DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Archive for October, 2010

US to build £8bn super base on Pacific island of Guam

31st October 2010

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A great idea, if you’ve got a bulletproof ABM system. Otherwise, it’s just the Mother of All Juicy Targets that you have conveniently placed with in easy spitting range of the Chinese mainland.

However, Guam residents fear the build-up could hurt their ecosystem and tourism-dependent economy.

Get over it. There are people who want to kill us.

Posted in News You Can Use. | 1 Comment »

Serving Two Masters: Shariah Law and the Secular State

31st October 2010

Stanley Fish illustrates the fundamental blindness of the Crust with respect to the danger that Islam represents to what we call Western Civilization.

Prompted by Williams’s lecture and the responses it provoked, law professors Rex Ahdar and Nicholas Aroney have now put together a volume, to be published in 2011, under the title “Shari’a in the West,” a collection of learned and thoughtful essays by some of the world’s leading scholars of religion and the law. The volume’s central question is stated concisely by Erich Kolig, an anthropologist from New Zealand: “How far can liberal democracy go, both in accommodating minority groups in public policy, and, more profoundly, in granting official legal recognition to their beliefs, customs, practices and worldviews, especially when minority religious conduct and values are not congenial to the majority,” that is, to liberal democracy itself?

Well, to begin with, these fashionably liberal people persist in thinking of Islam as Just Another Wacky Religion. It isn’t. It is, as I never tire of pointing out, an oppressive totalitarian ideology; one that has as a core principle the obligation to extinguish all religions except Islam and every body politic other than the Muslim Umma–by force if that’s what it takes. In this respect it resemble Marxist-Leninist Communism: It cannot tolerate any incompatible social system, the occasional strictly practical abstention from attempting to take over the world to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Crust is focused on accommodating Islam as a religion; Islam is focused on subjugating the Crust’s very civilization, an objective which the Crust just refuses to see. ‘There are none so blind as they who will not see.’ That’s the long and the short of it.

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X-Ray Scanner Vans Not Just Being Sold To Law Enforcement

31st October 2010

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Plato in China

31st October 2010

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Whenever I speak with professors of philosophy, I am often surprised by how many of them embrace a Platonic rationalism in their thinking, particularly in moral philosophy. What I mean by that is that they assume that all of morality must rest on an intuition of a cosmic order of goodness or badness, right or wrong, so that moral thinking is like mathematical thinking in being concerned with grasping some eternal patterns of universal and eternal truth.

For many philosophers, this Platonic conception of morality is so strong that they cannot even comprehend how morality could be understood as rooted in the empirical reality of human nature, because for them moral philosophy is not an empirical study at all, but rather a purely normative study, and the standards of normativity transcend any empirical reality of human experience. One can see this in their method of thinking, which relies heavily on thought experiments based on purely imaginary scenarios beyond anything we could know by ordinary experience or historical study. John Rawls’ conception of the “original position” is one example of this.

As a political scientist who studies the history of political philosophy and the application of Darwinian science to political philosophy, I tend to think of moral and political order as arising from human history, and I use Darwinian science to illuminate that history as part of human evolutionary history. This sets me against those moral philosophers who assume that moral order–the normative order–must transcend human history as being “merely empirical.” I find this scorn for the empirical reality of human history and the striving for a transcendent world of utopian normativity to be strange.

So work your brain a little. I will do you no harm.

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Elastic joints help ostriches run fast

31st October 2010

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I’ll bet you didn’t know that.

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The ley lines of globalization

31st October 2010

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These new figures come from my new favorite toy, Maersk’s online shipping rates calculator. The Danish superfirm A.P. Møller – Mærsk Gruppen is the largest shipping group in the world, with offices in 135 countries, 120,000 employees, and roughly 600 container ships, capable of carrying more than 2 million 20? containers at any given time. They’ve also got a thoroughly badass IT system, which they’ve now made accessible to the general public.

Okay, it’s not exactly Amazon.com, or even Fedex. To use Maersk’s calculator, you need to register with the site, download a client browser certificate and accept three server certificates from Maersk before you can access their secure site. But once you do, it’s just a few short clicks before you can calculate the cost of shipping a 20? container of “umbrellas, sun umbrellas, walking-sticks, seat-sticks, whips, riding-crops and parts thereof” (yes, that’s one of the available categories, along with “bone and meal”, “ores, slag and ash” and “straw, esparto, other plaiting materials and articles of straw, esparto, other plaiting materials) from Auckland to Dubai: $2451.02.

