My iPod Podcast Roundup

The Naked Scientist - British science show, quirky and always amusing. Bonus points for the super-sexy (nerd girls are totally hot) co-host Kat.

12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire - A history lecture series that recounts the formation through dissolution of the Byzantine Empire through it's key emperors (and empresses).

Archaeology Channel - short sweet updates on what has been discovered around the world.

Background Briefing - From the ABC (Australia) comes this political science program. Occasionally too heavy on the Ausie perspective, it nevertheless is one of the best Poli-sci programs out there.

Big Ideas - Canadian lecture series featuring lots of familiar voices (Roger Gibbons my ex-prof at UofC for one), on a wide variety of topics in international and national affairs.

Carnegie Council - Similar to the Big Ideas program (see above) except American.

Cato Institute Event Podcast - Libertarian and conservative perspectives (and occasionally a Liberal viewpoint) on international and American affairs.

CBC Radio 3 - Best music show period. All Canadian.

CBC Radio: Quirks & Quarks. Best science show period. All Canadian.

CBC Radio: The Best of Ideas - Best poli-sci show period. All Canadian.

Digital Debates (Constitution Centre) - heavy lifting intellectuals lecture on a variety of topics and their relation to the American constitution. Special interest to judicial theory, and the politicization of the SCOTUS.

EconTalk (at Econlib.org) - Economics in theory and practice with heavy emphasis on Hayek and Friedman (sorry Doug).

Escape Pod - Science fiction and science fact program. Often irritating but occasionally excellent.

In Our Time - BBC history lecture series. Recent episodes included a panel of historians discussing the impact to European history from the siege and fall of Constantinople.

Jay Ingram's Theatre of the Mind - If you have an interest in epistemology, neuroscience, or just like Jay Ingram, this is the program for you. Terrific theme song too, 'I can't control my brain'.

Mother Jones Radio - American lefty-progressive news source.

NHL Insider Bob McKenzie - Hockey, hockey, hockey...

Ockham's Razor - ABC's version of CBC's 'Ideas'. Always awesome.

Old Time Radio Sci-fi (I select mostly just the Vanishing Point episodes)

P9 Ambient Electronic - ambient electronic music.

Penn Radio - Penn Jillette (of 'Penn and Teller' magic fame) takes his caustic comedy to the masses. Interesting for his libertarian take on US politics.

Philosopher's Zone (ABC) - The best podcast of serious philosophical inquiry. A tad too heavy on minor English philosophers, and a little too appeasing of the Cartesians, but where else are the subjects even discussed?

Points of Inquiry - podcast of the CSICOP group (committee for the scientific investigation of the paranormal).

Real Time with Bill Maher - because you can never laugh at Americans too hard. Bill Maher was previously the host of 'Politically Incorrect'.

Science & the City - podcast of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Science Friday: Making Science Radioactive - another science podcast.

Science Talk: The Podcast of Scientific American - ditto.

Skepiticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine - self explanatory.

SpookyCast - a less rigorous but still interesting philosophy podcast.

The Economist - brief (5-10min) updates on issues throughout the world.

The McLaughlin Group (my dose of political theater) - four US conservative/Republicans beat up on the one liberal democrat, who has the gall to be right. Great fun.

The Media Report (ABC) - a review of global media issues, with the occasional lengthy foray into Ausie specific marginalia.

The Science Show - ABC's science show. Top notch.

Ultima Thule Ambient Music - more electronic wallpaper.

University of Bath Public Lecture - A British (non BBC) lecture series that delves into a wide variety of issues.

Variant Frequencies - hard sci-fi with an ongoing cyberpunk serial.

Voices of Tomorrow - modern sci-fi.

Washington Week - Straight up conservative viewpoint on global affairs. What 'The man' watches to get his news of the world.


New Maps of the Galactic Neighbourhood!

Items of note;

Wolf 359 is easily identifiable in the picture (look top leftish). What I didn't know was how many other stars are also named 'Wolf XXX'.

LV-426 (which circles Zeta Reticulii) is sadly, not identifiable.

What's with all the 'Ross XXX' stars? Who let him have all the names? And somebody named 'Groombridge' gets several stars? WTF?


The Godzilla Defense Force

Sign me up!

Steve Nash's pre-game warmup

After the usual extensive manual therapy, Steve Nash is always the last Suns player to take the court on the road for his other ritual - pregame shots. With 52 minutes until pregame introductions, Nash begins the regimen from close range on the left lower block. He lofts soft, high-arching jumpers with lift each time, dropping all 16 as he moves back on each make until he is 15 feet away. He slides right to the other elbow for 79 shots in that area, throwing in juke steps and various moves. He hits 59 of these.

Nash then goes to the top of the key, alternating moves left and right with pull-up jumpers to hit 10 of 12. He then drops back, keeping his pregame focus at the center of the court and makes 25 of 40 three-point shots. As the Suns' pregame meetings near, he makes 15 of 16 free throws and leaves with a layup on each side of the hoop.

In all, Nash makes 77% (127 of 165) of his shots.

"You picked a bad day," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.


Realism in Dolls attempts a comeback

In an effort to promote a healthier body image in young girls, an alternative to Barbie has hit the market with more realistic features, including pubic hair.

Ok, maybe its just me, but that second doll completely creeps me out.

It reminds me less of a child's toy and more like something you hand a child at the police station followed by 'Show us where the bad touch happened'.

But here's what really gets me, the dolls name is 'Amamanta'. Trying saying that three times fast. Somebody, no names, needs to hire a new marketing director.

