Measured Against Reality

Friday, March 30, 2007

Justice: Colorado Style

The Government continues to prosecute those who obey their laws:

Would Branson give consent to these officers to conduct a warrantless search of his home in Thornton?

Well, of course he would consent - especially after, as Branson tells it, the dozen or so armed cops explained, in detail, the needless tragedies that would befall his home if they were forced to go through the trouble of returning with a warrant.

In they went.

The police, naturally, knew exactly what they were looking for and quickly seized about a dozen marijuana plants Branson was growing in the backyard.

Charged with felony cultivation and possession with intent to distribute, the 38-year-old Branson, who is in a 20-year fight with HIV, is now facing a maximum six years in prison.

Branson, who had no previous criminal record, claims that a physician named Dr. Cynthia Firnhaber verbally recommended medical marijuana to him in 2002 to help ease his pain.

"That or pick out a hospice which you'd like to die in," Branson alleges the doctor told him.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000, but you need the written recommendation of a doctor, and Branson only had oral recommendation because the doctor worked for the University of Colorado, and they could lose federal funding if they gave out medical marijuana prescriptions.

Branson says he'll commit suicide if convicted or forced to stop taking marijuana.

Sadly, this case is far from unique. The government really seems to enjoy finding people who are suffering and using semi-illegal drugs to ease their suffering, then prosecute them and take the drugs away, and watch them suffer in pain in prison. And for what? We kill our own innocent civilians, nearly 1 out of every 150 people is in prison, and the drugs have not stopped flowing. The drug war is ridiculous, and it's tearing apart our country.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Over Three Hundred Proofs of God’s Existence

Here's Over Three Hundred Proofs of God's Existence. They're "classic" proofs for the existence of god(s), reworked to show how dumb they are. The biggies are at the top:

(1) God exists.
(2) If God exists, then if reason exists then God exists.
(3) Reason exists.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

(1) If I say something must have a cause, it has a cause.
(2) I say the universe must have a cause.
(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

(1) I define God to be X.
(2) Since I can conceive of X, X must exist.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

(1) I can conceive of a perfect God.
(2) One of the qualities of perfection is existence.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

(1) God exists.
(2) God, existing, is either necessary or unnecessary.
(3) God is not unnecessary, therefore God must be necessary.
(4) Therefore, God exists.

(1) Check out the world/universe/giraffe. Isn't it complex?
(2) Only God could have made them so complex.
(3) Therefore, God exists.

I really enjoy those ones, (especially the ontological argument) because they're so stupid. By the way, that's really how they go, just look any of them up on Wikipedia. This is also a good demonstration of why I loathe professional philosophy, you can really give a philosophical proof for anything. Unlike math which has a rigorous language where every "word" means only one thing, no human language has such constraints. As such, you can easily make "proofs" which "prove" what they set out to, but prove nothing.

Give the list a glance, there are some funny ones in there, if too many to read in one sitting.

[Via Russel's Teapot]

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Victims of the war

One of the best results of the drug war has been the militarization of the police force. SWAT teams, which are sometimes necessary to take out dangerous criminals that normal police couldn't handle, have proliferated like mad, spreading to every nook and cranny of our country. My sleepy little home town, which has had one murder in the past 30 years, even has a SWAT van, and presumably the armor and guns to go with it.

One might be inclined to think this is a good thing. After all, we're better prepared to deal with dangerous situations. Except those dangerous situations don't come up very often, especially in smaller cities and towns. Perhaps the police feel they need to justify the existence of these paramilitary forces, or perhaps they just like power of being able to use them. Whatever the reason, they do use them, and when they use them, people die.

Here, here, and here are some examples of police excess with these raids. Very often you get cases where someone is a little quick to the trigger and shoots an unarmed person, and the department covers up for them, claiming the victim was armed and dangerous. Very often you get sketchy informants giving bad information, and innocent people's homes are broken into and they end up on their knees with a gun barrel to the back of their head, wondering if they're going to die. Very often you get someone thinking they're being robbed and trying to defend themselves, and police and the homeowner die.

There are even cases of police kicking or shooting dogs.

Most of the time these men are looking for nonviolent drug offenders. They are looking for people who aren't an imminent threat, who pose no real danger to society. But they go in with big guns and itchy trigger fingers, and innocent people die.

And the citizens of this supposedly free country sit in silence. There is no outrage. There is no accountability. There is no reform. There is silence while innocent people die by the very hands of the people who are charged with protecting their lives.

