Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hollywood Hunks Helping Out.. Gynecology Exams

The Grave Digger

Women in the United Kingdom now have something different to stare at than boring ceiling tiles or giant diagrams of their uterus during their pelvic exam.

The gynecological wing of Leigh Infirmary in Wigan, England has decided that women would feel more at ease looking at posters of George Clooney and Brad Pitt on the ceiling.
Patients, they say, would be relaxed by the collage, which is scarily reminiscent of a 13 –year-old's bedroom ceiling. For some, an alternative might be a calming beach scene -- not a horny heartthrob. Oh, but they have calming beach scenes and horny heartthrobs -- not to mention puppies and dolphins (what more could a girl ask for, really?).
Link (citing the Wingan Observer). I, for one, think they should put something up there that is actually useful, like tips for investing. If you have to take time off from work to visit the doctor, might as well learn a thing or two about saving money?


Image credits: "Nice Experience" curtosey wigantoday.net, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Average Homeboy

Brian
Today's hip hop (?) break is brought to you by middle-class white males. Middle-class white males: when will we have a voice, too?

(via Sivacracy)
Indexed by tags video, music, hiphop, average homeboy, middle class, white, rapper.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
Children collect Easter eggs under the watchful eye of an evil rabbit.

Indexed by tag Montrose.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

May We Suggest . . .

Brian
Golden Delicious apples. Conventional wisdom says green apples are for baking and red apples are for snacking. On both counts, conventional wisdom is wrong.



Ennio Morricone. Sergio Leone's movies are good, but they'd be ordinary as cotton underwear without the music of Ennio Morricone. Drawing a red line from Italy to Spain to Mexico on a flaming parchment map, the sound is beyond theatrical—it's operatic. When that chanting chorus kicks in to accompany the weeping strings and wa-waing trumpet aria, you'll know what I'm talking about. Desperate times may call for desperate measures, but desperate measures call for Ennio Morricone.

Taking stairs two at a time. First of all, it saves time, and while your time may not be all that important to you, do you really want to spend more of it than you have to climbing stairs? Second, it gives you the illusion that you are actually doing work. Feel that in your thighs? That's all muscle, baby. That's what it takes to move your corpulent haunches up to the next floor. If you opt to hit each and every stair (or, worse, each stair with both feet), step aside, because I'm about to blow past you.

Indexed by tags suggestions, products, food and drink, apples, Golden Delicious, music, Ennio Morricone, soundtrack, stairs, two at a time.
Image credits: (1) "IMG_4840," hexod.us, courtesy Flickr, acquired via Creative Commons license; (2) "A Fistful of Film Music: The Ennio Morricone Anthology," courtesy Amazon, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes; (3) "steps," hkvam, courtesy Flickr, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Hen Spontaneously Turns into a Rooster

Brian
A transgendered chicken in Saltford, England is befuddling his/her owner:
After eight months laying dozens of eggs, she suddenly sprouted a scarlet comb, developed tufty tail feathers and started crowing at dawn - all the signs of a red-blooded cockerel.

Stunned owner Jo Richards, 42, who has now christened the chicken Freaky, said: "One morning out of the blue she just started crowing. I've never heard of such a thing."

Freaky, who was born a Silver Laced Wyandotte hen, now wakes up Jo every sunrise, fights with other males and even tries to mate with his former laying mates.

. . . .

Bird expert Victoria Roberts, of the Poultry Club of Great Britain, explained that the sex change was a one in 10,000 rarity, caused by soaring testosterone levels.

Adrian Keep, secretary of the National Federation of Poultry Clubs, confirmed: "It does happen but the odds are very, very rare. I've only seen it once in 55 years."
Link (via Fortean Times). Well, I guess that answers the old question. Not really. But it might go toward answering that other question about the rooster standing on the barn roof facing north.

Indexed by tags science, biology, chicken, hen, rooster, Saltford, England, Jo Richards, transgender, sex change.

People with Different Accents Read the Same Paragraph

Brian
This research project website (via the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society) brings together audio files of hundreds of people from all over the world reading a paragraph of text in an effort to compare their accents linguistically. It reminds me of the old dialect survey of the United States. Except this one allows you to listen to people speaking with sexy accents.

Indexed by tags science, linguistics, accent, paragraph, audio, speech.

I Hear Walt Disney Had a Secret Apartment in the Ninth Ward

Brian
Kimberly Williamson Butler won't be the next mayor of New Orleans, but that's okay, because apparently she was running for mayor of New Orleans Square:
On the left, the header image of Butler’s campaign website. On the right, a picture of New Orleans Square in Disneyland. And, uh, we’re not sayin’, we’re just sayin’… frankly, we don’t remember what the trash cans looked like in the French Quarter, but the cleanliness of the street and the presence of fannypackin’ middle-Americans has us a wee bit suspicious.
Link. Unfortunately Butler's campaign promises—to keep dogs with celldoor keys away from the outstretched arms of prisoners, and to find once and for all the haunted mansion's thousandth ghost—didn't appeal to NOLA voters, who couldn't decide which last name associated with local government failures during Katrina they preferred least.

Indexed by tags politics, Kimberly Williamson Butler, New Orleans, mayor, Disneyland, New Orleans Square, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion.
Image credits: Butler campaign website header / Disneyland compare-contrast, courtesy Wonkette, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Texas's Anti-Lab Equipment Law: A Debate

Brian
The other day Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing posted about a cool idea in interior design: using lab equipment as kitchen containers. Reader Aaron wrote in to point out the implications of this under Texas law:
"Texas actually regulates ownership of some labware; owning an Erlenmeyer, as in the article, can land you in jail (Texas state code, 481.040):"

"Chemical laboratory apparatus" means any item of equipment designed, made, or adapted to manufacture a controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue, including:

(A) a condenser;

(B) a distilling apparatus;

(C) a vacuum drier;

(D) a three-neck or distilling flask...
Link. This prompted me to check out the Texas law and write an email to Cory:
Cory,

It's not owning lab equipment in Texas that will land you in jail--it's receiving lab equipment without a permit from the Department of Public Safety. It's ostensibly a controlled-substance-abuse law. Here's the PDF of the application. Presumably, so long as you don't have a record for running a meth lab, you don't state that you intend to use the flasks for a meth lab, and you allow DPS to inspect your meth-lab-free premises, you'll be okay acquiring flasks for your balsamic vinaigrette.

-The Good Reverend
And this, of course, prompted a multi-email debate, reproduced below the fold. In don't think Cory will mind my copying his words, since the freedom to copy information is one of his ideals.

Cory wrote back:
That sounds suspiciously like, "It's illegal to own lab-glass in
Texas, unless you get a regulatory permission." There isn't much
other kitchen apparatus that requires that you not be operating a
meth lab, allow anyone to inspect your premises, etc. Substitute
"garlic press" for "flasks" below and tell me if you think there's a
substantive untruth in saying it's illegal to possess lab-glass in TX.

Cory
And I couldn't leave well enough alone:
More than likely, the Texas legislators who passed the law weren't thinking about lab glass being used as kitchen containers. If it's interesting and novel enough to blog about, it's probably not something Texas politicians imagined. To them, lab equipment could be used for (1) science in schools, (2) science in private labs, (3) science as a hobby, and (4) making illegal substances. They probably passed the law to help sort out (3) from (4). I'm with you in thinking it sounds unusual and draconian, but it also sounds like they weren't trying to pass an absolute prohibition on casual home use of lab equipment for whatever unusual but legal purposes someone could dream up.
Cory questions the constitutionality of this law:
Sure -- it's a law that lots of people will be guilty of, but that
police can selectively enforce against. That's an old Stalinist (and
pre-Stalinist, like Inquisition) trick: make everyone guilty of
something, then go after people who are unpopular or troublesome on
the legal pretense of their "illegal" behavior instead of the thing
that's a thorn in the state's side. For example, the RIAA picks on
college kids who write general-purpose search-tools like FlatLAN
because they don't like search-engines (which necessarily find MP3s
as well as other kinds of files), but they sue them for the file-
sharing that every college kid is engaged in, not for writing search
engines.

