blueollie

17 August 2011 Irrelevant stuff and snark: You can’t make this stuff up.

I am going to try out my academic year routine, sort of.

First about just “making stuff up”

PWN’D, but too dumb to realize it:

(click for larger)

Either these women are this guy’s relatives, or he is rich:

epic fail photos - CLASSIC: Day At The Beach FAIL
see more funny videos, and check out our Yo Dawg lols!

Politics
The e-book version of Christine O’Donnell’s book was labeled as “fiction”. Really.

WASHINGTON — Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell is out with her new book “Troublemaker,” which she describes in the introduction as “a political memoir slash campaign diary slash position paper slash rallying cry, with an emphasis on the slash.” In an email to supporters, she promised the book would offer “the real, raw story of my life.”

But the e-version of her book says she’s making it all up.

The copyright page of her book in both the Kindle and iTunes versions state that O’Donnell’s memoir is, in fact, a novel.

“This is a work of fiction,” reads the disclaimer. “All of the characters, organizations and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.”

Rick Santorum’s campaign might be labeled as fictional also. But he is out there saying things like this:

At a campaign stop in Iowa this weekend, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) doled out a frothy mixture of revisionist history about what it was like to be alive in the late 1700s:

Our founders said [our] rights were given to us to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Does anyone here believe that first inalienable right is as whole as it was at the time of our founding? It isn’t. Does anyone believe that our freedom is as whole as it was at the time of our founders? It is not.

This is what infuriates me about conservatives: when they say “our” they mean, well, white guys. Seriously; remember that our black neighbors were slaves at that time and that females couldn’t even vote. More free? Really? Conservatives have a very narrow view as to what an American is. (hat tip: Billy Dennis)

Republican Debate

Some troll put this on the Mitt Romney facebook wall. It is pretty funny though.

August 17, 2011 Posted by | 2012 election, humor, moron, morons, pwnd, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, social/political | Leave a comment

Republicans…..

Some time ago, I watched the following video (of the Peoria, IL “Tea-party” “rally’:

And I made a one sentence comment:
“I hope that someone had a defibrillator.”

11 months later, the owner of the video “demolished” me:

@ultraollie At least they all probably have long form birth certificates and their college, medical & legislative records are not sealed. It kills you to think that plenty of young people are disgusted with Communist totalitarianism in US government. How old is your buddy Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, George Soros? LOL

Hmm, I didn’t know that most people’s college and medical records were public access. :) As far as legislative records…hmmm, those are open public access, no? Of course, what is the birth certificate nonsense anyway? In what passes for a mind, this person must think that the State of Hawaii and all of the local newspapers were involved in some conspiracy to cover up a non-existent birth….almost 50 years ago? :)

Then we get to the phrase “communist totalitarianism”. Hmm, if the current administration was really that, would this video be allowed to stay up? Didn’t the communist totalitarians throw dissenters in jail and sometimes execute them?

Now as to my friends: “Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank”: if memory serves me, they were all reelected in 2010 and Sen. Reid’s election was an upset win over a….oh yes….TEA PARTY candidate! :) George Soros? Well, he is still a multimillionaire so I suppose that he is doing well…

Anyway, as far as the tea-party types: yes, I know that they are more educated than average (most people don’t have college degrees…so even a C+ business student with a 22 on their ACT would technically be “above average” when compared with the general public.

But take a good look at this crowd. How would THEY feel if the Ryan “medicare plan” was imposed on them? Really, why shouldn’t it be? If the plan is so great, impose it now.

Of course the Republicans don’t have the guts to do that; they were elected in large part due to the “government hands off of my Medicare” crowd.

:)

But if you think that I am hard on Republicans, check out this Rolling Stone article. The article itself doesn’t say anything I haven’t said over the past couple of days; the Ryan plan is to give even more tax cuts for the rich and to destroy all of the more socialist governmental programs. But just read what Matt Taibbi has to say:

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

The author goes on to point out is that the real cost driver are things like Medicare in which we spend hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to keep some old fart alive for a couple of weeks in an intensive care ward of a hospital.

Mr. Taibbi isn’t through with the Republicans though:

Here is how old friend David Brooks, taking a break from his authorship of breathless master-race treatises, put it in a recent column called “Moment of Truth”:

[...]
Brooks then goes on to slobber over all of Ryan’s ostensibly daring proposals, from the Medicare block grants to the more obnoxious Medicare voucher program (replacing Medicare benefits with vouchers to buy overpriced private insurance, which Brooks calls the government “giving you a sum of money” to choose from “a regulated menu of insurance options”).

What he doesn’t mention is that Ryan’s proposal also includes dropping the top tax rate for rich people from 35 percent to 25 percent. All by itself, that one change means that the government would be collecting over $4 trillion less over the next ten years.

