The biased (you haters) will still be forced to note this truth, but will unfortunately suggest that victory will be by much smaller margin.
Can't please em' all.
It was also an interesting week and weekend for the CIA.
Well for two reasons, first they admitted that they have destroyed the recordings of CIA operatives torturing prisoners. Despite having previously denied these tapes existed, and despite being ordered to produce them, and despite being ordered not to destroy them, they did anyway. Oops! Maybe nobody will care? Actually, I suspect they are counting on it.
Here's a round up of reactions to the revelation;
In a completely unconnected vein, the CIA were part of the release of the National Intelligence Estimate, a document which notes that despite the aggressive drum beating for war by many in the Bush administration ("if you want world war three"...., etc.), the Iranians have in fact suspended their nuclear program. Indeed, they had done so a couple of years back. Oops!
Bush of course denies that anybody actually told him either of these facts, and goes on acting like the US doesn't torture people, as well as pretending that the Iranians need a good bombing right away. Why pretend he cares about the truth now?
So the CIA giveth and the CIA taketh away, and nobody who matters pays any attention at all.
Anyway, with that depressing news out of the way, here is a link-o-rama of some things I've been reading of late - enjoy!
- Wanna know how life got so complex? Wired magazine tells us the answer might be... Poop!
"Photosynthesizing plankton produced some oxygen, but it was consumed by bacteria and offset by slow-sinking carbon. The arrival of multicellular organisms changed all that: they competed with bacteria for plankton, and their carbon-rich feces dropped quickly to the ocean floor. Bacteria dwindled; oxygen levels rose, especially in sunlit upper waters; and the ecological gates were thrown wide-open to the parade of animals that soon followed."
- For those interested in speculative philosophy, "what happens if we can explain consciousness?"
"While there's a lot of complex discussion in this area, I think it partly comes down to whether you're relaxed about the idea that science might one day be able to explain the essence of human experience. For many people, I think this is an extremely uncomfortable thought. What Keats, talking of Newton's findings, refers to as a fear of 'unweaving the rainbow' - the fear that explaining something might somehow reduce the magic of it - is very real."
He points in the right direction but doesn't put a name to the fear - Cartesian dualism. The concerned are those that worry neuro-science and philosophy will eventually replace the notion we have some invisible soul or mind at the core of our conscious experience. The rest of us aren't so much concerned as cheerleading the neuro-scientists on!
- Sticking with neuroscience, here's an article from Reason on the neuroscience of moral philosophy.
- Staying with the emerging theme of science puzzles, how did dinosaurs survive at the poles?
"Polar dinosaurs, as they are known, also had to endure prolonged darkness—up to six months each winter. "The moon would be out more than the sun, and it would be tough making a living," says paleontologist David Weishampel of Johns Hopkins University.
The evidence that dinosaurs braved the cold—and maybe scrunched through snow and slid on ice—challenges what scientists know about how the animals survived. Although Rich wasn't the first to unearth polar dinosaurs, he and a few other paleontologists are filling in the picture of how these animals lived and what their environments were like. Recent research might also shed light on two of the most disputed questions in paleontology: Were dinosaurs warmblooded? And what killed them off?"- Moving along in the same groove, here's the genetic story of how cavefish lost their eyes.
- Backing away from the microscopes and bunsen burners, my favourite movie reviewer has a take on one of my favourite movies - yup, Criterion Contraption does John Woo's 'The Killer'. Sweet
- One of the places where politics and religion intersect: the GOP nomination process! Chris Hitchens kicks the living piss out of Mitt Romney for his lame imitation of JFK's 'Catholic' speach. Ouch!
Meanwhile, the normally reliable Larry Arnhart (from 'Darwinian Conservative') offers him something of a defense.
First, here's Hitch throwing down the gauntlet;
"Trying to raise himself above this swamp of nonsense—the existence of which is his responsibility, not mine—the governor mainly treated us to evasion and a rather shifty attempt to change the subject and rewrite the historical record."
Here's a sample of Larry's defense;
"Romney's recent speech at Texas A & M University was his attempt to lay out his position on the political role of religion. It is a remarkably reasonable statement on the American tradition of religious liberty. He endorses Abraham Lincoln's declaration in his Lyceum speech that obedience to law and the Constitution is the "political religion" of the nation. Romney goes on to argue that the Constitution's provision for "no religious test" for public office shows that there must be no political imposition of any particular religious beliefs."
Unfortunately, (though not very as I have no horse in the GOP race and whoever the candidate ends up being is the inevitable sacrificial lamb on the alter of Bush's policies and likely double digit loser to the Dems candidate), Romney was quite specific in his speech that it's still an 'us against them' situation;
"Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom" - Romney
The 'us' being the religious and faithful (can't we all just get along and face the real enemy?) while Romney's 'them' is atheists and secularists. Oops. Unlike Kennedy whose speech was meant to reassure the public that his first duty was to the US constitution and not to Rome, Romney's speech was s sop to the evangelicals of his party and a call to wage a culture war with the atheists.
I'll let Hitch make the fundamental point;
"If an atheist was running against him, would Romney make nothing of the fact? His stupid unease on this point is shown by his demagogic attack on the straw man "religion of secularism," when, actually, his main and most cynical critic is a moon-faced true believer and anti-Darwin pulpit-puncher from Arkansas (Huckabee) who doesn't seem to know the difference between being born again and born yesterday."
Hitch couldn't write a boring sentence if he tried.
So despite not having a horse in the race, I'm now pulling for Romney to get his head handed to him.
Vote Ron Paul!
