Archive for May, 2010
1. Bonobos are animals. However
2. Bonobos have been observed extensively in engaging in war and homosexuality. However
3. War and homosexuality are a sin. However
4. Animals don’t sin. However
5. Bonobos are animals. Thus
6. Bonobos are against Christianity AND…
7. We should keep them away from the children.
That’s so awesome I have nothing to add.
The post is brought to you by lekhonee v0.7
As you may or may not know (or care), hurricane season is upon us! Add in a little El Nino, put in a spice of some Global Warming turning regular storms into Katrina-like, city eating storms, and it should be a fun season! NOAA (somewhere, I cannot find the link) predicts a 44% chance of a monster-sized storm this season. YAY!
But wait, you say! Is there not insane amounts of oil in the Gulf? Will that not make things incredibly interesting for hurricane season?
Why yes! It will! Fun things to think about:
* Oil and water don’t mix so the oil won’t be carried by the storm, but no one has any idea what will happen with all those chemicals being dropped into the Gulf. Will a potential storm suck it up and rain toxic chemicals down on people for hundreds of miles? We Will See!
* Storm surge and spray may spray oil miles inland. Instead of just marshes and coastline being covered in oil, towns up to 45 miles in may get coated in oil and muck. Think about that cleanup job!
* What will definitely happen is a big hurricane will churn up oil beneath the surface of the water and disperse it right into the gulf stream!
Deepwater Horizonought to be a major historical inflection point. We ought to be looking at it and going: dear God. We ought to be standing back and saying, 30 years of lax regulation and lax oversight and a hyper pro-business, pro-capitalism environment (and that is Democrats and Republicans) got us here. We should be saying, look at Greece! Look at Spain! Look at this giant Recession! Look at this mess! All this has one root. And we have no political will to say, this is the problem, governments must assert their rights over corporation rights (which are now people!) and lay down the smackdown. BP has to go. All these abusive companies and practices <i>have to go</i>.
But we won’t. Because we suck. Even when a hurricane splatters all this oil everywhere inland and into the Gulf Stream and up the East Coast.
Anyway, Yves Smith has a nice roundup of daily business/economics links about the disaster. Read and be appalled. Or not. Me, I’m just watching the weather.
I just installed the WordPress app for the Droid. I’m experimenting with it a little bit to see how hard it is to compose and post to the blog. So far it’s quite decent although it makes me wist greatly for good droid bluetooth keyboard support. The lack of bluetooth keyboard is a small problem.
But! Not bad. I elected to use the clicklet keyboard for entry and it is definitely passable.
I have declared jihad on my deer.
On Saturday we went up to Lowes and bought this stuff called Deer Off. A nice lady working at Lowes wanted to be helpful but got scared when faced with my wrath and hatred upon the deer. She fled when I started trying to make all deer worldwide explode with my mind. I hate the damn deer.
I took it home and this stuff is the foulest, nastiest, most awful stuff in the history of mankind. It’s basically coagulated deer blood and it comes out of the bottle in concentrate. Lumpy. It is a sort of brain-puree pinkish color. The smell is something to believed — it’s easily the most foul stuff I have ever contacted and I have wiped many a dirty diaper full of baby butt. It is horrible.
My hatred for the deer saw me through. It was mixed in the spray bottle and put down on my most edible, tasty plants until those suckers were dripping with coagulated deer nasty. One of my roses looked pinkish white when I was done. The entire yard stank of this stuff that claims, oh yes it claims, to dry odorless to humans. I certainly wouldn’t eat anything that smelled like that.
Once I was done, we went off to see Iron Man 2.
When I walked out of Iron Man 2, it was raining.
And to add insult to injury, a deer came along and ate more heads off another day lily. I hate them. I hate them.
Some of them are blooming right now (yay) but I am just furious. God wants the deer to have a buffet. Next up: the hamburger sign with “THIS WILL BE YOU” on it.
The deer had yet another buffet last night and ate the buds off two of my day lily plants. Thankfully it looks like they were scared away before they finished their little snack. I am still planning on putting a sign with a picture of a hamburger in my garden to remind them what they are destined to become.
I have coffee grounds to put down around my plants and they are going down tomorrow because they are good for other reasons but does anyone have any anti-deer advice other than sitting on the porch at dawn with a gun? … although venison is mighty tasty. I have to head to Lowes to get a hedge trimmer this weekend so I was looking to pick up some products to spray.
