Friday, May 30, 2008

Warning: The following material is offensive to the terminally uptight and literal minded bible thumpy types. And that's why I like it.

I've never heard of this musician before. It's now my duty to seek him out.

HT to Atheist Movies

Bullies and their over-reach

Do you ever wonder why the copyright lobby is so able to get governments to support their overreach, or why goverments seem so eager to stomp freedoms?
As a fairly staunch defender of rights, I do. Recently I've been thinking that I'm swimming against the stream. Might as well start campaigning against basic human rights and freedoms because that's where we're headed anyway. Go with the flow.
So now, if I head back to Canada for to visit my folks or what not customs officials may start looking through every one of my iPod songs for copyrighted material.
Canadian border guards to check iPods for infringment - Boing Boing
The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws which could make the information on Canadian iPods, laptop computers or other personal electronic devices illegal and greatly increase the difficulty of travelling with such devices. The deal would create a international regulator that could turn border guards and other public security personnel into copyright police. The security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.

The guards would also be responsible for determining what is infringing content and what is not.

Canadians, time to write your MP! This was on the front page of the daily tabloid in Vancouver, so hopefully Jim Prentice will be forced to actually consult the public before he sells us all up the river.

In half related news, one of the entertainment industry hired thugs launched a DoS attack against Revision 3. MediaDefender attacks and cripples Revision3 for locking out its spy-bots - Boing Boing
MediaDefender, the thugs paid by the entertainment industry to spy on file-sharers and attempt to cripple file-sharing networks, attacked a legitimate Internet TV company called Revision3 over the weekend, launching a massive denial-of-service attack in retaliation for having their spy-bots locked out of R3's BitTorrent trackers

Check the back of your matchbook law degree. It's illegal for you to do that shit!
This is what we're going to be putting up with if people don't start standing up for themselves.

I have only one comment...

I'm all in favour of respectfully restoring important cultural and historical artifacts and monuments. As a native English speaker, Shakespeare's tomb seems to qualify for such treatment.
However (emphasis mine):
Experts to avoid Shakespeare's 'curse' in restoring tombstone
William Shakespeare's tombstone is to have a makeover, but the renovators are under strict orders not to disturb the bard's bones.

The late English poet-playwright's tombstone in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, in west central England, is beginning to disintegrate, the church announced on Wednesday.

But the engraving on the stone, which lies within the church, threatens to "curse" anyone disturbing its occupant.

Okay, I have a small dictionary definition to share with you with a little help from my friends at Sweariam-Webster:
Curse: (n.); Prn: \ˈkərs\ def: see wizardry (cf)
Wizardry: (n.) prn:
\ˈwi-zə(r)-drē\; def: doesn't fucking exist, asshat. see also: curse (cf)
So how can you be respectful and avoid the curse? Just do your goddamn job and make the tombstone of one of our language's greatest writers look nice, will ya?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Update on that dope's dope.

Answers to questions (from the viral video rounds)

People often ask me if people actually ask me questions. I usually say that it's all relative to the needs of the proletariat then hit them in the crotch with a seal flipper pie.
Another question that comes up, I'd be willing to wager, is the best video game system. Now I'm a PS3 fan, especially with Metal Gear Solid 4 coming along next month, but I'd be willing to bet that the Wii has its value as well.

Conservatives Strike Again

Law and Order Conservatives with a cabinet minister who leaves classified documents at his ex-biker girlfriend ex-girlfriend's flat and now this:
myTELUS - News
A provocative movie about the sex lives of young people is too hot for some Conservatives to handle - and a parliamentary staffer has been fired for ordering tickets to a special screening.

Tory MPs are denying they ever planned to watch the film "Young People F**king" even though several of their names appeared on an RSVP list for an Ottawa viewing Thursday night.

Bless you, Fark.

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Scott McClellan Pile On!

