June 30, 2008

One Evolves; The Other...

Oh, my my.

Tell me this isn't a bundle of fun:

"Richard Lenski and his colleagues have been conducting a long-term experiment in bacterial evolution, one that has encompassed over 30,000 generations of bacteria going back over 20 years."

But evolution is not to be allowed in any way, shape or form in certain locations (ahem):

"In an open letter to Lenski, Conservapedia's Andy Schlafly (an attorney with an engineering background) wrote, "skepticism has been expressed on Conservapedia about your claims, and the significance of your claims, that E. Coli [sic] bacteria had an evolutionary beneficial mutation in your study." Their solution? Show them the data: "Please post the data supporting your remarkable claims so that we can review it, and note where in the data you find justification for your conclusions."

Only one problem with that demand:

"Lenski replied, noting that the whole purpose of scientific paper is to discuss and display data and to use them to justify conclusions; the data were in the paper itself. He also pointed out he'd placed a copy of the paper on his website for those without subscriptions to PNAS."

And here is the boilerplate reply to everyone who disagreed with Schlafley:

"I'll add your name to the list above of people who oppose the public release of data."

Sound familiar?

When it was suggested that the "debate" was not reflecting well on Conserveapedia...

"What sort of Liberal defeatism are you bound up in, and why do you assume, without examining the facts of the matter, that this has not gone well?"

Was the reply.

I never worry that Stephen Colbert will ever run out of material.


posted by Thursday at 10:19 pm 0 comments

Teh Gayz R Recuiting!

Soldiers march in Toronto Gay Pride Parade

Well, one reason is that this year marked the first time they marched openly and in uniform. The military was fine with this, as they have already ended any legal discrimination against gays in the forces; they have finally caught up with the rest of Canadian society. So that's something to be proud of.

On the other hand, they also had an "information booth", so it's not like the military weren't getting a little something out of the appearance.

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posted by Thursday at 9:43 pm 0 comments

June 29, 2008

Define "Sociopath"

In its simplest form, sociopathy is an inability to understand the rules of the society you are immersed in. Often, they don't even understand why those rules are be in place, and are convinced they don't have to follow them.

This is not neccessarily a sign of idiocy, any more than schizophrenia is; but some people who need signs on their ceiling reading "breathe in, breathe out" in case they forget could have their sociopathy hidden beneath the easier diagnosis. Sociopaths can be very social creatures, and indeed some of the most successful men in business have some degree of sociopathy - all the easier to ignore rules when needed, or avoiding any consideration of the consequences of their actions.

But for the most part, the only people we know are sociopaths are those we see at a distance, and have the chance to view their actions alone and as a whole: it's much tougher to recognise one up close, as we're hard-wired for co-operation with other members of our group. It's much easier to think of Buddy Joe as being, yeah, a little "distant" maybe, but he does his job and buys a round now and then.

All are dangerous, but the degree varies. How far a step is it, do you think, from someone who leaves desperate phone messages like these at women's work numbers:

"I'm completely single; I'm very intelligent; I'm great in bed, I make great money - believe it or not, I'm a complete catch."

And a web site like this:

(Some of the worst Flash you'll see here)

And approaches women at damn near random insisting they have sex with him:

"Of course, most people who saw the poster thought it was a joke. I did, until Dimitri hit on me in Starbucks two years later. I was taken aback, mostly because of the way he looked: tall and broad-shouldered, with dark, gelled-back hair. A stranger on the street might nickname him “Dimitri the Lover” as a joke."

To being someone else who is charming, handsome, and kills people like this lovely fellow here?

The first man is simply a pathetic douchebag, even if he does have a few little quirks: like being a psycho misogynist with a note on his military record as having something "seriously wrong with him"; or drinking while on shift as a doctor; or having an "inappropriate self-use of perscription drugs". The second is obviously worse, being a mass-murderer and all; but their philosophies aren't all that different from each other.

And one of these two is teaching classes in how to be just like him.


posted by Thursday at 6:09 pm 2 comments

June 22, 2008

The (Traditional) Speed of Internet

How long does it take for a particularly silly comment

"I am aware of all internet traditions"

to become a ful blown meme? Here's a hint: in less than three days, there were more than 80 products for sale with that quote on it.

And, of course, there's a blog.

This is a world that would eat the best quick-con artists of a decade ago and not even stop to digest them.


posted by Thursday at 10:47 pm 0 comments

The Earthman Returneth

No, that's not a lisp. It's the Carnival of the Godless, and the party's at Earthman's Notebook.



posted by Thursday at 10:10 pm 0 comments

Missing & Missed

So the Significant Other is off catering - the same job that took us to Scotland (she's good ) - for another week. Not the funnest time of the year for us: the garden sits neglected (I've been told off of it for excellent reasons); the atmosphere is a little less silly; and the sex just isn't as good.

Plus damn near everything with leaves is having an airborne orgy, and I'm allergic to all of it.

Still, I do get to... Uh... Hm. Not really sure what it is guys are supposed to do when their wives are out of town. Anything I can think of, I'd rather be doing with her here.

