Random stuff found while procrastinating :P

Addicted to buying books

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So the main way I express my materalistic consumerism is by buying books.  I probably own over 30 books I’ve bought in the last year or two that I haven’t read yet.  It’s pretty shameful but I just can’t help it.  Here were the ones I bought this week 😛

The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens.  Have wanted to read this for a long time.  Somebody was lauding her and I told them to read this, and then figured now was a good time for me to as well.

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.  I’ve also wanted to read some Machiavelli for a long time and this appeared somewhere on the website I was buying the books on, so I bought it 😛

The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby.  I figured a bit of professional advice can’t hurt 😛

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  One of those books I feel like I need to read.  Also it was really cheap 😛

The Future of Life by E.O. Wilson.  E.O. Wilson is pretty much my biggest hero, and I plan on reading all his books eventually.


Some US election stuff

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So I’m starting to get into the spirit for the US election, and even making plans for celebrating Obama victory.  There was a bunch of interesting stuff today about the election.

This article about rumours was particularly interesting, especially since it involves evolutionary theory and the application of mathematical models, to show that the best response to dispelling them is to respond publically to them, rather than ignore them.

Chris Hitchens wrote a typically awesome attack on McCain and Palin.  Worth reading, if just for laughs.

The 2008 Nobel Prize for Chemistry winner, Marty Chalfie has put out a video describing who he’s voting for and why  🙂

Written by beast9

October 14, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Massive Victory!!

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Victoria has passed legislation to decriminalise abortions 23 votes to 17!  Fantastic news, especially considering the underhand and deceitful techniques of the anti-choice religious fanatics.  Of course it’s not over yet.

Written by beast9

October 10, 2008 at 1:12 pm

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McCain hates science

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So I kind of missed the presidential debate earlier in the week, but it’s generated a lot of comment from science blogs because of the criticism about Obama supporting a “$3 million overhead projector.”  Andrew Kravtsov from the University of Chicago sums it up beautifully in this comment to a New York Times article on the story.  Quoted because I’m not sure if that’s a perm. link.

I am an Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Chicago (the University that today has added yet another Nobel Prize winner in the sciences for the US). I would like to comment on Sen. McCain’s statement during the today’s debate that Sen. Obama has earmarked “$3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Ill. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”

The way Sen. McCain has phrased it suggests that Sen. Obama approved spending $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment (overhead projector).
The 3 million is actually for an upgrade of the SkyTheater – a full dome projection system, which is probably the main attraction of the Adler Planetarium and is quite sophisticated and impressive piece of equipment.

I find it appalling that Sen. McCain would call a science education tool for public (largely children) for
a historic planetarium with millions of visitors a year a wasteful earmark. The planetarium’s focus, as stated on their website ( is “on inspiring young people, particularly women and minorities, to pursue careers in science.” Is an investment in such public facility at the time when US
competitiveness in math and sciences is a constant source of alarm a waste?

“American’s ability to compete in a 21st Century economy rests on our continued investments in math and science education,” said Rep. Brian Baird, Chairman of the Research and Science Education Subcommittee in Congress, after the passage of The 21st Century Competitiveness Act of 2007.

Considering such investments “wasteful earmarks” today, even in the face of the financial crisis, will severely cripple US economic competitiveness in the increasingly high-tech world down the road.

— Andrey Kravtsov, Chicago, IL

The other thing worth briefly mentioning is that there are oranges out there with THC in them.  I’m not sure how you get your hands on them, but it’s pretty interesting anyway.  The story of why the scientist in question developed them is even cooler (check the link 🙂 )

Written by beast9

October 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

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If politicians were trains

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Written by beast9

October 8, 2008 at 11:58 pm

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Bit of delay between posts as I have been away.

I have a better option for the US president – Big Foot.  Whatever happened to that guy?

This is also an awesome pony.  I want one.

In more serious news, this article from rolling stone has been getting a lot of attention everywhere.  It’s basically a massive attack on McCain and worth a read from anybody who cares about the upcoming election or has the opportunity to vote.

Leaving politics and returning to the more interesting subject of science, this is a really interesting article from this months SEED about human evolution.

Some recent research published in the journal Neurology show that some specific types of headaches can be cured by LSD.  Now Harvard Medical School is doing some experimentation to confirm the results.

Interesting post on Kevin Kelly’s blog, The Technium, about the expansion of ignorance as a result of the expansion of information.  Of course he really means that we’re turning more “unknown unknowns” into “known unknowns” – ie. we’re expanding the amount of things we know that we don’t know, rather than actually becoming more ignorant.

Nikon’s Small World photo competition is amazing.  Here are some of my favourites from last year;

There are so many more good ones worth looking at as well.  I would be here forever if I kept posting the ones I like.

Finally, and still on the subject of photography, the Boston Globe “The Big Picture” is always stunning.  The current set is from photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and are all arial photos.   Favourites posted of course (but really they are all amazing).

Written by beast9

October 8, 2008 at 11:58 am

Ralph Steadman

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I loved his last picture in the Independent.


Written by beast9

October 1, 2008 at 10:23 am

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