September 30, 2005

The future of food

The movie is being shown locally. On the danger of genetically engineered foods. The Monsanto lawsuits have struck me as particularly crazy. Patent infringement if the seeds blow onto your land? Strange stuff.

Posted by duver001 at 11:01 AM

Bizarre web advertising

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel. With an archive at this blog entry. Pretty funny though, in an Adbuster's sort of way.

Posted by duver001 at 10:48 AM

Today's scare story

Though the risk is very real, it's not clear what reaction the "150M possible deaths from bird flu" should or will elicit. Fear that converts into positive action? Blind fear of an additional threat in the world? (Lock up the cat, pull the shades, and hide under the SUV.) Or just a dismissive glance? (If the Club of Rome got their predictions wrong...)

Posted by duver001 at 10:22 AM

September 29, 2005

Again, bad studies

Okay, so the study on religion and societies ills (my entry here) is hardly to most outstanding item of scholarship. I hear you, Jill.

Instead, let's look at it this way...


  • The US leads the industrialized world in teen pregnancy, child mortality, inequality of income, foolishness of our elected leaders, and violence.
  • The US also leads the industrialized world in religiousness, in the fraction of people who claim to lead a religiously ethical life, and the fraction who claim to make their lives a "shining example" of such choices.
  • There is a disconnect between these facts.
  • There might be some correlation between them, that is, perhaps, religion is not a useful/positive trait at some point in a society or culture's development. Or what people think is "religion" is something perverted to serve the upper-class, or similar.
  • There might not be a correlation between them, that is, the two are either wholly independent, or are caused by some further underlying cause. Let's look at those possibilities:
    • Independent...hmmm...okay, I suppose that leaves us with the null result. The US is highly religious and highly messed up, but they're not connected at all. Could be true, but looking at what the "religious right" wants, or how tightly the religious impulses of the US tie to policy (just think of teen pregnancy, religious groups push "just say no" which certainly could have a different effect than "just say safe sex"), it doesn't feel reasonable.
    • Underlying cause. Okay, there's a lot of theory can go into here. Those in power use religion to hold onto power. People aren't genuinely religious, but are hooked instead to the power dynamic. Or a Marxist take. The ruling class still has more power in the US, therefore they keep the population drugged with theology. Or any number of other theories.

  • This study/paper implies a strong connection between religion and social ills. Though the methodology isn't so hot, can we rule out the conclusion? I'm not sure. We might be able to, perhaps even by a statistical arguement. The US is an extreme outrider on ALL of the distributions. Maybe there's evidence for an additional variable?

Posted by duver001 at 3:35 PM

Osama's air force captured!

By the Pakistani military.

Posted by duver001 at 2:53 PM

September 28, 2005

Mr. Johnny Cash

The Ring of Fire musical...coming to Broadway! Fortunately, they do not plan on putting Mr. Cash on stage. He's dead.

Posted by duver001 at 6:50 PM

Arctic ice...going...going...

Less Arctic ice again this year. The graph speaks for itself. On the plus side, the Arctic ice is mostly floating ice so it won't affect sea levels. Bangladeshis worry about the south polar regions rather than the north.

Posted by duver001 at 2:15 PM

Marathons around the world

Antarctica, Nepal, Easter Island, Kenya, and Minneapolis.

Posted by duver001 at 2:08 PM

September 27, 2005

Continuing on religion...

Though perhaps not with the best thought-through correlation-causation standards ever seen...a study shows the correlation higher religious rates with increased rates of homicide, child pregnancy, abortion, and STD infection rates. The author discusses the results online. "By dysfunctional the author means that the 'prosperous democracy' is unable to convert its wealth into raising the living standard for the populace." By that standard, the US is shocking inept at converting historically unprecidented wealth into the betterment of its citizens.

"And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors." - Thomas Jefferson

Posted by duver001 at 2:26 PM

Russian admiral named patron saint of nuclear bombers

In further evidence that religious leaders are insane. Saint some admiral from the Russo-Turk wars of the late 1700s? And then make him in charge of nuclear bombers? Wasn't the whole Christianity thing supposed to be about loving fellow humans? Or something like that?