Scott McClellan burns the Bush administration? - By John Dickerson - Slate Magazine
Now he tells us. Scott McClellan's memoir offers more candor in a chapter than he let loose during his three years as the president's spokesman. Often kept in the dark by his boss and, at least in one case, deliberately sent out to mislead the public by his superiors, McClellan writes as if he went home after he left the White House in 2006 and purged.

Crooks and Liars » Rove calls Scott McClellan a Left wing blogger. The attacks on him have started
McClellan's Grave Charge| By Andrew Sullivan

It's a nice distraction from the Maxine Bernier affair.

Happy Anniversary

Today, the 29th of May, is the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. With this event the Roman Empire finally fell, just 40 years before Columbus sailed.
Just something to ponder as you go about your day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Asshat does some minor asshattery.

When you answered that you'd packed the suitcase yourself, you forgot to mention the people who may re-pack it after you hand it over.
It came to light yesterday on page 3 of the International Hearld Tribune that a customs official at Narita Airport. Since then it looks like a lot of people have heard of this.
Customs slip cannabis into passenger's bag -
A passenger who landed at Tokyo's Narita airport over the weekend has ended up with a surprise souvenir courtesy of customs officials -- a package of cannabis.

The official was organizing a training session for drug dogs, broke regulations that clearly state only training suitcases may be used and stuck 10 Gs worth of marijuana into the suitcase of some random person coming back into the country.
Then lost the bag.
First of all, is $10,000 worth of weed really a training amount?
Second, what light do you think this throws on drug convictions through Narita?
Third, I don't have a third point.
By the way, Hong Kong is not happy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Apparently others think I was on the right track about violence.

Believe it or not, my friends on Facebook don't actually know me that well.

Oh, yeah. I get Facebook posts.
Like this one from a former co-worker.
Think about what you are reading ok. because it's the truth.
Why do we ((sleep)) in [[church]],
But stay ((awake)) through a [[2 hour movie]]?
Why is it so ((hard)) to talk about [[God]],
but so ((easy)) to [[Gossip]]?
Why are we so ((bored)) when we look at a [[Christian magazine]],
but find it ((easy)) to read [[Playboy]]?
Why is it so easy to ((ignore)) a [[Godly]] Facebook Wall Post,
Yet we ((repost)) the [[nasty]] ones?
Why are ((churches)) getting [[smaller]],
But ((bars and clubs)) are [[growing]]?
Think about it, are you going to repost this?
Are you going to ignore it, cause you think you'll get laughed at?
Would You Have Opened This if it Said.... Read This In Gods Name.

80 % of you wont repost this.

Jesus Christ said:
"If you deny me in front of your friends I will deny you in front of my father

Um, yeah. Okay. You sent this to me. The guy who spent 2 hours last week debunking a glurge from his mum.
Look, I can't answer any of this except why the churches are getting smaller while the bars and clubs are growing. Restrictive licensing laws. You start pumping Young's Oatmeal Stout at the altar and Mrs Gaijin, the mutt and I will be having Sunday brunch there rather than the Earl Spencer on Merton Rd.
The Eternal Gaijin
Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan
"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Towel Day

Can we talk about lies and exaggerations again for a sec

Crime. Little gets people going more that talking about the state of our streets vis a vis the ability of little old ladies on zimmer frames to walk around drunk at 2 a.m. with hundred dollar bills sticking out of their pockets without getting mugged. That and the over-use of apostrophe's.
My mum is forever crowing about how unsafe the streets of Ottawa have become over the last few years.
Statistically violent crime is at its lowest point in my lifetime. That's 40 long, unproductive years folks.
There's a crime wave going on in the UK. Everyone has a knife. Every minute of every day someone is attacked with a knife.
Or so the Daily Mail and it's ilk will lead you to believe.

Knife crime 'not increasing' | UK news |
The fatal stabbing of a man yesterday in one of London's busiest shopping streets in broad daylight has again thrown up headlines about knife crime in Britain.
Incidents such as these have fuelled the public perception that knife
crime is out of control, yet this is not borne out by the statistics.

