According to watchdog group Telefono Antiplagio, nearly 18% of Italians trust the advice of sorcerers. I didn't think sorcery was even a valid occupation since the end of the War of the Ring, but there you go. To be fair, the definition of "sorcerer" in this case includes your meat-and-potatoes atrologers and soothsayers in addition to people with beards and pointy hats and comprehensive knowledge of ancient elven languages. But really, that just makes this statistic even more depressing. So what are eleven million Italians paying sorcerers to help them with? Surprisingly, magic broom-related housework is nowhere on the list. 46% seek the advice of charlatans to mend their broken hearts. 25% want to know about health problems, 22% of consultations have to do with violence (not clear if this means paying to attack people with lightning spells, which would be amazing), and 7% are having trouble at work. I'd make fun, but it's not like medicine, therapy, or martial arts training can help any of these things, so who am I to judge? More details here.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Mary Ellen Heibel of Annapolis had malignant tumors in her lungs, liver, stomach, and chest. This is bad. But then she sought advanced cancer treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the best medical centers in the world. The tumors went away, and now Heibel is fine. This is very, very good. And a triumph for medical science. But hold on a minute. In addition to seeking medical attention from trained professionals on the cutting edge of their field, Heibel also prayed to the disembodied spirit of 19th century Maryland priest Francis X. Seelos, whose bone fragment she wears in a pendant around her neck. Yes, this is pretty creepy. And it's also a bit of a tragedy, since the ghost of Seelos is now taking the credit for all the hard work of Heibel's doctors. What a dick! But I guess you can't blame the guy. He only needs one more confirmed miracle in his name to be canonized as a Roman Catholic saint, which is really where all the heavenly pussy's at. Officials from the Church will be interviewing witnesses to Heibel's medical troubles, including her doctors, to determine if the success of her medical treatment can be chalked up to advances in the scientific understanding of medicine or, you know, magic. Ultimately, it'll be up to the Pope to make the call, since he's the world's greatest detective. As much as I'd like for Heibel's doctors to receive the credit they deserve, a part of me hopes her cure will be ruled a miracle. Every time I take aspirin for a headache, I pray to the ghost of James Brown that my headache will go away. Most of the time, it does. I'll be sending in my application to make James Brown into a saint as well. If successful, I'll also request that all prayers of thanks to Saint James Brown eschew the traditional "amen" for a loud proclamation of "I feel good!". More details here.
It's a bad week for Oklahoma, as another of the just OK state's legislators has made a moron of herself on the public stage. State Representative Sally Kern is planning to host a signing party next month for the Oklahoma Citizen's Proclamation for Morality, a uselessly symbolic screed calling for Oklahomans to advocate for more "righteousness". The proclamation is a direct response to President Obama's approval of national gay pride events held throughout June, chastising Obama for disregarding "the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives". Well, I'm assuming this is about Obama's tolerance of gays. It could just as well be an admonition against his anti-biblical refusal to banish from the country any woman who happens to be on the rag. Oh, but the fun doesn't stop there. In her proclamation, Kern goes on to blame the current economic apocalypse on our collective immorality, claiming the U.S. "has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery". I'll cop to the abortion charge. Transformers 2 seems to be one giant commercial for abortion (specifically Michael Bay's), and it's the biggest movie in America. But Germany has always been the go-to country for porn, same sex marriage is legal in most of Europe, southeast Asia seems to have the biggest market share in sex trafficking, and the state of Alaska is really the only domestic hotbed of illegitimate births. I think Kern needs to do a little more research before she wastes taxpayer time and money on drafting her proclamations. Lest you think she's some kind of mouth-breathing bigot, though, you should be aware that she once said gays are a bigger threat to the country than Muslims. See? At least she's reasonable. More details here.
Republican senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (pictured here posing for Guinness' "World's Smallest Eyes" portrait) has blown the lid off what he calls "probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people". That's right. "Global warming". (For full effect, make exaggerated air quotes while saying those words out loud in an effeminate sing-song.) He says the Environmental Protection Agency has been "cooking the science" on global warming since 1998, and that they purposefully falsified a report to eliminate research showing carbon dioxide has no harmful effect on the environment. Their motive? To further the Obama administration's climate change initiatives. See, according to global warming conspiracy theorists, evil socialist fascists in the government want to declare your guns a federally protected wetland so that they might steal them from you and throw you into an internment camp. Or at least, I think that's what they believe. Regardless, it's hard to tell how nutty people like Inhofe are, since they rarely provide any sort of evidence to back up their claims. But that's not stopping Inhofe from suggesting there should be a criminal investigation into the EPA's coverup. With all those tax-and-spend Democrats in congress, it's good to know there's someone making sure our money is put to good use. More details here.