Posted by duver001 at 2:20 PM

September 26, 2005

Serge Lang, RIP

What did you use as your Algebra text? Though he was more famous for his files and politics than for the books except within the math community.

Posted by duver001 at 3:28 PM

There are reports of hundreds of bodies in an affected area

Online plague kills virtual characters.

Posted by duver001 at 2:14 PM

Project Censored

Always one of the most important links of the year. The end of open government, the civilian deaths in Iraq, the Diebolding of the election, 1984 cameras, and the purpose of "Homeland Security." Makes you feel proud to be an American.

Posted by duver001 at 10:39 AM

Superdome carnage? Myth.

Murder and rape of children? Myth. I think we can pretty easily understand the reason for the fake stories, but it remains critically important for us to read the truth and mentally cross-off the stories intended to produce hatred of the poor.

Posted by duver001 at 10:35 AM

First of the new GPS satellites launched

The big news for civilian users is the second frequency for non-military use. It'll help resolve ionospheric propagation errors and improve accuracy as a result.

Posted by duver001 at 10:32 AM

Destruction of IRA arms

Appears to have been accomplished.

Posted by duver001 at 10:30 AM

September 23, 2005

Bruce Springsteen and Garrison Keillor?

Wow! It's a strange world, isn't it?

Glory Days! read by Garrison Keillor. Sounds pretty different, doesn't it.

Posted by duver001 at 2:41 PM

Nightmare before marriage?

Corpse Bride review from the City Pages. Is there a reference in the movie to Kill Bill? There really should be I think.

Posted by duver001 at 11:10 AM

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Ahhh...Lewis Carroll, that big kidder.

Posted by duver001 at 11:08 AM

Slate spotting bogus stories in the national media

Trend story from the NYT. On top (female) college graduates wanting a momma degree.

Also check out earlier exposes of bogus stories, such as the increase in child prostitution story. Or the EPA budget "cuts" article.

Posted by duver001 at 10:54 AM

UNESCO cultural heritage sites

There's a good discussion going on. How many have you visited? Or will visit?

Posted by duver001 at 10:51 AM

September 22, 2005

U2's first visit to Minneapolis

With little mention of how awful they are today. I think we all have some nostalgia for Boy, and October, and War, and wonder just how it all went wrong from there.

Posted by duver001 at 10:45 AM

The FBI's top priority!

"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

When FBI supervisors in Miami met with new interim U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta last month, they wondered what the top enforcement priority for Acosta and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would be.

Would it be terrorism? Organized crime? Narcotics trafficking? Immigration? Or maybe public corruption?

The agents were stunned to learn that a top prosecutorial priority of Acosta and the Department of Justice was none of the above. Instead, Acosta told them, it's obscenity. Not pornography involving children, but pornographic material featuring consenting adults.

Acosta's stated goal of prosecuting distributors of adult porn has angered federal and local law enforcement officials, as well as prosecutors in his own office. They say there are far more important issues in a high-crime area like South Florida, which is an international hub at risk for terrorism, money laundering and other dangerous activities.

His own prosecutors have warned Acosta that prioritizing adult porn would reduce resources for prosecuting other crimes, including porn involving children. According to high-level sources who did not want to be identified, Acosta has assigned prosecutors porn cases over their objections.

Posted by duver001 at 10:40 AM

September 21, 2005

Dutch talk show host will take heroin on air

Obviously it's created quite a bit on controversy. I haven't been able to find anything of substance on the show, just the controversy. Hard to tell the goals from that.

Posted by duver001 at 5:03 PM

How the practice of bringing commercial drugs to market has failed

Who would have guessed? A profit motive? The only motive?

Posted by duver001 at 2:49 PM

Latest homosexual recruiting technique

Starbucks cups! Now banned from Baylor University. Yup, a quote from Armistead Maupin. Evil, evil, evil!

