2008-11-25

I think, therefore I do.

According to the Typealizer, this blog is written by
INTP - The Thinkers


The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications. They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.


Now that's all good and fine, but WTF is the "thinker" in the silly pic doing with an Apple laptop? Unix ATW forever! ;)

Even more curious is the fact that my LJ, in which I hadn't written for a long time, is apparently written by A Doer. have I changed so much in the last six months? Or do I combine the best (or worst?) features of both?

Anyway, check it out. Good silly fun.

2008-11-18

a dash of cynicism

You know how easy it is to report a blog as being a spam generator? Here. I have done so myself, on several obvious word-salad blogs. (I shan't provide any links to them, but no day passes by without at least one showing up in one of my daily alerts). Now this blog may be a lot of things: ill-kept, sub-par, irrelevant—but it is not spam in any sense of the word. However, it was apparently reported as such in early September, and I had to spend some time proving to Google that I am actually human (well, I am super-human, but one has to make some sacrifices occasionally) in order to have my blog and my email (!) unlocked. And then it happened again, three more times. It was not difficult, only annoying. To tell you the truth, I didn't even wonder what happened. Now, looking back, I realize that all of that brouhaha came within 24 hours of me publishing a mild (well, that is an exaggeration...) criticism of Sarah Palin on September 6th. A coincidence? Perhaps. The rational part of my brain insists that it is; the paranoid conspiracy circuit is naturally convinced that a typical action by some lil censorious Rethuglican was taken. Not that it would be something new for them. And I thought: it's amazing how they are the ones accusing us of suppressing free speech. Who moderates (read: censors) comments on their blogs? I have never seen any scientist/liberal/atheist do so, only theocrats/right wing crazies. Do you doubt it? It's hard to prove, but most of what I write as comments on religious blogs never makes it past moderation. What are they afraid of? Themselves? Reason? The very real possibility that their set of beliefs is utterly incorrect and will melt when exposed to the tiniest amount of logic, common sense and reality? Hmm. Food for thought.

2008-11-15

the iniquitous fist of destruction

The communal vacuum-cleaner is a piece of shit. It moves the dust and the dirt and the beer-bottle caps across the room, but its wheezy lung is too weak to actually pick any of them off the floor. When you combine that pitiful weakness with my hippie-length hair, you end up in a contaminated disaster zone. I shed all the time, sitting naked in front of my desk, madly scribbling (can one use that term?) esoteric perl code, and feeling a soft tickle of spider legs on my back once in a while. A wayward insect? No, just another hair, slithering its way free of my scalp to join its compatriots in the jungle of a low-pile brown carpet. This subconscious delapidation turns the floor of my long-suffering bedroom into a waste-basket of doom, a horrid toxic sludge. You know the 20-second rule? If you drop a piece of food, it's okay to eat as long as you pick it up wihin 20 seconds? Well, it doesn't work in this neck of the wasteland. A piece of bread comes back up gladly, entangled in a forest of hair: some mine, some, naturally, belonging to the two house-cats and a house-dog that have a penchant for sitting down behind my chair and staring soulfully at me as I—oblivious to their presence—type in imprecations and insults into the interwebz.

No small children should be allowed here; they'd be coughing up hairballs the size of my fist after the first beer. And nothing I do seems to help. I raked my room once, coming up with enough hair for 10000 maleficient spells, and the next day the floor turned back into the jungle it was the day before. I suppose the most important question is where all that fucking hair is coming from. I am not going bald, far from it; with each passing day the stupid neglected garden on top of my head becomes wilder and more rebellious. Is it going forth and multiplying?

I should walk less and drink more, that doubtlessly is the answer. Orion is on top of my sky, glaring madly down upon me, daring me to do something utterly useless. I think I'll listen to him, for once.

2008-11-08

Meanwhile, for those still confused...

Western news' slant on the Russian-Georgian war a few months ago was bloody clear to anyone who cared to investigate a bit and go past the mainstream platitudes and lies. Now, Georgian claims of being the victims of a Russian aggression are being dismantled quite rapidly. This movie should help.

2008-11-04

Everything you need to know

Live election results, starting about 4 hours from now: http://politicalwire.com/aggregator/electionresults.html

Now, have YOU voted yet (assuming you are a registered US voter, of course). The future is really being decided right now...

2008-10-29

For those about to vote...