Last but not least, a entire generation of women grew up with smooth groined Ken dolls, and yet there doesn't seem to be any lasting social affect from it (it may explain the appeal of 'Hanson' though). So why pick on the freshly brazillianed Barbie?

Top 40 Celebrity Rumours!

Some I had heard of like Richard Gere and the gerbil, some I can believe might be true like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, and some are just silly and preposterous (Marylin Manson is the grown-up next-door-neighbour-geek from the Wonder Years).

Article provided by the wonderfully perverse people at Nerve.



Toronto Raptors: A-Team


We are Borg Update

Silicon and Steel

The future and impact of Nano-Tech, from Soft Machines


John Safran vs Mormons


Mars Global Surveyor presumed lost

On 2 November – just five days shy of its 10th birthday – MGS notified Earth that it had trouble adjusting the position of one of its two solar panels. It has not been heard from since, except for a very weak signal on 5 November. The failure to position the solar panel properly may have left the spacecraft with too little power to transmit a signal to Earth (see NASA struggles to contact lost Mars probe).

- The above is curtesy of New Scientist.

Just depressing.

Part of me hopes against hope it collided with an alien craft, merging the two damaged bodies into one, and then made a bee-line for it's original home.


Quote of the day

"Conservatives in the US are a governing philosophy without a party. Conservatives in Canada are governing party without a philosophy" - Cameron Hilton

The Bollywood Superman

The video above simply blows me away with its incandescent loopiness. Here's my top ten list of reasons you have to watch the whole thing;

10 - Superman and Spiderwoman doing their dance moves while in full flight. Apparently nobody contacted them to point out that Spiderwoman can't actually fly.

9 - Superman's 'S' - which isn't on his chest like a crest so much as it covers his entire upper torso from groin to goiter.

8 - Supes black boots. There's a sort of porn-guy-with-socks-on charm to this. Like he just forgot that he was supposed to pull the big red boots on and went with the regular footwear.

7 - The gratuitous fight scene is worth the price of admission alone, but the best part is when he twirls the villainous wannabe rapist over his head by the groin, and then pulls his hand away to leave the guy spinning above his head half out of frame. Simply excellent.

6 - Superman is mere fraction of inches away from sporting a full-on Indian Mullet.

5 - Spiderwoman's booty - lets just say the costume isn't kind to her assets as she appears to be hiding small animals beneath the blue tights, and every twirl she makes threatens to set them free.

4 -The total absence of any remotely human emotions other than unbridled joy. Even when defeating villainous wannabe rapists Superman looks like he is one bong hoot away from permanently wiring his face into a Cheshire grimace.

3 - The multiple faux kisses at the end. Priceless.

2 - The video has apparently zero budget for special effects, but a cast of dozens for the dance scenes wasn't an issue. Exactly why there are dozens of on-lookers waiting around for Supes and Spideygal to arrive so they can launch into an extended dance montage is a question best left for those in possession of large amounts of LSD or a working knowledge of Indian film language conventions. My understanding is that all Bollywood films are required to have utterly ludicrous situations involving hundreds of dancers to move the plot along.

1 - Supes busting a move in the garden. Just awesome.
The Bollywood Superman


Pluto responds to its planetary declassification

T-Shirt is available here.

Quote of the Day

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin

This may be the only proof for God's existence I respect.


Pic is from AJ's Halloween party

It was SMOKIN! But these parties will be the death of me.


I spoke too soon....

It seems I let my enthusiasm for Boogaard get the better of my judgement.

The heavyweight champion of the NHL is still George Laraque (3-0-1 liftetime vs. Boogaard). I'll link to the video of tonights bout as soon as someone posts it to YouTube.

Medical Marijuana - the Even Steven Debate

Taking a ride on the Nostalgia train - Jen reviews Chilliwack Live in Concert!

Personally, I'd have been one of those friends who would prefer root canal to seeing Chilliwack try to 80's ballad their way to the grave as they careen through their dotage. But the sentiment is spot on. Some bands become 'ours' through a variety of circumstances, and the lack of objectivity we have towards them is part and parcel of their appeal.

For me, I know looking back on one of my favourites that 'Saga' wasn't the world changing force for progressive art-rock that I thought when I was 15-17, but I have never been able to disavow completely.

However, just because Saga has that imperviousness to criticism about it for me that Chilliwack does for Jen, I nevertheless maintain that my Kung-Fu is more powerful than hers.

Here is the proof of my superior Kung Fu;

- Saga, like David Hasselhoff, are perplexingly huge stars in Germany. (though as you can see they, like Chilliwack, have aged a little since the concert in 1988 here)

- Saga, unlike David Hasselhoff, are perplexingly huge stars in Puerto Rico;

"The band has been constantly successful in Germany since its inception. It is also very popular in Puerto Rico: Saga has visited the island eleven times. Saga's third concert in Puerto Rico (1981) caused riots from fans trying to crash into a sold-out concert that sold over 10,000 tickets. Most of the inner cover photographs from the original vinyl release of Worlds Apart were taken in Puerto Rico, particularly (and prominently) a live photograph from the 1981 concert. The band received formal recognition as distinguished visitors of the country from the Puerto Rican legislature in February 2005.

(all emphasis mine, Cameron)

I'll give Chilliwack points for; being Canadian, being a fringe on the mainstream pop culture (mostly urban pockets of English Canada), and for having talent, if albeit of lightweight stature.

But I would say those things of my beloved Saga as well.

Unless Jen has a Kung Fu defense to match my devastating 'We're so big we get riots in Puerto Rico' move, I call my Kung Fu the most deadly.


Canada is No. 1!!

