A while ago, here, I posted a comment on evolution referring to an experiment run a while ago in a laboratory using fast-multiplying bacteria (turns out to be the ever-famous E. Coli) to examine evolutionary trends over many thousands of generations.
This link is to the Wikipedia page giving the overview of the experiment itself. Apparently they’ve passed 50,000 generations already! And the variety of results and conclusions they’ve already been able to draw is pretty significant as well.
I wonder if anti-evolutionists have any sort of counter argument to this very elaborate, ingenious experiment. I don’t remember ever hearing one…and I can only hope that this experiment succeeded in helping some people see the light of logic, reason, and science.
Either way, I also like that this experiment is still going on. It will be curious to see what they’ve found at other generational milestones.
In a sci-fi kind of world, maybe they can evolve a sentient species! Haha…one can always creatively dream.
A middle school teacher who read to his students from Ender’s Game is on “administrative leave” because a parent complained to the school that Orson Scott Card’s classic novel is “pornographic.” The parent also went to the local police, who have not yet pressed criminal charges against the teacher.
1) What the actual fuck.
2) This parent’s going to have a rude awakening when she see’s the “pornography” in every piece of literature from anything ever if she thinks this book is “pornographic.”
3) Does she have any idea what “pornographic” actually means?
4) Have we passed that law where we can kill all stupid parents yet?
5) Seriously, what the actual fuck.
This is what happens when I follow the “Ender’s Game” tag.
What kind of fuckery is this?
Yeah, doesn’t pornography have an actual definition? Here’s how this situation SHOULD have played out:
PARENT: Ender’s Game is pornographic!!!
SCHOOL BOARD/TEACHER/EVERYONE ELSE: No it isn’t.
End of story. That’s IT. The policies and bullshit that teachers have to go through when the educational system is already in dire straights is unbelievable. All it takes is one person to step in and say “we’re being stupid,” and this goes away. Why doesn’t that happen?
Okay, so, let me get this straight: MLB is NOT instituting more instant replay after considering the technology for at least three years, but they DO decide to alter the entire playoff structure AFTER setting the season schedule with the OLD system in mind?? WHAT THE FUCK IS BUD SELIG DOING??? Does he ever actually THINK before making changes? This is ridiculous!
Consider this quote from Mark Teixeira:
"If they don’t have it ready, I’d like for them to hold back. You don’t want to change rules in the middle of a season," he said this week.
This is EXACTLY what baseball did for the playoff schedule!!! But of course, Teixeira probably doesn’t mind THAT change, since playing in a division with the Rays and the Red Sox means two wildcards helps out the Yankees. But does he care that this change was implemented after the season was already designed for one wildcard? Nope! Way to be short sighted in your arguments, Tex…and way to screw stuff up more, baseball. Get your freakin’ act together…and step one in that process is FINALLY getting rid of Bud Selig. He’s been a terrible Commissioner for his entire tenure. The only good thing he’s done is implement the modern drug testing policy—even though that should have been done AGES before he even got to office—or even before he actually did it. He was around for quite a bit before he got that done.
This is a very irresponsible article. It’s a nice lesson in how correlation does not imply causation. Is there a single person out there who actually thinks that the DATE of the election has any deductive thing in common with who wins? Are voter’s opinions somehow swayed by the date on the calendar? That’s more than a little ridiculous.
And here’s my favorite line:
Or maybe, despite all of these strange coincidences, it might come down to the voters.
As I heard many a time in second grade… NO SHIT SHERLOCK!!! Correct me if I’m wrong, but THAT’S HOW YOU DEFINE “ELECTION”!!!
Way to put up a completely useless article, CNN. It would have been better if you just put something in the margin that said “Crazy Coincidence: No Democrat has ever won on November 6th.” That’s about all you can legitimately say on this.
Perhaps I’m overreacting…or maybe I’m just getting fed up with all the stupid journalism in the world today, no matter how insignificant.