If the Texas legislators wanted to prevent meth labs, they'd pass a
law that said "It's against the law to use lab equipment to make
meth." That's not even close to what the law says. The law says,
"It's against the law to own lab equipment that could be used to make
meth." Then it enumerates a ton of stuff you'd find in a mid-range
chemistry set at the local Toys R Us.

That's no way to write a law. It's not even Constitutional. It's
certainly not the actions of a fair and equitable legislature looking
to create a narrowly tailored police power that isn't subject to
abuse, but that will enable a law enfocement to get rid of a genuine
scourge (having lived in San Francisco's Mission district for four
years, getting repeately mugged by drug-addicts and passing human
wrecks sleeping and defecating in the street, I have no great love
for the impact of the drug war on America's cities, and I'm all for
shutting down meth labs, but not by outlawing tapered glass
containers -- which won't eliminate meth labs anyway).
Which is when I decide to go all law school on him:
I agree that it's a stupid law, and I would probably vote for a representative who ran on the promise of changing it, but I don't think it's unconstitutional. Faced with a constitutional challenge, a court would inquire whether the state's interest (reducing or preventing the manufacture of drugs) is permissible (clearly it is) and whether the law is rationally related to it (surely it's rational to believe that if you make it harder to get equipment necessary to make drugs, you'll reduce the making of drugs). Yes, it's over-inclusive, but the bureaucratic red tape involved in the permit structure is actually designed to limit that over-inclusiveness. It's not that you can't own flasks (if you already have them, keep them), and it's not even that you can't buy them--it's that you can't buy them without going through the bureaucracy. It's silly, I know. And it's not going to solve the meth problem. I don't even think it's a real step toward solving the meth problem, or that it adequately preserves the liberty of innocent people. But you wouldn't be irrational if you disagreed with me on that.

It certainly would be unconstitutional as applied if the police only enforced it against a protected group. I'm certain that it's selectively enforced--police probably enforce it against makers of illegal drugs and not against people who use lab glass as kitchen containers. I can only find two reported cases that deal with it, and both of them involve illegal drug manufacture. But drug manufacturers aren't a protected class--they can't say that their constitutional rights were violated because they were discriminated against as drug manufacturers. If the police were only enforcing the law against women, or homosexuals, or people of Lithuanian descent, or Democrats, then it would look a lot more like an equal protection violation. But they're not, so there is no violation.

As for the RIAA--don't get me started. They're evil, and beyond evil: stupid evil. And the enforcement of copyright law in the United States is a joke. But when the RIAA selectively sues people it doesn't like, that's not the same as the police selectively arresting people they don't like. The RIAA isn't the same as the state.
Cory makes a few points about my argument:
Also: regulating the possession of mobile phones would make it easier
to prevent the sale of drugs.

"I'm certain that it's selectively enforced--police probably enforce it against makers of illegal drugs and not against people who use lab glass as kitchen containers." Or against people they suspect of doing something bad but can't prove
anything against and need a convenient excuse to lock them away.

A law designed to capture the innocent and guilty alike and then be
selectively enforced is an attractive nuisance, whether it is being
used by private actors or the state.
And then I get the last word, probably because he got bored:
Regulating the possession of mobile phones in this manner might implicate fundamental constitutional rights, like free speech, and therefore be unconstitutional. But beyond that, any legislators who vote for it would be out of a job next term, because mobile phones are more important to more constituents than lab equipment. That's probably enough of a deterrent to prevent such a law from ever passing.

Police couldn't lock anyone away without a judge agreeing. Unless the accused has a prior record of related offenses, unlawful transfer or receipt of laboratory apparatus is a state-jail felony, which means, in most cases, the judge would sentence a convict to probation. In the interests of equity, if the police for whatever reason arrested someone for storing paprika in an unlicensed test tube, a judge would probably dismiss the charge or reduce it to a fine.