(Note: I have netting around my vegetables to keep the animals out. The netting is very effective but wrapping my whole garden in netting is a little prohibitive.)
Since this is all over the Internets today:
Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, the new GOP Candidate for the open Senate seat in Kentucky, went on NPR and Rachel Maddow (and other, lesser-known places) and articulated his pure Libertarian position on the Civil Rights Act. He does not believe the Government should interfere with private enterprise and tell privately held companies who they can hire or who they can do business with. Thus, turning away black people from the Woolsworth’s counters is okay. He wouldn’t personally go to Woolsworth’s if they did but if Woolsworth’s didn’t want to serve black people or hire black people simply because they’re black, he’s good with that because Government does not have a right to interfere with private free markets and individual freedom.
People started digging and discovered — amazing! — Rand Paul’s very internally consistent Libertarian philosophy right out of the Fountainhead. Surprise! A guy named after Ayn Rand is a devotee!*
I’m a little disappointed he’s now backing off on his statements. It’s too bad. I love Victoriana! His platform is great for 1880! Yay 1880! Yay Steampunk!
His articulated position is not one of racism — and I sincerely doubt he is a racist — but he is standing on ideology on a specific position: to be Truly Free, men have the right to be terrible to the rest of mankind without Government interference on their own recognizance and should pay whatever price society exacts. The problem is both a lack of context and a lack of history. First, society doesn’t exact a price from racial discrimination. Otherwise we wouldn’t have needed the Civil Rights Act.** Second, the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s upheld this purely Libertarian notion of freedom on multiple occasions in all sorts of areas — you can thank the Supreme Court of the 1880s for the whole Corporations are People nonsense. Most notably, Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896) upheld the distinct rights of private enterprise (and, granted, the state, since this was about segregation laws in the state of Louisiana) to segregate at will. Hey, the decision says, black people can go make awesome stuff just like white people. You’re just not applying yourself! Stop your whining and go make awesome stuff! What do you mean you can’t get a bank loan to start a business or buy a house or… The opinions are online and pretty entertaining reads. This was overturned by Brown vs. Board of Education which lead to the Civil Rights Movement and we are where we are today.
The problem is, in the real world of big-time politics in a system where whomever builds the biggest coalition between different voting blocks wins, running on an pure theoretical ideology based on a science fiction novel is going to run into operational problems. Purity of Ideology rarely gets one kissing babies and hugging old ladies and giving speeches at the VFW hall so he’s doing well to get this far. I am surprisingly cool with his internally held convictions and his loyalty to his internally consistent ideology — when he’s not busy running from it. It’s great that he at least has one which puts him above other politicians. He simply shouldn’t be surprised when people, after listening to him, go: “…. what? Can you say that again?”
* Maybe he got his copy from someone on Mad Men!
** This is the core point I think Dr. Paul missed. There’s all sorts of things to unpack here but the 100 years between the end of the Civil War and the passing of the Civil Rights Act was not exactly a free market paradise and ultimately, the Government forced down a fairness as part of the rules of the road. Agree or not, this was the point. We gloss over the 1870s-1910, the core of this period, in our history books. Perhaps deliberately.
I banged out 50% of sock #2 yesterday evening. After a long day nothing is more soothing than sitting there going in circles and going knit-knit-knit-knit. But I was a little dismayed — my speed has picked up considerably and I burned through several inches of sock in an hour. Guess I just need to keep making stuff.
So anyway! Sock. With same cheap DPNs and same crappy worsted weight lion’s brand wool in a highly unattractive brown. The heel turn came out much better as did picking up the stitches and closing that hole at the gusset. I don’t know what the final product will look like but so far it is considerably Less Full of Inexplicable Holes.
This fills my Heart with Gladness and Wonder because once I come around to spending life on DPNs I can move on and make more sock-shaped stuff and making socks has many advantages. A sock is a 1 ball project so sock projects are cheap! Sock projects are quick! Sock projects are portable! An entire sock project fits in my small knit project bag! Basic sock patterns can be committed to memory!
I see the addictive nature of knitting over crochet. Knitting is more precise and fiddly. It’s better for doing small, very precise work like patterns or colorwork. Or socks! It creates a smoother fabric. It’s better for tubes or fabric that has to be dense and hang right. But crochet is better for things like amigurumis where there are a bunch of different sized stitches all bunched together to make a shape like a wing or a nose or for big comfy things like blankets (I don’t really want to knit a blanket). I like crochet thread jewelry over trying to knit that stuff, especially with beads. Knit sweaters, socks, gloves, hats. Crochet accessories and stuffies.*
They’re both like mental crack, though: they completely clear the decks of whatever is going on to just count stitches and rows.
