Saturday, December 8, 2007

LOLworf

I had kind of a stupid idea today that I thought I'd share. It's called LOLworf:



I thought it would be hilarious. It is hilarious, in theory at least. Undistputably. Just imagine Michael Dorn actually saying "I CAN HAS BLUDWEIN!!11!!1," in earnest, exactly as written.

Unfortunately, they weren't as easy to make as I though they would be. For one, there weren't many images of Worf on the web that were easily LOLifiable. Second, the only way I had to modify the few good pictures I did find was by using Microsoft Paint, which leaves an amateurish white box around the added text-- an ugly blemish on what otherwise is pure comedy gold.

Anyway, here are my other LOLworfs.







Friday, November 30, 2007

The Greatest Political Ad Your Sorry Asses Will EVAR See!

. . . which isn't saying much, I'll admit. Still, this ad from Republican Mike Huckabee beats Hillary Clinton's pathetic Sopranos parody by a long shot.



Chuck Norris' endorsements of Democratic presidential candidates cure cancer. Too bad he's. . . oh, never mind!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Meet The New Boss. . . Same as the Old Boss. . .

. . . which in this case is a good thing. Two teams of scientists have discovered a way to convert skin cells into stem cells. Scientists have been trying to conduct research on stem cells for years, in spite of opposition from the U.S. Government, which has refused to provide federal funding due to political pandering to the religious right objections over the use of human embryos, which are killed during extraction. This new method of stem cell production should hopefully overcome the ethical barriers traditionally associated with stem cell research. From msn.ca:
Laboratory teams on two continents report success in a pair of landmark papers released Tuesday. It's a neck-and-neck finish to a race that made headlines five months ago, when scientists announced that the feat had been accomplished in mice.

The "direct reprogramming" technique avoids the swarm of ethical, political and practical obstacles that have stymied attempts to produce human stem cells by cloning embryos.

Scientists familiar with the work said scientific questions remain and that it's still important to pursue the cloning strategy, but that the new work is a major coup.

"This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone - the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane," said Dr. Robert Lanza, chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technology, which has been trying to extract stem cells from cloned human embryos.

"It's a bit like learning how to turn lead into gold," said Lanza, while cautioning that the work is far from providing medical payoffs.

"It's a huge deal," agreed Rudolf Jaenisch, a prominent stem cell scientist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. "You have the proof of principle that you can do it."

The White House lauded the papers, saying such research is what President Bush was advocating when he twice vetoed legislation to pave the way for taxpayer-funded embryo research.

There is a catch with the new technique. At this point, it requires disrupting the DNA of the skin cells, which creates the potential for developing cancer. So it would be unacceptable for the most touted use of embryonic cells: creating transplant tissue that in theory could be used to treat diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's, and spinal cord injury.

But the DNA disruption is just a byproduct of the technique, and experts said they believe it can be avoided.

The new work is being published online by two journals, Cell and Science. The Cell paper is from a team led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University; the Science paper is from a team led by Junying Yu, working in the lab of in stem-cell pioneer James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Both reported creating cells that behaved like stem cells in a series of lab tests.

Thomson, 48, made headlines in 1998 when he announced that his team had isolated human embryonic stem cells.

Yamanaka gained scientific notice in 2006 by reporting that direct reprogramming in mice had produced cells resembling embryonic stem cells, although with significant differences. In June, his group and two others announced they'd created mouse cells that were virtually indistinguishable from stem cells.

For the new work, the two men chose different cell types from a tissue supplier. Yamanaka reprogrammed skin cells from the face of an unidentified 36-year-old woman, and Thomson's team worked with foreskin cells from a newborn. Thomson, who was working his way from embryonic to fetal to adult cells, said he's still analyzing his results with adult cells.

Both labs did basically the same thing. Each used viruses to ferry four genes into the skin cells. These particular genes were known to turn other genes on and off, but just how they produced cells that mimic embryonic stem cells is a mystery.

"People didn't know it would be this easy," Thomson said. "Thousands of labs in the United States can do this, basically tomorrow."

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which holds three patents for Thomson's work, is applying for patents involving his new research, a spokeswoman said. Two of the four genes he used were different from Yamanaka's recipe.

Scientists prize embryonic stem cells because they can turn into virtually any kind of cell in the body. The cloning approach - which has worked so far only in mice and monkeys - should be able to produce stem cells that genetically match the person who donates body cells for cloning.

That means tissue made from the cells should be transplantable into that person without fear of rejection. Scientists emphasize that any such payoff would be well in the future, and that the more immediate medical benefits would come from basic research in the lab.

In fact, many scientists say the cloning technique has proven too expensive and cumbersome in its current form to produce stem cells routinely for transplants.

The new work shows that the direct reprogramming technique can also produce versatile cells that are genetically matched to a person. But it avoids several problems that have bedevilled the cloning approach.

For one thing, it doesn't require a supply of unfertilized human eggs, which are hard to obtain for research and subjects the women donating them to a surgical procedure. Using eggs also raises the ethical questions of whether women should be paid for them.

In cloning, those eggs are used to make embryos from which stem cells are harvested. But that destroys the embryos, which has led to political opposition from U.S. President George W. Bush, the Roman Catholic church and others.

Those were "show-stopping ethical problems," said Laurie Zoloth, director of Northwestern University's Center for Bioethics, Science and Society.

The new work, she said, "redefines the ethical terrain."

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the new work "a very significant breakthrough in finding morally unproblematic alternatives to cloning. ... I think this is something that would be readily acceptable to Catholics."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the new method does not cross what Bush considers an "ethical line." And Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a staunch opponent of publicly funded embryonic stem cell research, said it should nullify the debate.

Another advantage of direct reprogramming is that it would qualify for federal research funding, unlike projects that seek to extract stem cells from human embryos, noted Doug Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

Still, scientific questions remain about the cells produced by direct reprogramming, called "iPS" cells. One is how the cells compare to embryonic stem cells in their behaviour and potential. Yamanaka said his work detected differences in gene activity.

If they're different, iPS cells might prove better for some scientific uses and cloned stem cells preferable for other uses. Scientists want to study the roots of genetic disease and screen potential drug treatments in their laboratories, for example.

