Archive for February, 2010

CNN knows where Hawaii really is

February 27, 2010

So there was another big earthquake today near Chile. The Boston Globe already has a ‘big picture’ photo feature for those who might want to get an idea of how bad it was/is. Doctors Without Borders is also on the job. But that aside, the really important angle of all this is how it’s affecting AMERICA – like Hawaii, which was under warning for a tsunami resulting from the earthquake, and what that can tell us about our media’s skills in geography.

The Poetry of Reality

February 25, 2010

Here is a new music video from Symphony of Science. There are too many people in this to list, so figure it out on your own. Or don’t.

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Life imitates satire

February 25, 2010

Glamorama was this book by Brett Easton Ellis, who’s probably best known as the author of American Psycho. It’s a satirical novel about terrorists who use fashion models as patsies. This works well for the most part because celebrities and models can avoid standard security procedures, they’re immune from suspicion, and they’re usually too dumb to even really know what’s going on anyway. At least that’s how it’s framed in the book.


The only difference in this real life story is that instead of terrorism and international politics, this shady organization of models is interested in drugs. Here is a picture of the ringleader, Angie Sanselmente Valencia:

From the Telegraph:

Many of these women are believed to be other lingerie and glamour models who compete in international beauty pageants, whom Valencia describes as “unsuspicious, beautiful angels”.

Valencia is believed to be on the run in Mexico or Argentina. Apparently she became a leader in drug trafficking by splitting off from a group headed up by a gentleman who goes by the nickname The Monster.

Huge prehistoric crocodiles will eat us all

February 24, 2010

New Scientist is reporting that the newly identified Crocodylus anthropophagus probably ate human ancestors. They lived around 1.8 million years ago in Africa and were 7.5 meters (about 25 feet) long.

By contrast, what is supposed to be the largest living crocodile in Africa is only 6.1 meters (20 feet) long. His name is Gustave. There are apparently some crocodiles in India which are larger than Gustave, but still smaller than C. anthropophagus was. Here is a slideshow of examples:

There are a bunch of anatomical differences between these fossils and current crocodiles, and this kind of flies in the face of this idea that the genetic frequencies of crocodiles haven’t changed much over geological time and they’re basically all the same as their ancestors since Jesus made them along with all the other fish of the sea 6000 years ago.

So they found fossils of human ancestors with cut marks which matched up with the bite of C. anthropophagus. Maybe they were just being territorial, but the team who made the discovery thinks that the fossil remains were the victims of attacks by smaller crocodiles, while the larger adult ones would just totally fuck up and eat a whole humanoid.

Stuff

February 24, 2010

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales (2010)

February 23, 2010

This is a great new album. I’m not a huge fan of their older stuff, but as someone who’s into this kind of music I felt compelled to check it out. So yeah, listen to it. You can download it by clicking on the artwork above.

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Chart of the day

February 23, 2010

Prince Charles is being a douchebag again

February 22, 2010

Prince Charles on the Enlightenment:

“It might be time to think again and review it and question whether it is really effective in today’s conditions, faced as we are with huge challenges all over the world. It must be apparent to people deep down that we have to do something about it.
We cannot go on like this, just imagining that the principles of the Enlightenment still apply now.”

Do you see what he did there? He just went from needing to re-think Enlightenment ideas straight to Enlightenment ideas not working and that we can’t go on with it because WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE. Usually people need to make a case to go from a premise to a conclusion like that, but I guess when you don’t have to work for a living like everyone else you might feel entitled to just draw conclusions out of nowhere.

But since Charlie has a problem with the Enlightenment because it’s outdated, he must have a much newer framework with which to see the world and solve all our problems. Haha! Just kidding. It’s just more of the same old ancient theology he’s been spouting for years:

“I believe it is of crucial importance to work with, in harmony with nature, to rediscover how it is necessary to work with the grain of nature, as it is necessary to work with the grain of our humanity,” he said. “What is the point of all this clever technology if at the end of the day we lose our souls, and the soul of nature of which we are a part?”

I’m not sure what exactly he means by our souls or the “soul of nature” and how they are being lost, but to answer his question the point of a lot of this clever technology is to reduce the amount of preventable suffering. Take GM crops for instance – which Charles is also against. The point of that would be to provide cheap food for areas lacking an agricultural infrastructure. Feeding hungry people, in other words. That’s the point. Apparently that’s not high-minded enough for this clown.