* I did buy the hand puppet kit from Knit Picks but those are, again, smooth tubes.
I made a sock. It is a terrible sock. Of all the socks made in the history of socks it is one of the top 5 worst socks of all time. It has holes you can fly a Boeing through in the gussets. At one point I clearly got lost and started knitting the wrong way. I figured out the kitchener stitch halfway through doing the Kitchener stitch.
But. I made a sock. It fits on my foot. It has the general properties of being sock-like. It’s just a sad sock.
And I’m working on its mate! Which may be better. Or maybe not.
It’s sort of a victory over Man vs. Yarn. It’s the eighth sock I started but never got past the initial cuff. I’m a little disappointed that I am stuck with double pointed needles — I never got the two needle or magic loop methods to work. DPNs are an enormous pain and it feels like I’m knitting an overeager octopus. Little bits of wood and yarn are all over the place.
I feel like I have been admitted to some secret club. The Legion of Sock Knitters. Someone who can make a sock.
If the Zombie Apocalypse comes and I am trapped as a character in The Walking Dead, I have a functional skill to give back to the community — official Knitter of Socks. Well, providing we have sheep and spinning wheels… but that is details. Socks!
The Deepwater Horizon spill should be a historical inflection point like Three Mile Island. The horror cannot be hidden. The cost to lives, property, livlihoods and the environment is increasingly difficult to hide no matter how hard BP tries because we have this thing called the Internet and it is on computers now. Engineers from all over the world are discussing not just the Deepwater Horizon spill but how we, as humans, have been destroying the oceans in general.
But it’s not just the incredibly lax overview of the deep water oil drilling industry where the Government gleefully hired oil industry lobbyists to fill key roles in oversight and licensing organizations and simply didn’t bother to do any inspections. This is one of many places where the cheap cost of business in the name of “free-enterprise” is passing on horrors to not just us but to everyone on the planet — it’s the agricultural industry and energy and mining and manufacturing where, in exchange for ‘cheapness’ we get a worse world in lax oversight and pollution and horrors. We not only enable these spills but we subsidize them.,
It’s time we, as Americans, start paying for our messes.
If you want cheap ethanol…
If you want to fill your enormous SUV with gas…
If you want expensive foreign wars…
If you want cheap hamburger at the supermarket…
It’s time to pay for it. It’s time to stop hiding the costs of things and bring them scurrying out into the light like hunting for cockroaches.
But because we clearly do not have the political will to enforce and tighten regulations on corporations because they dump money into our electoral system, it’s time to do what we, as Americans, do best: put the screws to regular people. Force the people to pony up for all the cheap things in life. Make gas at the pump cost $5, $6, $7. Only when people have to pay for the costs of “drill, baby, drill” will they make demands for change.
I have precisely three requirements for a carbon tax:
1. It be painful.
2. That it be clear when you are being charged in big bold letters on your food, your energy bills, and at the gas pump.
3. The money collected go only to paying all the subsidizes, to pay for our foreign wars, to pay for the cleanups of all the pollution and hazardous waste that our Fine New American Citizens, the Corporations, have foisted upon us. With, preferably, a website to track it.
I know this will never happen. Our backboneless government will only backdoor the screws to the people so people do not see a clear line between malfeasance from government (no oversight) and corporations and cold, hard cash. But I can wish…
So I come out in favor of a carbon tax. A great big one. A great big fat juicy one. Because only when we hit people in the pocketbook will people even begin to wake up and see the price of these decisions.
And one other thing: if corporations want to be treated like citizens and have the full run of the Constitution, I believe “jury of their peers” is in there, too. It’s time to start charging corporations as a whole with criminal charges. Imagine if a person or small group had destroyed the Gulf of Mexico. Follow that thought.
The clip we saw on AMC from the original 1938 Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn was not colorized as we originally suspected but in an early and eye-gougingly bright Technicolor. I swear I thought it was colorized but no, apparently it was filmed in color.
According to IMDB, they used all 11 Technicolor cameras in existence (from Technicolor) to film the movie and it’s huge Avatar-like success is what lead to the adoption of color movies.
It’s the 1922 Robin Hood starring Douglas Fairbanks that is in B&W.
That answers my random outstanding and context-free question of the day.
