Monday, February 27, 2006

Just Bizzare

A man named "Canada" promised to give out $10 to every bum who showed up to his gig. When over 500 people showed up, he renegged. The bums are pissed

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Tribute to Johnny Wier

Figure skater for the US olympic team. His official website is here. There is has been some buzz over whether he is gay, but that doesn't bother Andrew Sullivan (or me, for that matter).

Weir skating

His performance during the gala of champions out-classed all of his critics who can't get over the fact that he might be gay and that he respects communist russia

Johnny wearing a soviet warm up.

I went to a few wrestling national championships, and it was very common for you to exchange uniforms with friends and competitors for fun. I am just assuming that the same thing happens on the international level, and I must admit if I had a soviet wrestling warm-up I would wear it cause it's cool. Anyways, his critics need to see the world with less partisan glasses (and more importantly, not judge his personal life). I was moved by his skating to Sinatra's "My Way". To make my new years resolution public, I want to see people more in the context of what's good about them and what they are excellent at (and, of course, less of what I perceive to be their shortcomings). Here's to Johnny!

Friday, February 24, 2006

I know its old

but I just rewatched this clip today and I can't stop laughing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Common Sense

Here is what Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pete King (R-NY) have to say about selling operations of ports to PC WOrld-a state owned company of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
In a post-9/11 world, common sense would dictate that the proposed Dubai Ports World deal would trigger intense scrutiny on the part of our government. Yet common sense clearly did not prevail...

...Our call for increased scrutiny of this deal has nothing to do with the fact that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an Arab nation. Our seaports remain the most vulnerable aspect of our homeland security. Therefore, handing over their operation to a foreign government, especially one with reported terrorist ties, deserves thorough review...

...Given all this, how can we be sure the company has security measures in place to protect against terrorist infiltration?

How can we be certain the company itself will not smuggle illicit weapons and materials into our nation?

How do we ensure that one of its employees is not working for our enemies?
and here is the white house reply
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Is Always In Charge Of The Nation’s Port Security, Not The Private Company That Operates Facilities Within The Ports. Nothing will change with this transaction. DHS, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other Federal agencies, sets the standards for port security and ensures that all port facility owners and operators comply with these standards.

The Transaction Is Not About Port Security Or Even Port Ownership, But Only About Operations In Port. DP World will not manage port security, nor will it own any ports. DP World would take on the functions now performed by the British firm P&O – basically the off- and on-loading of cargo. Employees will still have to be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. No private company currently manages any U.S. port...

DP World Has Played By The Rules, Has Cooperated With The United States, And Is From A Country That Is A Close Ally In the War on Terror. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been a solid partner in the War on Terror. The UAE has been extremely cooperative on counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation and has provided considerable support to U.S. forces in the Gulf and to the governments and people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The UAE Is An Established Partner In Protecting America's Ports. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI) – a multinational program to protect global trade from terrorism. Dubai was also the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Department of Energy's Megaports Initiative, a program aimed at stopping illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material.
Port Security Begins Abroad. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) created the CSI to enable CBP to inspect 100% of high-risk containers at foreign seaports before they are loaded onboard vessels destined for the United States. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join CSI. Cooperation with Dubai has been outstanding and a model for other operations.

DP World currently manages 19 container terminals and has operations in 14 countries. The United States government has a strong working relationship with DP World.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Smoking Ban Art

Check out visual poem hosted by the Chicago Tribune. More on smoking ban later...

Ramblings on Retirement/Subsidies for Rich

"In the future, there wont be any retirement." That's the quip I got from a relative when we discussed social security. Just last night, I was thinking about how if life expectancy keeps rising, we may very well have to reconsider the social norms on retirement. Then, like an omen, the Drudge Report posted this little bit of science/science fiction
Life expectancy may balloon to 100 years old in rich nations thanks to scientific advances, but such progress could widen the gap between wealthy and poor nations, according to researchers.

Within the next 10 years, state-of-the-art, anti-ageing technologies could -- if they come into widespread use -- radically start altering global demographics, extending people's lifespans by 20 years, according to Shripad Tuljapurkar, a Stanford University biologist.
If people are really living to be 100 yrs. old at an appreciable rate, we will have to reconsider the retire at 65 dogma. It may sound cold, but contribution to society notwithstanding you can't have a large percentage of the population free-loading for 35 years without crippling the economy. I didn't derive that result rigorously, but I think its common sense is compelling.

What's more, the former liberal in me has a very negative reaction to state sponsored retirement. It sounds good in your ear, but in practice it is a huge subsidy for white-collar upper class folks (who live much longer). That sort of rubs me the wrong way. Think of free college in Europe: who can argue with free education? Leveling the playing field. The reality is, you don't get any change in your student demographics and the "free" education amounts to a huge subsidy to very wealthy people (who otherwise would be paying for college) /rant>

Sunday, February 19, 2006

You Reap What You Sow III

Like I said, if you want to get political, you might lose. Keep your grants out of the political debate. I just don't understand how you can be so overtly political and expect no consequences when you lose. Here is a flavor:
The Union of Concerned Scientists have this to say:

In his State of the Union address, President Bush called for investment in “clean, safe nuclear energy.” This seemingly harmless phrase, however, does not describe the controversial new program currently under consideration by the administration and some members of Congress. Under this new plan, the U.S. would “reprocess,” or separate, weapons-usable plutonium from the spent nuclear fuel generated by U.S. power reactors. This proposal would make it easier for terrorists to acquire the material for making a nuclear bomb. Help us make this program politically “radioactive”: please tell your representative and senators to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists by rejecting all efforts to fund this dangerous plutonium reprocessing program.
What does that have to do with science? btw, the emphasis is theirs. Why are you borrowing against the credibility of the scientific institution to advance your political agendas? Remember when 48 Nobel scientists endorsed Kerry? They are part of some group called scientists and engineers for change. Whatever.