Don't forget to visit http://stealbackyourvote.org/ .

2008-10-02

The return of the wastrel

I came back! The Nordic Roots festival is over, and a wonderful time was had by all, including even me. So, for the next week or two, I will be listening to nothing but Fennoscandian roots music, which all can keep track of on my last.fm.

2008-09-23

My dear friends and co-conspirators!

So I am leaving tomorrow, to go to MN for the weekend. I'll be in Minneapolis from Friday 26th till Mon 29th, going to all the Nordic Roots festival shows at the Cedar, and spending my time drinking and harrassing innocent Mid-Western wenches at several venues (assuming they still exist): Sgt Preston's, that awesome hot-dog place half a block from the theatre, that wondersome cheap dive a couple of blocks up from the theatre, or, if all else fails, in the lobby bar at the Holiday Inn. I shall wear black and be loud, so if you feel like stopping by for a philosophical discussion, a drinking competition, some nefarious plotting or a friendly game of fisticuffs, be my guests!

2008-09-22

the fight is on

I do not have the right equipment, but any woman reading this should consider going to Women against Sarah Palin blog and adding her name to the already rather distinguished list. A short quote:

"We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin's political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we've so demonstrably benefited from."

Yeah, that's absolutely correct.

2008-09-09

A Palin for the rest of us

Come on, join the revolution: Michael Palin for President!

I mean, the other Palin has no chance...

2008-09-07

More about truths and chuckling

From Atheist Comics:

Somebody is getting it right

The new Ecuadorian constitution will apparently include "rights of nature":

"Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution."

For more details, see http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/09/04-7

The sadness of things

Adlai Stevenson, while running against Eisenhower for President, gave a particularly great speech and afterwards one of his aides came up to him and said "Mr. Stevenson, after that speech you will have the vote of every THINKING person in America!" Mr. Stevenson replied "That won't be enough. I need a MAJORITY!"

Does this remind you of anything? With all the right-wing bloggers and their sycophantic commenters frothing and cumming all over themselves at the thought of another authoritarian ignoramus (almost) at the helm, I haven't lost hope yet. Perhaps we have learned something. The funny thing about all the conservative ravings is their conviction that the Democratic party stands for some kind of hard left ideology, something only a blinkered idiot would consider to even approximate the truth. Remember, kids: Democratic party is center, wobbling between left- and right-leaning please-everyone stances. Republicans, on the other hand, are in the distinguished company of Mussolini and Franco, on the far right of things. Any further right, they'd be all over the sidewalk, running over pedestrians. Wait, they do that already! There is no mainstream left in the USA, despite all of your subliminal desires for a bogey-man to come and treat you like you deserve to be treated.

Oh, and by the way, still no word from the McCain campaign about those pesky science questions...

2008-09-06

The Palin Beastie Part 2

Amazing. One of the questions asked of Sarah Palin was:

" 11. Are you offended by the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."

The joke is that the words of the Pledge were not written until 1892, and the words "Under God" inserted into it in 1954. What do the founding fathers have to do with it?

We've known for sure that she was a medieval theocrat already, now she proves her ignorance beyond any reasonable doubt. Is this what USA wants to stand by the presidential throne: an ignorant, oppressive, bigoted, theocratic idiot? The mind boggles...wobbles...toggles....

The Palin Beastie

GOP has gone into an attack mode, accusing any critics of Governor Palin of sexism. Of course, such a charge coming from the conservative wing of a conservative party (opposed, for example, to Equal Rights Amendment) is somewhat funny on the face of it, but we can ignore that for now.

In any case, allow me to throw in my little bit of technicolour yawning. Firstly, my feminist and libertarian credentials are well established, and a charge of sexism against me is laughable, as anyone that knows me can attest. Secondly, I am not going to concern myself with irrelevant charges, such as her personal business, anything involving her family, or such.
But the problems with Palin go much deeper than that. Of course, her experience (or lack of it) is hardly relevant, as a number of bloggers on both sides of the fence have already pointed out. Her opposition to abortion is more troubling, but here, too, one must be given some slack (although her opposition to *all* abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, is quite frightening. One is reminded of a statement attributed to the then-Senator Jesse Helms, on the very same subject: "What's wrong with incest? That's how we get the best horses." Speaking of sexism...)