Maybe you'll start to care when an informant gives up your address to shave a few years off of his drug sentence, the police request a no-knock warrant, the judge grants it, and you're staring down the barrel of a submachine gun at 2 AM, too scared to even move. Maybe you'll care when it's your children crying. Maybe you'll care when it's your dog with five bullets in its side. Maybe it'll be too late to care, because you "made a move for a gun", and someone put a few bullets into you, and you're just another victim of this senseless war.

I'll be writing my congressmen and senators asking for reform, and trying my damnedest to generate the outrage to fix this before more people die. I suggest you do the same.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

One Woman's Story

I know I've been posting a lot today, but don't ignore this one. Read this story, it's the most compelling and heartbreaking story for why there should be no restrictions on abortion. It's one woman's story of having a doomed pregnancy, and dealing with the abortion.

Just read it.


Creationism in France

France gets to know that joy that is creationism.

Some highlights:

“There is a growing distrust of science in public opinion, especially among the young, and that worries us,” said Philippe Deterre, a research biologist and Catholic priest.

Herve Le Guyader, a University of Paris biology professor who advised the Education Ministry on the Atlas, said high school biology teachers needed more training now to respond to the increasingly open challenges to the theory of evolution.

“It’s often taught in a simplistic way,” he said. “We have to give them the philosophical arguments they need to respond.”

“They are believers, as we are,” the Dominican theologian told the meeting of about 100, mostly Catholic scientists with a few Muslims as well. “There are Christian, Muslim and Jewish approaches that we have to respect.”

Actually, no, you don't have to respect them. When people believe something that is stupid, dangerous and wrong they should be laughed at until no one believes it anymore. This is true of creationism, Scientology, astrology, psychics, religion in general, UFOs and any other belief without evidence.

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From Russel's Teapot, I highly recommend it.

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Just Wow

I don't think I can really say anything about that, except that army polls have found that a very large majority of servicemen and women have no problem serving with gays, and that Don't Ask Don't Tell dismissals have removed thousands of people who are "critical" to the war on terror from their jobs.

Via Pam's House Blend.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Giving mice better color vision

It's finals week here, so I haven't had much time for blogging, but I will mention a really cool study that involved giving mice a human photoreceptor gene, then testing to see if they could actually see in all the colors as humans (mice normally only have two color receptors, humans have three). Scientific American's popular-level explanation is here, and the full paper from Science is here (subscription required). It's quite a cool experiment.

It got me thinking, birds have four color receptors, meaning that they can see in colors we can't even fathom (the article I read this in compared it to having a 3D color map instead of 2D like ours). Could we engineer humans to see color like birds? Or some insects see into the ultraviolet (and some other animals into the infrared), so could we potentially expand our vision into those fields? It's probably unethical, at least right now, but it's a cool possibility.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lessons from the past: Evolutionary impacts of mass extinctions

I have to give a presentation on a scientific paper on Thursday, and the one I was assigned is Lessons from the past: Evolutionary impacts of mass extinctions by David Jablonski (subscription probably required). It's essentially a review article of evolution at extinction events, and I thought some people might be interested in my write-up. It's more or less a condensed and dumbed down version of the article itself, formatted for a presentation. Enjoy.

What helps a species survive?

Large extinction events don’t simply eliminate declining clades, they also remove dominant lineages. Local abundance, species richness, and species-level geographic spread, which seem to be important during normal periods, don’t matter at extinction events. Large geographic distribution at the clade level seems to help, as does having a “resting state”, occupying unaffected areas, and having tolerances to the extinction stresses.

Why do some clades have different survivorship at different events?

It could be that the extinction-prone elements die out, leaving more the clade more resilient, different extinction-forcing mechanisms at different events, or just plain old luck. But as of now, we really don’t know.

Are we in a mass extinction right now?

Probably not. At the KT, 50% of bivalves, 97% of coral species, and 83% of coral genera died, far more than are dying now. And the genera that have died recently have generally been “species-poor” and “geographically restricted”, making today a period of accelerated extinction, not mass extinction. However, this does not mean that we should be complacent about modern extinction; it does mean that comparisons to the mass extinctions should “go beyond absolute intensities” and examine other factors, such as differential survivorship among regions and clades, and most importantly, the point of no return for the transition into a mass extinction event.

Continuity and Creativity

Even the largest mass extinctions don’t completely restart evolution; enough taxa are left to seed evolution. Certain trends are exhibited with these survivors.