You Reap What You Sow II

More scientists complaining about [insert your grant proposal here].
"It's no accident that we are seeing such an extensive suppression of scientific freedom," [David Baltimore, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist and president of the California Institute of Technology] said. "It's part of the theory of government now, and it's a theory we need to vociferously oppose." Far from twisting science to suit its own goals, he said, the government should be "the guardian of intellectual freedom."
Intellectual freedom is a university thing; not a government public policy. Furthermore, I think politically-active scientists could use a dose of humility and stop equating their grant proposals with righteous abstract concepts like "freedom". Case-in-point
[Susan F. Wood, former director of the office of women's health at the Food and Drug Administration] received a standing ovation from many in the audience, resigned in August to protest agency officials' unusual decision to overrule an expert panel and withhold marketing approval for Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, a form of emergency contraception. She said she feared that competent scientists would leave rather than remain at an agency where their work was ignored because "social conservatives have extreme undue influence."

Later, in response to a question, she said that she might have consulted the agency's inspector general over the Plan B decision, but that inspectors general often had to be prodded by Congress before taking action. Democrats have little power in this Congress, she said, and Republicans who care about science have been "remarkably silent."
Precisely, you don't understand the difference between scientific research and public policy. I'm sure Bush's decision to withhold approval was made for reasons other than the integrity of the research. duh.

You Reap What You Sow

I have stated before that scientists should restrain from lobbying the public for grant money. Ask your representatives or the appropriate commitee, but leave the public out of it. There are two articles in the New York Times recently that feature scientists bemoaning President Bush's policies towards [insert your research field here]. The first article is about environmentalists (climate change/global warming types) expressing fear that Bush met with Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear. The book calls into question the science and motivations behind global warming.
"This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O'Donnell's group monitors environmental policy.

"This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so," he said.
The truth is that the causes, severity, long term impacts, and policy implications of global warming are still open questions. Usually scientists who honestly raise this point are dismissed as "not serious" or, even worse, partisan. However, the lets-not-take-the-risk alarmists are the ones who made this a political issue. And if you want to get political, be prepared to lose. It happenes.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

'Bout Time

Bush Push to Expand Nuke Energy. It's time to ditch the hare-brained ideas like wind and solar power and start building nuclear power plants. The reason he is bringing this up is apparantly scientists have found a way to reuse nuclear fuel.
Nuclear power must play a growing role in meeting future energy needs not only in the United States, but globally, the president said. He said he envisions a system where the United States and other countries such as Russia, Britain and France would provide reactors and lend nuclear fuel to developing nations. Used fuel would be returned and recycled.
That seems to be the breakthrough that is giving him the political cover to do this.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Onion, once again

Hamas Calls For 'Giant Summit' With All Israelis
Haniyeh characterized the one-day summit as "the final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute," and invited every Jewish citizen of the world to attend. Haniyeh said he expects more than 5 million participants from Israel alone.

"It was foolish of us to think that a satisfactory resolution could be reached through small-scale aggression," Haniyeh said. "It will take more than the sporadic deaths of small groups of Israeli civilians to achieve our ends."

"This summit is long overdue," he added.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Conan O'Brien: Statesman

Those of you who watch Conan O'Brien know he is hugely popular in Finland. Here's why conan

And here is the Tribune write-up.
The "Late Night" host handed the Nordic country's first female president[Tarja Halonen] a Valentine's Day present, wrapped in red paper, as they posed for photographers before the closed-door meeting that was expected to last 15 minutes.
there's more
Some 2,000 fans had waited hours in subfreezing temperatures to catch a glimpse of the quirky, self-deprecating talk-show host who is unusually popular in this small, taciturn nation on the northern fringe of Europe.

During the tour, O'Brien visited Arctic Lapland, some 500 miles north of the capital, with his film crew, and appeared on several Finnish TV shows.

Later Tuesday, he was to receive a TV award for being "the most surprising and entertaining TV personality in Finland."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Today in American History

Tis the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Read a nice tribute by Scott Johnson

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Nice Headline

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I wish I had written it first

But Captain Ed beat me to the punch. The main points
In 2000, when Bush ran for president, he made a point to speak at an NAACP meeting in order to "reach out" to the leadership. He was rewarded for his effort by an NAACP ad campaign that attempted to pin the James Byrd lynching on Bush, who had resisted hate-crime legislation in Texas. The despicable ads never mentioned that Texas had captured, tried, and convicted the men responsible and sentenced them to death -- underscoring Bush's point about the superfluousness of hate-crime laws. The NAACP just wanted to tar Bush with the lynching to smear him as a closet bigot.
Bush went to King's funeral because of the stature of her life and the work she accomplished during it. Again, he "reached out" -- and what happened? The political leaders on the left turned the funeral into an embarrassing recapitulation of the Wellstone funeral, using the corpse of King as a soapbox to harangue a President who had simply come to pay his respects.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dude, you lost to a girl

Our nation just crowned its first female state champion in wrestling (competing against boys that is). In this new millennium men need no longer be ashamed of getting beaten up by a girl. Seriously though, congratulations. It's not easy, and in case you are wondering, Alaska.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I know you are dying to know

What really happened to Cindy Sheehan at the state of the union.

The Onion Does it Again