Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's French... Bitch.

I'm heading out today for a week long excursion to France. Don't expect any new posts until next Wed. Viva la France!

Monday, March 27, 2006

2008 : A premature preview

I've been doing a little thinking about the upcoming 2008 election. Specifically, who among the Democrats will run, and which ones I would vote for in the primary. So for this post, I will go through some of the potential candidates and give my short opinion.

Hillary Clinton: I like Hillary Clinton. But she can't win, so I won't vote for her. The conservatives hate her. Despise her. She could energize the Republican base more than any other candidate. She will not be getting my vote.

The most infuriating thing about Hillary is that she has moved so far to the center that she will alienate her liberal base, while not picking up the centrists and conservatives she covets because they hate her. Sorry Hillary, but you are not well liked outside of liberal circles.

Joseph Biden: A smart, savvy veteran Senate Democrat. He's a member of the Senate foreign relations committee. I've seen him on several television shows, including Meet the Press, and he has a superior command of foreign policy and relations. However, he comes off as a pompous know-it-all and would likely turn off voters who don't like smart people (i.e. the American voting public).

John Edwards: I'm completely indifferent to this guy. Did he actually do anything in the 2004 election?

Al Gore
: He won an election and still didn't get to be President. Sorry, but you should have fought harder Al.

John Kerry
: Oh joy, it's Al Gore version 2.0 Hey Kerry, if you couldn't win in 2004, when Dubya was fucking up everything, what makes you think you can win now? Well you can't, so you will not be getting my vote.

Russ Feingold
: Now here is a real candidate. Between his campaign finance reform bill and his censure resolution, Russ Feingold seems to be a politician who actually has some testicular fortitude against both special interest and the Republicans. Did you see him on the Daily Show? He made simple but eloquent arguments for his censure resolution. He is probably the only candidate who can beat McCain if he runs. Feingold gets my vote. Hell, I'd go out and campaign for this guy. Go Feingold.

Bill Richardson: Only candidate besides Feingold that I would actually be enthusiastic about. Richardson was the head of the Department of Energy under Clinton. He was also chief negotiator with the North Koreans back when we actually were making progress on disarming them. As the Governor of New Mexico, he will not only keep that swing state in the hands of the Democrats, but he could swing the Latino vote heavily in favor of the Democrats. He's a winner. I'd vote for him if Feingold is out of the running.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Quote of the Day

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events"
- Sir Winston Churchill

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dick Cheney: Rockstar!

Dick Cheney cracks my shit up. Seriously. How can a man who is so malevolent make me laugh so hard? The latest installment of Dick Cheney humor comes via the Smoking gun. And what did they find out about our gun toting de facto President? Dick Cheney's Suite Demands. Here's the list, but go check out the smoking gun for a picture of the original document...
  • Queen or King Size Bed
  • Desk with Chair
  • Private Bathroom
  • All lights turned on
  • Temperature set to 68 degrees
  • All televisions turned to FOX News (hahaha! Big suprise!)
  • Microwave
  • Coffee Pot in Suite (Brew decaf prior to arrival)
  • Container for Ice (and location of where ice maker is)*
  • Bottle Water, 4-6 bottles
  • Diet Caffeine Free Sprite
  • Hotel Restaurant Menu (please also fax a copy to the Advance Office)
  • Newspapers - N.Y. Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Local Newspaper

*Apparently Dick Cheney can't read the fucking signs that are EVERYWHERE in hotels telling you the location of the icemaker.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

YouTube to Tom Cruise: Fuck You

Here's the Scientology Episode from South Park, in its entirety, via Youtube. Long Live Xenu!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Illegal Immigration solutions

Newsweek is running an intersting article this week on one of those anger invoking subjects that everyone loves: illegal immigration. According to the author of the article, Robert Pastor, the only long term solution to stopping the wave of illegal immigration is to create a North American regional economic solution, which would involve massive amounts of economic aid to Mexico for the next decade or two. I like this idea for a few reasons.

The most important reason is that we treat the cause of the illegal immigration, massive poverty in Mexico, instead of attempting to treat a symptom. Building a wall around the United States is not a realistic solution. The fact is that the U.S. could never build a wall strong enough to keep the wave of illegal immigrants from coming to the U.S. At best, a massive border wall would slow down the rate of illegal immigration. And for a country of immigrants to build a massive "Do Not Enter" sign on our border would not only be hypocritical but would be a knife through the heart of everything that the U.S. stands for.

Massive investment in Mexico will also help the U.S. economy. Mexico is one of our most important trading partners and if their economy grows it will create a larger market for exporting U.S. goods and services. In addition, this investment will create jobs on both sides of the border and raise the wages in Mexico. Once wages in Mexico begin to rise, the amount of illegal immigration will decrease because people can make livable wages at home.
While the idea of funding Mexican development may sound ludicrous, this investment would also benefit the U.S. economically, and the total is less than half of what the EU spent. Washington's $80 billion contribution would amount to about a third of what the Bush administration has spent in the last three years in Iraq.

I'm back

For the last week, I've been rocking the East Coast. I had to give a talk at APS March Meeting in Baltimore and then I visited my friend Katie (who is about to graduate from NYU law school) in New York City. So, here is a few pictures from my trip...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Quote of the Day

"When any government, or church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know, the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motive "
-Robert Heinlein

Bush Sucks Part 2000548433252342352... you get the idea

I start off my day browsing through my usual news sites and then I find this jewel of irony on
First Reaction: HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Second Reaction
: Are you fucking kidding me?!?! The head of the greatest fear mongering administration in decades is worried about a bad message being sent to Arabs? How many fucking times have we heard such classic lines as: "they are well trained killers", "they want to destroy our way of life", "we must fight islamo-facists over there, so we don't have to fight them here" etc. The American people don't do well with any level of nuianced arguments pal. You've spent the last 6 years convincing them to fight the evil brown people. Now you expect them to jump for joy when you let a UAE government owned Arab company run our ports.