I guess the theory behind the copyright law is that it could be enforced against all violators, and the state wouldn't treat different violators differently if it was. But the state also can't force copyright holders to sue everyone who infringes their copyright. If the RIAA wants to go on suing people stupidly, that's not really the law's fault. At its core, copyright protection makes sense--if you create something, you get to say who can make a copy of it, and when, and how, at least for a limited time. You, for instance, allow everybody to copy certain of your works, with very few limitations. But copyright gives you the right to set those limitations. It's the recently developed theories of enforcement of copyright that don't make sense--the secondary liability, the targetting of would-be aficionados. The state may be to blame for the former, but not the latter.
That's where the debate stopped. My money's on me winning, but that's just because it's my money, and it's me.


Indexed by tags law, crime, Texas, lab equipment, Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow, email, copyright, police, Constitution.

Battle of the Daniels

Brian











Daniel Day-Lewis or Daniel Dae Kim?
Use the comments.


Indexed by tags poll, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Dae Kim.

SCUMBAG Is a Dirty Word, but that Won't Stop Wil Shortz

Brian
Scumbag apparently means not only scoundrel but also condom, and that's usually enough to keep it out of the New York Times, except when a crossword-puzzle editor forgets the dirty definition. So on Monday, April 3, the answer to 43 Down, "Scoundrel," was an unprintable vulgar term for a prophylactic that apparently only members of the Greatest Generation know about:
The Times maintains strict lexical standards, and close watchers of the paper already know that "scumbag" has long been considered off-limits. In 1998, Indiana Rep. Dan Burton publicly said of President Clinton, "This guy's a scumbag. That's why I'm after him." But the paper, in an article specifically about the insult and Burton's refusal to apologize, still opted not to quote the congressman directly, referring instead to his "use of a vulgarity for a condom to describe the President." Exceptions have been very few: In 2005, the term did appear in an article about a juror held in contempt after he looked at a defendant and said, "I think he is a scumbag." But such instances are generally regarded as accidents.

. . . .

So, how did "scumbag" make it into the puzzle? Simple: No one realized it could be offensive. Evidence suggests that many people, especially younger speakers, are unaware of the sexual meaning (the Times' 1998 allusion to Burton's remark was particularly confusing to such people). All major general American dictionaries—Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary, Webster's New World College Dictionary, the New Oxford American Dictionary, the Random House Webster's College Dictionary—include the word only in its "despicable person" sense, without any "vulgar" label or acknowledgment of its origins. The "condom" sense can be found only in the largest dictionaries, such as the Random House Unabridged and the Oxford English Dictionary, not out of ignorance or prudery, but because the sense isn't very common. And it's not even clear why "condom" is such an offensive concept.
Link. Begging the question, who does crossword puzzles in print anymore? Who even does crossword puzzles? Personally? I think dirty words in crossword puzzles make them more fun, especially dirty words so obscure they're practically Shakespearean. Wil Shortz, the Times crossword editor, should strive to the ideal of Mel Brooks movies, which, in the words of the director himself, "rise below vulgarity."

Indexed by tags newspapers, crossword, vulgar, scumbag, New York Times, Wil Shortz, condom, sudoku.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Loop the Aglet through the Eyelet

Brian

Ian is a dude who really loves shoelaces. Or knots. Or both—I suppose they go hand in hand. Anyway, he has an entire site (via BoingBoing) devoted to different ways to tie your shoelaces, from the slightly ridiculous Double Ian Knot, pictured above, to the ultra-efficient Ian Knot (no, they're not all named after Ian). And you've been doing the old Standard Shoelace Knot this whole time.

Indexed by tags DIY, knots, shoelaces.
Image credits: Double Ian Knot, courtesy Ian's Shoelace Site, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Jack Is Back

Brian
I'm so there.

Indexed by tags movies, You Tube, video, Titanic 2, trailer.
Video credits: Titanic 2 preview, courtesy You Tube, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
Why would young whippersnappers run around hitting cars and buildings with paintballs when there is so much other exciting stuff for a kid to do in town?