And that last bit about him claiming to believe we’re a part of nature really bothers me. If that’s the case (and I would agree with him on that point) then our technology would be analogous to birds building their nests and beavers building their dams. After all, they’re just doing that for the sake of their own survival, not for any “spiritual” reasons. We and all the other animals are just doing our thing as parts of nature, trying to get by.

That’s not what Charles wants though. He wants us to be distinct from the rest of nature – special, even. That way he can get away with holding the contradictory positions of glorifying nature and needing to take care of it at the same time. He’s condescending, paternalistic, and worshipful towards nature all at once. It’s a common problem with the New Agey types. And here is a great example of that, with some inbred babbling mixed in:

The Prince also made an impassioned call for houses to be built so that birds, such as swallows and swifts, could make their nests there. “It is immoral not to consider those other species that share this planet with us,” he said. “If the swallows and swifts stop coming here and nesting on the buildings that I love, then there is no point to life. Literally. It is symbolic, like the albatross. If that becomes extinct then I think we deserve nothing but reprobation.”

There’s no point to life if birds don’t nest in buildings he loves? Maybe someone should explain to him that most species (including most birds!) have gone extinct. And the vast majority of the time it has nothing at all to do with human actions either. I’m not saying we should actively encourage Charles to commit suicide over this, but he doesn’t seem to be aware of this. And if telling him happens to result in his suicide, well, that’s just the way things go. It’s “literally symbolic,” whatever that means.

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Hunter

February 21, 2010

On February 20, 2005, Hunter Thompson shot himself in the head with a shotgun. It is hard to believe it’s been five years already.

Pic of the day

February 18, 2010

Stuff

February 18, 2010

Bob Barr and the military pagans

February 17, 2010

What’s up with Atlanta today?

Former Libertarian Presidential loser Bob Barr wrote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution a hilarious piece of commentary about how he is shocked SHOCKED I TELL YOU that the military still allows pagans to serve openly in the military. He actually prephaces his problem with this, to the extent that he explains it, by saying that he finally realized that pagans can be moral even though they don’t believe Jesus Died For Their Sins. He discovered this amazing truth by being educated by pagan members of the military as a response to when he “took the Army to task for permitting the practice of Wicca on its bases, including at Ft. Hood in Texas.”

But then he explains that if he were in the military, he would have a problem following a commanding officer into battle if they were pagan.

I guess he’s worried about this because the military recruiter at his high school is pressuring him to sign up:

Or maybe not.

Pic of the day

February 17, 2010

Reporter fired for believing in objective reality.

February 17, 2010

A reporter for the Atlanta Progressive News was fired recently for a surprising reason:

“At a very fundamental, core level, Springston did not share our vision for a news publication with a progressive perspective. He held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News.”
-APN editor Matthew Cardinale

This is a very silly way of going about being a journalist. If there really are multiple realities based on individuals’ perception, then what is the point of doing journalism anyway? If everyone’s “different realities” both exist and are equally valid, wouldn’t the faux-reality of the Atlanta Progressive News (including the editorial policy in question) be just as vacuous as the ‘parallel reality’ of a sandwich-board-wearing crazy homeless guy?

Journalists are supposed to get as close to an objective reality as possible, and to separate fact from fiction. But if there’s no way to separate the two since there’s no objective reality in the first place, then journalism has no real purpose. It’s just a matter of being noisy and opinionated and organized and has nothing to do with actual facts at all. And now some guy is losing his job over that.

Nepalese communist worships Buffalo (the animal)

February 16, 2010

They kind of buried the lede in this one, I think. It starts off with some standard back-and-forth about rivaling political factions’ leaders deciding to maybe put their differences behind them – but then, it’s Oh yeah… by the way:

“[Astrologer] Madhu Sudan Rijal told [Nepalese Unified Maoists’ Party Chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal] Prachanda- ferocious leader of the past, that his Rashi (Zodiac) is being heavily influenced by negative effects of the Shani-the Saturn planet.
He thus suggested the atheist communist leader to perform Griha Shanti Puja of Shani planet (worship of Saturn)…
To appease the Saturn Planet, Prachanda also performed Puja to the water buffalos.
It is also believed that donating or worshipping a buffalo and donating black oil (sesame oil) would make Saturn happy which would in turn do away with the negative effects of Sani.”

Communist writing is so funny – “ferocious leader of the past” sounds like it’s straight out of Pygmy. And it just goes to show you (again) that just because someone doesn’t accept one particular kind of superstition, like religion, that it doesn’t mean that they won’t fall for other, even sillier ones.