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India’s ‘untouchables’ to build temple to ‘Goddess of the English language’

31st October 2010

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Leaders of India’s low-caste Dalits are to celebrate the opening of a temple shaped like a desktop computer to inspire “untouchable” children to improve their prospects in life by learning English.

They believe learning English will open up new opportunities for India’s 160 million Dalits in higher education and high-status government careers.

Good luck to ’em.

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Justice Department to Send Election Observers to Arizona as Concern Rises About Illegal Voters

31st October 2010

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That’s if they can spare time from suing the people who are trying to do the same thing, of course. Gotta have priorities.

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Your Fingers Know When You Make a Typo

30th October 2010

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The brain uses two different checks to guard against sloppy copy, a new study finds. By using a doctored word processor to sneak errors into typed words and surreptitiously fix typists’ real errors, researchers teased apart the various ways people catch their own mistakes. The study, published in the Oct. 29 Science, highlights the complexity of performance monitoring.

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How 3-D Printing Is Transforming the Toy Industry

30th October 2010

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DesignWorks creates prototypes and finished pieces in a variety of media (OK, a variety of plastics) for inventors, manufacturers and toy makers. LiDesignWorks used to create all of its models the old-fashioned way — by hand, in clay. And they still do; what’s changed since the invention of 3D scanners and stereolithography — now known by the more inclusive term 3D printing — is that they now have the ability to directly translate real world objects into miniature versions of themselves.

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Ideas, Execution, and Technical Achievement

30th October 2010

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Having the core of an idea is one thing. Developing it to the point that it becomes a platform that changes the world in which it lives is another. Turns out, that matters, too.

Indeed it does.

Posted in Think about it. | 2 Comments »

The Evolutionary Origin Of Laughter

30th October 2010

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One of the more complex aspects of human behaviour is our universal ability to laugh. Laughter has puzzled behavioural biologists for many years because it is hard to imagine how this strange behaviour has evolved.

Why would laughing individuals be fitter in reproductive terms? And why is this ability is built-in, like sneezing, rather than something we learn, like hunting?

Posted in Think about it. | 1 Comment »

Obama exempts Sudan, Yemen from Child Soldiers Prevention Act

30th October 2010

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Why? We report, you decide.

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Grade Inflation at American Colleges and Universities

30th October 2010

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One reason why your convenience-store-clerk job requires a college degree.

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Nigeria: Shipper Confirms Weapons Came From Iran

30th October 2010

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The confirmation by CMA CGM, an international cargo shipper based in France, comes after Israeli officials accused Iran of trying to sneak the shipment into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. By unloading the weapons in Nigeria, it suggests Iran sought to perhaps truck the weapons through Africa to slide around an embargo now in place in Gaza.

My, what a surprise. Aren’t you surprised? I’m sure surprised.

Posted in Living with Islam. | Comments Off on Nigeria: Shipper Confirms Weapons Came From Iran

Parents of Aid Worker Killed in Failed Rescue Attempt in Afghanistan Praises U.S. Military

30th October 2010

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The aid worker’s father praised the U.S. military’s readiness to admit their possible role in the tragic mistake and refused to criticize the Americans.

“It would appear the rescue attempt was so close to being a total success, and at the end, there appears to have been a human error. We do think that it’s very creditable of the Americans to own up that there’s been a mistake when they could so easily have covered the whole thing up. We do think they deserve credit for that,” he said. Linda Norgrove and three Afghan nationals were kidnapped Sept. 26 in the Kunar province of northeastern Afghanistan.

Something you don’t see every day.

Posted in News You Can Use. | 1 Comment »

Man rescued from pumpkin machine

29th October 2010

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British news is always more … interesting than American news.

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New Zealand passes ‘Hobbit’ employment laws despite protests

29th October 2010

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The government’s decision to rush through amended labour laws, part of the deal made with Warner Bros. Pictures to keep director Peter Jackson’s lucrative project in his native New Zealand, has divided public opinion.