Since Brooks himself is talking about Ryan’s plan cutting $4 trillion over the next ten years (some say that number is higher), what we’re really talking about here is an ambitious program to cut taxes for people like… well, people like me and David Brooks, and paying for it by “consolidating job-training programs” and forcing old people to accept reduced Medicare benefits. [...]

But the icing on the cake comes when a guy like David Brooks – like me a coddled, overcompensated media yuppie whose idea of sacrifice is raking one’s own leaves – comes out and calls Paul Ryan courageous for having the guts to ask seniors to cut back on their health care in order to pay for our tax breaks.

I have to admit that I laughed long and hard over that one. :)

And to the tea party owner of the Peoria Tax Day video: THAT is how you insult someone. Take notes. :)

April 9, 2011 Posted by | economics, economy, pwnd, Republican, republican party, republicans | 1 Comment

7 January 2011 am

Workout/Injury The back is feeling better, but I shall rest it another day; this weekend I am planning to use the regular and arm bikes for a few minutes; if all is well then I’ll start easy running on Monday.

NFL My picks:
Straight up (who wins) Chiefs over the Ravens, Saints over the Seahawks, Eagles over the Packers, Jets over the Colts.
Against the Spread Chiefs + 3, Seahawks + 10.5, Eagles – 2.5, Jets + 2.5.

Off topic stuff
There is more to the story Terrible: the evil TSA arrests a mathematics professor for carrying a bagel aboard a flight!

If you carry bagels or other food items with you on an airplane these days, you’d better paint them red white and blue just to make sure all the passengers around you know you’re truly an American. Otherwise, they just might turn you in. In yet another case of air passengers turning into in-flight SS troops, a Florida professor was arrested, handcuffed and removed from a plane when his fellow passengers reported he had a “suspicious-looking bag” in his hands.

The contents of that suspicious-looking bag turned out to be a bagel with cream cheese, a set of keys and a hat.

But in America’s ultra-paranoid environment where the U.S. government actually encourages people to spy on each other (http://www.naturalnews.com/030648_W…), apparently just about anything can set off the suspicions of the citizens’ secret police.

Unbelievable! Oh wait….maybe there is more to this story? Yep; the professor was being a jerk:

A Florida math professor was removed from a US Airways airplane in Boston and arrested after passengers accused him of placing a package making weird noises in the overhead bin.

It turns out the “suspicious” package was a plastic bag containing a bagel and cream cheese, keys, a wallet, other food items and a hat, according to law enforcement officials.

But before that was discovered, Ognjen Milatovic, 35, also reportedly refused crew instructions to sit down and hang up his cell phone so the plane could take off.

The University of North Florida professor was taken off the Washington D.C.-bound flight in handcuffs and was arraigned in East Boston District Court on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with operation of an aircraft. He was released with orders to return to court on March 15. [...]

Emphasis mine: hey, hold up everyone else and airline traffic because of YOUR phone call. Note: the above article does talk about a poor guy being pulled from a flight because he used the bathroom too much (thereby alarming the passengers….oh yeah, he “looked Middle Eastern”).

So yes, this “living in fear” is absurd and the TSA has gone too far; for example, on my latest flight, they were pulling people out of line to do a second check of their carry on luggage….luggage that had already been screened once. And yes, *I* got chosen (out of the 30 some odd people in line). I wasn’t the only one; someone else got it in the previous line.

Charity: I’ve run in the Race for the Cure. So that money goes for administrative costs and for research, right? Uh…some of it goes to attorneys who…threaten others who use “for the Cure” in their events.

Humor
This FAIL is funny:
epic fail photos - Hand Washing Station FAIL
see more funny videos

The shortest paper in the world Yes, you can read it even if you don’t have a technical background, and no, it won’t take you long. :) Who says that scientists don’t have a sense of humor?

Politics President Obama is planning to veto any bill that repeals the passed health care reform, though I doubt that such a bill from the House would survive the Senate.
True, the House could “play chicken” with the purse strings, but this might backfire on them:

The real thing happens later, when they try to strip the Department of Health and Human Services of money needed to implement the law’s requirement that all Americans buy health insurance. This could easily precipitate a showdown with the White House—and a government shutdown later this year.

On its face it’s a smart strategy for the GOP. The individual mandate is the lynchpin of the heath-care law because it spreads the risks. Without the participation of younger or healthier people, private insurers won’t be able to take on older or sicker customers with pre-existing medical conditions, or maintain coverage indefinitely for people who become seriously ill. The result would be to unravel the health-care law, which presumably is what many Republicans seek.

