Saturday, January 31, 2004

Stranger than fiction

Humboldt State University now offers a major in applied ignorance, and here's the capstone course:
Beyond left and right: New course focuses on the non-violent social action of MIchael Moore
The Humboldt State University Lumberjack
by Kim Thorpe
January 21, 2004

As recently as three years ago, few people had heard of Michael Moore. But with the publication of two New York Times bestsellers, a handful of documentaries and a controversial Oscar speech, his name and influence have spread exponentially.

Now the author of "Stupid White Men" and "Dude, Where's My Country?" is the focus of a course offered this spring through HSU's social work department.

The workshop, taught by Ronnie Swartz, will be held on three consecutive Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., beginning April 17. The one-unit course, dubbed "Beyond left and right: the non-violent social action of Michael Moore," will emphasize the social problems and injustices featured in "Roger and Me," "The Big One" and "Bowling for Columbine."

A full-time professor since January 2004, Swartz is teaching classes in drug use and drug abuse and social work field experience in addition to the non-violent social action course.

"Social work is about change - changing individuals, families, communities and the entire world," Swartz said. "It's about creating a more just world. I think that Michael Moore is trying to achieve those same goals."
Well, I made up the part about the major in applied ignorance. And I hope someone else made up the rest.

Separated at birth?

John Effing Kerry Montgomery Burns

Worse than outsourcing...

It's time to invest in companies that sell tin cups, pencils, apples and large cardboard boxes. After all, in a few more months all manufacturing, programming, accounting, customer service and other jobs will have been sucked to Asia or anywhere else there's a price differential of so much as a nickel a week.

But at least those jobs will still exist somewhere. Others could be eliminated entirely. For instance, what good are technical writers when we have this? And think of the lawyers we can eliminate now that we have this.

Links stolen from Hanah Metchis. She's got lots of other neat stuff there too, some of which I'll be ripping off in a later post. But you'd better be nice to her or she'll sic Sasha on you.

(Then maybe Sasha had better watch his step or he'll get outsourced, especially if he keeps stealing her jokes. That lawyer stuff might be rubbing off - she gets all legalistic about spam here.)

(After all that ripping off, I can at least answer her question about songs about taxes - she doesn't have comments. In English the best example is probably Taxman by the Beatles. Our faithful allies the Krauts have Der Steuersong, transcribed in English here.)

(That's it for this post. Really - what are you still doing here? - go watch Ferris Bueller or something...)

(Yes, that was an obscure cultural reference which will make sense only if you watch your movies all the way through the credits like I do. Wasn't this post about outsourcing once? It must have been directed by Alan Smithee)

Friday, January 30, 2004

The video pill

According to a study published in the January 2004 issue of the medical journal Radiology, the ingestible video camera "video pill" you swallow that produces digital images of the small intestine, can "see" areas other diagnostic techniques cannot.

From the Purple Medical Blog

More stupid athlete tricks

Our HokiePundit (Putting the "Stud" in "Student") tells us about another stud:
"Marcus Vick, brother to the legendary St. Michael Vick of Blacksburg, was accused by two girls (aged 14 and 15) of having sex with their 15-year-old friend after plying all three of them with alcohol at his apartment."
I suppose it's possible that some benighted souls out there aren't football fans and thus don't know that Michael Vick was an incredible quarterback at Virginia Tech and is expected to do great things in the pros in Atlanta if he can stay healthy. This Marcus Vick has opportunities like few others. Let's see if he's willing to trade it all for a few minutes with some jailbait.

And the football team is proud of them

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed ways to manufacture solid and hollow metal, silicon, plastic and glass microneedles that range in size from one millimeter to one thousandth of a millimeter.

The researchers demonstrated that an array of 400 microneedles can be used to pierce human skin, and successfully used a similar micro array to deliver insulin to diabetic rats.

Solid microneedles could eventually be used with drug patches to increase diffusion rates; hollow needles could eventually be used with drug patches and timed pumps to deliver drugs at specific times, according to the researchers.

Dancing in the street...

NWA is now in its 3rd year. According to my archives I started on 1/27/02, so I missed it too.