Some union officials reportedly received death threats in the wake of a short-lived international boycott over working conditions.

My heart breaks for them.

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Credit Checks Give Rise to Claims of Discrimination

29th October 2010

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Well, duh–that’s the point: To discriminate against dishonest and stupid people.

The practice of checking the credit histories of job applicants is coming under fire, with critics contending the practice discriminates against blacks and Latinos who tend to have lower credit scores.

The reason they tend to have lower credit scores is because they tend to be less, shall we say, conscientious about paying their debts. But since a credit check targets individual behavior rather than a class, there ought not to be any legal problem with it. (Stop laughing.)

Posted in Whose turn is it to be the victim? | Comments Off on Credit Checks Give Rise to Claims of Discrimination

Venezuela business leaders attacked at gunpoint

29th October 2010

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The former president of the organisation, Albis Munoz, suffered three gunshot wounds in the attack and doctors say she is in stable condition in the hospital.

Gunmen intercepted the vehicle carrying the members of Fedecamaras shortly before midnight near the chamber’s office in Caracas. The assailants forced Munoz, Fedecamaras President Noel Alvarez, and members Luis Villegas and Noel Villasmil into another car, beat them and held them for around two hours before releasing them.

Hey, live in a dictatorship, that’s what happens. This is God giving you a hint that it’s time to leave.

Mr Chavez argues his administration is doing everything it can to reduce violent crime.

And if you believe that one, he’ll tell you another one.

Posted in Dystopia Watch | 1 Comment »

Hells Angels slap London dressmakers with trademark suit

29th October 2010

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The California-based motorcycle club, whose fearsome reputation includes the sudden and brutal application of trademark lawyers, believes the dressmakers, and its retailers, have overstepped the mark with a series of clothes and accessories featuring a skull and wings death head design.

Trademark? I guess they don’t make gangs like they used to.

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9 Policemen Killed in Ambush in Western Mexico

29th October 2010

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They’re just dropping like flies, aren’t they?

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Clueless in Washington

29th October 2010

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FBI agents who ensnared a suburban father in a terrorism sting involving a fictional subway bomb plot have turned their attention to figuring out what made the Pakistani-born U.S. citizen turn against his adopted country, officials said.

Well, perhaps he read the Koran and took it seriously.

Really, I can’t believe that we’re actually paying these people….

Posted in You can't make this stuff up. | Comments Off on Clueless in Washington

Jerry Pournelle looks at Scientific American

29th October 2010

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Apparently we aren’t the only ones who have noticed the decline in quality.

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Baby killed after interrupting his mother’s Facebook time

28th October 2010

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Going by her picture, I’d say that she gives ‘white trash’ a bad name.

But I suppose Farmville will do that to you.

Posted in Dystopia Watch | 1 Comment »

Why We Should Eliminate the Corporate Income Tax

28th October 2010

Megan McArdle lays it all out.

Wisdom. Attend.

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UK: More parishes reject Church of England bishops who ordain women priests

28th October 2010

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Like watching a snowman melt in the sun.

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Northrop Grumman’s CaMEL ‘bot features one .50 caliber gun, loads of class

28th October 2010

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Me want.

Posted in Is this a great country, or what? | Comments Off on Northrop Grumman’s CaMEL ‘bot features one .50 caliber gun, loads of class

Left wing liberals are born not bred

28th October 2010

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So punching a leftist is probably against the A.D.A.

Somehow I suspected as much.

Posted in Dystopia Watch | 2 Comments »

Is There Any Morality In Sitting On Your Couch And Playing Virtual Soldier?

28th October 2010

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Next to zombies, Nazis are the easiest, most guilt-free targets you can ask for.

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The Ultimate Case Study

28th October 2010

Scott Adams pulls it all together.

Don’t make decisions while drunk. The story doesn’t say alcohol was involved. But did I mention that one guy tattooed a giant penis on the other guy’s back?

Capitalism never sleeps. If someone offers you a free service, you should be suspicious of what he expects to get in return.  It might involve, for example, your friend laughing himself into a near coma.

A lot of good advice here.

Posted in Think about it. | Comments Off on The Ultimate Case Study

‘Let’s Rethink Masculinity’

28th October 2010

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Another in a long line of feminist attempts to feminize men, parallel to the standard strategy of attempting to masculinize women.

