Thursday, December 11, 2003


Chris Mooney whines about "Abuses of Skepticism" here.

I suppose it's possible to be too skeptical, but IMO he just wants to be able to claim scientific support without using scientific standards of proof. Sorry pal, but "scientific consensus" - the feeling among scientists that something *will* be demonstrated - is not the same.

The mother of reality shows?

Well, that's probably too much credit. But Jennifer K. Ringley's JenniCam was one of the early if not earliest 24 hour webcams documenting someone's life.

It wasn't too awfully inhibited. Jenni brought the webcam into the bathroom and bedroom with her, and although you wouldn't have confused it with VoyeurDorm it wasn't G rated either. She appeared nude regularly, at least in the pictures she posted in her galleries (which have been available to anyone who cared to look, or were the last time I dropped by a few years ago). But she was known to note that not all of her boyfriends wanted to star in live love scenes on the Web - imagine that.

Anyway, it appears she's shutting down at the end of the year. Terry Teachout has comments on this blow to our culture.

Before you forget...

Kevin Aylward has been busting his butt putting together the Weblog awards. This must be eating bandwidth like no tomorrow, and he's out of work as of last Friday. And it's Christmastime. So it's only right that you should slip him a couple of bucks via PayPal. Look for the button that says "Make a Donation" on the left sidebar about 3 screens down.

There's something in it for everyone, you know. You conservatives can see to it that justice prevails and initiative and hard work are rewarded. You libertarians can show you're not just a bunch of big-talking free-riders. And you liberals can send more of your money to Washington, where KA lives.

I myself ask for no such compensation. But if you should happen to vote for NWA as the best Large Mammal blog, you just might be able to keep me out of last place. Sheesh, CG Hill and Kevin McGehee are down there too - there's no justice...

Death to spammers!

Virginia has an antispam law, and they're using it:
STERLING, Va. - Two North Carolina men face up to 20 years in prison for allegedly operating one of the most prolific spamming operations in the world.
It's a start.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

When is your sex life my business?

Never? Bzzzt, wrong answer. And surprise! - it's got nothing to do with religion.

When sleeping around is very indiscriminate, with many acts and partners, it doesn't just spread disease. The diseases themselves get a chance to evolve rapidly. Diseases that had been mild because they had to permit their victim to live long enough to infect someone else can survive in more virulent form when they have more opportunities to be transmitted. Next thing you know we have ever more dangerous and more prevalent diseases, venereal or otherwise.

Now let's suppose that previously exotic practices become commonplace. Suddenly herpes viruses can find a couple more warm moist places to proliferate, on the genitals and anus. The microorganisms of the colon are not compatible with those of the vagina, so associated health conditions start to affect more women. All of a sudden blood from partners can mix on a previously unknown scale, leading to the emergence, prevalence, and virulence of AIDS. All the extra antibiotic usage helps to develop more strains of resistant bacteria, both for the intended diseases themselves and any others that might have been exposed.

So in fact it turns out that someone else's sexual practices can have impact on your health even if they don't sleep with you, and if you're indiscriminate you're part of the problem. Especially to the millions who must use needles for their health or profession, which has resulted in large numbers of straights getting AIDS despite avoiding risky behaviors.

(So what do we send them to combat it? Condoms. Go figure. People who would sneer at fatties or drunks think that it's unreasonable to miss a chance to get laid.)

So remember - when you hop in the sack with a new partner, you're not just sleeping with everyone else they've ever slept with. You're sleeping with me too....

It's about execution

I've got a great idea. Before you go to a calculus class, spend an hour or so going over multiplication tables. Will that help you learn?

This is all about the new winningest coach in college football history and his theories on practice.

I'm with him 100%. In my high school wrestling days we were tormented with all sorts of conditioning drills before we started practice. One memorable day we ran 7.5 miles up and down hills in Central FL heat before we even started. I don't want to know how many times I ran up and down stairs in bleachers or a stadium. Innumerable calisthenics, shuttle runs, it just never stopped. Then maybe while we rested the coach would show us a move while we were still sucking wind.

Hey, there's no question that conditioning is vital in wrestling. In high school at the time it was 6 minutes, but in a tough match it's about as concentrated a 6 minutes of activity you'll ever experience with one person. At that skill level often the victor was merely the better conditioned one.