Statistics. Facts. The last refuge of scoundrels.
Knife crime 'not increasing' | UK news |
According to the British Crime Survey, knife-enabled crime (any crime involving a knife) over the past decade has remained stable at around 6-7% of all crime, comprising 30% of all homicides.

In fact, the most recent crime survey by the Metropolitan police showed that knife crime has actually dropped by 15.7% over the past two years, from 12,122 to 10,220 incidents.

Don't get me wrong. The quoted stat of a knife-related injury every 52 minutes is still pretty serious and needs something done about. I don't really know if it's out of control or not, but it leaves a lot of room for improvement.
For comparison's sake, in 2006, Canada's homicide rate worked out to 1.85 per 100,000 of population, Scotland 1.83, England and Wales 1.41, Northern Ireland 1.32, Japan 0.64, and the US (not a good basis for comparison) 5.69. Source.
I always feel safe in Japan, and Canada, but London makes me a bit edgy depending on where you go. Yet, England despite it's problems is still pretty safe. A further yet comes when you think of how sensationalist the British Media (If it bleeds, it leads so find something that bleeds.) is. This despite the assault on the MP or the death of that Harry Potter actor.
I realize that I've conflated homicide with knife crime here. I don't think it's that big a problem, considering that all stats indicate that knife crime is lower than you think, and so is homicide. The general trend in violent crime has been somewhat downward since the 1970s.
This doesn't mean that things are all hunky-dory. We can always get violence down further, but not eliminate it. Tackling the root causes, things like opportunity, social exclusion, isolation, poverty, education, will do more than a thousand Daily Mail articles or that stupid samurai sword ban.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I've got to have one of these.

Friend DEG sent me this link. Apparently he's got his X-mas list started and finished already.
Just Check It Out.
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let's talk about lies and exaggerations for a minute

Let's start by talking about gay marriage for a sec. Does any one really, really give a fuck? Seriously.

Oh, it's going to be mandatory. That's different. Oh, you were kidding; back to my original point.

Kah-lee-fohnia had a State Supreme Court ruling that opened the door to fully equal rights for same-sex marriage. In my opinion ho-and-indeed-hum. I'm married and I don't think that the ruling would affect anyone in my potential dating pool anyway, so...

The usual intellectual featherweights with pretensions of being lightweights have said the usual crap about overturning the will of the people or inventing rights out of whole cloth, or activist judges. The real issue is not adding a right to gay marriage; it's ending the restriction of the right of two consenting adults to form a legally recognized pair bond. Remember, this has no bearing on the religious institution of marriage - under freedom of religion provision in pretty much every western country religious practices cannot be coerced or mandated by the government.

Glenn Greenwald does a hell of a pre-emptive takedown of pretty much every ill-informed version of the argument at Salon.

A while back I noted that whatever talking points were trotted out concerning gays serving openly in the military were the same ones casually dropping out of peoples faces when the armed forces were facing integration. I may have made a post about that. I might have just been the drunk guy at the end of the bar. I can't really remember which it was.

Barry Eisler made the same point in the gay marriage debate in this post. I take it as some kind of vindication of my slightly unorganized thought processes.

To me all that crosses the border between lie and exaggeration. Little in this day and age seems to get lie and exaggeration as confused as talking about drugs.

Case and point: the move to upgrade mary-jane in the UK from Class C to Class B. Even Gordon The-British-Paul-Martin Brown's own advisors recommended not trying to make political hay out of this. But did he listen? Would he be a Labour politician (motto: Longing for Political Exile) if he did? No, he just let everyone make noise about skunk, a higher THC variant of marijuana that's available in the UK now.

