the British Humanist Association, agrees. "Scientists are fearful so the issue has become very emotive," he says. "They fear that, behind what people like Michael Reiss say, there lies a Trojan horse." It is perhaps significant here that the two main instigators of the campaign to have Reiss ousted from his Royal Society job, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts, are now based in the United States where creationism is a major phenomenon. Polls suggest that around 45 per cent of Americans are creationists with 40 per cent believing that God worked through evolution and just 10 per cent saying it was nothing to do with a God.

The experience of being a secularist in the US is clearly a radicalising one. "I don't know if it is too late to stop the slide in Britain but I think it is in the US where [the religious right] have now almost complete control over politics, the judiciary, education, business, journalism and television," Kroto, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, has said, adding darkly: "The Royal Society does not appreciate the true nature of the forces arrayed against it."

The position in the UK is nothing like that, though the statistics are unclear. A 2006 BBC poll claimed that 48 per cent of the British public accepted evolution with 22 per cent preferring creationism but the definitions it used were so sloppy as to be almost meaningless. A survey of schoolchildren has suggested that more than 10 per cent now believe in creationism. But the Evangelical Alliance, whose members now number around 3 per cent of the UK population, reckons that only a third of its members – about 1 per cent of the population – are creationists. About a third think Genesis is merely symbolic, and a third believe that God worked through evolution but is still capable of intervening in specific ways. Its most recent, unpublished, survey shows that the proportion seeing the Genesis account as symbolic is increasing, the EA's Head of Theology, Dr Justin Thacker, says.

Evan Harris accepts that the number of British schools teaching creationism is tiny. But, as an MP, he is worried about the increasing activity of religious lobby groups in public life. "Groups like the Evangelical Alliance, the Christian Institute and Christian Action Research and Education are now all much more organised and active in seeking to change public policy. They are making the running in parliament, much more than the leadership of the Catholic Church. The Church of England's bishops are much more evangelical too; their centre of gravity has changed form the days when liberals ruled the roost. And the C of E has been much more active in Parliament."

All this is having a real impact, Dr Harris suggests. "In the days of Thatcher all the mainstream Tories voted in favour of embryo research. Twenty years on most of the new suave modernising Cameroonian Tories vote against it." Academics detect a similar shift. Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, who has been teaching genetics and evolutionary biology for 30 years, has said that religious students – even those studying medicine – are becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to evolution, demanding to be exempted from classes and exam questions on the subject.

Creationism, like Coca-Cola, came here from the United States. The American lobby group Answers in Genesis, with its $13m annual budget, now has an office in the UK from where staff go round giving illustrated talks about how humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together. Another conservative group, Truth in Science, has adopted a strategy of lobbying for schools to "Teach the Controversy" in an attempt to get Intelligent Design, a spin-off of creationism, taught alongside evolution in school science lessons. In 2006 it sent resource packs to the heads of science of all British secondary schools; New Scientist claims that 59 schools have used, or plan to use, them.

The fear generated by such tactics is what did for Michael Reiss. "Even if he doesn't support all this, what he said might be seen to give succour to it," says Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association. "I can understand why alarm bells go off with people who are familiar with 'Teach the controversy' tactics of people who want to baby-step creationism into our science classrooms."

All of this mystifies the vast majority of the nation's Christians who have been taught since the time of St Augustine, who died AD430, that where there appears to be a conflict between demonstrated knowledge and a literal reading of the bible then the scriptures should be interpreted metaphorically. They see no conflict between faith and reason because, as Pope John Paul II put it: "God created man as rational and free, thereby placing himself under man's judgement." Just last month the present Pope reiterated the same line, warning of the dangers of fundamentalist readings of the Bible. Each generation, he said, needs to find its collective interpretation of the text. For this task of interpretation – which can never be never completely finished – science offers a major tool.

It all perplexes academics who specialise in the interplay between science and religion too. Creationism doesn't just involve many scientific errors, it relies on a major theological one too. "When Robert Burns tell us his love 'is like a red, red rose', we know that we are not meant to think that his girlfriend has green leaves and prickles," says the particle physicist and Anglican priest, Sir John Polkinghorne. Why, he wonders, would any rational person want to read the Bible in that way?

The world of science he encounters is a much more subtle one. "There's a cosmic religiosity among physicists," he insists, though "biologists see more ambiguity, perhaps because they look at the wastefulness of nature, and perhaps because sequencing the human genome has made them triumphalist." It is more complex even than that: the head of the Human Genome Project, Dr Francis Collins, last year published a book about his journey from atheism into faith arguing that science and religion, far from being irreconcilable, are in fact in deep harmony.

In the past 30 years an area of inter-disciplinary activity has opened up to explore this. Areas of research include cognitive neuro-sciences and issues like freewill and consciousness and whether human minds are merely matter or something more. In evolutionary psychology they have also explored together questions like the origins of altruism – asking whether evolutionary biology can give an adequate account of why people are willing to sacrifice themselves on behalf of others. In paleobiology they are asking questions like how eyes evolve in different lineages – suggesting that evolution isn't a random or chance process but is channelled by certain chemically-determined pathways. In cosmology there is a universe versus multiverses debate.

