Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Just a thought

Maybe it's just me, but after that pathetic effort at a giving a pep rally for the Iraq war, does anyone else detect the smell of decay and death coming from the Bush and the Republicans?

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Crime reduction, economics style

Check out Nicolas Kristof's editorial in the N.Y Times today. Instead of merely spouting off the usual crap we hear from politicians, he actually makes some interesting economic arguments for how to reduce crime in America. Apparently, Low Jacks have reduced car theft in Boston by nearly 50%. Kristof reasons that "Car theft, it turns out, is a volume business. And so if even a small percentage of vehicles have LoJack, the professional thief will eventually steal a car with one and get caught." Kristof also touches on cost efficiency of adding police officers and reducing home thefts. Anyway, check out the editorial, it is pretty interesting.

"Sure, some of the crime-fighting ideas being bandied about are pie-in-the-sky. But they show how we can think about crime in systematic ways, rather than just grunting about the need for more prisons. We should be at least as creative in addressing crime as thieves are."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Best sports blog ever

If you are looking for an interesting and unique sports blog, then go check out Plunk Biggio. This is the blog dedicated to Craig Biggio, 2nd Baseman for the Houston Astros, and "his (probably unintentional) Quest to break the all time major league career record for getting hit by pitches." It's a fun blog, with interesting writing and plenty of statistics.

Full Court Press

So, I don't know if anyone else watched the sunday morning news shows. If you did, then you noticed that every show had some combination of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Abizaid all pushing the message "The U.S. is winning the war, keep giving us unquestioned support and money, etc." Abizaid comments directly about the war were actual pretty honest and informative as far as the strength insurgency and the morale of US soldiers. But ole Dick and Don just get me the usual wave of nausea when they spouted their partisan crap. Still, after watching all these programs, it has become painfully obvious the Bush Administration is sensing danger with all these recent opinion polls about the war, and is trying to push those numbers back up. Fat fucking chance that'll happen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Six months till serious recruiting crisis

According to retired U.S. Army colonel and now MSNBC military analyst Jack Jacobs in an interview with Keith Olbermann, the Army is about 6 months away from a serious crisis resulting from the problems in recruiting. The Army has overtly lowered its recruiting goals from 8,050 to 6700, and still missed its goals by 25%. According to Jacobs, the Army will start increasing signing bonuses and lowering standards, which means we will have a larger, but less effective military force. Way to go Bush Administration!

"OLBERMANN: To speculate about that time, Army recruiting down 42 percent in April, they lower the quota by 18 percent for May, still miss the quota by a quarter. Can you do the rough math here? At what point do we run out of the personnel required just for the commitments we already have?

JACOBS: Well, I think we‘re probably at the limit now. I think we may have if—another six months or so before things really get dire, and something significant is going to have to be done."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Science under Siege

A new report released by the ACLU details the way science is under siege by the Bush Administration. It is startling how much they are limiting access to information and equipment that is commonly used by scientists doing basic research. The press release from the ACLU points out the following issues as the main points in their report...

The report, Science Under Siege, connects the dots between several different areas where misguided government policies are affecting science. Among the abuses the ACLU examines in the report are:

  • moves to overclassify information and designate whole areas of research as "sensitive but unclassified;"
  • outright censorship and prescreening of scientific articles before publication;
  • exclusion of foreign students from access to research projects;
  • suppression of environmental and public health information; and
  • increased restrictions on materials and technology commonly used in basic scientific research.

So what's the big point here? That scientific process needs the free flow of talent and information in order to make progress. The Bush administration (almost by definition) suppresses the free flow of information and excludes foreign talent by over zealous use of the Patriot Act.

Bush allies dropping like flies

As one might expect with an election year nearing, Congress has begun to actually listen to its constituents, and is now beginning to turn against the Bush administration's Iraq war. This editorial in the L.A. Times nicely sums up the major Republican players who are now breaking ranks with the Bush administration in calling for a debate on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Here are a few interesting quotes from them:

"Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse... the White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." - Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee

"Too often we've been told, and the American people have been told, that we're at a turning point," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on NBC's "Meet the Press," as he disagreed with Cheney's absurd claim last week that the Iraq insurgency is in its "last throes." "What the American people should have been told and should be told [is that] it's long, it's hard, it's tough."

Blogging laziness

As you might realize, I haven't posted much in the last week. I've been reliving my undergrad days by doing some heavy damage to my liver and kidneys over the last week or so. I should get back to posting about once or twice a day during the week now.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Presentations, drinking and procrastination

So, I've barely done any posting this week. The title nicely sums up what I've been doing instead.

First I had a presentation for my General Relativity class that had to finish so I could be done with classes forever. Of course the professor for my class wanted the presentations to be done in the morning, and there were so many presentations that it took both Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
I then taught almost all of integral calculus to some high school kid on Tuesday for $30 and then went to Taco Tuesday with some friends and proceeded to drink several beers and eat cheap Mexican food. When I get home, I recieve an instant message from a friend I haven't seen in roughly 5 years, who apparently is in town and wants to do some drinking. So, then last night AC Patriot, my friend and I all go out drinking. And as seems to be happening quite alot lately, I ended up nicely drunk.

So here I am, hungover and lazily typing away about nothing instead of getting yet another presentation ready for a poster session tomorrow. I need to do a real political or science post but I just don't feel like it. Procrastination, you are my prison. Damn you.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Party Recap

My new roomate, the AC Patriot, and I decided to throw a party on Saturday. Overall, it ended up being an even better party than I was expecting or hoping for. One of the ideas I came up with was to make a poster titled "The Reasons I Hate Grad School" and let everyone fill out why they hated being in grad school. The following is the result of what happens when you grad students drink beer and have an open forum.

