Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Get your impeachment on

Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese argue that Bush should be impeached in the Boston Globe today:

"THE IMPEACHMENT of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, should be part of mainstream political discourse.

Minutes from a summer 2002 meeting involving British Prime Minister Tony Blair reveal that the Bush administration was ''fixing" the intelligence to justify invading Iraq. US intelligence used to justify the war demonstrates repeatedly the truth of the meeting minutes -- evidence was thin and needed fixing.

President Clinton was impeached for perjury about his sexual relationships. Comparing Clinton's misbehavior to a destructive and costly war occupation launched in March 2003 under false pretenses in violation of domestic and international law certainly merits introduction of an impeachment resolution"

Read more here

Thursday, May 26, 2005

TV in the future

Conan O'brain writes about the future of television in Newsweek:

TiVo, the digital recorder with a brain, will continue to evolve with alarming speed. Super-TiVos will arrange marriages between like-minded viewers and will persuade mismatched couples to throw in the towel and start seeing other people. Tough-talking TiVos will even confront viewers, saying, "You've watched 40 straight hours of 'Sponge- Bob'—get off the weed!"

Read more here

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Bubble

I just purchased a house last week, putting me among the landed gentry. I was a little concerned about buying during the height of the housing bubble...but since I bought in Champaign, IL, which is basically in the middle of a cornfield, I feel ok about it.

For you folks living on the east and west coasts, you're totally screwed. Read about it here on a blog devoted to the upcoming real estate apocalypse. Good times.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Store Wars

from a parallel universe, far far away...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Aw, You Got Your Sith in my Jedi!

Okay, after seeing Revenge of the Sith twice yesterday (once at the midnight show, and then again at 5 p.m.) I'm a bit star wars-ed out, but I wanted to just go on record with a few things. It is a) better than the previous two films, b) would have been better still with a different director, and c) does contain laughable "romantic" dialogue.

All that aside, the effects were good, the wookies were used sparingly, and four-armed dudes with lightsabers ROCK. Ian McDiarmid and Ewan McGregor were the only ones who bothered to act, but they did a pretty kick-ass job. Oh, and Yoda was much less cartoony than in Clones.

And I'm pretty sure I know which sequence Speilberg directed... I'll have to look that up.

And then go watch the original trilogy about six more times.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stay Classy, San Diego

The Times is doing a special series on class in America. It's great because i can act all sanctimonious and liberal about how this county is totally divided along class lines, but then I can scramble to use their interactive graphic to see where I fit in. Don't worry folks, I'm safely in the elite.

Read more here .

Friday, May 13, 2005

A cromulent post embiggens the soul

Duane invited me to post to the immoral minority about 8 mos past. Unfortunately, it got mixed up with some other messages in my inbox and I've spent all this time distracted with the immoralsorority.com. Anywho, my first post is a link to another blog. I don't know how many other folks will be excited by this linguistic analysis of Simpson's humor. But my life is richer knowing that the following is funny because it's an island violation.

Moe: You know what I blame this on the breakdown of? Society.

Apparently, Marge's trademark sound might be an example of pharyngeal constriction, but the jury is still out.

I really gotta get back to writing this grant.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mental Steriods

I've spent this morning procrastinating. I was invited to write a book chapter on experimental methods, which is quite possibly the most boring thing I've ever had to write. Sadly, it was due a month and a half ago, and I check my inbox every morning, terrified that the Editors (who are somewhere in Europe) have sent yet another polite where-the-fuck-is-your-chapter email.

Thus, the morning has been spent staring out the window, reading the Times, watching kids outside my dining room window doing bike stunts (i don't think schools quite out yet), and checking the IM for posts. I wish I had some Adderall. Joshua Foer (yes, there's a relation) describes his experimentation with it in Slate:

"As an experiment, I decided to take Adderall for a week. The results were miraculous. On a recent Tuesday, after whipping my brother in two out of three games of pingpong—a triumph that has occurred exactly once before in the history of our rivalry—I proceeded to best my previous high score by almost 10 percent in the online anagrams game that has been my recent procrastination tool of choice. Then I sat down and read 175 pages of Stephen Jay Gould's impenetrably dense book The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. It was like I'd been bitten by a radioactive spider.