Scottish researcher Ian Wilmut, famous for his role in cloning Dolly the sheep a decade ago, told London's Daily Telegraph that he is giving up the cloning approach to produce stem cells and plans to pursue direct reprogramming instead.

Other scientists said it's too early for the field to follow Wilmut's lead. Cloning embryos to produce stem cells remains too valuable as a research tool, Jaenisch said.

Dr. George Daley of the Harvard institute, who said his own lab has also achieved direct reprogramming of human cells, said it's not clear how long it will take to get around the cancer risk problem. Nor is it clear just how direct reprogramming works, or whether that approach mimics what happens in cloning, he noted.

So the cloning approach still has much to offer, he said.

Daley, who's president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, said his lab is pursuing both strategies.

"We'll see, ultimately, which one works and which one is more practical."
When I learned that one of the two teams that made the discovery was Japanese, being the lovely little cynic that I am, I started to wonder whether this was part of Japan's "scientific whaling."

People Listen to Me. . .

Last Thursday (November 15th, 2007) I responded to a post by ScienceBlogger Jonah Lehrer about "science criticism":
*Why don't we have science critics? We have music critics and literary critics and dance critics and architecture critics...Wouldn't it be great to also have knowledgeable people point out the flaws and achievements of the latest scientific papers? And yes, I did write an article on this idea a few years ago in Seed, although it seems to have been lost by Google.
To which I responded rather hastily:
We do. It's called peer review.
Imagine my horror when, the next day, I find that Mr. Lehrer has devoted a whole bloody post to my comment:
In response to my call for science critics, a position analogous to a music critic or art critic except that they review the latest science papers, a commenter wrote the following:
"Why don't we have science critics?"
We do. It's called peer review.
My response is that peer review is necessary but not sufficient. (I've discussed the limitations of the peer review process before.) As every scientist knows, lots of crap gets published in journals. (In fact, it's possible that most published research findings are false. ) The job of a science critic, like all critics, would consist of two separate parts: 1) criticize what deserves criticism and 2) praise what deserves praise. Here's what I wrote about science critics way back in the spring of 2004 in Seed:
I believe we need to treat science like culture. We should interrogate and question our science no less than we judge our art. What we need are figures outside of the scientific process to remind us that science is a process, that the data might mean this, or that. What we need are critics of science.
Why does the phrase "critics of science" sound so strange? Why can't our newspapers have, right next to the review of the philharmonic, a thousand opinionated words about molecular biology? Just as there are souls who know Bach better than Bach himself and yet choose to sit in the audience, to listen to the orchestra from the plush velvet chair, so we need figures who know science inside and out and yet choose to site on the sidelines. Modern science is a specialized body of knowledge; an archipelago of disciplines, with each island dominated by its own codes and coasts. Our critics would have to master that island biogeography. In other words, our science critics would have to really know what they were talking about.

Karl Popper, an eminent defender of science, argued for just such a figure: "It is imperative that we give up the idea of ultimate sources of knowledge, and admit that all knowledge is human; that it is mixed with our errors, our prejudices, our dreams, and our hopes; that all we can do is to grope for truth even though it is beyond our reach. There is no authority beyond the reach of criticism."
I know, kids. . . I'm scared too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes, You Just Need to Slow Down and Take a Look Around. . .

. . . and sometimes, you need a high-speed camera to do it for you.

For instance, have you ever wondered how a popped balloon actually pops? Well, wonder no more!



While we're on the subject of popping. . . what about popcorn?



Some gunshots:



A lighter:



Welding(The light is an electric arc between welder and metal, and the what looks like a waving cloth is actually molten metal):



Atomic bomb explosions(try to ignore the music):



And finally. . . well, see for yourself.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Got Yer Freedom of Religion Right Here! Part II

Police in Afghanistan-- you know, the country we saved from an Islamist dictatorship-- have just arrested a man for publishing a translation of the Koran.
Afghan police have arrested a man accused of publishing an unofficial translation of the Koran that has sparked protests in parts of the country, newspapers said on Monday.

The translation into Dari, one of Afghanistan's main languages, sparked an emergency debate in parliament and protests in at least two parts of the country as key passages were changed.

Ghaus Zalmai, the publisher of the translation, was arrested on Sunday trying to cross the border into neighbouring Pakistan. Zalmai was also a spokesman for Afghanistan's attorney general.

"This is a plot against the religion of Islam, and no one will ever accept the book as the holy Koran," daily Armaan newspaper quoted judge Abdul Salam Azimi as saying.

"The Supreme court has ordered an investigation into this matter and to bring the culprits before the court," he said.

Perceived insults to Islam, such as the cartoons of the prophet Mohammad or alleged violations of the Koran have sparked angry protests in Afghanistan.
I'll give a bit of background on why this is supposed to be such a big deal in Islam. According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad, inspired by the angel Gabriel, recited the word of God to the people of Mecca. Muhammad's inspired words, as transcribed by his followers, became what is known today as the Koran, the holy, infallible word of God. Trouble is, that particular word is in Classical Arabic, and is so infallible that any translation of the book into other languages is considered invalid and, in this case at least, unholy.

Now that I've elucidated at least some historical and theological baggage, I'll close with a rant.

I don't like the war in Afghanistan. But in spite of myself, I still do buy the moral argument that Canadian troops should stay in Afghanistan to help fend off the Taliban. Unfortunately, the trouble with that argument is the government that U.S. coalition installed to replace the Taliban-- the one that Canadian troops are fighting and dying to protect-- is now, slowly but surely, beginning to resemble the religious dictatorship it was meant to replace by eroding one of the fundamental principles necessary for democracy, the separation of church and state. I don't mean to say that, based on this, the government of Afghanistan is as bad as the Taliban, not by a long shot. It's still possible that the case may dismissed in the courts, though based on the quote by judge Azimi, that's not likely. It's also still possible that coalition governments could exert enough pressure on the Afghan government to get them to dismiss the case. . . though that certainly won't quell future protests.

For some reason, the phrase "the lesser of two evils" seems decreasingly relevant here.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One Step for Small Men. . .