Ugh, these people piss me off. It’s not even a question that what they’re doing isn’t legitimate science, yet these people are so afraid of the truth that they’re not trying these backhanded methods to get their non-scientific viewpoints into the scientific literature. Fortunately, since real scientists use logic, deduction, and real tools to discover truth, they’re not falling for this latest attempt. I really hope this publisher opts to go the way of credibility and not publish this ID book just for the profits. If they think long-term, hopefully they’ll see how publishing it would be a bad idea.
Science is science. There is no room for fake science in real science. The people who call themselves “scientists” who are trying to do this should have a little self respect and keep their non-factual religious views separate from factual scientific information. The damage that can be done otherwise is staggering.
I think it’s very funny how the GOP is trying to bash Bill Maher on the exact same grounds that EVERYONE is bashing Rush Limbaugh for their sexist comments.
The thing is, calling Bill Maher a sexist as an answer to Limbaugh totally misses the point of context. Yes, Bill Maher has made incredible sexist comments, but from what I’ve seen of Maher over the years, the motivation for doing so is VERY different from what Limbaugh did.
DICLAIMER: I don’t think that Maher should use sexist language at all, especially if he’s not actually a sexist. There’s no excuse for that; when he calls Sarah Palin a “bimbo” or some such sexist term, there’s no reason why he can’t use a non-sexist term to make fun of her political ideology. And he should; even if he doesn’t mean it in a chauvinist way, disseminating sexist terminology is only going to make the situation worse.
That said, the difference between Limbaugh and Maher is entirely on the level of political motivation.
First off, I do not believe for a second that Bill Maher is actually a sexist—as in, believes males are superior to females. I have never seen him do or say anything that suggests this fact. I’m fairly certain I have seen him argue for women’s rights quiet a lot. Also, when he lambastes a female, he usually does it because of their political agenda that usually involves TAKING AWAY rights from people. That was a large part of Palin’s platform, after all (as is most of the GOP agenda these days). She believes in disallowing gay marriage and all those other oh so prejudiced and restrictive subjects of law that deserve to be argued against on the basis of their restriction of freedom. THIS is why Maher makes fun of Palin and other politicians (female and male alike), and this is what prompts his often sexist comments (which, again, should be replaced with non-sexist ones—he’d certainly get the same effect, though maybe not as many laughs from the common watcher of his show) as a way to insult the person putting forth these views.
The problem is, when you use a sexist term to insult one person, you’re A) not just insulting that one person, and B) you’re not insulting them based on the thing they’re doing that’s actually insult-worthy, thus deflecting the point of said insult in the first place.
The OTHER problem is that Maher’s show is also a COMEDY show. The sad fact is that people will laugh when he makes sexist jokes like that, and that’s a large part of why his show gets watched. In fact, I wonder if he did this sort of thing nearly as much on Politically Incorrect when he had to worry about language censorship. I don’t remember, it was too long ago…anyway, Maher will probably continue to use sexist language to elicit laughs even though he’s not actually a sexist.
Limbaugh, on the complete other hand, flung his incredibly derisive sexist tirade at a person who was trying to stand up for the rights of people who are in danger of having them stripped from them. Sandra Fluke was A) there to argue FOR women’s rights, B) there not even to argue for herself, but for her friend, and C) wasn’t even ALLOWED to speak at a panel discussing women’s rights in a move that was itself ridiculously sexist.
So when Limbaugh blasts a women with sexist language in THIS setting, one can’t help but think he’s actually a sexist who does not believe women have a right to defend their rights when others are trying to take them away. Furthermore, Limbaugh ISN’T a comedian who thinks it necessary to elicit laughs with crude jokes; he runs an actual political show and is a higher-up representative of his political party. When he says things like this, it’s presented as Republican stance and policy, not comedy like Maher.
In short, the POLITICAL ANGLE of Limbaugh and Maher are quite objectively different. Maher flings sexist remarks at women when they argue for the restriction of rights and legislation based on prejudice, hate, intolerance, and close-mindedness, while Limbaugh does so because he and his party believes in a theocracy in which he and other rich people stay rich, women don’t have a say in their health decisions, and people who don’t share his beliefs do not deserve to have their voices heard.