The first hour or so of being on Adderall is mildly euphoric. The feeling wears off quickly, giving way to a calming sensation, like a nicotine buzz, that lasts for several hours. When I tried writing on the drug, it was like I had a choir of angels sitting on my shoulders. I became almost mechanical in my ability to pump out sentences. The part of my brain that makes me curious about whether I have new e-mails in my inbox apparently shut down. Normally, I can only stare at my computer screen for about 20 minutes at a time. On Adderall, I was able to work in hourlong chunks. I didn't feel like I was becoming smarter or even like I was thinking more clearly. I just felt more directed, less distracted by rogue thoughts, less day-dreamy. I felt like I was clearing away underbrush that had been obscuring my true capabilities."

Read more here .

Sunday, May 08, 2005

jon stewart, cheesesteaks, and freakonomics

i was in new york last week, where i got to see a live taping of the daily show. every college town probably has a really good, really cheap restaurant that becomes a student-favorite, and for me and duane and our friends that place was Hoagie Haven. as it turns out, jon stewart is a proud native of lawrenceville, NJ, which is down the road from princeton and hoagie haven. knowing this, i went to the show sporting my bright orange haven t-shirt. before the show, jon came out to take questions and chat with the audience. after he made one joke that people mostly snickered and grumbled at, the following exchange ensued:

JON: settle down! you might not know it from looking at me, but i'm tough. i'll fight anyone in here! except for the guy in the hoagie haven shirt.
ME: thanks jon, i appreciate it.
JON: for those of you who aren't familiar with hoagie haven, it's incredible. they have, like, the best sandwiches in the world, at ridiculously cheap prices. i just don't get it. it's not a viable economic model they're running. i swear it's a front for a russian heroin outfit.
ME: can i ask you what your favorite sandwich at the haven is?
JON: sure, i don't mind sharing that information with you at all. i like the whole cheesesteak, with lettuce/tomato/mayo. jersey style, not philly style. what about you?
ME: i've got to go with the chicken parm. just spices.
JON: ahhh, the chicken parm. let me tell you: these guys at the haven will go to frank purdue's backyard and pick out anything you want, fry it, put it on bread with a stack of cheese.... two dollars and fifteen cents.

it was pretty satisfying. and duane assures me that this story would be interesting to more than just him :)

incidentally, steven levitt, an economist from u. chicago, was talking about his new book "freakonomics," in which he describes (among other things) some research he's done that links the dramatic drop in crime rates in the early 90s to the Roe v. Wade decision. the general logic is that people getting abortions were those most likely to have had unwanted children, who are in turn the kids who would have been most likely to commit the very types of crimes that dropped off severely right about the time they would have reached the prime criminal age... he's gotten a lot of shit for this, as you can imagine, but actually remains pretty neutral about the morality of the issue and his claims. he's just a brilliant and creative economist with access to great datasets and precise models that rule out many of the other obvious factors that might contribute to such effects. he also has a terrific analysis of why most drug dealers still live with their mothers. it's worth checking out it you're interested in how econ can shed light on some of the more interesting mysteries of everyday life.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Brave New World

Just some scary saturday morning fun from the FDA.... Since we all know only gay people get HIV.... uh-huh.

(from Washington Post)

FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules


NEW YORK -- To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug
Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any
man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be
barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.

The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay
men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS
virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than
adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by
any would-be donor, gay or straight.

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with
HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay
man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been
celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in
Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors.

Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a
sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm
for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there
is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.

Although there is disagreement over whether the FDA guideline
regarding gay men will have the force of law, most doctors and clinics are
expected to observe it.