- Here's something you don't see very often, economists arguing FOR rent control! It must be the end times.
- Unless you've been living in a cave or perhaps trapped for a few months under something heavy, you know the greatest movie ever made is being re-released in a new definitive, final directors cut edition.
Total Dick-Head has the goods with his review of the newest version of 'Bladerunner'. (spoilers)
I literally shiver with anticipation. Best. Movie. Ever.
- I was speaking with a friend of mine about the unparalleled joy of listening to podcasts when they countered that they simply didn't have the time required to get into them. For them (and anyone else interested) here is Open Culture's list of 60 Second Lectures.
- JFK’s Health, Sex Life & Foreign Policy
- Human History
- Freudian Time
- The Knowable Universe
- The Human Brain 2.0
- Defending freedom of speech means defending the rights of racist douchebags to be racist douchebags.
- Here's a sign of the new cyber-times we live in - consider this case of a rape in cyberspace. Why is this interesting? For several reasons;
* The clear and unambiguous reality that something bad really did happen
* The strain with which everybody involved struggled to come to grips with how to think about,
adjudicate, and eventually punish the perpetrator.
* The messiness (and occasionally the total idiocy) of anarchy
Thought provoking and highly recommended
- I once recall a debate I had with a Mormon friend at the University of Calgary where he challenged me with;
"You think you are so smart, but only God can create life"
Not only did I prove him wrong by bringing Oliver into the world (with some help from my wife) but in a less trivial way, these guys (from U of C no less!) are part of the new science of designer life.
So yeah, (20 years late) I do think we're pretty smart. Clever monkeys all.
- Let's say you are feeling really good, your on top of the world, your job is going well, maybe you even got laid recently. Nice. So you need to come down a bit, maybe shed a tear, or even have a full blown cry.
For you impenetrably cheerful, here's a time-line of Bush's greatest hits to the US Constitution.
Bring a box of hankies, it's sadder then that kiddie classic 'Lassie vs. the cement truck'.
- Ok, so that was a downer, here's something to cheer you up. What could be better than listening to professional hot-air blower (and now Rudy Giuliani foreign policy and speech-writing stooge) David Frum get a beat-down from Israeli treaty negotiator Daniel Levy? Every myth, every half-lie, every historical inaccuracy, every neo-con Republican talking point, is punctured, deflated and handed back to Frum on a silver plate. I wept with joy.
- Heroes Season 2; why it sucked, why it rocked (spoilers - obviously)
- Why should we invest in a wicked awesome Space program? "It's the energy, stupid"
- While we're traipsing the void, here's a review of 'my favourite launch platforms'. That photon thruster makes me hard.
- Moving sideways, here's a guy dedicated to bringing you only the best in Star Wars tattoos
- Speaking of tattoos, here's my new favourite blog, called cheekily enough 'sans everything', and one of it's authors Jeet Heer pontificating on the cultural significance - or lack thereof, in modern body art.
No direct link to the article is available to the article, so visit Heer's site, click on 'culture at large' and select 'tattoos'.
If that wasn't awesome enough, check out this elucidation of how comic books evolved from monsters to superheroes. Low culture was never so high-brow.
- This is by far the best video explaining the evils of marijuana I've ever seen. Must see;
- Oh yeah, I guess it's that season again. Bah Humbug.
- Sticking with the bah humbug X-mas theme, here's a Canadian economist pointing out the X-mas market failure.
- I haven't mentioned any of the three Andrews yet, so here is monsieur Coyne learning to love the soaring loonie.
- I'm going to have to dig further into this (because you can't believe anything you read on Beliefnet without corroboration), but they are making the case that the National Geographic faked conclusions they reached about the Judas Gospel. Stay tuned.
- Here's a list of the top ten cheesiest Star Trek (the original series) monsters and aliens. Mmmmm cheese!
Seriously though, Landru isn't cheesy!
He's a ruthless machine presiding over a religious cult that brainwashes billions and erases all feeling and culture. That isn't cheesy, that's Republicanism. Even the comb-over hair screams Republican!
- Finally, here's the story of how a genuine genius of philosophy is brought low by age, and unscrupulous parasites. Antony Flew's 'conversion' is little short of a tragedy.
The Vanuatu Flying Fox
Lifted from the NY Times Science section
A map showing the distribution of blondes in Europe. What's going on in the Baltic?
From the very cool Strange Maps website. Natch.
3rd: From the marvelously cheeky 'Indexed';
"After being asked whether or not Meier thought CivIV`s overhauled interface would turn-off some hardcore fans, Master of Orion III was brought up as an unfavourable subject of comparison. The PCGP crew asks the Firaxis representative if his company learned anything from seeing MoO3 just kind of flop... because [its] interface was just really cluttered. When Meier responds that he has not played MoO3 at all, one of the show`s co-host retorts that you didn`t miss anything"
- Apolyton Civilization
1. Who wants to live forever?! I do!
2. The evolution of offense in basketball. It took an unexpected turn a few years back, and the game has never been better as a result.
3. Here's what a million dollar donation buys for a creationist museum.
Which would be hilarious if it weren't also so tragic.
4. Quote of the Day (and there will likely be several in this link-fest, I have a tonne of them saved up)...
"Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: 'My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly'. This stranger is a theologian." - Diderot
5. For an example of how far back my files go, here is a very cool Baby Name Wizard. For the record, Oliver is now 6 months old.
6. Quote of the Day:
"And what if we have chosen the wrong religion? Every Sunday, we're just making God madder and madder..."