At putting the sex into video games!
A teenagers guide to self control



Rumsfeld Quits

"I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started."

"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."

"We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." –on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."

"Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." –on looting in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, adding "stuff happens"

"As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

"I am not going to give you a number for it because it's not my business to do intelligent work." -asked to estimate the number of Iraqi insurgents while testifying before Congress

"I believe what I said yesterday.I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said."

"Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said."

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

"If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone."

"There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist." -on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction

"It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months." -in Feb. 2003

"Well, um, you know, something's neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so, I suppose, as Shakespeare said."

"Secretary Powell and I agree on every single issue that has ever been before this administration except for those instances where Colin's still learning."

"Learn to say 'I don't know.' If used when appropriate, it will be often."

"I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know."

"I'm not into this detail stuff. I'm more concepty."

"I don't do quagmires."

"I don't do diplomacy."

"I don't do foreign policy."

"I don't do predictions."

"I don't do numbers."

"I don't do book reviews."

"Now, settle down, settle down. Hell, I'm an old man, it's early in the morning and I'm gathering my thoughts here."

"If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly."

The other seals....

I ended up going with my third choice (as seen below) after trying these two alternatives out first

The reasons? I dig the Enterprise as much (ok, probably a lot more) than just about anyone, but nobody takes ST Geeks seriously. Nobody. So I tried out the 'atom' symbol instead, and while I liked it, it makes me look like I'm into atomic physics, etc. - which (though very very cool stuff) isn't the case.

The other problem is the motto - (latin for 'doubt everything') - which is in and of itself OK, the problem comes with its origin. Seems that the motto originates with one Karl Marx - and for me that's a deal breaker. And so, I keep trying to find a better fit.


He is the most ridiculously gifted heavyweight fighter in the NHL.

He stands 6'7", and weighs in over 270lbs. That's not heavyweight, thats SUPERheavyweight, the class of indvidual usually reserved for that fraction of 1% of the population capable of going toe-to-toe with Andre the Giant.

He's a freak of nature. Who can also skate.

As John Buccigross put it;

"There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Derek Boogaard has allowed to live."

In the fight with Fedotenko a player on the Ducks described the results of Boogaard's beating of Fedotenko thusly;

'Boogaard simply caved his face in'.

Fedotenko is out with multiple facial fractures - for what I would guess will be quite a long time. Worth noting that Boogaard;

A. Didn't pick this fight. It was Fedotenko who went after him. I pity the fool.

B. Didn't overly celebrate (ala Domi's 'phantom belt' or 'speed-bag' gestures). He may be impossibly strong and incredibly vicious, but he isn't a showboat more interested in his own fights than the team he is fighting for.

C. Hasn't had a bought with Phx Coyote (and former heavyweight champ) Georges Laraque. For that, I would pay money to see.

D. In many ways, he's a throwback goon. If he can skate well enough to stick in the new NHL though, he'll be the most terrifying goon, ever.


Your Heavyweight Champion of the NHL


Intel Dump!

Lots of stuff has built up in my files over the last month, and I finally have a chance to blog it all.

As always, let me know what you think....

The Intel Dump:

Is everyone's favourite fascist barbie Ann Coulter going to prison?!?! Probably too
good to be true.


More evidence that porn might be good for you (or just for society as a whole) as it seems that when internet porn arrives in a community, reports of rape go down.


Science progresses ever further, as transuranic element 118 has been created. But are we nearing the limit for adding new
elements to the periodic table?

"At some point, the forces that are holding the nucleus together are not going to let another proton be shoved in there," said Nancy Stoyer, co-author of the study and a scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "You put [another proton] in there and it's going to immediately break apart. At some point, we're going to reach the end of the elements. Where that is, we don't know"

(tip of the hat to AJ who alerted me to the discovery)


Michael Ignatieff gets a well deserved thrashing from Andrew Coyne for his unforgivably naive ressurection of the 'Canada is my country, Quebec is my nation' nonsense. Even more than his abhorrent support for the Iraq war long past the point were any such support was even theoretically sensible, Ignatieff's Quebec talk has me looking longingly at Stephane Dion to upset him for leader of the Liberals. The LAST thing our country needs is for Seperation Zombie to walk to the Earth again.


Apparently the real weakness of vampires isn't garlic, silver, or guys named Van Helsing. No, it seems thing most lethal to vampires are math geeks. Kill joys with pocket protectors all of them.


The Guardian's AC Grayling demands that religions get no special treatment.

"...to believe something in the face of evidence and against reason - to believe something by faith - is ignoble, irresponsible and ignorant, and merits the opposite of respect. It is time to say so."

The rest of his argument is definitely worth reading, if a tad splenetic - fortunately I find spleneticisim in the face of religion to be no vice.


The Guiding Light will be adding a SUPERHERO to its cast of characters in an effort to attract younger male viewers.

Proof positive we live in the end times.


Here's something my Dad and I are in total agreement about - Maria Sharapova. Yummy


My old stomping grounds at the U of C produced the following strategic studies paper on Canada's military. Some excellent stuff (and some infuriating stuff) if you can get through it all. Fellow poli-sci fans can geek away...


All the economics that you need in one lesson

"Economics as taught in our colleges and universities and propounded by our pundits and politicians is a good example of a tyranny of "unexamined opinions and inherited prejudices."



One of my favourite awards is the 'Ignoble' handed out for 'improbable research' - Here are the winners for 2006. My favourite is this one;

LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University for his report
"Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."

No bonus points for guessing why.


William Saletan (the science writer at Slate) has this excellent analysis of how the pro-life movement might come to embrace contraception as a means of reducing abortions.