"All that going on, but all the public knows about is Dawkins," says Dr Denis Alexander of the Faraday Institute in Cambridge. "Academic discussion on the relationship between science and religion is genuinely exploratory, not polarised. To most people in it Dawkins just sounds rather odd."

John Hedley Brooke, who recently retired as the first Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, is more sanguine. "These eruptions take place from time to time historically," he shrugs. "Dawkins is just a throwback to 19th-century rationalism. He has a strong emotional antagonism that is very indiscriminate and treats all kinds of religion the same. A lot of fine distinctions that get lost in the polemics. The problem is that it is all a cumulative process in which the extremes feed off one another."

"Paradoxically, Dawkins is the biggest recruiter for creationism in this country," says Denis Alexander. Recently, he says, Bill Demcksi, a leading US creationist, e-mailed Dawkins to thank him for his assistance. "The danger is that all this polarisation will make some believers more anti-science which is not a clever move tactically." He hopes that whoever succeeds Dawkins as Oxford's Professor of the Public Understanding of Science is more interested in promoting science than in attacking religion.

On the other side of the argument Evan Harris is unapologetic about contributing to what Julian Baggini waggishly calls this "assertiveness inflation". "It's good that there's this tension," the MP says. "These debates need to be had in public. Science has nothing to fear from them. I don't think we're winning; we've won a few battles; but there's a war to be fought." He concedes that Michael Reiss may have been sacked unfairly – saying that the "overstrong line" taken by Kroto and Co should not be taken as representative of all on the secular side – but points out that employment injustices are perpetrated every time a church school refuses to appoint a maths teacher because she doesn't "have Jesus in her heart".

The danger is that between the strident secularists and the fanatical fundamentalists some important middle ground is being squeezed out. "Dawkins sees religion as credulous, superstitious and prejudiced but mature religious traditions teach people to challenge all that," says Tina Beattie. "Science will never offer an answer to the parents of Madeleine McCann. Nor will it ever be irrational to go to a Mozart concert, though science can never explain the genius of his music. The new atheism completely misunderstands the way that human beings experience the poetry and narrative of life."

Perhaps the conflict is not between science and religion but between good and bad ways of doing both. In all of us there will always be a struggle between the craving for certainty, purity and closure and the acceptance of mystery, brokenness and provisionality. At their best, both scientists and people of faith are in a permanent state of awe-struck humility before the wonder and strangeness and messiness of things. At their worst, they are arrogant, dogmatic, and incurious. There's a bit of both in all of us, of course.

---------------------------

Huzzah! for the red squirrel!
semiotic_pirate: (Pirate Grrl - RIOT)
From [livejournal.com profile] ginmar; Until the dotted line is what is on gin's post, and this is the situation:

Woman who was beaten says DA's office mishandled her case
I'm reposting this with [livejournal.com profile] mindslide's permission, and urge you all to do the same. This is [livejournal.com profile] mindslide's experience with her friend's case. This is a gross injustice. How do we right this? How do you start an internet petition?

All comments in regular type are [livejournal.com profile] mindslide's; remember, this is her friend who was treated this way.

Not a strong enough headline, in my opinion.

Headline and article here.

That is a story about my friend, Shadayra.

When I had my jaw wired shut, I had a friend who was going through the same thing. Only, while I had mine wired shut due to a planned surgery, she had hers wired shut because her exbf broke into her house, expressed his intent to kill her, then choked her and beat her senseless, breaking her jaw and severely damaging her facial bone structure.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 1, Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores picked herself up off the floor of her apartment. Unable to see out of her right eye, she watched as her attacker, Christopher Burns, grabbed her cell phone and took it with him as he left her apartment. She stumbled down the hallway for help.

You wouldn't know it to look at Kilfoy-Flores now, but she spent the remainder of that night in the hospital, where doctors determined she had suffered five fractures to her face that required her jaw to be wired shut for eight weeks, and the bone and tissue around her right eye to be reconstructed with metal plates. The emergency room doctor called it a "blowout" fracture, meaning that her eye was not moving correctly because of nerve damage.

During a preliminary hearing for Burns on April 10, Kilfoy-Flores testified on the details of the attack. According to the hearing transcript, Burns, while screaming he wanted to kill Kilfoy-Flores, kicked the door to her apartment open. Once inside, he grabbed her by the neck, cutting off her airway for up to 30 seconds. He threw her across the dining room table, then onto the floor, where he punched her repeatedly in the face during an attack that lasted between six and seven minutes.


Shadayra originally had a DA who was going to go after the perp for burglery and battery. The max sentence for burglery is 10 years, while the max sentence for battery is a whopping 18 months.

