prolost

vivere est cogitare

Tag: stupidity

we don’t want your kind here

Q: “I don’t trust Obama, I have read [sic] about him. He’s not… He’s not… Errr… He’s an Arab.”
A: “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with…”

Colin Powell offers the correct answer to the Muslim/Arab “attacks,” and it is truly a pity that Obama has not yet spoken out about this:

But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.

We’ve come so far since those bad old days, one could be forgiven for believing that we’ve made some progress. That is, until one has observed that which is the conservative “pro-America” (if by America you mean bigotry) population.

McCarthy would be proud

Michele Bachmann expresses a nonsensical, ideologically inspired and dangerous view that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about America and its founding ideals. To call those who are critical of government policy and structural inequities that cause suffering (i.e. a failure to realize the ideals of America, whatever that even means) anti-American is not only profoundly idiotic, but smacks of the violently nationalistic attitude that empowered the most terrible regimes the world has ever seen.

this makes no sense

A seagull nearly landed right on me today. I’ve no idea why.

RCW 46.61.667

People need to stop calling Bluetooth headsets (that is, headsets and similar devices utilizing the Bluetooth wireless communication protocol) “bluetooths.” It makes you sound stupid.

ohgod

This is why we’re all screwed.

long time no see

It’s been a busy month. Presented a talk in lab and at the UW Honors Research Colloquium, and bringing a poster to the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium, had 2 papers and 2 midterms. All in the first 10 days of May.

I Puritani is next week; it will be the last opera of the season, and I don’t yet know for sure whether I will renew my subscription. Opera is a magnificent thing, but it costs a lot of money. It can be a difficult expense to justify.

Art itself, in fact, begs for justification. As long as it remains quiet, unoffensive, cute and trite, art draws no criticism, and indeed hardly any attention at all. Putting aside constraining definitions of art itself, what is its purpose? And more to the point, does expression have limits?

Wafaa Bilal’s minor modification of Night of Bush Capturing, in turn a modification by the Global Islamic Media Front (likely a media arm for Al-Qaeda) of Quest for Saddam, a game created by Jesse Petrilla, a conservative American citizen, drew great ire from conservatives in Troy, NY where Bilal was exhibiting his work (sorry for the complex arrangement of subordinate clauses). The ignorance and failure of reason here is staggering. The original American-made game perpetuates negative stereotypes and ignorant hatred of its targets; the Global Islamic Media Front modification simply turns it on its head, and reflects back upon us how inaccurate and harmful such portrayals can be. And Bilal, in placing his own likeness into the game, is expressing how easily the attitude of those orchestrating and supporting the Iraq War can contribute to the disillusionment and even defection of people who previously had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda. Such perspective ought to be valued, not vilified.

And what of Burma/Myanmar (it doesn’t matter which name is more “correct;” the politics of language is always problematic)? Does coercive humanitarian aid (a rather awkward and loaded construction) constitute a perpetuation of Western Imperialism? Many Colonial and Imperialist endeavors have been attached to ostensibly noble goals.

If nothing else, the hesitation of the United States to even undertake supply airdrops without the permission of the Burmese government highlights the utter hypocrisy and ruthlessness of the Iraq War.

On a lighter note, Nate finished building his computer. But Linux drivers… :effort:

va, tosca

Two weeks ago I saw Seattle Opera’s production of Tosca. It is quite an amazing opera, and this production was marvelous, if not especially distinct. Greer Grimsley made an amazing Scarpia, and I definitely want that cloak from the Te Deum scene (of which no pictures can be found on the internet, sadly).

The United States House of Representatives has managed to maintain a strong stand against the lies and fear-mongering of the Republican party and the Bush Administration on the issue of retroactive immunity for telecommunications corporations. Of this I am glad, though often it seems as though not enough is being done. In this and many issues, it is exceedingly clear that ignorance plagues Americans. The case against retroactive immunity is so blatantly compelling that no informed citizen with a functional brain should support immunity; yet somehow it does not draw sufficiently widespread and scathing criticism as to kill the idea entirely.

Ich bin ein Berliner

As a matter of principle I believe it is important to evaluate all information from primary sources when making decisions of significance (e.g. the presidential election, the question of whether the event is actually significant notwithstanding, i.e. accepting the assumption that it is). This is the only way to avoid being misled by deliberate or accidental misinformation. Examples of the former include basically anything from Faux News, anything out of the Bush administration regarding FISA/PAA, and so on. Of the latter, a general example would be inaccurate popular science, such as the “Equal Transit theory.”

But a tremendous hindrance exists, making this principle difficult to put into practice: we (as a people) are not well educated. To be sure, many of us will come to be proficient in a particular discipline, while some will never be very knowledgeable about anything at all. But we are called upon to make decisions that would ideally require extensive knowledge in practically every discipline. This makes it incredibly difficult to evaluate all issues with which we will be faced, unless we manage to confine ourselves to a world in which all we have to decide is whether Britney Spears should ever have more children.

For instance, who actually understands global warming? In attempting to weigh the consensus view against dissenting ones, I realized that I don’t know the first thing about how to analyze or approach the data. And I would be highly skeptical of anyone who claims to understand the scientific bases of the global warming issue, unless they are able to support such a claim by explaining the mathematics behind the models.

gaydolf titler

Work finally begins on the Tbr2 project, focusing for now on the SVZ. Since this is really no longer my project it’s become considerably less exciting, but the pursuit of knowledge and other vague concepts remain intact.