- Homer Simpson
7. Want to live longer and avoid Alzheimer's? Eat salmon, and smoke pot.
8. Take a moment, and blow your mind. Here's a Hubble picture of galaxies colliding.
9. Quote of the Day:
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" - Voltaire
10. Advice from the National Review Online about how Bush should handle the loss of congress. I want to think they are joking.
11. Our robot overlords have now added machine guns!
12. From the realm of politics, here is a plea for what remains of the anarchist movement to dump their utopian dreams and embrace Darwin before it is too late. I've got news for them, it's too late.
13. Has Shakespeare become a Rorschach test for academics? In this article the author argues that Shakespeare was a secret Catholic whose works can be decoded as the trials and tribulations of a dissident religion.
14. Here's Andrew Potter giving a beat down to the latest counter-culture nonsense. I stopped buying Adbusters after I began reading him.
15. Switching political gears, here's how American conservative eminence gris Charles Krauthammer excuses Southern antisemitism.
16. Not everyone is convinced that String Theory will pan out as a testable hypothesis. Here's 'the long bet' that has been placed on it.
17. Can't beat the ancient Greeks;
"Experts confirmed last week in Nature that more than 100 years before the birth of Christ, the Greeks had devised a set of cogs and ratios and packed them box in a way that permitted them to calculate the track of the sun, recreate the irregular orbit of the moon, predict eclipses, and perhaps even follow the movements of the planets through the zodiac.
The Antikythera mechanism, assembled a bit at a time from fragments recovered in 1901 from a Roman shipwreck, was of course operated by hand. It placed a working model of celestial mechanics at the fingertips of some bygone navigator and in that sense, it was a digital computer."18. Another reason to love the engineers, 'A Stress Analysis of the Strapless Evening Gown'
19. A little movie for the holidays; God is dead. Hail Satan. Charlie Brown must die.
20. The Christian right has a new enemy; Soy.
"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products."
21. One of the coolest videos ever; 5000 years of Middle East history in 90 seconds.
22. Solar power is coming, and the sooner the better.
23. Here's something that will not shock any of my married friends, smart women make better wives and lovers.
24. The classic 'Road to serfdom' as a cartoon.
25. Is hip-hop relevant to middle-aged white guys? Off hand, I'd say 'sort of'.
26. Somethings and people can't be celebrated enough. Here's a site dedicated to 'Celebrating Carl Sagan'. Wow, has the internet made hero-worship easy or what? Way cool part to check out is the 'sounds of Sagan' - a collection of interviews, music from the TV series 'Cosmos' etc.
27. Important news flash: God has returned to Earth. Apparently he's a Hispanic guy with slicked back hair and diamond rings.
28. Something else the Christian right would have you believe is that global warming is a lie from Satan. Heh
29. Speaking of global warming, here's a Canadian economist tallying up the real costs of conforming to the Kyoto protocols.
30. Are you a 'progressive'?
If given a choice between two worlds:
1. A capitalist society where the overall levels of wealth and technology continue to increase, though in a pattern that is dynamic, chaotic, generally unpredictable, and whose rewards are unevenly distributed, or...
2. A "progressive" society where everyone is poorer, but income is generally more evenly distributed. In this society, jobs and pay and industries change only very slowly, and people have good assurances that they will continue to have what they have today, with little downside but also with very little upside.
Progressives will choose #2.
(from Coyote blog)
31. Firmly into the political, here's a defense of liberty, libertarians, and libertines.
"I’ve got a far more interesting question in mind: Kirk seems to take it as axiomatic that a society can perish from its own private moral depravity. But this is an empirical claim, one subject to testing and possibly to verification. Has there ever been a society that perished solely because its members were too busy having sex, taking drugs, blaspheming, or performing other offenses against private morality?.....
....The example that probably leaps to mind is the Roman Empire. Yet historians today generally agree that Rome’s moral troubles were not to blame for its decline. Class conflicts, barbarian invasions, and gross economic mismanagement all played a part in the decline, but signally, none of these are individual moral failings. They are political issues, and even a libertine might know enough about sound governmental policies to have avoided the collapse. Yes, the Roman people progressively abandoned the state religion — but in favor of Christianity, which hardly suggests that we should adhere to Christian morality if we want to save our civilization."
32. For my poker playing friends out there (you know who you are), here is a list of Poker Tells.
33. For my comic book reading friends (you know who you are), the greatest comic book series ever is being made into a movie. Will you watch The Watchmen?
34. Here are two different perspectives on flat taxes and how it could apply to Canada. What could be more exciting?!?
The first is an overview by Andrew Coyne, the second is from an economist at 'Worthwhile Canadian Initiative' who suggests for all practical purposes we already have one.
35. A comparison of Welsh, Scots and English indicates, that they are all the same. Genetically speaking. Don't tell my wife.
36. Former Talking Head David Byrne demonstrates his love for Power Point Presentations. And a new art form is born.
37. One of the reasons why the UN seems increasingly irrelevant is that they do stupid things like this.
38. Here's a post for Dr. Who fans - or even better, Dr. Who fans who knit. Yes, those are in fact Daleks made of yarn.
39. For my friends in the NDP (you know who you are, socialist swine!) how taxes really work.
40. Here's a list of players who the basketball hall of fame has neglected. Personally I was shocked to discover that Bernard King, Dennis Johnson and Adrian Dantley weren't already in. Dennis Johnson is the Glenn Anderson of basketball HOF non-inductees. He won lots, but was overshadowed by a lot of higher profile players (Bird, McHale, Parrish, etc.). Adrian Dantley would be the equivalent of Marcel Dionne - a perennial high scoring player who never got to win the biggest prize. Bernard King was the Cam Neely of Basketball. A fierce high scoring competitor whose career was interrupted by serious injury. All deserve to be in as the article capably argues.