Unbroken Continuity: Some evolutionary trends went unperturbed by the mass extinctions, such as: reefs made of rugose and tabulate corals and stromatoporoid sponges, the increase in mollusk shells as a response to predation, and the decline of Trilobites.

Continuity with Setbacks: Some trends are temporarily halted by extinctions, but then continue. These include: the expansion of angiosperms, the spread of bivalves to deeper burrowing depths, and the increase in complexity of ammonoids. It’s unclear whether this is a result of selection against the traits that later prevail during times of normal extinction, or simply a result of the more evolved forms being sparsely populated and needing to be reinvented.

“Dead Clade Walking”: Some clades survive an extinction event only to die out or become marginalized as time goes on. Examples are: bellerophontid snails, prolecanitid ammonoids, the brachiopod order Spiriferoida, and foraminiferal plankton. Preliminary and unpublished analysis suggests that more clades survive the extinction then die out than would be expected by chance.

Unbridled Diversification: Some clades radiate spectacularly after an extinction event. The most well-known example is the mammals after the KT event.


Mass extinctions do not result in evolution simply “reinventing the ecological wheel” by filling in preexisting “adaptive peaks”, evolution is “too opportunistic and too constrained by inherited body plans” for that to be true. There are convergences between species occupying similar niches in similar habitats, but there are complicating factors that prevent 1:1 convergence. The best example of this is the Cenozoic birds, such as the phorusrhacid and diatrymid birds, which were the top predators of the early Cenozoic. These birds converged to theropod dinosaurs, and weren’t replaced by a mammalian analog when they became (naturally) extinct. The most obvious convergence for early birds was the pterosaurs. While there are some birds occupying similar niches to pterosaurs, birds have not come to occupy all pterosaur habitats. Modern birds also depend on seeds to an extent not seen in pterosaurs, which is similar to the lack of any analog to baleen whales in the Mesozoic. After an extinction event, the course of evolution is impossible to predict in any but the broadest terms.

Time Scales

If there is any evolution during extinction episodes, we don’t see it. There is no indication in the fossil record of major change even during protracted extinctions (such as the Permian). After the extinction is over, recovery times differ at every level. For example, marine reefs lag behind plankton systems. Exactly what causes this lag is unknown, but it could be sampling bias, differing difficulty of assembling new ecosystems, or differences between clades in evolutionary rates.


Certain regions seem to be more important than others in regenerating diversity after an extinction event, mainly “onshore marine settings” and tropics. However, little research has been done into why and how these places generate new taxa.


Mass extinctions happen

Mass extinctions select differently than background extinction

Extinctions promote biotic exchange

The evolutionary response to extinction is slow, unpredictable, and “geographically heterogeneous”

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Monday, March 19, 2007

"I don't know."

Being a scientist means being willing to say, “I don’t know.” There are many questions that people ask, that people care about, whose answers we simply don’t know. In many cases we can make guesses, but they’re little more than that. For example, how did life form on Earth? We don’t know. We have some hypotheses, and one of those might be correct (I’m a fan of the RNA World hypothesis), but to answer with any certainty isn’t honest or fair.

The same is true with the beginning of the universe. We know pretty well what was happening up until a tiny fraction of a second after the universe began, but we don’t have a clue what happened before that. Again, there are some hypotheses, but nothing entirely convincing. The undeniable fact is that we simply don’t know how the universe began, and it’s entirely possible that we never will.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that because we don’t know now, we’ll never know. I could go on at great length of the magnificent discoveries we’ve made in the past millennium, century, decade, or year. As long as there are clever people going into the sciences, the mist covering the knowledge of the universe will continue to evaporate in the light of experiment and theory. Some day we might even know everything there is to know, but I doubt that very much.

Being a scientist means being willing to say, “I don’t know”, but it also mean being a member of the only group of people who are actively trying to figure out the answer.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gay couple kicked out of restaurant for a kiss

I want someone to read this and then tell me that gays aren't discriminated against. Because if you can, then you're a liar, and I need to get good tabs on who the liars are.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

South Park and Gay Rights

Tonight's South Park dealt with an issue very important to me. Butters, one of the boys, got sent to a camp (Camp New Grace: "Pray the Gay Away") to turn him straight (he wasn't actually gay, butters is something of a patsy character, and because of a joke I won't describe his dad thought he was 'bicurious'). At the camp at least three children kill themselves. Eventually Bradley, Butter's "accountabilibuddy" becomes attracted to Butters, and runs off saying that he has to kill himself.

