Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mo Bike Shit

Not really much to say, other than that the weather is perfect right now. Well that and I wanted to toss up a couple of links to some sites.

No Drive, Just Ride
and Fat Cyclist

Crazy People On Bikes

Does look fun... if you ignore the possibility of severe bodily injury

UPDATE: Somewhat different type of crazy... the first tiny bit is kinda lame, but then it gets good.

Swine Flu - the other white death

Unless this turns into a pandemic this will probably be the last time I mention this. Lets do a quick comparison.

Swine Flu death toll approx 160 world wide, 1 in the US
Regular Flu 13,000 dead this year in the US

(UPDATE) Shit.. this story just won't die, just like swine flu victims. According to the WHO (World Health Organization - not the band) only 7 people have been confirmed to have died by swine flu.

(Another Update) The WHO had me feeling better yesterday, today not so much.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Torture Memo's

I've been quiet about this because I haven't read them yet, now it's looking like I probably won't, at least not any time soon. I'm fairly busy and I just really don't expect to find anything I hadn't already assumed. So for my fill of outrage I've got my old buddy, The Rude Pundit. He's been pretty active talking about this, and the latest one is a bit of a surprise. He quotes someone from the National Review Online who was a bush supporter and defended illegal wiretapping and shit. But even they can see this goes to far. Here's the quote,
"I personally believe torture is wrong. We shouldn't do it. Even if it means me, my husband, and my two sons get blown up. Seriously, if I had to choose I'd say: Death is common to us all; torture is a choice."

I couldn't agree more, even if I don't have kids, or a husband....

Arlen Specter (D-PA)

Yeah that's right. D-PA!!! Arlen Specter, Republican since 1966 just gave the democratic party the 60 votes they needed to break republican filibusters. Well they'll have the sixty as soon as that SOB stops trying to prevent Al Franken.

Which reminds me, we really need to go back to the old rules of filibustering, you know where the old gas bags actually had to get up and talk for hours on end. Now they just say, "uh hey by the way we're filibustering, so don't plan on accomplishing anything." Then they would actually have to suffer a little in order to be obstructionists.

Bacon Flu

The tastiest way you'll ever die.
Then again if you want some real info about the current situation go here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Darfur Protests

Where 5 US Lawmakers were arrested!

The arrested lawmakers are Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, John Lewis of Georgia, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Lynn Woolsey of California.
You all just won my vote.... even though I can't actually vote for any of them.


Just a neat story from Time about decriminalization of drugs in Portugal. BTW, it's working.

More biking

So it decided to get hot out this weekend. Friday is was perfect out so I decided to try to ride to corning, which I thought was like 18 miles but just checked the almighty google and found that it's only 12.8 from door to door. Unfortunately I didn't make it to the second door. I stopped into a bar thats 2/3rds of the way there, had some lunch, hopped back on the bike feeling refreshed go for a minute and BANG Thhhh..... Popped a tire. I called a few people but no one was around so I started walking, I had probably covered five or six miles before a friend was able to come get me on her lunch break. So I went back to the bike shop and got a new tire put on. I went with the more puncture resistant tire, hopefully I won't have to worry about it anytime soon. But it does mean that my tires don't match.

On the positive side I can feel the difference in my legs, can even see the difference. So assuming I don't have anymore flats, I'm prepared now so it probably wont happen, I'm really liking the whole no car thing. Just wish the laundromat was a bit closer, not quite sure how I can do that on my bike, either tiny loads or I walk. It is only like 6 blocks. Like I said so far so good with the biking and at this rate my legs are going to be diesel by the end of the summer, hell by the end of next month.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Ok this has nothing to do with earth day but I guess its fitting, I bought a new bike. I'm a sucker. I bought the Bowery.

I'm brand new to this so I have basically zero experience to base this off of but damn that bike is quick. I've only gone on a couple five minute rides, one was a test drive and the other way back to work, but wow. As a kid it was the mountain bike craze so I had one, actually I still have that bike, and then I bought that cruiser. I also had a BMX bike that I won which was my first bike that was actually mine. So I've never been on a quick bike before. I will say that I didn't spend MSRP on it, but it wasn't cheap so I really hope I like it. And if my folks read this, yeah I know I could have insured the car for quite a while for what I just spent, but I just really want to go without a car for a little while.

I'll also say that now I'm going to have to buy a helmet, damn. They are fucking ugly. With my slow ass beach cruiser bike I wasn't too worried about crashing. It was slow, a bit of chrome, and an upright seating that easily allowed me to look back to check traffic. This one isn't leaned over like a racing bike, but its far more leaned over than I'm used to, it's flat gray, and will actually go fast enough that I don't want to crash. Plus I'd be willing to go down a hill on this one, the coaster brake on the other was so bad that I was as worried about going down the hills as I was going up them, albeit for different reasons.