None of this excuses the sexist language itself, but comparing Maher and Limbaugh politically in terms of their motivation is ridiculous. Of course, Republicans will never admit this fact anyway, because they’re so afraid of the logical contradictions and incorrect assumptions that their platform is base on, and as such they’ll ignore reason as much as they can.
My main grip about this vehicles and they way they are pushed is that they are zero emmission vehicles and if you think about it for a second you are probably burning mroe fossil fuels and generating more CO2 emmissions than with a…
I would also argue that the amount that a gas-powered car actually emits in CO2 has to be measured against the exact amount of extra emissions put out by a power plant when it must work harder to account for a single electric car. That data might be very well impossible to discover…but it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that the extra pollution put out by the power plant to power an electric car might be an extremely tiny fraction of the amount of pollution put out by a gas car that goes the same distance (or runs the same amount of time) as an electric.
My instinct says that power plant production is the equivalent of “bulk”, so that several EVs might be powered with the same net pollution output as one gas car…but I of course have no way of knowing that.
I also wonder about how EVs might affect the SPREADING of pollutants. If everyone in Los Angeles drove a zero-emission vehicle, wouldn’t that help the smog problem there, since there are no power plants in downtown/close suburban LA? And considering that a whole lot more people live in LA than by a power plant (I’d imagine), wouldn’t that have a tremendous net benefit on people’s health? Perhaps pollutants emitted by a power plant have a net range, which will only affect a certain amount of the environment. The very high number of cars in certain areas might put out MORE pollution in heavily populated areas that would not be affected by an increase pollutants from a power plant. I wonder if information like this is out there
every day the gap between what we know and what we do not know is getting smaller. time will come when science will demystify every thing. it will come. everything.
bold claim, so we’ll see, but very cool
Pretty amazing experiment! And people don’t believe that evolution can have identifiable empirical evidence that is produced in a laboratory…
This reminds me of that experiment a few years ago where a scientist took rapidly reproducing (and short-lived) microscopic creatures (I forget what they were) and ran several thousands of generations of breeding in his lab. His results showed clear signs of evolutionary change. A very elegant, incredibly intelligent, experiment. If I can find more info on it, I’ll post it later.
I was wondering recently if people realize that being “spiritual” and being “religious” are two entirely different things.
Tumblr sure doesn’t…the “Spirituality” tag seems to cover all of the “Religious” blogs as well. That’s rather inaccurate, in my opinion.
The way I’ve always looked at it, Spirituality is essentially one’s relationship with one’s non-rational beliefs, how those beliefs get expressed or otherwise acknowledged, and the examination of how these beliefs manifest themselves in every day life. Religion, on the other hand, is an organization of people that share the same belief system independent of what the spiritual qualities of those beliefs are.
In a vast majority of cases, I would imagine, people’s spiritual beliefs line up almost perfectly with their religious beliefs. I would venture to say that the more “religious” someone is, the more their spiritual and religious sides overlap. But even within the bounds of a well-defined religion, levels of spirituality can vastly differ. I’m no expert here, but I’ve known people who follow Christianity who fall on both ends of the spiritual spectrum but both hold firm beliefs in the religious tenets of Christianity. The less spiritual person might go to Church every week, observe the holidays, and have a belief in all that stuff that Christians say about God and Christ and whatnot. The spiritual Christian might infer more intuitive meanings from the words in the bible and change his or her life behavior accordingly. They might even “meditate” more on Christian values (I’m not sure what sort of spiritual practices exist in Christianity…in Judaism this could be like the comparison between someone who just occasionally goes to services—probably primarily for the high holidays and family bar/bat mitzvahs—and someone who is actually into kabbalah). The spiritual often involves personal ritual, while the religious involves communal ritual.
I venture to say that often what people value as “spiritual” does not line up with what they value as “religious.” I, for example, am an atheist who still has a rather spiritual side that largely lines up with Taoism and the personal cultivation that comes from Eastern Thought. I am culturally Jewish, but it is not my religion, and has not been for over a decade (I question whether it really ever was…I certainly never “believed” the way religious people do). My spiritual journey, however, has taken many changes over the years.