At the same time, the mandate is the least popular aspect of the law. According to a December 9-12 ABC/Washington Post survey, 60% of the public opposes the individual mandate. While they want help with their health-care bills, and over 60% want to prevent insurers from dropping coverage when customers become seriously ill, most Americans simply don’t like the idea of government requiring them to buy something. It not only offends libertarian sensibilities, but it also worries some moderates and liberals who fear private insurers will charge too much because of insufficient competition in the industry.

The individual mandate is also most susceptible to legal challenge. Twenty states, led by Florida, have joined together in a lawsuit to argue that the mandate oversteps federal authority. Virginia and some interest groups are also challenging the mandate’s constitutionality in federal court. In the first major ruling, on December 13, Judge Henry E. Hudson of the federal district court in Richmond called the mandate an “unbridled exercise of federal police powers” and an overreach of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. The U.S. government is now appealing that decision.

Ok, mandates appear to be unpopular but they drive down costs. And no, this isn’t exactly the same thing as, say, car insurance or required home insurance for, say, an FHA loan. But what if this provision is really challenged? What might be the cost drive down measure?

President Obama and a majority of Democrats in the last Congress opted for the Republican model even though many Democrats would have preferred Medicare for all, or at the very least a public option. Most polls showed that the public favored such an option. But the White House hoped for Republican support and wanted to ward off opposition from health insurers and pharmaceutical companies by promising them some 30 million additional customers.

Set against this background, the current Republican attack on mandatory coverage is curious because it begs the essential question of how society would otherwise spread health-care risks. If successful—either in Congress or in the courts—a Republican victory could turn into a Phyrric one by opening the way to the alternative model, based on the system Americans seem to prefer: payroll taxes and public insurance.

And because the public already pays payroll taxes to fund medicare (though medicare is underfunded at the present time)…well, inadvertently the Republicans might deliver for us what the Democrats could not: single payer or at least a robust public option.

Science Yep, we had a snow shower. Yuck. But it is January in Illinois, after all. Here are a couple of good but short climate change videos. The second one was from a year ago, but it talks about why we have to look at the global picture to draw accurate conclusions; much of local temperatures depends on what happens with air masses.

Cancer Here is a recent insight that might help us make progress?

Without warning cancer can arise from a single catastrophic chromosomal event involving tens to hundreds of breaks in the DNA that are haphazardly pieced back together, researchers reported in the January 7th issue of Cell.

What is particularly exciting about this observation is that it points to a novel mechanism that affects the stability of the genome in a very localized way,” said Ronald DePinho, cancer geneticist at the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study. “This paper explains how cancer can form in a relatively short period of time.”

Normally when a cell undergoes drastic damage like the shattering of its chromosomes, what researchers call chromothripsis, it dies from a failure to pass innate cell cycle checkpoints that monitor DNA damage during mitosis. Sometimes, however, the cell attempts to rescue itself even after multiple breaks in its double stranded DNA (dsDNA). Though in most cases the repairs probably result in changes that are detrimental to the cells ability to continue dividing, Campbell said, by random chance the hodgepodge of repairs can occasionally amplify cancer genes or delete cancer suppressor genes, instigating the once normal cells to begin dividing uncontrollably.
[...]
Read more: Normal today, cancer tomorrow – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57907/#ixzz1AMGxx6yB

A little bit more progress….always a good thing. It is noted that bone cells are more prone to this type of behavior.

Vaccines cause autism fraud
We’ve heard this by now:

But how was this fraud committed? Here is a brief analysis:

The Lancet paper was a case series of 12 child patients; it reported a proposed “new syndrome” of enterocolitis and regressive autism and associated this with MMR as an “apparent precipitating event.” But in fact:

* Three of nine children reported with regressive autism did not have autism diagnosed at all. Only one child clearly had regressive autism

* Despite the paper claiming that all 12 children were “previously normal,” five had documented pre-existing developmental concerns

* Some children were reported to have experienced first behavioural symptoms within days of MMR, but the records documented these as starting some months after vaccination

Surf to Mano Singham’s blog to read the rest. What is astonishing to me is N = 12.

How the Brain develops
Can raising a child in a more fearful society (e. g., less sheltered) lead to a loss of politeness (or lessening of politeness) down the road? Note, this article is about brain development, and NOT a “these kids are more rude than we are” type of thing:

The contrast between the brash, comparatively disrespectful behavior of Americans today and the courtesy, formal manners, civil discourse, polite behavior and respect for others regardless of social status that is evident in Japanese society is striking. The contrast hits an American like a splash of cold water upon disembarking the airplane in Japan, because it clashes so starkly with our behavior. For an American, Japanese manners and courtesy must be experienced.

American children today are raised in an environment that is far more hostile than the environment that nurtured today’s adults. Children today are exposed to behaviors, profane language, hostilities and stress from which we adults, raised a generation ago, were carefully shielded. When I was a boy, there were no metal detectors at the entrance to my school. The idea was inconceivable, and there was indeed no need for them. Not so today. I wonder: how does this different environment affect brain development?

