Monday, October 31, 2011

Apparently, Mitt Romney does not understand how is babby formed

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Z200a, and, of course, kavya)

Tebow gets Tebowed!

Swiped from TBogg, who will explain further, if you wish. More details available at Shutdown Corner. Fun site: Darwin fans should not miss The Evolution of Tebowing.

[Added] See also "Tebowed, But Not Tebroken," from ZandarVTS.

[Added2] Follow-up.

*sigh* This is all we have for NBA news

Looks like Kris Humphries will be getting divorced.

(h/t: Cynthia Tucker)

Headline of the Day

Rick Santorum: Mitt Romney Is To Blame For Same-Sex Marriage
Yeah.  That Santorum.

(Think Progress via Joshua Holland.)

Happy Halloween! Want to see a very creepy movie trailer?

Could be I read The Exorcist at a particularly vulnerable age, but this trailer gave me some good chills.

Definitely go full screen on this one. (Hover over the video and click the icon that will appear in the upper right corner of the frame.) Sorry about the leading 15-second ad -- a movie preview before the movie preview.

Cool logo, whose ever it is, [Added: Bloody Disgusting's, according to Get Glue, it looks like.]

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Because you don't get enough spam already

I just added a gadget over in the sidebar that will allow you to sign up to get notified by email of new posts on this blog. Please let me know if you have any problems with it, should you decide to try it.

If it needs saying: I will not share your email address with anyone. (I am not even sure that I can see the addresses that get typed in; they're probably all handled by Google/Blogger behind the scenes.)

[Added] I put in one of my other addresses to test it. It looks like you'll get at most one email per day, and you'll only get that if I post something new that day. If you want to be notified more frequently -- i.e., as each new post appears --you might want to follow me on some social networking thing (links over there in the sidebar) or use a feed reader. Details available on request -- drop a note in the Comments or send me an email.

[Added2] Just got my first email from the above. It'll be from bjkeefe, with subject "bjkeefe," which is probably not likely to be the most informative line in your Inbox, but there it is. Also, it doesn't look like images or embedded videos come through, which may be to your liking or may not. It's easy enough to click over to the relevant post(s), though.

Welp, you know what President Barlet's favorite toast was

Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged women.

(Apparently, he was a big Jaws fan.)

I are a restaurant

Came across an old bookmark, from a past session of ego-surfing, I expect. I are now closed, sadly, although it looks like I have been replaced by the Yucatan Taco Stand, which is way more fun to say.

I still live in Google Street View, however!

Click the first two pics to embiggen.

B J Keefers restaurant

B J Keefers restaurant, zoomed in a bit

This one turns into noise if you try to blow it up any further, so I'm just going to declare that, according to the fine print, I was once an American Bistro.

B J Keefers restaurant, zoomed in on sign

[Added] Probably a bit too late for me (the restaurant), but I'm told that Google Street View may soon allow you to walk into various places of business, virtually. Here's a short video report from Newsy on that. (Sorry not to have embedded it, but it is too wide to fit in this blog's posting space, and it does not appear to be resizeable.)

(h/t: Alexandra Pfenninger, via email)

"The History Of English In 10 Minutes"

Really good. Nice job, OpenLearn.

Here's a link to a YouTube playlist, which will cause the ten one-minute segments to autoplay sequentially.

(h/t: Visual News, via someone on the Twitter whose name I forgot to note. Sorry.)


pourmecoffee says:

These computer ads are making me want a computer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Great video, great idea: "Keep Wall Street Occupied"

(alt. video link)

No doubt the banksters will call up their favorite Congressional mouthpieces to huff about how this is illegal, abuse of the postal system, and therefore terrorism. Which should only make you want to do it more.

(h/t: Shoq, via @dvnix)


Before Game 7, the Cardinals dropped left fielder Matt Holliday (bruised right pinkie) from the World Series roster.

I figured as soon as I heard last night that the real reason was really a La Russa fit of pique, and the official reason only hardens my suspicion. But man, poor guy. Being put on the disabled list for a "bruised right pinkie" will be remembered by bench jockeys for the rest of his career.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Willard's latest flip-flop: he's now a denialist

Romney and his rubber gloveShocking, I know.

The former Massachusetts governor had been one of the few Republican presidential candidates to embrace the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change. But in a speech in Pittsburgh on Thursday, he sounded like more of a skeptic.

