Monday, May 29, 2006

The Aging of the Darrenus

Twenty-seven years ago, at 4:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, Darren Blake Cameron McKee escaped from the womb. He hopes to have many more spins around the sun.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Support the Troops (Killers or Murderers?)

On the topic of armed conflicts and especially war on Iraq, many say something like, "Regardless of your stance on the war itself, one should support the brave men and women fighting and the sacrifices they make." Or simply, "Support our troops, not war." (Or, A good 'third' option)
While I understand the underlying sentiment, the expression makes a spurious point. It falsely simplifies and dichotomizes a complex situation. True, governments decide to go to war and the troops fight it, but when is a 'troop' not a part of the government (as the military is a branch)? Well, the civilians at the pentagon obviously, but all, from private to president, are engaged in the war machine - A machine that inevitably creates destruction.

Collateral damage and friendly fire - what wonderful ways to express the killing of innocent lives. 'Friendly fire' doesn't sound the same as "Your teammate shot you in the head." Collateral damage on the other hand, is not always so 'collateral.' Most people do not know or do not want to admit that the destruction of civilian targets is a consistent theme throughout war. Thus, a war begins and it is accepted civilians will die. Know that.

If the troops succeed it means they have successfully neutralized aggressors. This means they killed people. The people they killed could have been military or civilian. Both types have fallen under the umbrella of 'success.' But, sometimes, outright murder occurs (i.e., unplanned civilian killing). Even more rare, it is witnessed or reported in the NA press. Shocked?

People have been trained to kill and sometimes they end up murdering. Once pondered, that is hardly a suprising occurrence. What did you expect would happen?

So, do you support killers or murderers? Obviously we sometimes need killers, but one must realize that such a requirement comes with a potentially murderous cost.
If only we did not have to choose.

NB: Canada is not innocent.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Why the US fights

I just finished watching an fantastic BBC documentary called Why We Fight. I highly recommend you go watch it, although it was more of a description than an investigation of 'why.'
More info can be found here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"This is pure Madness"

In the Democratic Republic of Congo vast amounts of women are being raped. If that heinous violation were not enough, some women are the victims of a further heinous crime. "Some of them have knives and other sharp objects inserted in them after they've been raped, while others have pistols shoved into their vaginas and the triggers pulled back," said Dr. Denis Mukwege Mukengere. (from cnn)

If you were still unaware, you no longer need deliberate over the existence of Hell.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Some closure for Darren

In a 24 hour period that began last Wednesday afternoon, I

...handed in my thesis to my committee. This means I can finally relax for awhile before I have to defend in June. It'll be wonderful.

... finished Life's Solution by Simon Conway Morris. I was reading this book for a evolution study group to which I belong. Overall it might have been worth it, but large parts read like a textbook, an uninteresting textbook. Additionally, the last chapter revealed some poor argumentation and his religious biases.

...finished All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. It was a fantastic book. It was mostly about corruption and politics, but like any good book, it was about everything. I highly recommend.

...watched the final episode of West Wing and the season finale of Scrubs. West Wing isn't what it used to be, nor is Scrubs as funny as it used to be. So it goes in tv land.

Obviously, the importance of the 'closure' decreases as the list continues, but it's nice to have all those things wrapped up. On to new things, but not too intensely. I'll actually try to relax. :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Kurt remark

"The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn't be poor, so their children should pay the consequences. "
- Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Click 'em

Very well done - Radiohead/Katrina (click video)

Interesting consumer research article.

New Scientist has an guide to stem cells and a more extensive database.

The Onion funny here and here

Dance 'evolution' :)

The admirable Eric Reeves

Amusing, but I was more interested in the fact that they got so many laughs, while Colbert received so few. Click 'next video' for a version without the intro which indicates they knew he would be insulting. Additionally, Bush's endearing nature and things like this gloss over the terrible things in the shadows... or show that people aren't all bad... or both.