Today’s youth in America suffer from a tremendous lack of proper education in history and the arts. I think this is not only a sign of the epic failure of our education system, but more significantly a reflection of the undervaluation of history and knowledge itself in our society. Ignorance is why so many Americans are fooled by the half-truths and outright lies fed to us by the institutions of power and repeated by the media ad nauseam. It is impossible to make an informed decision (e.g. when deciding who will best govern us at all levels) without having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the facts and the consequences of proposed actions.

A better understanding and awareness of history (and particularly the ability to think critically about such things) on the part of Americans would all but eliminate the possibility of a tragedy like the Bush Administration ever recurring. But that is nothing but a distant fantasy that will likely never be realized in this world.

Yet another area in which the United States of America leads the world. Americans sure do like being #1. I would write a paragraph or two on how terrible the system of “justice” is in the United States but I feel that this subject would more appropriately fall under Nate‘s “jurisdiction,” if you will.

In closing, I would appreciate any insight as to why the water in Drumheller Fountain was brown today.

The right of the people…against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is wonderful.

I’m glad the Democrats in the House of Representatives refused to pass Bush’s bullshit wiretapping bill. Unlike the Senate. Though Obama, Murray and Cantwell all voted to strike the retroactive immunity provision (o/), the motion to do so failed.

It’s almost surprising that the White House and even those Republicans in Congress would be so stubborn about something that is so blatantly ludicrous. But politicking prevails, and the rights and interests of the American people are swept under the rug in favor of corporate interests and government power. These pieces highlight how completely full of shit this bill – and especially the Republicans’ insistence on passing it – really is.

Once again, the unrelenting idiocy/evilness of the right-wing politicians delivers what would be top-notch entertainment – if we weren’t living in it. Even more depressing is that there are people who agree with them.

Sometimes the batshit-crazy right-wingers invoke the ever-popular argument that the “Liberals” are not thankful for these rights that our soldiers are so valiantly “defending.” The truth is, we are thankful enough for these precious rights that we bother to use them. Only someone without a functioning brain could conclude that the only appropriate way to express gratitude for our rights is to give them all up.

how is ron paul still running?

My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.

Apparently we are collaborating with a lab in Germany on the Tbr2 OB project, something which is entirely news to me, and Rebecca is also now onboard with the project. So this very quickly went from a little inconsequential project of mine into a much more substantial piece of research in which I will play an appropriately small part. Nice.

Everyone in WA should go caucus tomorrow. Even though (or because?) it sounds a little naughty. And in spite of the ludicrosity (though my dictionary doth protest, this should be a word) of the way elections work in Great Nation of America.

After/while listening to Mitt Romney deliver his spiel before announcing that he would suspend his bid give up, I decided that I really just don’t “get” those millions of conservatives in America. I mean seriously, are they delusional? Have they never actually encountered the real world? The platforms that these conservatives run on are constructed entirely out of fantasies and ridiculous claims. For instance, Romney said something about American “culture” being attacked. I wonder if any of his supporters can even tell us what American culture is. There are some really ignorant people in this country.

FBLEND looks like it’s about to rock your world. Well actually it won’t, but it will rock some sociologist’s world (and with any luck, more than one) and that’s really all that matters, right?

denaturing, annealing and extending

I’ve been trying to get around to a new post but I just haven’t had the time.

There’s an interesting thread on xkcd discussing the relative merits of welfare, which I found to be a pretty good read. A really fundamental assumption that is always made when talking about whether welfare is good, will work, etc. is the assumption that people will behave as you think they will. This is not always as simple as one might be inclined to believe.

Mythbusters recently ran an episode focusing on the internet’s beloved airplane on a conveyor belt question. Having read a few very long threads on this question, I have come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of people who, having been presented with the reasons why the plane definitely does take off, still believe that the plane does not take off:

1. Stupid people.
2. People who have misunderstood the problem.

The first kind are often beyond remedy. Some simply lack a fundamental understanding of physics; those can be taught. However the second kind are evidence that this particular question is vulnerable to confusion or lack of specificity/clarity. Often, constraints are assumed despite not being stated explicitly (that the plane must be stationary relative to the ground is one such assumption; it is never stated in any version of this problem that this must be the case – many simply fail to consider the problem carefully and leap to this assumption). Other times, the question is simply stated poorly (saying that the conveyor belt matches the speed of the wheels is a recipe for disaster, unless you subscribe to a universe which allows infinite speed and acceleration).

Edit: I will also leave a space for the people who understand the problem and simply state that it is possible to construct a system in which the plane does not take off; however the result of such an arrangement does not represent any reasonably designed airplane and thus such a case need not be considered. Essentially it must have incredibly high friction at the bearings where the axle meets the wheel. Disregarding momentarily the ludicrousness of the problem itself, it only makes sense to consider airplanes designed reasonably – one likewise would not consider, for instance, an airplane without engines or wings, etc.

Also, BioRad is the best.

Lately EVE has been getting more attention from my computer. The politics and history thereof in this game are really interesting. Film at ‘leven.