The original DA assigned to her case, however, has retired. The case was assigned a new DA and she, as a victim, never recieved notice of that. In addition, the new DA offered the perp a plea bargain.

She is angry about the potential sentence, too. The plea deal dropped the maximum number of years Burns could serve in prison from just over 11 years to 18 months. Last week, Kilfoy-Flores attempted to resolve the issue through an informal complaint process that involved a meeting with Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, members of his staff, and Jennifer Rhodes, the victims services specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Blanchard maintained that some miscommunication between his staff is to blame for Kilfoy-Flores not being told of the plea, but he said no legal errors were made by his office in prosecuting the case. Not satisfied with that explanation, Kilfoy-Flores is in the process of filing a formal complaint with the Crime Victims Rights Board, an independent agency with staff support from the Department of Justice. She said an understaffed district attorney's office coupled with the fact that the attack was a minority-on-minority crime -- she is Hispanic and her attacker is African-American -- led to her case not receiving adequate attention.


I am really pissed about this. I had to drive this woman to work for months because even after all the reconstructive surgeries, she still can't see out of one eye. I don't understand how this dude is going to walk because the DoJ switched up the attorney handling her case without notifying her, so her voice could be heard BEFORE offering the guy a plea bargain. A dude is going to walk because the DA fucked up.

She refuses to believe her case was properly handled, citing sections of state statute 971.095. The statute reads, in part:

"...the district attorney shall, as soon as practicable, offer all of the victims in the case who have requested the opportunity an opportunity to confer with the district attorney concerning the prosecution of the case and the possible outcomes of the prosecution, including potential plea agreements and sentencing recommendations."

It also says: "... if a person is charged with committing a crime and the charge against the person is subsequently dismissed, the district attorney shall make a reasonable attempt to inform all of the victims of the crime with which the person was charged that the charge has been dismissed."

I mean, this beating was fucking brutal, and he had every intention of killing her and actually DID take something from her home -- her cell phone.

Blanchard conceded that miscommunication between members of his office did occur in this case when former Assistant District Attorney Lynn Opelt, who was handling Kilfoy-Flores' case, retired in July. The case was then reassigned to Assistant District Attorney Chris Genda.

Blanchard said that while he would never use the office's staffing shortage as an excuse for how victims are treated, he said miscommunication between his staff and victims could happen less frequently if attorneys had more time to spend with each case file. According to the state Department of Administration, the Dane County District Attorney's Office is in need of 11 more attorneys.

"We do our best not to put the staffing problems of our office on the shoulders of the victims," Blanchard said. "But victims are effectively competing with each other for the attention of too few attorneys."

The change in attorneys also meant a new approach to the case.

While Opelt felt there was sufficient evidence to charge Burns with two felonies -- burglary, which carries a maximum prison time of 10 years, and substantial battery, which brings a maximum 18 months -- Genda didn't prosecute Burns for both. She offered a plea deal that dismissed the burglary charge in exchange for Burns pleading guilty to substantial battery. He accepted.

"The new attorney decided that burglary was not a charge that could prevail at a trial," Blanchard said of Genda. "And I agree with her."

In order to get a burglary conviction, Blanchard said the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Burns entered Kilfoy-Flores' apartment with the intent to steal or to commit another felony. Proving that intent would have been difficult, Blanchard said.

After hearing the testimony, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas said: "There is ample probable cause for a number of felonies based on the testimony and the evidence that's been presented," according to a transcript of the hearing.

The case then moved into arraignment, with Opelt entering the felony burglary charge against Burns. Burns stood mute to the charges, a move that automatically results in the court entering a not guilty plea on a defendant's behalf. This move also forces the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

"He broke my door in and planned to kill me," Kilfoy-Flores said. "He bashed my skull in and now is having his freedom handed to him on a platter."


Disgusting. Our system fails.

# How the fuck are you NOT going to charge the dude when you have the evidence to prove it and the JUDGE even says theres ample evidence to prove it?
# Even more disgusting, how is burglery punishable up to ten years while beating a woman is punishable up to 18 months?

Any ideas on what she could do, or how I can help or motivate others to help as a citizen? Can I write the judge a letter or something??

Edit: Help us out and do something about it --

Contact DA Brian Blanchard by mailing or e-mailing the following addresses:

Dane County Courthouse Room 3000
215 S Hamilton St
Madison, WI 53703-3297
Tel / TTY: (608) 266-4211
Email: blanchard.brian@mail.da.state.wi.us

Spread this around.



----------------------
This was the response I made to the DA:

Mr. Brian Blanchard,

I was told about Shadayra's case via a mutual friend, and I just don't understand how burglary carries a maximum 10 year sentence, but bashing
in a person's skull, leaving her with permanent injuries with the intent to murder her only gets you 18 months?

As described, the event involved; breaking and entering, assault and battery, theft (or burglary, depending on cost of said cell phone), a hate crime, and last but certainly not least - Attempted Murder. Why isn't this man being charged with any of these other crimes?