Bradley [hanging off of a bridge]: Stand back! I'm an abomination of God!

Counselor: Don't do it, we're fixing you!

Bradley: It's too late!

Butters: Bradley, don't!

Counselor: Get back, you're only making things worse.

Bradley: I'm not normal, I'll never be normal.

Butters: You're perfectly normal Bradley.

Counselor: Get back, you're just as confused as he is.

Butters: That's it, I am sick and tired of everyone telling me I'm confused. I wasn't confused until other people started telling me I was. You know what I think? I think maybe you're the ones who are confused. I'm not going to be confused anymore just because you say I should be. My name is Butters, I'm eight years old, I'm blood type O, and I'm bicurious. And that's OK, because if I'm somehow made from God, then I figure that God must be at least a little bicurious himself.

Bradley: I think, I think I'd like to come down.

Counselor: We did it! By the power of Christ we saved him!

South Park is well known for the lengths it will go to in order to satirize something, and in this case it is totally justified. Gay teenagers are several times more likely to commit suicide than straight teenagers (2-3 times according to the article in the previous post).

People wonder why people like me, who aren't gay, don't really have any gay friends or family, (hell, I don't even know anyone who's gay) fight for their rights. There's absolutely nothing in it for me personally. Except for the fact that thousands of kids kill themselves because they're told that their sexual orientation, which is almost always innate and unchangable, is an abomination, is evil, is wrong. They kill themselves.

They Kill Themselves

I don't think I can possibly emphasize this enough. Because of the stigma, people kill themselves. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine feeling so badly about being attracted to members of the same sex that you kill yourself?

That's why I will never stop supporting gay rights. Because every single person has the right to be unashamed or themselves, to be unafraid because of who they are, and to pursue their own happiness.

Some wise men once said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." There are some people who want to deny these rights to others based on their sexual orientation. I will fight them. I hope you will be on my side.


When they came for the homosexuals...

Here's a good article on the gay rights struggle, When they came for the homosexuals. It's a good read if you care about this subject, and if you don't, you should. You cannot be a free society unless all of your citizens are free, and not all of our citizens are free. As the article says, this matters to everyone, even if you're straight.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Two Good Articles

Two articles I feel I should report. The first is from Nature, Scriptural violence can foster aggression. A study found that when scriptural violence is condoned by the deity, it tends to make people act more violently.

The article pussyfoots around a couple of implications, both that religion is inherently violent and that this work has very limited applications. Plenty of other studies have shown that depictions of violence tend to increase aggression, but people never seem to note that the effects are pretty damn temporary. Some people with axes to grind try to use similar research with videogames to say that they should be banned, despite pretty ample evidence that videogames are rarely (if ever) actual motivators for crimes, and absolutely no indication of a connection between the proliferation of videogames and crime (crime has been dropping steadily for quite a while, right in line with the rise of videogames, but I won't claim a connection between the two, just note that it would be damn hard for videogames (or any violent media) to cause violence on any measurable scale).

I suspect that the same is true of this study, that religious language can make people feel aggressive, but temporarily. Everyone knows that religion can be used to inspire people to violence, but pretty much anything can. This research is an interesting beginning, but it needs quite a bit more work.

The second article is from the NY Times, What’s So Funny? Well, Maybe Nothing. It's about the science and evolution of laughter. And for the record, that muffin joke is my favorite stupid joke. I think it's hilarious.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Another victim of the war

Someone needs to tell me why this is just. Because I can't see any way that it is.

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Why do electrons stay in wires?

What keeps electrons in wires?

That’s a question I had never asked myself, and it’s one few people have considered. The answer isn’t as easy or obvious as you’d expect, but if you’re curious about it, read on.

The short answer is that the electron clouds and the nuclei of the atoms at the edge of the metal form a dipole. A dipole is essentially a set of two charges that form a mathematically unique field (see the Wikipedia article for a picture). The field from this dipole keeps the electrons in, as they’d need a kinetic energy of roughly 4 electron volts (eV) to get through the dipole field.

If you’re having trouble imagining it, an analogy is a water channel, where the dipole field is the walls and the electrons are the water. The water doesn’t have enough energy to get over the boundary (this case the potential barrier is gravitational rather than electrical), and so it flows along the path of the channel. The analogy is good for another reason too, water has to flow downhill (following the gravitational field), and so do the electrons (following an electrical field). (One difference is that the gravitational field is created by the Earth, whereas the electric field is created by the current.)