. . . and I'm just gonna stop there.

Japan has launched a probe into lunar orbit. The probe, SELENE, is taking HDTV images of the Moon's surface even as I speak(so to speak). Below I've posted two time-compressed video streams sent back by the probe (the video below shows them both).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

$100,000,000

In response to my last post, Naomi said:
hahahahahah wow. As if that isn't bad enough, their reunion tour is supposed to gross over $100 000 000.


$100,000,000. Really? Well then. . .



But methinks this is all part of a plan:



Just replace "Get the warhead" with "Launch a Spice Girls concert" and you get the idea.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

This is the end. . .

Ladies and, well, A.J., I present to you the long awaited return of. . . The Spice Girls!



Or, as I prefer to think of it:



Perhaps more to the point:



Yeah, like that, only cause by five girls from an island nation.

I got it!



Yup. Somehow that pretty much sums up how I feel right about now.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Got Yer Freedom of Religion Right Here!

I have cousins in Austria, whom I might blog about in a future post. Thus, I was saddened to learn that one of Austria's provinices is governed by a far-right party that wants to ban the construction of mosques:
The provincial parliament in the southern Austrian province Carinthia called on its provincial government to prepare legislation banning the construction of mosques or minarets. The province's governor, the populist former leader of the rightist Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, had repeatedly called for anti- Muslim measures along those lines.

The proposal was adopted with the votes of the conservative People's Party, Freedom Party, and the support of the Alliance for Austria's Future, an equally rightist breakaway party from the Freedom Party, founded by Haider.

Alliance floor leader Kurt Scheuch said his party wanted to prevent the creeping Islamization by radical forces.

"We prefer churchbells to the muezzin's chants," he said.
So much for secularism. The government of Austria displays a clear and unabashed religious preference, and wants to use state power to enforce that preference. And as for that line about "prevent(ing) the creeping Islamization by radical forces," well, I'd like to prevent abortion doctors for being murdered by terrorists and gays from being hunted down and beaten to a fine paste by rednecks, but I'd be an idiot if I thought preventing the construction of churches was the answer to that.

The article, in clear contradiction of Scheuch's quote, goes on to say:
While the conservatives stressed that it was not their intention to prevent Muslims from practicing their religion, they argued that a mosque could not be compared with a Christian church, but was rather an "institution of a cultural community."
I see, so a mosque is an "institution of a cultural community," which distinguishes it from a church. . . how? Oh, that's right: the Church is the institution of the dominant culture-- or at least, what the dominant culture used to be in Europe, before the Europeans began avoiding chruches in droves.
Carinthia's Social Democrats and Greens, who had voted against the measure, slammed the proposal as a move to "prevent integration (and) hinder religious freedom" and called it an "open attack on democracy and the rule of law."

The Social Democrats pointed out that currently there were no plans for for building mosques in the province, unmasking the proposal as an attempt to "attract the right-wing vote," Social Democrat floor leader Peter Kaiser said.
Yup, pretty much sums it up. At least Haider isn't ruling all of Austria anymore.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A New Record!

Kyle Took a Bullet for Me has broken it's monthly blog post record, with a current 12 entries for October, surpassing the earlier record of 11 entries back in March.

Of course, to break that record, I had to post a blog celebrating the fact that the record has been broken. Does that count? Does it matter?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

To Quote Tess . . .

Death.

UPDATE: And let's all wish a very happy birthday to Miyuu Sawai. That is all.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rick Steves: Cooler Than I Thought

Does anyone else besides me know who Rick Steves is?



For the uninitiated, Rick Steves is a travel writer and host of the PBS series Rick Steves' Europe, which I used to watch semi-religiously back when I was learning German and so wanted to visit the Fatherland.

Until quite recently, my assessment of his cool was pretty well summed up by the picture above. No tool by any means, but not someone you'd especially want to talk to at a party (though admittedly, I have only been to three parties in my life, two of them before the age of ten. . .). Well, appearances can be deceiving. Seems that spending a third of his adult life in Europe has turned Mr. Steves into a marijuana advocate. Below I've posted a video of his recent appearance at a Seattle pro-pot festival. A warning: It's long, roughly nine minutes.



UPDATE: A thought just occurred to me. . . maybe the guy who posts Japanese toy commercials on his blog should not try to judge how cool people are.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Right-Wing Facebook

Social networking for Republican Dummiez!

Click Here!

My personal favourite. . . Rudy Giuliani's Profile:

Networks: GOP Presidential Primary
Sex: Republican Pro-Choice Male (Rare Species)
Relationship Status: Married³
Interested In: 9/11
Birthday: 57 B.N. (Before 9/11)
Hometown: New York City
Political Views: 9/11

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

My God, It Actually Happened. . .



Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Gore, who will share the $1.4 Million prize with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was awarded for his "efforts to build up disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

The prize puts Gore in the company of fellow peace prize winners/American Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter, as well as scientist-turned-activists Linus Pauling and Andrei Sakharov. Unfortunately, it also puts him in the same group as Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat.

I can't wait to see how loony American conservatives react to this. They'll likely try to spin this as an example of the Nobel committee's evil left-wing bias, forgetting that right-wing heroes Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek have also won prizes (albeit for economics), and that anti-communist dissenters, like Sakharov, also won the peace prize.

UPDATE: Yup, It Happened.

UPDATE #2: Ha ha ha ha ha.

UPDATE #3: Ha ha ha ha ha, again.

UPDATE #4: Some have complained that that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to an environmental activist is stretching the definition of "peace." Personally, I think this criticism is idiotic-- climate change will, and has, affected politics and economics, including war and peace. But on the other hand, for a long time I've thought that the Nobels should give a separate environmental award. Then again, I've always though they should give a prize for mathematics as well. . .

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Miyuu is an Angel in Disguise. . . LOOK INTO MY EYES!


