When Lab Mice Attack!

I ran across this at the John Hawkes Anthropology blog;

Money Quote:

"Superintelligent, bloodthirsty mice with no fear. Lab breeders, please stop now before it is too late!


The Fortean Times has photo gallery of UFO inspired stamps!


The Power of Art

While trapped in Regina I had the opportunity to watch 'The Power of Art', a program from the BBC (naturally) that walks us through some of the great artists, their lives and most importantly, their work.

The first episode on Carravagio was nothing short of riveting, and the story of his life literally comes to an end with the above painting of David and Goliath.

After having killed a man in a duel, Carravagio flees Rome for distant parts of Italy to stay ahead of the bounty that has been placed on him. When it eventually reaches him that he has a patron seeking his pardon with the Pope, he paints the above. In it, David holds the head of the slain Goliath - but more interestingly, is Goliath's visage - Carravagio gives Goliath his own face.

It's a joke, but very dark one - he is in effect saying to his patron, 'There is a price on my head - so here, I offer it to you'.

Picture of the Day

You can see the Atlantis shuttle docked at the lower left, with her tail facing us.


Fun with Anagrams!

My full name kicked out this gem:

"Atheist Laborer Column"


Picture of the Day

Only available in Japan...


My Enemy's Enemy...

Quote of the Day

"Oil company Exxon Mobil Corp. never in the past decade doubted the risk from climate change, it's global spokesman Kenneth Cohen said on Thursday, in a latest attempt to improve it's green credentials. Exxon had simply 'firmed up', or 'evolved' it's understanding of the threat, said Cohen, the company's head of public affairs."

In other words "we were beginning to look like idiots".

Triumph at the Tonys


5 Podcasts you should listen to

5. For an awesome and occasionally contentious debate about drug policy in the US, check out the Cato Institutes podcast from 5-30-07 called 'Lies, damned lies, and Drug War Statistics'. The authors of a recent scathingly critical book on US drug policy go head to head with an administration official in a lively and very informative debate.

4. Background Briefing 06-03-07 (another fine ABC production) does a lengthy interview with Atul Gawante on how medical practices when compared to each other fall into the expected bell curve of results, what this means in terms of health effects, and how medicine can be improved.

3. Big Ideas from 05-20-07 has Andrew Potter (one of my faves) and his co-author Joseph Heath letting some of the air out of the counterculture consumer movement - especially author Naomi Klein, and the magazine 'Adbusters'.

2. NHL Radio: FaceOff - Pierre Maguire vs Darren Pang in staged hockey debates! Only downside on this is the fact the season is now over. :-(

1. Point of Inquiry has an excellent podcast featuring author Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation) discussing the 'Mortal Dangers of Religion'.


New look

As you can tell, I've updated the look of the blog again, finally moving definitively away from the dark-blue theme it's had since I started two plus years back.

Thoughts? Comments?

Astronomy Update

Here's a site dedicated to making the MOST from astronomy (bad joke, I know, but they are Canadian!)

Here's one of the coolest sites I've ever run across, Centauri Dreams. 'Imagining and planning space exploration' - indeed!

Another site that is way, way, way beyond cool for astronomy enthusiasts, Wiki-Sky.

It's a little late, but here's the Bad Astronomer discussing the possibility of liquid water on Mars (sweet).

Even more shocking is the recent evidence of a mega-supernova - one that is roughly
100 times more powerful than any ever discovered before.

Money quote:

"Unlike other exploding stars, which peak at brightness for a couple of weeks at most, this supernova, peaked for 70 days, according to NASA. And it has been shining at levels brighter than other supernovae for several months, Smith said."

NASA also revealed that they will be looking to build a Moon-base by 2024!

Religion and Atheism Update

Obese prevaricator Jerry Falwell passed away. Yeah, I'm really busted up about it. So much so, I'm posting the following obits, the first provided by snarky contrarian Christopher Hitchens, and the second a surprisingly touching one from pornographer Larry Flynt (you may remember that Flynt dueled with Falwell all the way to the Supreme Court)

Senator Sam Brownback is not just a candidate for President on the GOP ticket, he's one of the three GOP candidates who publicly disavowed believing in evolution. It seems that some of his supporters go even further and take issue with helio-centrism as an atheist doctrine. Gotta-be-GOP!