When I consider these two facets alongside Faith, I come to the conclusion that Faith, or having faith in something, is NOT solely the property of either religion of spirituality. One can have faith in both realms, as well as different degrees of faith in both. I’ve met a Taoist Spiritualist who was a Ba Gua master and firmly believed in the ability to manipulate personal energy, pass it between people, and use it to heal, yet this person was also a rather devout Christian. He was a fascinating, deep, and HAPPY person who was very enthusiastic to share his diverse views with us.
I also feel that the confusion between religion and spirituality is an important factor in the reason why many religious zealots believe that atheists have no faith. That is simply not true: while one may not believe the tenets of a religion, one may have a deep well of faith in the spiritual—and this spiritual side of said person may not align with any accepted or popular religion at all. Indeed, I ask “why should it have to?”
I actually find that most atheists have a great deal of faith, whether it’s faith in rationalism, science, peace, love, charity…the list goes on. These ARE qualities that are capable of being the target of faith, and they are all worthy of such a link. This is what those who persecute in the name of religion to not understand. Well…that and the fact that they just don’t understand anyone who can be different from them at all (for the extreme ones, anyway).
I think that the overly religious people out there, the zealots, don’t realize that religion and spirituality can be and are very different things for a lot of people. I have a feeling I’m going to become increasingly annoyed at the zealots who insist that atheists are faithless. Clearly they don’t understand the concept of faith AS a concept; they only view it as something only they understand. What a shame.
A lot of this is pretty damn as insane as the article calls it.
What strikes me is how un-used to the term “accountability” was to old-school Hollywood producers. Was getting the shot really more important than, I dunno, making sure someone didn’t die? Especially if the director was specifically responsible for the lack of safety—nowadays, half the stuff on this list would lead to pretty open-and-shut cases resulting in serious jail time (like life).
The one that astounds me the most is #7 on the list. That guy’s basically a murderer—and he directed Casablanca. That’s pretty stunning. WTF dude.
Some of the more modern stories I’d heard before, but nothing of the actual death that occurred on the older stuff. Hard to believe.
Enjoy being reminded of your mortality and insignificance. I have this weird mix of wonderment and depression right now. You broke my heart, Plank. You broke my heart
I remember the original Scale of the Universe video from grade school. Always stuck with me, always blew my mind in a great way. This one’s just as good, although it goes so fast it’s hard to read all the labels. Still, the scale is nonetheless staggering. It’s a big universe we live in. And a small one, too.
“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”—
Lo an behold, here’s the Jefferson quote Maher refers to at the end of the video in my previous post. And much to my surprise, it actually has to do with the Trinity.
Yes, THAT Thomas Jefferson. As in, one of the people who founded and built the country the conservative Christians want to hijack. HE, and many of the other founding fathers thought religion had ZERO PLACE in government. Why should that change now?
I wrote a little more about the founding fathers’ anti-religion-in-government beliefs here.
“The triumphs of science are due to the substitution of observation and inference for authority. Every attempt to revive authority in intellectual matters is a retrograde step. And it is part of the scientific attitude that the pronouncements of science do not claim to be certain, but only to be the most probable on present evidence. One of the greatest benefits that science confers upon those who understand its spirit is that it enables them to live without the delusive support of subjective certainty.”—
‘The impact of science on society’ by Bertrand Russell, p.89.
I wish more things had a peer review system. Especially politics…it’d be some much nice to be able to just oust someone from office immediately when they perform some gross violation of the constitution. Like all those religious-based laws that are getting passed or brought up in Virginia and Tennessee. “I’m sorry, Mr. Senator, but on peer review your proposed law is already unconstitutional. It’s dead, and you should go away now.” That’d be so much nicer than having the law passed and then making people face an injustice with no recourse for months or years until some other politician proposes a law or motion to repeal the faulty thing. It’s just so damn inefficient.
What if the Courts could intercept an unconstitutional law before it’s passed instead of after. Why wouldn’t lawmakers consult the judiciary beforehand? Do they or have they ever do or done this? One would think it would be a good idea.
The same goes for religion. “Mr. Christ, you turned water into wine? Can you show us how you did that so that we may try to repeat your results in our own facilites?” “You say the bush was burning but not being consumed? Let’s try this again over here…” Of course, there are irrational yet accepted reasons why this wouldn’t work…but one can dream.