Much as I love Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, I can still be honest about it. Like all children's shows, it is designed to sell toys. Most kids, at some level, understand that. However, for the slower, denser bunch, further measures may be neccessary. Thus, I present to you, courtesy of the Toei corporation, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon toy commericials, starring the unreasonably lovely Miyuu Sawai:

Sailor Moon Heart Moon Brooch and Moonlight Stick



Sailor Moon Makeup/Jewelery Set



Sailor Moon Henshin Phone



Sailor Moon Stationary Set



Sailor Moon Princess Harp



Sailor Moon Colouring Desk



Sailor Moon Henshin Dress-up



PLUS, act now and get these two pre-Sailor Moon Miyuu Sawai commercials absolutely free!



Still Not Enough Dubya?


Here are some of Presidents Bush's quotes on religion. You can find a more comprehansive list at The Times. I've picked out the real gems for you.

1. I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did. Sharm el-Sheikh August 2003

2. I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job.
Statement made during campaign visit to Amish community, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jul. 9, 2004

3. I'm also mindful that man should never try to put words in God's mouth. I mean, we should never ascribe natural disasters or anything else to God. We are in no way, shape, or form should a human being, play God. Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2005

8. I don't think you order suiciders to kill innocent men, women, and children if you're a religious person. Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, Jul. 14, 2004

9. And there's nothing more powerful in helping change the country than the faith -- faith in Dios.
National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, Washington, D.C., May 16, 2002

10. We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't. Martinsburg, West Virginia, Jul. 4, 2007

11. The spirit of our people is the source of America's strength. And we go forward with trust in that spirit, confidence in our purpose, and faith in a loving God who made us to be free.
5th anniversary of the Sep. 11 attacks, White House, Sep. 11, 2006

13.We can never replace lives, and we can't heal hearts, except through prayer.
Enterprise, Alabama, Mar. 3, 2007

14. God bless the people of this part of the world. Minneapolis, Minnesota, Aug. 4, 2007

16. I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah
White House, Dec. 10, 200117.

17. I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike, helping women of cover, Arab American women go shop because they're afraid to leave their home.
Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2001

18. It's a sign from above. Comment made when television light caught fire above crowd, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mar. 9, 2001

19. I did denounce it. I de- I denounced it. I denounced interracial dating. I denounced anti-Catholic bigacy... bigotry. Responding to attacks on his visit to ultra-conservative Bob Jones University, Greenville, South Carolina, Feb. 25, 2000

23. And I just -- I cannot speak strongly enough about how we must collectively get after those who kill in the name of -- in the name of some kind of false religion.
Press appearance with King Abdullah of Jordan, Aug. 1, 2002

25. By being active citizens in your church or your synagogue, or for those Muslims, in your mosque, and adhering to the admission to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself, that's how we can stand up.
Remarks to the cattle industry annual convention and trade show, Denver, Colorado, Feb. 8, 2002

32. By the way, to whom much has been given, much is owed. Not only are we leading the world in terms of encouraging freedom and peace, we're feeding the hungry. We're taking care of, as best as we possibly can, the victims of HIV/AIDS. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Jul. 20, 2004

37. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research. ...Human life is a gift from our Creator -- and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. 2006 State of the Union Address, Jan. 31, 2006

39. Every new citizen of the United States has an obligation to learn our customs and values, including liberty and civic responsibility, equality under God and tolerance for others, and the English language. Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 28, 2005

41.Secondly, it's really important, Pete, that people not think government is a loving entity. Government is law and justice. Love comes from the hearts of people that are able to impart love. And therefore, what Craig is doing is -- he doesn't realize it -- he's a social entrepreneur. He is inspiring others to continue to reach out to say to somebody who is lonely, I love you. And I'm afraid this requires a higher power than the federal government to cause somebody to love somebody.

44. All of you -- all in this generation of our military -- have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm. And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope -- a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To the captives, 'come out,' -- and to those in darkness, 'be free.' Aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, a couple of miles away from San Diego May 1, 2003

47. It's also important for people to know we never seek to impose our culture or our form of government. We just want to live under those universal values, God-given values. Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2002

By Popular Demand. . .

Ladies and gentlemen, the American President:



Courtesy of Ed Brayton.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Who Makes the Rockin' World Go 'Round?

Brain May, a once promising young scientist, has just completed his PhD studies in astrophysics following an extended break performing in some band named Queen:



May's the one on the left, looking just plain awkward next to the pure distilled cool that is Freddie Mercury.

But seriously, May's return to academia was announced back in August on the blog Adventures in Ethics and Science (Yes, I know, it's another ScienceBlogger but, hell, they're good!). Commenter MartinC left the following money quote:

Mr May, the standard model posits that the Earth's spin is derived from a combination of its angular momentum and its distance from the Sun. You, on the other hand, state that its caused by 'Fat Bottomed Girls'. How do you explain this theoretical discrepancy?


For all the true Queen completists, here's a link to a paper co-authored by May and published in 1973.

As if Toxic Meteor Rocks Weren't Enough...

. . . here are two more examples of B-movie monsters come to life thanks to The Power Of Science™:

(1) Brain Eating Amoebae

I shit you not. Thanks to global warming, a heat loving species of amoeba is now able to survive in shallow, human infested waters. This does not bode well for said humans, since this particularly nasty amoeba likes to attach itself to the inside of the nose and burrow itself into the brain, with fatal results: Six young men from Arizona, Texas, and Florida have already died. Since it looks like the oceans, like the rest of the world, are going to keep warming up with time, it's certain that more cases will spring up over an incresingly wide area.

This link will take you to a webpage describing this and other dangerous species thriving as a result of global warming.

(2) Gamma-Ray-Eating Fungus

Maybe this is the reason Mario grows when he eats mushrooms. . .

Researchers in Chernobyl have discovered a species of fungus that uses the protein melanin to convert ionizing radiation-- the dangerous, DNA-breaking, cancer-inducing kind of radiation-- into bioenergy via a process analogous to photosynthesis. Apparently, the fungus was first discovered lining the walls of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

Research also seems to indicate that this ability is not the result of a mutation, nor is it unique to this particular species. In fact, it appears that any fungus containing melanin(whose function in fungi until now was a mystery) can undergo a similar "radiosyntheis" process.

Here's a similar story focusing on underground fungi that feed on uranium ore emissions.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Please Read This:

Being Peace by Buddhist blogger "Maha," written in response to those calling for monks and protesters in Myanmar to use violence against the country's military dictatorship.