The assailant/perpetrator broke into the victim's residence in order to assault her, beating her to within an inch of life (with the probable intent to have her die of her injuries) and then stole what he took as her only means of calling for help given his possible belief of the extent of her injuries.

Shadayra's attacker is black, Shadayra is hispanic. Those are two different races and race may have been a factor. Why isn't the Hate Crimes Enhancer being utilized? Why not use it as a base to establish a black/hispanic hate crime and maybe expand upon the factor gender played in court, even though it (nor sexual orientation) is not a basis for a hate crime as of yet? It would play well with a jury. As concerns hate crimes and race: Does it count as a hate crime only if one of the races involved is white or wouldn't the law count black on hispanic crimes?

I thought the purpose of plea arrangement was to keep less violent offenders out of prison so that space could be used for the real
threats? So choking and beating a person's head and leaving them for dead in isn't violent enough? And what happens in 18 months when he gets out and comes back after the victim?

Please do whatever can be done. This is a hate crime. It victimized Shadayra, and showed every other (hispanic) woman that this could happen to them, when dealing with a (black) man - and yes, you can put any other race into the two placers and get the same result - and nobody would help them.

Justice is not being served in this situation. Please do something. The world is, literally, watching. Thank you for your time.

Cordially,

Ms. Real Name
Member of the Concerned Public



Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
- Plato


I included the signature quote for the emphasis to act responsibly. Hopefully it adds the final twist to my argument. I would suggest responses in a similar vein, from everyone and anyone, regardless of physical location. There was someone from the UK in the comments who wanted to make sure she wasn't just going to seem sensationalist by writing from there. I'm not a voter in Wisconsin - neither is she and we are part of world-wide public response and outcry for justice. I may note that the DA may be trying to use this as a platform to create an outcry of his own to change the Substantial Battery maximum sentence but this isn't the right way to do it. I will edit with the response I get or put it in a new post with a link back to this one.

Rise up and protest!

Edit: Went to the article linked in the original post again, here and got this as a response:

We are currently in the process of upgrading our systems. Thank you for your patience.

Wonder if they are changing the article or upgrading the system in general. It goes all the way up to the parent website so it is probably the latter. Can't find a copy of the article cached... wish I could.

Posty Post

Oct. 21st, 2008 04:17 pm
semiotic_pirate: (Coupling Reservoir Dogs)
Thar she blows me hearties. Below, find a whole mess of links about a variety of subjects. Enjoy!

But first... Went into work for 6:15 am today to finish up a time sensitive project by 9 am. Gah. The whole day went pretty quickly. It's becoming quite busy at the office, with lots of work being generated by the fluctuating grain and fuel prices... Tired now.

While on a walk after lunch today my coworker and I spotted our neighborhood's resident turkey stalking around in the middle of the road at an intersection. It strutted up to the stoplight, cutting in between a stopped motorcycle and SUV, and proceeded to chase the motorcycle when it turned left when the light turned green. It didn't stop there. The evil little creature (yeah, he's great and we all love him) took his time exploring the intersection and kept traffic at a really slow speed while everyone in the area traversing through made room for the turkey. Yeah. It was quite a site.

I didn't find anything about turkeys chasing motorcycles, but here's one out in Ohio that looks just like our turkey, dangling chest feather and all, chasing a cop... Repeatedly.



And now - on with the posty post!

For the photographically inclined: Bokeh Photograph how-to wiki. Boke (often spelled bokeh) is a term used to describe images that have a sharply focused subject surrounded by a blurry background.

Example:


Speculation on possible voter fraud attempts is revealed in a 43-page study (PDF) that reveals the frausters methods:
Read more... )
One solution recommended by the authors: Voters can use the website and call-in line of Election Protection, a national nonpartisan voter-protection coalition, to get accurate information. And don't forward e-mails about voting procedures, even if they look authentic.

Elsewhere: About 53% of working Americans have had a work-related phone call or email while in the bathroom. The survey (commissioned by Nokia) discussed in the article also talks about how the lines dividing work and personal life are also blurring; about 62% of workers have had their personal lives interrupted by work ten or few times each week and vice-versa.



It doesn't stop there, however, another study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project is raising questions about the value of "connectedness" that comes with increased use of the internet and cell phones by families. Sounds just like the stuff done by radio and for television when those two technological devices were marketed to the public. New habits for old, new habits for old!

And
what if people are biologically unsuited for (achieving) the American Dream? Peter Whybrow, head of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior at UCLA paints a disturbing picture of 21st century American life, where behavioral tendencies produced by millions of years of scarcity-driven evolution don’t fit the social and economic world we've constructed. Foremost among Whybrow's targets is the modern culture of spending on credit.

The answers aren't easy, Whybrow goes on to caution — but they do exist. People can think creatively about jumping from the treadmills of bad jobs and unmeetable needs; and even if this isn't always possible, they can teach their children to live modestly and within their means. Urban engineers can design cities that allow people to live and work and shop in the same place. Governments can, at the insistence of their citizens, provide the social safety nets on which social mobility, stagnant for the last 50 years, is based. And we can — however much it hurts — look to Europe for advice. Oh. [livejournal.com profile] crabbyolbastard? He mentions ponzi schemes in relation to the economy. Heh.