Indexed by tag Montrose.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Assistant Principal Drives Teen to Suicide for Immigration Bill Protest

Brian
When it comes to assistant principals at junior high and high schools, there's bad and then there's Gene Bennett, who drove a fourteen-year-old to suicide with unconstitutional threats for his protest organizing:
Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he was going to prison for three years because of his involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony from attending graduation activities and threatened to fine his mother for Anthony's truancy and participation in the student protests."
Link (via Metafilter). Gene Bennett is the assistant principal at De Anza for at least a little while longer.

Indexed by tags politics, school, education, death, suicide, Anthony Soltero, Gene Bennett, De Anza Middle School, Ontario, California.

Rich Kids Love Death Cab, Paula Abdul

Suedo Apmuza
The O.C. is one of my guilty pleasures. No, not just because watching privileged teenagers struggle to be happy is an astute commentary on pervasive American depression in the face of vast material wealth and insignificant problems...

...No, I also enjoy it because watching Summer and Seth get-together and break-up ad infinitum captivates me. It is sugar candy TV, like bubble-gum Britney Spears pop and Colt-45 Lil' Jon: it may not be good for me but it is fun.

One thing decidedly less 'sugary' about The O.C. is the accompanying music. It's good stuff. Stuff I'd call authentic. A lot of bands I like have songs on the show. Heck, I even hear about "new" bands from the show. (Side note: how can I even consider myself a music aficionado when I learn about bands from concerts at the Bait Shop?)

Good music on The O.C. opens a big can of worms. Mainstream 'indie' music? Is all pay-to-play distribution inherently bad? When does a bandwagon fan become a real fan? Different topics, different posts.

What I really want to discuss here are the parallels between Paula Abdul and Death Cab for Cutie.

You see, The O.C. is not the first privileged-teenagers-in-high-school show with a hip soundtrack. You haven't already forgotten Dawson's Creek or Beverly Hills 90210? Not only is the basic premise the same, those edgy shows also had edgy sound tracks attenuated to their trend-setting audience. Heck, The O.C.'s Bait Shop is a clear homage to 90210's Peach Pit.

Given the similarities between all these privileged-teenager shows and their hip soundtracks, I took a look back at what used to be hip. The first track on the 90210 Soundtrack is by Paula Abdul. The only artist to make both of the Dawson's Creek volumes is Jessica Simpson. In general, it is disconcerting to see how irrelevant most of yesterday's trend-setters are today.

It's expected, I guess. Liking a rebellious, trend-setting band is like starting a relationship by cheating on your current significant other: there is no foundation for a long-lasting marriage since it was built on infidelity of the previous musical style. When the next new sound struts by you move on and 'ska' is left alone on Saturday night crying its eyes out wondering what went wrong. Hip new music can't be hip and new forever.

I know it is personal, petty pride that I hope the music from The O.C. will not fade into obscurity. I like many of the bands and prefer not to consider myself crazy for doing so in ten years. Will Death Cab for Cutie become Paula Abdul and judge a Canadian Idol in 2016? Is Sufjan Stevens the next Color Me Badd?

In the end it doesn't matter much. The music itself isn't affected one note by its external popularity and there is always an 'I' in 'opinion'...but it's still a little scary, huh?

Indexed by tags The O.C., Dawson's Creek, 90210, Death Cab for Cutie, Paula Abdul, Sufjan Stevens, Color Me Badd, Suedo Apmuza.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random Movie Quote Thursday

Brian
What do you mean you don't make side orders of toast?
You make sandwiches, don't you?
You've got bread and a toaster of some kind?
OK, I'll make it as easy for you as I can.
I'd like an omelette, plain,
and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast,
no mayonnaise,
no butter,
no lettuce.
And a cup of coffee.
Now all you have to do is hold the chicken,
bring me the toast,
give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich,
and you haven't broken any rules.

Indexed by tags movies, quotes.

May We Suggest . . .

Brian
The Braun Activator Self-Cleaning Razor. I used to hate electric razors, but this thing does the job right. I can get a good shave with a manual razor, but I always cut myself, because I am a klutz. This won't cut you, and did I mention it cleans itself? Like a cat. Lay down the big dollar. Don't mess around with that Norelco crap.