Ah, well. I can handle one more week.


posted by Thursday at 10:06 pm 0 comments

June 17, 2008

New Addition

Religious Tolerance is getting added to the links list, under "Skepticism and Sciency Goodness". This might not strike some as an appropriate heading, but they are an excellent, honest reference site about religion in all its variants.

Well worth perusal... Plus, I felt like I had to add something useful after the last addition. See? Guilt does have its uses!


posted by Thursday at 11:58 am 0 comments


People who love each other are getting married in America! OLD people who love each other are getting married in America!

If the Family Research Council really, truly wants to Save Marriage, I say "Fine!" With one condition: ban divorce. All of it, for any reason.

And make that law retroactive.

Any bets their support would whither away before it even started? Because, golly gee! Guess who has the highest divorce rates in the land...?

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posted by Thursday at 11:18 am 0 comments

June 13, 2008

No, YOU Explain It to him...

Dave over at Orcinus has been talking about the Phinias Priesthood fairly recently (okay, okay: two weeks ago) and that got me back to our bible for a quick sniff, which led to the monstrosity you see above. Head on over there and see what he can say far better than I can: racism is a speciality of his, and he's been rooting it out for years.

My first video attempt, and quite possily last. It took way too long for something this simple! Watching it here, I see I shouldn't have put blank bits in - I was using the "pause" button to see what the writing was before it vanished off the screen, and I just wrote the stuff out! Normally, I'd blame the program, but no, I think this was just me.

You could just get the full text of Numbers 25 here from the King James yourself, too.


Update: I suppose I should mention this makes more sense when you can hear it...


posted by Thursday at 7:53 pm 0 comments

June 12, 2008

Full Stands for a New Sport

The Dubai Mighty Camels are preparing to host the inaugural Arab Cup next week.

It's going to be nearly 40 degrees during the day that week. I'm heading to any ice available in those temperatures!


posted by Thursday at 9:55 pm 0 comments

Coming And Going

Yeah, I know the NHL is giving out their awards tonight (and if Ovechkin doesn't get as many as he can carry, then the voting was rigged), but I'm thinking about the odd nature of fame.

Many people are famous for their abilities, but often that clouds our judgement of the people - someone becomes an icon because they get 100 points in a season, or fifty goals, or have led their teams to a championship (or three).

In Trevor Linden's best season he had 80 points; he reached 33 goals three times, but no more than that; and the Canucks fell two goals short of the Stanley Cup more than a decade ago and have never been back.

And yet...

Tributes have been pouring in for a player who was Vancouver's captain for only six of his 16 years with the team (yet is known as "Captain Canuck"), and there is reason to believe he could be voted in to whatever political office he wanted in that town. He's not just a "fan favorite" - he's got people building shrines for him. Canucks management corrected a mistake by trading two draft picks (including a first rounder) to bring him home - a price no other team would pay - and the fans didn't even blink at the cost.

There are a startling number of children - and now teens, too - named "Trevor" and "Linden" in this province.

He never announced that he was skating his final season, so no round-the-league goodbye tour happened for him, yet the Calgary Flames waited at the end of the last game to shake his hand, even coming out of the dressing room to do so.

It's crazy, yes; but a happy sort of lunacy at that. The quetion is: why?

He was always a hard worker, never surrendering on a game or a shift, and the fans here like that sort of thing (see also: Stan "Steamer" Smyl, among others), but there was much, much more.

When students built a storage shed at a children's hospice, they named it "Trevor's Garage" not for his playing, but for the endless support he gave (and still gives) to the kids there. On fan sites, the hope was that he'd play one more year with a team that had a chance at winning the Cup, with Vancouver or anywhere else, a la Ray Borque. Signs promoting him for mayor (and a few implying the team's newest GM was hired too soon...) are appearing.

If a consience is what you do when no one's looking, then what does that say about a man who went to the Children's Hospital scores of times without a camera in sight?

He hesitated before announcing his retirement to see what would happen with the GM and coaching decisions - it's no secret that coach Vingeault didn't want to use Linden, scratching him from the line-up more than twenty times; and new GM Gillis is a friend of Bob Goodenow, the NHL Player's Association boss Linden overthrew in order to end the2004-05 lockout. Nonis was an ally; Gillis... not so much.

Clearly, Linden is comfortable with his decision to leave hockey, at least for now; and the fans are just going to have to find a way to turn their mourning into a wake of the best sort: one where you can tell the stories, honour the man, then wish him well when he moves on to a new life.


posted by Thursday at 6:35 pm 2 comments

Finally, Some Action!

Three years after Katrina hit New Orleans, $85 million worth of supplies earmarked for its victims are finally on the move:

The material, from basic kitchen goods to sleeping necessities, sat in warehouses for two years before the Federal Emergency Management Agency's giveaway to federal and state agencies this year.

Oh, you didn't think it was actually going to go to the people left homeless, did you?

Don't be silly!


posted by Thursday at 5:27 pm 0 comments

June 08, 2008

Just Apply DAP!


An elitist, latte-sipping Marxist ghetto-trash thug is on his way to the White House!