Friday, June 26, 2009
China is displeased with our Google overlords, and you know what that means. Time for the government to make shit up! During a report on the evils of Google, state-sponsored (what else?) CCTV news recently claimed that Google.cn's indexing of pornography can cause physical problems for those who become the unwitting victims of looking up porn with which to masturbate. Their proof? The testimony of university student Geo Ye, who told CCTV that a friend of his (totally not him) Googled some porn because "he's been curious about these kinds of things" and subsequently became "absent-minded". Not entirely implausible, but absent-mindedness isn't normally one of the physical symptoms of viewing pornography, which include a steady increase in heart rate followed by sudden-onset lethargy. Also, Ye's testimony is questionable since some intrepid techies used the power of Google to discover he's currently working as an intern for (you guessed it) CCTV. Oh, China. Don't ever change. Or actually, go ahead and change. More details here.
According to a new psychiatric study out of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, women are more than twice as likely to turn away from looking at a physically abnormal baby than men are, proving once and for all that the expression "a face only a mother could love" is utterly meaningless. Researchers had thirteen men and fourteen women sit in front of a screen showing photos of eighty babies. The test subjects could hit certain keystrokes to make the photos stay on the screen longer, and they were also asked to rate each baby's attractiveness. Included amongst photos of normal-looking babies (well, as normal as those squishy little monsters can look) were pictures of babies with abnormal facial features due to cleft palates, Down syndrome, crossed eyes, or other afflictions. While the men and women both rated attractiveness in pretty much the same way, the women pressed the keys to remove pictures of the abnormal babies 2.5 times more often than men. The scientists who performed the study don't have a definite explanation for this discrepancy, though they suspect women might be evolutionarily motivated to focus more attention on healthy-looking babies that would have a greater chance for survival in our species' history. Regardless of cause, it's probably a good idea if you're a woman to look around for a second and make sure you haven't given birth to an ugly baby you've been ignoring. More details here.
Scientists at Florida State University believe they've found a gene that predicts a person's likelihood of being a gang member. I haven't had my genome sequence yet, but I'm anxious to see if this is why I have a predilection for wearing satin embroidered jackets and walking down the street while rhythmically snapping. They found that men with a form of the MAOA gene that causes low production of the protein monoamine oxidase A were twice as likely to be gangsters than men with the more common form of the gene. Previously, this mutation has been linked with violent behavior in those who experienced abuse as children, but this new study rules out the child abuse variable when it comes to gang activity. Some parents-to-be might want to use this information to genetically engineer a non-gangster child, but while that kind of baby designing is probably a long way off, I think I'd go the opposite route. When I'm old and crotchety, it'll be nice to, instead of shaking my fist at all those punk kids down the street, just send my son and his boys to pop some caps. More details here.
In the small town of Thalang in Phuket (calm down), Thailand, grocery store owner Banjert Khamwiset keeps an infant pig in a jar of formaldehyde atop a makeshift shrine in his house. Seems normal enough until you consider the fact that the pig has a long, trunk-like protrusion sticking out of its head, making it bear an uncanny resemblance to the Hindu god Ganesha, the elephantine son of Shiva, which is worshiped by many Thai Buddhists. Sure, reason and science might tell you the albino piglet, which died shortly after birth, is just a genetic freak, but pilgrims to Khamwiset's home swear they've won the lottery using his house number, 14/41. Now, Khamwiset is being offered mountains of cash for the godly relic/disgusting dead mutant pig. But he's not selling. The little genetic nightmare living in his house will bring him good luck and personal charm, he says. And if he starts selling tickets at the door, lots and lots of cash. More details here.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
For the first time, scientists have shown that warm climates can cause faster and and more diverse mutations in mammals, potentially speeding up evolution. This may explain a phenomenon I've noticed for years now. The closer you get to the equator, the sexier people become. Tropical people are just more moist, more supple, more...alive. For the longest time, my hypothesis has been clothing-based. In warmer climates, less clothing is required, causing equatorial humans to select for those with smokin' bods. But it turns out the warm weather increases metabolism, which causes the germ cells that eventually become eggs and spunk to divide more quickly, thus creating more chances for mutations. In turn, these mutations may be selected for. In any case, this obviously means that in addition to being unbearably sexy, there's a good chance tropical people will also one day begin growing beautiful angel wings. Which will just make them more fuckable. More details here.