I'm a little nervous about the seat, it seems awfully little compared to my ass. It wasn't noticeably uncomfortable, but I've only ridden it for very short runs. New seats are pretty cheap. So are petals which I've been told are pretty flimsy on this model. Some people don't like the handle bars, I've laughed at how many people have mentioned swapping the straight bars for drops or drops for straight. It's available either way, why not just buy the model and not bother with the swap, maybe they like one paint job over the other.

So I have new toy and I'm just a tall little kid, I want to ride bike. I really don't want to be stuck behind this computer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I recently picked up a cheap-ass bicycle at first it was just for fun and exercise, then it became something of a necessity as I no longer have a car. It's actually a little more complex than that but thats the part that matters. It's starting to get really nice out so right now I really don't mind at all. Actually I'm enjoying it. To the point that I kind of want to pick up a decent bike now. The one I got is this P.O.S. as you can see it's an $80 bike a wally world, I later read a review that said as cheap as it is, it's such a pile it's still not worth it. I only paid 50 from a pawn shop so I don't mind. Then again it's practically brand new and I've already had to tear it apart a bit. Was making gnarly noises. I love the old school cruiser style, so I thought maybe something like this would be cool.But then I started reading about some other bikes and realized that if I'm actually going to use this as transportation I should probably worry more about practicality and less about style. Bikes are more specialized than I realized. I don't want like a full on racing style bike, or a ten speed as we called them when I was a kid, not really sure why ten was the common number of gears on those bikes. I'm not ready to rock the spandex just yet, plus they're fucking expensive. I also kind of want to stick with a single speed. They're cheaper and a much better workout. Read something from an old school guy saying how great fixed gear bikes are (I'm not that hardcore) and one thing he mentioned was how gears are like cheating. If you hit a hill with a geared bike it makes it possible to get up the hill easier, and slower. With a single speed you just have to stand up and take it. I realized what he meant as I came up to one of our bridges, which are steeper than I ever noticed before, and there was a guy on a bike ahead of me. He clicked down a few gears and just kept pedaling along, I had to stand up and get up as quick as I could before I run out of wind at the top of the hill at which point my heart is racing and I'm nearly sweating no matter what the temperature is. If I could afford it I think this would be quite perfect, ok so its got gears, but it also has a belt instead of a chain which seems like a really good idea to me. Unfortunately the MSRP is damn near a grand so thats out. They do also make a single speed and it is a shit load cheaper, but still outta my range. They have this one at the local bike shop, and I thought there was a way lower price on it. I might go take it for a test ride this afternoon. They only deal with Giant and Trek so I'm looking at the cheapest bikes from those two companies... I'm reading a lot of reviews but I guess what I really need to do is just pedal my ass down to the bike shop in a few minutes and try a few out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Food Safety Modernization Act

Is seriously fucked. It would basically make it so that the only crops you could legally grow would be government regulated ones, and they would have to be sprayed with certain pesticides and use certain fertilizers. It would technically be illegal to even save the seeds from you're own plants and use them next year, but realistically they can't patrol that shit. It does mean wave goodbye to all organic veggies in you're grocery store. No more picking strawberries or blueberries from the local stand. There might still be farmers markets, but what would be the point?

Basically Monsanto is pissed because of the whole organic food movement, it does imply that organic food is healthier and safer, which of course means non-organic food is less safe and less healthy. Not to mention they can't sell chemicals to organic growers, or at least not as much.

Shit. I ran out of time. I really wanted to work up a good rant about this even though I don't grow a damn thing myself. I guess my favorite argument was that Michelle Obama's garden at the white house she's been showing off would be illegal. Oh and fuck monsanto.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Audacity of Hope

I guess Obama was right when he named his book Audacity of Hope, it is audacious to hope to expect real change from within our political structure. I tried not to set my expectations for Obama too high, and I think I kept my hopes tempered with reality, but he has failed, miserably, at something that it didn't even occur to me e could fail at. He wanted to close Guantanamo, he was going to restore due process, Habeas Corpus and all that good stuff. Those were campaign promises that I really expected him to keep. Make this a country of laws again, but now he is making me question if even this relatively easy promise is not going to be kept. He is appealing a court ruling that says their must be judicial oversight for detained persons. Where did those damn activist judges get such an idea?

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Maybe thats where.