"You can think about markets in the same way as individuals who mortgaged their future — except markets did it with other people's money," he said. "You end up with a Ponzi scheme predicated on the idea that we can get something now, rather than having to wait. And it all comes back to the same instinctual drive."


That's right, stagnant for the last 50 years.

Neither Whybrow nor you, my reader, should be surprised about there being more to be outraged over with AIG. It's a take the money and run type of attitude it seems. AIG seems to think it doesn't need to act responsibly nor soberly in the current economic climate.

Further elsewhere: Thousands volunteer to Expose DNA Secrets to the World. 'No need to ask, I'll tell' mentality gets even more personal.

Interruption of regularly scheduled grumblings:

Awwww. Baby giraffe Bonsu! More baby animals here!

On a lighter note: For a little YA reading for the cryptologist ENIGMA - A Magical Mystery by Graeme Base was just released. Of course, anyone who has read Graeme Base knows that the best parts are below the surface. Each page has its retinue of hidden images, some of which are clues, some visual puns, and some of which are just plain fun. Best of all, Enigma declares that he wrote down all the locations of the missing items, but in a code he no longer remembers. The secret to the code is in the back of the book: a machine with three dials and... well, you see where this is going. Cracking the code adds a whole new layer to the book.

Check out this truly bizarre set of counterintelligence posters some viewable here on Wired's Danger Room. All of the ones available on the ONCIX website are located here. Enjoy!

Okay zombie lovers Dead Space is launching their webisode finale! As space-zombie videogame Dead Space racks up kudos internet-wide with this week's release of the PC version, parent company Electronic Arts has unveiled the final webisode of No Known Survivors.

For six weeks, No Known Survivors has been streaming back-stories building out from the game's main scenario. The series is one branch of a multiplatform synergy attack from EA, which also includes a comic book spinoff (pictured) and a deal with Starz to produce an animated Dead Space movie.



Music addicts… that want to stay or go legit, check out LaLa.

In politics; as goes Colin Powell, so goes Google. Rather, Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt.

Posty Post

Oct. 20th, 2008 05:05 pm
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
OH NOZ! 'Anonymous' Member Unmasked!

An 18-year-old New Jersey man agreed to plead guilty to federal computer hacking charges Friday for participating in a denial-of-service attack against Church of Scientology websites, as part of collective of online troublemakers known as "Anonymous."
Read more... )

As a continuation of yesterday, most of which occurred via email, here's an icon for my werewolves are better than vampire friends:



Since NPR was doing their fundraising thing this morning, I did some station surfing and heard Miss Independent, lyrics here, music video here. Not that I've seen the video, mind you, I cannot access youtube at work. *sigh* Probably better that way. Oh. Listen to it here. It's nice when you hear semi-pro-feminist R&B. There is still some expectation of beauty upkeep, but it seems like "she" has the money to pay other people to do all her upkeep for her (manicure, pedicure, hair cut and style, etc) which may be construed as a measure of privilege. However, I like it. Opinions?

Click here for a series of 13 images showing "Under the Surface at Monterey Bay Aquarium."

Article to the above slide show "Monterey Bay: An Aquarium for the Ages Opens" found here. The aquarium occupies the site of an old sardine cannery at the edge of Monterey Bay, one of the most fertile and diverse marine environments on earth.



Six Apart CEO speaks out on how the downturn in the economy is affecting blogging over a smooth, cool Belgian beer.

What the heck is "Location-Based Dating" people? Anyone? Apparently, the current article is a follow up to this one about Love: Japanese Style.

RIAA Decries Texas Woman as 'Vexatious' for Demanding File Sharing Trial. Along with the article is one of [livejournal.com profile] crabbyolbastard's favorite images:



I love the second comment in the comment string at the bottom of the article:

Vexatious?

"In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved"


OHHHH! FIRST QUANTUM OF SOLACE REVIEWS ARRIVE, UNVEIL DARK ADVENTURE!



If the collection of early reviews is any reliable sign (and the consistent tone in each would indicate it is), the next James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, is an aggressive, tight, grim and moody thriller that leads directly into the next film in the decades-old series.

So far, reviews out of U.K. sources such as the BBC and The Daily Mirror praise the film and the performance of Daniel Craig as 007 for exploring the lead character's depth and motivation in a manner not seen in a previous Bond flick.

While celebrating Solace's tight pacing and effective action sequences, critics also question the film's heavy, moody tone as the grieving, vengeful 007 seeks out the deadly international criminal organization that killed his lover and threatens the world. It seems the fun, flippant Bond of Sir Roger Moore (and even Pierce Brosnan) is long gone.

Quantum of Solace premieres on Halloween in the United Kingdom and Nov. 14 in the United States.