(Courtesy of Mike the Mad Biologist)

Mark Your Calendars. . .

October 9th is the earliest that I can expect to get my damned Pacific Century Scholarship money. After waiting until the 10th of September to officially be registered in my damn classes (I handed my registration form in August) and another two weeks after that to get my scholarship money deposited into my student account (which at least paid my tuition), I will now have to wait another two to three more weeks to transfer the remaining cash from the University to my own bank account.

I'm planning on doing a post on "big-L Libertarianism" pretty soon (right after the post on my research paper ;P), so I guess its fitting that I'm dealing bureaucratic bullshit, esspecially since University bureaucracies (both UNBC and UVic) have given me more trouble than any government office.

Still, there was Student Loans. . .

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quii, Part II

More dumbass quiz results:

What Sesame Street character are you?





You Are Big Bird



Talented, smart, and friendly... you're also one of the sanest people around.



You are usually feeling: Happy. From riding a unicycle to writing poetry, you have plenty of hobbies to keep you busy.



You are famous for: Being a friend to everyone. Even the grumpiest person gets along with you.



How you life your life: Joyfully. "Super. Duper. Flooper."




Are you a tortured genius?




You Are 86% Tortured Genius



You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.

Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.



In what European city do you belong?




You Belong in Amsterdam



A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.

Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).



If your life was a movie, what genre would it be?




The Movie Of Your Life Is An Indie Flick



You do things your own way - and it's made for colorful times.

Your life hasn't turned out how anyone expected, thank goodness!



Your best movie matches: Clerks, Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite



Are you a paranoid scizophrenic?




You Are 28% Paranoid Schizophrenic



You're pretty grounded, though you have your occasional paranoid moments.

Just make sure to ignore those voices in your head!



Are you stupid?




You Are Not Stupid



You got 10/10 questions right!

While acing this quiz doesn't prove you're a genius, you're at least pretty darn smart.



What English-speaking country are you?




You Belong in New Zealand



Good on ya, mate

You're the best looking one of the bunch

Though you're often forgotten...

You're quite proud of who you are



Personally, I would have thought I belonged in Ireland.

What language should you learn?




You Should Learn Japanese



You're cutting edge, and you are ready to delve into wacky Japanese culture.

From Engrish to eating contests, you're born to be a crazy gaijin. Saiko!



Meh. No surprise.


Are you a political radical?




You Are 32% Politically Radical



You've got a few unusual political ideas, but overall you're a pretty mainstream person. Chances are that you're turned off by both the radical right and looney left.



And finally,

What's your pimp name?




Your Pimp Name Is...



Long Dong Skillz




Disappointing, I must say.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Killer Fucking Meteorite



The sad thing about this true story, apart from the human suffering, is that there are enough idiot hacks in Hollywood who have glanced through War of the Worlds who actually could have made it up.

From The Guardian:

A meteorite has struck a remote part of Peru and carved a large crater that is emitting noxious odours and making villagers ill, according to local press reports.

A fireball streaked across the Andean sky late on Saturday night and crashed into a field near Carancas, a sparsely populated highland wilderness near Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, witnesses said.

The orange streak and loud bang were initially thought to be a plane crashing.

When farmers went to investigate, however, they found a crater at least 10m wide and 5m deep, but no sign of wreckage.

The soil around the hole appeared to be scorched and there was a "strange odour", a local health department official, Jorge López, told Peru's RPP radio.

Later the farmers complained of headaches and vomiting. Police who went to investigate the crater were also stricken with nausea, prompting authorities to dispatch a medical team that reached the site on Wednesday.

"The odour is strong and it's affecting nearby communities. There are 500 families close by and they have had symptoms of nausea, vomiting, digestive problems and general sickness," said López.

At least 12 people were treated in addition to seven police officers who required oxygen masks and rehydration.

The farmers expressed fears that what appeared to be chunks of lead and silver around the site could contaminate the soil.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Modesto Montoya, told the state press agency that a fallen meteorite did not present any danger unless it hit some structure on impact.

"None of the meteorites that fall in Peru and make perforations of varied sizes are harmful for people, unless they fall on a house," he said. Another meteorite fell to Earth in Arequipa province in June.
Okay, so it's more of a noxious fucking meteorite. Actually, it may not even be a meteorite at all. From BBC:

They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes.

People who visited the scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.

But some experts have questioned whether it was a meteorite or some other object that landed in Carancas.

"Increasingly we think that people witnessed a fireball, which are not uncommon, went off to investigate and found a lake of sedimentary deposit, which may be full of smelly, methane rich organic matter," said Dr Caroline Smith, a meteorite expert at the London-based Natural History Museum.

"This has been mistaken for a crater."

A team of scientists is on its way to the site to collect samples and verify whether it was indeed a meteorite.

Okay, so the Killer and Meteorite are likely off. Still, its a hell of a title.

Quii

I've been taking a lot of useless internet quizzes in the last couple of months (How Logical Are You? What Kind of Pirate Are You? What Starship Crew Would You Be Part Of? etc.). Since some of these quizzes have cute little HTML decals for that person who just has to let the whole world know that they would indeed survive a zombie apocalypse, I decided to post a few of my prouder results.

If your blog were a movie, what would it be rated?

Dating

Why? Because my blog has three "fucks", two "asses" and a "hell." I shit you not.


Would you pass 8th grade science?

JustSayHi - Science Quiz



What's your bloated, useless corpse worth to science?

$5290.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.



How much electrical power could your bloated, useless, still living corpse produce?

422 WATTS Body Battery Calculator - Find Out How Much Electricity Your Body is Producing - Dating

That's 69% more than the average person. I could power 4 lightbulbs, 106 ipods, 2 XBox 360's, and at least one DVD player runnning The Matrix.


Finally, a fairly comprehensive quiz on political orientation. This quiz actually puts me quite a bit further left, and way more small-'l' libertarian, than most US Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:





Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shinzo Abe to Resign

Ohayoo gozaimasu.