He is also apparently trying to make it illegal to sue the government for illegally wiretapping, unless the government then makes the wiretapped info public, then you can sue. For some reason it seems to me that this issue was already settled... again by the founding fathers.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I don't think I'm asking to much for my president to fulfill his campaign promises (ok maybe that is too much), obey the law, and uphold his oath of office. His sworn duty is of course to uphold the constitution, right now I'm not impressed.

I should say that I wouldn't normally use Jesus General as a source, it is satire. But it was the first place I heard about this and now I'm doing some more searching. Washington Independent has some info, but it's tricky cause many on the left don't want to go after Obama yet while the right can't go after him for trying to continue with what the shrub started. But I've always been a particularly harsh critic towards those I like (higher expectations) so I feel no need to not take Obama to task for tis shit.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Superstring Theory

I'm not a physicist, not even close. I am tempted to learn more math just so I can try to wrap my mind a little further around some of the theories out there. At this point though I'm stuck reading the popularizations, I read "Search for Schrödinger's Cat" a while back and now I'm working on "The Elegant Universe." Ironically I bought both of these at a local used book store, thats not ironic, what is ironic is the fact that it's run by fairly fundamentalist christians. I always wondered why the christian section was right at the front of the store, the science being all the way at the back, then again its a very small store. I found out for sure when I ran into a co-worker, the fundie one, and she was talking to the owners, who go to her church. Ah... Anyway back to the shit that matters.

String theory. Crazy shit. Then again once you understand the old theory (and I'm only half sure I do) it isn't that weird. The old theory was that everything is made of 0-dimensional points. That alone is pretty much impossible for me to really grasp. How can it exist yet have no dimensions? So string theory say's no everything is made of one dimensional things, seeing as their one dimensional, they're string like. Of course then these one dimensional strings turn into loops yet somehow that doesn't count as two dimensions. (?) For whatever reason I can just smile and nod through these parts.

The biggest problem I had with it, and again maybe I'm reading it totally wrong not to mention I'm only halfway through the book, is this. Ok everytime we find out that our elementary elements were wrong there was more than one thing below. We thought Atoms were the smallest thing for a long time. Then we found out that all the different types of atoms are made of various combinations of just three things, atoms proton and neutrons. The simplest of which of course has one electron and one proton, the other end has 92 electrons 92 protons and 146 neutrons, ok some get even bigger but on earth uranium is as big as you can expect to find. you get the point anyway. Well then we found out that protons and neutrons aren't even elementary elements, they can be crushed further into several types of quarks. Same book different chapter, neutrons are one arrangement of quarks and protons are a different arrangement, if I recall right each is made of three quarks. So then it's supposed to be a few orders of magnification later and we find strings. And what I had assumed was that considering I've previously heard that the difference in size between an atom and a string is about the same as the difference between an atom and the galaxy. So logically, and I guess I should by now know that what we consider logical on the macro scale has no meaning at this point, I was expecting a whole shit load of strings to make up a quark. Or at least a few. And with all the uncertainty stuff I was expecting all the strings in each quark to being doing its own thing at any given time and only by canceling each other out and does it average out to what we see as a quark. On the up side, reading this stuff does give you the opportunity to say Quark a lot, and Quark is probably the most amusing word to say that I've ever said. You know you want to. Just say it out loud a few times wherever you are, Quark Quark Quark. Nah bitch I'm not a duck don't be simple, this is cutting edge science I'm talking about... try not to giggle at any point in there.

Oh so my problem other than getting funny looks by people who think I have a fetish for ducks is that the book claims there is just one string. Now I realized a long time ago that the entire universe is made up of alomst nothing, but damn. Thats a whole lot of nothing. Again I very well might be reading this wrong, it was fairly late and my brain was probably a little fried after reading half the book yesterday. But if my conclusion is right that would mean that an atom the size of the galaxy is made up of just a like a dozen atom sized strings... Like I said, damn, thats a lot of nothing. I should probably just go ask someone who knows about this shit. I might have to drop a question over at Bad Astronomy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Post-Christian Culture

I think I like this guy R. Albert Mohler Jr. He's the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, yeah an unlikely ally I realize, but check this out.
The so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western...
OH... wait. He thinks this is a bad thing. You can go check out the article over at newsweek. It's pretty good. It of course focuses on the 10% decline in self identified christians along with the doubling of unaffiliated folks. Mentions that atheists have quadrupled, I like that it then points out there are twice as many atheists as episcopalians, hehe. Being a cynical bastard I can't help but get a chuckle out of this part either.
many Christians are rediscovering the virtues of a separation of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called "the garden of the church" from "the wilderness of the world."
That seems about right, church works best if it's separated from the world. When it's forced to interact with reality if often come across as a bit kooky.