No, the issues that make her, in my opinion, unfit to hold the office, are her lack of understanding of the basics of our Constitution and her unabashedly theocratic tendencies. If I were in an uncharitable mood, I would be tempted to call her an ignorant fascist! She is completely unclear on the concepts of the separation of powers, freedom of speech and the Establishment Clause. In the past, she has called for the teaching of creationism alongside evolution in public schools, spoke favourably of the banning of certain books in public libraries and, apparently, attempted to pressure other state officials to join up in her private feuds. All of those make her appear positively medieval, in some ways, and certainly not a person who would be looked at as an ambassador of democracy by the whole world.

So, back to sexism: it appears that the selection of Sarah Palin is, on the one hand, a bone thrown to the right wing of the Republican Party (read: mad, ignorant theocratic fascists) to bring them around and rally their support behind McCain's questionable conservative convictions and, on the other hand, an attempt to play the discrimination and pseudo-feminist card. A transparent political gimmick, a ploy that may fool some but not most, hopefully.

2008-08-31

Obama comes through

Finally! Barack Obama has answered the questions asked by the Science debate 2008 foundation, and his answers are, generally, cogent and well thought-out. Still waiting on McCain. And think of the hilarity we would have had if Brownback or his ilk still were in the race!

Anyway, the answers (and more info) can be found here

2008-04-07

Presidential Debate '08

If it ever happens (yeah, right: none of the leading candidates seem to have any interest in participating, but we may be able to persuade them to), it looks like it will be in my front yard: at the PSU.

I, for one, would not miss that for all the oil in Iraq.

In other news, aren't democrats supposed to be the open-minded ones, with a well-known liberal bias, especially in places like Chicago, IL? ;)

Apparently not.

Yeah, I'll just repost this part of an exchange between Rep. Monique Davies, D-Chicago and Rob Sherman, on the question of the grants of public monies in the state of Illinois to churches!

Here (my bolds):"Davis: I don’t know what you have against God, but some of us don’t have much against him. We look forward to him and his blessings. And it’s really a tragedy — it’s tragic — when a person who is engaged in anything related to God, they want to fight. They want to fight prayer in school. I don’t see you (Sherman) fighting guns in school. You know?

I’m trying to understand the philosophy that you want to spread in the state of Illinois. This is the Land of Lincoln. This is the Land of Lincoln where people believe in God, where people believe in protecting their children.… What you have to spew and spread is extremely dangerous, it’s dangerous–

Sherman: What’s dangerous, ma’am?

Davis: It’s dangerous to the progression of this state. And it’s dangerous for our children to even know that your philosophy exists! Now you will go to court to fight kids to have the opportunity to be quiet for a minute. But damn if you’ll go to [court] to fight for them to keep guns out of their hands. I am fed up! Get out of that seat!

Sherman: Thank you for sharing your perspective with me, and I’m sure that if this matter does go to court—

Davis: You have no right to be here! We believe in something. You believe in destroying! You believe in destroying what this state was built upon. "

Leaving aside a problem with Lincoln (he certainly was not a Christian, if one believes his own words, and was probably the most atheistic President this country has ever had), don't public servants have a responsibility to be familiar with the foundational laws of the land they serve? I have given up on demanding any signs of actual intelligence from them a long time ago, but simple knowledge of the laws they are sworn to uphold and defend should really count for something. Davis is obviously a bigoted idiot and all my friends living in her district should think about this very hard the next time they vote.

2008-03-16

reality has a well-known liberal bias part 37

A funny bill is moving towards approval in the state of Oklahoma. HB2211 has passed the House and is moving right up, into Senate. It will do this:

"The bill requires public schools to guarantee students the right to express their religious viewpoints in a public forum, in class, in homework and in other ways without being penalized. If a student's religious beliefs were in conflict with scientific theory, and the student chose to express those beliefs rather than explain the theory in response to an exam question, the student's incorrect response would be deemed satisfactory, according to this bill.

The school would be required to reward the student with a good grade, or be considered in violation of the law. Even simple, factual information such as the age of the earth (4.65 billion years) would be subject to the student's belief, and if the student answered 6,000 years based on his or her religious belief, the school would have to credit it as correct. Science education becomes absurd under such a situation."

Doesn't the world already have enough to laugh/weep over when looking at the USA?

