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14 years Ago

How Low Can You Go?

Published by marco on

The International Photography Contest (National Geographic) selected the following picture as the winner in the Animals category of their annual competition. This is wrong on so many levels, not least of which is that a lot of people (yours truly included) tend to have much stronger reactions to the suffering of animals that fellow human beings. Why is that? Is it their helplessness? Their relative innocence? Are people not accorded a similar guilelessness, by default? Or do we just assume that they, while not... [More]

Exhaustive Fast Food Nutrition Information

Published by marco on

Fast Food Restaurants & Nutrition Facts Compared (A Calorie Counter) took the time to painstakingly combine the published nutrition (if you can call it that) information for the largest fast food chains in America.

A few tidbits:

  • In the french fries department, Dairy Queen at 1530mg delivers almost five times the sodium of McDonald’s fries and 730 kCal for their large size.
  • Carl’s Jr weighs in with a regular hamburger that has 470 kCal and 1060mg of sodium.
  • The unlimited weight class for sandwiches/burgers has... [More]

Writer’s Strike

Published by marco on

The Writer’s Guild started their strike this week, bringing all new television production out of Hollywood to a screeching halt. For those who haven’t followed it too closely, the Guild have put together a video covering the main points.

Why We Fight (YouTube)

Another member of the guild involved in the negotiation wrote Why We Want Our Words’ Worth by Michael Winship (Common Dreams), which noted that much of what is breathlessly reported by the media is vastly distorted or flat-out incorrect—pretty much par for the course for the new channels,... [More]

15 years Ago

The Joys of Commuting

Published by marco on

As cities in America grow bigger and bigger, with suburbs being surrounded by exurbs and people travelling around, through and between city centers regularly, the question of public transportation arises. It’s only really in the States that large cities look at public transportation as a question rather than as a right. It’s only in the States that trains, subways, light rail and metro commuter lines are discussed in terms of profitability instead of usefulness, environmental friendliness and... [More]

US Air Traffic

Published by marco on

The following 3-minute video shows US traffic patterns as they ebb and flow throughout the day. The data is from March of this year and is real, spiking from a low of about 4000 flights to over 16,000 flights in the air at peak travel periods. There are so many that the flight paths actually acurately delineate the shape of the continental United States.

Found on US Air Traffic by Brad DeLong (Grasping Reality with Both Hands).

Exoneration Compensation

Published by marco on

 The article, What Do States Owe The Exonerated? (Plastic), poses an interesting question. Almost everyone will have a knee-jerk reaction to it—evincing either a gut feeling that an exonerated prisoner is an innocent man and therefore has been treated unfairly by society or a kneejerk reaction that anyone who the courts saw fit to send to jail must be guilty in one way or another. There are those who view every exoneration as the result of a sly criminal’s—and a liberal lawyer’s—machinations of our... [More]

Eurovision Song Contest 2007

Published by marco on

The annual chance for Europeans to embarass themselves in a no-holds-barred music contest finished up on Saturday evening. Ukraine and France were clearly having the most fun, with France entering a band singing French in a horrible British accent and English in a horrible French accent while a very bald guy ran around with a stuffed cat attached to his neck. The Ukraine was led by a transvestite in mirrored silver with awesome Boogie Nights sunglasses who sang in several languages—though... [More]

A Soldier Comes Home

Published by marco on

Soldiers involved in America’s imperial maneuvers throughout the world have the heretofore unknown privilege of making their voices heard in real-time on the Internet. Their blogs are in a variety of styles, covering a variety of topics, revealing both remarkable sensitivity and ignorance for that which is not American. There is naturally a lot of filtering going on—this is, after all, the US empire’s military—but some really good stuff does get through. On Being Home by SGT Derek McGee (The Sandbox) is the most recent... [More]

Kurt Vonnegut 1922–2007

Published by marco on

 Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday at the ripe old age of 85. Despite explicitly asking for the following epitaph, “the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music”, bloggers around the Internet are tossing around his catchphrase, “and so it goes…”, ad nauseum instead. He made the request in his most recent book, a slim volume of thoughts he published after returning from retirement in a fit of pure frustration at the way the Bush administration was sullying America and doing such a crass,... [More]

Free Will in the Laboratory

Published by marco on

As reported in I think therefore I am, I think by Stephen Cave (Financial Times), there are reports of repeatable experiments, which have the potential to obviate vast swaths of philosophical hypothesis and religious theory: science has its hands wrapped around free will’s throat and is starting to squeeze.