I honestly don't understand hypnosis very well. It definitely has an effect on people, but its powers are also overblown in our popular culture. You may be able to put someone in a trance-like state, but you can't program a person to rob a bank or remember their alien abduction. If hypnosis was that useful, the world would be run by hypnotists. Wait a second! Is that why I can't look away from Barack Obama? Nah, it's probably just those six pack abs. Anyway, scientists from the University of Geneva have come up with some interesting results in a study of hypnosis-induced paralysis. They asked test subjects to press a button with one hand while their brains were being scanned. One group was given a hypnotic suggestion that their hand was too heavy to lift, another group was given no suggestion at all, and a third group simply pretended that their hands couldn't move. The scans showed that the group under hypnosis demonstrated a strange anomaly in their brains. Their motor cortices appeared to actively try and move their hands, but the message didn't communicate with the normal parts of the brain. Instead, it was unusually synced with the precuneus. This may be evidence that hypnotic suggestion can fundamentally alter the way your brain communicates with itself, but as one scientist who didn't participate in the study brought up the good point that this could also just show how a trance itself affects the brain and not necessarily how specific suggestions work. In other words, try and quell your hopes of becoming an all-powerful hypnotic sex god. At least for now. More details here.
Despite what Jenny McCarthy would have you believe, there is no such thing as an infallible "mommy instinct" when it comes to women rearing their children. The sad reality is that many, many mothers are just shitty at their jobs, electing to drown, neglect, stab, or smother their children willy-nilly. But a group of German scientists have been trying to figure out just what makes moms go bad. They believe it has something to do with serotonin levels in the brain. They altered the genes of several mice to lower their production of the mood-elevating chemical. Then, they compared the parent skills of that group with those of a normal control. Turns out, the serotonin-deficient set were far worse mothers than their unaltered counterparts. How bad were they? Well, they were five times more likely to eat their children. That's right. Eat their children. While I'm sure this isn't an unheard of crime among humans, I'm glad it's not quite as common as, say, refusing to vaccinate your children because a former Playmate told you to. More details here.
Monday, June 22, 2009
If the Internet has an official animal (besides Nick Nolte's mugshot), it's the cat. Only crazy women who wear their dead mothers' clothing love their feline companions more than nerds. We love to watch them slap at ceiling fans, play pianos, and steal cheeseburgers. And unlike dogs, the animals of choice for n00bs, you never have to stop playing WoW to take your cat for a walk. Too bad cats are such morons. British scientists have tested cats' ability to understand cause-and-effect, and they've come up a little short compared to their domesticated mortal enemies. Researchers tied delicious treats to strings and placed them under a clear plastic barrier in such a way that the cats had to pull the strings to get to the treats. There were three setups: 1) a single string with a single treat, 2) two parallel strings with only one attached to a treat, and 3) two crossed strings with a single treat. The cats did fine with the first test, but none of them could consistently pull the correct string for setup number two. When it came to the crossed strings, every cat succeeded no more than would be expected from chance--except one cat, who never pulled the right string. Yes, that's one dumb kitty. If it makes you feel better, you can tell yourself that cats are just too smart to put up with scientific shenanigans. But don't tell youself too loudly, since you should really be focusing on repairing your single-gear cruising bicycle, NERD! More details here.
A Russian woman is now suffering in intensive care after complications from her sixth operation to reconstruct her hymen. For those following along at home, that's six more than the number of operations any woman should ever have to reconstruct her hymen. Why would anyone do such a thing? Well, it turns out her husband was upset to discover she wasn't a virgin before they were married. Instead of showing him just what she'd learned with a little practice in the sack and then telling the prick to fuck off for life, she decided to undergo plastic surgery to create a new hymen. Keep in mind that this doesn't make her a virgin again. It only makes her more likely to bleed the next time she has sex. But apparently that was enough for her husband, who loved the fake cherry popping so much that he demanded she reconstruct her hymen once a year for the next five years. Doctors warned her not to do it a sixth time (yes, it took them that long), but she went ahead anyway because she's a sad, sad person deserving of your pity. Here's hoping she gets well soon. And here's hoping her husband dies a prolonged and painful death drowning in a vat of his own blood. More details here.