Scarlett Johansson. Twice the t's, twice the s's, and twice the lady. She is truly lovely and seems like the kind of woman that would actually be fun to hang out with. She comes across as someone who thinks and feels deeply because she might have read a book or two, and we all know I have the hots for the smarts. Plus, she's drop-dead gorgeous.

Veronica Mars. I'm not even sure if we get UPN in my apartment, let alone whatever station will exist after UPN and the WB merge. I hardly ever watch actual TV shows as they air anymore. Okay, Lost is an exception. And Gray's Anatomy. That's it, I swear. But the point is, Veronica Mars on DVD is really awesome. It's like Buffy the Vampire Slayer—I never really watched that, but it's like what I imagine Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be like—but with a private eye instead of a vampire slayer. The dialogue is sharp, the plot is engrossing, and Kristen Bell is pretty hot. I'm totally a Veronica-Logan shipper. Just don't tell me what happens in season two yet, because I'm waiting for the DVDs.

Indexed by tags suggestions, products, television, movies, razor, Braun, Scarlett Johansson, Veronica Mars.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What Isn't Covered By Medicare May Surprise You

The Grave Digger
If you or someone you know is over fifty years of age, now is the time to invest (submitted by sonejid).



Hasidim Riot after Brooklyn Arrest

Brian

Hashem's rays fire blaze burn bright and I believe
Out of darkness comes light, twilight unto the heights
Crown Heights burnin' up all through the twilight
-Matisyahu, "King without a Crown"

When the NYPD pulled over 75-year-old Arthur Schick in Borough Park Tuesday night, Hasidic witnesses went all Do the Right Thing:
As rumors spread through the crowd that Schick had been beaten, tensions escalated and hundreds of people in traditional black garb poured onto 16th Ave. from 46th to 50th Sts. They set fire to old magazines, fruit boxes and other trash up and down the avenue.

Firefighters raced to put out at least seven blazes and water down the streets.

Demonstrators smashed the windows of one police cruiser and torched another by throwing a gasoline-soaked rag into its backseat. A helicopter searchlight swept the street, and riot police formed lines along 16th Ave., hollering, "Back on the sidewalk!"
Link (via Fark). What kind of way is this to kick off Passover?

Indexed by tags crime, religion, New York, Brooklyn, Borough Park, riot, Hasidim, Jewish, police, NYPD, Matisyahu.
Image credits: "Hassidim Fire," Neeman Callender, courtesy Kabbala Online, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Intelligent Design and Evil: The Demons Did It

Brian

Robert C. Newman of the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute argues that incidence of evil in nature is evidence of intelligent design—malevolent intelligent design:
[O]ne candidate for malevolent intelligent design would be the ichneumon wasp. This insect, of the order Hymenoptera (which includes wasps, bees, and ants) is actually a family of some 40,000 species. It typically lays its eggs on the larva or pupa (chrysalis) of a moth, butterfly, other insect or spider. After the ichneumon egg hatches, its larva will nourish itself by devouring the fats and body fluids of its host, but in such a clever way so that the host does not die until the ichneumon larva is ready to make its own cocoon. Whether this is certainly to be identified as malevolent may be disputed. After all, many of the insects that are killed by the Ichneumonidae are pests to human farmers. But it is certainly malevolent from the perspective of the host caterpillar!

The point to be made here is this: organisms which possess incredible complexity beyond what natural selection could "design" from the available offerings of chance, and which also seem to be clearly malevolent, might well be the work of malevolent spirit beings. There are, of course, other possibilities. They may be the direct or indirect work of God and we are mistaken in viewing them as malevolent. They might be the work of non-spiritual intelligences (extra-terrestrials). I cannot see any other alternatives that are consistent with a biblical theism.
Link (via Pharyngula). Demons, maybe, but no other alternatives consistent with biblical theism? Maybe Newman is reading the wrong Bible.

Indexed by tags religion, evolution, intelligent design, Robert C. Newman, demons, malevolent, Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Image credits: St. Michael Fighting the Demons, anonymous master, ca. 1480—1500 Bruges.