Here is my buddy Jason acting the fool. (He was a little drunk at this point)

This was Brian trying to do a keg stand in the kitchen 5 seconds after the cops came. The result: He busted the light in my kitchen and the cops came right back after hearing the ensuing sounds of crashing plastic.

I don't think they are actually kissing (I was a bit drunk at the time), but you just gotta love the look on that dude's face. Classic.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Republicans & porn stars. Not really a big suprise

Now I've had some friends who got a stripper for a bachelor party, but those Republicans know how to take a party to the next level. They decided to allow porn star/California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey to attend a Republican party fundraiser along with her boss, adult film executive Mark Kulkis. Now, I don't have a problem with porn stars or the porn industry in general. But aren't Republicans their sworn enemy?

So I guess either the big head honcho Republicans are tired of "beating the meat" to pictures of Ann Coulter, or they just didn't learn the meaning this word.

Colin Powell on the Daily Show

So, if you didn't catch the Daily Show last night, Colin Powell did an interview Jon Stewart. In the interview, he denied the allegations put forth by the Downing Street Memo. I should say that his comment was that he got the same intelligence that was given to the President which detailed the WMD's that were supposed to be in Iraq. He also said that believes that the intelligence wasn't fixed. But he was tiptoeing around the issue very carefully.

Update: Looks like Shakespeares Sister has some helpful related links on this subject

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

You do not know the POWER of the dark side

So, as a science graduate student, one of few sources of happiness comes from the comic strip PHD Comics. Today's comic strip is a parody of Star Wars Episode 3, with the graduate advisor as the Evil Emperor and the lazy grad student Mike Slackenerny converting to the dark side (ie finishing school and getting his Ph.D). This will probably only be funny to other grad students, but if you haven't read Ph.D comics before, it is a pretty funny comic strip.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Those scientists and their silly "experimental results"

It appears that scientists are making a new push to get legislation passed on global warming reforms. According to this article from CNN, the science academies for Britain, France, Russia, Germany, the U.S., Japan, Italy,Canada, Brazil, China and India have all signed a joint statement calling for the immediate reduction of greenhouse gases and "recognize that delayed action will increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and will likely incur a greater cost." Despite this overwhelming statement of support from the world leaders in science, I'm sure the Bush administration will just dismiss this as more scientific hocus pocus.

"The current U.S. policy on climate change is misguided...The Bush administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The NAS concluded in 1992 that, 'Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now,' by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases." - Lord May, president of Britain's Royal Society

Check out this blog

So, if you haven't seen this blog before, go check out Official Reality Check. It's an interesting blog that is a nice mix of news links and personal rants. And hey, could a blog from a liberal named Rob/Robert be anything but brilliant?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Cat fights aren't just for Miller Lite commercials

So, in American culture (and others I suspect) we have a popular notion of the fights between girls as some funny, even sexy act. Hey, I'll admit it. I thought that Miller Lite commercial with the two chicks fighting over the "taste great, less filling" thing was hilarious. However, according to this Newsweek article, girl on girl violence is on the rise. Scientist and psychologists are still trying to figure out why. While some (morons) are blaming the rise of feminism , others seem to be putting the blame on the fact that more and more children are being exposed to violence in their schools and communities.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Making fun of Bush

So I ran into this website that makes fun ole George W. Its got a bunch of his great quotes and some pretty funny pictures.

Family Guy also had a great scene tonight making fun of Bush. Peter puts on a red clown nose and starts doing some silly dance right in front of the George W's desk. Ole Georgie starts clapping and laughing like a baby. Then he knocks over some stuff on his desk and starts balling his eyes out like a baby. Absolutely hilarious.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Things are finally up and running

I finally have almost everything installed on my new laptop, and I even had the opportunity to use it for a presentation I had to give today. I'm really enjoying the widescreen on this thing, because it makes it alot more easy to open two windows at the same time. So now, I can browse the internet while do some calculations or working on a presentation.

So, if you are looking for something mildly amusing, you can check out Beakerkin and Mark the Recidivist blast each other a few posts down. The original post is on contraception, but the discussion tends to veer a bit off course at around the 15th comment.

And if you are just looking for a good blog, go check out the blog that I linked in the post below, Feministing. It is a feminist blog with about 6 contributors and is a well written, entertaining blog.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

First post from the new laptop

So, I thought I'd announce that my laptop has finally come in. It's a Dell Inspiron 6000. I'm definitely liking it so far. Once I get all my files transferred from the ole desktop I'll do an actual political post.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

White House refuses to take position on contraception

Are you fucking shitting me? The white house now won't even take a position on contraception. Check out this post on Feministing for the full transcript, here's the juicy ending of the exchange between a reporter and good ole boy Scott McClellan.

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response.

Bless me father, for I have sinned

N.Y. Times just did a story on the blog Post Secret. If you have never seen this blog before, you have to go check it out. Here's the basic premise for this blog: People make their own 4x6 postcard detailing some bad thing they've done that they want to confess. Then, they send in this postcard in the (snail) mail to Post Secret, who then post the card up on their website. Some of the artwork on these postcards is really impressive. I found that I just couldn't stop reading the various postcard confessions. The confessions themselves vary from silly, to absolutely hilarious, to pathetic, all the way to outright sad and tragic. I read the entire site in one trip. You should go check it out. Here's one of my favorites...

Update: I just reread the site. I think I may do it one more time. I'm finding the more I look at these postcards, the more I identify with many of them. And I think I'm a little jealous, because at least these people have the guts to let out their problems.