First it is helpful to consider, from a biological perspective, what “rudeness” is, so that we can consider what is lost when formal polite behaviors are cast away. People (and animals) living together in large numbers must develop strict formalized behaviors governing interactions between all individuals in the group, or there will be strife and chaos. In the natural world, as in the civilized world, it is stressful for individuals (people or animals) to interact with strangers, and also with other members of a working group and family members. As the size of the group increases, so do the number of interactions between individuals, thus raising the level of stress if not controlled by formal, stereotyped behavior, which in human society is called “manners.” The formal “Yes, Sir, Yes, Ma’am,” is not a showy embellishment in the military; strict respect and formal polite discourse are the hub of the wheel in any effective and cohesive social structure. True, many chafe under a system of behavior that is overly rigid, as do many young Japanese, but my point is that these polite and formalized behaviors reduce stress in a stressful situation that arises from being an individual in a complex society. Stress is a neurotoxin, especially during development of a child’s brain.

Studies have shown that children exposed to serious psychological trauma during childhood are at risk of suffering increased psychiatric disorders, including depression, anger, hostility, drug abuse, suicidal ideation, loneliness and even psychosis as adults. Using modern brain imaging, the physical damage to these children’s brain development can be seen as clearly as a bone fracture on an X-ray. Early-childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse and witnessing domestic violence undermine the normal wiring of brain circuits, especially those circuits connecting the left and right sides of the brain through a massive bundle of connections called the corpus callosum. Impairment in integrating information between right and left hemispheres is associated with increased risk of craving, drug abuse and dependence, and a weakened ability to make moral judgments. (See my post “Of Two Minds on Morality” for new research on the corpus callosum and the ability to make moral judgments.)

Surf and read the whole thing. This is a lesson about the long term cost of us living in so much fear.

Speaking of fear and society I sure hope that there is either more to this than is being reported or that this is an isolated mistake that will be remedied. This is a Salon article about a teenager with a US passport who is being detained, maltreated and tortured in another country though he has done nothing wrong. I WANT to believe that we are better than this.

But perhaps we are not. Look at the clowns in charge of crafting our foreign policy:

California congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon is the next chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He doesn’t have any military experience — he spent the Vietnam era on a Mormon missionary retreat and a twenty-nine year quest (1956-1985) for a BA from Brigham Young — but he did bankrupt his family’s western wear company, so he knows how to order shirts no one wants. [...]

“(The Battle of Lexington and Concord) began what gave us the liberty, the freedom that we now enjoy, to where we can congregate together like this, we can talk about things, we can have free elections. We’ve been able to have real freedom and liberty, which is what the Lord, many, many years ago said that this land was set aside for. About a little over a year later, on July Fourth, 1776, the Continental Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence, which states that we would be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness. That’s what the Lord said that this land was set aside for, so that battle began the fulfillment of the prophecy. Now there’s no guarantee that those freedoms are always to be here. We’ve continued and fought for years. Hundreds of thousands have given their lives so that we can continue to enjoy those freedoms, and that fight goes on, on a daily basis. In discussions that you hold. In the people that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Afghanistan was where the planning, the kick-off of the attack on us on 9/11 took place. That’s why we’re there. To prevent that from happening again. It’s better that we fight there, than on the streets of New York, or downtown Valencia. I just pray that we always will be able to hold those freedoms. Elder Ballard, a few years ago, visiting with the members of the Church in Washington in the Congress, said that it’s important that we always keep this land free, because it’s the cradle of the Church. It’s where from here we send our missionaries around the world. We need to have freedom to do that. It’s my prayer that we might always retain that freedom, and I wish we could do it without continued loss of treasure and blood, but it seems that that’s the world we live in.

I think that should clear up just about everything.

Oh dear. This is disgusting beyond belief. Yeah, it could be worse; we could live in a country where people run the risk of assassination if they are too secular:

The killing of the governor of Pakistan’s most populous province has highlighted the ongoing clash in Pakistani society between secularism and religious radicalism. Some of that radicalism is fueled by resentment against a privileged and often secular-minded elite who govern the country.
The death of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, allegedly at the hands of one of his own bodyguards, has underscored what journalist Ahmad Rashid called a “very, very severe polarization” in Pakistan.

On one side, say analysts, is what is believed to be a comparatively small but vocal and determined group of Islamic radicals, some of them extreme to the point of violence. At the other is a liberal and, to varying degrees, secular elite. And caught in the middle is the average Pakistani who is buffeted by economic and political uncertainty.

Analyst Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation says Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, envisioned a multiethnic, multireligious society with Islam as a unifying force. But she says events have caused the country to drift further towards extremism.

