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16 years Ago

Elvis Never Did No Drugs

Published by marco on

The Bible is Bullshit is a video of an old Penn and Teller show[1] in which they spend some time gleefully debunking some of the more obvious contradictions in the bible. They actually provide a lot of decent historical background from the annals of biblical scholarship, which basically accepts that the bible is a work of man and has made some inroads into discovering exactly which men wrote which parts and when.

The biblical scholar they interview is completely incapable of formulating an... [More]

NASA wins 4th of July Contest

Published by marco on

 Biggest. Fireworks. Ever.

The shuttle program is 25 years old now and, ever since the 2003 crash of the Columbia, which was caused by pieces falling off, has had a much more touch-and-go feel to it—which is certainly attractive to NASCAR fans nationwide. As noted in the article, Shuttle fears over foam lost in blast-off (Telegraph.co.uk), the liftoff was not error-free, but the problems were well within expectations:

“‘This isn’t too abnormal,‘ said Bill Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for spaceflight. ‘We fully expected to... [More]”

Statistical World Maps

Published by marco on

 Map of World ReligionsWadsworth Religion Course Guide Religion Maps offers a colorful look at geographic distribution of world religions and religious sites in both the ancient and modern worlds. Leaving out religion is the Contemporary World Map, which shows all of those countries from the World Cup that no one could find. Note that the inside of Africa’s elbow seems to be especially conducive to football, as the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo are all neighbors there. Most interesting is the map shown in thumbnail to... [More]

9/11 Conspiracies

Published by marco on

An event with the lasting effect of the 9/11 attack was bound to spawn any number of conspiracy theories. The are thousands of web sites dedicated to poring over any material related to the attacks in excruciating detail. Most of the media is happy to accept the cleansed version offered by the government, which streamlined its message to maximize impact and effectiveness in using 9/11 as a cudgel with which to whip the American people into a savage frenzy. The reality is almost certainly much... [More]

Summer Reading

Published by marco on

 The gap left by Dan Brown’s writer’s block needs to be filled by something as you lie on a beach this summer. There are only so many different versions of Digital Fortress under various names and publishers you’re going to read until you notice that they’re all the same book and that he hasn’t magically written a new novel you haven’t heard about. In steps Playboy with its 25 sexiest novels ever written, which is chock full of books to take the beach with friends and family. It’s a pretty... [More]

Well Duh.

Published by marco on

I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It! by George Clooney (Common Dreams) is a very short essay in which George Clooney officially outs himself, even though most would consider Three Kings, Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana to be eloquent enough statements of that. Still and all, there are some nice enough turns of phrase in it:

“…one of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we’re all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it’s not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out.”

... [More]

Commuting

Published by marco on

Oil prices are at an all-time high. Summer’s coming up, so don’t expect a dip anytime soon. The US is threatening war with Iran, the war in Iraq is dragging on and the Saudis are scrabbling to maintain control over an ever-more-agitated populace. Prices are going nowhere but up. This makes the “car culture” deeply ingrained in American culture (and growing quickly in Europe as well) problematic. The notion that everyone has a car has led to decades of residential design depending on just that... [More]

Lesser Known Punctuation

Published by marco on

The Trouble With EM ‘n EN… (A List Apart) discusses how to create proper punctuation characters in online documents—specifically HTML. Of most interest are the rules of use for “em” and “en” dashes:

em dash
“…used to indicate a sudden break in thought, a parenthetical statement that deserves more attention than parentheses indicate, or instead of a colon or semicolon to link clauses.”
en dash
“used to indicate a range of just about anything with numbers … also used instead of the word “to” or a hyphen... [More]”

Reply to a Friend − March 23, 2003

Published by marco on

 This weekend I unearthed an old document from March 23, 2003, which was written in response to a letter I received from a friend earlier in the month. This friend had taken the time to write a long reproach to the attitude towards the Bush administration—and American hegemony in general—found on this web site. The quoted blocks are from the friend, but the document is not available online. Therefore, though the quotes remain somewhat out of context, most are long enough to indicate to what... [More]

Water: An Exercise in Contrast

Published by marco on

 The article, Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain (Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel) documents the rising fortunes of bottled water. Again and again, studies have pointed out that the water in these bottles is either no different from or actually inferior to the water coming from your faucet (“roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water”). Even several years ago, a large city like New York had healthier tap water in most places than the average bottle of water. In many countries, drinking tap water in... [More]

Copying != Stealing

Published by marco on

In a recent discussion about Bill Gates’ Letter to the HCC (Slashdot)[1], an unusually astute comment (Slashdot) was logged by 808140[2]. It put into clear terms the difference between copying software, media or other digital bits and the actual legal definition of stealing. Stealing means to deprive someone (the “owner”) of something to which they have purchased title. Making a digital copy of that “something” does not in any way deprive the owner of their property, so it can hardly be called stealing, can it?