I Made You Read This

First, there’s the experiment by “American neuroscientist Benjamin Libet”, in which he tested brain activity of participants as they were performing various activities. Participants swore up and down... [More]

The Decline of Western Civilization

Published by marco on

The term in the title stems from two movies released in the 80s, The Decline of Western Civilization (IMDb) and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (IMDb), which documented the world of punk rock and heavy metal, respectively. With metal and punk safely behind us, there are now much more insidious cancers eating away at the fabric of our society. One of the more prevalent, Local TV News, is discussed in Things That Still Exist But Shouldn’t by Amelie Gillete (AVClub). The article covers a few things, but leads... [More]

Idiot’s Guide to Economics

Published by marco on

This guy breaks down Mankiew’s principles of economics into terms we can all understand (though the original list isn’t what you would call earth-shattering either).

“Let’s begin by separating them into the first seven principles, which are microeconomics, and the last three, which are macroeconomics. The difference, of course, being that microeconomists are economists that are wrong about specific things, and macroeconomists, who are wrong about things in general.”

Principles of economics, translated by Yoram Bauman in 02/16/07 (YouTube)

Eerily Prescient

Published by marco on

The Onion has staked a claim in the world of news reporting: to report that which never happened, and likely never could have, but in a manner that suggests that it did. For the most part, the intended humor is relatively transparent, making it easy to laugh along as the author gets increasingly outrageous. It’s funny because it’s sometimes hard to discern articles from the Onion from the human interest pieces in what are considered mainstream news sources.

The “Politics” section necessarily... [More]

Web Anthro

Published by marco on

People’s interactions with each other online and how the web affects what kind of content they create is the subject of this short film by an anthropology professor. It’s got a nice soundtrack and the animation and transitions are really well-done. It takes the viewer visually through HTML content creation and the transition to XML and newsfeed creation through creation of videos and social bookmarking sites for organization to mashups of any kind of data.

“Digital text is different … more... [More]”

Modern Day Orientalist

Published by marco on

Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents by Michael Dirda (Washington Post) is a review of the book with the same name, by Robert Irwin. The review starts with a movie-trailer–worthy introduction of “Thirty years after Edward Said’s groundbreaking “Orientalism,” a British scholar responds.” This gives the reader the impression that Said’s book from the seventies had, to date, enjoyed an unchallenged status in the world of cultural history—a status the brave author of the book being reviewed finally had the temerity... [More]

Vegetarian Propaganda?

Published by marco on

The opinion piece, Why I hate vegetarians, is a typical example of hating the cause because of its proponents. The author doesn’t counter any arguments of vegetarianism—she simply claims its ok to eat meat because some vegetarians are so damned “smug and superior”. A lovely bit of deductive reasoning akin to taking up smoking because there are non-smokers who are annoying.

“People should be allowed to make their own choices and not be bullied or frightened into giving up meat. In the US... [More]”

Online Philosophy

Published by marco on

Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert comic strip and several books, including the interesting God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment (Amazon) and increasingly bitter Dilbert collections, like When Did Ignorance Become A Point Of View? (Amazon) has a blog as well and updates with ferocious regularity, almost always with a unique idea that usually freewheels into a thought experiment. Some work, some don’t.

A recent theme was free will.

The Little Robot That Could by Scott Adams
In this one he posits a robot, whose job it is to... [More]

Temple of Doom

Published by marco on

Giant Carnivorous Centipedes tells you all can probably stand to know about “Scolopendra gigantea, a venomous, red-maroon centipede with forty-six yellow-tinted legs”, which reach “lengths of over thirty-five centimeters” (almost 14 inches). They’re carnivores, but beasts of this size (lovingly described as a bitter repast themselves in Papillon by Henri Charriere (Amazon)) must necessarily seek larger prey than mere beetles and spiders.

“In an environment completely devoid of light, the centipede scurries across the damp... [More]”

WoC 2006

Published by marco on

 Threat to CivilizationThe War on Christmas has begun. The opening salvo of 2006 is brought to you by this article, Woman faces fines for wreath peace sign (Yahoo News), which brings us the sad tale of Lisa Jensen, who was lying her face off when “said she wasn’t thinking of the war when she hung the wreath” (pictured left). Her arch fiend—and the enemy of a peaceful Christmas—Bob Kearns, said in a phone interview that he couldn’t allow it because it would pave the way for other forms of expression, like saying we should “drop... [More]”

Weird Al is Back

Published by marco on

 Straight Outta LynwoodIt seems that the world, through the Internet, has finally developed a place where Weird Al Yankovic’s special genius can shine. A truly talented performer is becoming more mainstream than he ever was. And his new stuff is just as good as he’s ever been, from the free song download done in the style of “Save the World” charity songs from the 80s, Don’t Download this Song (video drawn by Bill Plimpton and also available for free online at his MySpace page) to the brutal parody of James Blunt... [More]

Age of Consent

Published by marco on

The recent Mark Foley scandal in the US dragged the issue of pedophilia back into the limelight. It’s an issue that has increasingly gripped public fears, resulting in medieval public registration programs and increasingly inflexible laws. By simply reading the mainstream media, one would think that child predators lurk around every corner and it’s only a matter of time before every child is preyed upon.