“It’s been events over the past 30 years, like the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Islamization policies of General Zia ul-Haq during the 1980s, which has really strengthened the Islamist forces and the more puritanical sects in Pakistan over the more traditional and moderate Sunni sects,” said Curtis.

That strength has not translated into popular votes. When Pakistan has had free and fair elections, the religious parties have fared poorly, picking up only a sliver of seats. But analysts say their power is in the street, not in the ballot box.

Religion is not benign. For more on the Pakistani mess, read this essay which laments what is happening. Note: this sort of extremism can cause huge problems, even if it doesn’t win direct political power.

What about our own wackos?
One such wacko (one that I had an indirect encounter with) will be spending more time in jail. Note: this is neo-nazi stuff…not all extremism is religious in nature.

January 7, 2011 Posted by | Barack Obama, biology, brain, civil liberties, economics, economy, football, health, health care, humor, injury, morons, nature, NFL, political/social, politics, politics/social, pwnd, quackery, racism, religion, Republican, republicans political/social, republicans politics, science, social/political, superstition, training, Uncategorized, world events | 1 Comment

They don’t always get away with it!

November 30, 2010 Posted by | moron, morons, political/social, politics/social, pwnd | Leave a comment

11 November 2010 pm

Running/Walking/Rehabilitation/Science
Underwater treadmills existed for some time now; these helped injured runners gradually ease into running. Now there is a more sophisticated treadmill which uses air to tailor the amount of weight that the recovering individual uses when running or walking.

Science
Cosmology/Astronomy
Gamma bubbles: yes, there are massive gamma ray plumes coming from some locations (the places where there were black holes?) These are thousands of light years in diameter! So much for the claim that “the universe was designed for life” (as Neal DeGrasse Tyson lampoons here)

Here is an awesome photo of two galaxies colliding…as ours will eventually with the Andromeda.

Physics/Mathematics
Time and space really are different!

And yes, while the curvature of space might change from location to location, the value of “pi” (which is the ratio of a circle’s diameter to circumference in Euclidean geometry) doesn’t vary by location. :) No, I am not making this question up as a “straw man”.

Biology/Evolution
Yes, there are genes that influence the amount of sleep we need; read about that here.

Astonishingly, fly maggots have many light receptors (“eyes”, so to speak):

An article soon to be published by Nature from the world-famous laboratory of Lily and Yuh Jan describes the astonishing finding that Drosophila maggots – and, you can be pretty sure, virtually every other kind of fly maggot – is covered with tiny “eyes”. Nobody had any idea that this was the case.

Up until today, the maggot’s “eyes” were thought to be a group of 12 cells called Bolwig’s organ.

It turns out that if this Bolwig’s organ is “killed”, the maggot will still avoid light; it still detects it!

Social Issues
Yes, raising the retirement age is problematic: whereas life expectancy (from 65 years on) has gone up for some economic groups, it has barely budged for the lowest income groups (those who need social security the most). And think about those whose jobs are physically demanding..not about those who work in climate controlled offices.

Health insurance Interesting question: should health insurance cover medical bills that result from stupid acts (e. g., a kid deliberately swallowing various items? ) That itself is an interesting question, but this finding is VERY interesting:

A potential catch for would-be sword-swallowers is that until the full panoply of protections in the health care reform bill comes into effect, insurance companies can deny coverage to prospective clients based on a history of risky behavior. Companies sometimes scour applicants’ medical records for evidence of frequent emergency room visits or revealing doctors’ notes. New rules will severely limit the factors they can consider starting in 2014. [...]

Economic theorists have long been concerned about moral hazard—the assumed tendency to engage in risky behaviors, like eating razors, because your insurer will always have your back. But recent studies have shown the opposite to be true. People who have health insurance are actually less likely to drink heavily, smoke, or have a high-risk job such as logger, airline pilot, or taxi driver. The insured are also more likely to wear seat belts and seek preventive care services. Researchers speculate that risk-loving people may perceive forgoing health insurance as just another adrenaline rush.

Another tough issue Amazon was carrying a self-published book on pedophilia. This sparked outrage. On one hand, I can see the outrage over this book; part of it was instructions on “how to not get caught”. On the other hand a book to help pedophiles (those who have these desires) to NOT ACT ON THOSE DESIRES might be useful.

And yes, there is free speech; the government has no right to censor such stuff. But citizens can decide to buy where ever they want. So no, I did not take part in the protest but I didn’t loudly back Amazon either. It turns out that Amazon gave in.

I hope that they don’t place the whole subject as a taboo one; protecting society from the acts of pedophiles requires us knowing more about them.

Politics

Republican anti-science
Yes: John Shimkus (IL-19, from the Southern Part of the state) says that “God” won’t let global warming destroy the planet so we don’t have to worry about that.