The reason I call it an exaggeration bordering on a lie is amply expounded at Reason

According to Reuters, "Brown said he was particularly worried about the growing use of skunk cannabis, which he described as 'more lethal.'" There has never been a documented case of death by marijuana overdose. Based on extrapolations from animal studies, the ratio of marijuana's lethal dose to its effective dose is something like 40,000 to 1 (compared to between 10 and 20 to 1 for aspirin and between 4 and 10 to 1 for alcohol). So even if the average THC content of marijuana has increased as dramatically as drug warriors claim (and it hasn't), and even if pot smokers did not adjust their intake accordingly (and they do), there would be no practical effect on marijuana's toxicity. The chance of a lethal overdose remains, for all intents and purposes, zero. And no matter what kind of stoned logic Brown favours, zero is not more than zero.


See what I mean?

It's the same sort of thing that appears everytime people mention MPAA and file-sharing:

In 2005 the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released a study of movie piracy that estimated how much money was being lost to copyright infringement. “The typical pirate is age 16–24 and male,” the MPAA reported, adding that “44 percent of MPAA company losses in the U.S. are attributable to college students.”


But it turns out the number was wildly off. In January 2008 the MPAA admitted that the share of movie pirating losses attributable to college students was more like 15 percent, about one-third the figure offered in the 2005 report.


The MPAA has apologized for the flawed report, but during the two and a half years that the incorrect information was touted, it was cited in at least two congressional hearings on intellectual property. Those hearings produced the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007, which requires colleges and universities to adopt strict antipiracy policies. Neither Congress nor the MPAA seems interested in revisiting that law.

Link (again from Reason)

Lying to lobby for a law that favours your position? Unheard of.

Let's face it. Life is like that. I hate to have my cynic bone so active just before dinner, but if we take FUD tactics at their face value we let ourselves be manipulated, worse yet controlled. We lose those dignities and rights that have been fought for over all those centuries.

This is the future...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Contrasting deconversion stories

My only real interest in this is that I don't particularly have a deconversion story. In Japan previously I referred to myself as an evangelical atheist, a nice little irony that deeply appealled to me. When I started to put together this blog years later I found that title already taken. Gakkari shimashita.

A while back I ran across two celebs talking about their experiences on leaving faith behind.

Ricky Gervais discusses how he became an atheist here. Gervais is familiar to anyone who's watched the telly over the last few years.

On the other hand, Bart Ehrman discusses the long road to becoming an agnostic (though he freely admits that he really doesn't believe in god anymore) here. It's a moving story of the process of losing faith.

By the way, Ricky, babe. It's pronounced Jher-vay, not Jer-vayse. Just thought you should know that.

And who was this going to aid?

The head of Heathrow (yea, delays! Can't get enough of them) is going to be replaced by the head of the London Underground (Trains? I'm sure I've got one around here somewhere? Were you expecting one?).
Suddenly I don't know whether to quote the Dilbert Principle or the Peter Principle. Or Sod's Law.

Heathrow airport boss quits | Business |
The managing director of Heathrow airport is stepping down in the wake of the Terminal 5 fiasco, BAA announced today, as Britain's largest airport unveiled its third boss in a year.

Mark Bullock resigned with immediate effect and will be replaced by the managing director of London Underground, Mike Brown, at the end of the summer.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Random Ten

Rather than give half a thought to a post today, I'm going to do that old standby and see what my iPod can regurgitate for me
  1. The International Language of Screaming  Super Furry Animals
  2. Dead Man James
  3. Centre for Holy Wars The New Pornographers
  4. Knuckle Too Far James
  5. Love is the Drug Roxy Music
  6. Tears of Rage The Band
  7. Urban Aire Afro Celt Sound System
  8. Every Time I See Your Picture Luba
  9. Penpals Sloan
  10. I Could Be Happy Here Big Country
As a note, if you don't know Super Furry Animals, James, or the New Pornographers get off your butt and seek them out. Super Furries and James have had a varied career and covered a variety of sounds; there's no way to really make a comparison because each album is a re-invention. The New Pornographers are one of the great, great lights of the indie scene in Canada and you just need to hear them. They've got a great video out somewhere covering Toronto's Your Daddy Don't Know.
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

God-damned Funny

This has been sitting in my drafts folder for a hell of a time. It's basically the Bigger Goat Theory of God at heart, isn't it?