Now back to my campaign for a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bonfire of the Vanities....

"But I don't know you anymore!" she sobbed...

Ladies - don't let this happen to you.

Or while we're at it, this either.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Found on Kausfiles: Dated Dean. Married Kerry...woke up with Bush.

Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry

I grew up with Vietnam, wondering if I would be drafted before it was over. It was over before I was eligible, but I know lots of people who wore POW/MIA bracelets. Many wear them to this day, even for men they've never heard of.

I'm guessing that that doesn't include John Kerry:
"In the Senate debate itself, Kerry, rather than embarass Vietnam by demanding the truth, launched a highly publicized diversionary investigation of the POW/MIA families and activists, who were demanding an honest accounting. Kerry labeled them 'professional malcontents, conspiracy mongers, con artists, and dime-store Rambos' who were only involved in the POW/MIA issue for money. "

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Time is on their side

Jane Galt explains how Muslims must inevitably triumph over the West if we don't act.

Time for peace crimes trials

Glenn Reynolds points to articles listing those with an interest in keeping Saddam in power who used it to oppose war.

That's the left for you - fussing about minimum wages and the death penalty while supporting the rule of a dictator who liked to put opponents to death in plastic shredders. I guess as long as the guy who flips the switch makes minimum wage, it's OK.

David Kay, WMD and more questions.

From the WSJ:
We know from post-invasion interrogations that Saddam's own generals believed that Iraq had WMD. If they thought so, it's hard to fault the CIA for believing it too.
By all means let Congress explore why the CIA overestimated Saddam's WMD stockpiles this time around. But let's do so while recalling that the CIA had underestimated the progress of his nuclear, chemical and biological programs before the first Gulf War. We are also now learning that the CIA has long underestimated the extent and progress of nuclear programs in both Libya and Iran. Why aren't Democrats and liberals just as alarmed about those intelligence failures?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Larry Agran

Howard Dean might be thought of as the first big Internet candidate, but back in the early 1990's the guy who was pushing online was Larry Agran. I'm betting that you've never heard of him.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Feet, don't fail me now...

Now out on DVD - Green Acres, the Complete First Season, and Gilligan's Island, the Complete First Season.

Even more here, if you can stand it.

Bird tricks

When Janis isn't tightening her buns for a ski trip, she's taking orders from a bird. I'm thinking she needs to teach it some new phrases. Who has some suggestions?

Good ideas:
"Nice butt!"
LSU fight song

Bad ideas:
"Al Sharpton for President!"
"99 bottles of beer on the wall..."
(telephone ring/doorbell/answering machine sound)

Really bad ideas
"The narcs are here!"
"That outfit makes you look fat"

C'mon Janis, spill - you must know some good parrot jokes...

New blog

Check out Mostly Cajun, where Dale cooks chili and gumbo and libels albino water buffalo.

Having a ball with chromosomes

I'm reading a couple of Matt Ridley's excellent books right now - Genome and Nature via Nurture. They're both terrific books - check them out.

You might recall a few years ago when Al Gore made reference to the 'extra chromosome' right. This apparently was a reference to Down's syndrome, once known as "mongolism", which leads to a characteristic appearance and mental retardation.

When I was a kid I had a science book that wrote of chromosomes and included an illustration. The caption stated that there were 24 pairs of chromosomes, but that some researchers claimed that there were only 23 pairs instead of 24 pairs.

Back to Ridley and Genome. He tells us that in 1921 a man named Theophilus Painter did the work that resulted in the 24 count. He worked with thin sections of tissue from the testicles of three men who had been castrated for insanity and "self-abuse" and counted 24 chromosomes. It was plausible enough, anyway, what with chimpanzees, orangutans and other apes having 24 too.

It took about 30 years for someone to challenge this by determining that humans had 23 chromosomes. They were right, but damage had been done in the meantime - some researchers had actually thrown out their results because they weren't willing to challenge the 24 number.

So how's that for luck? I'm guessing that our presumably involuntary tissue donors happened to possess this extra chromosome, and neither the researcher nor anyone who followed thought to challenge the result.