41. Here's a great discussion of Shakespeare's 'bat-shit crazy play' Titus Andronicus.
42. Quote of the Day:
"Tell a devout Christian ... that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever."
- Sam Harris
43. Bush has a new historian, and here's how The New Republic parses out the message this historian is trying to sell;
""Roberts's advice is a vicious imperial anachronism: Target civilians, introduce mass internment, don't worry about whether people hate you, bear down on dissent because it will sap the empire's willpower, ignore your critics because they're just jealous, and--above all--keep on fighting and you'll prevail." - TNR
44. Quantum physics: Not Dead Yet.
45. That car is gay.
46. And maybe all the women you know are too . More and more of the differences at the most basic levels of our brain between men and women are being discovered.
"Widespread regions of the cortex, the brain’s outer layer that performs much of its higher-level processing, are thicker in women. The hippocampus, where initial memories are formed, occupies a larger fraction of the female brain.
Techniques for imaging the brain have begun to show that men and women use their brains in different ways even when doing the same thing. In the case of the amygdala, a pair of organs that helps prioritize memories according to their emotional strength, women use the left amygdala for this purpose but men tend to use the right."
"Such experiments do not show the same clear divide with women. Whether women describe themselves as straight or lesbian, “Their sexual arousal seems to be relatively indiscriminate — they get aroused by both male and female images,” Dr. Bailey said. “I’m not even sure females have a sexual orientation. But they have sexual preferences. Women are very picky, and most choose to have sex with men.”
(emphasis mine: CH)
47. Bad art? Overprotective organizations? Should we laugh or cry? - I'm not sure, but the SPCA has decided to 'save the insects' and the result shut down an art exhibit.
"Theatre of the World had the lizards and insects placed under domes of wire with lights shining upon them and a wooden python suspended above the live animals. A veterinarian had recommended added water bowls, giving the creatures a place to retreat and changing the light.
The text accompanying the piece says, "The work functions as a metaphor for the conflicts among different peoples and culture — in short, human existence itself."48. Proof that I am not the only person who has a man-crush on Bryan Colangelo, GM of the Toronto Raptors.
49. From Wired magazine comes this list of 10 reasons why Geeks make better lovers.
50. Here's a question that is sure to start some fights; who works more, men or women?
51. Here's what the future looks like - from the perspective of someone in 1900.
52. Breaking the mold of porn-star-as-bimbo;
NEVER let it be said that porn star Savannah Samson has just one talent. The Vivid Video starlet not only just finished "Debbie Does Dallas: Again," she's also a highly rated winemaker (critic Robert M. Parker gave her first vintage, Sogno Uno, 91 out of 100 points) and now a recording artist. Samson has signed with Koch Records and plans to release an album in September. Koch VP Chuck Oliner swears her debut album has "hot new songs and some sexy standards."
53. Here are some tasty facts about Canadian donuts!
- Canadians eat more doughnuts per capita than any other nation on earth.
- The largest share of those doughnuts is obtained from and/or eaten at the almost 2,000 Tim Horton's doughnut shops spread across Canada.
- These shops, named after a professional hockey player (now deceased), outnumber McDonald's restaurants.
54. And now for something completely different;
3 of the most mesmerizing minutes of video ever loaded onto the web. I speak of course about 'girls jumping on trampolines'!
It's good to be a boy.
55. Here's a cool link, the Whitney Music Box
56. Lust in translation?
57. Quote of the Day;
"We shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deciet adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them; and that custom, respect and tyranny support them." - Baron d'Holbach
58. My first choice for 2008 is still Al Gore.
59. What are the chances of an elected UN? Maybe in 100 years.
60. One of my favourite blogs 'Darwinian Conservatism' reviews the current state of biology in answering the question 'when does life begin' - and discovers that there is no one satisfactory answer.
61. Here's some of the stuff the Boris Yeltsin obituaries left out.
62. Pot goes Pop! Rolling Stone magazine recently published their '25 Best songs for Reefer Gladness'
63. Prospect magazine has a comparison on how different nations (Europe, Canada, and the US) manage their health care.
64. Was their election tampering in Ohio by the Republicans?
65. When philosophy hits the British House of Commons;
"Asked whether we were winning the battle against crime (not to be confused with the war on terror) Dr John Reid referenced the German Idealist philosopher, saying: "I think the Owl of Minerva will spread its wings only with the coming of dusk." He didn't get that PhD for nothing.
The Home Office bruiser had silenced his critics with a double blow. First, MPs are confident when scrapping with Reid, but who has the stature to argue with a great philosopher? Second, no one had a clue what it meant, but to admit it would have revealed their ignorance, so instead, they just nodded sagely."
"The word contronym (also the synonym antagonym) is used to refer to words that, by some freak of language evolution, are their own antonyms. Both contronym and antagonym are neologisms; however, there is no alternative term that is more established in the English language."
Essentially, it means words that are their own opposites (kinda blows your mind, eh?)
Here are some examples given from the link:
apology - admission of fault in what you think, say, or do; formal defense of what you think, say, or do
cleave - separate, adhere
consult - ask for advice, give advice
dust - add fine particles, remove fine particles
first degree - most severe (e.g., murder), least severe (e.g., burn)
sanction - approve, boycott
transparent - invisible, obvious
weather - withstand, wear away
Just more proof that the English language is a work of total insanity.