The practical effect of the provision _ part of a broader set of cell
and tissue donation regulations that take effect May 25 _ is hard to
gauge. It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and
prefer to use a gay man's sperm for artificial insemination.

But it is the provision's symbolic aspect that particularly troubles
gay-rights groups. Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal,
has called it "policy based on bigotry."

"The part I find most offensive _ and a little frightening _ is that
it isn't based on good science," Cathcart said. "There's a steadily
increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still
has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the

In a letter to the FDA, Lambda Legal has suggested a screening
procedure based on sexual behavior, not sexual orientation. Prospective donors
_ gay or straight _ would be rejected if they had engaged in
unprotected sex in the previous 12 months with an HIV-positive person, an illegal
drug user, or "an individual of unknown HIV status outside of a
monogamous relationship."

But an FDA spokeswoman cited FDA documents suggesting that officials
felt the broader exclusion was prudent even if it affected gay men who
practice safe sex.

"The FDA is very much aware that strict exclusion policies eliminate
some safe donors," said one document.

Many doctors and fertility clinics already have been rejecting gay
sperm donors, citing the pending FDA rules or existing regulations of the
American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"With an anonymous sperm donor, you can't be too careful," said a
society spokeswoman, Eleanor Nicoll. "Our concern is for the health of the
recipient, not to let more and more people be sperm donors."

However, some sperm banks, notably in California, have welcomed gay
donors. The director of one of them, Alice Ruby of the Oakland-based
Sperm Bank of California, said her staff had developed procedures for
identifying gay men with an acceptably low risk of HIV.

Gay men are a major donor source at Traiman's Rainbow Flag sperm bank,
and he said that practice would continue despite the new rules.

"We're going to continue to follow judicious, careful testing
procedures for our clients that even experts within the FDA say is safe," said
Traiman, referring to the six-month quarantine.

The FDA rules do not prohibit gay men from serving as "directed" sperm
donors. If a woman wishing to become pregnant knows a gay man and asks
that he provide sperm for artificial insemination, a clinic could
provide that service even if the man had engaged in sex with other men
within five years.

However, Traiman said some lesbian couples do not have a gay friend
they know and trust well enough to be the biological father of their
child, and would thus prefer an anonymous donor.

Dr. Deborah Cohan, an obstetrics and gynecology instructor at the
University of California, San Francisco, said some lesbians prefer to
receive sperm from a gay donor because they feel such a man would be more
receptive to the concept of a family headed by a same-sex couple.

"This rule will make things legally more difficult for them," she
said. "I can't think of a scientifically valid reason _ it has to be an
issue of discrimination."

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Short Biography of Richard Dawson

When I read Duane's entry, I misread Dawkins as "Dawson" and realized we don't have enough Richard Dawson-related content on this site.

Richard Dawson was born in Gosport, England on the 20th of November, 1932. When he was 14, he joined the Merchant Marines and served for three years. During that time he made money boxing. He had to lie about his age, and remain tough so the older guys wouldn't hassle him.

When he moved to the states, he began acting on the well-known series "Hogan's Heroes" in 1965. He played the loveable British Corporal Peter Newkirk. The show ended in 1971. Not long after that, in 1973, he became a panelist on "Match Game" and remained there until 1978. While still on "Match Game," he hosted his own show, which he is most remembered by, called "Family Feud." His trademark 'kissing all the female contestants' was one of the things that made the show a warm and friendly program, along with his quick wit, subtle jokes, and ability to make people feel at ease with being on camera. [Yeah, getting tongued by a creepy stranger always puts me at ease--shan]

In 1987, Richard co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie "The Running Man." Richard played an egotistical gameshow host, Damon Killian, whom many say was a mirror image of himself at one time or another, during his real-life career. [In other words, he's a dick--shan]

When Richard was 62, he hosted the third incarnation of "Family Feud" in 1994, but had only a short run.

You can read about Dick's fictional exploits here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dawkins Interview

Salon interviews Richard Dawkins on his views of religion and evolution.

"Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional "next world" is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them."

Read more here .