OK, One More From XKCD


Playing Devil's Advocate to Win

As seen on XKCD.


Sad Day in US History

The Senate once again shames itself. At least my two Senators voted against the torture bill (S3930), although it is dissapointing that a filibuster was not at least attempted. Go read Glenn Greenwald for some of the moronic and backwards reasoning that some Senators used to rationalize a yes vote (including some Democrats).

In the Dark

Tonight the entire city of Reykjavik, Iceland will turn off their lights at 10 pm and sit in the dark for half-an-hour. Why? To look at the stars of course! And while families are star gazing an astronomer will describe what they are looking at over the national radio. If they're really lucky they'll see the Northern Lights. What a great idea.

(Via Bad Astronomy)


Olbermann Says What We All Feel

Keith Olbermann is quickly becoming the Edward R. Murrow of our time. Intelligent, articulate, and blistering in his analysis. It's nice to see someone who is willing to be brutally honest. Take the time to watch this, it is important.


Nobel Prize

The announcement of this years Nobel Prizes will begin next week. Keep a look out!


Woody Allen on String Theory

Woody Allen had an amusing short essay in the New Yorker about string theory. If you have a couple of minutes it is worth the read.

(Via Not Even Wrong)


Stay This Course?

From DailyKos:

Seattle Times--A stark assessment of terrorism trends by U.S. intelligence agencies has found that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
LA Daily News--The U.S. military is likely to maintain and may even increase its force of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring, the top American commander in the region said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of when troops may come home.
CBS News--The Pentagon is in the early stages of drafting a wartime request for up to $100 billion more for Iraq and Afghanistan, lawmakers say, a figure that would push spending related to the wars toward a staggering half-trillion dollars.
Guardian Unlimited--Torture in Iraq is worse now than it was under the regime of Saddam Hussein and "is totally out of hand", according to a United Nations investigator. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein," said Manfred Nowak.


Elementary Physics

One of my students dad is a doctor. He works an absolutely insane schedule. Once a year, he takes one of his three kids on a five day trip for some bonding. This year he took his 5th grade son K backpacking around Four Corners National Monument. As they were driving north in New Mexico, an ominous thundercloud was approaching, lighting forking out all around them. K was getting nervous as the storm got closer. The lighting especially concerned him. K's dad, G, explained that they were perfectly safe from harm, even if the car was struck. K asked a reasonable question.

"If it's safe, why are we the only ones on the road?"
"We're not the only ones," his dad replied. "Look, there's another car right there," G said, pointing.
K, being the astute young boy that he is, observed that the car was going in the opposite direction. He again asked why they were the only ones traveling into the storm.
"We're driving into the storm because we have big brass gonads," his dad said.
K thought for a moment.
"What are gonads?"
"Big brass balls."
K paused for a second and then said, in all seriousness,
"I don't think having brass balls is a good idea in a lightning storm."


Good Quote

I like this quote from Chet Raymo, professor emeritus at Stonehill college. He says:

The purpose of science -- and indeed all education -- is to arrive at a state of ignorance, but an ignorance that is aware of itself.


I've Been Humbled

I've always thought that I was a bit of a nerd ( my wife assures me that this is not idle speculation). Whatever level of nerdiness I thought I had achieved I am comlpletely and utterly outmatched by the folks at Scienceblogs.

You Have To Pick Your Moment

Deciding to swallow a pregnant sheep while in the middle of a road may not be the greatest idea. This 18 foot python had to be removed by Malaysian villagers so that it would not get run over by oncoming traffic. The snake later regurgitated its meal. It just looks painful.


More Legal Shenanigans

Geoffrey Stone, UC Law Professor, has a post concerning the Bush administrations attempt to rewrite the law concerning torture, interrogation, the courts and their Constitutional implications. Here are the first couple of paragraphs; go read the rest.

A good deal has been made in recent days of the objections raised by Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Olympia Snowe, and John Warner to President Bush's proposed legislation authorizing the use of military tribunals to try enemy combatants. I applaud the actions of Graham, McCain, Snowe, and Warner. What I find astonishing -- and deeply distressing -- is that other Senate Republicans have not rallied to their support.

Senators Graham, McCain, Snowe, and Warner have objected to several provisions of the Bush proposal, including those expressly authorizing the prosecution to use hearsay evidence, secret evidence, and evidence obtained by coercion involving degrading and inhuman treatment. Each of these proposals represents a profound and radical departure from the fundamental standards of fairness and decency that have long governed both criminal courts and military tribunals throughout the history of the United States. Each of them is legally, constitutionally, and morally unwarranted.

Doonsbury on Rumsfeld


Going Digital

I just had my new digital phone service installed by Comcast! No more crappy answering machine; straight to voicemail. Caller ID and Call Waiting with Caller ID. Three Way Calls. I can check my voicemail online. It's a brave new world.

Move Over A380

Boeing has a new cargo superfreighter, the 847. It's an impressive beast. It was built in Taiwan and will be landing here in Seattle tonight. There is some fear by local groups that the construction of the plane, done overseas by groups from Japan and Italy, will lessen the need for Puget Sound workers. Boeing insists this is not the case.

You can see a video of some take-offs and landings here.


Sun Found Not Guilty

A paper published in Nature yesterday has provided evidence that the change in the sun's luminosity during its 11-year sun spot cycle has not contributed in any meaningful way to global climate change. Reasons to excuse human activity are dwindling fast. Global warming skeptics are going to have to look for new evidence to support them.


Speak It!

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA):

In light of the rantings that went on for 30 minutes by two colleagues from the other side, I'd like to state for the record that America is not tired of fighting terrorism; America is tired of the wrongheaded and boneheaded leadership of the Republican party that has sent six and a half billion a month to Iraq while the front line was Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. That led this country to attack Saddam Hussein, when we were attacked by Osama bin Laden. Who captured a man who did not attack the country and let loose a man that did. Americans are tired of boneheaded Republican leadership that alienates our allies when we need them the most. Americans are most certainly tired of leadership that despite documenting mistake after mistake after mistake, even of their own party admitting mistakes, never admit they do anything wrong. That's the kind of leadership Americans are tired of ... I'm not going to sit here as a Democrat and let the Republican leadership come to the floor and talk about Democrats not making us safe. They're the ones in charge and Osama bin Laden is still at loose.
(Via StrangerFruit)

Pro-Bush group misstates key facts about anti-terror campaign

From FactCheck.org:

The pro-Bush group Progress for America is running a TV ad appealing directly to Americans' fear of terrorists, saying bluntly "These people want to kill us."

That's true enough. But the ad falsely attributes the recent thwarting of a hijack plot to the President's warrantless NSA wiretaps, when it was actually British authorities who uncovered it.

The ad also distorts the position of Iraq war critics, implying they propose to withdraw from "the Middle East" and not just Iraq.

And in a bit of bad luck, the ad cites the case of al-Qeda affiliate Zarqawi as evidence of the success of Bush's anti-terror campaign – one day before the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report saying Saddam Hussein considered him an outlaw and tried to have him arrested.


An Inside View

Would you like a tour of the cell? Of course you would. Click here to begin your fantastic voyage.

(Via Pharyngula)