67. Here's a great argument for why evolutionary theory isn't depressing.
68. Along with the upcoming 'Watchmen' movie, we also have the X-men spin-off 'Magneto' to look forward to!
69. I recently took up golf as a pass-time (there being little else to do in Lethbridge), and while I admit I am terrible, I am in no way, shape, or form, as bad as Charles Barkley. Here is the worst golf swing ever.
70. Here's an article that suggests 'fat lesbians' isn't merely a stereotype. It turns out that lesbians have more than twice the chances of being obese than women who identify as straight. Of course, if we what we learned from #46 is true (that women don't have a defined sexuality the way men do), something else might be going on.
71. Proving that I read those who oppose my views as much as I read those who hold them, here is Russell Kirk's take-down of libertarians.
"Now let me turn to their failings, which are many and grave. For the ideological libertarians are not conservatives in any true meaning of that term of politics; nor do the more candid libertarians desire to be called conservatives. On the contrary, they are radical doctrinaires, contemptuous of our inheritance from our ancestors.
They rejoice in the radicalism of Tom Paine; they even applaud those 17th century radicals, the Levellers and the Diggers, who would have pulled down all the land-boundaries, and pulled down, too, the whole framework of church and state. The libertarian groups differ on some points among themselves, and exhibit varying degrees of fervor. But one may say of them in general that they are "philosophical" anarchists in bourgeois dress."72. One of the reasons I absolutely LOVE the TV series 'Heroes' is because of it's referencing of my favourite comic books from the past. One entire plot line of the first season was based on/lifted from one of the single greatest comic book stories ever written; The X-Men 'Days Of Future Past'
73. One of my favourite directors is David Lynch. Who I should point out, is quite mad.
74. What is the toughest question for a philosopher? At least one thinks the hardest to answer is;
'What do you do for a living'?
75. Proof that mother nature has a very, very warped sense of humor, I give you; the sexual evolution of ducks.
76. More evidence that the evolution of our robot overlords is nearing the tipping point; 'the Chaos Bot'.
77. Here's something that will re-define esoteric; it's a Straussian reading of Mansfeld's dissent on the rule-of-law he published in the NY Times. I think it both highlights the lunacy of Bush's policy, Mansfeld's defense of it, and the esoteric readings that Straussian's are known for. Truly bizzaro-world.
78. Whenever you get the urge to hear a lecture, go here! One of the more recent ones I listened to was sci-fi author Bruce Sterling on the evolution of culture. Very, very cool.
79. Having provided a website to help you find good baby names (#5), here are two sites that list some names you probably don't want to hang on your kid. Some of my favourites;
80. Obama, Detroit, and Ethanol. When good candidates do bad science.
81. How do you win in the NBA? You need a 'Super-Duper Star'. As the Super-Duper Star theory goes, if you have one of these players, eventually you will win. If you don't, you won't (unless you are Detroit).
82. Reason #45468 why I hate Oprah, her endorsement of 'the Secret'.
83. Dipping into the realm of aesthetics, here's an article on the future of musical taste.
84. 'Worthwhile Canadian Initiative' makes the case that the time for subsidizing the Alberta Tar Sands project is officially over.
85. I have never seen him play, yet Caron Butler just became my all-time favourite Washington Wizard.
86. Quote of the Day:
"On the contrary, a Darwinian account of human nature and social order requires three levels of explanation: natural desirs as shaped by genetic evolution, customary traditions as shaped by cultural evolution, and deliberate judgments as shaped by individual experience. These three levels are in a nested hierarchy so that custom is contrained by nature, and judgment is constrained by both nature and custom.
Larry Arnhart (Darwinian Conservative)
87. Can't have sex without getting married? Have a one-hour marriage!
88. Sad but true, there is a real Canadian creationist movement.
If reading that doesn't make you sad, watch this;
I know, I know, I threw up the first time too.
89. From the Prospect, and article on the new secular tribalism. Which for the record, I'm not buying.
However, the Straussians at Claremont Review definitely are.
90. Just when you think the religious weirdos have gone about as far as they could go they give us; 'Loving wife spanking'.
We secular people have been calling this 'BDSM', 'kink' and 'perversion' for nigh on centuries, but if you need to give it a different name and pretend God still loves you for it, be my guest and go get your freak on you god-fearing spankers!
91. One of my favourite new NBA players is Yi Jianlian, but Yi has some obstacles to overcome that are completely alien to players from North America;
"What is most curious about this situation is how much communist Chinese officials act suspiciously like robber baron capitalists when it comes to basketball players;
"Chen doesn't merely view Yi as an employee.
Rather, Chen literally owns Yi and wants to make himself richer by negotiating a buyout agreement, retaining a portion of Yi's endorsement income and maintaining Yi as an ambassador to further Chen's business.
It has been suggested Chen might be looking for as much as 50% of all of Yi's endorsement money.
Yi has to buy out his old contract with the Tigers, agree to assign his representation rights to the Tigers and sign his NBA representation to an agent approved by the Tigers."92. Andrew Sullivan (of the Three Andrews, via Ron Bailey (of Reason) via Steven Pinker ponders whether some ideas are too dangerous or unmentionable even to discuss. Some of the unmentionable questions;
93. Economists can't leave sports alone. Here's one discussing why athletes are really socialists at heart.
Are suicide terrorists well-educated, mentally healthy and morally driven?
Would the incidence of rape go down if prostitution were legalized?
Do African-American men have higher levels of testosterone, on average, than white men?
Is morality just a product of the evolution of our brains, with no inherent reality?