The sponsor of the bill is one Sally Kern, who appears to be one of the most bigoted, nasty religio-robots in this country; a vile human being by any standards. She claims that there is a vast gay conspiracy infiltrating our schools, among other nasty remarks; apparently, her son is gay and has been disowned by her. So it goes in the land of religious hypocrisy.

but, officer, he appeared to be entirely reasonable!

Rowan Williams, who in the past impressed me somewhat with his rationality and uncommon—for a clergyman—level-headedness, is rapidly losing points. Among other things, he claims that science cannot settle the abortion question, that evolutionary theory is "a limited theory about certain limited phenomena" (life in the Universe? Algorithmically driven change in self-replicating systems? Hmm...does not seem so limited to me); however, my favourite one is his elitist insinuations: society can't handle science, indeed. Failing...

2008-02-04

Meanings-Schmeanings of Names-Schnames

So I went to this site that analyzes your name to describe your personality and decided to play a little game. Since I am from Russia, there are several forms of my name floating around. My given name is Георгий (but it is transliterated into Latin as "Georgiy"), I go by "Jorg" most of the time (which is a Swedish/Germanic version of my name), the English version of it is "George" and the Finnish one is "Jurkki".

The results follow: apologies, there are a lot of them, and each try gave me a different personality. Do I have a split personality disorder? Not bloody likely...I may be crazy, but I am quite well integrated in my insanity. My thoughts on the whole thing are in the last paragraph; feel free to skip these descriptions and go directly to my totally uncontroversial and rather boring conclusions...;)

1.The English Transliteration:




What Georgiy Means



You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.

You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.

Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.



You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.



You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.

You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.

At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.







You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.



You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.

You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.

You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.



2.The original Russian version:



What Георгий Means







(no response, apparently people who spell their names in Cyrillic do not have a personality. I shudder to think of the poor Japanese, Chinese, Arabs, Armenians, Cherokee, Cree, Georgians, Ethiopians, Koreans, and I am sure I am forgetting quite a few other scripts).

3.Jorg, the Swedish/German version.




What Jorg Means



You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.

You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.

You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.



You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.

You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.

At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.



You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.

You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.

Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.



4.George, the standard English. This one is quite similar to georgiy, of course, since they share many letters, but is not the same:




What George Means



You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.

You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.

Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.



You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.

You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.

At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.



You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.

You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.

At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.



5.Jurkki, Finnish. Again,some similarities with Jorg, but some drastic differences:




What Jurkki Means



You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.

You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.

You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.



You are a very lucky person. Things just always seem to go your way.

And because you're so lucky, you don't really have a lot of worries. You just hope for the best in life.

You're sometimes a little guilty of being greedy. Spread your luck around a little to people who need it.



You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.

You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.

You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.



You are a seeker of knowledge, and you have learned many things in your life.

You are also a keeper of knowledge - meaning you don't spill secrets or spread gossip.

People sometimes think you're snobby or aloof, but you're just too deep in thought to pay attention to them.







You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.

You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.

You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.




So what should be the conclusion? Do I turn into this different person depending the country I am in and the people I am with? Possibly, but not likely (as I have said, that would require me to lose all personality when in Russia). But I especially like the fact that I have a "wild and crazy personality" as Jorg, but am "trying very hard not to rock the boat" as georgiy. That's just cute. Perhaps (indeed, of course!) the whole thing is just silly. But notice how general the descriptions are. In some way, I felt like they all were scarily accurate, because they are brilliantly written in such a language as to make application to anyone easy. (Notice also how in many cases the same sentences just keep on getting rearranged without altering in any way. There seem to be 7 or 8 3-sentence paragraphs that keep on being juggled around, with several--I thought it was one per letter, but that is not the case, although it seems to be close--appearing in each result). Exactly in the same sense, astrological descriptions are sometimes accurate in the same sense: if you paint a broad enough target and shoot at it with huge enough missiles (and a lot of them), you are almost always guaranteed a hit. But more precise predictions and descriptions? Always, utter fail, just as we should expect!

2008-02-03

paranoia will restore my faith in human capacities

I am utterly fascinated (and a bit scared) with the internet blackout that still is going on over parts of Asia. Indeed, Iran is 100% offline: http://www.internettrafficreport.com/history/267.htm

Also, earlier reports that the first two cables to have been cut were severed by a ship's anchor appear to be erroneous, since they are two miles from each other!