Modern male ostracods, tiny muscle-like crustaceans, produce gigantic sperm up to ten times their body length. This has been a well-known fact among animal pornography enthusiasts for years now. But we didn't know just how long ago the species evolved their impressive spunk production ability. Turns out, they've been juicing it hardcore for quite some time. A hundred million years, to be precise. Scientists used a new imaging technique called holotomography to peer inside the fossilized shells of ancient ostracods and examine their squisky insides. Holotomography uses light from accelerated particle beams to image the soft tissue. The fossils showed a remarkable similarity between ancient ostracod sex organs and those of their modern descendants. Males have two sperm production organs, and females have two vaginae connected by a long tube. Basically, these things are built to handle giant jizz. But it's still unclear why they'd evolve to create such big baby batter in the first place. It takes a lot of energy to make something ten times your body length, after all. But ostracods aren't the only animals that do it. Certain fruit fly species are also packing some hefty cock butter. This is also a well-known fact among animal pornography enthusiasts. More details here.
After July 1, all PCs imported and sold in China will have to come with the Internet filtering software Green Dam pre-installed, according to a new Chinese law. After years of human rights violations, heavy censorship, a hostile attitude toward free media, and a general disregard for the basic values of a liberty-based society, this move from the Chinese government is apparently the last straw for an angry United States, which has unleashed a furious...diplomatic rebuke. Officials from the U.S. embassy in Beijing sent a letter to the Chinese government saying America views this kind of censorship with "concern". Green Dam is only supposed to filter pornographic content (like my Chairman Mao fisting portraits, I'm assuming), but anyone with even a passing knowledge of Chinese history is a bit suspicious that an official government filtering program could be used to keep all sorts of information from the eyes of Chinese citizens. But even though the current web-organized resistance against Iran's ruling regime is ultimately a moot movement (young people eager for reform are being played by an "opposition" candidate who will only take power with the consent of a cabal of murderous mullahs), it has proven that a country's citizenry is always a few steps ahead of its oppressive government when it comes to technology. You can bet that any Chinese person interested in the free flow of information already knows how to circumvent Green Dam. And if you are one of those people, please take a moment to browse my collection of Chairman Mao fisting portraits. They offer a little something for everyone. Well, everyone who likes fisting. More details here.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Five men have been arrested in China for digging up a dead teenage girl’s body so she could be married to one of the men’s dead son. Ancient Chinese superstition (no, not the one about cleaning your clothes) says that swinging singles can’t be happy in the afterlife, so they must be betrothed to other single dead people even after they’re rotting in the ground. It’s sort of like eHarmony, but slightly less scientific. Assuming there’s anything less scientific than unscientific. Anyway, one of the men had a son who died in a car crash, so he hired the four others to exhume the body of a teenager who poisoned herself after failing her college entrance exams. Traditionally, the two corpses are bound in unholy matrimony and tossed into the same grave. But while this all seems like wacky, harmless cadaver fun, you should know that people occasionally murder young girls to feed the steady demand for female corpse brides. So there’s that. More details here.
Today (hopefully), NASA will launch its first baby step toward a new swath of moon missions by sending the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to map the lunar surface in stunning detail. Finally, we’ll be able to see the butt print Neil Armstrong mischievously left so long ago. Are those two craters between those prints, or… Aw, gross! In addition to a high-res camera capable of providing moon hoax believers with plenty of crystal clear images they can accuse of being fabricated, the LRO is also packing a laser altimeter that will allow incredibly detailed mapping of the moon’s topography. The goal is to find the best spot to build a lunar base in the years ahead, though those kinds of long-term plans are looking a little fuzzy in light of the global economic apocalypse and the fact that the Obama administration would rather spend money on creating new and unnecessary federal agencies than support NASA and the future of the human race. I guess some things just take priority. More details here.