Of course, since this is on the web, and irony is largely lost. I was being ironic above. What is funny is the silliness of Baylor University. That is what I'm saying. Thank you for your attention during this irony-definition moment.

Posted by duver001 at 11:39 AM

Old technology fighting new technology

Some authors try to block google's digitalization efforts. Has the Author's Guild never heard of fair use? The whole content is blocked unless the author allows for it to appear.

Posted by duver001 at 11:32 AM

September 19, 2005

September 18, 2005

How the "Intelligent Design" folks are working the media

From the Columbia Journalism Review...

Posted by duver001 at 6:20 PM

September 17, 2005

Now you can marry your mother-in-law

In England and Wales, legally.

Posted by duver001 at 6:19 PM

September 16, 2005

If you sniff the paint...

You might get onto the Smoking Gun website.

Posted by duver001 at 2:13 PM

Three plagued mice, come on everybody sing along... Three plagued mice...

They've escaped from the lab with a strain of plague. Yup, the plague.

Posted by duver001 at 11:34 AM

And women's rights in Pakistan

Musharraf calls rape a scheme for women to make money and get visas. Out of touch? You think?

Posted by duver001 at 11:26 AM

September 15, 2005

Chernobyl revisited

This woman rides her motorcycle through the death zone around the Chernobyl reactor. She has a radiation meter and understands what she is doing.

She claims that about 3500 people have moved back into the death zone, but that only about 400 of those folks are still alive. (A much higher death toll, right there, than my earlier mention.) Other sources say that no more than 1200 people moved in, most of those people moved back out. (By the way, there are claims that Elena Filatova's story, the motorcycle in the death zone, is at least partly fake. Or even more than partially faked.)

A total death toll of tens of thousands are claimed by the motorcyclist and by the Chernobyl.info site. The cleanup workers, the liquidators, would have been the largest group of potentially harmed people. This group numbered about 650,000 in some estimates. Far fewer in others.

Body count? The UN says 56 as of 2005, 47 workers and 9 children who died due to thyroid cancer. (See wikipedia for example, or the previous link in my blog.) Greenpeace and others contest those numbers. The truth? No idea right now.

Posted by duver001 at 7:08 PM

Interesting plot of presidential approval numbers

From the Washington Post. Thanks, Anne!

Posted by duver001 at 6:17 PM

Cosmetics made from executed Chinese prisoners?!?

It would make a great horror film. Trouble is, it's real instead.

Posted by duver001 at 5:58 PM

The White Giraffe

It is said to not be an albino, but rather a lighter color than the typical giraffe.

Posted by duver001 at 5:55 PM

Witch-hunt? Inquisition?

Yup, alive and well and sure to root out the evils of the Ctholic church.

Posted by duver001 at 5:51 PM

Dubya requests a piss break

Click on it and see it at Yahoo News. Not photoshop, bizarrely enough.

Posted by duver001 at 5:43 PM

September 14, 2005

Hayao Miyazaki interview

In the Guardian.

Posted by duver001 at 11:39 AM

How Curious George escaped the Nazis!

Interesting little article in the Times.

Posted by duver001 at 11:35 AM

March of the penguins

Okay, those conservatives (including Michael Medved) who are using March of the penguins as a stirring celebration of monogamy (and intelligent design!) need to remember that those penguins are monogamous for one season. Next year, next Mr. and Mrs. Penguin. See this NYT mention of the crazed right-wing lunies, though no mention of serial monogamy.

Added 9/22...there's a plastic.com discussion of this.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

September 13, 2005

See some of the financial cost of the war

Dollars and exotic cars.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

Farthest GRB discovered

At a z=6.29 detected by Swift and then followed up by ground-based telescopes.

Posted by duver001 at 10:06 AM

No links to the eleven kids found locked in cages

In other news, money is pouring into animal rescue organizations to help the pets of New Orleans. And donkey sanctuaries in the UK routinely receive more money than battered women shelters.