From Bay of Fundie

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Let's talk about drugs for a minute.

Drugs are bad, m'kay?
Sure they are. We all know that. That's why we have to do anything we can to wipe their influence out on society. No penalty is too harsh if even one person is helped.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
The government today defied the advice of drug experts and upgraded cannabis from class C to class B.

The home secretary, Jacqui Smith, announced a new system of escalating penalties for adults caught in possession of small amounts of the drug from early next year.

Tougher sanctions will replace the current system of police warnings, and officers will be able to arrest first-time offenders.

I mean, what do drug experts know? They study about drugs, they think about drug policy, they do experiements, they collect data, but what do they know? Just more elitist hum-buggery. "We've got degrees. You should listen to us." Put a cork in it, Tarquin.
But things have changed. This isn't the gentle harmless pot you or I remember from when we were young.
This is skunk. It has the potential to end society as we know it.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
Last week, Gordon Brown warned of the "more lethal quality" of much of the cannabis now available, described it as a gateway drug, and said that the reclassification was needed to "send a message to young people that it was unacceptable".

The home secretary told the Commons today: "Reclassification reflects the fact that skunk, a much stronger type of the drug, now dominates the cannabis market."

We have to stop taking it easy on these druggies. Kids with their boom-boxes and backwards ball caps need to stop being coddled. That's why we need to step up enforcement. Our jails sit practically empty because drug-fuelled crazies are out there on every street corner hopped up on mary-jane just waiting to swarm someone and beat the hell out of him because the liberal science elites have convinced liberal activist police officers to stop enforcing the drug laws.
Thankfully, the Home Secretary isn't taking any of that crap.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
Smith said that the reclassification would mean "more robust" enforcement of laws banning the supply and possession of cannabis and a new approach to tackling cannabis farms and the organised criminals behind them.

Let's face it, Labour needs to show more backbone. Otherwise they can't differentiate themselves from the Tories.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said that he supported the decision to upgrade the drug but he criticised Labour's indecision over its classification.

He said: "The government's lax approach to drugs is the hallmark of our broken society under Labour."

"This long-awaited U-turn has followed delay, dithering and indecision when the country cries out for leadership," he added.

Sure, the elitist and anarchistic types have their data, but fuck that. They've got a liberal bias.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
[The ACMD chair, Professor Sir Michael Rawlins's] council heard evidence that the potency of homegrown herbal cannabis tended to be two and a half times that of imported resin. But they said users now often moderated their intake.

They were also told that the incidence of new schizophrenia cases reported to GPs had gone down, not up, between 1998 and 2005, indicating a weak link between increased potency and use in the past two decades and mental health problems.

Since cannabis was downgraded in 2004 the proportion of young people using it has fallen each year from 25.3% in 2003-04 to 20.9% now. Among those aged 16 to 59, the proportion over the same period has fallen from 10.8% to 8.2%, according to the British Crime Survey.

Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification | Politics | The Guardian
Professor Colin Blakemore, the former head of the Medical Research Council, said that cannabis use had fallen since 2004 and restoring the drug to class B status would be unlikely to protect those people who were most vulnerable, but would increase their chance of getting a criminal record. "The confusion over cannabis highlights the need for a proper overhaul of the present classification system, which the public neither understands or respects," Blakemore said.

And the talking points descend from the ivory tower. Just makes you sick doesn't it. The scaremongering they do in the face of such an imminent, catastrophic danger.
Smith upgrades cannabis to class B | Politics |
"Cannabis use is falling, as is the incidence of psychosis. We need public
education, not public flagellation."