Oh and this is why you have to love editors. Here's what it says in the article.
Let's be clear: while the percentage of Christians may be shrinking, rumors of the death of Christianity are greatly exaggerated.
Just one little problem, the name of the article is "The End of Christian America." Then again I did read the article because of it's title so I guess there's two sides to that.

More good shit.
The orthodox tend to try to live their lives in accordance with the general behavioral principles of the Bible (or at least the principles they find there of which they approve)
So true. I'm not done reading this but one thing I have to say is that the author notes that conservative religion is gaining ground while religion as a whole is losing, but doesn't draw the connection between them. The moderate religious folks aren't confrontational, they don't challenge science or try to push their views on others. They're more open to asking questions instead of unquestioned obedience. It's that expectation of unquestioned obedience that has probably driven many from the flock and into the realm of simply "spiritual" there is some sort of higher power looking down on me and thats all I need to know. Those that approve of the unquestioned obedience also tend to want to clash with science. They think they will win because they have a really old book. They simply can't understand that it's a battle they cannot win. You can be sworn into court on a bible but thats about the extent to which it has any sway. They don't seem to understand that courts are about evidence, and so are scientists. Which make sense considering both are looking for the truth in a complex world. Also explains why they use somewhat similar methodology. Science works by coming up with a hypothesis then trying to prove it wrong. In the court each side lays out its story and the other side tries to prove it wrong. Yeah thats and over simplification of both but you get the idea. The point is that science is really good at defending it's theories, thats how they became theories in the first place. If a hypothesis couldn't withstand the most brutal skepticism it wouldn't be a theory and sure wouldn't be in a text book. Religion on the other hand, especially the religion of unquestioned obedience is by definition not used to being cross examined and therefore does not hold up very well. So if religion wants to stay relevant it should really avoid attacking science. The last third of the article is about how religion should stay out of the political arena too which is probably good advice. Although I hate to admit it but if they want to push through some stupid shit they'd be much better off trying to do it through legislation than the courts. Courts require evidence, Legislation only requires a majority of like minded people. But they blew that chance. I could probably continue but I've lost my train of thought and it's lunch time, priorities man. Just one last thing. I'm so glad the author included this line.
Religious doubt and diversity have, however, always been quintessentially American.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Starts with a Bang

New Astrophysics Blog, Starts with a Bang. Lord PZ told me to check it out and obviously we must obey. Actually at first glance it seems interesting, although the profile pic is a little creepy.

The Warm Embrace of Apathy

So things are over between Marque and I. I saw it coming but I still expected myself to go into one of my little emo slumps I usually go into after being rejected, the weird thing is I didn't. Probably because I went into that slump while trying to save our budding relationship and it was so damn stressful that when I just made the decision to stop talking to her, and if she wants to then for once she can be the one to initiate contact, it was kind of a relief. She was great and I think her crazy could have been a nice compliment to my own, but I was just never important enough to her. So thats that.

Since then I met Lois that I mentioned before, haven't seen her since but she's an interesting prospect. Shit I'm not even entirely sure that she's single.

I've hung out with another gal that I had a think for quite a while back, unfortunately she then dated my roommate who was, er is, a womanizing scumbag so she's always been tainted in my head since then. So thats a long shot. Maybe it's fucked up of me to be that judgmental. Then again you trying having a crush on a chick then not seeing her for a while only to come home and find her on your couch with your junkie (ok he was actually clean still at that point, otherwise he wouldn't have been my roommate) roommate. Thanks for twisting that knife while you pull it outta my spine.

And then I was sort of mean to someone who is playing the role I usually do. The old study partner. She really likes me but I'm just not interested in her. We didn't talk for a while after she left for school, then she started texting me again. This saturday I was bored as hell and she kept asking me to come up to her school. So at damn near midnight I said fuck it and headed up there. I didn't realize just how far away it was. About 2:30 I got there. I drank too much once I got there. Damn DOD (delayed onset drunkenness). She always wants too fool around but it never goes too terribly far. Unfortunately every time we do she gets renewed ideas and then I get awkward messages the next day. As I've said before, for once being on this side of things has shown me why desperation is a turn off. Anyway I really need to stop doing anything with her, its just not fair to her.

My only real concern is that when I go back into apathetic mode it's often accompanied by the resurgence of Blackout Kilgore, and that guy is an asshole.

Friday, April 03, 2009

At Least 13 Dead

There is has been a shooting in Binghamton, it's about an hour up the road from me, where the initial reports are that 13 people are dead. I have no snarky jonke to go with this. It's going on right now.

Subtle take on the Vaccine Issue

The Jenny McCarthy Body Count
Pretty much says it all in the title.