And there’s nothing like Sunday morning pipe dreams….I need more sleep.
If you could be any fictional character who would you be and why?
A good, fun, popular question…that’s very difficult to answer for a person like me. :) So I’ll break it down into categories:
1. Character I would be for his stuff: The Doctor (no brainer!)
2. Character I would be for his superpowers: Professor X. The ability not just to read minds, but to control people’s minds and memories, too, is just awesome. Muahahahaaa….
3. Character I would be in a “real world”-based fictional setting: Jason Bourne. The man’s got skillz.
4. Character I admire but wouldn’t necessarily want to be: Marv, from Sin City. The man can take a beating AND is as loyal as anyone.
5. Non-human fictional character I would be: Jane, from the Ender Quartet. Trying to describe why without spoilers is hard, but let’s just say she would live forever, has access to all information anywhere, and is very good for “transportation.” If you’ve read the series, you know what I mean. ;)
I think that’s it for now…if I come up with more later I may add to the list. Thanks for the question!
There is a BIG, HUGE difference between “Innocent” and “Case Dropped,” the latter of which is basically what happened here.
Yes, the procedure violated the agreed upon rules for drug testing, and thus yes, the dismissal of the charges via the appeal process is justified, but that does NOT mean Braun was INNOCENT of what he was accused of. Of course, anyone can see that being found innocent based on the facts of the actual situation being investigated and having that decision not even reached because of procedural faults beforehand are very different things, even though they end up with the same result for the person being accused. To me—and I hope to many others—“innocence” isn’t the legal judgment, it is instead a FACTUAL judgment (which can, therefore, only be assessed by looking at the facts). In the legal system in place, these two concepts of “innocence” only overlap when the facts are actually considered in the determination of said innocence. That didn’t happen here.
What I wonder now is whether this will affect Braun down the road for something like Hall of Fame consideration. Will the uncertainty around his possible PED use affect the way the Hall voters assess his candidacy? I mean, just look at all the examples of how this has happened already: McGuire, Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro…it’s probably even affecting Bagwell and might affect Piazza even though they were never once linked to possible drug use (but hey, the LOOKED big, so…woah!). None of these players were ever PROVEN to have used PEDs, and even if they did, there wasn’t even a specific rule preventing use of a lot of those substances at the time they were playing (that’s entirely baseball’s fault). So if it was never proven and they never technically broke a rule, why AREN’T they in the Hall of Fame? In a very real (and very publicly acknowledged) way, PERCEPTION DOES MATTER for HoF voting.
Whether or not the result is valid, there is now a direct link on some level between an MVP winner and cheating that was never examined fully in court/arbitration/whatever based on the facts. Maybe because it’s so early in his career it won’t affect him 20-plus years from now.
Personally, I still think this was mostly a political decision. I can’t help but wonder at why, if the technicalities of the process were so lax here, no other player has successfully challenged a suspension like this. Was Braun’s case really the ONLY one where the sample was handled so poorly? Who knows, but he’s certainly the only reigning MVP winner to fall under suspicion. Hmm.
Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was successfully appealed, and his suspension thus overturned. He is the first player to successfully appeal a drug suspension….which is particularly noteworthy when you consider this line:
"No reason was given for Thursday’s decision."
This can’t help but make you go “hmmmm……” No reason, huh? Sounds mighty suspicious. Why wouldn’t they give a reason? I mean, they’re only exonerating the reigning NL MVP from what would have been a devastating PR result. Why wouldn’t they tell us exactly why he’s been deemed innocent?
Not giving us that information just reeks of something fishy. Especially when you add in that he’s the only one to have ever successfully appealed. One can’t help but think that MLB perhaps “believed” him to save them the PR nightmare. Hell, I can certainly see the appeal in that—I don’t want my favorite sport to suffer any more drug-related controversy, considering what baseball has gone through over the last decade-plus—but I also believe in truth.
So what IS the truth? I really hope MLB at least does finally release they’re reasoning soon. Maybe they’re just taking the time to invent the best possible response for the media. I really hope not…I like Ryan Braun and would like to believe that he is indeed innocent.