"In short, the good news is that we no longer have to fight about abortion. The bad news is that we're now fighting about contraception. The old question was abortion as birth control. The new question is abortion or birth control. To lower the abortion rate, we need more contraception. And that means confronting politicians who stand in the way."

For an uglier side of Saletan, you might check this article out where he hyperventilates about the successful first penis transplant.

A 13% teen pregnancy rate at an Ohio high-school prompts the school to rethink it's abstinence only policy. Better late then never.

Anthropologists have found another skeleton of the infamous 'Lucy'. No word on whether this one is to be named 'Charlie', but we can assume he's been waiting a very long time to kick the damn ball.


This site is fantastic - my own results are below:


For those of you (like me) who simply can't get enough
Battlestar Galactica, I give you this excellent blog.


In England, the Archbishop of York has sided with the Muslim extremists against the evil of
secularism. It seems that any invisible super being, even that of someone trying to kill you so he can bag his 72 virgins, is still better than none at all for some people.



Pinhead Tom Nichols asks the question that has clearly been troubling him for some time.

"I don’t know quite how to ask this question, but I suspect that a lot of Americans are about to, so I’ll put it as directly as I can: Are Canadians stupid?"

The answer is (of course) 'no', but the people writing for the National Review haven't been known for their blazing intellects since the days William Buckley used to edit the rag himself. What is genuinely hysterical about this is not the article itself (which is basically just a whine that Canadians didn't leap into the cesspool of Iraq the moment Bush said 'Jump'), but the fact that Buckley himself has come out as critical of the Bush administration, it's war and how it is being waged. Perhaps Mr Nichols should, you know, read what the guy who owns the magazine thinks...just a thought.

It's sad really. The NR used to be a place of quality writing from conservatives and libertarians. Now, it's been reduced to a partisan rag devoid of talent.

Firing Line, where have you gone?

Don't get me wrong, I'm no sycophant of Buckley's - he is an evil toad, but at least he was a compelling and intelligent evil toad.


This makes me glad - it seems the Chinese are seeing a boom in home-grown science fiction!


Kasi Jackson has an interesting article in The Scientist about - female mad scientists in B movies, and their relation to nature.

"I explore the way that such films deal with our inclination to view science as masculine and nature as feminine. When men are doing the science, this isn't a contradiction; in these films, masculine, rational science dominates and controls irrational, feminine nature. Sometimes, the pattern is obvious, such as when a wild-haired, wild-eyed Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) from Young Frankenstein (1974) shouts that he will use science to "penetrate into the very womb of impervious nature herself."

But what happens when the mad scientist is a woman?"

To find out, you'll have to read the article. For me, I was less impressed with the article itself (which was pretty good) then that someone actually GOT PAID to write about it.

I. Am. Jealous.


As someone who stands between 6'2" and 6'3" in my stocking feet, I am always interested in finding out why being tall matters.

Turns out, it matters more than I thought. Suck it up shorties.


You ever wonder if people who donate organs, ever regret their decision?

"I feel helpless," she says. "Part of my body, my DNA, is stuck inside a person who's going to hell."

Yup, a wingnut wants to get the organ they donated back - seems the recipient wasn't Christian enough for her liking.

"Smith suffers nightmares of her former organ filtering "strange Asian teas, pig blood and witch doctor brews in Africa," she says. She wonders if the Lord really wanted her to donate the kidney, or if she acted on a "triple-espresso high" she had that morning. She is also concerned that when her body is resurrected, it might be incomplete."

I will have to check my bible, but I believe the Lord fully supports organ donations made under triple espresso highs.

My Gods are totally down with Juan Valdez.


Doing the math on fear, terrorism and car crashes.

"The bottom line is, terrorism doesn't kill many people. Even in Israel, you're four times more likely to die in a car wreck than as a result of a terrorist attack. In the USA, you need to be more worried about lightning strikes than terrorism. The point of terrorism is to create terror, and by cynically convincing us that our very countries are at risk from terrorism, our politicians have delivered utter victory to the terrorists: we are terrified."

Worth noting that I located this link on William Gibson's blog (that is the WG of 'Neuromancer', not my mad-scientist Dr. buddy with the same name).


Dark matter, once a topic of speculation for why the universe is missing so much of the mass that it appears to have, seems to have found some evidence for its existence. They have pictures!

To get the picture they had to watch a galaxy as it shred itself to pieces. Some jobs are just way more fun than mine.


One of the more interesting advances in neuropsychology has to do with identifying the different modules that make up our unconcsious mental processing. Here's an article on the 'intentional module'.


American tax dollars at work in the war on terror - it's the National Counter Terrorism Centre for KIDS! Fun for the whole family, and wholesome too!


Whew! Ok, I admit there was lots more (including an especially big thing I was doing on the ME for my Mom), but I'm tired, hungry and in a Saskatchewan hotel room - so it's time for me to change at least one of those circumstances (I'm going to go eat).

More blogging when I get the chance.


Picture of the Day

Hope for Hubble

The Universe is a wicked cool place to exist. Thankfully, NASA is going to let us keep our eyes open a little longer.


gatti v ward I


Spirit losing the will to live.

This is another post from the Onion, which has given me some problems in the past, so let me know if you can pull this up or not.

When you do, enjoy.


On Roy Jones Jr

One of my all time favourite boxers ever. The video in many ways doesn't do him full justice (and when I find a more indicative video, I promise to post it), in that;

A: It concentrates too much on only a handful of his more spectacular fights. Even his losses were amazing, though he definitely appeared to be a shot fighter after moving all the way up to heavyweight in a bid to hold belts at just under a million different weight classes. I'd probably avoid looking for those later fights.