For some people, PBS isn’t just home to costume dramas, interminably long Ken Burns documentaries, non-stop pledge drives, shrill British sitcoms, and NOVA. It’s also an outlet for religious programming. And I’m not talking about in-depth exposes on the Mormon church. Some PBS stations broadcast religious services such as masses and sermons and World Championship Goat Sacrificing. Well, maybe not that last one. It’s on SpikeTV. But you’d think an organization that receives such a large amount of federal funding wouldn’t be allowed to broadcast religious services, since that seems to be skirting the line of the separation between church and state-sponsored TV. Well, you’d be sort of right. PBS has long banned the broadcast of “sectarian” programming, but that ban has always been loosely interpreted or just outright ignored. Anything short of ululation contests and live beheadings has traditionally skirted under the “sectarian” bar. But not anymore. PBS’s board of directors has decided to enforce the ban more strictly, barring any member station from airing new religious programming. Stations that are already airing regular religious services will be allowed to continue, however, which is good news for people to lazy to go to church and too cheap to buy cable. And even though I’m a God-hating Satanist who drinks only puppy blood and children’s tears, I’m kind of okay with this arrangement. Not all of a local PBS station’s funding comes from the government, and the fees paid to these stations by religious organizations who want to broadcast might be enough to keep them from begging for cash every five minutes. I’m willing to give up an hour or so every Sunday morning for the chance to watch an entire Charlie Rose interview without hearing about how much shit I can carry in a PBS tote bag. More details here.
A team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University have successfully revived a microbe from a 120,000-year hibernation. The tiny purple Herminiimonas glaciei bug was found in Greenland beneath two miles of ice, or, as Greenlanders call it, asphalt. Over a period of several months, the team slowly warmed the microbe in an incubation chamber, where it eventually sprung back to life and began replicating itself. Just like Jesus! This success story gives hope to those mad scientists who wish to revive dormant organisms we may one day find in the ices of Mars, which they could then use to blackmail the world’s governments with threats of unleashing a deadly alien plague. But other, non-mad scientists and science enthusiasts just think reviving Martian life forms would be pretty cool. Especially if they all moved on little tripods. Simply adorable. More details here.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I don’t know much about Oprah’s resident doctor, Mehmet Oz, but the fact that he appears on her show can’t speak well for the efficacy of his recommendations. You’d think any doctor interested in real medicine wouldn’t associate himself with a woman hell-bent on making sure children remain unvaccinated and telling all of America about her colon cleanses. But Oprah loves Dr. Oz. She’s even giving him his own talk show. Which is why it should come as no surprise that unscrupulous (well, more unscrupulous) people are trying to piggyback on his shaky claims. Case in point: Dr. Oz’s endorsement of resveratrol, a plant-based chemical found in red wine, as an anti-aging elixir. Now, before you go drinking yourself into alcohol poisoning, you should know that it supposedly takes twenty-four bottles of wine per day to receive any noticeable effect from the resveratrol in them. You should also know that there’s far from any kind of medical consensus on whether the stuff is beneficial at all. Or, for that matter, whether it could be harmful. But that’s not stopping supplement companies from churning out resveratrol pills and marketing them as the anti-aging miracle drugs Dr. Oz seems to think they are. However, Dr. Oz isn’t personally endorsing these pills. The companies are simply appropriating his image and quotes in their advertising. And that makes Dr. Oz mad. No, not mad that his name is being used to push untested medications. Mad that he’s not seeing a dime of the profits. See, Dr. Oz loves him some profits, as evidenced by his association with RealAge.com, a website that tricks you into revealing your medical information by claiming to calculate your “real age”, then selling that information to drug companies so they can plaster you with targeted advertising. In short, Dr. Oz is a douche. But what do you expect from Oprah’s doctor? More details here.
In a study that almost definitely strains the limitations of question phrasing bias, UC San Francisco urologist Michael Eisenberg has surveyed 7,000 people to uncover the common traits between middle-aged virgins. Amazingly, “What’s the median DC for withstanding a Beholder’s gaze?” wasn’t among the questions. However, Eisenberg did learn that men are more likely to remain chaste well into adulthood than women. 14% of male respondents admitted to being virgins, as opposed to only 9% of women. Regular church attendance increased the likelihood of virginity, as well as low alcohol consumption. Oddly, women without college degrees were less likely to be virgins than their more educated peers. Are they not counting university lesbian experimentation? Speaking of, gay men were eleven times more likely to be middle-aged virgins than the straights. Which is either evidence of a massive amount of sexual repression in our flawed society or a wildly fluctuating definition of the word “virgin”. More details here.