“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” Romney said in the speech, a clip of which was posted by the liberal blog Think Progress.

Here's the Think Progress post.

(h/t: Kombiz Lavasany via Brad DeLong RT)

Love that NYT dryness sometimes

(It is not known whether snakes get heart disease.)

Also to his credit, Lawrence K. Altman resists for eight whole paragraphs before succumbing to temptation in the ninth.

Who knows whether the research described will amount to yet another nostrum that people can abuse as part of a healthy diet; the point is, the article is interesting, the accompanying photograph is way cool …

… and the video I went and found for you (from the photo credit) will feed your inner eight-year-old boy like nobody's business.

Definitely go full screen on that bad boy.

Matt Taibbi on Rick Perry

John Allen Poulos is right: "Title is unfair, but not to Perry."

Read "Rick Perry: Best Little Whore in Texas."

Headline of the Week

Play With Shelter Cats Online RIGHT NOW

See Christopher Robbins over at the Gothamist.

(h/t: MK, via email)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deep Thought

It turns out there is an upside to the squirrel becoming a symbol of good luck this postseason: think about which group that's gonna piss off.


[Update] Also.

All Hail The Free Market

How sad is that? he snickered.

The documentary "The Undefeated" is on sale at Walmart in a special package deal with "Going Rogue."

Of COURSE it's a Walmart exclusive!

More Serendipity

Must. Resist. Temptation. To. Refresh.

Screengrab of Twitter search for #wingnuts, with 'People' results including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, and Virginia Foxx


And 50 Million Grumpy Old Men Rejoice

Emph. added:

Apple engineers and designers, spurred by Mr. Jobs, have been struggling for years to find a new interface for the television. One of the biggest hurdles, according to people with knowledge of the project, has been replacing the television set’s annoying best friend: the awkward and confusing remote control. Apple would give people a way to choose the content on their television that is as easy as choosing the content on their iPod, iPhone or iPad.

Alternative remote ideas floated by Apple included a wireless keyboard and mouse, or using an iPod, iPhone or iPad as a remote. None of these concepts worked. But there was one “I finally cracked it” moment, when Apple realized you could just talk to your television.

Enter Siri.

It’s the stuff of science fiction. You sit on your couch and rather than fumble with several remotes or use hand gestures, you simply talk: …

What could possibly go wrong with that? asks the guy who still won't put voice recognition software on his computer out of fears that someday his dictation will be misunderstood as "Wipe hard drive now. Yes, I'm sure."

I'll also point out that, typically, there is only one remote control. Households featuring multiple children, please note.

Anyway, I'm gonna hold out until Siri lets you punch through the teevee. And then I will start watching a lot of Fox News.


"The Shame of College Sports"

Oct 2011 cover, plus blurb about Taylor Branch's NCAA cover story from Frank Deford

There's a long piece in the Atlantic and available online that some of you might be interested in. It's by Taylor Branch (Wikipedia entry). Here's the introductory blurb:

A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news. We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves. Here, a leading civil-rights historian makes the case for paying college athletes—and reveals how a spate of lawsuits working their way through the courts could destroy the NCAA.

Here is the rest.

I haven't gotten to this one yet, so this is partly a note to self, and I can't say for sure how good it will be. But based on a shorter NYT article about the piece and the author, I'm betting it'll be worth your time if you're interested in this aspect of sports.

(h/t: KK | pic. source: TB's homepage)

P.S. You can read and listen to the Frank Deford piece from which the blurb above is taken. It aired last month.

Euphonious Phrase of the Day

… meditatively hefting rosewood bishops …

Nice one, Tad Friend.

(Sorry that all I have to offer is a link to the gate in the paywall. I was reading the print edition.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lawrence Krauss on tour

Remember I mentioned what sounded like a great new book, back in May? I just happened across the author, out pimping it! (Actually, this talk took place back in April, at D.G. Wills Books.)

It's about ninety minutes long, but Krauss is a fine speaker, so the time seemed to fly by for me. Jump to 03:55 if the intro starts seeming tedious.

(alt. video link)

Also of interest: First, the Krauss talk appears to have been organized by The Science Network, which I've mentioned a time or two before. You might like to visit their page for this talk and see if anything else grabs your eye.

Second, D.G. Wills Books has a YouTube channel, featuring other people who have pimped spoken there. For example, Christopher Hitchens in 2006 (i.e., pre-God is not Great), discussing the book he wrote on Thomas Jefferson, and answering audience questions on other topics, as well. [Added: which just keeps getting better and better, the farther in I get.]