B: It doesn't give you the full display of his most incredible talent - his handspeed. He was so much faster than other fighters he could toy with them for rounds before executing them.

C: He has knockout power in either hand, he could render you unconcsious even throwing from his backfoot and moving backwards, and he possessed more than a hint of sadism. You do get a glimpse of how much RJjr enjoyed abusing and humiliating his opponents in the video.

D; How truly AWFUL and awfully self-important he is as a rapper. Oh wait, the video captures that perfectly - all music is that or RJjr. Kinda sad.

E. Oh yeah, as you can see in the picture below, he was also Captain Ballard in the Matrix (the guy on the left). As pro-athlete turned actor, he could have been much, much, much worse.



Colbert Breaks Down Santorums Lord of the Rings Analogy
Drone Wars


Battle of The Bands

Quote of the Day

'Doubt' is the basis of all scientific progress - T'Pal


war of the worlds- richard burton intro


US Invasion of Iran Update

US Warships are now moving to the Straits of Hormuz...

Will they do the deed (I'm betting it's a blockade + light air campaign) before or after Nov 7?

TO knows whose fault it is...


And the 211th extra-solar planet to be discovered is...Vulcan!

Astronomers have discovered a planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani - better known to those of us with no lives as 'Vulcan'!

"Life is strange. And life keeps getting stranger every day." - New Order


Chuckle of the Day

Ralph Klein's new job? It's as a guest lecturer at an American think tank!

I haven't laughed so hard, for so long, in ages!

Just think of all the things Klein can teach the neo-cons!

- How to properly yell at homeless people
- Surviving and thriving in press conferences, aka; 'the Rod Love Sock Puppet' maneuver
- Making the most of truly bad haircuts
- How to kick your dog, beat your wife, wear a seatbelt and still win over 60% of the pop vote.
- Parliamentary procedures for the stone-cold-drunk.
- The Alberta secret to reducing health care costs by providing substantially less health care.

I see you

Here is the 2.5m Mars Rover "Opportunity" as observed on the edge of the 800m Victoria Crater by the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter from a height of approximately 300km. Oh, did I mention this photo was taken while orbiting another planet. Sometimes, we can be rather clever little monkeys.


Daily Show: Annual GOP BBQ and Nude Cub Scout Wrestle


The Word - Opposition Party




"If Ignatieff is going to hold off Dion and Rae, he is going to have to cry uncle on Iraq. In so doing, he is going to have come up with a different argument for why we should be in Afghanistan. His humanitarian argument for why we should be in Afghanistan inevitably bleeds back into his humanitarian argument for why he supported the Iraq war; that inevitably puts him in a world of hurt. " - Koby

(a Can Lib blogger)

I am in full agreement that Ignatief should pull back from his pro-Iraq/pro-Bush stances, however I think that Koby has the rest of the argument backwards. The humanitarian (as well as the anti-Taliban) argument that Ignatief wields for staying in Afghanistan is compelling on its face. But if Ignatief doesn't repudiate his obvious errors on Iraq, those arguments he makes about Afghanistan will be ignored, not because they are false, but because they mirror the lies of Iraq.

To immunize himself from the poison of Iraq, he need only admit the error of it, and he need not re-work the arguments on Afghanistan, since he has them exactly right.

Quote of the Day

Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition.
Isaac Asimov


Dead Eyes Opened 1983


Quote of the Day

"I wouldn't expect the layman to understand. There's a lot of sophistication going on here."

- Michael Caton-Jones, Dir of 'Basic Instinct 2'

Bill's New Rule

And finally, New Rule: If you're going to give God credit for all that's right with the world, like the flowers and the trees and large, brown nipples—sorry, Pat Buchanan—then you have to admit that God is responsible for the bad stuff, too, like tsunamis and ringworm, and that bad marijuana crop in '82 that gave everyone a headache.

- Bill Maher


Physics of Superheroes 1 - Death of Gwen Stacy


Harper rigs nomination of Rob Anders

Here's how Don Martin puts it;

"Under the new rules, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and rubber-stamped in private at last week's Conservative caucus retreat, local ridings will no longer have the power to set nomination dates or be responsible for notifying the party membership.

HQ now calls all the shots a perfect fit with Harper's control fetish and the result is a form of democracy by stealth that will preserve tired incumbency and keep fresh blood from entering a party that campaigned on openness and transparency."

The upshot is that MP Rob Anders, spin-doctor for the mouth-breathing wing of the old Reform party (and my old classmate), who would have faced a tough challenger at his nomination - which is the only kind of challenge there is for a Tory in Alberta, now has buddy Harper rig the process to ensure a smooth ride.

You gotta love Calgary, it's got the climate of Saskatchewan and the politics of 'Chinatown'.

Bush determined to remove Article 3 Geneva Convention protections

The lastest from the BushCo. people is an attempt to retroactively make their use of torture legal. This is often phrased as 'protecting our troops from prosecution'.

The unsaid question of course is 'why do they need protection from prosecution if they haven't done anything wrong'? Even the most cursory examination of the photos and testimony from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay will eliminate any doubts about whether what they did was a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

The concern that they might be called to the carpet on their barbarian behaviour has reached the point that some CIA interrogators are taking insurance out for the possibility that they may be prosecuted.