I am utterly revolted that we have such idiots in positions of power. Evidently, the younger, better educated voters are also turned off for these reasons:

He answers in the affirmative, and proposes a reason: the Republican war on science and knowledge (Why America’s Top Students Tune Out the GOP). Money quote:

Today’s top students are motivated less by enthusiasm for Democrats and much more by revulsion from Republicans. It’s not the students who have changed so much. It’s the Republicans. … Under Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Republicans championed science and knowledge. But over the past 30 years, national Republicans have formed an intensifying alliance with religious conservatives more skeptical of science and knowledge. I don’t know whether discarding evolution goes against common sense; but I’m pretty sure it goes against most Ivy League-educated senses.

More along these lines here.

Such stupidity (in terms of both science and being reflexively against regulations) has a consequence as Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub points out here.

General Republican stupidity
Of course current Republican stupidity isn’t limited to science:
Here Sarah Palin (who else) attacks a non-existent program.

Then Ms. Palin attacks The Journal’s Real Time Economics for pointing out that she got the facts wrong:

The Journal’s Real Time Economics, having had the audacity to point out that Sarah Palin’s attack on quantitative easing was factually challenged, gets a blast from the barracuda. As I read it, they seem somewhat shocked — it sounds as if they’re deeply surprised at being accused of villainy simply because they pointed out that the facts are somewhat at variance with what politicians on the right are saying.

Folks, my hatred of many current Republicans comes from this. I don’t hate someone for disagreeing with me; heck I am frequently wrong about things. What I detest is this celebration of stupidity and anti-intellectualism. That is also why I liked Barack Obama so much; I saw him as a push-back against that. True, this quality of his might be hurting him politically; he doesn’t seem to have the ability to do the necessary arm twisting that President Johnson, President FD Roosevelt and President Clinton did. Then again, he did get some large bills passed, so I can’t say that he was ineffective though.

Politics: what will happen?
The Democrats are wooing Senator Snowe. I disagree with DK here: if Senator Snowe wants to defect, I say “welcome her with open arms”. She is smart and will perhaps be more moderate without the straight jacket that the current Republican party is throwing on her. Note: she proposed a “pubic option trigger” for the Senate Health Care bill which would have been an improvement over what we passed.

Don’t Cave Mr. President!
Liberals (myself included) are worried that President Obama might cave on the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Paul Krugman is not optimistic. Robert Reich offers a way forward:

Yes, the President needs to acknowledge the Republican sweep on Election Day. But he can do that by offering his own version of a compromise that’s both economically sensible and politically smart. Instead of limiting the extension to $250,000 of income (the bottom 98 percent of Americans), he should offer to extend it to all incomes under $500,000 (essentially the bottom 99 percent), for two years.

The economics are clear:

First, the top 1 percent spends a much smaller proportion of their income than everyone else, so there’s very little economic stimulus at these lofty heights.

On the other hand, giving the top 1 percent a two-year extension would cost the Treasury $130 billion over two years, thereby blowing a giant hole in efforts to get the deficit under control.

Alternatively, $130 billion would be enough to rehire every teacher, firefighter, and police officer laid off over the last two years and save the jobs of all of them now on the chopping block. Not only are these people critical to our security and the future of our children but, unlike the top 1 percent, they could be expected to spend all of their earnings and thereby stimulate the economy.

Conservative supply-siders who argue the top 1 percent will stop working as hard if they have to return to the 39 percent marginal rate of the Clinton years must be smoking something (probably an expensive grade).

November 11, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, 2012 election, astronomy, atheism, Barack Obama, biology, brain, cosmology, creationism, Democrats, economics, economy, evolution, free speech, knee rehabilitation, mathematics, moron, morons, national disgrace, nature, political/social, politics, politics/social, poverty, pwnd, quackery, religion, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, running, sarah palin, science, space, Spineless Democrats | Leave a comment

6 October 2010 pm

Video: watch Christopher Hitchen’s most popular smack-downs:

Politics
There is a lot from the New York Times today:

Democrats do ok when registered voters are polled. But we do not-so-great when “likely voters” are polled.

The White House (and OFA) are acutely aware of this. They are trying to fire up liberals and new voters. This is the public face of this; there are some private moves too.

Here is the idea: all too often, voter outreach is aimed at those who, well, were going to vote anyway. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten material for Democratic candidates. Folks, that is wasted money.

OFA (Organizing For America, the off shoot of the Obama 08 group) recognizes that and is using programs specifically to target reluctant voters or voters who need some prodding.

Sure, they’ll contact me, but only to raise money and to look for volunteers.

Silliness
Republicans seem to hate trains. :) Personally, I’d love to see them catch on; it would be great to hop on a train to Chicago and then hit high speed rail to Texas. Right now, air travel sucks and I don’t see it ever getting any better.