A key agenda for modern feminism is to work with men to decrease the penalties encountered by those who flout the expectations that stem from conventional masculinity. When ideal-worker norms police men into breadwinner roles, this hurts not only women. It also hurts many men who cannot live up to the breadwinner ideal. Since most American families cannot live comfortably on one income, many working-class men, as well as many middle-class men, find themselves in the painfully demoralizing position of being unable to “support their families.”

In short, ‘We need more wussy men! Let’s make it happen!’

Posted in Axis of Drivel. | 2 Comments »

Crayon Manufacturing: Then & Now

28th October 2010

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Don’t ever say we don’t have useful stuff here.

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UK: Mohammed, the nation’s (secret) favourite name

28th October 2010

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Welcome to Londonistan.

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New York Times Knowledge Network

28th October 2010

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And stop laughing. This is serious.

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British student invents a solar-powered refrigerator

28th October 2010

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This device is really slick.

The solar-powered refrigerator works with two cylinders, one inside the other. The inner cylinder is metal while the outer one is wood or plastic. In between these two cylinders is either sand or soil, which can be soaked with water. The sun’s rays heat the wet material, and as the water evaporates, the heat is removed from the inner cylinder. This keeps the fridge at a cool six degrees Celsius.

This is pretty cool (excuse the obvious refrigerator pun) considering that Emily Cummins is still in her early twenties. She has won awards for some of her other inventions including a toothpaste squeezer for arthritis sufferers and a water carrying device, also for use in the Third World.

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Our So-Called Experts

28th October 2010

Jim Manzi does some gun-and-camera work among the Crust.

Among those things that I think create significant structural advantages for the non-elites in the US versus the UK, two stand out: open primaries, and lack of membership in a supra-national organization like the E.U. Party elites have vastly greater say in picking who gets on the ballot in the first place in the UK (as a thought exercise, imagine the Tea Party movement without the ability to challenge incumbents and establishment-backed candidates in Republican primaries). Further, many of the most important decisions relevant to the issue are taken by an E.U. apparatus that is, even seen in its most democratic light, democracy on a very long leash. The elites therefore have an easier time suppressing a popular uprising on the topic before it can get off the ground.

One of the key structural differences is the ‘proportional representation’ system used by almost all (I’d say ‘every but U.K.’ but I don’t know for sure and I’m too lazy to look it up) European governments, under which voters vote for a particular political party and the party leadership determines who gets to sit in the legislature based on their share of the vote. This makes the parties all-powerful and the individual of no account except within the party. This, in turn, is why you get so many piss-ant little parties in European legislatures: It’s impossible to be a ‘maverick’ without a party behind you. This, in turn, is why you get so many unstable governments: The only way to get a majority on any particular piece of legislation is to cobble together a coalition of competing interests to serve as a temporary majority, which means that you either dissolve into a crowd scene that would make the ancient Polish Parliament with its liberum veto look like the Steelers, or you wind up in the hands of a cross-spectrum Crustian establishment where the questions are not one of political philosophy but rather of whose turn is it to wet their beaks.

Megan McArdle has some good points to make, as well.

Elites are often missing crucial knowledge, and unaware of it.  In some ways, that effect is more pronounced than it used to be, with more and more of the elites drawn from a narrow class of extremely well-educated people from a handful of metropolitan areas, few of whom have ever, say, been responsible for a profit and loss statement, or tried to bring a gas station into compliance with local and federal EPA regulations.  In a world where your primary output is words, it is easy to imagine a smoothly operating process based on really smart rule-making.  And there’s a certain impatience with the grimy, self interested folks who complain about the regulations imposed for the good of society–a certain forgetting that in aggregate, those whiners are society.  In essence, elites are always missing one vital piece of information:  what it is like to be someone who is not in the elite.

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Ten uses for your body after you die

28th October 2010

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It’s better when you have some interesting disease. Best, of course, is when your disease is a fashionable one, like HIV-positive.

Bazzel, who became the college’s communications director two years ago, has already seen the benefits of having real human body parts on display: When high school students come in and see his hips’ deformities, his lecture to them on the importance of safe sex takes on a whole new meaning.

