Saturday, September 23, 2006

Interests Intersect

(from the Globe and Mail, The Religious War on Bottled Water)
A one-litre bottle of Dasani brand water, sold at a Toronto supermarket recently for $1.59, retails for about 3,000 times the price of a litre of municipal water from nearby Brampton, where the container was filled. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. filters the municipal water and then adds minerals to improve its taste. Federal product labelling laws do not require bottlers to indicate that their products originally were tap water, but do require companies to say whether it is spring or mineral water.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's up to You.

From Matthew Good:
(Increased the font size is my emphasis, and I edited out PETA from the list)

Champions Of Nothing

For everything a price. The price of ignorance is celebrating freedoms that are routinely debased, replaced instead by the white noise of picture perfect lives beamed out through the night into the hearts of decaying inner cities, disparaged farming towns, and quaint Middle Class gated communities. Spellbound, our sybaritic patient lays silently watching the drops slip slowly down the tube shoved in their arm, a smile made and daily celebrated by hundreds of millions of parasites too bemused to realize that they are feeding on themselves.

Long legged blondes with bronzed skin, tall rugged men with sculpted features, parents and children laughing at the dinner table, eating microwaved gourmet, comfortably pacified, the family dog laying bewildered on the back porch, casually watching a homeless man pick through the garbage.

When the machine consumes more than it produces, then it is a machine meant for destruction, not creation. When good ideas need guns and missiles to promote them, then what ever led you to believe that they were good ideas?

If we are this empty, then you have the rest of your life to figure out one simple thing – what is so dangerous about being full?

Making a difference in the world starts at only one place: with you. And despite the distractions that would have you believe otherwise, there is no convenient alternative. It is neither easy nor without risk, financially rewarding or at all popular. But then, nothing worth doing ever has been.

Every new day is a chance to turn it around. Maybe tomorrow will be your first day. Maybe tomorrow you’ll just start to think about it a little more and, in time, might find yourself a little closer than you’d previously been. Either way, we are all individually responsible for making that choice, just as we are all equally responsible for our collective failure.

Places To Start

» The International Federation Of Red Cross and Red Crescent Socities
» Oxfam International
» The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Relief Fund
» The Joint United Nations Programme On HIV/AIDS
» Doctors Without Borders
» Engineers Without Borders
» Control Arms
» War Child
» International Action Network On Small Arms
» The Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals
» Amnesty International
» Human Rights Watch

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Rhymes with what?

[Q] From Evan Parry: “Which named which? Did the fruit called an orange give rise to the name of the colour orange, or vice versa?”

[A] This is an easy one for me to answer, since a quick look at the big Oxford English Dictionary gives the historical details. The fruit definitely came first—it is recorded in English in the fourteenth century, while the application of its name to the colour only appeared at the beginning of the seventeenth. This raises the question of what people called the colour before they had a word for it: either they didn’t (few things in nature are that colour and there was no bright orange pigment available to artists and dyers until the early nineteenth century) or they borrowed terms like yellow, gold, amber, or red to describe various shades.

By the way, the word orange is interesting, etymologically speaking, because it’s an excellent example of a change called metanalysis in which the first letter of a word shifts to the end of the preceding word. So a numpire became an umpire, a napron became an apron, and so on. In Arabic, the fruit was named naranj (from Persian narang and Sanskrit naranga—the orange may have originated in northern India) and this name came with the fruit into Italian and also into Spanish, in which the fruit is still called naranja. The initial letter dropped off before the word reached English, possibly in Italian but more probably in French.

This one time, at Jesus Camp

Obviously it is just a preview and one would need the full context... but I'm scared.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Save Darfur

It was a good rally and an honour to meet Romeo Dallaire. I realize the trauma that his experiences have brought him as well as how many people desire his prescence or opinions. I wanted to be able to say something that wasn't trite so I told him, "That you keep going is an inspiration to others."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Darfur Rally Sunday (Toronto)

More info.
And it seems you'd want to be there before 1:30.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rally against Hell on Earth

On Sunday, September17 at 2 p.m. at Ramsden Park (across from Rosedale subway station) there will be a rally for Darfur.
Background info about Darfur. Short answer: Ever heard of Rwanda?
My source for the rally.
SaveDarfur main page.
Death toll vastly underestimated.
People often say, "What can I do?" Going to the rally is a start. Then write letters and inform your elected representatives that you care. If they don't have a rally in your city, start one!

The Road to Kandahar

I finally finished a worthwhile article about Canada and its involvement in Afghanistan.
Have a read.

Chomsky & Trivers

I recently bought an issue of Seed in which there was a conversation between Chomsky and Trivers. Happily, I found the video (and text) available here. :D

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Headline: Most scientific papers are probably wrong

(From New Scientist, definitely shows that science is a process. Further, there is a 'wrong' with which to compare things ;)

02:00 30 August 2005 news service
Kurt Kleiner

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

"We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery," Ioannidis says.

In the paper, Ioannidis does not show that any particular findings are false. Instead, he shows statistically how the many obstacles to getting research findings right combine to make most published research wrong.

Massaged conclusions

Traditionally a study is said to be "statistically significant" if the odds are only 1 in 20 that the result could be pure chance. But in a complicated field where there are many potential hypotheses to sift through - such as whether a particular gene influences a particular disease - it is easy to reach false conclusions using this standard. If you test 20 false hypotheses, one of them is likely to show up as true, on average.

Odds get even worse for studies that are too small, studies that find small effects (for example, a drug that works for only 10% of patients), or studies where the protocol and endpoints are poorly defined, allowing researchers to massage their conclusions after the fact.

Surprisingly, Ioannidis says another predictor of false findings is if a field is "hot", with many teams feeling pressure to beat the others to statistically significant findings.

But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

"When I read the literature, I'm not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I'm reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that's something to think about," he says.

Journal reference: Public Library of Science Medicine (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What if they switched places for awhile?

The world's overweight people now outnumber the undernourished, according to Paul Zimmet, in his speech to the International Congress on Obesity. (Short story at NS)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why they aren't greeted as Liberators.

Today's Star reported that:
The four soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division are charged with raping Abeer Qassim al-Janabi in her family's home in Mahmoudiya, about 30 kilometres south of Baghdad, then killing her along with her parents and her younger sister. Military prosecutors say the four set the teenager's body on fire to hide their crime.
Such situations reveal the flawed and simplistic nature of the phrase, "Support our troops."

Monday, September 04, 2006


Saddening (but unsurprising)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Stick it where the sun don't shine?

You mean, like, Uranus?
(I'm SO witty!)