Either way, this is very good for the Brewers and Braun fantasy owners everywhere. Braun-draft away!
WARNING: There might be some spoilers in here. I’m not sure yet.
I just finished reading Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert, the other day, something I’ve put off for a long time. Since high school, in fact (I’m 33 now…some 15-odd years or so). And I must say, I was VERY disappointed.
I read Dune back in high school, and I thought it was one of the best science fiction novels I’ve ever read. And I know I’m not alone in this. So, having liked it so much, I of course decided to pick up Dune Messiah and keep going.
I got about 130 pages in or so, and then my interest in finishing it just kind of dwindled out. Many years later, maybe slightly after college, I tried again. Once again, the same thing happened: I got a small chunk, maybe a third, of the way into it and then fizzled.
Finally, now, I made myself finish it. And the first thing I noticed about doing so was that it was HARD! It was literally a chore…it was hard to read, tedious, and boring. On the whole, this made me quite sad.
The story is SO much smaller than Dune. It seriously reads like one tiny episode in the life of Paul Atreides and his friends. The basic plot is that there is a small conspiracy of Paul’s enemies who are trying to bring him down, while a religious Jihad praising Paul as a Messiah rages through the universe. Meanwhile, Paul is upset at this and is depressed. Not too original, really. I suppose it might be considered a natural consequence of what happened in Dune, but I don’t believe that. I found this to be a very weary and boring continuation of the ideas presented in Dune.
But, why did it take so much effort to read this relatively short 330 or so page book? Because a vast majority of what was in it was completely unnecessary. An overwhelming amount of the story is dedicated to Paul simply looking off a balcony and brooding to himself. It’s a TON of the book, and after the first time or two it becomes unnecessary. It’s especially unnecessary after the 10th or 11th time. How much brooding do we really need before we get the point? Not much, and way less than is here.
The whole time I was waiting for someone to actually DO something. And it didn’t happen until the very end.
I will say this though: It’s not bad as far as science fiction actually goes. There is a little bit of stuff in here that builds upon the sci-fi ideas of Dune by adding to it, mostly about the idea of prescience and how that translates into action (SPOILER: the best stuff with this is how Paul is still able to function normally after losing his eyes). But the problem is that the EXACT SAME sci-fi ideas could have been introduced in about 150 pages instead of a whole novel, and the rest of Dune Messiah is filled with brooding, lots of waiting around, lots of characters having uninteresting and pointless conversations that are meant to add flavor and color to the world but don’t, and lots of descriptions of sand and dust blowing over stuff. And lots of annoying, REPEATED rhetorical questions that Paul asks to himself. The book is SO overdone.
And I had such high hopes, too, because I watched the Children of Dune miniseries on the SciFi channel when they were originally broadcast several years ago, and it was AMAZING. Wait, that deserves to be in bold: AMAZING! Much better than the original SciFi channel rendering of Dune itself. And now that I’ve read the book, I can say that part of the reason why it was amazing is because the miniseries got through the Dune Messiah material in FAR less time than it spent on the Children of Dune material (the miniseries covered both Messiah and Children, books 2 and 3, in one event). It was much better for it.
I still might read Children of Dune one day—I probably will—but I can’t right away. I need a break from the monotony. In the meantime, I may watch the Children of Dune miniseries again. It’s that good, highly recommended. Not so much the book of Dune Messiah though. Read the first 3 chapters and the last 3, that’s probably all you need.
This is a very fascinating article on the human history of sleep and sleeping patterns (thanks John O. for posting this on FB!).
I found this personally relevant because I’ve always been someone with significant sleep problems. I should clarify actually: my sleep problems aren’t significant in that they’re severe, but rather that they have consistently bothered me for my entire 33 years thus far of life. I have a LITTLE bit of sleep apnea that doesn’t really cut into my overall accumulated hours of restful sleep, but that’s not really the biggest issue.
Whatever my biggest issue actually is (still TBD…might have to do with anxiety or something else entirely…), a large part of it for me in the inability to stay asleep when I wake up much earlier than I had intended. This usually occurs after 6 hours or so, but not always.