I know, I know, I keep promising to post something on my paper, but for now I've decided to put that on hold. I did make a genuine attempt at writing a post on the paper about a month ago, but then I realized that I had spent about five or six paragraphs trying to explain what "potential well" and "potential barrier" mean. I will write about it eventually-- in fact, right now I'm taking a graduate seminar class, which is all about effective communication of scientific ideas to the public, so that should help.

For today, though, I give you an exciting piece of news:



Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has annouced he will resign.

And no, this is not just an obscure Japanophile thing. This is actually pretty good news for Japan and for all of Asia. Not great news, mind you, but a small victory. To understand the significance of Abe's resignation (to me, at least), we need to begin with an obscure piece of WWII history.

It's no secret, at least outside of many Japanese schools, that during WWII Japan's Imperial Army committed many horrendous war crimes. The Massacre of Nanking is the most infamous. Another example, particularly relevant to Shinzo Abe, were the so-called comfort women, ie prostitute slaves.

Lesser known, but even more appalling, was Unit 731, a human experimentation program established for the development and testing of biological weapons. It is estimated that over 3000 men, women, and children were butchered and killed in these experiments, and that hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed as result of "field tests" of biological and chemical weapons.

What makes this even more disturbing is that following the war, the United States govenment covered up Unit 731 and allowed those in charge of the Unit, who otherwise would have been charged as war criminals, to go free. In return, the United States was provided with data aquired from Unit 731 experiments. Many former Unit 731 officials went on to acquire prestigious and influencial positions in Japan and the U.S.: Dr. Kitaro Masaji co-founded the Green Cross corporation which, prior to a recent series of mergers, was one of Japan's largest pharmaceutical companies; Dr. Shiro Ishii, head of Unit 731, went on to give lectures at American universities, and eventually ended up supervising biological research at the university of Maryland; another Unit 731 officer became president of the Japan Medical Association.

Of course, none of the atrocities of Unit 731 have any direct connection to Abe. The cover-up of Unit 731, however, is one of the earliest examples of the United State's post-war cooperation with Japan's militarist, imperialist right-wing. In the hopes of supressing a potential communist/socialist take-over, the U.S. occupying forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, began a supression of left-wing element. The occupying force's efforts ranged from the monitoring and censorship of over a thousand leftist publications to the forced cancellation of massive union demonstrations in Tokyo. (See John Dower's Embracing Defeat for an excellent account of this).

Even after the occupation officially ended, the U.S. continued its manipulation of Japanese politics. Joseph Grew, U.S. ambassador to Japan who was detained during the war, befriended Japanese Minister of Commerse and Industry-- and suspected Class A War Criminal-- Nobusuke Kishi (the latter apparently played a round of golf with the former during his captivity). After the war, Grew became the first member of the CIA's National Committee for a Free Europe. Using his influencial position, Grew arranged for Kishi to recieve CIA funding, which Kishi used to found Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, whose members-- mostly Japanese conservatives opposed to the Japan Socialist Party-- were recuited and approved by the CIA. With the CIA's coninued assistance, Kishi became prime minister in 1957, and the LDP swept into both houses of the Diet (the Japanese Parliament).

(Note: This is recounted in Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. This link will take you the blog of Jim Lippard, who summarizes the relevant chapter of the book.)

Due to the combined influence of the U.S. occupation's supression of Japan's left and the CIA's financial support of the right-wing LDP, Japan has been, more or less, a one-party state since the nineteen-fifties. Until the early nineties, every Japanese prime minister came from the LDP (which, by extension, means that the LDP held the lower house of the Diet for every term up until the early nineties). And it was only last July that the LDP lost its majority in the upper house. It was this loss that prompted the resignation of Abe.

Even though the LDP's defeat seems to have occurred largely over issues of economic inequality and government scandals, I'd still like to think that, at some level, Abe's resignation symbolizes a rejection of right-wing nationalism in Japan. Abe, Nobusuke Kishi's grandson and a rightist's rightist, sought to remove pacifist clauses from the Japanese constitution, attempted to (re)introduce textbooks into Japanese schools that whitewashed Japanese wartime atrocities, and denied that comfort women were coerced. He resignation, to me at least, signifies the long overdue humiliation and rejection of a party founded by war criminals and spies.

Maybe the butchers of Unit 731 will come next (other than the ones who've already come forward, like Yoshio Shinozuka).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I See a Red (Chinese) Moon a Risin'. . .

Hello, Both of My Readers. . .

This one's gonna be kind of a hodgepodge post-- a bit of world news, a bit of personal news, and a funny video. Because what's Kyle Took a Bullet For Me without a funny video?

Nothing.

Anyway. . . first, a bit of interesting news. It looks like China is planning to put an unmanned spacecraft in lunar orbit by the end of this year. The orbiter's purpose is to take three dimensional images of lunar surface. If successful, the Chinese hope to make an unmanned landing by 2012, with a manned landing to follow at some unspecified date.

I actually really like the idea of a Chinese moon mission. First off, I'm kind of a lapsing space junkie, so any plans to send human beings more than four hundred miles from Earth's surface will automatically peak my interest. Second, I would really love for the Chinese to one-up President Bush and his plans to re-establish a U.S. presence on the Moon. Third, well. . .



She's Sailor Moon! And she's Asian! That can't be a coincidence!

Okay, that was a little off. But what's Kyle Took a Bullet For Me without a blatant allusion to the live action Sailor Moon series?

Nothing.

Anyway. . . The second thing I wanted to mention was that the research paper I co-authored has finally been published. The paper is titled "Quantum Mechanical Versus Semiclassical Tunneling and Decay", and was researched and written by Dr. Mark R.A. Shegelski, Jeff Hynbida, and myself. As I mentioned in my last post, I hope to write a summary of the paper in a future post. For now, if you're actually interested enough to want to read the paper, it's in the June 2007 issue of the American Journal of Phyics, which by now you're likely to find in the UNBC library.

Finally, a video for probably the coolest song I've heard this week. Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Three Simple Words. . .

Hallo alles.

I'm planning on writing a new entry on the research that I worked on last summer-- as some of you already know, I co-authored a paper scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Physics sometime between May and September.

But for now, I give you something completely random and occasionally hilarious, courtesy of Angelfirebabe at Youtube. Even though there are three videos, they're all very short-- the longest is under a minute and a half-- so it won't take up too much of your precious time. Enjoy!