Finally: Future vehicles may be made of 'buckypaper'

Buckypaper is 10 times lighter but potentially 500 times stronger than steel when sheets of it are stacked and pressed together to form a composite. Unlike conventional composite materials, though, it conducts electricity like copper or silicon and disperses heat like steel or brass.

Posty Post

Oct. 18th, 2008 03:27 pm
semiotic_pirate: (freckles & sunglasses)
The following bit of posty goodness was accumulated at work on Friday. Enjoy.

Mapping data accumulator sued in yet another case of intellectual property not being owned by the person who thought up the thing. Criminal.

BMW is rolling ahead with plans for the all-electric Mini (EV). I cannot wait until cars like this actually are available to the general public. Mnnnm. Combining hydrogen fuel cells with a plug-in electric motor? Would it work? Of course, living around renewable sourced electricity sources is essential for it to be a great thing.

Jargon Watch discusses Green Crude, Popcorning, Edupunk and Hairy Blobs.

For my geeky computer nerd friends: Cheap, easy-to-mod NetBooks are a Hacker's Paradise according to Wired's gadget lab. Ahhh... the hackintosh.

All the EMT's in the house - do you perform CPR to the Bee Gee's Stayin' Alive? Maybe you should!

For all my paranoid friends who want to keep any RFID chip data privately secured, here's a how-to wiki on making a faraday cage wallet. ATM cards, credit cards, some state-issued ID cards… not just passports, folks. Hey, you could color coordinate with your wardrobe too, since they make multi-color duct tape these days. Check here for some other interesting things to do with duct tape. I think I may have posted a while back about the contest Duct tape has every year for prom outfits made from their product. Wild photos, talented kids.

For the photographers out there, how about taking microphotographs in addition to those lovely macro lens shots? This made me think of my sweet CoB and Mandy. *waves*

And, for those of you heading into NYC: watch out for add-wrapping on the subway system. New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is announcing plans to cover just about every surface in the subway system with advertising. The most ambitious attempt will be digital video ads that play short videos that move across the walls of subway tunnels while the trains are moving through. In addition to the digital ads, there will be more train, pole and surface wrapping with ads as well as large video spots on the walls of busy stations.



In other news: The tomb of the guy who is believed to have in part inspired the character Maximus Decimus Meridius, played by Russell Crowe in Gladiator was found in Rome recently. NEAT!

The newest annual Emerging Cyber Threats Report is warning that mobile devices are at an increasing risk to attack by spam and viruses and that mobile devices have been identified as the most at-risk and particularly vulnerable platform. Though this isn't directly related, I am so glad that they've not published cell phone numbers like land lines. Telemarketers should not be able to try and sell you something while you are paying for the phone call, imho.

As someone who has long been a fan of the marumushi newsmap, imagine my surprise to find all the other neat marumushi products. I especially like the flicker mapping. A perennial favorite option of mine for the newsmap is to change the country tab at the top to see how various issue categories are "valued" by those countries in comparison with your own. Enlightening.

Finally, the credit squeeze starts to loosen. Good news for the banking industry for interbank and consumer/business loans. Though for the cautious, it won't mean so much yet or change any shifts in policy that were implemented due to this newest occurrence.

As a follow up to a comment I made last night, elsewhere, here's an update on Plumber Joe's taxes. This article also explains a little more about what qualifies as a small business and other questions surrounding Senator Obama's proposed tax strategy.

And, still in business speak mode, here are a series of articles about the return on investment of sleep Sleep, good.

Also, why is Buffett's "buy now" call getting a lukewarm reception? Isn't he supposed to be some sort of investing guru?

Posty Post

Oct. 16th, 2008 05:52 pm
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
As a follow up to a post made by [livejournal.com profile] interactiveleaf concerning the lies and hatemongering being spread by Reichwing Republicans about Senator Obama:


GOP Site Endorses E-mail Smears, Said 'Waterboard Obama'


By Sarah Lai Stirland - October 15, 2008 | 7:39:16 PM - WIRED Threat Level



The website of a local California Republican party has posted a message openly calling for the torture of Barack Obama, while reporting as fact a slew of long-ago debunked smears targeting the Democratic presidential candidate.

Read more... )
The worst comment, posted by "Independent Voter" was This is funny. You leftist idiots cannot take a joke. You can dish it out but you can't take it. LOL. Yeah. It's a joke… Riiiiight. Try to pull the other one.

Further down you get a reply by "acerbic"

Ok. Is this a smear? Obama claims to be a Christian and yet he believes that human beings evolved from apes via natural selection and random mutation? Do real Christians realize that he believes in this crap or does he have one answer when he's around Christians and another when he's around atheists? He sounds like a con artist to me.

Of course, this is common atheist/evolutionist brain-dead crap since anybody who has played around with random GAs know that, as soon as the search space reaches a certain very low threshold, you get an exponential explosion of possibilities that makes any subsequent search intractable. Heck, you can't even get to the cellular level. Not even close.