My personal favourite story is that of the CIA torturing one Zubayday - a man who both the CIA and FBI determined was mentally ill prior to his interrogation;

(from the Washington Post review of Run Suskind's book 'The One Percent Doctrine'):

"Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

- All of which reminded me of this;

If you f*cking beat this pr!ck long enough, he'll tell you he started the goddamn Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it f*cking so! "

- Nice Guy Eddie (Reservoir Dogs)

It seems that even the ultra-violent gangsters of Reservoir Dogs know the value of torture is minimal, whereas BushCo. can't seem to grasp the concept.

Even when Mr. Blonde tortured the cop, he did so, not for the information (which we should note that he didn't get), but because he was a grinning psycho-sadist who enjoyed torturing others.

So there we have it, the Bush regime has descended below the moral standard set by Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs.

Congratulations, and nice country you got there.


Ken Miller on Apes and Humans
Colbert Report on Evolution vs Creationism


Schremp's new shootout move


This Week in God
Francis FuKUyama on TDS

Xena's got a new name

The former "planet" 2003UB313, better known as Xena, has been named Eris after the Greek goddess of chaos and strife. A fitting name as the discovery of Eris sparked a bitter debate in the Astronomical community about what is a planet.

Eris, along with the slightly smaller Pluto, may now be termed a dwarf planet but she's always a woman to me.


Female Robots in development!

Loving the Machine has the breaking news on the latest in robot technology!

Unfortunately, the current models are only 18" high, which I think, sadly won't be sufficient for most reasonable purposes one would put a female robot too, and certainly nothing that Mr. Allen would consider.

Maybe it can do dishes? That would be nice.

"Are there female robots? Because the possibilities are limitless!"

Woody Allen, Sleeper


Henry Rollins: A Love Letter To Ann Coulter (some obscenity)

Quote of the Day

It's a two-fer-Tuesday!

"To you, I am an atheist. To God, I am the loyal opposition"

- Woody Allen

"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

- Stephen F. Roberts

Sympathy for the Devil

There was an anniversay of sorts yesterday, one that I would just as soon not have noticed if given the choice.

But one thing that the wall-to-wall coverage of 9-11 (in all its deep as a contact lens dish flag waving glory) brought about was a bit of a surprise.

I feel bad for Bush.

Don't get me wrong, I still think he is a sock puppet of a president. One of limited intelligence, education and understanding who is easily manipulated through the machinations of others.

His total inability to deal with the news of 9-11 was on display for all to see (and for us all to review endlessly on YouTube should we so decide), and it wasn't pretty. It was the face of complete and total uncomprehension. Two sentences and Bush's brain simply melted down.

In his defense, the news was horrific, and he is only human. But it was also crystal clear in those paralyzed moments, that he was not capable of being an effective leader, ever. The moment had come and past, and he had been found wanting - for 7+ minutes on live TV.

It is in fact BECAUSE I think he is so outwitted in his current circumstance that I feel bad for him. Stump for a change to Social Security in front of hand picked fawning audiences? He's your man. Strap on a cod-piece for the declaration that the 'Mission is Accomplished' - he's good for that too. Photo-ops are his specialty.

Think clearly and strategically about the Middle East? Please. This President didn't even know that there was a difference between Sunni and Shia muslims until after he authorized the attacks on Iraq.

Total ignorance is not the hall-mark of a sucessful statesman, though in the case of Reagan (the original sock puppet president) it was clearly not the disadvantage it has been for Bush.

And so after three days of hiding on Air Force One while Rudy Giuliani stepped into the still smoking chasm at the heart of New York and showed more spine in those 72 hours than he had in all his time in office prior (some moments do make the man), Bush turns to his dedicated hard working advisors, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice for help.

The experts. The sober adults who would provide the information about reality necessary for Bush to make the right call.

So far, it seems pretty clear how that has turned out.

This is a president who operates completely within a reinforced bubble. He doesn't read. He doesn't watch the news. He's more isolated from reality than Chauncey Gardner. So as Iraq spirals inevtiably out of control, as he ponders how it is he lost New Orleans, as his poll numbers hover at Jimmy Carter levels, as newspapers openly debate whether he is the worst president in history, and as the three headed monster of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice continues on their insane trajectory through the ME, I find I can only feel pity for Bush.

He's a man in so far over his head he has to look up to see the bottom, and he thinks the bottom is the sky.


Daily Show - Religion


Quote of the Day

"Nevertheless, defense by power as a first obligation on a state has to be considered in relation to things other than economics." - Lester B. Pearson


We Have Come To Bless The House


Pluto, Plutons, and Science

Ok, the link takes you to John Gibson, Fox news columnist, who had this to say about Pluto being kicked out of the Solar Systems definition of planet;

"Now scientists say Pluto isn't a planet. It isn't big enough. It's something, but not a planet exactly.

My attitude is: Who says?

It's been a planet my entire life. I learned that in the third grade. Might be the only thing I remember from the third grade.

It's the cold one, the farthest from the sun and, yes, it's the small one."

A view to which I have some degree of sympathy. I like Pluto. I even like it as a planet. But science isn't about what we like to be true, it's about what actually
is true. The International Astronomical Union didn't arrive at the definition of planet capriciously, it built the definition around the physical characteristics of the phenomenae - that is, they insisted the definition of a planet mean something.

And so we now have 8 planets. Four gas giants, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn and Jupiter, and four rocky; Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury.

Pluto is now (correctly) regarded as not being a planet because its gravity hasn't pulled it into a round shape.

Instead, it becomes the nearest of the Kuiper belt object,s a halo of fragments, that orbits our sun at a great distance and outside of the solar plane.

The fact is, this is not only a fair definition of planet, its a meaningful one. Delineating the difference between a moon (orbiting a body other than the parent star), as well as an asteroid (like Ceres), meant that we also had to let go of Pluto.