P.S. Lawrence Krauss's home page, just for completeness.

Ah, serendipity


(Insert Big Brother reference here)

But admit you want one of your own. Particularly if you have cats.

You'll want to go full-screen with this one. It's about three minutes long.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Michael Moyer via Bora Zivkovic)

Cognitive Dissonance of the Day

For wingnuts, I mean.

michelleinbklyn Tear gas is known to cause miscarriage. Shouldn't pro-lifers join lefties in condemning its use by the Oakland PD? …

You go, Powerpuff Ninja!

Coastal Elitisim Up Over Last Year; Joe Buck Seen as Principle Cause

In news that probably comes as no surprise, viewership numbers for this year's World Series are down, especially among the Coveted Demographic, as those in the teevee biz like to say.

It almost certainly isn't helping that the two teams are who they are -- if I had a nickel for every time I've heard or read some variation on Ugh. La Russa? Texas? How can you root for either of these teams? I could buy Fox Sports and fire Joe Buck.

I'll tell you what I'd also do with my new power: stop the interstitial ads. I am convinced that the casual fan, even the young one whose filters are much better developed, gets to a point where having the game itself constantly interrupted with swirling promos for other shows and inane sponsorships like "this call to the bullpen brought to you by …" is no longer tolerable, especially given a handy remote control. Two and a half or three minutes between each half-inning, not to mention between each pitching change, not to mention the billboards in the background of every single shot, ought to be plenty, even for the greediest teevee executives. And failing that, they should at least realize that you can only corrupt the product so much before other things start looking more attractive.

And really, get an announcer who doesn't hate baseball and analysts who ought not have been put out to pasture a decade ago. I guarantee you there would be a measurable increase in viewership if Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez were calling the games, and I say this as a Yankee fan.

Take that, windmill!

(h/t: KK, via email)

Remember that scene in Star Trek IV ...

... where Scotty tried to talk to the computer, and when that didn't work, and Bones handed him the mouse, he tried to speak into the mouse?

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Well-known magazine columnist Sean M. Carroll (in the near future, if not in some other universe). And see also the follow-up post.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Much as I hate to give Chief Chickenhawk Mattera any attention ...

Jason Mattera, Chief Chickenhawk

... at all, to the point of hesitating to link to a post that once again exposes him for what he is, this opening from TBogg is too good not to pass along:

Over at Human Events, which is like Big Journalism for people who find Dana Loesch too erudite …

(pic. source: some wingnut who appears to think that reading captions is elitist)

Spooky! (well, for math nerds it is)

John Barrow's lecture on continued fractions, which I finished watching three hours ago, still has the hairs on my neck and forearms gibbering about.

Visit the link above for the transcript and/or the slides. (Or just click those links, obvs.) You'll almost certainly want the latter, if the talk grabs your attention at all.

And remember:

Three out of two people have trouble with fractions

[Added] I see by looking at the transcript that the lecture stems from Barrow's article published in Issue 11 of Plus Magazine, "Chaos in Numberland: The secret life of continued fractions."

Rick Perry and George W. Bush once went out drinking ...

... but only had 5 bucks between them. So Bush took the fiver and bought a sausage.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Something to think about

From an old Ars Technica article about the Darknet:

As Pirate Party chairman Rickard Falkvinge points out, there is a fundamental incompatibility between enforcement of contemporary copyright law and the cherished freedoms of a democratic society: "there are much more fundamental values at stake here than copyright," says Falkvinge. "The new technology has brought society to a crossroads. The only way to enforce today's unbalanced copyright laws is to monitor all private communications over the Internet. Today's copyright regime cannot coexist with an open society that guarantees the right to private communication."

Cory Doctorow has been speaking eloquently on this subject for years. If you're not already aware of his thoughts, here's an example a short version and here's an example of a long version.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Line of the Day: 2011-10-23

We can talk about Obama's hypocrisy all day, but in the end his Middle East agenda at least makes some kind of sense. The American conservative approach has demonstrably been to invade a place, fuck the shit out of it, rack up a trillion dollar bill, and then bitch when someone else cleans up the mess.
    -- Roy Edroso

On a related note, from the same author: "Rightbloggers Denounce the End of the Iraq Occupation and the 'Horrific Murder' of Gaddafi."