Would society be better off if heroin and cocaine were legalized?
Is homosexuality the symptom of an infectious disease?
94. The truth about prohibition (and liquor taxes!)
"Before the income tax, Congress effectively ignored such calls because to prohibit alcohol sales then would have hit Congress hard in the place it guards most zealously: its purse. But once a new and much more intoxicating source of revenue was discovered, the cost to politicians of pandering to the puritans and other anti-liquor lobbies dramatically fell.
Prohibition was launched.
Despite pleas throughout the 1920s by journalist H.L. Mencken and a tiny handful of other sensible people to end Prohibition, Congress gave no hint that it would repeal this folly. Prohibition appeared to be here to stay -- until income-tax revenues nose-dived in the early 1930s.
From 1930 to 1931, income-tax revenues fell by 15 percent.
In 1932 they fell another 37 percent; 1932 income-tax revenues were 46 percent lower than just two years earlier. And by 1933 they were fully 60 percent lower than in 1930.
With no end of the Depression in sight, Washington got anxious for a substitute source of revenue.
That source was liquor sales."
95. Didn't like your American history class? Try the 'Daniel Day Lewis school of American History'!
96. How uptight and screwed up are Americans? Apparently they are now charging people who are caught masturbating while in prison. I used to think Michel Foucault was a total whack-job, but after reading that now I'm not so sure.
97. Here's an example of somebody who has terrible taste in tattoos;
Yup. That is in the fact the famous 'blue screen of death' message you get when windows crashes.
People are so stupid.
98. Here is the tallest building in S. America. No reason. Just thought it was cool.
99. Here's a question for my poolie friends, 'do sports franchises make money'?
100. Reason magazine gives us another good reason to love Bettie Page
"Wielding a whip, sheathed in black nylon—none of it obscured her star-struck giddiness at the sight of a camera. Forever ready, it seemed, to break into a cheerleader’s chant for deviance—“Gimme an S! Gimme an M!”—she reduced kink to kitschy fashion."
- Greg Beato, Reason
101. I miss Gamma World (D+D's tiny post-atomic brother). And I miss Thundarr the Barbarian (Best. Kids. Show. Ever.). Fortunately, I can be reminded of both with this motivational poster!
102. Here's a good explanation for why couples look more and more alike as they age.
103. Here are ten politically incorrect truths about human nature;
Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women."
104. Apparently, Pot not only helps you live longer (#7) it also makes you a better baseball player!
The 'One Hitters' a Pro-Pot-Smoking soft-ball team rules supreme!
105. Can a woman marry her own sex-doll? The true story of when Amber met Amber.
106. Quote of the Day:
"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.- Nietzsche
107. Science tattoos. Now these (most of them) are cool.
108. Here gathered together for the first time, are the top 50 George Bush quotes on religion.
109. Because you can never, ever, ever have enough Steve Nash video.
110. Here's a question you have always wanted the answer to, but were afraid to ask;
What happens to bacon and eggs if left alone for an entire year?
111. Where Dick Cheney lives.
112. Six Pack Sports asks the burning question; 'What does she see in him', and reveals the top 5 biggest love mismatches in sports movie history.
Actually this is just an excuse to get you to check out the whipped cream bikini pic near the bottom. Dessert. Is. Served.
113. Ok, this is in Spanish, or Portugese, or some other alien language. But that doesn't matter, it's Packard Jennings. And once you've checked out his artwork I'm sure you will be a massive fan.
114. Quote of the Day:
"....you would think that as an aborted fetus is guaranteed a place in heaven and an unaborted one will probably end up in hell - especially if its parents are not christians - we should all be aborting fetuses as fast as we can produce them"
115. The way to free the world's poor women? Give them cable.
"In the places that didn't get cable by 2003, and in the places that already had it at the beginning of the period studied, attitudes concerning women remained relatively stable. (They were more pro-women in places that already had cable.) But in the 21 (Indian) villages that got cable between 2001 and 2003, women's attitudes changed quickly and substantially.
The authors focus on three measures: autonomy (whether the woman gets to make her own decisions about shopping, health, and whom she visits), attitudes toward beating (the number of circumstances in which women view beating as acceptable), and whether women prefer having male children. After a village got cable, women's preference for male children fell by 12 percentage points. The average number of situations in which women said that wife beating is acceptable fell by about 10 percent. And the authors' composite autonomy index jumped substantially, by an amount equivalent to the attitude difference associated with 5.5 years of additional education."116. I love YouTube. I also love boxing. So here are the best knockouts ever. Lots of Ali. Lots of Tyson-before-prison. Sweet.
117. Centauri Dreams gives us an update on solar sail technology.
118. How about TV show tattoos?
119. Sad? Want some ice-cream?
"Employing voice stress analysis of the user’s answers to specific questions, varying degrees of unhappiness are measured and the counteractive quantity of ice cream is dispensed: The more unhappy you are, the more ice cream you need."
120. Celebrity 'Pegging'.
'Pegging', or those not hip, cool and in the know, is the art of a woman using a strap-on on a guy. It seems Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie may well be the first celebrity 'pegee' on record as the two pics of Madonna and hubbie exiting a sex-store indicate.
121. The 'Devil's Bargain' that is Schizophrenia.
"In other words, the same genes that make us so smart and our species so successful can sometimes (specifically, about 1% of the time) result in a debilitating mental disorder. The other 99% of us are doing so well that these genes continue to perpetuate themselves. In the evolution of complex thought, schizophrenia was accepted as a devil’s bargain."