Here's an article on how religion fails, and the (inevitable?) rise of secularism.

Money quote:

"In the end what humanity chooses to believe will be more a matter of economics than of debate, deliberately considered choice, or reproduction. The more national societies that provide financial and physical security to the population, the fewer that will be religiously devout. The more that cannot provide their citizens with these high standards the more that will hope that supernatural forces will alleviate their anxieties. It is probable that there is little that can be done by either side to alter this fundamental pattern."

Another article on the same topic suggests that we may have the cause and effect backwards. It is not secularism that leads to declining birth-rates, it is declining birth-rates that lead to secularism. I have to admit, that I'm not convinced at all by this thesis, but it is intriguing to consider.

From the Richard Dawkins website comes this heartening tale of Mormon's vs Baptists at Easter. Warning, this does contain some wheelchair on shin violence.

Is God a Democrat or a Republican?

God is Dead. Hail Satan. Charlie Brown must die. Deeply subversive, but also rife with vulgarity and IMO a little off the mark. I did laugh out loud though!

Here's a relatively simple question, "why won't God heal amputees?"

Here's an interesting blog where Christians and Atheists engage in an ongoing dialogue.

On a more depressing note, here are two stories about Creationist museums;

In the first one of these temples to foolishness receives a donation of $1M bucks!

In the second, a similar museum (one truly stunning in it's ineptness) opens in Big Valley Ab!

It's cute, in a completely insane kind of way. Here's my favourite quote lifted from the website:

"The "Evidence From Geneaology" display, donated by Edgar Nurnberg, is one of the more favourite displays of our visitors. These scrolls from the Lambeth Palace in England trace the geneaology of King Henry the 6th back to Adam and Eve."

Awesome! But before you get in your car and race off to see this fantastic display of wingnuttery in the heart of Alberta's bible belt, you'd best heed the following advice:

"Call first to see if you can arrange a tour, and
to make sure we are open".

Quote of the Day II

"When you see how evidence-resistant a propagandist like Hewitt can be, you begin to realize how important it is to keep these people away from power. They are much less interested in defeating al Qaeda than they are in using al Qaeda to defeat Democrats." - Andrew Sullivan

With all apologies to Mr. Sullivan, hasn't it been clear all along that the Bush administration has been utterly bankrupt in it's foreign policy because it was always only about domestic policy?

Doesn't it seem clear that Rove et al. intended the Iraq invasion less as a purposeful exercise of military might than as a means to creating and sustaining a mythology for Bush jr as a 'war-time president' so as to propel the Republicans to electoral victory after victory?

Iraq makes no sense as an invasion outside of this context at all - it certainly wasn't to pacify the country, install democracy, or free the people from tyranny - not when all of the opposites seem to have been deliberately encouraged, i.e. US forces stood by while sectarian forces took each other on, and the democracy established reversed the standing for women and minorities and established Islamic rather than secular laws.

As I see it, Iraq was always an election tool, one that would, coincidentally of course, make holders of Halliburton stock stinking filthy rich, placate the Saudi's, and show Iran who was boss.

To call it moronic would be to unfairly malign morons.

Quote of the Day

"While it's dangerous to read too much into by-elections and stupid to extrapolate those results to other ridings...what the heck, let's give it a try."

- Calgary Grit commenting on the by-election defeat of the Tories in Calgary Elbow


Nerd Porn

"Gosh you sure have some nice...dice"

Schadenfreude Alert!

Paris 'SomethingorOther' was carted back off to jail to serve her sentence today, as opposed to the mere house arrest she had finagled only a day earlier.

Soap. Opera.


Picture of the Day

It's 'Gulo gulo', the wolverine.

The pic comes from the digimorph guys at the University of Texas.

500 years of women in art

Nothing short of breathtaking

Some observations;

- Portraits are endlessly fascinating. This is doubly true for portraits of women.

- Something went drastically wrong with art from the late modern, post modern periods. The self indulgence of the deconstruction movement, while interesting, is revealed also to be deeply ugly in comparison to other periods.

- The morphing of portraitures from one piece to another is so seamless that if you pause the video at any given point you will rarely find yourself looking at the actual painting, but are instead looking on some transition point between paintings created by the software. Slick.

- This also means that as your watching the video, pictures of women - women who never existed in reality or imagination - emerge from the space between the portraits.