(not a post related to Malcolm Gladwell)

On a note related to the previous post (my linking to which, it must be admitted, more than anything tends to reinforce the point of Daniel Kahneman's article), I encourage you to read "Don’t Blink! The Hazards of Confidence." Here's an excerpt:

The confidence we experience as we make a judgment is not a reasoned evaluation of the probability that it is right. Confidence is a feeling, one determined mostly by the coherence of the story and by the ease with which it comes to mind, even when the evidence for the story is sparse and unreliable. The bias toward coherence favors overconfidence. An individual who expresses high confidence probably has a good story, which may or may not be true.

The part near the end about those involved in the stock market is particularly instructive. Some funny illustrations, from Tim Enthoven, too.

Giant flying rhinoceros bearing down on a photographer

[Added] Uncle Eb also liked the article, and added some artwork that I just had to swipe.

Cat approaching eagle on a fence top.  Caption: 'OVERCONFIDENCE: This is going to end in disaster and you have no one to blame but yourself.'

Though, of course, we shouldn't be too harsh on eagles for their poor judgment. That could be construed as America-hating, after all.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Line of the Month

That people so often believe themselves to be right is no proof that they are; the only difference between the Church of Rome and the Church of England is that the former is infallible while the latter is never wrong.
    -- Jill Lepore, "The Commandments: The Constitution and its Worshipers"

Cover story

“Fighting Back,” by Barry Blitt. From the New Yorker, 24 Oct 2011.

Or, to put it another way:

Line of the Day: 2011-10-22

If a Republican had been responsible for the foreign-policy markers of the past three years, the Party would be commissioning statues.

From David Remnick's post about "Muammar Qaddafi's death and Republican politics."

A Warning Tale About Smileys

Dr. Lisa M. Bates reports:

In the text function of my BlackBerry there is a sidebar menu of emoticons (how ridiculous is that?) that shows the yellow smiley faces, except they are also crying and raging, and winking and blowing kisses, etc. I sent a fairly new acquaintance a ‘big hug’ emoticon — which, for the record, was ironic. But anyway, on his iPhone it came up with the symbols, not the smiley face, which don’t look anything like a big hug. From his perspective they look like a view of, er, splayed lady parts: ({}). He then ran around his lab showing colleagues excitedly what I had just sent him. Half (mostly men) concurred with his interpretation, and the others (mostly women) didn’t and probably thought he was kind of a desperate perv.”

Why, that's almost enough to make you like Tony La Russa

Due to the Cardinals having made it to the World Series, additional revenue has been generated for the city, and it now looks like city workers will not be required to take a furlough, after all. Hooray!

Okay, that's not actually nearly enough to make you like Tony La Russa. Never forget. Paste-eater.

It occurs to me that the frequency of cuts to his mug may be diminished tonight. Due to Fox's urge to show George and Laura Bush's non-reaction to every other play. And of course, all of this will be smeared with the stultifying gooeyness of Joe Buck's nonstop drone. Which completely explains the excitement of this headline.

"... message enough for many."

Charles Blow on OWS.

This has energized two groups who are notoriously apathetic and lacking in civic engagement — the young and the poor — and has done so outside the existing architectures of power and politics.


And numbers from the sidebar: "Not Quite 99 Percent, But Most."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Banksters in a nutshell

Remember that three-page memo describing how to "avoid making taxpayers liable in the future for the kind of reckless speculation that caused the financial crisis and resulting bailout …"?

Wall Street firms have spent countless millions of dollars trying to water down the original Volcker proposal and have succeeded in inserting numerous exemptions. Now they’re claiming it’s too complex to understand and too costly to adopt.

Ding Dong

Apparently, all of Michele Bachmann's paid New Hampshire campaign staffers have quit. Go Lexington! On Concord! (?)

While looking for news of that after seeing it mentioned on Twitter, I came across an even more delicious headline:

Michele Bachmann ignored by S.F. protesters

Unsurprising News of the Day

How often does the Pentagon award contracts to defense companies that have already been proven to be defrauding taxpayers? A report the Department of Defense did at the request of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reveals an answer that should make Washington very uncomfortable.

The report, released today, showed that hundreds of defense contractors found guilty of civil fraud received more than $1.1 trillion in defense contracts since 2001. The study took into account only companies that were found to have defrauded taxpayers of more than $1 million dollars.

But still, you should read the whole thing.

