Monday, October 30, 2006

A logo for the godless - the looking glass

There's been some recent discussion on what atheists should use as an icon. Something analogous to the Cross or the Star of David. It should look good as jewelry or a bumper sticker or wherever.

My suggestion? The Looking Glass.

It's iconic. It's easy to draw - the spray paint version is just a circle and a line. It has a positive rather than negative connotation. I'm thinking of the sherlock holmes metaphor - those who wield the looking glass are closely examining the evidence in the world and the universe rather than taking answers on faith and authority. They are People of Science rather than People of the Book.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Lancet Study

Jim Henley's crowd is discussing the new Lancet study of Iraq deaths. Here's the comment that bears repeating:
Iraq is too dangerous a place to even merely count the dead, which ought to embarass any remaining apologists for the invasion.
Sure, you could quibble about a few ugly trees, but stand back a bit and that's a hell of a forest.

No matter how much of a raving loon the editor of the Lancet is.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV

The Asylum Street Spankers rule! Here's the magnetic ribbon song:

And here's "Whatever":

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What do you want to be free to choose?

Bryan Caplan asks of libertarians: What currently illegal thing do you personally really want to be free to do? (besides "not pay taxes")

Many of the government-related frustrations that come to mind have to do with air travel. I said:

I want to be free to show up at the airport 20 minutes before the flight, jog out to the gate and get right on the plane without having waited in a security line or been searched in any way at all. (I'm confident some airlines would provide this option to the hoi polloi if it were legally allowed, just as private planes at private airports currently provide it to the rich and well-connected.)

When picking up a friend at the airport, I want to be free to walk right out to the gate and meet them as they get off the plane. I really miss that.

I want to be free to resell my airline ticket to somebody else.

I want to be free to fly anonymously or under an assumed name without fear of being denied access or being detained or delayed.

I want to be free to buy Sudafed (and various other drugs, a few currently illegal) over-the-counter without having to show ID and wait for a pharmacist to copy down all my details. As with the security line, I don't mind waiting in line when it's necessary but I deeply resent being forced to wait in line merely for what Bruce Schneider calls "security theater" - to show that somebody is "doing something" about a perceived threat.

How about you?

Arkansas Traveler, Chuck Norris Found in Iraq

Excerpts from a marine's excellent letter:
Most Profound Man in Iraq - an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines (searching for Syrians) if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."
They should have asked for directions while they were at it. "Can I take this road to Baghdad?" "Don't know why you'd want to; they've already got one there!"
Best Chuck Norris Moment - 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in the small town of Kubaysah to kidnap the town mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the bad Guys put down his machinegun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machinegun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.
Rodney Dangerfield would love this guy. "Man, my neighborhood was rough!" "HOW ROUGH WAS IT?" "It was so rough..."

(hat tip: Jim Henley)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PS2 Levels Highest in 800,000 Years, Scientists Say

A recent analysis of ice cores from the Antarctic shows the worldwide PS2 concentration is the highest it has been in the past 800,000 years.

The Sony PlayStation 2 was released on March 4, 2000. Since then, it has become the fastest selling gaming console in history with over 120 million units shipped worldwide by March 31, 2006. Scientists had long suspected PS2 growth rates might be unsustainable and historically unprecedented but the recent ice core study confirms it: the surge in PS2 production has produced higher PS2 levels than at any time in the past 800,000 years.

As analysis of ice cores from the Antarctic continue, we have moved from the finding that PS2s are at their highest concentration in 450,000 years to 650,000 years and now to 800,000 years. The limit to this record is supposed to be around 900,000 years. Even though the antarctic ice sheet is older than that, the continent has been mostly ice covered for the last 15 million years, the usable record is limited by melting from the bottom and corruption of the record due to motion and pressure.

What this new result reconfirms is that humanity is really taking us off the charts in terms of the entertainment environment that has existed for longer than the entire history of the human species. (other indicators such as ocean sediments suggest we may be at a 20 million year high, though the time resolution is not as fine nor the measurement as direct).

And we have done this in under one decade.

It doesn't take a computer model to tell a sincere and intelligent person that this is folly on a monstrous scale. There is nothing in geological history that tells us this is nothing to worry about, in fact, quite to the contrary.

Other Evidence of Global Gaming

Computer models known as Game Circulation Models (GCMs) suggest that by the year 2100 the planet will be dangerously flooded with high-quality videogaming options.

Some "global-gaming skeptics" had claimed the rise in PS2 levels might be a natural fluctuation unrelated to human activity, but the latest GCMs disprove this. According to one scientist: "Our computer models are only able to reliably predict the current PS2 concentration when human influences such as manufacturing and retailing are taken into account."

(hat tip: Coby Beck)