Part I



Part II



Part III

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Day They Kicked God out of the Schools. . . I think it was a Tuesday. . . It was rainy. . . I woke up late, so I had a quick breakfast. . .

Traffic was congested, as usual. . . When I got to work, John, my co-worker, said "Hi." I said "Hi" back. . . Not "Hi back," mind you, but rather said back to John, "Hi" . . . "Some rain we're having," he said. "Yes," I replied. "It is a hard rain that is going to fall," I said. . . But then it stopped raining, and the Sun came out, though it was still cloudy. . . In my early morning haste, I had forgotten to pack a lunch, so I went to Wendy's, to buy a Mandarin Chicken Salad with Thai Sesame dressing. It was delicious, and though the meal seemed light, I found it quite filling . . . In the afternoon, there was a meeting. My co-worker John was there, as were other co-workers, like Melissa from accounting. Perhaps it was the informal atmosphere, or perhaps it was my co-worker Danielle's liberal and, if I may say, quite racy use of Microsoft PowerPoint. . . but there was something about that meeting, something about that time and place that made it very special to be a part of. Maybe it meant something, maybe not, in the long run. But no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time in the world. Whatever it meant. There was madness in any direction, at any hour. You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting - on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Anyhoo. . . Here's a video, courtesy of the Jewish Atheist.

Friday, April 13, 2007

MAAVELAA!!!!!!!. . . or, What's the Turkish Word for "Sadistic Jacuzzi Rapist?"

In fall of last year, shortly after I discovered the masterpiece that is Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, my friend Cal Hilde of Pox Eclipse fame introduced me to another intriguing facet of Japanese popular culture. . . JAPANESE SPIDERMAN!



For those of you already familiar with the basics of the Spiderman mythos. . . that won't help you much, since those magnificent bastards at the Toei corporation completely fucked up the Spiderman story. For instance, in the Japanese version, our friendly neighborhood "Supaidaaman" is not a square-yet-constantly-stoned-sounding science geek named "Pitaa Paakaa" but rather a fucking moter-cross champion named Yamashiro Takuya. And he doesn't get his powers from a radioactive spider, but rather. . . well, this is gonna take awhile.

The show begins, as all Japanese shows must, with a giant robot. This robot, referred to in the series as the "Marveller," crashes into the side of a mountain conviniently located in the suburbs of Tokyo. This giant robot, being, as it is, The Marveller, is capable of doing marvellous things, and as such is sought by an evil group of Borg-looking motherfuckers and one hot chick known, according to all the internet sources I could find after five minutes of Googling, as the "Iron Cross Army."

Meanwhile, Takuya-san, while in the middle of catching some sweet air on his orange Suzuki moterbike, starts to hear voices in his head and see giant spiders and spider accessories in unexpected places. In most situations, this could be dismissed as hallucinations caused by all the carbon monoxide fumes he breathes in while running his motorcycle indoors. But soon he enough, after witnessing the death of his Uncle Ben-san and getting his ass handed to him by Iron Cross Putties, he runs into a cave, falls into an even deeper cave, meets a man from the "Spider Planet," gets injected with "Supaidaa Elixuu". . .

You know what, just watch the fucking thing:



And there you go: a motorbiking, hallucinating, Arachno-zord controlling Spider-man who must verbally order is "supaidaa suturingu" to fire from his bracelet. In addition to everything else, Supaidaaman actually illustrates something that I noticed when watching Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: that English has basically become the Latin of Japanese pop culture -- the goto language whenever you want something to sound cool and otherworldly, be it magic (PGSM) or alien planets and sci-fi technology (Supaidaaman).

When Cal first showed this to me way back in twenty ought-six, I felt both grateful and more than a little upstaged, and I've been trying to find a way to return the favor. Last week, I found what I was looking for.

Ladies and Gentlemen (and especially Cal Hilde), I give you. . . 3 Dev Adam, aka, MOTHERFUCKING TURKISH SPIDERMAN!



That's right, the Turkish word for "Sadistic Jacuzzi Rapist" is, in fact, "Spiderman", which also seems to be the Turkish word for "Cardboard Tube Gerbil Torture" and "Look at Those Fucking Eyebrows!"

And who can stop this evil madman? Only Captain America and his. . . Mexican wrestler? As if we needed another country to fuck up Spiderman.

Anyway. . . Cal, I accept your concession of defeat in advance. And to anyone who may be reading, Cal or otherwise, please leave a comment. Inserting these YouTube videos directly into my blog is a tiresome ritual, and I'd like to know someone's actually bothering to read/watch.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Metal is Stronger Than Ice...



What's more, this slaughter of innocent (would-be) Americans, supposedly carried out by Ice-lamic terrorists, was used two years later as justification for one of the worst wars in American history (even though there was no connection between radical Ice-lamism and the German government!)!

I'll show myself out.

Friday, April 6, 2007

I Can't Wait for Turkish Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

What I'm about to show you may well be the stuff of legend. Six film classics, one amazing cinematic tradition. They are:

Turkish Star Trek
Turkish Star Wars
Turkish Wizard of Oz
Turkish E.T.
Turkish Superman
Turkish Exorcist

These aren't parodies of American films, nor are they really films themselves. Most of them simply rip off footage from American movies and spice in scenes with Turkish actors. I assure you that I have been assured that these are real Turkish films released in the 1970's and 1980's. Apparently, Turkey was in a period of tremendous political upheaval, so it was difficult to import actual American films (from Wikipedia). As a compromise, well, we got this.

First, Turkish Star Trek:



This is the first part of Turist Ömer Uzay Yolunda. This was released in 1973 as part of the popular comedy film series Turist Ömer (the last part, incedentally), so this one actually was a parody. Still, if you saw for the first time, you'd think it was a rip off. You can watch all nine parts on YouTube at your discretion, and you can read more about it here.

Turkish Star Wars:





These are the beginning (sorry about the French subtitles) and ending scenes of Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam. I especially like the inclusion of Disco Battlestar Galactica. It gives it a ring of authenticity. You can read about it here and here, and if you really want, you can watch the whole frakkin' thing on Google Video.