Verizon Wireless to start selling your usage data

Here are a news post and Verizon's disclosure statement.

Hat tip to the good people at Demand Progress, who have a petition you might like to sign.

"David Keith on Technology, Energy and Nature"

What, another hour-long video? Yes. Sorry, can't help it. Been stumbling across some good ones lately.

This talk, by David Keith, delivered at the Equinox Summit: Energy 2030 in June 2011, is about the most thought-provoking one I've ever heard on global warming, related resource issues, AGW mitigation, and our options and responsibilities. Denialists will no doubt be overjoyed at the cherry-picking they can do, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the attention of the reality-based community.

(alt. video link)

I already retweeted this, but ...

... just in case you don't follow me there, please read Eric Alterman's "Think Again: The Continuing Curse of ‘On the One-Handism’."

[Added] Don't miss Uncle Eb's related recommendation in Comments.

Line of the Day: 2011-10-21

We haven’t had a shortage of demands and solutions. We’ve had a shortage of mass movements.
    -- Stephen Lerner, in an interview by Ezra Klein

Apologies for it actually being LOTD from three weeks ago. Hat tip to Frank Pasquale, via James Kwak, via Brad DeLong.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"We Are The 99%" -- free bumper sticker

Get one of these ...

'We Are The 99%' -- image of oval bumper sticker

... for free, from Democracy for America (alt. link).

[Added] Sadly, these are not available.

But maybe if you write to Clay Bennett and ask really nicely ...

The above via the Center for American Progress, in an email inviting me to read an article titled, "The Legitimate Gripes of the Other 99 Percent/Amid the Cacophony of Protest Emerges a Coherent Set of Valid Complaints."

Line of the Day: 2011-10-20

I love the idea that I’m “bullying” Rick Santorum, because all he wants to do is write anti-gay bigotry into the Constitution, prevent me from being at my partner’s bedside in a medical emergency, get in a time machine to prevent me from being able to adopt my son, reinstate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Literally destroy my life. That's all he wants to do. And I made a joke at his expense. I’m the bad guy. And he’s the victim. All he wants to do is beat this to death. How dare we — tease him.
    -- Dan Savage, via Dawn K. Johnson

And see also. And see also.

(h/t for the RT: Jim Henley)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Apparently, Mitt Romney isn't the only flip-flopper from Massachusetts

The schadenfreude fixes for New Yorkers just keep on coming.

... Jason Varitek, who had chastised a Globe reporter for calling him at home seeking comment for last week’s article, did a U-turn and entertained another Globe reporter at his house on Tuesday.

Also, the team owner never wanted that Carl Crawford, anyway, and one of the beer-drinkin' BUT NOT IN THE DUGOUT!!!1!, chicken-orderin', pitchers videogamers maintains this is All Francona's Fault.

STFU. We've been waiting for him to talk like this for three fucking years.

Sigh. Denizens of the Sensible™ Center® like Mark Landler will be the death of us all.

But the increasingly caustic tone of the president’s attacks on Congress raises a question: How long can Mr. Obama continue to hammer Republicans without exhausting the patience of voters who elected him to be an alternative to Washington partisanship — and without risking the perception that he is part of the problem?

And how much a part of the problem are aging, very well compensated journamalists who sit around and write "analysis" pieces and then go out and find three vox pop quotes to support their preconceived notions?

He asked rhetorically.

"Living Through Four Revolutions"

A lecture from Freeman Dyson, about an hour long, that is a good review of the breakthroughs he's been a part of in his life, seasoned with his usual iconoclasm and sense of humor. If you weren't in Waterloo on 1 June 2011, you can join me in blaming Canada thanking the Perimeter Institute and TVO.

(alt. video link)

Line of the Day: 2011-10-19

Republicans are the ones who have made faith part of the presidential test. Now we’ll see if Mitt can pass it.
    -- Maureen Dowd

And how say you, Mr. Hitchens?

(h/t: TC and Carlos, via email)

So, we can start taxing the Mormon Catholic Church now, right?

There's an article in the StarTribune that you might have a look at. It describes a massive effort by Minnesota's Roman Catholic bishops to pass a law sanctioning discrimination.

Minnesota's Roman Catholic bishops are taking the unusual step of urging parish priests across the state to form committees to help get the proposed marriage amendment passed by voters in 2012.