As such, this article got me really interested…perhaps I’m more reflective of this older tendency to need to partition sleep into chunks? I definitely have a much easier time sleeping if I get up and do something else for a bit when I wake up early and then go back to sleep a little later. That’s easy.
The problem is, modern society—as said in this article—doesn’t really appreciate or easily allow for that much any more. When I was working an 8:30 to 5:30 job for about a year and a quarter, I was NEVER able to adjust to the sleep schedule. I would frequently wake up well before my alarm and not be able to fall back asleep. On top of this, I GUARANTEE I would have been much better at my job if I could have taken a nap in the middle of the day. I would have much preferred to do that and work until 8pm than cram it all together when sleep-deprived.
I’m considering doing a personal experiment with this sort of sleep schedule, since I now work freelance and things are slow. I wonder what it will do for me. Hmm…
I know there’s a lot going on in the world right now, but I feel like the media really glossed over this one. I don’t recall there being too many articles written about this.
note: link above is to an article about the new gov’t.’s attempts to crackdown on opium. here’s a NYT blog post that mentions the elections. Here’s a CFR article that discusses them as well. Maybe I just missed the boat on this one, but I just don’t recall seeing very much coverage of this in the past few months.
I think part of the reason is that it’s been largely bloodless (especially by their own standards) and the result of gradual changes. That doesn’t make for a particularly dramatic story and thus not good for ratings.
Another possible reason is that Myanmar’s military is almost completely supplied by countries like China and Russia. In the case of Egypt, they were one of our biggest customers staunchest allies in the region, whereas with Myanmar we don’t have any particularly close strategic or economic connections.
Holy crap, Myanmar’s military junta got overthrown?? Way to go people of Myanmar!
And I would say this also adds a little more confirmation to the fact that this was barely covered anywhere. People didn’t even know where Myanmar was until that Tsunami hit it a while back and the junta wouldn’t let in aid workers right away. If a whole country can have it’s “15 minutes of fame,” that was it for them, and it was for a natural disaster. It’s too bad something GOOD like getting rid of a military dictatorship can’t crack Western headlines.
Lo and behold, I discovered that there is another body in the solar system that is a good candidate to support extra-terrestrial life aside from Europa (which I posted about here)!!
Ceres is the largest body in the Asteroid Belt, and it looks like it has more fresh water on it than on all of Earth. Spectacular! And, two awesome facts:
1. It’s a lot closer than Europa, and thus easier to explore.
2. We’re already on the way to explore it! The Dawn spacecraft is already orbiting Vesta, another protoplanet in the Asteroid Belt, and will reach Ceres in 2015. Exciting!
As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m very interested in all of these bodies that have potential liquid water. The potential for life is greatest somewhere other than Earth in such places. They’re already building a mission to Europa, and Dawn is on it’s way to Ceres…though I’m not sure what useful info it will find in the realm of potential signs of life.
I still want something to land on one of these bodies and drill through the ice to the liquid water. Chances are it won’t happen in my lifetime though. Oh well.
Still, my personal discovery of Ceres makes me quite happy. Though I’m surprised it took me this long, considering my appreciation for the subject.
If anyone’s curious, the way I found it was by looking up the history of the reclassification of Pluto. This whole “dwarf planet” thing is kind of silly. It’s really just a very large asteroid. So is everything else around it. The people who are so fervently against declassifying it as a planet are just silly and overly sentimental. It’s not like classifying Pluto as an asteroid will make it angry or anything. Sheesh!
I read a few Atheist blogs here on Tumblr (because I am one). Many of them answer a lot of questions or comments from readers, several of whom are insulting these intelligent bloggers for their “lack of faith.”
Sometimes the comments they get, or the inflammatory religious items they link to, insult Atheists for their lack of faith, saying things like “we can kill them because they don’t believe in anything,” or some other such consequence for being faithless.
I would like to point out something to religious people:
FAITH DOES NOT EQUAL RELIGION. You do NOT need to consider yourself a member of a religion to qualify in having faith. In turn, faith does not have to be in something religious in nature. Faith is, quite simply, belief. Thus, faith CAN be those things above, but it is not limited to such things. Here is the exact definition of faith according to dictionary.com. Look at definition 4. See? It doesn’t have to have anything to do with religion.