Ok, the above is just a difference of opinion over policy.
The following is beyond silly: Republicans are seeing “signs” in the fact that, at a recent talk, President Obama’s Presidential Seal fell off of the lectern. Hey, I didn’t see the big deal in the first President Bush barfing in Japan or the second President Bush forgetting that a door didn’t open at all.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, atheism, bush-era, High Speed Rail, political/social, politics, politics/social, pwnd, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics | Leave a comment

7 September 2010 am

Posts for the day:
Here is a review of The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow. This is the book that shows that the laws of nature are sufficient to explain why “there is something instead of nothing”; no deities are required.

That is going on my reading list, along with Will Bunch’s book The Backlash .

Education: Science takes a look at study habits. Surprise, surprise: much of the touted stuff that I thought was nonsense, is, well, nonsense:

Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

Ditto for teaching styles, researchers say. Some excellent instructors caper in front of the blackboard like summer-theater Falstaffs; others are reserved to the point of shyness. “We have yet to identify the common threads between teachers who create a constructive learning atmosphere,” said Daniel T. Willingham, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of the book “Why Don’t Students Like School?”

On the other hand, stuff I did in my own learning, well, seems to work for most:

None of which is to suggest that these techniques — alternating study environments, mixing content, spacing study sessions, self-testing or all the above — will turn a grade-A slacker into a grade-A student. Motivation matters. So do impressing friends, making the hockey team and finding the nerve to text the cute student in social studies.

These techniques are discussed in greater detail.

Economy
I liked President Obama’s announcement that he wanted to put 50 billion dollars into infrastructure. Ok, that isn’t enough and it might not pass:

Some bleary-eyed thoughts from Japan on the reported administration proposal for $50 billion in new spending:

1. It’s a good idea
2. It’s much too small
3. It won’t pass anyway — which makes you wonder why the administration didn’t propose a bigger plan, so as to at least make the point that the other party is standing in the way of much needed repair to our roads, ports, sewers, and more– not to mention creating jobs. Once again, they’re striking right at the capillaries.

I’m not quite that pessimistic; at least we’ll encounter fewer potholes (if it passes). But then the Republicans might get angry that he hurt the auto repair industry. :)

Robert Reich on the proposed tax cuts:

President Obama reportedly will propose two big corporate tax cuts this week.

One would expand and make permanent the research and experimentation tax credit, at a cost of about $100 billion over the next ten years. The other would allow companies to write off 100 percent of their new investments in plant and equipment between now and the end of 2011 at a cost next year of substantially more than $100 billion (but a ten-year cost of about $30 billion since those write-offs wouldn’t be taken over the longer-term).

The economy needs two whopping corporate tax cuts right now as much as someone with a serious heart condition needs Botox.

Reich says that Obama is trying to call out the Republicans to show that they simply oppose anything merely because, well, Obama proposed it.
But I am not harsh on the R and D part: after all, R and D rarely pays out short term economic benefit and it is NOT an efficient way to stimulate an economy. But all of society benefits from R and D (eventually). A benefit from a tax cut need not be economic.

Science and Writing
If you aren’t a scientist, don’t try to PWN a scientist. They are smarter than you are:

In his blog On Art in today’s Guardian, Johnathan Jones, whoever he is, makes an invidious and ill-informed comparison between Dawkins and Darwin: “Natural selection: Give me Darwin over Dawkins any day.“

To Jones, Darwin was the moderate Victorian gentleman, presenting evidence without bashing creationism, while Dawkins (of course) is strident and arrogant, putting off his biology audience by touting atheism. This is Mooneyism at its best:

Coyne goes on to quote Jones. Basically, Jones tries to argue: Darwin was nice and polite and Dawkins is mean and strident because, instead of letting the science speak for itself, they attack creationist “thought”.
Coyne goes on to show that Darwin indeed attacked creationist ideas and, yes, there is a ton of science in Dawkin’s latest book The Greatest Show on Earth.

He then concludes:

Jones is clearly out of his element here, which is writing about pictures of dogs playing poker. In his haste to defend faith against the depredations of Dawkins, he makes a complete fool of himself.

Ouch! This smack down kind of reminds me of this about 2:10 into it (after Teddy Atlas yells “quit standing in front of him Mike!”)

Jerry Coyne has a vicious (intellectual) right cross!

September 7, 2010 Posted by | books, boxing, brain, cosmology, economy, education, evolution, political/social, politics, politics/social, pwnd, science | Leave a comment

Some Evening Stridency (2 September)

Jerry Coyne and friends use Sarah Palin’s trolls for a pinata. (in the comments)

Randazza reacts to this:

By: Rabbi Genack

The following statement is not meant as a Psak for individuals or communities. Rather it is a statement of OU policy for the restaurants and caterers under its supervision during this interim period while research is still ongoing.

