Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Hooray for podcasts!

(from a Bright's Net update)
Richard Dawkins speaking on Point of Inquiry (The Center for Inquiry). In this interview with DJ Grothe, he discusses his newest work, a two-part documentary series for British television entitled "The Root of All Evil?" In it, Dawkins challenges what he calls "the process of non-thinking called faith."

"On Point" with Dan Dennett on "The Nature of Religion."
(Dave, you should listen to this.)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Happiness is like a Fugitive

"If you want to be happy, don’t ever ask yourself if you are. A person in good health in a Western liberal democracy is, in terms of his objective circumstances, one of the most fortunate human beings ever to have walked the surface of the earth... [Early humans] would have regarded our easy, long, riskless lives with incredulous envy. They would have regarded us as so lucky that questions about our state of mind wouldn’t be worth asking. It is a perverse consequence of our fortunate condition that the question of our happiness, or lack of it, presses unhappily hard on us."
- John Lanchester
(From a well-written article discussing two books about the origins, pursuit and nature of happiness as well as many other interesting things.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Relevance of Numbers

(risking the overwhelming influence of stats)
A recent story from CBC: "Preventable diseases kill 29,000 children under the age of five every day around the world, says a report released Wednesday by UNICEF Canada."

If one includes adults that die from preventable disease, the number becomes about 40,000 deaths each day.

Students from Dalhousie, as well as other schools, are currently on reading week.

If one were to include the weekends, 97% of halifax would be dead by the end of reading week... picture the bodies.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Elephantine Oddities

"...elephants appear to be attacking human settlements as vengeance for years of abuse by people."
Sketchy? Read for yourself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hey! You! Come back here with my gas!

This absurdity would be entirely funny if the situation wasn't criminal and saddening.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

CPP (just thought you should know)

(All info and most words from a Toronto Star article by Peter Gillespie)
The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), the investment arm of the Canada Pension Plan, was established in 1997 to invest surplus pension contributions so that the pensions of Canadians are assured into the future. The controlling assets are more than 90 billion.
The point: The CPPIB refuses to screen investments on the basis of social, human rights or environmental factors. Meaning, millions of 'your/our' money is being invested in Lockheed Martin (world's largest weapons producer), other arms manufactures, Halliburtion, SNC-TEC (ammunition manufacturer), Monsanto (biotech/sketchy things), Wal-Mart(!) and the tobacco industry.
The amount invested could be 4, 8 or 160 million to give you a range, but most of these are around 9 million.
I can understand why the CPPIB wants to increase their assets, as the happiness of numerous Canadians depends on that resource, but it should not be supporting various ventures that most of the Canadian public (i.e., investors) would likely be against.
(Empirically, one would need a poll. Does anyone know what percentage of Canadians want to see more guns, bullets and Wal-Marts?)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Calmly Angry

From your seat in front of the computer, Mr.Angry is on the left, and Mrs.Calm is on the right.
Get up from your seat, and move back 5/6 feet. See anything different?

This supports the notion that we may not be seeing what's actually there, all the time!

This illusion was (possibly) created by Phillippe G.Schyns and Aude Oliva of the Univ. of Glasgow.

ps: If you're confused, they switch places.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds

Little Boxes
by Malvina Reynolds

Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same
There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and there's lawyers, and business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Brilliant & Hilarious

Cheney's got a gun. Click, scroll down, click "Dead-Eye Dick,"
then click "VP Firearms Mishap Analyst" on the right.
So damn funny.

Happy (belated) Valentine's Day

More? Some are funny, some aren't.

Land of the (less) Free? & US Military

Sedition?!... Did you actually say, "Sedition?"

Picturing a Bill of Rights project.

Oh, and while you're here I might as well mention that the US military budget is about as much as the rest of the world combined and they are developing a new H-bomb project.

"We are on the verge of an exciting time," said Linton Brooks, the nation's top nuclear weapons executive.

I find statements such as those chilling.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Yesterday I had the opportunity to watch Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, a documentary about the rise and fall of the Enron corporation. I highly recommend the film as it gave me a greater understanding of what actually happened as well as of the trickery and deception involved.
Some people sure are greedy bastards.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Kurt Vonnegut interview

"All the other species are dying and so will we. I’m whistling as I walk past the graveyard... whistling as beautifully as I can."

I appreciate that quotation as for me it indicates awareness, understanding, and acceptance, but also some positivity that is possibly more than just solace.
Interview here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oogling Freedom

Monday, February 06, 2006

Have you ever thrown out food?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Concrete Canvas

If this develops well, it'll be pretty cool.
(click around, the website looks smooth, too)
From SEED,
"Each 16 square-meter (172 square-foot) structure arrives via truck as a 225 kilogram (500 lb) bag of cement dust and fiber. The sack is filled with water and left to hydrate for 15 minutes. Then it is unfolded and inflated by activating a small chemical pack, which releases gas into the plastic lining. After 12 hours, the concrete cloth fully hardens into a sterile, usable structure with a minimum durability of 10 years. It looks like a cross between a zeppelin and an igloo..."

State of the Union

I've been reading two commentaries about Bush's state of the union which I shall recommend.
1) Detailed analysis of the complexity and accuracy of the words and ideas Bush presented regarding foreign policy.
2) A short look at the (lack of) science.

U.S. and Venezuela

I just read this story from CBC.
(1) The Chavez photo makes me laugh. Is that the only one on file that they have?
(2) Picturing Rummy in the middle of a tai chi set makes me laugh.
(3) "It was unclear how seriously to take the charges. Chavez has often accused the Americans of plotting against him. But encouraging coups against leftist regimes has been a staple of U.S. policy in Latin America." Good old US.
(4) Do you think Hitler would feel complimented for all the press he gets, or that such comparisons are insulting? (In a very odd way I'm trying to make the point that comparisons to nazis/Hitler occur with much greater frequency than they should)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tim's is not Canadian owned

I just thought I'd mention that fact because there are some who probably still think that Tim Hortons is 'Canadian.' (Wendy's bought Tim Hortons in 1995 for $580 million Cdn.)

Of course, when a bunch of white guys with money in banks in the Caribbean and houses on at least two continents are said to be 'American' or 'Canadian,' one realizes that such descriptions are misleading and that the idea of national ownership doesn't make as much sense as it used to.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Thoughts swimming, Dennett, Gould, dragon slaying, Derrida, complexity, Klein, Chomsky, Hitchens, religion, Iraq, media, sophistry, history of everything, everything of everything, integration, impossibility... sigh.