Who's that? It's a Liberal Democrat. If two more filthy words have been imported into British politics, I don't know them.
Why do these people want your children to be in such danger of having to give toothless, meth-mouth blowjobs behind a skip down Pigfuck Mews, just so they can roll a spliff periodically? Foreign influence from illegal aliens. I don't know. But I suspect there's a connection.
My advice? Move to some tropical island somewhere where that sort of thing is accepted and leave us to us. Filthy foreign perverts getting stoned and thinking about your kids doing indescribable things like that. We ought to call the police.
Smith is thinking about the children:
Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification | Politics | The Guardian
Smith told the House of Commons yesterday that she had to take into consideration public perceptions and the pressures on policing as well as the advice of the advisory council.

"There is a compelling case to act now rather than risk the future health of young people," she said. "Where there is a clear and serious problem, but doubt about the harm that will be caused, we must err on the side of caution and protect the public. I make no apology for that I am not prepared to 'wait and see'."

Scientists warn Smith over cannabis reclassification | Politics | The Guardian
The home secretary told MPs she had accepted the 20 other recommendations made by the ACMD, including a tougher enforcement campaign against cannabis farms, a crackdown on "head shops" which sell cannabis paraphernalia, including seeds, and a renewed public health campaign.

Smith confirmed that the police approach to those under 18 found in possession of small amounts would remain unchanged. The police will continue to have the discretion to issue warnings to most adults found with small amounts of dope.

But the home secretary made it clear that she has asked the police to propose a tougher enforcement policy with escalating penalties for repeat offenders including fixed penalty fines and in cases involving aggravating factors, such as those which happen in a psychiatric hospital, a prison or a school.

Supplying the drug to children, students, psychiatric patients or prisoners will also attract harsher sentences.

Smith knows better than we do, but not in some elitist, booky way. Trust her. Do what she says. She knows how to be tough on drugs and on social issues.
Police should harass young thugs - Smith | Politics | The Guardian
Police should be harassing badly behaved youths by openly filming them and hounding them at home to make their lives as uncomfortable as possible, the home secretary will say today.

The crime initiative is part of a government strategy to win back voters by proposing more radical approaches to tackling deep seated problems.

In a speech in London the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, will acknowledge that the number of antisocial behaviour orders being issued is falling, but will argue that there has been a shift to the use of parental orders instead.

As part of the crackdown on bad behaviour, she will urge police forces across the country to follow the example of Essex police, who have mounted four-day "frame and shame" operations by filming and repeatedly stopping identified persistent offenders on problem estates.

Drugs have to end. It's the only way we can free up the resources to win the fight against the twin corrupting influence of rap and heavy metal music.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

And here's an unsurprise.

What? Brits with hangovers? Not a shock. Making it to work? That's a shock.
Having worked for a year in the UK there's no surprise here. I've seen a lot of it.
Having worked in Japan I can't imagine what the stats would be like for Tokyo. 8/10 or so is my guess. If not higher.
In Tokyo, I was that guy. A lot.
BBC NEWS | Health | Third admit to hangover at desk
One in three employees admits they have been to work with a hangover and more than one in 10 has been drunk at their desk, a study suggests.
Staff said they made mistakes, struggled to concentrate and had to go home early as a result of drinking.
Four out of five employers say alcohol is the biggest threat to the well-being of their staff, according to a survey for Norwich Union Healthcare.

And the round up of the top offenders.
Worst culprits
Some occupations are worse than others with regard to drinking and the workplace.
Forty-one per cent of people working in media and creative jobs said they had been to work while still drunk - four times the average.
The number who admitted to have been drunk at work was also high in the construction industry (24%), professional and business services (23%), and information technology (15%).

And the addendum:
Laddette culture, if culture can indeed be used sensibly in this context, continues to rise, as does the number of women busted for drunken crimes.

Police report 50% more women drunks | UK news | The Guardian
Police say the number of women arrested for being drunk and disorderly has risen by more than 50% in the past five years, it emerged yesterday.

Forces across the country report 5,891 females were detained for the offence last year, compared with 3,847 in 2003/04.

Twenty one forces found an increase and 15 found the figures static or lower, according to a survey by Channel 4 News.