While we share this with the public, we recommend that you speak to your Orthodox Rabbi for his guidance in this, as in all Halachic matters.

Tiny crustaceans called copepods have been found in New York City tap water. The species we are finding primarily is Diacyclops thomasi, along with some Mesocyclops edax and Skistodiaptomus pygmaeus. These tiny crustaceans are ubiquitous in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs. New York City, because of the high quality of its water, is not required by the EPA to mechanically filter its water. Their appearance in tap water as small white specks may represent a significant kashrus issue.

It is important to note that in some cases, water containing aquatic micro-fauna is permitted for consumption by Halacha. This is determined by several factors, including:

In other words, the water MIGHT NOT BE KOSHER. :)

The stupidity and FAIL of religion knows no bounds. But read Randazza’s rant anyway.

Ground Zero Mosque

Normally, I agree with Pat Condell, but he is wrong here.

This response is awesome:

September 3, 2010 Posted by | 2010 election, Barack Obama, pwnd, ranting, religion | Leave a comment

Beck Counter Rally Signs

From here.
A sample:

(background for the above)

August 31, 2010 Posted by | political humor, political/social, politics, politics/social, pwnd, Republican, republicans, republicans politics | 1 Comment

24 August 2010 (AM)

The semester starts tomorrow; I have lesson plans, quizzes, and my lunch stuff all ready to go. Oh yes, I need some pain killers at work.

I also got my hair cut in West Peoria; from my short time in there, people show up to chat, bag, and talk about local politics. Still, I can recommend that barber shop (right across the street from Haddad’s West Peoria Market, where I get my groceries. So I am beardless.

Links:
Now we can use “bone printing” to scan for terrorists: that’s right; enter a stadium and get your bones scanned that way if a terrorist tries to enter…oh wait…

Because every country has a database of terrorist skeletons just waiting to be used.

Ok, not all new ideas are good for what they were intended to be used for. :)

Economics:
People are taking issue with what Paul Krugman said. He doesn’t care:

The Tax Policy Center estimates (pdf) say that the budget cost of making all the Bush tax cuts permanent, as opposed to only the middle class cuts, is $680 billion over the next decade. It also says that 55 percent of the benefit flows to 120,000 taxpayers. That’s $374 billion divided by 120,000; TPC expresses it as a per year gain of $310,000, but it is more than $3 million per member of the top .1% over the course of the decade.

So if you are reading some source claiming that I got it all wrong, you have just learned something about that source’s credibility.

I’ll put it more bluntly: many (not all) of his critics are idiots who routinely get their “information” from liars.
Was that too strident?
:)

Oh wait, there’s more. Eugene Robinson says that they are wimps too: (ok, I switched from “critics of Krguman” to rabid right wingers…but the first is a subset of the second…)

The thing is, though, that the manufactured brouhaha over the Park51 project is part of a larger pattern in which the far right embraces victimhood and stokes fear. The faction that likes to portray itself as a bunch of John Waynes and “mama grizzlies,” it turns out, spends an awful lot of time cowering in the corner and complaining about how beastly everyone else is being.

Witness the frequent eruptions over instances of reverse racism — real or imagined. The Shirley Sherrod affair was the most recent example of how eagerly the far right wants to sell the false narrative that African Americans, once they achieve positions of authority, will use their newly acquired power to punish whites for historical discrimination. The facts of the Sherrod case, as they finally emerged, argue persuasively against this fictional tale of longed-for revenge. But it will be back.

And look at the hysteria over illegal immigration. Facts don’t matter — for example, that the flow of undocumented migrants has decreased, or that border enforcement under President Obama is much tougher than under George W. Bush, or that illegal immigrants are not responsible for any kind of crime wave. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), has gone so far as to sound the alarm about alleged “terror babies.” The idea is that undocumented pregnant women would cross the border so that their children could have U.S. citizenship, then take the babies away to be raised as terrorists — who would be able to come back in 20 years or so, with legitimate U.S. passports, and presumably wreak untold havoc. No, I did not make that up.

Is the far right really afraid of its own shadow? Do these people really have so little faith in our nation’s strength, resilience and values? I hope this is all just cynical political calculation, because there are genuine threats and challenges out there. We’ll be better off meeting them with a spine, not a whine.

Emphasis mine. All of those “tough” right wingers are really little cowering sissies. :)

Psst: David Brooks/Kathleen Parker type Republicans; those on the left side of this political cartoon: I am NOT talking about you!

August 24, 2010 Posted by | economy, political/social, politics, politics/social, pwnd, ranting, religion, Republican, republicans, republicans politics, science, technology | Leave a comment

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