Ever wondered why you have a tailbone? Or why even though you strain to reach for it every night, you still haven’t evolved arms long enough to reach your vibrator? Well, now there’s one website to serve as a reference source for all your evolution inquiries. My pal and former podcast co-host Richard Peacock has launched EvolutionFAQ.com, a one-stop shop for articles and videos explaining the ins and outs of evolution. Hopefully this will itself evolve (oh, puns!) into a handy link source for your message board arguments with creationists. Because if there’s anything I’ve learned from years of online arguing, anyone is willing to change his most deeply held beliefs after being presented with rational, fact-based reasoning. Especially those anonymous dregs of humanity known as Internet commentators.
As anyone who’s browsed Tim Farley’s indispensible WhatstheHarm.net can tell you, crazy superstition and belief in utter nonsense isn’t always fun and games. As amusing as it can be to make fun of Mormons believing the Garden of Eden both existed and was located in the American Midwest (and it is quite amusing), not all ridiculous religious notions are as innocuous. The belief in demonic possession seems to be one of the most harmful, and it’s especially upsetting that so many victims are children. If you’ve ever been a child or have associated with them as an adult, you know that they’re weird, annoying little creatures that can bemuse and infuriate at the drop of a hat. Which is why it’s important for people who have children to not be too quick in blaming any erratic behavior on demons. Sadly, that’s just what a British couple did when their seven-year-old daughter Khyra began acting strangely. And to rid the girl of the demon they believed to be inside her, they slowly starved her to death over a period of several weeks. If that seems logical to you, I’d ask that you immediately hang yourself. But please, make sure you’ve arranged for your children to be taken care of by non-crazy people first. You know those neighbors who’ve never once mentioned the devil to you? Try them first. More details here.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Remember the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? He was the pastor of Barack Obama's adopted Chicago church and was cited by Obama as one of his spiritual leaders. He's also a fantastically entertaining comedian who ruined his relationship with our president by repeatedly making an ass of himself in front of a camera. Implying that the U.S. was just asking for 9/11 because "God damn America"? Check. Justifying this claim by saying "it's in the Bible"? Check. Pointing out the differences in the way white and black people clap? Check. Doing so in song form? Check! And now, Rev. Wright tells DailyPress.com that he doesn't think Obama will talk to him again until after he's out of the White House. The reason? "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me." Oh, Jeremiah. Is there anything you won't do for a laugh? More details here.
Officials in charge of Swaziland's largest football field (I'm obviously talking about non-American football here, as I call American football "paddy passing") are pissed off. Their beautiful $600,000 turf is being ruined -- ruined, I tell you! -- by superstitious players burying magical items called "muti" in the field to give them good luck. The areas around the goals and center circles are the worst affected. They're covered in divets, holes, bumps, and burn marks from ritualistically buried amulets. But instead of knocking these players in the head and telling them to grow up and stop believing in ridiculous bullshit, the administrators of the field are considering banning one particular team from playing there, as that team's games are often accompanied by "strange" events. Jesus Christ. They also claim guarding the field from vandalism is out of the question, since most of the burials occur at night. When, I suppose, it's impossible to guard anything? Hm. More details here.