Turkish Wizard of Oz:



Read about it here and here.

Turkish E.T.



Read about it here.

Turkish Superman:



Turkish Exorcist:



You can read more about this one here.

Finally, I'll show you a video made by a single visionary, Albert Wikowonkavitz, trying to revive this brilliant cinematic legacy. Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yet tragically, he has never cried. . .

Remember Chuck Norris Facts TM.? Here one of them:
There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.


And here's Mr. Norris' response:
It’s funny. It’s cute. But here’s what I really think about the theory of evolution: It’s not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents.


This was, I believe, part of Mr. Norris' very first column on the right-wing website WorldNutDaily (I've linked to an archive of his columns). I was reminded of this little episode of his by this video, which I found on Pharyngula:



Of course, after seeing this, I scoured YouTube to find more videos of He-Whose-Tears-Cure-Cancer making a right-wing ass of himself. Instead. . . I FOUND THIS!



In case you forget. . . It's Chuck. . . Norris!

Want more? Of coruse you do.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Can Your Blog Do This?

It's Deal or No Deal, ONLINE!



My readership will go through the roof after this, I just know it! I mean, c'mon, it's Deal or No Deal without Howie Mandel! It's win-win!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, Pi!

It's March 14. . . 3/14. . . get it?!?!

Well, many of the bloggers at ScienceBlogs do, and have been wishing all their readers a "Happy 'Pi Day'". Cause they're cool like that.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Now I'm Pissed

PZ Myers at Pharyngula has a truly sickening post regarding the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. He links to this video of an actual slaughter-- be warned, it is graphic.

This isn't the end of the ugliness, though. While many of Dr. Myers' readers commented to express their disgust toward this ritual, a disturbing proportion also felt the need to share their bigoted opinions on the Japanese. For instance, check out this charming and insightful comment from one by the name or "Ribozyme":

I feel terribly sick after watching the video. The Japanese are still savages (as the Chinese had a chance to experience in WWII). The worse thing is their hipocrisy, with all the hassle they make about pet animals, who they even treat as children. This is going to sound very politically incorrect, and maybe PZ is going to suppress my comment, but after watching the video I'm thinking that maybe 2 A-bombs weren't enough...

. . .

What I meant to say is that the Japanese didn't learn the lesson from WWII, they still feel superior to other races (just interact any time with Japanese tourists) not to speak of other self aware species, and feel like they can ignore civilized international regulations. What the USA did to Japan in WWII, Japan asked for it.



(Note: I combined segements from two comments made by Ribozyme)

Here's an insightful look a Japanese culture from one "TheBowerbird":

What's disturbing about Japanese culture as well is how being childish is celebrated. There's this strange videogame/anime centric thing going on among the youth that seems to make them isolated, withdrawn, (such as the young males who live in their parents home - never coming out of their bedrooms to go outside) and which turns them into these odd daydreamers. A society that supports dolphin and whale slaughter is repugnant. Of course all Japanese are not to blame, but I sure see a strong market for cetacean products there. I've also read several articles recently about rising nationalism and levels of racism amongst their populace. Some good leader needs to arise in their country to wake the people up to the world around them : (



This next one, from "Markus," may be intended as sarcasm, but I'm just not sure. . .

Those Japanese are sadistic, emotionless barbarians.

Can't they just raise and slaughter cattle (+- decently)?



One last comment from "Niobe," not as bad as the others, but still a bit of nationalist generalization:

The Japanese lack any sense of conservation as far as the ocean is concerned. Anyone who's ever seen the Japanese dive knows what I'm talking about.



To be fair to Pharyngula, a lot of commenters have written strong, legitimate criticisms of Japanese whaling policy. As well, quite a few readers -- as well as Dr. Myers himself -- have called this racist shit for what it is. Still, it's kind of disturbing that some of the readers of Pharyngula -- a scientific, liberal minded blog -- could harbour opinions on the Japanese that wouldn't seem out of place in a WWII propaganda film.

There's a part of me that wants to think that this kind of idiocy doesn't need a rebuttal, but to counter the idea that the Japanese are univerally barbaric, I'm putting up a link to an article from Greenpeace Japan. I've also copied a segment of the article I found particularly relevant:
Each year after the whales have been measured and weighed by the scientists they are cut up and boxed for market. FAJ (The Fisheries Agency of Japan) says that "according to Japanese cultural values . whales are viewed as a food source." However, an opinion poll commissioned in 2002 by the influential Japanese Asahi newspaper paints a different picture: only 4% of the population regularly eat whale meat; 9% rarely eat it; 53% haven't eaten it since childhood and 33% never eat it.

"In reality few Japanese people view whale meat as a vital food source and even fewer actually eat it. It is simply not true that whaling is important to the Japanese public and the whaling fleet should not leave for the Antarctic whale sanctuary," said Mizuki Takana of Greenpeace Japan.


If Mizuki Takana is correct, then the "barbaric" Japanese are, in fact, a small minority of whalers, consumers, and fisheries officials.

P.S. If anyone else comes across any Japanese groups acting against whaling, let me know in the comments. You know, 'cause that's the sort of thing you just chance upon while surfing the internets.

P.P.S. I hope this post doesn't seem too hypocritical after in light of this earlier post.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shiny

Walt Disney Pictures presents: Shining!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Mirosluffy the Dictator Slayer

Why didn't Joss Whedon come up with this?

Serbian vampire hunters prevent Milosevic come-back

Serbian vampire hunters have acted to prevent the very remote possibility that former dictator Slobodan Milosevic might stage a come-back - by driving a three-foot stake through his heart.

According to Ananova, the politically-motivated Van Helsings, led by Miroslav Milosevic (no relation), gave themselves up to cops after attacking the deceased despot in his grave in the eastern town of Pozarevac. Milosevic popped his clogs back in 2006, while on trial in a UN war crimes tribunal for various unsavoury activities connected with the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

Miroslav Milosevic said "he and his fellow vampire hunters acted to stop the former dictator returning from the dead to haunt the country". His team explained that the wooden stake had been "driven into the ground and through the late president's heart".
 
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