As an archeology geek with interest in the Mayans, I go squee: Using Laser to Map Ancient Civilization in a Matter of Days.
Then, in the dry spring season a year ago, the husband-and-wife team of Arlen F. Chase and Diane Z. Chase tried a new approach using airborne laser signals that penetrate the jungle cover and are reflected from the ground below. They yielded 3-D images of the site of ancient Caracol, in Belize, one of the great cities of the Maya lowlands.
In only four days, a twin-engine aircraft equipped with an advanced version of lidar (light detection and ranging) flew back and forth over the jungle and collected data surpassing the results of two and a half decades of on-the-ground mapping, the archaeologists said. After three weeks of laboratory processing, the almost 10 hours of laser measurements showed topographic detail over an area of 80 square miles, notably settlement patterns of grand architecture and modest house mounds, roadways and agricultural terraces.
It has an interactive graphic! It’s awesome! The city is huge!
(This review talks about human evolution. If you’re into ID, I’m sure my next post will be full of something not about human evolution.)
Dr. Wrangham is a British Primatologist over at Harvard and his book, “Catching Fire,” is an interesting science book full of nothing but science. He starts with a basic supposition that something happened on the evolutionary boundary between the habilines, largely shown as Homo Habilis and our buddy Home Erectus. By examining the skull structure, chest cavity, molar structure, and the analysis of diet, nutrition and food science, his theory states that humanity made two major jumps:
1. Australopithecine -> Homo Habilis by the introduction of scavenged meat into the diet, well pounded with early tools to make it palatable and digestible.
2. Homo Habilis -> Homo Erectus by placing the vegetables and meat in the fire cook the food.
He marries primatology with food science to show how cooked meat and vegetables greatly reduces the time to chew and digest food while keeping the exact same caloric and nutritional content of food. Experiments show feeding cooked and easy to chew food to animals, especially primates, results in very fat primates who always prefer cooked food to raw. Raw food consumes an enormous time to chew and requires large molars, which Homo Sapiens no longer has, but cooked food needs a smaller digestive system and smaller molars. It also frees Homo Sapiens from the task of chewing all day to doing other things — a rate of spending 60% of the day chewing down to less than 10%. Energy also is conserved in physiology — all animals across all species and genus with access to easily digested food have reduced gut size and put all that energy into increased brain cavity.
Fire provides a whole host of other evolutionary advantages — more hours in the day available to be active, a source of protection at night, a source of warmth, a place for culture to grow and breed, and a clear division of labor between the sexes — hunting and cooking. Dr. Wrangham pulls dozens of examples from many different hunter-gatherer cultures worldwide, from Inuit to Australian aborigines to the !Kung of Africa to South Pacific Islanders, and finds commonalities that involve cooking, meat/vegetable balance, and division of labor and economic trade-offs. All revolves around fire and food.
As for keeping a fire going, experiments show that chimpanzees can keep a fire going indefinitely. If a fire, captured, was brought in to a cave or another protected place and was properly venerated as the God it is, certainly a fire could be kept going. Homo Habilis was a tool-maker and tool-user — if Homo Habilis realized using the gold (pyrite-filled) stones to smash instead of the grey or brown ones, fire would start, and it had enough presence to repeat the process, fire could be made and kept going. It’s reasonable to believe mankind made fire and kept fire far before measured time.
The arguments make sense and they are well sourced with tons of footnotes, a vast bibliography, and references pulled from other sources. The argument is also persuasive — we can find fire pits up to 800,000 years old and after that there is no trace but that means very little. If one little group became Homo Erectus and survived, we would never find evidence of that one small tribe who lived on. Too many evolutionary advantages match with the archeological evidence. Something happened at that boundary between Homo Habilis and Homo Erectus, something that allowed the gut to shrink and the brain to expand and Homo Erectus to spread all over the world. Keeping fire and cooking food makes sense and the arguments are reasonable.
It’s a fairly short, quick read as these sorts of books go at 320 pages. Highly recommended to anyone interested in human evolution and/or food science.
Kim lent me a copy of the hardbound first collection of the graphic novel Castle Waiting by Linda Medley and produced by Fantagraphics Books. The story is a sort of feminist Chaucer set in the never never land of fairy tales. It opens with the story of Castle Waiting, a castle set over a land once lush and prosperous until it became the bramble-covered castle of the story of Sleeping Beauty. Once the Prince woke the Princess and everyone else from their century-long sleep the town was gone and the castle destroyed. With the castle abandoned by all but a few, it became Castle Waiting.
