Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sex Sells, But You Don't Have to Buy

The world needs more of this.

No Free Science Lunch.

There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.
—Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea, 1995.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Bush and Saddam Should Both Stand Trial?

(from Matthew Good)
"Benjamin Ferenccz, the chief prosecutor of Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg, has commented that both Saddam Hussein and President Bush should be tried for war crimes. Ferenccz rightly points out that Nuremburg established wars of aggression as the most serious of international crimes, and that the UN Charter contains provisions that restrict the use of aggression without the expressed consent of the Security Council."

Some things get better with age.

50 years ago the first hard drive was built by IBM engineers. It weighed 1 U.S. ton and had 5 Mb of storage.
(Not only was it a terrible 'iPod' because it could only play one song, but the forklift made travel awkward.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why is there resistance to evolution?

Spiegel interviews Dan Dennett who has some thoughts on the subject. The whole interview is worthwhile, but see excerpt below.

SPIEGEL: In the center of the debate is the theory of evolution. Why is it that evolution seems to produce much more opposition than any other scientific theory such as the Big Bang or quantum mechanics?

Dennett: I think it is because evolution goes right to the heart of the most troubling discovery in science of the last few hundred years. It counters one of the oldest ideas we have, maybe older even than our species.

SPIEGEL: Which is what exactly?

Dennett: It's the idea that it takes a big fancy smart thing to make a lesser thing. I call that the trickle-down theory of creation. You'll never see a spear making a spear maker. You'll never see a horse shoe making a blacksmith. You'll never see a pot making a potter. It is always the other way around and this is so obvious that it just seems to stand to reason.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Some reasons for US-Iran tension

I came across two pieces of information regarding US-Iran relations that I thought important to share.
1) President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fought in the Iran-Iraq war, in which Saddam lead the Iraqis and was backed by the US.
2) "In 1953, the CIA (with British involvement) overthrew Iran's first democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossedegh, after his parliament voted to nationalize Iran's oil industry."
- Iran’s Quiet Revolution, by Deborah Campbell, in The Walrus)

Additionally, Hersh comments on Israel, Hezbollah and the US.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Onion - Weekender

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Earth Test Dummies

"We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall at a 100mph and everyone is arguing about where they want to sit."
-David Suzuki

The Devolution of the US

(and yes I know, that's the point)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stephen Lewis - Closing Remarks, AIDS/06

The content was so tragic and the eloquent oratory so impassioned that he brought tears to my eyes.

I See Police Officers

Oh, Haley Joel... tsk tsk.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Animated Entertainment.

I like when people play around with media. Reminds me of the old Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Travelling back doesn't follow

I thought an interesting point was raised by this cartoon. Not so much because any sort of time travel makes sense, but that I hadn't heard the point raised about the present being the future when you're in the past.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I'm Luke, I'm five, and my dad's Bruce Lee...

JCB (so cute!)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Forced Perspective

Last night's Daily Show had a fantastic segment about some recent comments by Condi and Bush and how it relates to a middle Eastern perspective. Additionally, it displays the excellent debut of Aasif Mandvi. (click on Forced Perspective)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Some Lebanese civilian casualties constitute war crimes.

There was an interesting opinion piece in the Toronto Star by Haroon Siddiqui dicussing how the Canadian people feel about the war. More important were some relayed comments from Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
The whole article is worth reading, but I've excerpted the second half:

'As Lebanon has been reduced to rubble, and hundreds of civilians continue to be killed and thousands injured, Israel and its very vocal supporters have kept up a drumbeat that Israel tries very hard to avoid civilian casualties. It obviously hasn't tried hard enough.

In fact, Human Rights Watch, the highly respected New York-based group, says that Israel has "consistently launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military gain but excessive civilian cost." (hrw.org)

In a report released Thursday, it accuses Israel of "a systematic failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians," and of "serious violations of international humanitarian law."

Kenneth Roth, executive director, writes: "We've all heard the Israeli government blame Hezbollah for the large number of civilian deaths. Hezbollah is placing its troops and matériel in the villages, the argument goes, so what can Israel do? ...

"The problem with this ... is that it doesn't correspond with our research on the ground. Hezbollah has placed its troops and matériel near civilians, and sometimes civilians may have died as a result. But Human Rights Watch has investigated the circumstances of roughly half of the civilian deaths caused by Israeli bombing, and time after time it was clear that there was no Hezbollah around.

"So why is Israel bombing indiscriminately?

"Judging from the comments of its senior military officials, part of the reason is that, having issued evacuation warnings for southern Lebanon, Israel now assumes anyone left in that area is a combatant.

"But that is not factually correct: many people have been compelled to stay because they are old, infirm, unable to afford exorbitant taxi fares, or unwilling to risk travel on roads where many civilians have died. Many simply don't want to leave their homes and possessions.

"But it is also not legally correct under the laws of war: Israel is to be commended for issuing warnings, but warnings do not absolve it of the duty to continue at all times to distinguish between civilians and combatants in launching attacks.

"If that were not true, Hamas might `warn' all settlers to leave the settlements and treat those who remained as fair game for attack. Particularly disturbing is that there are some cases ... in which the circumstances of the attack suggest that civilians were deliberately targeted. Clear civilian targets were attacked with no military justification. That is a war crime."

Calling these conclusions "shocking," Roth said: "None of this is to diminish the severity of Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. These indiscriminate and deliberate attacks are themselves war crimes ... But international humanitarian law is absolutely clear that violations by one side do not justify violations by another."'

Saturday, August 05, 2006

DDI quotation

"Let me lay my cards on the table. If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone ever had, I'd give it to Darwin, ahead of even Newton or Einstein and everyone else. In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, meaning and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. It is not just a wonderful idea. It is a dangerous idea."
- Daniel Dennett, "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Evidence for Evolution

Click and learn. These aren't quite indepth arguments, but there is enough to appreciate the accumulated data.