Sunday, December 26, 2004

French poll

My mother and I did some grocery shopping at the Whole Foods Market in Albuquerque today. Whilst pondering the pros and cons of a particular item, a nearby shopper interjected that it sounded like a good product, "except that it's from France". I calmly responded in tempo, "There's nothing wrong with France," which fetched the reply, "There's plenty wrong with France." The man walked away. I, undercaffeinated and therefore unenergetic, declined to pursue him for further details.

Should I have attempted to open a dialogue with him? Given that his motivations may have been based on politicized misinformation, should I have attempted to lead him from a path of jingoistic xenophobia toward a more enlightened, international view? Does it matter that I am a liberal living in a low-population purple state where a single vote could conceivably swing an election?

Happy Boxing Day!

Sunday, December 19, 2004


For some truly funny Australian satire, check out CNNNN. You can watch video of the show on-line. Some of the humour requires knowledge of Aussie culture, but much of it is accessible to Americans as well, such as the episode devoted to Bush in Oz. They do great series of ads as well, such as Fungry's (unfortunately some of the better Fungry's ads aren't on-line).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

On astro-ph

Great news: The efficiency of extrasolar planet searches is relatively insensitive to the observing schedule used. And that author looks familiar from somewhere....

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Bigotry updates

Canada: The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. PM Paul Martin announces that the Liberal government will introduce same-sex marriage legislation in Parliament next year, arguing for the "equal treatment of all Canadians".

New Zealand: Parliament approves same-sex civil unions.

Alabama: State representative Gerald Allen proposes a ban on using taxpayer money to purchase books or support art with "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". Despite being unable to distinguish between censorship and traffic signals, Allen will be rewarded with a meeting with Bush.

North Carolina: Will a Christian school in Cary teach that slavery was "based on mutual affection and confidence"? No, but only after massive protest against the revisionist, neo-Confederate drivel.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

I'm in the wrong lab...

So there is this article in the NY Times about how prickly pear juice cures hangover. It's all very fascinating but really the part I liked was on the second page:
Prickly pear extract, Dr. Shlipak and his colleagues suggest, helps by reducing the immune response to congeners. In their study, the researchers found that when graduate student testers drank five hours after taking the pill, they experienced less severe hangover symptoms.
Gosh! Maybe I'm in the wrong field. I mean I don't think I would ever want to be a tester in my lab... ("we need some healthy cartilage tissue sample..." yea right, I don't think so!)
On the other hand, maybe the scientists forced the poor grad students to drink more than they should have in order to make sure they would get hangovers. That's not too pleasant...

Friday, December 03, 2004

The Dems grow balls

The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have written a strongly-worded letter (PDF) to Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State of Ohio, asking for answers to questions regarding vote suppression, irregularities in vote counting, and allegations of possible voter fraud. It's about time. With all the irregularities that occurred, it's hard not to get the impression that the presidential election in Ohio was seriously flawed if not intentionally rigged.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

van Eyck's nonexistent mirror

Did van Eyck use spherical mirrors or lenses in his groundbreaking masterpieces? Scientific American says no. (subscription required, or find a hard copy, or try bugmenot)