Final Reaction
: Marie Antoinette nailed this story.
This isn't about Republicans versus Democrats. This isn't even about outsourcing national security to a country with diplomatic ties to the Taliban. This is about how much you trust this president. And people are increasingly standing up and saying that they don't.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I'm feeling left out of this whole crazy religious thing.

Agnosticism is a tough gig. Other people get to do and say all this crazy shit as long as they do it for god. Hell, you can be a full blown alcoholic coke-head for years and then become President as long as you become a born again (what the hell does born again mean anyway?) I'm feeling left out. I'm feeling lonely. So, the obvious solution when feeling lonely is to put up a personal ad online. So, here's my personal ad for a new religion...

SAGS*, 24, slight beer gut seeks religion. Must allow/encourage all of the following activities:
  • Daily consumption of Alcohol (would prefer some sort of daily ritual in which this is required)
  • Watching sporting events, particularly violent ones (Football, UFC, etc.)
  • Gambling (Hold 'em and blackjack are preferred)
  • Smoking (Me likey the cigars and hookahs)
  • Not believing in God
  • Extensive use of sarcasm
  • Pre-Marital Sex
  • Post-Marital Sex
  • Eating Meat (particularly beef. Mmmmmm... Steak)
  • Hating on stupid people
  • Idolatry
  • Science
  • Logic
Also, if your god/prophet can beat up all those other religions' gods/prophets, that would really save me alot of time when I get into arguments with all the infidels. If you are a religion and can meet up to these expectations, leave your contact info in the comments section.

*Single Agnostic Graduate Student

Another blow to "Intelligent" Design

Intelligent Design is losing. The state board of education for South Carolina (arguably the most conservative state in the union) has voted down an attempt by the advocates of Intelligent Design to get their foot in the door of the science classes of South Carolina. Hey Discovery Institute, if you can't win in a state this red, then you aren't going to win.
Science teachers had complained that although critical analysis is part of all science, the wording was really a backdoor attempt to force educators to teach religious-based alternatives. In a 10-6 vote, board members agreed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I hate service fees

I found this story on MSNBC and I have to say that I'm shocked. I had no idea, but merchants are not allowed to charge a service fee if you use a credit or debit card. In fact, it is a violation of their merchant agreement with the credit card companies to charge a service fee OR impose a minimum amount that you must spend to use your credit/debit card.
Can a merchant charge you a service fee for using a credit card or debit card? There is no federal regulation that prohibits this. The law that prohibited a surcharge on credit card purchases expired back in 1984. But both Visa and MasterCard say it would be a violation of their rules for a store to tack on a service fee for using one of their cards. A merchant can offer a discount for paying by cash or check, but they cannot charge more for putting it on plastic.
So the next time a local store attempts to pull this crap on you, remind them that they are violating their merchant agreement. If they insist, reports their asses to the company that issued your card. And if they don't like it, fuck 'em!

Monday, March 06, 2006

All this foreign policy done hurt my think-bone

L.A. Times published an editorial today analyzing the disaster that is George W. Bush's foreign policy by applying the 5 Principles of Foreign Policy laid out by William Ewart Gladstone nearly 130 years ago. These principles were laid out in a series of speeches during a heated political campaign in the U.K. and yet they remain quite relevant even today. The 5 Principles of Foreign Policy are summarized in the following list...
  1. Foster the strength of the empire by just legislation and economy at home
  2. The aim of foreign policy should be "to preserve to the nations of the world … the blessings of peace."
  3. "Even when you do a good thing," Gladstone observed, "you may do it in so bad a way that you may entirely spoil the beneficial effect."
  4. To avoid needless and entangling engagements.
  5. To acknowledge the equal rights of all nations.
Number 3 sure seems to just jump out at you when you think about U.S. foreign policy at the moment. Admittedly, foreign policy has to be far more flexible than would be allowed in such a list of general principles, but if the U.S. government thought about Gladstone's principles a little more often, maybe we wouldn't be stuck in a quagmire in Iraq.

Friday, March 03, 2006

No big surprise.

You're a Wild Drunk

You can get enough drink. Seriously, you'll just go puke and start pounding them back again!

People like to get drunk

People everywhere love to drink alcohol. Getting drunk is fun. Booze make people feel better. If you are still in denial about this, then check out this story from the BBC.

Despite a food shortage going on in Tanaznia and a government ban on using grain to make alcohol, local brewers are continuing to use grain to make beer. Even with the food shortage, local customers continue to go to the local breweries and drink beer. Why? Because people love to get drunk.
Mama John, who produces the "libeneke" local drink in her backyard on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, says she needs to continue with her business to feed her family of four.

Her brew is popular as it costs $0.25 for a litre, the same price as a bottled cool drink.

Friday Quotes of the Day

After reading the Disgruntled Chemists posts (Both the description of events and his personal thoughts) on the UCI College Republicans meeting in which an open dialogue turned into a discriminatory anti-muslim hate fest, I thought a few quotes from one of the great revolutionaries of our times would be appropriate.
"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Universiy Science Education: A New Approach

For students to understand the issues in modern science (particularly with the rise of interdisciplinary science), they must have at least introductory knowledge of both the physical and life sciences. However, in order to teach an umbrella course that incorporates both physical and life sciences, a unifying principle is needed. I propose that scaling be used as a unifying concept to teach a general science course for non-science majors. The course would focus on how the world works on different length scales, and different time scales.

For the full post, follow the link to Nice Shoes, Wanna Fock