All in all I've been able to confirm the above, plus at least one more cable being lost on Friday. There are rumours of a fourth one having been cut on Saturday morning, but I have not been able to find any confirmation for that yet. However, the bit about Israel and Iraq not losing any connectivity is scarily true:"Some countries, such as Israel, Lebanon and Iraq , were able to avoid the disruption by using a cable unaffected." (from http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7009890808)

All this may not mean much, however, since other places such as Colombia and a server in Florida for example are also currently offline. It all may be a giant horrible coincidence, but my paranoid bones are still tingling.

http://www.internettrafficreport.com/ has all the relevant details.

2008-01-21

In constant search of excellence

T.S. Eliot translated into lolcat! Here: Wasteland

2008-01-15

Excitement and joy!

The first image of the previously unphotographed and unseen hemisphere of Mercury is released!!! In the upper right, Caloris Basin, only part of which was observed by Mariner 10 over 30 years ago.


For more info, go to MESSENGER images page.

2008-01-14

42 minutes left

MESSENGER approaching Mercury! About 40 minutes till closest approach.

See the whole series of this, the first flyby of three.

2008-01-12

No fun for us

The chance of the rock WD5 impacting Mars on Jan 30 has gone down to 1 in 10000, sadly. This animation shows the decrease in uncertainty considering its trajectory (image from Planetary Society):

the idiocy never stops

I may be somewhat late in finding this out, but I suppose better that than after the fact.

Colorado, this year, is trying to put on the ballot a state constitutional amendment stating that a fertilized egg is legally a person. "Voters would decide if a fertilized egg is entitled to the Colorado constitutional protections of inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law."

Apparently one does not need any differentiated organs at all, much less a brain, to be considered a person. That certainly plays in the hands of the majority of this amendment's supporters, who cannot be distinguished from tree-stumps in most cases. Yes, this should go a long way towards recognition of their civil rights. Tree stumps and sea cucumbers of the world unite! Your lack of capacity for cognitive function does not mean you can be denied full human rights!

This is so fascinating: would menstruation then be considered negligent homicide? Or involuntary manslaughter (since obviously this amendment has little to do with women's rights)? What about all those frozen embryos? Wow...

??????? Words fail, as often when dealing with brainlessness of this magnitude. Even if, as is likely, the amendment sinks without a trace, the willingness of our legal system to allow such a ridiculous travesty of democratic process to proceed does not bode well for the future of liberty in this republic.

2008-01-11

2008-01-08

slowly losing Florida part 2

Taylor county, Florida, refuses to accept the teaching of evolution in schools! The link is to a pdf of the Nov 20th meeting. They are—get this!—opposed to "teaching evolution as a fact". It probably is one of the most idiotic statements that could be made by anyone; soon they'll be voting on changing the value of pi to 3, and, I am sure, on even more idiotic measures.

Among the gems in that product of arrogant ignorance is this statement: "we are requesting that the State Board of Education direct the Florida Department of Education to revise/edit the new Sunshine State Standards for Science so that evolution is presented as one of several theories as to how the universe was formed". The morons not only have no clue about scientific method and biology, but they seem to be conflating the Big Bang theory with that of evolution. And then, people like them have the nerve to state, when speaking of atheists, "Because their arguments are really quite lightweight intellectually, they resort to nastiness.".

No, we resort to nastiness because your idiocy is so overwhelming that we are at a loss for words. Not that logic and rationality would make an impact on your tiny benighted rudimentary brains even if we regained our power of speech. Sheesh.

more laughter in the dark dept

Of course, this is a classic Onion and bloody hilarious, and, naturally, frightening at the same time:

Bush Begins Preparations For Nations Final Year

The Onion

Bush Begins Preparations For Nation's Final Year

WASHINGTON-The president assured citizens he would do everything possible over next few months to promote a smooth transition into utter oblivion.

2008-01-07

A simple solution?

"Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray "in perpetuity" to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy."

Now that is a cheap and easy way of doing it, and, most likely will be endorsed by the paedophiles themselves. I suppose it fits within Christian ontology, but, for my money, more efficient, even though naturalistic, ways of solving the problem can be imagined.

How stupid can people get?

a very special Mercury conjunction

on January 14th, MESSENGER, the NASA Mercury probe, will make its first closest approach to Mercury; the last time anything constructed by humans was anywhere near that planet was in March 1975, when Mariner 10 made its final flyby.

But MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging) is so much cooler! Of course, the technology now was probably little dreamed of more than 30 years ago, but MESSENGER will also, after a series of three flybys, will enter, on October 18 2001, into orbit around Mercury! Keep your eyes on the news; the official MESSENGER site is excellent; make sure you check it out.

This is cool science, indeed.

2008-01-06

Mars impact becomes more probable

The chances of the asteroid WD5 missing Mars and depriving us of a great show have been downgraded to 27 out of 28. Keep your finger crossed, as the orbit is calculated to better precision.

2008-01-04

You know where my sympathies lie...

Another excellently hilarious quote from a bogus discipline:

“Either homeopathy works or controlled trials don’t!”

—Scottish homeopath David Reilly at the 2001 Harvard Medical School Complementary and Integrative Medicine Conference.

New Blog

A wonderful new Science Blog: A Good Poop. Yeah, check it out...don't be scared...

important issues

Presidential candidates (and, as of yesterday, several ex-candidates), on some important scientific issues here. The three questions asked specifically were related to stem cell research, global warning and the teaching of creationism in schools, and it is more significant to note those candidates that did NOT respond than those that did. In any case, looking at the candidate's campaign pages simply confirms for me that the Republican party has been taken over by theocratic authoritarian troglodytes. I can live with the Democrats, however, at least on the issues that involve some degree of empiricism.

Should we give up on Florida?

I mean, some people thought so back in 2000, but I wasn't one of them. However, they are currently

still debating
whether to teach
evolution
in high schools.

I sort of thought that they did already; forgive me for my ignorance, but isn't it, like, 2008? Apparently, the state of Florida is only now discussing whether to stay in Dark Ages for another…what…several hundred years, and a lot of its residents SUPPORT THE IDEA. The sheer idiocy of this is overwhelming. I must say though, that the funniest bits in the above links are—naturally—in the comment sections. That's where sheer imbecility lurks…

so you think you know HTML?

A wonderfully hilarious place, The HTML Hell Page. Yes, I am guilty of several of the transgressions listed therein, but not too many, and I insist that I was an early adopter of the hatred and disgust for several other idiocies described there. Plus, a lot of this sage advice does not really apply to a free blog site, on which you are stuck with pre-designed templates and weird advertising blurbs beyond your control. Anyway, chock full of lovely rants and design tips for anyone trying to make the world notice.

2008-01-03

everyone should visit

Scroll down...in the sidebar entitled "my faraway home" there is a new ani-banner (in Russian): check it out; it'll take you to a massive collection of photo-galleries from my hometown, St Petersburg (Leningrad): the most beautiful city on the planet...

Meh.

2008-01-02

Russia letting it slip

An absolutely horrible article pushing creationism has been published by Pravda, of all sources. The english version is rather hilarious, repeating most of the usual creationist canards. Total garbage, needless to say, and yet another indication that Pravda's editorial policies have not changed much since the halcyon Communist days: an old Soviet joke said "There is no truth ("pravda" in Russian) in Pravda; there are no news ("izvestiya" in Russian) in Izvestiya (another major Soviet paper). It was true then, it still seems to be true now.

Perihelion

It passed (about 20 minutes ago) and everything still seems to be the same. But now we are receding from the Sun at about 5 km/sec, although paradoxically (for the Northern Hemisphere anyway, and not really in any case) the weather in Portland is looking up.

some important definitions

After participating in some--mostly hilarious--exchanges in MySpace fora, I realized that certain terms are not used by many participants in a standard way (especially by those of newage or religious varieties, although some atheists and scientists have also been guilty of such transgressions). Allow me to propose some much needed redefinitions that would surely go a long way towards resolving all the confusion and bitterness due to misunderstandings.

a.close-minded: somebody who refuses to accept the correctness of my beliefs.

b.arrogant: somebody who presumes to question my beliefs.

c.truth-seeker: somebody who has found it already and is now only accepting further confirmations of their rightness; myself, certainly; others, not so likely.

d.scientism: usage of science to question my particular cherished dogma.

e.reasonable: somebody comfortable with my ontology and metaphysics, somebody that will gladly accept that black is white, if I say so.

I am sure there are several more, including the antonyms to the above definitions, but I hope this will be of some help...

2008-01-01

pretty pictures

Cassini team had a vote for the best Saturn image of 2007. Oooh! Awesome!...get yer desktop backrounds straight from the source! The winner was, of course, this:



The rest of the results are here