Even a bad example is socially useful. Is this a great country, or what?

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Java-based Trojan horse targets computers running Apple’s Mac OS X

28th October 2010

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Fortunately, it targets users of social networks, i.e. the weak and stupid.

Think of it as evolution in action.

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‘Tea party’s Judson Phillips defends essay attacking congressman for being Muslim’

28th October 2010

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Well, of course, he didn’t ‘attack’ the Congressman for being a Muslim; he urged that the Congressman not be re-elected because he is a Muslim, which is a perfectly reasonable position for anybody who has, you know, actually read the Koran … which I suspect that nobody at the Washington Post has actually done.

But, of course, that’s an invincible blind-spot on the part of those who are psychologically committed to the position that Islam is ‘just a religion’ and hence ought to be excluded from any debate on public policy–despite the fact that Islam is not just a religion but a totalitarian ideology based on religion, and despite the fact that those who write for (and read?) the Washington Post wouldn’t give any religion other than Islam the respect that they would give, say, a convicted murderer.

Especially amusing is the accompanying photograph, showing Muslims engaged in their customary ‘hate speech’ with the caption ‘Muslims begin education campaign to counter U.S. backlash’ (a ‘backlash’ for which there is absolutely no evidence, unlike the daily evidence that all the hate is on the part of Muslims–as this photograph makes plain).

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

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Environmental entrepreneur Ayr Muir sees a fast-food answer to global warming.

28th October 2010

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Muir, 32, is the founder of Clover Food Labs, a deliciously eccentric, environmentally minded, customer-savvy food business that he started in a Kendall Square lunch truck, not far from the labs he used to call home. The truck, which runs on biodiesel, has served a growing (and largely omnivorous) audience for two years. Clover doesn’t trumpet its meat-free ways, but Muir’s not out to convert unwitting Kendall Square lunchers into vegetarians. What he wants is to shrink the ecological footprint of the food industry by making fresh, local, sustainable vegetarian food as common and convenient as the fare at Burger King or McDonald’s. “My biggest motivation is environmental,” Muir says. “We have all these customers who never thought they’d eat meatless every day at lunch, and they do.”

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‘Whales and dolphins at risk from new ferry route between Spain and Morocco’

28th October 2010

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Well, perhaps; so what? Pedestrians are ‘at risk’ whenever a new road is built; we don’t avoid building new roads because of that.

A new ferry route across the Strait of Gibraltar is threatening the largest concentration of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean, environmentalists have warned.

The correct term for these people is not ‘environmentalist’ but rather ‘anti-humanist’–they give every other species priority over their own. You won’t see any animals, for example, doing stupid stuff like that. Animals are smarter than environmentalists.

“There is an exclusion zone that is ignored already and now they are going to create a new route that slices it in two,” Pilar Marcos, head of Greenpeace Spain’s coastal campaign, told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

What ‘exclusion zone’? The one that Greenpeace would like to pretend exists where they want it to?

Instead it will urge freighters sto reduce their speed during the crossing to 13 knots and post lookouts on deck to “avoid collisions with cetaceans”.

Sure, whales that can’t be bothered to get out of the way are an adequate reason to creep across the ocean. Hey, guys, the point of going from point A to point B is to get there in as little time as possible; this isn’t a senior-citizen Golden Years cruise. Thirteen knots might have been hot stuff when sails were in vogue but I’ve ridden bicycles that go faster.

“In 2002 we saw one close up. A freighter passed by our side and ran into a sperm whale, which was left expelling jets of blood,” said Renaud de Stephanis, president of CIRCE.

It’s not as if these were stealth watercraft. Whales that are too stupid to get out of the way will die and not reproduce; eventually you have a whale population that knows enough to avoid ships. That’s called ‘evolution’, and all the cool species are doing it. (For all their supposed fondness for nature, these ‘environmentalists’ seem remarkably clueless as to how it works.)

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‘Hobbit’ Director Peter Jackson: Unions ‘Put a Gun to My Head’

28th October 2010

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Jackson said the union called the ban, which has since been lifted, before contacting him about its concerns.

“They are attempting to characterise their actions as an innocent request for a meeting, but the truth is they kept a loaded gun to our heads the entire time,” he said in a statement.