CORRECTION: I try to make this blog original, and that I am occasionally full of beans is not news to those who've been here before. However, someone was kind enough to correct me in the comments and let me acknowledge that here. The extra Y chromosome condition I mentioned is distinct from Down's syndrome, in which each cell has an extra copy of chromosome 21. Anyway, I thought I'd better correct it before I got a job offer from the BBC.


Check out this, from Agoraphilia.

When does paranoia start?

Yesterday's news reported on antigun groups (and that *is* what they are) shrieking because a provision in a recently passed law requires disposal of background checks within 24 hours. Or something like that - I'm too lazy to get a link.

We heard a local cop saying something really silly - "We don't throw away car registrations...". Learn some civics and history, creep - has a govt ever come to confiscate cars? Is there a Constitutional right to bear cars that must be defended?

We've also heard a lot lately about Northwest Airlines' and others' release of passenger data to the feds to help in developing terror risk evaluation software for airline passengers. This sounds harmless enough to me, but apparently it violates some privacy promises. And when in doubt I lean toward denying the govt information "just because".

When AIDS became a political issue in the 1980's our ignorance was such that extraordinary control methods were justified IMO. Then as the picture became clearer we noted that the early victims were almost exclusively gay. Militant gay groups immediately decided to tell the rest of us to go to hell with our concerns for public health, insisting that we keep the identities of AIDS patients secret instead of using public health measures we had used for decades for other diseases.

There might have been some justification for this if they had acknowledged that the disease was confined largely to gays, but no - they claimed that "anybody can get AIDS". Even then that was known to be a lie, and even now the cases found among straights can be traced almost exclusively to needles or hemophilia.

Now we have people pushing for "gay marriage". Hmm - where's the paranoia now? Gosh, wouldn't oppressors just love to have lists of the names of gays?

Doctors Fear Untreatable Russia Tuberculosis Boom

After all the hype about SARS and now the avian flu one could be tempted to forget about old classics like tuberculosis (TB).Now the Russians are having problems.

Sometimes I suspect that public health is severely misunderstood. It isn't about charity, and it is no place for laissez-faire - even the stingiest of us ought to be aware that permitting diseases to become established beyond certain levels becomes a threat to us all. It's not just that the disease has more chances to get you - it actually becomes more dangerous. (A couple of years ago the Atlantic had an excellent article about this, but I haven't found the link).

How? Disease bugs evolve like anything else. Bacteria such as TB can evolve very rapidly. The critters that survive for the next meal are the ones that will sire the successors. Over time this tends to "mellow out" the bugs - if they're too virulent they'll kill their hosts before they get a chance to spread. But if we make it easier for the disease to spread, suddenly the nastier strains have a better chance of survival. So the spread of such diseases becomes everybody's business - it's no longer about saving someone else's skin, but about saving your own. (with one disgraceful exception, but that's another post).

It's difficult to exaggerate about TB, aka "consumption". It's popularly associated with the lungs, but can in fact get you about anywhere, especially in the bones. It has killed cruelly in the millions, and even into the 60's my smallish Midwestern home town had a large sanitorium for the patients on the edge of town. Losing control of it could be devastating. Yet the last couple of generations probably has heard little of it.

So keep an eye on TB. There's nowhere to run.

Kerry doesn't deserve Vietnam vets' support

But the bond between veterans has to be tempered in light of the individual's record. Just as Mr. Kerry threw away medals only to claim them back again, Sen. Kerry voted to take action against Iraq, but claims to take that vote back by voting against funding the result. So I can understand my former comrade-in-arms hugging the man who saved his life, but not the act of choosing him for president out of gratitude. And I would hate to see anyone giving Mr. Kerry a sympathy vote for president just because being a Vietnam veteran is "back in style."

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Math quiz for Presidential contenders?

John Allen Paulos of Innumeracy fame has some math questions for the Presidential candidates. Try this one: given the way the Electoral College is set up, what is the theoretically smallest number of actual votes (not electoral votes) a candidate can receive and still be elected president?

You'll have to follow the link for the answer.