Of particular worry to bystanders is the presence of hen parties on the streets. If you see one, flee.

Of course it didn't work.

Ah, the irony.
CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, say police | UK news | The Guardian
Massive investment in CCTV cameras to prevent crime in the UK has failed to have a significant impact, despite billions of pounds spent on the new technology, a senior police officer piloting a new database has warned. Only 3% of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV images, despite the fact that Britain has more security cameras than any other country in Europe

The question will always be this: did they think they could pay someone fifteen thousand pounds a year to simultaneously watch 8 of the least interesting reality TV shows in the universe? Did they think that would work?

Once more, with feeling...

There is NO such thing as wizardry.
I know, I know. Bold move starting a post with a firm declarative of the blindingly obvious. But I found this in the the JREF forums:
Fla. Teacher Accused Of Wizardry - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando
Teacher Jim Piculas does a magic trick where a toothpick disappears and then reappears.
Okay, so he's a teacher who does slightly twee entertainment in class before covering the French Revolution. Big deal.
Piculas said he then got a call from the supervisor of teachers, saying he'd been accused of wizardry.
"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue, you can't take any more assignments you need to come in right away,'" he said.
Piculas said he did not know of any other accusations that would have led to the action.
The teacher said he is concerned that the incident may prevent him from getting future jobs.
Okay, folks. Can I call you folks? Can you move a little closer to the screen? A bit closer I want to keep this between us. Bit closer.
I hope we've cleared that up.

Addendum: Damn it. The rev. beat me there.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hindenberg Anniversary

Yesterday, though still today for our 1.3 North American readers, was the 71st anniversary of the Hindenberg disaster.
So I have mercilessly scraped this pic from the Bay of Fundie.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Upcoming Travel

Again with the onsen in Kyushu. The wife truly loves this sort of thing.
Sometime last year one of Mrs Gaijin's friends realized that she turns 40 in June. The sort of thing that one can forget if one is a Brit in a pub.
Still, I can attest that 40 sneaks up on you.
So, anyway, we'll be in Las Vegas next month at the same time as The Amazing Meeting. It looks like I can spare the Friday, so I should be there wandering around for the first full day of TAM, as will friend DEG.
This could be a very storied trip.

A minor improvement in Canada

Now here's the kind of silly bit of trivia that you only find out about when the law is lifted.
Islanders pop tabs as P.E.I.'s 'can ban' ends
A new era begins on Prince Edward Island Saturday as retailers can once again legally sell canned carbonated beverages for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

Selling pop in cans has been banned in PEI for about 25 years?!? (Where's the interrobang on this keyboard, anyway?)

The ban was put in place in 1984 to protect jobs at the local Pepsi
bottling plant and to protect the environment. The province also banned
pop from being sold in plastic bottles.

It's the way a whole generation of Prince Edward Islanders quenched
their thirst, unless they brought back canned pop from the mainland,
which Islanders did by the trunkful. For a kid, a can of pop in a lunch
box was a status symbol.

It was pressure from Islanders themselves that convinced the new
government to end the can ban, which became a campaign issue in the
provincial election last May.

The lifting of the ban has been twice delayed while details of the deposit and return system for cans were worked out.

Hunh. By the way for our 'merican readers, pop means soda.

But P.E.I. Green party Leader Sharon Labchuk said she won't be celebrating.

"It's a sad day, not only for the environment in P.E.I., but for the
environment in those far-away countries where aluminum, actually
bauxite, is mined under extremely exploitive conditions of the local
people and the environment," Labchuk told CBC News.

"This is a huge step backwards for the environment and social justice."

Yes, the far away land of Quebec, where most bauxite comes from. Recycle the cans, asshat.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Gas Tax Cut: Deflated

Gee, that was clear and sensible.
Gas tax follies - Paul Krugman - Op-Ed Columnist - New York Times Blog
Why doesn't cutting the gas tax this summer make sense? It's Econ 101 tax incidence theory: if the supply of a good is more or less unresponsive to the price, the price to consumers will always rise until the quantity demanded falls to match the quantity supplied. Cut taxes, and all that happens is that the pretax price rises by the same amount. The McCain gas tax plan is a giveaway to oil companies, disguised as a gift to consumers.