Thus, I’m quite sick of religious people believing that Atheists “have no faith.” On the contrary, I—and I imagine a whole ton of other Athiests out there—have PLENTY of faith. Just not in what religious people people often incorrectly think that faith actually is. Sure, faith can fall perfectly in line with the tenants of a religious system, but by no means does it have to be. They are not the same thing. They are not inexorably linked. The religious and the religious institutions out there would be wise to acknowledge and accept this.
I have a LOT of faith. It just so happens that I have FAITH in SCIENCE and RATIONALITY. I have faith in the ability of human beings to think, to use their brains, the organ that separates and (some would say) elevates humanity above the rest of the planet’s life. Furthermore, I have faith in a personal spirituality that is mostly (but not entirely) in line with philosophical Taoism. I believe in the energy of life and the mind/body interaction that each human being can learn to harness with a dedication to self-knowledge and self-understanding. All of these things are not mutually exclusive by any means.
To call Atheists “faithless” is incredibly insulting not only to them, but to knowledge, the dictionary, the English language, and even to those doing the faithless-calling.
Of course, this “close-minded” argument is nothing new to Atheists, who have to deal with in their arguments all the time. Honestly, it just makes me sad that people will refuse to use logic and facts at certain times. The evidence is out there, apparently just waiting to be ignored by them.
I’m an Atheist, and I have plenty of faith. It’s just in something different from others. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in anything or lack any sort of moral compass. Those things come from experience, intuition, and intelligence. THOSE are the things I have faith in—and like I said, plenty of it.
A testament to the fact that there are many fewer original plots out there than the consuming public realizes.
Incidentally, this isn’t a knock on writing; it’s still a valuable thing to use an old plot in a new way (see: Avatar vs. Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas). It’s just that usually these days such a practice is done so terribly they might as well not have.
“The reason to do a remake is always because the idea is good but the quality is not up to standard. With Kung Fu Hustle the quality is already there. And it would be hard to do it in English because it is all about Chinese culture.”—
This is why most remakes shouldn’t be remade. Hollywood hasn’t learned this lesson yet; they have it backwards. They make remakes of films that are already great, thinking to capitalize on the fame of the previously great film, but they thus inevitably make a worse film than the original. There are VERY few exceptions (The Thomas Crown Affair is at the top of that short list). I’m very glad that the one who DOES know this lesson is someone as entertaining as Stephen Chow.
“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment, and one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching — an attitude which is not uncommon with preachers, but which does somewhat detract from superlative excellence. You do not, for instance find that attitude in Socrates. You find him quite bland and urbane toward the people who would not listen to him; and it is, to my mind, far more worthy of a sage to take that line than to take the line of indignation.”—Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian (via philphys)
This might be the most ridiculous law I’ve heard about in a while.
But here’s what rationally irks me about it: It’s CLEARLY unconstitutional, and judges have already deemed it unconstitutional. So my question is, why is it still a law? And I don’t mean this in the “why haven’t the politicians gotten off their asses and abolished this law?”, I mean this in the “it’s already been deemed unconstitutional, so what’s the damn hold-up?” kind of way.
In other words, why is there a lack of action here? Why does the bureaucracy need to wait when the conclusion is already set? Why is there a huge waste of time built into the system? If the Judicial system deems a law unconstitutional, why isn’t it just not a law any more? All that this causes is more innocent victims to get arrested when they shouldn’t because there’s a lag in the system.
I’m sure there are plenty of other laws that are still out there on the local scale that are in the same condition; they’ve been deemed unconstitutional on some level yet have not been officially repealed.
What does it take? Someone to get arrested and have to spend years of his/her life and lots of money to get the case to the Supreme Court—which isn’t even a guarantee in the first place?
I’ve always felt that of the three branches of government, the Judicial system gets most overlooked when it’s the one that most looks out for the common citizen. I don’t think it quite has enough power to really fit into that “checks and balances” system that we’re supposed to hold so dear.