But conditioning can happen any time. And conditioning that happens during the activity is the most relevant conditioning. So IMO we ought to have been slaving away drilling more on moves - it could have been just as grueling if not downright masochistic, but we would have been learning and polishing moves the whole time. If someone found out they were losing late because they were out of gas, then they could take care of that on their own time.

I'll never claim I would have been a better coach than the one I had - he'd forgotten more than I'll ever suspect about wrestling. But there's no substitute for victory - I was one of the few winners he ever had, and after my senior year he was gone.

Wireless broadband at 40 km?

They're working on it in Australia.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Former Senator Paul Simon dead at 75

Via CNN.

The Santa Detector

That dirt on Santa might not be soot - more here.

I think this link will work - check out patent 5523741 for info on The Santa Detector.

Better health through tobacco

Researchers Find Plant Immune System's 'Take Two Aspirin' Gene, Offering Hope For Disease Control Without Agricultural Pesticides

Hey, we'd all get rid of pesticides if we could, right? Even if you aren't an ecobabbler, they do cost money and they require careful handling. So research like this provides some hope that it might be possible to eliminate the need for them.

And it turns out that one of the best plants to use for such research is tobacco.

Maybe over time the tobacco companies will evolve into biotech and pharma companies...

The Gore-Dean knot

A reader sent this to Jonah at the Corner:
If he ran today, could Al Gore even win his old Senate seat? Considering he didn't even win his home state in 2000 it seems pretty unlikely. It seems like the people who know him best are not his biggest supporters. I don't know what it means but I think it would be interesting to apply this test to people such as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Dan Quayle, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp... and so on.
Yeah, that's the kind of friend that I want. But that's OK with Dean.

For now, anyway. According to another item on the Corner, Dean has been pretty flexible about what's OK and what's not OK.
The fact is that Dean governed, in Vermont terms, as a budget-balancing moderate. He could easily have run for the nomination as a Joe Lieberman centrist. Instead, the running room was to the left, especially with all the credible candidates on the record in support of the Iraq war resolution.

So Dean ran left. Very little in his campaign would have seemed a natural fit two or three years ago. He spent his career fighting the angry, shaggy Left in Vermont, exactly the constituency he is attracting nationally. He was a free-trader, but now tells the labor unions, 'When I am president, we won't be talking about free trade in the Americas.' He was pro-business, but now rails against corporations. He drove Vermont environmentalists batty with his flexible approach to regulation, but now seeks a comprehensive 're-regulation' of American business. To top it off, he was a computer illiterate who knew nothing about the Internet that has become an indispensable organizing tool for his campaign."
I might as well rip off their link, too - see this by David Brooks in the NYT.

Monday, December 08, 2003

What the media won't tell you about stem cell research

Right here.

Don't get me wrong - it's not as if embryonic stem cell research is no good to *anyone*. It pays the bills for some scientists, and gives hope to abortion pushers that it will lower respect for embryonic human life.

Imagine there's no dumb songs...

John Lennon was murdered 23 years ago today. Now Joel Engle imagines a world like that in Lennon's song "Imagine"

Analysis of the US anthrax cases

Analysis of the US anthrax cases, by the Fake Detective.

Link stolen from our indeterminately-aged Drosophilaphile at Ripe Bananas.

Some of us have it, some of us don't...

Tiffany doesn't realize it, but she just has animal magnetism.

Yes, I've been around male dogs that were indiscreet in their displays of affection. But the best case had to have been D., a guy I worked with.

He went to a party with a bunch of people from work. The hosts had a young German Shepherd, and first thing he did was go to D. and start humping his leg. He suffered much grief for this.

But then a few weeks later the sheriff brought a drug dog through work. And I saw the drug dog hump him too, right at his desk. I thought I'd bust a gut.

Stigmatized kids

There's an obnoxious variation of tag which I'm not sure has a name - I'll call it "shots". In this you give "germs" to another kid, then declare "shots" to prevent them from coming back. Then that kid in turn is to give the germs to someone else. At least that's the way it was played in my grade school.

