March 31, 2008


    This is hilarious. Reports from Sydney, Australia, where “Earth Hour” was heavily hyped, indicate that there was no drop in power usage whatsoever. Actually, a better phrase would be one used by a reader of the article: the variation was statistically indistinguishable from zero.

    What’s even more hilarious is the accounts of all the helicopters flying over (non)darkened Sydney — helicopters manned by Earth Hour people who wanted to film their spectacular results. And the thousands of extra cars on the road driving out to a point to look back and see the (non)darkened city. Oh, and the government offices which hypocritically (or fraudulently, as the article puts it) covered their windows so people would think the government (which had BACKED this!) was cooperating.

March 29, 2008


    In this article about some cult members in Russia coming out of their cave (I’m surprised more people aren’t going into caves these days), we find this paragraph:

    “Kuznetsov [the leader] has been charged with setting up a religious organization associated with violence. Earlier this week, officials said they had seized literature that included what appeared to be extremist rhetoric. He has been confined to a psychiatric hospital since November.”

    “A religious organization associated with violence”, huh? I think we can safely assume that means associated with causing violence, since every religious organization in the history of the world has been associated with violence. Jesus sure was — he suffered a lot of it.

    Officials “seized” literature — i.e., they pocketed some pamphlets from the wooden rack in the foyer of the church.

    … Literature that included “what appeared to be extremist rhetoric”. It appeared to be. That is, the officials who “seized it” didn’t understand it, but it sure didn’t sound normal. And what is “extremist rhetoric? Anything that doesn’t fit current popular views, of course, but oooh, doesn’t it sound scary?

    And naturally, anyone who writes “extremist rhetoric” must be crazy, so throw him in the psych ward.

    These Russians may in fact be nut cases, but the “officials” (and certainly the journalist who wrote the article) are not in any condition to be the ones to decide.

    This is blithering idiocy masquerading as sober, concerned reporting. The real lunatics are the ones running the asylum we call normal life, not the ones very sensibly holing themselves up in caves.

March 10, 2008


    President Bush just vetoed a bill that would ban waterboarding, a form of torture that the CIA has used against terrorists in the last few years. He vetoed it because “”The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror,” and “This is no time for Congress to abandon practices that have a proven track record of keeping America safe,” and “We created alternative procedures to question the most dangerous al Qaeda operatives, particularly those who might have knowledge of attacks planned on our homeland,” Bush said. “If we were to shut down this program and restrict the CIA to methods in the field manual, we could lose vital information from senior al Qaeda terrorists, and that could cost American lives.”

    Oh I see, Mr. President. That makes it ok to torture people I guess. Pragmatics win.

    “Supporters of the legislation say it would preserve the United States’ ability to collect critical intelligence while also providing a much-needed boost to country’s moral standing abroad.”

    Remind me: how does an immoral practice boost our moral standing?

     Read this article on CNN about the practice and the veto, and then this commentary, “Time to Excommunicate the President”.

March 4, 2008

  • *WHO’S* HIGH?

    In this article an Israeli psychology professor argues that Moses must have been high on mind-altering drugs when he claimed to hear the voice of God and receive the ten commandments on Mt. Sinai. “As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don’t believe, or a legend, which I don’t believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics,” Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday. So his proof that it was not a supernatural event is …. that he doesn’t believe it.

    In the same article the professor admits to having some experience with ayahuasca, a South American psychotropic drug. So the article offers no evidence that Moses used drugs, but full admission that the professor used drugs. And the conclusion we draw is….?


    The argument for global warming is not undermined by an occasional cold winter or heavy snow. We like to laugh at the irony of a global warming conference being cancelled due to snow, but such an event is not proof against the theory. We chuckle at a cold winter and say, “so much for global warming!” But even if the advocates of global warming theory were right, there would still be fluctuations. During cold eras in the past, there were occasional warm summers and winters, and in a period of warming, there are of course occasional cold spells. The theory of global warming simply says that the average temperature is rising, not that there will never be any cold temps. If we’re going to argue against global warming, we should be careful not to make fools of ourselves by trying to score silly and cheap points.

February 9, 2008

January 24, 2008

January 16, 2008

January 14, 2008


    Microsoft is working to create shopping carts, soon to be tested on the East Coast, with video screens that show your previously-loaded shopping list, flash advertisements at you based on which aisle you’re in, and let you scan and check out without a clerk. But ‘”This is not all necessarily about bombarding consumers, about targeting advertising,” said Scott Ferris, general manager of Microsoft’s Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group. “It’s about also making the shopping experience better for the consumer.”‘

    Not necessarily. Huh.

    What the heck is “the shopping experience”? What a stupid phrase. And do they really want to “make the experience better”? for shoppers? If they did, they wouldn’t be putting video screens on shopping carts. Better in what way? By what standard?

    Why are things “experiences” now, instead of just stuff you do? Because that way marketing can target you and craft you into being the kind of creature they want you to be — a passive responder to other people’s desires, the market’s desire to make you a consumer of their stuff, stuff you never knew you wanted till the market told you that you want it — see Calvin and Hobbes. Instead of a responder to your own natural desires; an initiator of your own conduct and attitudes, you become a consumer instead of a doer.

December 24, 2007


    Daniel Pipes says so, and has good evidence. It’s not like it’s a secret (except perhaps to some workers in Obama’s campaign). Pipes has some interesting reflections, at the end of the article, on the possible consequences of Obama’s conversion from Islam to Christianity were he ever to become President. Such a conversion is considered deserving of death by hard-core Muslims.