World Population Blob Map: Europe to Shrink, Africa to Fatten

Brian

This map depicts the world in the year 2300, with the size of countries adjusted to reflect their share of the world's population:
The highest long term population growth is predicted for Africa. Africa is currently underpopulated and has the lowest life expectancies. Other regions' populations are predicted to stay level or decline. Between 2050 and 2300 the areas currently known as India, China, the United States and Pakistan maintain their ranked order as having the world's highest populations.
Link (via Neatorama). Europe, which currently has about the same population at the United States, just keeps shrinking. And do you notice that the mainland United States looks exactly the same size and shape as it does in real life? I think the map was indexed around that, which is a bit Amero-centric of the mapmakers. By 2300, the world's population is expected to be nine billion, all of which will have been served by McDonald's.

Indexed by tags science, cartography, map, world, globe, population, projection, future, 2300, Africa, Europe.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Media Makes White Kids Have Sex Earlier

Brian

A study at the University of North Carolina found that white kids who are exposed to lots of sexual references in movies, music, TV, and magazines are more likely to have sex earlier, but that black kids are impervious to smutty pop culture:
The study analyzed 308 different television shows, movies, songs, and magazines commonly used by teenagers and calculated each teen[']s “sexual media diet.” The researchers then followed up with each teen two years later inquiring about their sexual behavior.

As it turns out, white teens who use media with high sexual content were more than two times as likely to have sex by the time they were 16 years old than those who used less.

. . . .

The researchers believe that teachers, parents, and media should educate teens in order to give them the proper tools to make decisions about their sexual life.

"Otherwise, the media will continue to serve as a kind of sexual super peer that doesn't have the best interests of young people in mind," [UNC researcher Jane] Brown said.
Link (via Sploid). I don't know about you, but when I was a teenager, I think I would have enjoyed having a "sexual super peer."

Indexed by tags: science, sex, teen, race, white, black, media, movies, television, music, magazines, Jane Brown, sexual super peer.
Image credits: Life: Buds and Blossoms, John Cecil Clay, courtesy New York Public Library, public domain.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Brian
An audience-participation mystery musical based on I Love Lucy is the hit of the season.

Indexed by tag Montrose.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pearl Jam Still Alive, Rest of World Committing Suicide

Suedo Apmuza
Pearl Jam recently released the first single from their upcoming eighth studio album due out in May 2006. The track is titled World Wide Suicide and was initially made available for free from their website.

Bad jokes are pretty easy on this one. “You get what you pay for” and “World wide suicide is likely if we have to listen to this crap” come to mind. Even for a long-time Pearl Jam fan(atic) like myself, this song sucks.

World Wide Suicide is yet another forgettable political-rant-set-to-rock track, continuing right where 2000’s Insignificance and 2002’s Bu$hleaguer left off. Unfortunately, World Wide Suicide is continuing a downward trend of less interesting choruses, less exciting lyrics, and less emotional intensity.

Some bands can do political rock. Rage Against the Machine made me want to roll down Rodeo with my shotgun for the people of the sun. Pearl Jam, however, consistently fails to get me riled up. If it’s any comfort, at least their heart is in the right place. In a recent interview lead singer Eddie Vedder says
“We're a country that instigated a war under false pretences, thousands of people are dying, we're wasting billions of dollars and yet the media is inundated with stories on teenage pop star's weight loss. It's insane. You've got bling this and bling that and it's polluting the mind's of our youth as to what's important in life.” (Kerrag)

It is a shame that all this couldn’t translate into a good song.

The only silver lining to World Wide Suicide is that there are 12 other tracks on the upcoming self-titled album that might be good. Both Binaural (2000) and Riot Act (2002) had some solid tunes about more traditional Pearl Jam topics such as love, loss, and longing. There is hope.

Indexed by tags , , , .

Growing

Brian
Mr. Suedo Apmuza will be joining the Good Reverend family imminently. An afficionado of all things musical, Mr. Apmuza will be our columnist reviewing albums, songs, concerts, and other things that make noise. Welcome.

Indexed by tags blogging, blog, the Good Reverend, Suedo Apmuza.