“What [the... [More]”

17 years Ago

Glaciers advancing … run for your lives

Published by marco on

 Swiss wrap a glacierThe Real Junk Science by George Monbiot (AlterNet) covers a recent letter by a pillar of the scientific community (no, really, he apparently is … or was) in which he claims that most glaciers in Europe are, in fact, growing. Global warming naysayers have naturally taken this as “proof” that global warming is a sham dreamt up by fruity eco-socialists who want to ruin it for everybody.

Monbiot’s look into the validity of the claim takes him on a twisty path a myriad of citations, each building on the last without adding... [More]

The Poisonwood Bible − History Repeats Itself

Published by marco on

 The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Amazon) is a work of fiction about a baptist family from the American South who embark on a mission to the Congo in 1959. It tells the tale from the viewpoint of the minister’s four daughters with intermezzos told by the mother. The clash of cultures on social, political and military levels is exquisitely woven from these individual strands of experience. The political context is remarkably similar to that in which an amnesiac America has placed itself today, lending ever more... [More]

Teaching Science in America

Published by marco on

 Having Fun With Intelligent Design by David Morris (AlterNet) offers some good advice to teachers charged with spending time on alternative theories to evolution. The crux of the matter is that in two states so far, Pennsylvania and Kansas (big surprise there), teachers must address a theory of the world known as intelligent design. This is not religion; it is a pseudo-scientific justification for a God-like being.

“Intelligent design is not creationism per se. It holds that higher forms of life are so complex they must... [More]”

Censor yourself

Published by marco on

According to Your Handy Home Censorship Kit (AlterNet), there is now in America a purification device for the wicked emissions coming from Hollywood in the form of “[a] new device [that] allows consumers to cleanse their DVDs of sex, profanity and violence.”

Whoop-dee-doo. It’s called network television or basic cable; we’ve had it for decades. This brilliant technology is now also available for the home in the form of a ClearPlay DVD player:

“ that are designed to mute or skip over foul language, nudity,... [More]”

TV Shoes

Published by marco on

 Smart shoes decide on television time (New Scientist) covers yet another brilliant idea from Britain, in which a home’s television usage can be keyed to a counter in a pair of sneakers. As with many other things British, it has a totally lame, weird name that doesn’t make any sense to anyone outside of Britain: “Square Eyes”. I honestly have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.

As with all kooky ideas that will never work, it starts from the best intentions: getting kids to both eat less and watch less TV.... [More]

Giant Steps (Flash)

Published by marco on

 Giant Steps by Michael Levy is a wonderful, fun 3d visual interpretation of John Coltrane’s musical classic. It’s a sign that Flash can used for something other than annoying ads that flicker, flash, make noise, hover around over the web page and find ways around our popup blockers.

Really cool, soothing stuff. Check it out.

Internet reality show

Published by marco on

 Every day people think of quirky new ideas for web sites. Usually, the site has a funny little Flash video or a game and the site itself is a one-hit-wonder of the 21st Century. There is invariably not enough bandwidth to go around and the site is laid low in minutes by stampeding hordes of attention span-deprived, insatiable internet users.

To avoid those problems, there are now sites based on much larger servers, like Blogger that don’t go down so easily: not even when they host a huge page... [More]

Public Service Announcement

Published by marco on

As some of you may have noticed, earthli News articles have become more sporadic and rarer over the last several weeks. This crisis arises not from any personal problems or lack of interest, but rather from a quite real dearth of news about which to complain.

The current events section has long thrived on the antics of a hapless administration led by a chimpanzee-like buffoon who consistently opted for the crass, wrong solution that gave new meaning to the term “short-sighted”.

In light of... [More]

Ben Tripp Stretches a Metaphor All to Hell

Published by marco on

Mr. Tripp likes to be provacative. He likes to be in-your-face. Put Down the Faggot: Requiem for 2004 by Ben Tripp (CounterPunch) is all that and a bag of chips.

Go on, read it. It’s short.

It’s the touching story of two small boys in Ireland who convince an even smaller boy to do something whereafter he’s “…blinded, shrieking for help, [and] covered from head to toe in a hideous stew of viscera and decay.”

Not a lot of end-of-the-year recaps include that kind of imagery. The final twist on the metaphor comes at the... [More]

The Future of Media

Published by marco on

Googlezon PassEPIC is an eight minute Flash film (English transcript), depicting a possible future for our media. It’s extrapolations of customized content aren’t far-fetched at all. Their hypothetical “Googlezon” that generates personalized news articles for each user is downright eerie.

Imagine a world where your Google News is combined with your personal preferences from Amazon. Imagine if you clicked a link for an article and it was generated on-the-fly based on various blogs and online papers that the... [More]

Monkeys and Spheres

Published by marco on

 Don’t believe in either one of them; it’s an intellectual plot. If you go to school in America today, there’s a chance that you’ll hear some interesting theories in your science classes.

The theory of evolution vs. creationism debate appears in the news every once in a while. Sophisticates like to scoff that Hiring Creationists to teach Biology is all the rage in podunk states that value God above logic. Those programs require equal time for all theories, regardless of whether they are based... [More]

18 years Ago

My first hate mail!

Published by marco on

That’s right. earthli.com is officially on the map with one hate mail. Without further ado, here’s the text of the mail (email left off to protect the sender)

Marco,

It becomes obvious that your hate for other beliefs that differ from your own are filled with venom. I am in the military and returned from a deployment 1/02-12/02. I can see the fear of a coward in the vulgar language that you choose to describe your flawed opinion. You, George Soros, Hollywood Elite, and Michael Moore should... [More]

Team South Park Jumps the Shark

Published by marco on

’Team’ Spirit not for Everyone (SF Gate) is an interview with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park and the movie “Team America: World Police”. I haven’t seen the movie (yet), and I’ve heard it’s pretty funny. I’m a little confused by the interview here because they usually interview well. In this case, they did not. Let’s get a few things straight. They’re satirists and comedians, not political analysts. You can’t hold them to a standard of proof or thought that you would Noam Chomsky.... [More]

Food for Thought

Published by marco on

I know I’ve seen this one before, but I got this via email and was kind of struck by some of these numbers (highlighted below).

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following*:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both North and South (Does this include all of Europe? I think so…)
8 Africans
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be... [More]

Home Schooling and indoctrination

Published by marco on

In a discussion on Plastic about Baptists potentially removing their children from public school in droves, One thing I don’t understand about Plastic was rated ‘Brilliant’ for saying said that:

“What most parents are trying to get through homeschooling is not a better education but one that more closely fits their own ideology, even to the point of downright denial of facts and the censorship of ideas. For the sake of their ideology they exclude knowledge, which is a harm to the child.”

... [More]

Super cars

Published by marco on

 Koenigsegg is a Swedish supercar company that you’ve probably never heard of. They make the CCR1, the beautiful orange car to the left, which goes from 0-100km in 3.2 seconds and tops out at “395+ km/h (242+ mph)”. It reaches “806 HP at 5900 RPM” for maximum power output. Being European, it doesn’t even guzzle gas to the extreme amount you would expect — about normal for an American car (“13 l/100 km” (about 20MPG highway) — see A gallon of gas for info on Euro/US conversion). There are a lot... [More]

earthli reader rips Bush a new one

Published by marco on

 Long-time earthli News reader, Nico Michael, participated in the filming of a short political feature as told in Film lets N.Y.ers drop a dollar on President (NY Daily News). The “15-minute film” is sponsored by “a nonprofit group that distributes films promoting social causes and human rights” and simply shows people sending their opinions to the White House via public phone.

“This is the worst administration I’ve ever known,“ said Michael, a software developer who lives in the Village. “You’re leading the... [More]”

TV Turnoff week (19th − 25th April)

Published by marco on

It’s that time of year again. Slashdot has a story on it at The National TV Turn Off Week. The main site’s at TV Turnoff Network and is a spinoff of Adbusters. It’s a good idea and I’ve got just the challenge I need this week: the second season of 24 is playing 2 or 3 hours per week on a local German channel. I’ve watched the first 14 hours or so over the last 5 or 6 weeks. I don’t watch a lot of TV anyway — I’m debating what the significance of skipping 24 this week would be. I’m sure... [More]

A la Carte Cable

Published by marco on

The same busy little lobbyists who are doing their best to outlaw your Tivo are also hard at work preventing the Cable-TV consumer’s dream: A la Carte Cable. Sorry — No a la Carte Cable (Washington Post) explains that the same people are hard at work making sure your cable bill never, ever goes down.

What is “a La Carte Cable”? Imagine, if you would, a world in which you only pay for things you actually want and use. As a cable-consumer advocate put it: “When I go to the grocery store to buy a quart of milk,... [More]”