October 26, 2010

Playing Catch-Up


With an election coming up in the US, it looks like people are back to ignoring the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque". Must be a relief to know that any major protest can simply be ignored and/or ridden out until attention goes elsewhere! But even as the Muslims are breathing a sigh of relief, another group gets pushed ahead.


Well, I suppose Wiccans generally rather than witches in particular. Bad enough trying to overcome the image of sexually gratifying yourself with a broom handle or being hideously ugly or being in league with the devil; now they have to get past being phenomenally stupid as well.


...Which brings us to the Tea Party nominees. A boon for anyone who is even marginally progressive in the US, there are over a dozen seats or Republican nominations that went to TP nominated or backed candidates, and not many in the Republican Party are happy about it. Many are making sure to add a huge "fiscal responsibility" angle to their campaigns, despite ample proof over the past twenty years that Republicans are utterly inept at managing national finances.

Even so, Republican nominees that are clearly supported by fervent, single-issue fanatics are more likely to keep the more moderate conservatives at home or even voting in favour of their rival Democrats. Which is, again, a boon for any progressives in that nation.


So long as the Democrats actually behave like progressives.

President Obama benched a federal court decision on the rather idiotic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy brought in by former President Clinton because having gays serve openly in the military is apparently still an issue that frightens Americans. The federal court judge ruled that DADT is unconstitutional in a court case brought up by the Log Cabin Republicans (irony alert going off every time those guys are mentioned), but an injunction was granted to the Department of Justice by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals staying the ruling, at least until after the national elections. This comes after a previous effort to have DADT removed passed the House of Representatives but was filibustered by that "Maverick" John McCain.

To clarify: The Democrats got an injunction to keep a law in place that has stopped soldiers from serving in a time of war and cost over $350 million to enforce despite the removal of that policy being a large and very visible promise last Federal election; a group of Republicans (though not the party itself) fought and beat that law, which led other Republicans to decry "activist judges" and defend the Democratic policy.

The rather silly idea that serving beside gays would lead to a dissolution of the military is rather ludicrous, as the US Army has already served alongside gays in the armed forces. As of this date, only two European countries do not allow gays to serve openly in their militaries: Serbia and Greece, who have apparently decided to completely ignore their own military history.


I am not a scientist. There is no possible way I could be confused for one, what with being a high school dropout and essentially unemployable for any white-collar position. So why is it I understand what this story in the Atlantic means better than the person who wrote it? It is long, and it is well written, but the deliberately antagonistic headline that writer David H. Freedman uses as a lead - implying not only that science is unreliable, but also deceitful - does nothing to help Dr. John Ioannidis' major work.

What Dr. Ioannidis did is report on the difficulty in getting accurate results in scientific studies, specifically medical ones. His own headline is also grating, and one that is used by people who don't understand what scientific method is as a catch-all for "proving" that their crackpot beliefs are better than science. Again, the entire point of Dr. Ioannidis' work is that tests have to be more rigorous before they are published, with clear methodology that is open to criticism - in short, more scientific. For a more complete response, check out Dr. David H. Gorski's (who is quoted in the Atlantic article) reply here.


Missed the entire riding season because I like interesting bikes: my Goose is still out of commission because of the difficulty in getting engine parts for it. Next time, something new, perhaps... Still, looking to sell off my rebuilt RD350 to help pay for it, so I must be dedicated to the Italian.

Since I have a bike already, the next one we bring in is going to the Significant Other. We were looking at the Honda 125, which is a brilliant price and good engineering: under $4500 for a new Honda is tough to turn away from. Alas, it just didn't have the juice we need to travel highway speeds while sharing the road with logging trucks. Kawasaki's 250 Ninja is the next option, with a bit more power and a touch more heft, but after trying it on the road, I still couldn't picture the little thing hauling my fat (210 lbs) corpse around with much alacrity, never mind introducing a passenger to the already taxed shocks.

But this year, Team Green introduced a 400cc size to the stable. It's very much a middle-of-the-road bike, having only 45 horsepower and weighing in at nearly 500 pounds; but as you could probably guess by my ride, I don't mind the extra weight, and the size slips right in to the 201cc-400cc category as far as insurance is concerned. It is also apparently moving into the 650 Ninja chassis, meaning it's going to have more room to move than the 250. The down side is having a price tag that's only $1200 less than the 650, and at $7500 there's going to be a lot of competition at the price, if not at the size. No one else makes the 400cc motorcycles any more, which I admit is my second favourite size (right after 750), so it'll be interesting to see how it sells.


Memo to Rick Rypien: if you want to reach out to fans, try Twitter.

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posted by Thursday at 10:55 am


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