122. Here's an 0n-line comic of H.G Wells 'War of the Worlds'. Simply Awesome.
123. Here are 8 Science Fiction Themes that will never happen.
124. This link will take you to Slate magazine's slide-show on the history of the vibrator.
125. Ok, this one is just strange. It's a long story about a woman named 'Jesse James', a prolonged internet fraud, and of all people science fiction author Harlan Ellison. Trust me, it's fascinating.
126. Ever wondered what you would look like if you were of Caribbean descent? Or Asian? How about what you would look like if you were painted by Modigliani? Visit 'face of the future' to see how you turn out!
This is me by El Greco
Here's a portrait of me as if done by Botticelli
Here's the 'Modigliani Cameron'
And here I am as 'Japanese Manga'!
127. Here's a cartoon for all of us who have ever hated our job.
128. Here's another article on the economics of the NHL
129. You accidentally overhear a doctor's colleague break the news that you have inoperable cancer. You doctor quickly gives you a drug to make you forget you heard this. At a later date, when you have been properly prepared, he delivers the bad news. Which raises the question; what are the ethics for using memory loss drugs?
130. Cracked compiles the ten worst movie endings. Yes, 'The Life of David Gale' is definitely on the list.
131. Colby Cosh tells us how oil royalties hurt oil companies. Believe me, I'm shedding tears over this. Really.
132. A British judge complains about '9 errors' contained in Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth'. But were there really 9 errors? No.
133. This is the chair I want for Christmas.
134. The New Yorker discusses the bad economic idea that won't die - Supply Side Economics
135. The strange art of Travis Louie.
136. Here are two myths about Kobe Bryant.
137. Here's a very strange gallery of pictures from Japan detailing how in the 1970's public sex and voyeurism flourished hand in hand. Beautiful and creepy.
138. Self reliance in the internet age, or, how thanks to Google I learned to cut my own hair.
139. Silent minds: Re-thinking the vegetative state. Revolutions in brain scanning technology are forcing a longer look at patients who we once thought of as irretrievable.
140. Snap Judgments and Elections
"A split-second glance at two candidates' faces is often enough to determine which one will win an election, according to a Princeton University study.Princeton psychologist Alexander Todorov has demonstrated that quick facial judgments can accurately predict real-world election returns. Todorov has taken some of his previous research that showed that people unconsciously judge the competence of an unfamiliar face within a tenth of a second, and he has moved it to the political arena. His lab tests show that a rapid appraisal of the relative competence of two candidates' faces was sufficient to predict the winner in about 70 percent of the races for U.S. senator and state governor in the 2006 elections."
141. From the Freakonomics blog comes another interesting thesis; the drop in violence coincides with the rise of unleaded gasoline.
142. The University of Saskatchewan's Space Elevator narrowly missed winning NASA's prize
143. As if we needed another reason to celebrate, but here is yet more evidence that it is good to be tall!
It seems there is a correlation between being below average height - and pedophilia.
144. Deadspin takes a look at the worst video game rating for a hockey player - ever.
It's former Northstar defenseman, Shawn Chambers and his rating of '1'.
145. Here are 10 uses for the iPod that you hadn't thought of...
146. Last but not least, were the Hardy Boys gay?
There is an old cliche' about the neo-cons that it's 'always 1938' - and in the audio you can hear Podhoretz return again and again to the idea that somehow Iran is fascist Germany, and that diplomacy is appeasement.
Zakaria nails him everywhere and on every point.
- Iran has not been an overly bellicose actor in the ME the last 3 years
- Other nations with far less reasonable governments (North Korea) have the bomb and deterrence works on them
- Most importantly, he points out that Podhoretz creates a false choice (between appeasement and bombing) when a third option (deterrence) has worked for every other nuclear power to emerge in the 20th century.
What was most fascinating to me was how Podhoretz openly suggested that Iran because of its religious fanaticism was inherently more dangerous than other regimes.
Zakaria of course, has the answer to this to, pointing to the rhetoric of the Communists under Mao and how similar it is to the inflammatory statements of Ahmadinejad.
I call it a win for Zakaria, but Podhoretz's resorting to Hitler arguments early and often turned it into a total blow-out.
5. Despite superstar abilities was content to be the no. 3 player on a stacked Lakers team (behind Magic and Kareem). Winning was simply way more important to him than being 'the man'.
4. His right handed, gravity-mocking, statue-of-liberty dunks (see highlights below)
3. Was 'Koral', the impossibly tall, low dialogue, Klingon on ST:TNG epsiode 'Gambit, part 2'.
2. Three rings and the Basketball Hall of Fame. Dude was awesome good.
1. Wore #42.
To access them, just click on the picture. The video will then load and play at the very top of the blog (you may have to move the page back to the top to see it).
Currently, I am running:
Do Make Say Think - a mega-awesome band from Canada that I am jacked to be able to see in concert.
Sam Harris - atheist and award winning author. Also, he obliterated Andrew Sullivan in a faith debate.
Carl Sagan - Astronomer, pop science philosopher, genius, and pot smoker. Was married to Ann Druyan. Wrote 4 of my all-time favourite books. My hero.
Phil Plait - Astronomer, skeptic, podcaster, debunker of nonsense.
Daniel Dennett - Philosopher of mind. Atheist, defender of free will, and all-round very big brain.
The Amazing Randi - Magician, skeptic, debunker of frauds, psychics and charlatans.
I recently dumped William Gibson (the videos were kind of lame), and I am likely to be changing it up again in the next few days, so get your fill while you can.
