September 2005 Archives
"What we're seeing is a process in which we start to lose ice cover during the summer, ... so areas which formerly had ice are now open water, which is dark.
"These dark areas absorb a lot of the Sun's energy, much more than the ice; and what happens then is that the oceans start to warm up, and it becomes very difficult for ice to form during the following autumn and winter.
"It looks like this is exactly what we're seeing — a positive feedback effect, a 'tipping-point'."
Found at Kevin Drum's The Washington Monthly blog.
From The Times of London:
Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.
According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
Moral "paragon"/hypocrite Bill Bennett fantasizes:
"I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
Yeah, it would be "tricky".
From Media Matters for America which monitors "a cross section of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation -- news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda -- every day, in real time".
In the book the Dalai Lama states:
My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.
Now there is a belief system I can get behind! I have bought the book and perhaps my own review is forthcoming on this site.
It has recently come to light that there is a website where "US troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan are invited to display graphic battlefield photos apparently taken with their personal digital cameras ... (in exchange for) unlimited (free) access to the site's pornography."
I came across the Nation article on nonwthatsfuckedup.com, which meant I had to take a good, hard look at the psychopathic side of the American spirit, and consider its implications not just for the war on terrorism and the occupation of Iraq, but its role in the emergence of an authentically fascist movement in American politics, one which feeds on violence and the glorification of violence, and which has found an audience not just in the U.S. military (where I think -- or at least hope -- it's still a relatively small fringe) but in the culture as a whole.
As a nation, we may be so desensitized to violence, and so inured to mechanized carnage on a grand scale, that we're psychologically capable of tolerating genocidal warfare against any one who can successfully be labeled as a "terrorist." Or at least, a sizable enough fraction of the America public may be willing to tolerate it, or applaud it, to make the costs politically bearable.
I don't know this for a fact, but after a stroll through nowthatsfuckedup.com, or reading the genocidal lunacy routinely on display at Little Green Footballs or freerepublic.com - or your average redneck watering hole for that matter -- I'm not willing to rule it out.
Billmon has frequently posted with humor, wit and passion about the growing strains of fascism evident in our country and the post I refer to here is an excellent example.
Some in the technology community can't help but take things apart to see how they work. This seems especially true on Apple related tech blogs whenever some new toy is released. At Ars Technica, they took this to new heights. In their review of the new iPod nano before tearing the music player apart, they performed the following tests:
At this point we were astounded that the iPod nano was still working properly, albeit with a broken display. Because we had honestly expected the iPod nano to break by this time, we were forced to depart from our planned schedule of destruction and try and run over it with the car. Surely, we thought, it could never withstand the crushing power of German automotive engineering.
... and it still worked! Further abuse did finally kill it and allowed them to perform their autopsy.
BTW, I’ve held the nano in my hot little hands and it is very cool.
For those who think that we are in a post racist world because George W. Bush appointed blacks to his cabinet, think again. The modern Republican Party was built on the back of an enduring national divide on the issue of race. George Bush may not personally be racist (or more likely not know he's racist) but the party he leads has depended on it for many years. The coded language that signals tribal ID has obscured it, but don't kid yourselves. It is a party that became dominant by exploiting the deep cultural fault of the mason dixon line.
Read the entire post at Hullabaloo.
From the New Yorker
NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.
Enjoy The Onion for great satire, with a new issue every Wednesday.
A tip of the Eclectic Times chapeau to Catherine P. for suggesting this "news" item.
You may notice that the look of the site has changed a bit. I've gone from two to three columns, to better organize the information on the main page, and also to give myself a chance to learn more about the web publishing platform that this site uses, Moveable Type.
I've also added a "Commercials" section to the lower part of the new right-hand column. These ads are from Google "AdSense". The links may seem kind of strange, as the way it works is that a Google service analyzes the content of the web page being viewed and then selects the links from there. I have not explicity chosen the ad links. I will make a small amount of money on any links that someone viewing the site clicks through on, but mostly this is an experiment by the staff at Electic Times World Headquarters.
Note also that usually, anytime I link to a book, CD or DVD, those links go to amazon.com and likewise through the Amazon Affiliate program, I would get a small amount of money if a purchase was made via such links.
In other words, I've sold out!
The picture above is just today's Astronomy Picture of the Day. I encourage you to click here for a larger, more detailed image and explanation of this picture of one of Saturn's many moons, Enceladus.
I visit the APOD site every day to behold fantasic images, explanations of them and links to more information about the cosmos.
Nature vs. Nurture for Our Leader? Here's a case study in what a "good" upbringing can lead to.
From the matriarch of the Bush clan:
At a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this [she chuckles slightly] is working very well for them."
This from the women who also said:
Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
Jesus came upon a small crowd who had surrounded a young woman they believed to be an adulteress. They were preparing to stone her to death. Jesus said: “Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone.”
An old lady at the back of the crowd picked up a huge rock and lobbed it at the young woman, scoring a direct hit on her head. The young lady collapsed dead.
Jesus looked over towards the old lady and said: “Do you know, mother, sometimes you really p*** me off.”
At least some of these folks have a sense of humor.
For more laughs, follow the link:
First off, Bush's tour of the affected areas can be summed up by his patented arrogance and lack of sensitivity when he "joked":
The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)
Next, I first hesitated to post this as it looked to be too much of a hoax, but as you will see from the last item in this post, sadly, these people live among us:
New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow.
From a Slate magazine article titled Department of Homeland Screw-Up - What is the Bush administration doing? By Tim Naftali
I saw Bush's speech today with Clinton and Bush's father at his side. From what I saw, W was more interested in the problems related to the oil supply than the urgency of helping people who are in dire need and a city that is in chaos. His performance on this disaster is nothing less than shameful.
Dr. Daniel C. Dennett published an op-ed piece in the Week in Review section of the NY times on August 28th titled Show Me The Science which illuminates the Intelligent Design "controversy". Here is a link to the essay at The Edge (a site that does not require registration as the Times does).
Dennett states in the essay:
... the proponents of intelligent design use a ploy that works something like this. First you misuse or misdescribe some scientist's work. Then you get an angry rebuttal. Then, instead of dealing forthrightly with the charges leveled, you cite the rebuttal as evidence that there is a "controversy" to teach.
Note that the trick is content-free. You can use it on any topic. "Smith's work in geology supports my argument that the earth is flat," you say, misrepresenting Smith's work. When Smith responds with a denunciation of your misuse of her work, you respond, saying something like: "See what a controversy we have here? Professor Smith and I are locked in a titanic scientific debate. We should teach the controversy in the classrooms." And here is the delicious part: you can often exploit the very technicality of the issues to your own advantage, counting on most of us to miss the point in all the difficult details.
Since there is no content, there is no "controversy'' to teach about in biology class. But here is a good topic for a high school course on current events and politics: Is intelligent design a hoax? And if so, how was it perpetrated?
Dr. Dennett is a Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is also prolific author of fascinating books including Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
Update - September 1, 2005:
In Dr. Dennett's piece he stated:
Instead of spending more than $1 million a year on publishing books and articles for non-scientists and on other public relations efforts, the Discovery Institute should finance its own peer-reviewed electronic journal.
This raised a question about the purported peer-reviewed publications on the Discovery Institute's site. I queried Dr. Dennett about these references and he has graciously allowed me to quote his response:
"The list they provide is informative—and pathetic. Less than a dozen papers, some not very recent, and none in good journals, and mostly on minor and dubious points. And insofar as anybody has responded to them, it has been to point out the errors in them. Their entire output in the last decade is less than the peer-reviewed publications that many a good scientist racks up in a year. "