Well, duh. That’s what unions do. That’s what they’re for.

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Every cop in town quits after Mexico attack

28th October 2010

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The entire police force of a small northern Mexican town quit after gunmen attacked their recently inaugurated headquarters, according to local reports on Wednesday.

Los Ramones Mayor Santos Salinas said nobody was injured in Monday night’s attack, during which gunmen fired more than 1,000 bullets at the building’s facade, according to Noroeste newspaper’s website. Six grenades, of which three detonated, were also flung at the building, the newspaper reported.

I guess that the Bad Guys are winning.

Posted in Dystopia Watch | 1 Comment »

Credit cards get colour screens

28th October 2010

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Toppan Printing has demonstrated a credit card with a colour screen and keypad, claiming that you don’t need a mobile phone to manage mobile commerce.

The card, which at 3.9mm thick squeezes into the definition of such, has a 2.2-inch colour screen with a 320×240 resolution, but most importantly Toppan Printing reckons it will cost under $25 when production ramps up next year. As highlighted by NFC World: a card like this makes proximity payments viable without relying on a mobile telephone.

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15 Killed in Mexican Car Wash Massacre

28th October 2010

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Perhaps we ought to bring some of those nice young men back from Afghanistan and put them along our southern border and, oh, I don’t know, maybe build a fence or something.

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Watchdog Warns SEIU Contract for Nevada Voting Machines Poses ‘Fraud’ Concern

28th October 2010

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A contract between SEIU Local 1107 and Clark County — where voting glitches were reported Tuesday — makes the SEIU the sole union representative for, among other professions, voting machine technicians.

Manning said it is “suspicious” that glitches were just reported in that county’s machines, referring to complaints from voters in Boulder City that Reid’s name was already checked when they went to cast their ballots for his opponent, Republican Sharron Angle. Fox5Vegas.com reported that several voters in the Clark County jurisdiction experienced the same problem.

I’m shocked, I tell you, shocked.

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The Passion Trap

27th October 2010

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The more emphasis you place on finding work you love, the more unhappy you become when you don’t love every minute of the work you have.

I hate passionate people. Passionate people are surrendering control over what they do to impulse and emotion. Such people are less than human.

I especially hate employers who want their subordinates to be ‘passionate’. That’s like employing convicted felons; sure, it might work out, but it has a lot of potential to end Very Badly.

I prefer being actionate myself. Actionate people get results; passionate people merely suffer entertainingly.

Posted in Think about it. | 1 Comment »

Saudi woman freed after six months in jail for disobeying her father

27th October 2010

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The tyranny of the mahram, or “male guardian” turns women into perpetual minors at any age. To artificially limit the rights of adult women in this way is to render them second-class citizens, in keeping with Muhammad’s declaration that women are “deficient in religion and intellect” (Sahih Bukhari 1.6.301).

And the feminists say: (chirp) (chirp) (chirp)….

Posted in Living with Islam. | Comments Off on Saudi woman freed after six months in jail for disobeying her father

‘Tolkien – Middle Earth Meets Middle England’

27th October 2010

China Miéville does a number on you-know-what.

I have no idea why so many prominent SF writers are socialists.

Perhaps it’s because, like most ‘artists’, they feel an innate compulsion to have somebody else (their parents, their government, the in-laws, the taxpayers) pay their expenses while they make-believe.

Perhaps it’s something in the water.

There’s no obvious reason for seemingly intelligent people to doublethink their way toward a system that would, if realized, throw most of them in a GULAG. Fortunately, reading them and enjoying them doesn’t necessitate listening to them, or taking them seriously.

Mieville is a good example, although others (Brust, Doctorow, Scalzi, Westerfeld, Stross) abound. He’s a great writer — nobody wins a Hugo without being a great writer — but his main criticism of Tolkein seems to be that the latter wanted to return to a pre-Industrial Revolution past … conveniently ignoring the fact that the entire Young Left over the last fifty years, from the Woodstockian hippies to the GreenPeace eco-terrorists, want the exact same thing, except with Really Good Weed. Wavy Gravy wasn’t sent to the Hog Farm by Richard Nixon’s stormtroopers.

Ah, well. Read The City & The City and take whatever action you deem appropriate.

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