Baghdad Is So Safe, It's Really Istanbul

Brian
The above picture originally appeared on the website of California congressional hopeful Howard Kaloogian, who explained, "We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq . . . . Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism." The only problem was that the picture was actually not taken in Baghdad at all, but in a suburb of Istanbul:
The photo featured people who didn’t seem dressed quite right for Iraq, and signs and billboards that looked off, too. In the now-familiar pattern, the ace detective work leaped from obscure blogs to the well-known (Talking Points Memo, Eschaton, Attytood, more), and back again, as eagle-eyed experts proposed alternative locales, with Turkey a likely suspect.

In less than a day, it was over. “Jem6X” at the popular DailyKos blog confirmed the street scene was in Bakirkoy, a suburb of Istanbul, not Baghdad.

Tipped off by someone who recognized the actual intersection in Turkey, Jem went through online photo galleries and in a matter of minutes today found a snap taken by a “Faruk” that lined up with the “Baghdad” photo in numerous conclusive ways. Game, set, and match to the blogosphere.

Later Wednesday, Kaloogian admitted the photo was from Turkey but denied he had anything personally to do with posting it on his site. He replaced that Turkey photo with a photo of what he said was Baghdad—taken from a distant hill.
Link (via BoingBoing). I suppose it could be an honest mistake. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten home from a vacation, looked at my pictures, and forgotten exactly where they were taken. Usually, however, I can tell the difference between two countries. Especially if one has, you know, a war going on.

Indexed by tags politics, Iraq, Baghdad, Istanbul, Turkey, picture, Howard Kaloogian.

Human Magnet Actually Human Suction Cup

Brian
Liew Thow Lin, pictured above with a whole bunch of metal stuck to his skin, may be a real-life Magneto. But he may also just be very sticky:
"[R]eal scientists" have validated these powers! Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) lecturer Nasrul Humaimi Mahmood said this ability was probably associated with "suction properties in his skin." Professor Dr. Mohamed Amin Alias, from UTM's electrical engineering faculty in Johor, agreed. After seeing Liew perform, the professor did research on the matter, and decided, "His skin has a special suction effect that can help metal stick to it." "These powers are not an illusion," he said, "That is why his two sons and two grandchildren also have the magnetic-like ability. They have his genes." Dr. Atsusi Kono, former chief physician at the Djo Si Idai Hospital in Tokyo, was so impressed with a Russian he saw doing this stunt, that he commented: "There is absolutely no doubt that the objects stick as if their bodies were magnetic." Dr. Friedbert Karger of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, in January 1997, investigated another "magnetic man" named Miroslaw Magola who was born in Poland in the 1960s, and was able to demonstrate the ability "to pick up a cup from the floor without touching it, and to control its suspension in mid-air."
Link (see also Cellar). He also pulled a car with his pants, which doesn't really seem related. But I hope he put it in neutral.

Indexed by tags: weird, science, magnetism, biology, skin, Malaysia, Liew Thow Lin, suction.
Image credits: "Mr. Magnetism," courtesy
Cellar, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ebu Gogo Found Alive!

Brian
H. floresiensis, the tiny hominid from the Indonesian island of Flores, has been a mystery of science since a skeletal specimen was discovered a couple years ago. Now that mystery is taking on a new dimension with news out of Australia that the legendary tiny man (er, woman) has been found alive near the island's the Liang Bua cave:
[University of Canberra researcher Peter] Stire cautions tests may still reveal that "Helena," as she is being called, may be a diminutive member of Homo sapiens, or modern humans. "We've found examples of humans adapted to various environment that vary wildly from normal human size," he said, noting the example of African pygmies. Helena, however, has distinct, almost ape-like, facial features and a thick coat of hair. "We haven't ever found a non-Homo sapiens hominid still surviving," Stire added. "If that is what Helena turns out to be, we may be forced to reevaluate our definition of what it means to be human."
Link (via Fortean Times). Well, this blows my plan to be the first person to find a living ebu gogo.

Indexed by tags cryptozoology, science, ebugogo, Australia, Indonesia, Flores, floresiensis, April Fools, Peter Stire.