Is the supply of gasoline really fixed? For this coming summer, it is. Refineries normally run flat out in the summer, the season of peak driving. Any elasticity in the supply comes earlier in the year, when refiners decide how much to put in inventories. The McCain/Clinton gas tax proposal comes too late for that. So it's Econ 101: the tax cut really goes to the oil companies.

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Or is it just about the bigger goat?

Larry Moran put up a challenge a while back to get better arguments for (a) god(s) and has gotten a response: Sandwalk: Sophisticated Religion
From the "The god you don't believe in isn't my god either" school comes Alvin Plantinga.
Alvin Plantinga - Audio Lecture Notes [The Academy of Christian Apologetics]
Interesting. Sophisticated religion.
Now if you want to see how religion, the kind of religion that is so part of this US election cycle, is actually done read this:
Jesus Made Me Puke : Rolling Stone
My work is done.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Memory Lane: YAD Covers the Canadian Coin Controversy

It's a year old, but none of these goofballs and shipdits have gotten any better at their job.
You Are Dumb: Numismatists on the Block

Friday, May 02, 2008

It's like he was actually there.

Heathrow 'a bit of a dump', says American Airlines exec | Business |
The world's largest airline has slammed Heathrow airport as the worst in Europe, labelling the British flight hub as "a bit of a dump".

Don Langford, head of customer services Europe for American Airlines, the world's biggest carrier by passenger numbers, said the overcrowded airport was no longer bursting at the seams because "the seams have burst"

Homoeopathy Friday

Homoeopathy is bogus. It doesn't even hold up to the stink test. (I mean 30c, are you joking?)
This connects to yesterday's post about sinking vaccination levels in the US. As the anti-vax whack-a-doodles gain more traction, the alt-med crowd also benefits. (I recall James Randi quipping that the alternative to medicine is ill health)
In the UK there is nary a homoeopath who won't break with regs and offer you a sugar pills as the prophylactic against malaria if you're going to Africa or South-East Asia.
So, to disabuse you of any notion that people who think about it take it seriously, here are two vids about homoeopathy.
From a BBC documentary. I know it starts supportive, but that's the rope-a-dope. Give it 3 minutes.

Homeopathy - The Test
On the other hand, James Randi gives you the short version.

James Randi explains homeopathy
He's a charming old curmudgeon, innit?
Oh, and it looks like Mrs Gaijin and I will be at The Amazing Meeting 6 for the Friday anyway.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Support the Skeptologists

Just a quick plug for a TV pilot that we want to see on the air.
It looks like Bullshit! with less swearing and everybody talks.
Email your support in to the production company.
The Skeptologists

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What? You Liked the Fucking Polio?

Memo to Americans. Get your fucking kids vaccinated?
Unless you have a really good reason, go to the doctor and keep the schedule. And by good reason, I don't mean this recent diabetic coma but we're Christian scientists so we'll just pray for a new pancreas or what ever the fuck was going through their heads bullshit.

Quarter of kids don't meet vaccine schedule | Reuters
More than a quarter of American children are not meeting the U.S. government's recommendations for childhood vaccinations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said on Tuesday.

So what's up with this?
"For the vast majority of parents, they're bringing their children to get vaccinated. The schedule is very complex and it requires a lot of visits to vaccination providers at specific times. And for parents who are busy, that can be really logistically difficult," Luman said in a telephone interview.

Okay, parenting is tough. So what? If you don't think you can keep up with the kid's needle needs, wear a condom. Do you think it's really that? I can't help but think that Reuters is holding back anything that may have been said about the anti-vax bullshit that's pervading the media these days.
Google the words herd immunity for chrissakes so we can all get back to our healthy lives.

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