This effect has to do with the work function, the energy needed to pull an electron off of a metal into free space. Experiments around the turn of the century had discovered that when a metal was bombarded with light of the right frequency, electrons would fly off, creating a current. This is called the photoelectric effect. Physicists couldn’t quite explain it until Einstein realized that it meant that light is both a wave, with a frequency and wavelength, and a particle with quantized energy and momentum. One of his 1905 trio of amazing papers put forth this hypothesis, and it’s what won him his Nobel Prize (nope, Relativity never won him one, and the other two were on Brownian Motion and Special Relativity).

So that’s why electrons stay in wires (and metals in general).

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Human Evolution

Here's a good article on human evolution. It's quite long, and it barely scratches the surface of the subject. If you like the article, I recommend looking for some books on human evolution and genetics (The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture by Matt Ridley comes to mind).

It's an important subject, and one that we care about quite a bit. Our understanding of the amazing journey our ancestors went on starting 7 or so million years ago has improved dramatically in the past few years, and it's only going to get better. The time has never been better to discover your oldest, deepest roots. I suggest you do it.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bubble Computers?

Everybody loves bubbles. How can you not? Some people might love bubbles so much that they want to make a computer that calculates with bubbles.

That might seem crazy, but thanks to Manu Prakash and his colleagues at MIT, it may soon be possible. They've built channels that control bubbles in fluid streams, and they can construct analogs of almost every electrical component, from transistors to oscillators. Eventually, they hope to build these up into bubble CPUs and bubble memory.

Well, what's the point? Bubbles are certainly slower than electrons, making a bubble computer much slower than a regular computer. But electrons can't carry payloads, and bubbles can. So the idea is that bubble computers would be much more versatile in analyzing and testing chemical and biological signals, only needing to be reprogrammed to change tasks, while nearly every chemical requires specialized chips today.

Will you be using a bubble computer in the near future? Almost certainly not. But the thought is cool nonetheless.

[Via Buzz Skyline]

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Let's just criminalize vaginas now and get it over with

Another child is in trouble for photographing herself. It's starting to seem like this happens once a week.

This time the girl grabbed a classmate's cell phone, took a picture of her own vagina (in the article cleverly euphemized as "lewd photograph" "beneath the waist"), and e-mailed it to some classmates with a profane message attached. According to the article she intended to embarrass the owner of the cell phone.

This behavior is indefensible. She should be suspended from school (which has happened) and given a good lesson about what's appropriate and when. That being said, I legitimately fear that she will prosecuted, at the very least for furnishing harmful material to minors, quite possibly with child pornography. I'm especially afraid since this is from Arizona, the state with the most ridiculously trigger-happy DAs. There have been some truly obscene charges there, including the vicious prosecution of a boy who is almost certainly guilty of nothing more than not knowing how to properly secure his internet connection (child pornography was found on the computer, as well as a host of viruses and spyware).

He narrowly escaped a 90-year mandatory sentence, (10 years per image, served back-to-back, no parole. That's the strictest in the nation). He ended up pleading guilty to showing classmates a Playboy, and the DA in the case sounded like a true sanctimonious asshole.

I sincerely hope this child gets off with the slap-on-the-wrist she deserves, and not the criminal conviction she clearly doesn't. It's utterly stupid to believe that any child is harmed by viewing a vagina, if that were true every woman and nearly every man alive would be barely functional. I'm starting to get sick of this Victorian idea that "private parts" should never see the light of day lest they tear down the fabric of society. It's absurd. If we spent half as much time worrying about poverty as we do about penises and vaginas, our society would be in amazing condition. Remember, poverty is proven and widely known to actually harm children and society.

Similar posts of mine:
Who are we protecting?
Yet more stupidity
Another idiot prosecutor-police team
Who polices the police? Discusses the case I mentioned above.

[Edit: If you thought I was joking about that title, read this. Granted, not criminalization, but it's getting there.]

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Forget About Phi

For some reason, there have been a few “golden ratio” websites popping up for the past few days. I was going to let the first one go, but when the second one popped up I had to say something.

First, what is the golden ratio? It’s the ratio that you get if you divide up a line into two sections such that the ratio of the larger to the smaller is the same as the whole to the larger. This comes to about 1.618, and is often called phi. You can also approximate it by dividing two consecutive Fibonacci numbers.