Fair enough I say. The IAU's definition of planet is reasonable, and coherent.

There are 8 planets.

Science. It rolls over our third grade educations every time.
Thank goodness.

'Annoy an Elf, buy this book' - Morgoth

The Panda's Thumb is having a go at the recent release of 'The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design', and to say the least the going is tough.

The book is so bad they are taking it apart chapter by chapter to point out the factual embarassments, half-truths, sloppy philosophy and outright lies that make up the book.

In the spirit of this enterprise, '90% True' released news of this new P.I.G book coming soon.

In particular, I love how no stone goes unturned in this satire, right down to the purported author.
(click picture to enlarge)


Sans Sapiens: Somebot to Catch Me When I Fall

I love these guys.

It's worth checking out Sans Sapiens whether you are in favour of our new robotic overlords, or not.

I for one, welcome them with whirring arms!


Spock's problem

My wife said;

"This is just wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong."
iGallop TV Ad

I believe this was originally intended as an abdominal exerciser. In any case, it's actual practical uses seem rather obvious.

And then there were eight

I had been very excited by the prospect of adding Xena, and potentially dozens more, to the ranks of planets however the IAU decided otherwise and have instead demoted Pluto to a "dwarf planent".

Does this mean we are now looking for Planet IX?


Homo Florensis

The Homo Florensis debate is still raging - the latest entry into the matter considers the matters solved - the Hobbit is a micro-encephalic human.

I am sure the controversy isn't over though, expect a contrarian perspective as soon as I locate one.


Gatchaman NTT Animation CM2


Quote of the Day

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."

- Bertrand Russell
Shatner Roast (Nimoy)
Shatner Roast (George Takei)
William Shatner Roast (Betty White)
"They died for us, repeatedly"


Cam Neely Tribute

Church for men only?

It seems that a church decided that it's Sunday school teacher should be canned - because she was a woman, and the bible prohibits women teaching men.

She'd only been teaching there for 54 years - do you think she was caught by surprise?


The Random Quote Meme

The task was to go to this link, and find 5 random quotes that reflected how you viewed the world.
At first I thought they would all be kinda dry and academic, but I was impressed with the breadth of quotations available.

Here are the first five that struck me;

Dubito ergo sum - I doubt therefore I am
Kayvan Sylvan

I'm as pure as the driven slush.
Tallulah Bankhead (1903 - 1968)

I hope I never get so old I get religious.
Ingmar Bergman

Reality is what won't go away when you stop beliving in it.
Phillip K Dick

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying
Woody Allen (1935 - )
No real shockers here, but I was suprised to get Tallulah Bankhead before Maye West, and I didn't get any Douglas Adams until well after I had picked my first five.

Oh well.

A collection of some other favourites I picked out is here. Anyone else want to take a crack at it?

It's a Farce


Lewis Black on the Bible


Xena Rules!

The International Astronomical Union has proposed a new definition of planet to resolve the "Pluto" debate. The result, if accepted, would automatically add three worlds to our solar system and potentially add dozens more.


Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennaes to Heaven - Godspeed You Black Emperor! Live

80's videos can be so cruel

In the post below you'll find a video of one of my all time favourite bands doing arguably their best song.

It is certainly clear that some videos from the 80's have aged well (Peter Gabriel's come to mind), but others that were supposed to be cutting edge - like this one - were more often than not just silly.

The video actually starts off at its low ebb, with shirtless band members moving around boxes and lugging around crosses in what looks like a badly lit basement. At least one of the band members is clearly and obviously preening. Bad haircuts all around.

And then we have our lead singer as the dancing red neo-primitive, squatting and bouncing in rythymn to something other than 'Lined Up'. He makes frequent reapearances throughout the video, each more spastic and slightly less irritating than the last, until he is slips from being eye-gougingly tragicomic to merely bizzarre.

Did I mention that this song has my favourite baseline ever? That they opened and closed with it at the live concert in Calgary? That for a time, they were part of my simple musical holy trinity of New Order and the Severed Heads?

By the time they make their way to images of the lead singer as hanging man from the Tarot deck, and as 'Death' from the Seventh Seal, we recognize that the dancing red guy wasn't so derivative afterall - at least for the time (I believe the video pre-dates Burning Man), but that the director was simply, utterly, lost as to what to do with Shriekback's video. Scenes of the band (shirtless again) at sunset (again) indicate to me both the bankruptcy of the directors vision, and his no longer latent homosexuality.

In fact it looks like the one distinguishable female in the video (at the very very end, two or three seconds of her bouncing in front of the camera), was probably forced on the director. Afterall, she's wearing three times as much clothing as the band, and is so poorly lit we can't even clearly see her puppies as they bounce.

To sum up; fantastic band (One all-time classic album: 'Oil and Gold', one excellent album 'Big Night Music', two anthem singles 'Nemesis' and 'Lined Up', the only good parts of the soundtrack to the movie 'Manhunter', and for a time, two bald lead singers), terrific song, but one gut bustingly bad video.



Behind the Looking Glass: the Catholic war on mainstream Protestantism

The article traces the Neo-Con footprint throughout hard-right Catholicism in the US. At the centre of the web, Catholic theologian Richard John Neuhaus.


Vancouver Pride 2006!

This is was our third Pride, and the first with friends AJ and Lisa.

All photos are AJs...

The unfortunate thing is that I don't yet have pics from my favourite part of the Parade, the opening roar of engines and pagentry from the Dykes and Bikes.

Sadly, AJ was off in search of suntan lotion, or a blanket, or a sandwich, or on a sword quest for his demon mistress, or some such thing at thie time.

Anyway, here we go...

The Tories!

It was actually kind of a sad contingent really. But I admired that they made the effort. If I recall in years past the Tories/Alliance didn't always field a presence. Worth noting that both the Liberals in Heddy Fry, and the NDP with Jack Layton himself, showed up in numbers.

Heddy Fry wore something that on any other day would have been worthy of ridicule, but on this occasion, she gets a pass. How can you fault anyone for what they wear (or don't) at Pride?

And then to my delight, the worst fears of the Free Dominion crowd were realized...

Shortly afterwards we were treated to some ole fashion Cornhusking! Ahh. I miss the prairies.

One of the floats we all liked and that was quite popular with the crowd in general was this fella...

On his back was written 'I Heart my Gay Dad', and he was with 'PFLAG' (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, though I should fact check that)

We all dug the kilt (even our Irish contingent gave it a pass), though it must have been unimaginably hot to rollerblade in.

Random Hottie

A Moped riding S+M clown. Sweet. All I could think of was the line from 'The Devil's Rejects', "Laugh clown, Laugh! Unfortunately, it was neither appropriate nor particularily funny.

I'm leaving it in anyway.

Two minutes later, we were treated to some political commentary...

Yup, it's the priviledged white lesbians for a totalitarian Cuba. At least, I think that's what the sign says.

AJ found this part of the parade so interesting he was distracted by a wicked Chinese junk taking sail in the bay...

One of the biggest comedy moments for us came when the Vancouver S+M Society drove their float by...

I suggested to AJ that you can't see the other 7 members because they are locked in the trunk.

Seriously though, L-A-M-E float. I hope they do better next year.

'The sisters of perpetual indulgence' - AJ was impressed enough by their rigorous theology to give religion another try. I figured the catechism would be too much for me.

The 'Brokeback Harper/Bush' Float.

Maybe it's just me, but I was hoping for something a bit less cliche' than the recycling of Brokeback as a slur. There was someone with a sign of Bush that said 'Queer Eye on the Stupid Guy' which was at least clever, but I found myself hoping for more wit than the Brokeback float delivered.

This one though, was by far my favourite....

Librarians! Whoo Hoo! What could be sexier?

Another big chuckle we had (once I returned from my slightly dazed and confused state after the librarians passed) was with a guy who was giving away free razors for Schick or Bic, or whoever. As he started to pass out the goodies he was mobbed. I turned to AJ and said,

'Great strategy, he really knows his market. Afterall, there are clearly a lot of women here who NEED razors'.

Not everything was glamour and fabulousness mixed with crass commericialism and the occasional moonbat politics. But at least the guy was making the effort, and at Pride that counts for everything.

'Insert joke here' - This float had the four of us in hysterics. I can't say exactly why, but we had been drinking fairly steadily, and for whatever reason, it struck our collective funny-bone like an Antonio Carver left hook.

Among the favourite floats we saw, was this one. Very low budget, but enchanting.

This float was our winner for 'Most anatomically correct'. Is it any coincidence that many of the hottest chicks were trailing this float like kids following an ice-cream truck?

Among the guest celebrities,
Flava Flav made an appearance!

Random Hottie #2

After teasing us with her wicked dance moves and Betty Grable gams, she announced with a cheerful smile we could see her take it all off at a local strip club that evening. Sadly, I was unable to convince my compatriots that seeing her naked was worth the effort of going to the club.

The most annoying Pride participant award goes to the Candy-man above. It wasn't that he was buck naked except for some very sweaty candy decorating his bits (there were many participants wearing less, and less creatively), it was that he insisted on not deviating from his space in the parade. We were treated to his prancing ALL DAY LONG as he weaved in and out of the floats as they went past him. Like I said, annoying. If he'd only just moved along, instead of constantly flitting in and out of our field of vision, we would have been fine.

The after march - where a sea of humanity extending as far as the eye can see, makes its way over to the beer gardens, bars, restaurants, and clubs of Vancouver. Sun drenched, liqoured up and treated to the marvelous spectacle that is Pride in Vancouver, everyone had a smile on their face.

Another smashing success!

Happy Pride Everyone!


Male Circumcision and AIDS

This article in the Independent suggests that male circumcision might be reconsidered as an option by the public in light of its health benefits in preventing AIDS.

Times writer Andrew Sullivan (still my favourite blog) suggests that while he opposes male circumcision as sexual mutilation, he makes an exception for it as a preventive measure against AIDS.

On this, I'm afraid I have to disagree. There is already a much better solution to AIDS in Africa (and elsewhere) than something as odious as male circumcision.

Unfortunately it is one that is still objected to on grounds that are purely theological and not rational. It's an objection that is literally killing millions.

Next thing you know somebody is going to start calling for voluntary castration as an AIDS preventative rather than consider the screamingly obvious.
Phaneuf 2005-2006
Iginla 52-Goals


Oblique Firefly Overlocker 2003


Schopenhauer Confirmed!

One of Schopenhauer's contentions was that perception was affected by desire, often in unconscious ways.

The classic example is where two men walk into a room, one is hungry, the other isn't. The man who isn't hungry first notices the art on the walls, the one who is hungry notices the food on the table.

Turns out that this not the only way a hungry man's perceptions are altered.

It seems that a hungry man will find larger women more attractive than when they aren't hungry! So much like the amount of beer affects how attractive a man will rate a woman so will the amount of pretzels.


Flying Primates?

Are the Megabats actually more closely related to primates than they are to other bats?

Did flight evolve independently a second time among mammals?

Me Heart Palaeontology