This is the sort of crap that caused Paul Feyrabend to write that "the most stupid procedures and the most laughable results in their domain are surrounded with an aura of excellence. It is time to cut them down in size, and to give them a more modest position in society."

You atheist/leftist nerds act like your shit don't stink but yours is the stinkiest shit around. You are stupid as shit. LOL.


Yeah, that's right, Christians aren't allowed to believe in evolution. Don't some of them believe that God doesn't consider time in the same way humans do? One of Zir's days could be a millennia or trillennia? I'm not sure where "acerbic" is getting the rest of their statement from… Anyone?

Wait… "rthomas" has a really good comeback to that part: Evolution vs. Natural Selection vs. Creationism, all are true. Keep in mind we have concrete evidence on how old the earth is, its previous occupants, when those occupants lived, even how the solar system, galaxy and our universe formed.

Now assuming the Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox Church and all the sects that spit from them, copied the Jewish Torah, exactly, word for word, which I highly doubt.

1) How many days passed during the days of creation, and no the answer is not seven. Why? It is generally accepted that a day for us on this planet last 24 hours, and no where does it say how long a day was. In fact, in the early part of the story there was no separation.

2) Show us where it describes the creatures; go on, I mean I know fish are described and to some extend fauna and insects.

3) Now, it says in there that we are created in the image of G-d. Who are we mere mortals to assume what G-d looks like? Honestly, it crosses the line to assume that we have always look like this just because we are created in the image of the All Mighty. Moreover, can that statement mean instead that it is our soul, the soul of every living creature on this Earth, that is created in the image of G-d.

4) Last of all, if we are meant to take the word of G-d, be it from the Bible, the Torah, the Qur'an, etc... We would not have been created with the ability to think for ourselves and question the word of G-d. We would most likely not have the ability to think for ourselves and question the word of G-d, and instead maybe the dolphins or roaches would be more worthy of the gift of logic. Thus, I believe, no matter what the issue, it is a sin to accept the word of G-d without second thought on the subject.


There is a LOT of heavy flaming going on in the comments. Extreme insults to Hawking that don't bear repeating… insults galore being issued by the pseudo-Christian lot toward everyone else. Nothing concrete or any supportive evidence to their statements. The point of the article, that this stuff was posted onto an OFFICIAL Republican website seems to have been missed by all of the trolls.

Huzzah for Margaret Sanger!



Personal Transport Pods for Mass Transit: It is time we design cities for the human, not for the automobile.



New show on the Discovery Channel looks interesting: Prototype This The show, which debuts Wednesday night, features four San Francisco Bay Area geeks who demonstrate their brainpower each week by undertaking a bizarre "build" to address some sort of problem.

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For my zombie loving friends out there, here are a list of songs that focus on those shambling revenants. There's an embedded player toward the bottom of the page where, after the intro song and chat, you can listen to the songs. *Looks at [livejournal.com profile] ginmar* Enjoy! FYI: First track is a bonus for Harry Potter fans. Anyone who listens, let me know what you thought. I'm liking the first song, kinda like the second, would have to be in the right frame of mind for the last one… it is from the Young Zombies in Love Musical however. Of course, this is from GeekDad, who would be looking for semi-kid-friendly tracks.
semiotic_pirate: (PirateWildGunnerKate)
IBM is seeding the iPhone App Store and using users as marketing test subjects. They're research projects are popping up like weeds in the effort to see how users in the real world take to them. The projects include an experimental text-input system and an application to sync multiple devices, the latter so you can virally infect your friend's iPhones.

Blackberry calls the iPhone out at high noon in the BlackBerry Storm vs. iPhone G3 showdown. The article contains a handy dandy reference chart and was deemed the best competitor to date for the iPhone.

Interesting history lesson: Did you know that in 1582 the pope declared that a one time deletion of October 4-15 would occur to fix the Julian Calendar slippage? That's right, in order to keep Easter from being observed in the summer and Christmas in the spring Pope Gregory XIII took drastic steps to reset the calendar.

Wired Science is putting forth a reasonable argument about why biofuels shouldn't be blamed for the food crisis. Placing the blame on biofuels obscures the role that long-held European and American agricultural subsidies played in creating the food crisis.



For you at-home terrorist hunters: data-minin for terrorists not 'feasible,' a DHS-funded study finds.



The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday. The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American.

The 376-page report -- entitled "Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Assessment" (which goes for $55)-- comes as a rebuke to the Bush administration's attempts to use high-tech surveillance and data-sifting tools to prevent another terrorist attack inside the United States.


"Terrorists can damage our country and way of life in two ways: through physical, psychological damage and through our own inappropriate response to that threat." This was said by the investigating committee's co-chair Charles Vest -- the president of the National Academy of Engineering at the report's unveiling.

The United States Army is looking to build the world's strongest solar array as part of a far-reaching effort to cut back on the service's dependence on fossil fuels.

