26 June, 2007

Score one for reason in the UK!

From The Register:
The government has announced that it will publish guidance for schools on how creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching, and has reiterated that it sees no place for either on the science curriculum (emphasis added).
It has also defined "Intelligent Design", the idea that life is too complex to have arisen without the guiding hand of a greater intelligence, as a religion, along with "creationism".
It's good to see that at least someone has their head screwed on correctly somewhere in the world. Now if only the US government would grow some balls and send these ID 'education' proponent fundamentalist religious nutjobs packing. . . .

25 June, 2007

Social networking and the class divide

PhD student Danah Boyd from the School of Information Sciences at UC Berkeley has recently completed a study which finds that users of the two main social networking sites on the internet, Facebook and MySpace, are divided quite rigidly along class lines. From the article on the Beeb:
The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.
By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education.

Being on both MySpace and Facebook, I find Boyd's conclusions hardly surprising. Looking through my friends list on both networks, it's striking how the people on Facebook are generally more- um... bourgeoisie than the people on MySpace. There's also a larger contingent of freaks, geeks, queers, musicians, art fags, and other marginalized subgroups within MySpace. Which is a shame, because, at face value (no pun intended), and taking into consideration factors like interface design, utility of features, etc., I prefer Facebook over MySpace a million times over (the only exception I think needs to be made is the service that MySpace performs for musicians- MySpace's impact on independent music creation and distribution cannot be overemphasized).
Very interesing stuff. So much for the democratizing power of teh intarrwebz, huh?

Mmmm, book pr0n.

If these quote-unquote bookends weren't so damned expensive, I'd get them. But since I'd saving up for the iPhone, no dice. They sure are nice, though.

20 June, 2007

Recycling rhetoric, rant on politicians in general

On Tuesday, June 19th, 2007, Bush uttered:
"My position has not changed [in regards to Iran]. All options are on the table. . . "

And you know? He's right- his position has not changed. On August 22, 2002, he declared that 'all options' are on the table for Iraq. We all know how well that went.

What is he, a five year old? Mentally retarded? Well, yes. But consider this: is this a highly orchestrated power grab for beyond the next presidential elections? Submitted for your approval, a speculative timeline of events for next year:
  • Summer 2008: While still 'quagmired' in Iraq, the US unilaterally attacks Iran.
  • Late October 2008: Citing a stretched-thin military without the capacity to prosecute military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Iran all at the same time, Bush declares a state of National Emergency. Having already signed an executive order last month assigning himself vastly expanded (and frankly, unconstitutional) powers in the event of a national emergency, Bush cancels the presidential elections scheduled for early November '08.
  • January 2009: Bush to country- "I'm the decider- for life!"

I've been crowing about this for a while now. It seems, by all accounts, that the administration has a plan (like the Cylons) to abolish the elected office of the presidency. Sound far fetched? Not really. That executive order that I link to above (which was very quietly signed while the media was focused on more important things, like oh, I dunno, the Anna Nicole babydaddy fiasco and that Hilton bitch's DUI rap) is sweeping in its naked grab for absolute power by the executive branch.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bush and company will not leave office quietly. They're like five year olds at the playground, hogging the biggest toy. When mommy says it's time to leave, they will throw a tantrum, and play keep-away with their toy for as long as possible. And in the meantime, the only supposed 'challenge to his authoritah', Congress, sits there with its dick in its hand, hemming and hawing about bi-partisanship and rolling over like a lame dog whenever there's a fight to be had.

I've never put too much faith in politicians to do what is necessary for the good of society. But to be honest, it goes beyond having faith or not. By now it should be evident that politicians are the the absolutely worst suited type of creature to be stewards of society.

Kill 'em all. Seriously. They should all be rounded up and shot, to the last man (and woman. Yes, I'm looking at you, Pelosi- just because you're a girl doesn't mean you were supposed to check your cojones at the door). After that, you take all the lobbyists, and castrate them.

Then you hold new elections, with a set amount of federal money, the same for every candidate, and a blanket ban on additional campaign donations (public or private, it doesn't matter).

Once you have new elected officials, you outlaw lobbyists, you make taking or giving political donations a crime punishable by the death penalty, and you set a cap on the salary for elected officials at minimum wage. Yes, minimum wage. You make it so that public service is as unattractive to the profiteer as possible, so that the only people who are willing to take on the job are people who have other reasons to serve the public interest like, say, the public interest.

Sounds extreme, no? Well, the alternative, as it's shaping up, is pretty fucking extreme too. It's time to tear down this bullshit system. It's proven itself to be fucking retarded.


14 June, 2007

Holy shit, there IS a god* after all. . .

. . . and her name is Jessica Alba.

* just kidding on the god bit- still as much of an atheist as ever.

Mr. Wizard

Don Herbert, better known as Mr. Wizard, died on Tuesday. I have him to thank for my interest in science and the world in general, as do many other people who grew up watching his show on Nickelodeon. He was on NBC in an earlier incarnation of the show in the 60's, but I remember him as the understated and likeable old man on the unadorned show which introduced me the wonders of the natural world, and the everyday miracles that are found in everyday science. 
We need more people like Mr. Wizard to inspire wonder in science, instead of silly religious superstitions and the idolatry of ignorance. Wired.com has a short email interview with Mr. Herbert here.

13 June, 2007

The Undead are here!

I knew there was a reason I woke up in a good mood today: June 13th is the official Blog Like It's The End Of The World Day (BLITEOTWD).

Something was off since the beginning of the day (apart from the aforementioned good-moodiness-in-the-morning)- none of my early-rising roommates were around, but I just chalked it up to late night partying. The house was quiet, too quiet. Once I made it out to the back yard for a morning cigarette, I found my roommates trying to shuffle over the back wall, into the adjoining lot, presumably in search of live brains to dine on. As soon as I showed up, though, all their attention was on me. Luckily, the undead are not known for their swiftness, so I had time to grab a broom handle to keep them at bay. I then proceeded to vent all of my roommate angst onto zombie-Adriano and zombie-Jay (the Ninja, apparently, was not affected, probably because he's, well, a ninja, and somehow immune. Sneaky sneaky, Lip). Unfortunately, a broom handle isn't the best weapon against the undead. I'd been telling my roomies we needed to invest in a chainsaw, a lawnmower, a shotgun, or at the very least a machete, because dammit, you just never know when you're gonna have to fend off some undead zombie motherfuckers. But no, they wanted to spend the house fund on an air conditioner for the TV room. Well, then- as we all know, zombies don't sweat (but they bleed and secrete pus)- so who's laughing now, bitches??

Anyway, zombie-Adriano took a bite out of my spleen while I was trying to fend off zombie-Jay (fuck speed, they've got strength in numbers), so I was infected. It's been ok so far. I mean, there's plenty of brains to eat in the city, what with the slow-moving elderly, small, unsuspecting children, cracked-out homeless, and the occasional three-legged dog. Work has been a challenge, since my mouse-finger got torn off while fighting a zombie-straphanger for the intestines of a subway conductor, so I might just have to give up on this graphic design business and simply walk around eating brains and enrails. That sounds more appetizing, anyway. After all, Macs aren't really too tasty. Not enough protein.