Monday, 29 June 2009

Chick Tracts

The chick tracts are immensely annoying short web comics that promote Christianity, they're not so much annoying for their promotion of religion (what ever floats your boat) more for their utter lack of logic and horribly contrived feel that should fail to persuade any rational reader of their truth (a perfect example is this on homosexuality see if you can reach the bottom with out rage!).

Anyway for those of a lovecraftian bent this is a wonderful parody

Friday, 19 June 2009

Sex, drugs and rock n' roll.

Well one out of three isn't bad. Here is a summary of some interesting reports on drug use. These interest me for a couple of reasons: I have tried various chemicals and enjoyed them; I have read (well skimmed) various government reports most of which go against the accepted wisdom that 'drugs are bad'; finally I have always wondered why people are so blind to the affects of alcohol/tobacco and so vocal on the affects of everything else.

While this is the age old argument there is VERY little reason why alcohol should be acceptable while cannabis or MDMA isn't. There are two reasons for my confusion; firstly while none of these drugs are safe (don't believe me look up liver failure from alcohol and permanent psychosis for cannabis) secondly I fail to see how most people don't realise this. I would expect it's from the propaganda that says drugs are bad you are hooked the instant one touches your lips (or vein or what ever) and that they will kill you in seconds.

It is this second point that depresses me the most; the double standards I can understand to a degree: people are comfortable with booze but the rest is strange and scary, fine. The second point though raises a much more dangerous truth: that we should lie utterly to children and ourselves. This isn't the science "this is mostly true but not everything" lying this is out right driving fear in to people's hearts to the point where those people who genuinely need help (ie addicts) cannot admit it most of the time because of the stigma and hence are denied what should be an avenue out for them. It also raises the worrying question of what else we let ourselves be feared into (ID cards anyone, net monitoring?)

This is a wonderful highlight of an endemic problem in our society: that expertise is no longer trusted, in any way. I'm not saying we shouldn't question what we are told be experts or anyone, but they are experts for a reason. The number of government policies that are created despite experts turning round and saying "what you planning is rubbish" is a sad indicator of something found at all levels of society.

I hope it ends soon...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

New news on old news I missed

This (yes one day I'll come up with a better start to these but until the bite me) is a worrying story. The reasoning behind a trial without jury is sound, the case had been seen three times previously and fallen through each time due to jury tampering. It still makes trial by judge alone a worrying situation especially in criminal cases.

While our current government (incompetent and rubbish as it is) probably wont start black bagging and trying without jury its the sort of law that means if someone is an arse at a future point there is worrying precedent, especially when combined with some of the other more interesting laws that have been passed in recent years.

More worrying news from the gov, this sort of stuff will most likely bite them in the arse as public backlash. Ironic though that a nominally left leaning centrist party has introduced so many laws and policies that look like they should be in 1984...

Pay pal and other people's woes

This is a revealing blog posting; revealing it that it points something that I'd never noticed about paypal (which I don't often use anyway) but paypal only guarantees purchases made via eBay. This means for everything else your on your own.

Friday, 12 June 2009

More joy from YouTube and the Discovery Institute

Two related videos today, both by the same person highlighting what will become an interesting problem online: the use of cease and desist notices to take down and censor content. This is nicely tied to another irritant of mine which is creationism (now going by the name of intelligent design). This is the sort of insidious anti-science that could set us back years if it gets accepted. Firstly ID explicitly relies on a none testable hypothesis: that at some point all of life was designed at a deep level. This can only be tested if they can prove that a biological is irreducible, that is that there is no way in which it could have been produced naturally, this in itself is the definition of supernatural.

Moving away from my loathing of ID the second part that is interesting is the use of law to smash websites; especially hosting sites like youtube. These sites have to comply quickly (I expect they use automated services) as failure to do so makes them liable BUT it does mean there is an easy was to remove content that you don't like.

Luckily the internet does not forgive and it does not forget.

Here are the vids, the first is the vid that was taken down the second is a vid about that act.

nanowin and biofutures!

This is a short video of a carbon nanotube muscle, it is very cool. This sort of technology can be used for all sorts of interesting micro motors, engine parts and other machinery such as very manipulatable arms for robots (search and rescue anyone with a cam mounted on one of those to look inside the rubble).

Next is this interesting article on grown organs, so far a bladder, bone marrow and a rat's heart have been made with the bladder having been successfully transplanted into a patient. This is the future of medicine: constant refreshment of organs as and when they are needed. Neat huh?