What’s so important about this ratio? That’s the thing, there’s nothing special about it at all. Many claims are made about it (see the first link), but none are true. It’s not in the Parthenon, it’s not in any Renaissance paintings, it’s really not anywhere. It’s not even the most pleasing ratio to the eye, studies asking people to pick out the most pleasing rectangle (whatever that means) do not find ones involving phi to be the most pleasing.

Don’t believe me? Pick up The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number by Mario Livio. He discusses where phi does and does not show up, and it’s almost never anywhere sensational. It is found in certain places, such as plants and crystals. But phi was first defined because it appears in the pentagram, so it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that a geometric ratio appears in things constructed geometrically, like crystals.

As for plants, it most frequently appears in the ratios of the number of degrees between two leaves on a stalk. Livio hypothesizes that this is an evolutionary adaptation, that because phi is irrational it allows the most leaves to be exposed to the sun at once.

I can’t say so much about the second link, but since phi being pleasing optically is bunk, I’m skeptical that it’s pleasing musically as well.

Another thing to note is that nothing is ever “equal” to phi, just “close”. Often 1.6 is close enough for people to claim that phi is involved. When you think about how much wiggle room there is in measuring lengths (or times) and how many different places you can possibly measure, something “close” to phi is going to come up frequently. Don’t buy into it, it’s nothing special, just someone grasping for straws.

Besides, phi isn’t even fundamental. It’s not in any physics equation, or any equation at all (as far as I know). Marvel at pi or c or h or alpha or e or the other e, but not phi. Phi just doesn’t deserve it.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Newsflash, teenage boys like pornography

University of Alberta researcher Sonya Thompson decided to find out kids pornography-watching habits, and when she found (surprise surprise) that 13 and 14 year olds watch a lot of porn (too much to count), she declares it "a little frightening".

Yet she didn't check to see if there's anything wrong with these kids. She (and everyone else) just assumes that watching pornography must make you some kind of pervert who can't maintain a normal relationship. I want to know why we still have this Victorian idea that sex is best hidden from view completely, and that bringing it out into the open at all will totally destroy society. I've previously mentioned that readily available pornography appears to decrease rape. However, I say "appears" because correlation does not necessarily indicate causation, something that the media should remember more often.

She also said sexually curious teens who are watching porn are getting the wrong messages about healthy sexuality and don't distinguish between actors getting paid to perform and real-world sexuality.

There's absolutely no indication of how she gathered that information. Did she just pull that conclusion out of her ass? Judging by the rest of her article, I'd guess that she did. But what I really want to know is what is "healthy" sexuality? Seriously, someone answer me that. I remember hearing someone attributing the quote "the only unhealthy sexual activity is none" to Freud, and I'd be inclined to agree (to some extent).

I say it's high time we stop caring so damn much about what people are doing with their penises and vaginas, and stop assuming that because it's not what you believe they should be doing, it's wrong.

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There's Seismic Waves in them thar Hills

I've survived my first California earthquake! Sure, it was only a 4.2, but exciting nonetheless.

Take this opportunity to educate yourself about earthquakes. Not that anyone needs an excuse to learn about geology.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Property Rights? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Property Rights!

This is a pretty weird article. Some students in a private school in Seattle were building a town out of Legos when it accidentally got destroyed. The children had apparently been incorporating capitalistic values into the buildings, values like owning what you build, which these teachers frowned upon.

So during the rebuilding of the town, they were taught that:

"All structures are public structures."

"All structures will be standard sizes."

"A house is good because it is a community house."

"We should have equal houses. They should be standard sizes."

"It's important to have the same amount of power as other people over your building."

Is it just me, or is this insane? Is communism even that strict about property rights? We all know how well that works. Or maybe these people believe fervently in eminent domain, although I can only assume they haven't had their home stolen from them "for the greater good."

Although I don't have access to the original article, and the summary of it in the linked article above may be biased. However, if it's accurate, I seriously hope someone reeducates these children about the value of property.

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Something is wrong with blogger's comment moderation right now, so in order to get your comments through in a timely manner I've disabled moderation. I've never actually rejected a comment that wasn't a duplicate, but they're not showing up in my inbox, so it will be harder for me to reply. Hopefully this is a temporary thing, we shall see.

[EDIT] Apparently Thunderbird had just decided not to check my E-mail for that one account for the past week or so. Strange that I didn't notice. But they work now, so no worries.