No, I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean either, by may I say that I really, really like fried chicken and watermelon, and I'm as white as this guy:


No, the one of to the right, there. Yeah, him.

Fortunately, the Sadlynauts are here to help walk us though the "contreversy" of dap; and if you think I mean this stuff, come join me in uber-cool whitenessity.

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posted by Thursday at 7:49 pm 0 comments

June 06, 2008

Primaries Finally End...

... But Circles don't!

This week's Skeptics' Circle is hosted over at Jyunri Kankei, and it's a nice, round dozen... as long as you don't consider Podblack contributing twice as two.

Ah, she's just a troublemaker, anyways. Which pretty much explains her inclusion with our mangy lot.

Go. Enjoy.


Update: Podblack is trying to weasel out of her "troublemaker" designation by shifting the blame to Translucent Science, but I will not be fooled!


posted by Thursday at 11:17 pm 2 comments

Fetch Me That Stick, God!

Dear Diary:

Feeling a touch surly today, and the kids weren't behaving, so I killed them. But it's not like I didn't give them plenty of warning! After the eldest kept refusing to eat his vegetables, I filled his bed with cockroaches for three nights in a row, and he STILL didn't figure it out! Lovely child, but not too bright...

If that sounds normal to you, then congratulations! You have what it takes to be a globe-spanning diety! At least, that's what the local god-botherers explained to me the other day.

Evil, you see, is simply God's warning to his children that they aren't living their lives as they should be. Pain, sorrow, pens that leak... All these things are signs from Heaven, gentle reprimands to us and reminders of His eternal love.

Because we, apparently, are His children; and as all children everywhere, we have to be beaten from time to time to make sure we live in the right way and obey the right rules and eat the right things.

Then, if even after tsunamis, earthquakes, drought, murder, paper cuts, that funny smell you can never track down in your car, and terrorist bombings we still haven't gotten the message, He doesn't actually leave us to burn in Hell for all eternity (or so says my personal god-botherer): that's just a big misunderstanding.

Instead, the soul of the damned is given one more chance to obey God's every whim, or it's simply snuffed out of existence. See? No suffering, no torment... just "nothing" ever again. That being what eternity means and all that. Isn't that the sign of a loving and just God? That if you don't want to play by His Rules, he's taking his ball and going home?

It's just the thoroughly unintimidating stick half of the argument, and the carrot's not looking much better either.


Update: If you're not familiar with the game Portal or with the Half-Life world generally, you may not quite get the joke; but if you have headphones, you can hear the Song of Cake. Any song that has the line:

"I've experiments to run, there is research to be done on the people who are still alive"

is well worth adding to the old iPod.


posted by Thursday at 10:31 pm 0 comments

Dark and Light

First, the less important stuff:

No upset in this year's Final, with the veteran Red Wings taking the series from the upstart Penguins, but kudos to Pittsburgh's lot for fighting until the literal final second. The third period of game five was one of the best I've seen in a long time. A bit of a shame about the game winner, but quite the match.

I would love for this win by Detroit (who used to be based in Victoria, B.C. of all places) to end three myths:

1) Europeans can't captain a Cup winner - though the polar oposite of Yzerman's dragging the team by the scruff of the neck force of will in 2002, Lidstrom's aura of fierce calm proved tremendously effective as other teams blew their cool trying anything to get the Wings off their game;
2) Europeans don't play tough in the playoffs - Zettergerg was one of a few potential candidates who fully deserved the Conn Smythe, three of whom were Swedish);
3) There are no dynasties in hockey any more - Detroit has been an awesone team for 15 years now. That they have "only" won the Cup four times in that span proves that the NHL championship is the hardest one to win in professional sports.

I'd add "3.5) That anyone likes Gary Bettman besides the owners (and even that's changing)" but decided to limit the list to things that people may have thought at one time.

Now to the more important stuff:

A young hockey player named Luc Bourdon died doing something stupid - riding a motorcycle that was far beyond his capabilities when he had a week's worth of experience. The stupid is compounded when it inspires people to write this drivel:

"Maybe another young man will be saved if NHL teams prohibit their players from riding motorbikes. Maybe we'll be spared this terrible emptiness again if they could be stopped from getting on a bike in the first place.

Last week, one scribe opined that the real tragedy of Bourdon's death was that it was preventable; that if these young players were made to understand the dangers of motorcycles, they'd never ride one."

Not even close. If I'm working for someone, I'm working for them: I am not owned by them. I decide what I wish to do with my health, what risks I want to take, and what sort of "lifestyle" (ugh) I'm going to have. The only concern they should have is whether or not I'm doing my job and doing it well. If not, talk to me, send me a reprimand, or have your resident jackal pink slip me. That is, after all, well within your power to do. Beyond that?

Piss off, frankly.


On a lighter note, I see that one of the owners of the Nashville Predators has filed Chapter 11, while Research in Motion co-founder Jim Basillie was in the Hockey News this week still looking to purchase a team and bring it into Canada, something both NHL Commissioner Bettman and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been actively fighting.

Lots of love to you both!

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posted by Thursday at 8:54 pm 0 comments