"It is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the church's teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass-roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of this amendment," Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt wrote in a letter to his priests dated Oct. 4.

The letter asks parish priests to "appoint a captain or co-chairs to lead a special parish ad hoc committee to spearhead this effort."


Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in Minnesota, said the state's other bishops are expected to send out similar letters, "if they haven't already done so."

"We believe it [marriage] is a vital social institution, and it's under attack in the courts, the Legislature and the culture," Adkins said. "And it would have profound consequences if marriage is in fact redefined. That's why we're putting extraordinary resources toward making sure this marriage amendment gets passed."

Emph. added.

And there was this, last year:

Minnesota's Catholic bishops made another unorthodox move before last fall's legislative elections when they mailed DVDs to nearly 400,000 Catholics across the state, with a message encouraging them to support a state amendment defining marriage between a man and woman.

Shoutout to Rev. Mike Tegeder, who …

... said he spoke up against the effort at a meeting of priests and the archbishop this week.

Tegeder, a frequent critic of Archbishop Nienstedt's policies, said he believes the letter calling for parishes to form committees to organize a get-out-the-vote effort is "imprudent" and "divisive."

"There's all kinds of wonderful ways to promote marriage, which I do on a regular basis and other churches are doing," he said. "You don't promote marriage by taking away the rights of a small segment of the population, many of whom are not Catholic or have no connection to the Catholic Church."

Emph. added.

If you'd like to kick in some bucks to help preserve equality and civil rights, Freedom to Marry invites you to click the button below. If you're a Roman Catholic parishioner in Minnesota, you might also think about the money you're giving to your church and where it's going.

Freedom to Marry: 'Stop the Hate in Minnesota/Donate Now'

Monday, October 17, 2011

A violent splinter group of Amish, specializing in forced haircuts, led by a guy named Mullet


Factoid of the Day

Of the more than 1,200 living billionaires in the world, he's one of only 19 who have donated at least $1 billion.

That from a piece about Jon Huntsman's father, not that it much matters to me. What I'm interested in is the general skinflint nature of the megarich, and even more so, why Forbes is suddenly engaging in class warfare!!!1!

That article also does not list the other good guys, but I went and found that list, because, as Charles Pierce probably never exactly said, I are a full-service blog.

(h/t: NYT)

P.S. If you come across the new home of Mr. Pierce's blog, I'd be grateful if you'd drop a note in the Comments.

P.P.S. Google Before You Ask Department: Looks like he left the Boston Globe to become the new HMFIC over at Esquire's political blog. That has long been a fine blog; I am sure he will only make it better, although I will miss his blog-commentary on sports. Also, according to gossip, this move stemmed from Charles having been disciplined by the Globe for having (elsewhere) once called Christine O'Donnell "a sideshow freak." If true, this does not say very much about the Globe's commitment to facts, although I suppose it's conceivable they slapped his wrist for being too polite about it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Not feeling sorry for Huntsman

Much has been made of the hurdle he faces as a moderate in a primary system that rewards staunchly conservative views. Not enough has been made of how odd the definition of moderate has become. Huntsman opposes abortion rights. It’s not same-sex marriage he favors, just civil unions. Yes, he believes in climate change, but that doesn’t make him moderate. More like sentient. And when candidates at the Ames, Iowa, debate were asked if they’d accept a deficit reduction plan with $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts, he stood with the pack in saying no. Taxes were out of the question. Moderate? Only by the warped yardstick of these wacky days.
    -- Frank Bruni

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Line of the Day: 2011-10-15

I blame the Internet for everything bad in my life, from back pain to global climate change. Not to mention shopping while intoxicated.
    -- Karen Olsson

Karen is the author of the fine article I just recommended on the Twitter. I had never heard of her, so I Googled her. The results look promising.

Friday, October 14, 2011

In case you missed my retweet ...

... this is truly wonderful:

cshperspectives Best, and most succinct, abstract ever? via @David_S_Bristol @bristoluni

(Via a whole chain of retweeters, ending with @carlzimmer.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

"It's hard to impress a movement that only knows what it is against."

Bill Keller's piece on what the teabaggers have done to the Republican Party, especially as it reflects in the comedy that is their 2012 presidential race, is worth a read.

The latter part is about Governor Goodhair, as that great and greatly missed Texan dubbed him. If you'd like more on that theme, I'd also recommend, following Keller, "We Read Rick Perry's 'Fed Up!' So You Don't Have To," from the Texas Tribune.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Saturday, October 08, 2011

It's the personal touch that sells it

Screen shot of an email just in:


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Altruism? An instinct only about a billion years old.