Jellyfish aren't just dominating your sensitive areas when you're swimming at the beach in loose-fitting trunks. They're taking over the whole ocean! That's according to researchers with CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research, who say that overfishing and other human-caused bullshit are causing the world's jellyfish population to explode. "We need to take management action to avert the marine systems of the world flipping over to being jellyfish dominated," said Dr. Anthony Richardson. In Japan, fishermen are even having their nets destroyed by giant jellyfish. Though knowing the Japanese, they'll probably just send some kind of giant robot after the problem. Other countries, however, won't be so lucky. Stemming the problem is tricky, as the primary weapon against the jellyfish is to stop overfishing. This isn't economically feasible for many areas, but Richardson suggests other options as well. Keeping a closer eye on unwitting transport of jellyfish among different parts of the world is one method. And another involves using sound waves to blow the jellyfish up. One of these options is significantly more awesome than the other. Do you know which one? More details here.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Oh, North Korea. Every time we think you might not be a land of starving people and the lunatics who rule them, you go and do something like this. Well, that's actually a little unfair. We've never thought you weren't a land of starving people and the lunatics who rule them. Still, you've done it again! Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two journalists working for Al Gore's Current TV cable channel were arrested in North Korea while reporting on defectors from the country who crossed the Chinese border. According to the North Korean court (staffed primarily by kangaroos, I've heard), just being in the country without permission amounts to a "grave crime", so the two American citizens have been sentenced to twelve years of "reform" in a labor camp. Obviously as their employer and a world-renowned figure of some importance, Al Gore has been tirelessly negotiating for their release. What's that you say? He hasn't said a word? And no one at Current TV is allowed to discuss this issue at all? Hm. Seems awfully dickish. Still, the U.S. government is on the case! And by "on the case", I mean they're talking about maybe sending former New Mexico governor and UN ambassador Bill Richardson to negotiate. Or maybe Al Gore. You know, if his schedule allows. Richardson has experience negotiating with the North Koreans, and he's hopeful these poor women will be released. According to him, the North Korean government likes to flex its muscle by completing a trial before talking about releasing prisoners, so that's why there's been a delay in talks. Makes sense, I suppose, but I wonder why we're even in a position to wait until these insane people are willing to speak to us. Hold on, they have a WHATlear weapon?? Well, shit. More details here.
When he was but a simple presidential candidate with a funny-sounding name, Barack Obama promised to work toward repealing the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policy of sexual discrimination in the military. I guess he thought he had no chance of winning (funny name and all), because that was obviously a promise Obama isn't interested in keeping. Not only has his administration sat back and propped its feet on the desk while invaluable military personnel are discharged for liking people with similar genitals, they've even supported a ridiculous federal appeals court decision to toss out a DADT challenge on the grounds that the unconstitutional policy is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion." This despite any evidence of the sort. Also despite the fact that no matter how it effects "cohesion", discrimination like this runs counter to the basic principles of a free society. The suit in question was brought by former Army captain James Pietrangelo, a six-year veteran of the first Gulf War. Now, the Supreme Court has also refused to hear the case, and the Obama administration is once again not voicing any concern whatsoever. In other words, it's disgusting behavior from a president who ran on principles he's apparently abandoned. Though I have to say Pietrangelo's camparison of DADT to Nazi discrimination against Jews is a bit over the top. Until we're throwing gay people into concentration camps, it's probably best not to whip out the Hitler card. Still, I know President Obama reads this blog, so I'll address this closing comment directly to him: Stop being such a douche, guy. More details here.
And you thought your obsessive relationship with your cell phone just made you a douchebag. Did you know it might also help you do science? Researchers at UCLA have formed the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing to take advantage of all the swanky devices nearly half the world's population carry in their pockets and purses. They reckon that so many GPS-equipped, camera-toting computers over such a vast area can act as a powerful aggregator of statistical data. By downloading special apps for your phone, you can contribute to worldwide knowledge while also understanding a little about yourself. For instance, you could use your phone to track your transportation habits and tell you how much of a carbon footprint you're leaving on the smalls of your grandchildren's backs. The CENS scientists are calling cell phone data gathering "participatory sensing". As opposed, I guess, to non-participatory sensing? Look, they're not in the business of naming things. They just want to know what you're doing and where you're doing it at all times
for their sick masturbatory kinks for science! More details here.
- ► 2010 (189)
- It's-a Good to be a Sorcerer!
- The Miracle of Medicine
- State Rep. Sally Kern: Asshole
- Cooking the Science
- Chinese Google Porn
- Women Hate Ugly Babies
- The Gangster Gene
- Elephant Pig
- Hot, Hot Evolution
- The Science of Hypnosis
- The Genetics of Bad Moms
- Cats Haz Stoopid
- The Dangers of Virginity
- Spunky Crustaceans
- U.S. Lays Down the Smack on Chinese Censorship
- Corpse Bride
- Bang, Zoom, Etc.
- PBS Bans Sectarians Like You
- Unfrozen Caveman Microbes
- Quack Attack
- 40-Year-Old Virgins
- Evolution FAQ
- Starving the Spirit
- The Wright Stuff
- Magic Turf
- All Your Oceans are Belong to Jellyfish
- North Korea Does Like North Korea Do
- Supreme Court Backs Obama Betrayal on DADT
- Cell Phone Scientists
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- ► 2008 (518)