Posted by duver001 at 10:02 AM

September 12, 2005

Tunes of late

What has Mike been listening to lately? What music has he been enjoying? Well, in a fit of U2 bashing, I listened to Negativland and their take on I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (see also, the Letter U and the Numeral 2) along with U2's Boy and War. Putting those old cassettes on the stereo reminded me of how low-fi cassettes are/were and also that U2 didn't suck initially. They may never have been good musicians, but the band that put out War and Boy was a quality act.

Swell Maps, what should I say about Swell Maps? Been listening to Jane in Occupied Europe all morning today. (Discography of Swell Maps, from Nikki Sudden's webpages.) Good quality stuff. The CDs are back in print...

The Clash and Duran Duran in the same magazine...

If you missed some of the great post-punk acts, there are two indepensible resources for you. (Well, there are probably more than that, but who is counting?) Trouser Press zine and their published guides, which are now available online, and Rip it Up and Start Again (Guardian review, PR from the publisher, order it from amazon.co.uk (find your own link), or wait for the US edition which is rumored to have sections deleted from it) which is an amazing piece of journalism.

Should I praise the Mila Vocal Ensemble again? They'll be back on Praire Home Companion pretty soon and appeared on stage with Garrison at the St. Paul Labor Day Picnic. Will post an update when the PHC appearance is confirmed.

I should also put in a pitch for CD Baby. It's a resource for distributing independent CDs inexpensively. Good stuff, good folks, deserving of our business. They have audio samples for most tracks.

Also visit Rogaria, home of the Orkerstar Bez Ime.

Schoenberg Concerto for Cello has been sort of an intriguing classical highlight recently. It's very different from the serialism you would expect from him. Catchy somehow.

And the Cassandra Complex...In Search of Penny Century... Satan, Bugs Bunny, and Me. Other than the discography there isn't much info out there on the web. I suspect that there may not be all that many fans of Moscow, Idaho.



Posted by duver001 at 2:40 PM

Science as presented in the news

The Guardian has a good article on the good, bad, and ugly of science presented in the press. They have generally been doing a good job on their webpages detailing some of the bad science they see each week.

Posted by duver001 at 11:37 AM

New US nuclear policy?

To use nuclear weapons preemptively against nations and/or terrorist entities. Though it was embarassing enough for the Pentagon to pull the original documents from their website.

Posted by duver001 at 11:30 AM

No rule of sharia in Ontario

Yup, another attempt at being inclusive fails when it's realized that it's actually divisive. Now the future of sharia in Iraq...that's a bigger question mark.

Posted by duver001 at 11:23 AM

September 10, 2005

Colin Powell regrets the mess in Iraq

And calls his UN speech a "blot on his record." We all knew that already, but it's nice to see that he didn't take as long as McNamera to understand his collusion with evil.

Posted by duver001 at 4:05 PM

Wolfram discovers algorithmic music

Interesting, though self-agrandizing. As ringtones, they have merit, as music, much less so. IMHO.

Posted by duver001 at 4:02 PM

September 9, 2005

Who agrees with FEMA's recovery efforts?

Not Colin Powells.

People on dry land wonder why they should leave.

Brown is now taken off duty. Guess he was transferring too much political heat to the Dubya.

Search and rescue efforts have formally ended. The body count might be lower than feared.

The second ammendment has been repealed in New Orleans. Except for the wealthy and their private security teams.

And as part of the continuing crisis, the Freedom March isn't free. Everyone marchingf must register to attend, the route and the Washington Mall will be fenced off to keep the "other" away, there will be a huge law enforcement overwatch, and thosenot registered will be arrested.

Posted by duver001 at 3:43 PM

September 8, 2005

Remember, your chemotherapy or radiation treatment is less important than a Presidential photo-op

Read all about it. And in the end, he didn't even do the photo shoot!

Posted by duver001 at 12:03 PM

How do delivery aid

Steal a press pass and drive a Hyundai. Pretty shocking that the organized folks couldn't do what these guys did.