The stories in Castle Waiting are charming and entertaining but lack emotional punch. It’s difficult not to be charmed by the book as the stories are light, funny and entertaining. A pregnant woman flees from her abusive husband and falls into peril before she manages to reach Castle Waiting and give birth to her strange green son. A horse-headed knight and the stork-shaped keeper of the castle go into town for supplies and meet up with bandits. A full second half of the book involves the story of the local nun and how a bearded girl joined a circus, left a circus, and found herself among a feminist order in the service of God. The story of the nun goes on too long — it spins into backstories about backstories that have backstories — but is otherwise fun to read. It’s sort of the fantasy lives of the women of various fantasy series while their men go off and fight wars and the great battles between Good and Evil.
It’s a fun read. It’s well and clearly written. The art is top-notch for being b&w. It’s very light. I’m not certain it’s a “read more than once” but it is handsomely bound and looks good sitting on a shelf among other books. It makes a nice introduction to comics for people who aren’t enormous comic-book people and aren’t interested in requiring an encyclopedic knowledge of this universe or that one going back 40 years. Although it has fairy tale references it is a self-contained volume.
I’ll happily read volume #2 when it comes out. This one comes recommended for those looking to get into comics and not knowing where to start, or those who enjoy comics from time to time but don’t want to invest in some huge story. It’s a great intro-story. It may not be a good recommendation for people who are hard core comics nerds who are looking for more meat out of their stories.
(Also, it needs to go back to its owner!)
I made the mistake of reading this over on the Huffington Post and my head exploded.
Mayor Bloomberg points out, reasonably enough, that if someone is placed on the terrorism watchlist/no-fly list, that person should be denied when going through the background check to purchase a firearm. Makes a certain amount of sense, yes? If the FBI thinks you shouldn’t fly, maybe you shouldn’t buy a gun or explosives to cause mass havoc on the ground.
The same cast of idiots who want to strip accused terrorists of their citizenship and drag them off to camps to torture them would never think to deprive these same people of their Second Amendment Rights. Because dammit, that potential terrorist can have all the guns he (or she) wants until he or she converts to a real terrorist and kills people! And at that point we remove all their rights, except the Second Amendment one, and torture them until they tell us where they got the guns, which may or may not be “Meijer.*”
Now, granted, there is a serious argument about innocent people on the terrorist watch list who may be deprived of their right to own a vast collection of firearms. And supposedly these people don’t fly and would only realize this when they went to buy a gun. That doesn’t make the suggestion less reasonable. It exposes a need for transparency into this terrorist watch list and an appeals process to get off it.
This hurts my head.
* If you’re a Michigan terrorist. But we don’t talk about those cuz they’re not brown.
It turns my stomach to see US Senators saying we should not Mirandize a suspect or we should revoke the citizenship of a (not convicted, only suspected) US citizen because they do not like the nature of the crime. With absolutely astonishment I read the words of various GOP Senators and Congressmen (and one Joe Lieberman) suggesting we should waive Supreme Court-granted Miranda Rights (McCain), or put a US Citizen before a military commission (Rep Pete King (R-NY)) or strip the man of his citizenship entirely (Lieberman). Suddenly I find myself on the side of Glenn Beck and Antonin Scalia* of all people.
Just because a citizen is unpopular or commits unpopular acts does not mean you may strip the man of his citizenship and deprive him of his lawfully and constitutionally granted rights. We did not strip citizenship from John Wilkes Booth or Charles Guiteau or Leon Czolgosz or Lee Harvey Oswald (who was himself assassinated) or Timothy McVey or Sirhan Sirhan or the guy who shot up Fort Hood or anyone else who has done anything reprehensible. Unlike our Times Square bomber, these guys carried out their plans to fruition. Are these not all terror acts of one sort or another?
Are our elected representatives so craven and fearful of some ‘other’ across the ocean that they will not stand proudly and tall behind Due Process and the US Constitution? Do they truly wish to strip a citizen of their citizenship as standing accused and not yet convicted?
We are better than this.
Update: Joe Lieberman is writing some fancy pants bill to strip people of their citizenship based on what Joe Lieberman wants to see in citizens. What a coward.
I, now, am penning a bill to strip whiny US Senators of their citizenship for sucking. I want to move to Connecticut just to vote against him when he’s next up.
Scalia argued in the Hamid case that a policy of ‘denaturalization’ would force the US Constitution to support a suspended habeaus corpus which he would never support.