Spore = Cool

Friday, May 12, 2006

I always pictured a Bush woman as something different

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

New lows for Bush

Full story and more data
(The nationwide telephone poll, of 1,241 adults, was conducted from May 4 to May 8. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The User Illusion

Awhile back I finished an mostly interesting book called The User Illusion. The book contained some worthwhile passages, some of which I shall share with you now. (Some of the passages are quoted from other works, please read all three)

"Consciousness is not to be identified with any particular perceptual-cognitive functions such as discriminative response to stimulation, perception, memory, or the higher mental processes involved in judgement or problem-solving. All of these functions can take place outside of phenomenal awareness. Rather, consciousness is an experimental quality that may accompany any of these functions."
- John Kihlstron, Science (1987) in The User Illusion, p. 172-173

"Consciousness is a much smaller part of our mental life than we are conscious of, because we cannot be conscious of what we are not conscious of... How simple that is to say; how difficult to appreciate! It is like asking a flashlight in a dark room to search around for something that does not have any light shining upon it. The flashlight, since there is light in whatever direction it turns, would have to conclude that there is light everywhere. And so consciousness can seem to pervade all mentality when actually it does not."
- Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), in The User Illusion, p. 174

"We do not see what we sense. We see what we think we sense. Our consciousness is presented with an interpretation, not the raw data. Long before this presentation, an unconscious information processing has discarded information so that what we see is a simulation, a hypothesis, an interpretation; and we are not free to choose."
- Tor Norrentranders (author), The User Illusion, p. 186-187

NASA Announces Plan To Launch $700 Million Into Space

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Horror - Aid workers giving girls food for sex in Liberia

(from CBC) "Girls as young as eight are being forced by local and international agency workers to have sex in exchange for food," states a recent report by Save the Children. "These children were engaging in sex for money for education, for food for the day, or even for something as small as a ride," said Save the Children spokeswoman Emilia Brookstein.

Said World Food Program spokesman Greg Barrow, ""You can rest assured that if any guilt is identified at the end of the day, action will be taken to terminate that relationship immediately and steps will be made to make sure that those people do not find themselves in these positions of power that they can abuse again."

But, I wonder, how exactly to go about minimizing the likelihood of recidivism? Well, as different experiences contribute to understanding, and understanding can lead to empathy and behavioural change, perhaps the perpetrators should be starved until they would 'willingly' trade their anus for food.

It could be called "The Tossed Salad" exchange.

Fundamentally Darwinian

(from Dennett's talk celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Selfish Gene, emphasis added)
"And I also thought, on rereading the book, that the late Steve Gould was really right when he called Richard and me Darwinian fundamentalists. And I want to say what a Darwinian fundamentalist is. A Darwinian fundamentalist is one who recognizes that either you shun Darwinian evolution altogether, or you turn the traditional universe upside down and you accept that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the cause but the fairly recent effects of the mechanistic mill of Darwinian algorithms. It is the unexceptioned view that mind, meaning, and purpose are not the original driving engines, but recent effects that marks, I think, the true Darwinian fundamentalist."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Monty is King

(King Arthur approaches a person from behind and calls to them)
King Arthur
: Old woman.
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I'm 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I'm 37. I'm not old.
King Arthur: Well I can't just call you "man".
Dennis: Well you could say "Dennis".
King Arthur: I didn't know you were called Dennis.
Dennis: Well you didn't bother to find out did you?
King Arthur: I did say sorry about the "old woman", but from behind you looked...
Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

(Arthur, somewhat frustrated, reiterates his stance)
King Arthur
: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn't vote for you.
King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.
Woman: Well how'd you become king then?
[Angelic music plays... ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Dennis: Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

Dennis: Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.

(Dennis now being beaten)
Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn't you?

One of the best scenes ever! :D

Got Problems? T will be there.

Apparently, 'Mr. T will travel across the country dispensing inspiration and advice on a new talk show called, what else but "I pity the fool!'
Mr. T says, “My show ain’t no ‘Dr. Phil,’ with people sitting around crying,” he says, “You’re a fool – that’s what’s wrong with you."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Fetal pain only after 7 months?

New Scientist has the interesting article: Fetuses may not feel pain until week 30
(this article was linked in a previous post, but it might have been overlooked as it was in parentheses, or you didn't read that post :P)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Economy n' stuff.

The Globe and Mail had a useful article with various stats relating to Canada. (some sections make more sense than others)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Stephen Colbert Roasts Bush (zing!)

Surfing the net last night I came across a very interesting blog. Aside from the informative commentary on world events, there were links to Stephen Colbert roasting Bush at the WhiteHouse Correspondents' Assocation Dinner.

In actually demonstrating consistency by insulting the president (and everyone else) while in the same room, I think Colbert demonstrates America's number one export.*

Follow Mia Culpa
Part I
Part II
Part III