Hurting the Innocent

As irrational fears go, it ranks up there with the fear of... [More]

Rape Not Just about Power

Published by marco on

For the longest time, pop psychology has taught us that “rape is about power, not sex.” That rape was purely an expression of power was received truth, though it didn’t sit well with anyone who’d experienced the powerful effects of libido. It was hard to imagine that rape would have nothing to do with that; it seemed more logical that different personalities responded differently to this drive. Because of the nature of most pornography—and it’s distinctly male-dominant/women-subservient... [More]

16 years Ago

Iraq—The Sandbox

Published by marco on

The comic strip Doonesbury has weighed in heavily on the second Gulf War, stationing one of its main characters, BD, there and having him sent home after his leg was blown off in an attack. His friend, Ray, is still there. Recently, The Sandbox has appeared on the Doonesbury web site, which, in its own words:

“…[is focused] not on policy and partisanship … but on the unclassified details of deployment – the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. The Sandbox... [More]”

Borat

Published by marco on

 Borat In KazakhstanBorat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (IMDB) is—as the title makes relatively clear—a fake documentary by Sacha Cohen. The preview shows Cohen as Borat Sagdiyev, wandering from one excruciatingly socially awkward situation to the next, all the while with an ingratiating grin on his face that begs forgiveness for not understanding our great culture while, at the same time, apologizing for the backwardness of his own. In a word, he’s disarming—enough... [More]

Kenny’s Wife

Published by marco on

Kenny’s wife is jumping for joy right now. Since he died before going to trial, the judge in the case was forced to accede “to decades of legal precedent” and wipe all 10 criminal charges from his record. Judge Revokes Lay’s Conviction (Washington Post) has the gory details.

“Legal analysts said Lake’s ruling closely hewed to a long-held doctrine called abatement, which allows a conviction to be vacated if defendants die before they are able to exercise their right to appeal. Courts typically rule that defendants’... [More]”

Animated Map of the Middle East

Published by marco on

The movie below is called Imperial History (1.1MB) and documents the occupation of the Middle East, Asia and northern Africa over the last 5000 years.

The following empires ruled over smaller and larger swatches of land throughout recorded history. The dates given are approximate and estimated from the movie. The names and ordering are correct. And, yes, there is overlap: that’s kind of the way it with empires.

  • Kingdom of Egypt (3000 BC − 1380 BC)
  • Hittite Empire (1400 BC -1050 BC)
  • Kingdom... [More]

Wil Shipley Wants to Give Me a Computer

Published by marco on

This essay is written as a response to the CPU giveaway by Wil Shipley (Call Me Fishmeal).

I double-click the GTA: San Andreas icon and watch, relieved, as the Windows desktop fades to black.

*Churn*

The intro graphic’s looking a little pink.

Drat. The font’s messed up.

*Restart game*

Again with the pink logo, but the font’s ok. Let’s load up a saved game and do some driving. Funky music accompanies the fade from the loading screen to Carl’s back. A quick look around confirms that Carl was taking some serious psychadelics... [More]

Imagining the Tenth Dimension

Published by marco on

 Imagining the Tenth Dimension is a web-site dedicated to the book of the same name by Rob Bryanton. With a resounding recommendation by none other than Greg Bear, this book explores a universe of ten dimensions, as put forth in string theory. The preamble contains the following disclaimer text:

“The “theory of reality” that I advance on this website and in the book “Imagining the Tenth Dimension” is not the one that is commonly accepted by today’s physicists. Anyone wanting to know more about... [More]”

Tehching Hsieh

Published by marco on

 One Year Performances is a website dedicated the performance art work of Tehching Hsieh, who, during the late 70s and early 80s, did some simple, elegant pieces that tested the limits of human endurance. Each piece has a simple rule, by which he lived for one year.[1]

1978-1979
I shall seal myself in my studio, in solitary confinement inside a cell-room measuring 11'6" X 9' X 8'. I shall not converse, read, write, listen to the radio or watch television, until I unseal myself on September 29,... [More]

The US Budget Explained

Published by marco on

This Flash video, Oreos by Ben Cohen (TrueMajority), uses dessert to focus your attention on the ridiculous numbers in the US federal budget. The first illustration (below) shows the size of the military budget as compared to the sizes of other portions of the federal budget. On the one hand, he’s conveniently left off Social Security and Medicare (the two biggest non-military programs in the federal budget), but on the other, he’s only included the official Pentagon budget, which does not include Homeland Security’s... [More]