Thursday, 11 June 2009

oh dear..

This is silly, very silly.

Chiropractic and other fun

Two interesting posts that I'm linking to today. First is a very funny letter being sent out to various chiropractic peoples informing them that they should be very careful about what they claim to be able to help with. Second is an interesting (American) post on the break-down of their government's spending.

Starting with the latter (the government spending) click here the blog itself is a favourite of mine with lots of interesting physics and astrophysics posts but what is genuinely interesting is how the break down of spending appears: only 0.8% is on science and technology combined. all it beats is general government. That's NOTHING, I find it highly annoying when people complain about the costs of for example the LHC; especially as they rarely realise that the $5 billion (I think ~£4bn) is spread over about 25 years of total R&D compared to the Olympic games which will no doubt run to more than its predicted £4bn budget for not even 1 year of heavy use. Anyway an interesting post and one well worth sending to the 'science is a waste of money' brigade.

The former post I won't comment on other than to say that considering that Simon Singh currently has to prove that the claims of the BCA were deliberately misleading this seems to be a wonderful piece of evidence that they may have been...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Politics - who needs it?

This made me grin today

source: b3ta (if you've never been there a worthwhile hour).

Sunday, 7 June 2009

CAPTCHA humour

It's early moring so this is excused, but does anyone else find humour in the silly sequences of letters that you have to type in to let a website know your a human?

For example today I had one that was 'humpa' as these are randomly generated I wonder if they ever produce rude words etc?

Anyway bed time, need an early start so chores can be done early prior to massive amounts of world of warcraft.

Friday, 5 June 2009

This, sign it, NOW

This is a petition on the Simon singh case - sign it.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Job hunting

Well it's summer again which can mean only one thing: time for another soul sucking summer job. In years previous I've been very lucky in being able to get jobs through friends this year with the economic situation being what it is it doesn't seem as likely, certainly no luck so far. The upshot of this is that today has been spent a) in the sun and b) sitting in my room trawling through pages of job agencies which mainly consist of various recruitment firms pertending to be employers looking for jobs rather than agencies looking for more people to put on their books, oh the joy!

Instead of doing further searching and CV massaging I'm here; procrastination how I love ye!

bah jobs suck!



It takes a lot to sicken me online and this manages it. What I find sad about it is the utter contempt, it takes true work to write something so utterly hate-filled, then to publish it and pretend to be the good-guy is amazing.

I don't have a huge interest in the whole abortion debate - personally I think that abortion should be an option and in late cases where the woman's life is in danger it may be the only sensible option.

The other thing that shocked me a bit about this article is the whole-hearted love for capital punishment this isn't someone who thinks that it is whats needed as a deterrent but that it should be loved and used as such.

and I thought reading fundies say the darnedest things helped expose me to the extremes of human belief - looks like I have to work harder.


This video is annoying me. I like LOTR but the thought of a kids game of it grates at a fundemental level. A large part of the attraction to LOTR for me is that it has so much depth (the huge mythology woven through, the languages and the sub-plots) and I don't think the games will pick up on this even remotely, the films did well in balancing it and created something beautiful. By the look of it though a cell shaded game aimed at children and their parents probably wont.

Ah well


Monday, 1 June 2009

This would be funny if it weren't so true

This article sums up the onion pretty well. It's funny. It's accurate. And painfully true.

I don't know if it's just my tinfoil hat blocking my ears but when you see stuff like the Simon Singh case the various insanities that are always about (ie creationism and vaccine quackary) it just seems that anti-science is on the rise (ironicly often helped by the 'net).

This is a problem on a number of fronts. Firstly anti-science generally goes hand-in-hand with loss of critical thinking which is not what you want in a democracy - even more so given the current economic and political climate (hello BNP, anyone?) The second reason is that in the increasing technical age that we live in loss of scientific thinking doesn't help anyone. Our current knowledge is close to pushing science far beyond anything we've previously seen: both nanotech and biotech have the potential to fundamentally change how we live beyond even what the internet has done. This will not be helped if half the population are unable to think critically and more importantly unable to get hold of the information that will help with this.

Now more than ever we need GOOD science writers and a GOOD flow of information. Here's hoping it happens

Black Lines

Interesting story here about so called 'black-lines', these are the lines that don't show up on maps and no-one admits to owning. They're the fibre optics of goverenment services and similar.

I wonder if there are any near me to hit with a spade? could be fun....