There was a family I'll call the "Gores" whose kids went to my grade school. I didn't know this at the time, but Mrs. Gore was a single mom and had a very hard time making a living in a small central IL town with no skills. She had been married but apparently her husband was a bum. She had three kids: a big boy in my grade, and girls older and younger than he.

She couldn't afford much for them, but we kids didn't know that - we just knew that they generally didn't dress well, and the girls in particular looked like ragamuffins. It was bad enough for me to notice at the time, anyway, and I wasn't exactly affluent.

What do you know? - suddenly they weren't just "germs" anymore. They were "Gore's germs". As if contact with these people would sicken you.

This predated me and I never knew how it started, but I could figure out that it was mean. And although I didn't oppose it, I didn't participate either. I didn't know the Gores well, but the boy seemed easy enough to get along with - the girls were in different grades so I didn't know much about them except for vivid descriptions about how one of them picked her nose and disposed of the bounty.

So what was wrong with the kids? Their family. Not to blame Mrs. Gore - I'm not sure she could have done any better. But something traditionally was provided by families was missing, and the kids suffered for it at the hands of the other kids, and maybe from the teachers too.

Later I moved to another small town far away and lost track of the Gores.

In the new town there was a kid who reputedly was gay (but believe me, that's not the word that was used). I never met him that I knew, but I had heard stories. True or not, he was stigmatized, and I hear that it wasn't unusual for him to get abused or beaten by other kids.

I've heard kids nowadays describe things as "gay", intending it as a pejorative with no particular meaning other than "I don't like it". I understand that this is widespread too. And it's not news to say that kids are a strange mix of cluelessness, meanness and hypersensitivity who don't adapt to PC easily.

So now let's throw a scenario at you. You hear a 7 year old kid telling another kid that his mom is gay. The other kid doesn't know what that means, and the 7 year old explains this in 7 year old terms. As a teacher, what do you do?

I don't know what they teach teachers about stuff like this. But certainly one concern would be if the kid were doing something that was likely to get him stigmatized, and then I'd try to get him to stop in a way that wouldn't aggravate things.

Now with that background, look here, here and here.

The majority opinion is that the teacher did a Very Bad Thing, or at least mishandled the situation. That's entirely possible.

But it seems to be a given that there were no grounds for intervention by the teacher. As if in doing so somehow she was disrespecting all gays in the abstract, so to hell with the very real boy in front of her.

And if this is a potentially scarring situation, you wouldn't want the boy to dwell on it, would you? Should the mother draw attention to the event, perhaps by calling in the ACLU? Or should she tell her son in an age-appropriate way that he would do well not to draw attention to their circumstances when he might get stigmatized or worse?

This isn't exactly unprecedented. I wonder how many parents have been busted growing pot because their kids popped off unwittingly. Might a parent back in the 1800's have said "Son, don't ever tell anybody about those black folks that pass through here going north"? Would keeping the secret necessarily make the kid think less of his parents?

Wouldn't it be ironic if suddenly this woman were hassled for being a lesbian now that she's insisted on publicizing it? It sure won't do her boy any good. But based on what we've seen, despite Mom's posing, does anyone really believe that his welfare was ever the real issue?

Fire this woman now

From the print edition of today's WSJ:
It's never fun to rattle a cup around, so there was a sense of relief when France's defense minister raised her hand at a meeting in response to NATO Secretary-General George Robertson's plea for more helicopters in Afghanistan. That is, until Michele Alliot-Marie let drop this diplomatic pleasantry: "I have a helicopter for you, Lord Robertson. I will send you a plastic model of one for Christmas."

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Send Dawn some labor vibes

I'm not sure how to do that, but that's what she asked for. Anyway, she's due to pop any minute. Details (and I mean details) here.

Stryker, the service and snakes (oh my)

Upon encountering a snake in the Area of Operations (AO):

Gosh, what would the French Army do?

Driver's licenses for illegal immigrants voted down in CA it should have been in the first place. Sebastian Holsclaw notes:
The vote was 64-9 in the Assembly and 33-0 in the Senate.

The strange thing is that this immigrant license bill passed both houses easily only three months ago. By my estimation, that is at least 19 changed votes in the Assembly, and all of the State Senators who voted for it three months ago now voted against it.