Believe it or not, there's an article on slime molds that I'm going to recommend as utterly fascinating.

Well, it's by Carl Zimmer, so maybe that makes it less of a surprise. Anyway, here's a taste:

Slime molds first came to scientific fame in the mid-20th century with the work of the Princeton biologist John Tyler Bonner. Dr. Bonner learned of a North American species of slug-forming slime mold called Dictyostelium discoides and began to raise them in his lab, studying them as a simple analog of animal embryos.

Today, biologists no longer think of Dictyostelium as an embryo: It is more like a society of amoebas that come together for a common cause, for which some will sacrifice themselves.

The organisms respond to starvation by rushing together by the thousands into a single blob. The blob stretches out into a slug-shaped mass about one millimeter long (one twenty-fifth of an inch), which then crawls like a worm toward light.

Once it reaches the surface of the soil, the slug undergoes another transformation: Most of the cells turn into a stiff stalk, while the others crawl to the top and form a sticky ball of spores. They stick to the foot of an animal and travel to a hospitable place.

Inside the slug, about 1 percent of the amoebas turn into police. They crawl through the slug in search of infectious bacteria. When the amoebas find a pathogen, they devour it. These sentinels then drop away from the slug, taking the pathogen with it. They then die of the infection, while the slug remains healthy.

When the slug is ready to make a stalk, more amoebas must die so that others can live. They climb on top of one another and transform their insides into bundles of cellulose. Eighty percent of Dictyostelium cells die this way, allowing the survivors to climb up their lifeless bodies and become spores.

It also appears that slime molds are capable of recognizing their relatives, are good at making maps, and also act like humans when they're looking for food. Ooze on over to the rest.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Google's Sinister Plans: Caught on Video!

Google tech talk (by Vincent Vanhoucke) slide: 'Toward Superhuman Speech Recognition -- First, get rid of all the humans ...'(embiggen)

This is actually a pretty good talk (set of talks), at least so far. The talk prior to the one pictured above indicates that the brute force approach to machine translation of text really seems to be paying off. (This is not to say that the Googlers have no smarts or cleverness by any means. In fact, it is quite encouraging to see someone get usable results by setting aside the perennial a-true-AI-is-just-around-the-corner approach.)

[Added] A bonus from watching the above video: At about the 42 minute mark, I learned a new word, and consequently, I am now able to state with confidence that doing quefrency alanysis and liftering on a cepstrum are operations no longer restricted to Dr. Spooner.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Goddammit. I forgot about Blasphemy Day.

Ah, well. Happy belated. And to celebrate, let's first have a painting by Dana Ellyn (because a bomb in a turban is sooo 2006):

'Jesus Does His Nails,' by Dana EllynAbove: Jesus Does His Nails, by Dana Ellyn

And here, via SkepticDoc, is a useful five-minute reminder from Skepchick, aka Rebecca Watson:

(alt. video link)

The full text of Robert G. Ingersoll's closing argument in the trial of Charles B. Reynolds for blasphemy, as mentioned by Rebecca in the video, is available with some scrolling at that link. Rebecca also refers us to the Center For Inquiry's page on Blasphemy Day.

I was led to Dana Ellyn's site by an article in USA Today after seeing what PZ Myers had to say:

PZ Myers: I suppose you could all celebrate Blasphemy Day, but it’s not such a big deal for me. As far as I’m concerned, every day is Blasphemy Day.

Dana Ellyn has more works on this theme. Clickable thumbnails for the full collection are at the bottom of the page. Enjoy. I did.

[Added] You can also read four NYT articles from the time of the trial, published on 28 October 1886, 13 November 1886, 20 May 1887, and 21 May 1887, respectively. Note also the final paragraph from an article that ran a century later, reflecting on the event:

The New Jersey statute forbidding ''cursing, scoffing at or denying the existence of God or Jesus'' remained on the books until 1979. A criminal code revision finally made it legal to be as open about doubting the Lord as others are about believing in Him.

[Added2] Dana Ellyn graces us with a visit in Comments.

I thought this suggestive pose of a large-breasted ...

... chicken was a funny ad all by itself, but when I realized which famous bestiality-curious Republican was featured in the article on the same page …


Santorum 2012!