Archive

Archive for May, 2009

Nature is amazing

Drifters of the deep from Eugenia Loli-Queru on Vimeo.

(Don’t mean to be taking so much from the Pharyngula blog but man this is awesome)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Looks like good advice

Sean, do you need directions to this Barnes & Noble?

I promise my new job isn’t catorgorizing books at B&N.  

(HT: Pharyngula) 
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Defacing and fists

This is a bit old but very interesting.  My buddy Hitch went to Lebanon and got beat up by some fascist thugs.  Read his account here


Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced. Telling my two companions to hold on for a second, I flourish my trusty felt-tip and begin to write some offensive words on the offending poster. I say “begin” because I have barely gotten to the letter k in a well-known transitive verb when I am grabbed by my shirt collar by a venomous little thug, his face glittering with hysterical malice. With his other hand, he is speed-dialing for backup on his cell phone. As always with episodes of violence, things seem to slow down and quicken up at the same time: the eruption of mayhem in broad daylight happening with the speed of lightning yet somehow held in freeze-frame. It becomes evident, as the backup arrives, that this gang wants to take me away.

Before he wrote on the incident I read about it online and sent my support to him for doing something maybe we all wish we had the bravery to do.  The next day I excitedly found this email in my inbox from Mr Hitchens: 

 Much appreciated. Thank you. I am feeling much better.

Little things make me happy.  
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Rick’s digital nightmare

I’m not completely convinced; but it is an intriguing idea with what seems like a lot of merit.  What is it?  Moving entirely to a cashless economy.  Wired magazine argues that we have the technology and infrastructure to transition to an e-money economic system.  


Unfortunately, the world’s governments remain stuck in the past. To maintain our stock of hard currency, the US Treasury creates hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new bills and coins each year. And that ain’t money for nothing: The cost to taxpayers in 2008 alone was $848 million, more than two-thirds of which was spent minting coins that many people regard as a nuisance. (The process also used up more than 14,823 tons of zinc, 23,879 tons of copper, and 2,514 tons of nickel.) In an era when books, movies, music, and newsprint are transmuting from atoms to bits, money remains irritatingly analog. Physical currency is a bulky, germ-smeared, carbon-intensive, expensive medium of exchange. Let’s dump it.

(HT: Freakonomics)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Seeing into the future

Back on April 26, I added a post on the absurdity of race-based hiring.  I directed you “loyal” readers to check out George Will’s column discussing the Ricci case where non-black candidates who passed the promotion test weren’t promoted because no black candidates had passed.   Well guess who ruled on that case:  Barack Obama’s supreme court nominee Judge Sotomayor.  Now, I haven’t made up my mind on her yet but it was a troubling ruling.  Of course, I’m no legal expert and I’ve read reasonable defenses which argue that she was just following the law in this case.  I just happen to passionately reject affirmative action as a positive policy.  

While I was in college I wrote an article for my school’s paper, The Scarlet, arguing against affirmative action as a university policy.  I even got called a racist for it in the paper by another student and was uncomfortably chewed out by one of my professors for writing a horrible “diatribe” and that I couldn’t have a thoughtful opinion on the issue because I hadn’t read all the amicus briefs issued by universities in favor of the practice.  But anyway, that’s another story.  Here’s a taste from my opinion pieces (does anyone know how I could put the entire text online through a link or a “fold” on this site?):

Unfortunately, affirmative action has devolved into this discriminatory practice.  Originally, John F. Kennedy called for “affirmative action to ensure that the applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin.”  In other words, there would be no discrimination – “positive” or negative.  Reflect on that for a moment: “applicants are employed […] without regard to race, color, creed, or national origin.”
 
Clark’s social engineer Lynn Olson says she wants to “ensure a fair and equitable recruitment process;” yet, in a fashion reminiscent of Animal Farm, she practices a process that is equitable for some, but more equitable for others.  This fundamentally illiberal process assumes these selected groups cannot succeed without special help.  Of course, that incorrect assumption reeks of condescension.  
[...]

[D]ubiously Rea [the student critical of my first piece] claims, while failing to produce any evidence whatsoever, “affirmative action […] begins to correct some injustices that have wrought inequality.” Proponents too frequently rely on assertions rather than evidence. As Mark Twain put it, “evidence is the bones of an opinion,” and Rea’s “cannot stand up.” 

I’m quite proud of my 2 “diatribes” against affirmative action – so if anyone is interested in reading them let me know.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

In case Ricky needs some help, pt. 2

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

In case Ricky needs some help

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Is there a case against gay marriage?

Opposition to gay marriage in the United States remains in the majority but it’s weakening.  Part of the problem for those who oppose expanding marriage rights to all adult citizens is that their opposition seems to be rooted in a visceral dislike rather than logical reasons.  Jonathan Chait of The New Republic dismantles the arguments against gay marriage.

In a liberal society, consenting adults are presumed to be able to do as they like, and it is incumbent upon opponents of any such freedom to demonstrate some wider harm. The National Organization for Marriage, on its website, instructs its activists to answer the who-gets-harmed query like so: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who.” Former GOP Senator Rick Santorum, arguing along similar lines, has said, “[I]f anybody can get married for any reason, then it loses its special place.”

 

Both these arguments rest upon simple tautologies. Expanding a right to a new group deprives the rest of us of our right to deny that right to others. If making a right less exclusive devalues it, then any extension of rights is an imposition upon those who were not previously excluded–i.e., women’s suffrage makes voting less special for men.

[...]

The line “I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman” is an expression of that sensibility–a reflection of unease rather than principle. As people face up to the fact that opposing gay marriage means disregarding the happiness of the people most directly (or even solely) affected by it, most of us come around. Good ideas don’t always defeat bad ideas, but they usually, over time, defeat non-ideas.

Does anyone have any reason to be against gay marriage?  Read the article; can you think of a persuasive argument against it that the article doesn’t cover?  Or where does Mr. Chait go wrong?  What harm would it do to society if gay marriage was allowed?  Also vote in the new poll!

 

Open the borders

Check out this video from reason.tv of Jason Riley making the case for legal immigration into the United States.  He writes for the Wall Street Journal and gives the rational conservative free-market approach to immigration.  

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

My type of music

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: