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Tuesday's Brains are Full of Dust... - Elf M. Sternberg
Tuesday's Brains are Full of Dust...
Matt Yglesias looks for a metaphor:
I've seen ads from both Barack Obama and John McCain watching the Olympics this evening, but Obama's ads are in HD and McCain's are not. Please explain how this serves as a metaphor for the entire campaign.

Dildos At the Supreme Court
Ed Brayton brings us news that two different circuit courts have ruled two different ways on the rights of citizens to possess sexual "devices," and now it's up to the Supremes to make the final decision. Eugene Volokh is not sanguine about the outcome.

Substituting "Intelligent Design" for evolution invalidates biology credits needed to meet college admission requirements.
I've been following this case for a while. The Association of Christian Schools International sued the University of California, claiming that their rights were violated because the school refused to accept biology credits from classes that required the children accept the literality of Genesis. They called the UC's position "viewpoint discrimination."

The judge ruled that the material presented by the ACSI did not show an active discrimination against Christians in favor of a different viewpoint (reality is not a "point of view," thankfully; it hurts you whether you want it to or not!), and that the UC did not act unreasonably in affirming its standards.

Huzzah! (via The Questionable Authority)

The Homos are Coming, the Homos are Coming!
Sally Kern, who has appeared here before, used to put on a happy face to the public until she was taped at a private meeting cursing gays. Now she's taken off her mask and says she's a "cultural warrior for Judeo-Christian Values." The article linked says Kerns gave a speech in which she quoted Washington and Jefferson in saying this country was founded on "Biblical values" (funny how those somehow stayed out of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, huh?).

The article mentions that Kern is on crutches these days because of a bulging disc in her back. I wonder how that whole Intelligent Design arguments working out for her. (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)

Music is Drugs! Save Your Children!
In what has to be the most jaw-droppingly nutty article in months, room-temperature IQ reporter Kim Kommando reports on "binaural beats," tracks that vary the content delivered to both ears in the hopes of evoking some kind of unique experience in the brain. Kommando calls them "digital drugs" and ends with this breathless warning:
The sites claim binaural beats cause the same effects as illegal drugs. These drugs impair coordination and can cause hallucinations. They've caused countless fatal accidents, like traffic collisions. If binaural beats work as promised, they are not safe. They could also create a placebo effect. The expectation elicits the response. Again, this is unsafe. At the very least, digital drugs promote drug use.
And Elvis's hip gyrations encouraged teen sex.

Iran refuses to swim against Israel in the Olympics
What, he couldn't share the same water as a Jew? Or he didn't want to have to admit that he lost to one?

It might destroy the Earth. And it runs Linux
Worldwide, the LHC computing grid will be comprised of about 20,000 servers, primarily running the Linux operating system. Scientists at Tier-2 sites can access these servers remotely when running complex experiments based on LHC data, Pordes says. If scientists need a million CPU hours to run an experiment overnight, the distributed nature of the grid allows them to access that computing power from any part of the worldwide network.
I'm also with Scott Aaronson that the LHC must be started because, as he puts it:
Given our present state of knowledge, we simply cannot exclude the possibility that aliens will visit the Earth next year, and, on finding that we have not yet produced a Higgs boson, find us laughably primitive and enslave us. Yes, admittedly, the probabilities of this event might be vanishingly small, but the fact remains that it has not been conclusively ruled out. And that being the case, the Precautionary Principle dictates taking the only safe course of action: namely, turning the LHC on as soon as possible. The fate of the planet might conceivably depend on it.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: shrill
Current Music: Mozart, Symphony 38, Adagio

4 comments or Leave a comment
abostick59 From: abostick59 Date: August 12th, 2008 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
The "music is drugs" thing reminds me of the joke about why Baptists object to premarital sex: it could lead to dancing.
elfs From: elfs Date: August 12th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know what she reminded me of, actually? The Precautionary Principle. Kommando establishes no minimal threshold of risk, describes no research that demonstrates that any threshold might exist or be reached, and describes no actual consequences. That's what infuriated me most about it: the lack of any rigor at all in her thinking.
blaisepascal From: blaisepascal Date: August 12th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm less "Huzzah!"y about the ACSI v. UC case. The outcome wasn't "UC Prevailed" as much as "ACSI fucked up".

The ACSI apparently believed their court case would win on a facial challenge. The judge disagreed in March, but didn't address the "as-applied" argument.

Unfortunately for ACSI, they hadn't bothered to collect expert depositions or other evidence for the "as-applied" argument because they felt it wasn't needed. By the time ACSI was able to depose their experts on the issue, the discovery window was closed.

To go to trial on the as-applied issue, ACSI would have have evidence which establishes a disagreement on the facts of the case for the jury to decide. But because of the close of discovery before ACSI had deposed their witnesses, they had no admissible evidence, so no case to bring to trial.

This isn't over yet, and in fact ACSI has a clear path to follow: Have one of their member schools apply for recognition of their courses by UC, get denied, and then sue. This time, don't press the facial challenge very hard, but prepare hard for the as-applied challenge. Then get slapped down on the actual merits of the case.
gromm From: gromm Date: August 13th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
This bit was priceless, from Sally Kearn:

"What you have to be is someone who believes in a Judeo-Christian ethic, in other words, in knowing there's a right and wrong."

At first, I was gobsmacked. Then I started to laugh. And I laughed some more. And come to think of it, I think that anytime I'm in need of a little mood-brightener, I'll just think of that quote.

Well, I guess I have a Judeo-Christian ethic then. Because despite being an Atheist, I have a very distinct sense of right and wrong. And the best part is, that my sense of what's right and wrong is very nearly 180 degrees from what Kearn's sense of right and wrong is.

And the very best part, one which would piss Sally off to no end, is that Islam is as Judeo-Christian as you can get, without being either Jewish or Christian. The Muslims believe even more in Jesus than the Jews do, they just don't believe that he was the messiah is all (kind of like the Jews do, but different).
4 comments or Leave a comment