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28 April 2007 @ 12:44 am
The terrorism that dare not speak its name


"Had that bomb been found outside a post office or a school, the headlines would have been hysterically running on about ZOMG TERRORISM TERRORISM IS AL QAEDA INVOLVED? And the right-wing warbloggers would be pissing their pants and hyperventilating about profiling Arabs and banning Muslims from public life and dhimmitude and how if they had been there, they’d have stopped it with their concealed carry and their extra-super special powers of righteousness, just like they saw in a movie once and BOMB IRAN! and 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING!!! but they still have better things to do than join the military, but they’ll be happy to go into the woods and hunt Russians and shout WOLVERINES!!

"But it’s an abortion clinic, so. Ho-hum.

"For some reason, terrorism doesn’t count if it’s directed against women and their health care providers. It’s just not news, and the fact that it goes unremarked in the national media — and hell, even in the local media, as in the case of the Austin bomb — contributes to the idea that women are not important and that violence directed at women is not only to be expected, but to be dismissed."
30 March 2007 @ 05:35 pm
The Frowning Clown


"An odd thing about political satire in America is that it is directed nearly as much at the media as at politicians. Headlines in the Onion, a spoof newspaper (“[Clinton] feels nation's pain, breasts”), would not be so funny if those in the New York Times were not so ponderous. Mr Colbert's show would make no sense if cable-news blowhards such as Mr O'Reilly did not exist. The post-modernity of it all was illustrated when Mr O'Reilly actually appeared on “The Colbert Report” and jokingly admitted that his aggressive on-screen persona was “all an act”. Mr Colbert replied: “If you're an act, then what am I?”"
20 March 2007 @ 04:12 pm
Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior


"Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.

"Biologists argue that these and other social behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these rules are."
03 March 2007 @ 12:19 pm
"I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly." - Steven Wright
20 February 2007 @ 12:48 pm
Monday view: Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half

10 February 2007 @ 02:42 pm
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (Scientific American, February 2007, p. 29)


"When it comes to healthy absorption of nutrients, taste matters. Glassner cites a study in which "Swedish and Thai women were fed a Thai dish that the Swedes found overly spicy. The Thai women, who liked the dish, absorbed more iron from the meal. When the researchers reversed the experiment and served hamburger, potatoes, and beans, the Swedes, who like this food, absorbed more iron. Most telling was a third variation of the experiment, in which both the Swedes and the Thais were given food that was high in nutrients but consisted of a sticky, savorless paste. In this case, neither group absorbed much iron.""

"According to Harvard University epidemiologist Karin Michels, "It appears more important to increase the number of healthy foods regularly consumed than to reduce the number of less healthy foods regularly consumed.""

"To clarify this cornucopia of data, Glassner quotes the former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell: "Although we would all like to believe that changes in diet or lifestyle can greatly improve our health, the likelihood is that, with a few exceptions such as smoking cessation, many if not most such changes will produce only small effects. And the effects may not be consistent. A diet that is harmful to one person may be consumed with impunity by another.""
05 February 2007 @ 09:45 pm
"No good deed goes unpunished."

Today I think I understand what this quote really means. If you look at it the right way, it's a very perceptive comment on it's inverse, alternately given as "No good deed goes unnoticed" and "No good deed goes unrewarded." If I consciously perform acts of goodness in the expectation that I'll be rewarded I'm setting myself up for a unique kind of disappointment. For example, if all of my actions are generally good and I expect a commensurate reward in my daily life, then as soon as I suffer a series of misfortunes I'll feel a sense of righteous indignation towards the God or universe or society which has treated me so unfairly. Then, bitter and still smarting from my wound (unjustly inflicted, of course), I'll erroneously conclude that the cynics were right and that no good deed goes unpunished. True goodness, however, must necessarily be completely selfless and detached from desire. It's only when we perform acts of goodness not only without the expectation of reward but with the willingness to suffer for the sake of furthering a good which will never return to us that we've performed the kind of good deed which does not go unrewarded; as soon as the rewards become the goal the rewards vanish. Of course, whether that's karma or a quirk of human psychology is another good question.
05 February 2007 @ 09:14 pm
"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America, there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America, a Latino America, an Asian America, there is the United States of America." -Barack Obama

04 February 2007 @ 02:51 pm
"Berti Vogts antwortete auf die Frage nach der Unwägbarkeit des Trainerlebens einmal mit Napoleon. Der habe über die Auswahl seiner Generäle gesagt, ihn interessiere nicht, wie gut einer sei, sondern „ob er Glück oder Pech hat“."

Berti Vogts once responded to the question of the imponderability of the life of a [soccer] trainer with Napoleon, who had said about the choice of his generals that he was interested not in how good a certain commander might be, but rather "whether he has luck or not."