Currently, the most powerful photovoltaic array in the country is at Nellis Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas. It generates about 15 megawatts of power. Other plants are in the works in New Mexico, Arizona and California that could produce up to 300 megawatts. The Army declared that it would "partner with the private sector to construct a 500-megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin, California, in the Mojave Desert. In an update to the article it was noted that Pacific Gas and Electric recently announced contracts for 800 megawatts of solar energy -- including a 550 megawatt "solar farm" in San Luis Obispo County, California. It's slated to be on line by 2013.

How secret are your secrets? DARPA Launches "Secret" Gandalf Project.

Announced yesterday by Darpa, the SECRET/NOFORN program's goal is to employ "set of handheld devices" to track down a particular "signal emitter of interest," using "radio frequency geolocation." And according to Lew Page, a former Royal Navy officer: "It would appear that a group of undercover operatives… dispersed near a target (perhaps a specific cell or satellite phone) might carry portable gadgets, presumably networked. The netted devices would be able to pick out the phone, radio or whatever they were after and track it. This sort of thing is already done by surveillance aircraft and/or drones; the new wrinkle is being able to do it using handheld devices. So Project Gandalf [is] presumably intended for situations where the spy planes and drones can't be used - perhaps where the local government is unaware of the operation."

Anyone want to comment on that?

In other news: the future of search won't be incremental.



In a play on the title of a great short story book: Do Toddlers Dream of Electronic Pets is about the robotic pets of the now and ruminations about their future use in society. Mainly though, it is a product review of "WowWee Alive" Lions, Pandas, Polar Bears and White Tiger all, of course, appearing as figuratively young as the children who are their intended playmates. Lions, Tigers and Bears… oh my.

For the weapon aficianados: Fighting Umbrella with Knuckle-Duster Handle Do you think the Umbuster is legal with that "brass knuckle" handle? Well, only if you have a license to carry… "The Umbuster has been classified a Class 5 weapon by good and upright men and women of the Victorian Police, and is considered similarly so in many countries. To have and to hold this accessory requires a weapons licence and, or gun licence." On sale now for $330. Not that impressive - really - if you consider how you have to hold the umbrella's handle when using it as rain gear.

Maybe Weird Al: Forefather of the YouTube Spoof should do a video where he uses the Umbuster?


Weird Al on tour - summer 2008.
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
Libya 'to pull Swiss bank assets'

Libya is to withdraw assets from Swiss banks, estimated at $7bn, as a diplomatic row over the arrest of the Libyan leader's youngest son escalates.

Read more... )

In other news on the BBC:

Bank turmoil fuels phishing boom - phishing attacks are up at least 180% over last year. Credit card fraud is likewise on the rise. UK reports 302 million pounds lost in the first six months of 2008, up 14% from the first six months of 2007.

According to an EU-commissioned study - the global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis. The economics of climate change are monetizing biodiversity and carbon sinks like forestland. Study leader Pavan Sukhdev, in a statement to BBC News said: "So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."

Repossession being considered a "mental threat" is not surprising. I'm glad that 90 year old woman in Ohio does not have to worry about foreclosure anymore. I never did find out why Polk, in 2004, took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and an $11,380 line of credit.


Also... lucky those in the UK, as well as other countries with socialized health care, for whom mental health care is relatively free.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations says that at least 60 of its 6,500 members may have lost up to 120 million pounds of deposits that were meant for long-term projects. This includes The Cat Protection League. I wonder how the financial downturn is affecting U.S. based charities…

Where is the outrage? Why isn't OUR leader (US-Centric, yes) demanding the recent falls in the price of oil be passed on to the consumer?

Fear grips global stock markets…. Still. Never seems to end, does it? Turmoil! Fear! Plunging value of money! Fear! Be Afraid!


In other, other news:

Man Kills Bear With Stick

New Invasion of V's Lizard Aliens Coming! Here's the Variety article and for good measure… The Wiki.



Did you know that the 1980's miniseries V, in which aliens invaded Earth, served as an allegory for the Holocaust and Nazi Germany? Scott Peters, one of the two executive producers of the new V, said he won’t duplicate that concept, except that the new "V" will still focus on what happens when the masses have blind faith in their leaders.

Will Jesus be returning as an Atlantic blacktip shark? In a study reported Friday in the Journal of Fish Biology, scientists said DNA testing proved that a pup carried by a female Atlantic blacktip shark in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center contained no genetic material from a male.

The first documented case of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis, among sharks involved a pup born to a hammerhead at an Omaha, Neb., zoo.

Interesting, reminds me of a Charlotte Perkins Gilman novel: Herland. Electronic text of the book to be found here.

Hey! Who gave this guy permission to build my library?! OMGF! *drools heavily into cupped hand to protect the books* Follow the link for more tasty personal library pictures… Yum.



Last, but certainly not least if [livejournal.com profile] crabbyolbastard has anything to say about it: New chips poised to revolutionize digital photography.

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