Posted by duver001 at 11:53 AM

A tour through New Orleans by boat

Here.

Best quote: "In the driveway lay a survivalist's arsenal: two transistor radios, a cell phone, a half-empty bottle of Napa Valley zinfandel, tobacco, a pipe and some blackberry soda." Survivalist blackberry soda, who'd have thunk it?

Posted by duver001 at 10:43 AM

The Beeb in New Orleans

They found what appears to be the last open, 24 hour per day, bar in the city. From there you can click onto the rest of the BBC's coverage of the natural disaster and the disaster relief disaster.

Posted by duver001 at 10:36 AM

September 7, 2005

Hitchens on theology

Tax-exempt? Pro-evolution?

Odd religious practices.

Posted by duver001 at 2:28 PM

A Katrina report from New Orleans on the evacuation

Interesting take on the evacuation...

"...Next morning, Katrina has blown up to a 5. Call for mandatory evacuation. Nagin pulls in every bus he can find, he signs an order allowing him to commandeer any vehicle or property he needs. They have buses running through the streets trying to pick people up. People are showing up at the superdome. This is 24 hours to landfall. Not much time at all, especially when this MONSTER HUGE storm will be affecting New Orleans by that evening and the bridges will have to shut when winds reach 40 mph..."

Posted by duver001 at 2:19 PM

"Islam may not be incompatible with democracy, but Locke and Montesquieu take you there more directly."

A great comparison of Philly 1787 to Baghdad 2005. I'm sure you can think of your own additions to the list.

Posted by duver001 at 2:09 PM

Dubya, Katrina, and all

Well, what to say about humor? Dubya's biography might seem funny at first. But it really isn't, is it? Nor are his reactions, real or imagined, to the problems in the south. Are these guys funny? Nope, not funny either.

How about reports that FEMA wasn't interested in hearing about what a storm like Katrina would do? "The scenario was dubbed Hurricane Pam: 120 mph winds, a massive storm surge, 20 feet of water in the city, 80 percent of buildings damaged, refugees on rooftops, possibly gun violence that would slow the rescue." The response that Americans don't live in tents could have been funny, but probably isn't.

Not funny at all is a look at the failures of the Department of Homeland Security.

Apple's announcement?

We'll see what it is. Since my Treo 90 died (in a downpour), I have been thinking about a new PDA. Maybe PDA/phone. Maybe PDA/phone/iPod?

Posted by duver001 at 10:56 AM

September 6, 2005

Minnesota State Fair!!!

Check out the City Pages "Day at..." article.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far." Teddy Roosevelt at the Minnesota State Fair

"Mmmmm...deep fried and breaded Snickers Bar on a stick. It will make one sick." Me at the Minnesota State Fair

Posted by duver001 at 10:26 AM

Chernobyl

Far fewer deaths than expected. Important notes: no increased rate of leukemia, only 9 out of 2000 thyroid cancers have been fatal, total of 50 deaths (reactor workers and firefighters), and fatalism due to overestimating the medical effects may have been a much larger medical effect. Though I'm sure this will be latched onto by the nuclear industry, it remains a strong statement that the effects were terrible (18 mile exclusion zone and all) but not as bad as predicted by the experts whose quotes were shocking enough to get themselves press coverage.

Some of my friends have been commenting negatively on this report. Is it contradiction with information available right after the disaster? Some reports at that time indicated that a much larger number of people had died already at that point. Sometime when I have a chance to look more into this...

Correction/ammendment: see 9/15/05 entry

Posted by duver001 at 10:03 AM

Election geeks rejoice!

Eight days with four big elections. I'm sure you can find some reasonable news stories, but the best hope for discussion appears to be at plastic.

Posted by duver001 at 9:55 AM

September 5, 2005

Designer, microbrewed cocaine

Isn't it about time that Free Trade becomes Fair Trade? Demand that the coca farmers get their share. And enough with the corporate, cartell, product, demand microblow.

Posted by duver001 at 9:51 AM