Ah bliss, when ones favourite political writers turn their pens on each other! The spat takes place over the Harper governments feints at wielding the trade and commerce power it has in our constitution to knock down intra-provincial trade barriers. Both Andrews agree that this is a good idea, but Coyne rhapsodizes about the existential dimensions of this stronger federalism, and then from the other side of his mouth speaks about a worrisome reality that contradicts it.
Give that the abov is perhaps the least interesting introduction to a great political spat ever written, here is the article by Coyne, and here is the response by Potter. I excerpt the money quote from Potter below:
"But what Coyne seems to be claiming is that
Viewed strictly as a legal matter, the feds could probably invoke the Trade and Commerce power, and strike down provincial trade barriers unilaterally. But politically, they don’t dare.
Politically they don’t dare. Whatever could that mean? That the premiers would scream and yell? So what? If it’s
- Andrew Potter
"The European competition commissioner, for example, can order member states to dismantle local monopolies that impede trade within the “single market.” Imagine, for example, a federal economic union commission ordering Ontario Hydro to open its market to private generators -- including out-of-province generators. For extra credit, imagine it doing the same to Hydro-Quebec.
Only in Canada is this considered outré. In other countries, internal trade barriers are regarded as an absurdity, not because their citizens are more apprised of the benefits of free trade than ours, but because of the inherent nonsense of the enterprise: to protect ourselves from ourselves. Only in Canada do we regard ourselves as not ourselves."
The CBS Sports draft was automatic and it meant you had to rank the players as you wanted them in advance. Which was both mystifying and terrifying. So many names I had never, ever heard of. So many others that were familiar, but totally unconnected to any sense of how good they are. Very, very, very weird.
Today I got an e-mail with what the computer drafted based on my list. Like I said, Very Weird.
Fair enough. Among the rules is that I believe we are required to have two centres, four Forwards (small and power, though they don't distinguish - something I would) and four guards (shooting and point - ditto) along with three reserves.
Anyway, without further ado, here are your....
So here's my recap;
1. Wade. I have Dwayne Freaking Wade. Awesome. Here's the thing. I missed on my top pick LeBron, was almost hoping not to get Kobe (because he is evil, or as one blog I read refers to him exclusively as - 'that anal rapist') or Dirk (who is totally awesome but mentally made of jello), and Nash went to the guy right ahead of me. Next on my list would have been stat stuffer Shawn Marion. Only downside is that Wade is going to miss the first week or so.
2. Yao Ming. My centre is guaranteed to dominate all others with the possible exceptions of Howard and Stoudamire. I had seriously considered Yao for top pick overall. Only downside is that he is a classic centre in the Kareem mold. Obliterating on the defensive end, almost unstoppable in the low post, but useless in the fast break (which is more of a snail break). Painfully slow to get up and down the court. Painfully slow. Who cares, dude is 7 ft 5.
3. Ben Gordon. The Bulls shooting guard has seen his stats improve every year he's been in the league. A pure sniper.
4. Ron Artest. Without a doubt, my problem child. But he stuffs the stats sheet, especially on steals and blocks. I over-ranked him vs my competition I'm sure, but if he can avoid pulling a Mike Millbury and attacking fans during the game, I will make them regret leaving him around for me.
5. Ricky Davis. I have no idea who this guy is. I do predict his stats to be decent based on the departure of Garnett from Minnesota, and the lack of many other decent Timberwolf guards. Really wanted to get TJ Ford here but he was long gone.
6. Rafer Alston. I flat out hate Rafer Alston. But he is in Houston and should pick up some assists, steals and points playing with Yao Ming and McGrady.
7. Stephen Jackson. "Warr-iors, come out and play-ay". I like Nellie ball, and Jackson is part of the reason why. As a Pacer he once touched the same balls as Reggie Miller. That could probably have come out better.
8. Quentin Richardson. Somehow I forgot to delete all the Knick players from my rankings and ended up with Richardson. F*ck Me. I've already started to offer him in trades.
9. Andrei Kirilenko. Yes, he cries. Yes, he has requested a trade .Yes, he has expressed a desire to play in Russia rather than play for Jerry Sloan. Yes, he is in Utah, a place where fun goes to die, and where the words 'child bride' aren't spoken ironically or with horror. However, he is the one guy in John Amechi's coming out of the closet book who doesn't come off as a homophobic prick, and his wife has publicly delcared he can have a freebie once a year with another woman, and I think this could be my home run pick of the draft. I LOVE Kirilenko, and he was just named MVP of the FIBA tournament. I predict a HUGE season for him. What I want to know is how is it I could possible have had him ranked lower than Quentin F*cking Richardson and Rafer Alston?
10. Yi Jianlian. I knew I was over-ranking him. I don't care. I wanted to cheer for the international circus that is Yi. Done.
11. Darko Milicic. Since he was drafted by the Pistons ahead of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh I have always had a soft spot for the 7ft Serbian. He was a teenager when he was originally picked and he's now 22 and gradually filling his game out. However he is also a volcano, and from all accounts a jerk. He might also get a position switch to centre giving me the deepest set of pivots in the league (does that even matter? I don't know, but I wanted to point it out).
12. Chris Kaman. A lumbering 7ft white guy with heavy metal hair and one of those horrific mustaches only a blond guy can grow. He's terrible. He's not coincidentally on my bench.
13. Jason Kapono. My token Raptor. I'm in a league with a bunch of Canadians, so the simple fact was that despite my having built some love into my list for Raptors in the hopes I would get one or two, the only one who made it to me was the the one-dimmensional three point expert. Or as I like to call him, Benchy Bench-Bench.