Saturday, June 30, 2007

Coming to a campus near you...

Advertising Age - MediaWorks
NEW YORK ( -- While 96% of online tweens and teens have used social networking technologies, 71% of online tweens and teens connect to a social network at least once a week, according to a study and white paper being released today from Alloy Media & Marketing, a youth-oriented marketing firm. And nearly half engaged with a brand in the space in the past month.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Whose music is it anyway?

Music industry attacks Sunday newspaper's free Prince CD | | Guardian Unlimited Business
"The Artist Formerly Known as Prince should know that with behaviour like this he will soon be the Artist Formerly Available in Record Stores. And I say that to all the other artists who may be tempted to dally with the Mail on Sunday."

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Global Warming Update

London Terror Car Packed With Petrol And Nails |Sky News|House Ads
Police have confirmed that not one, but two massive car bombs were set to explode in the heart of London's West End.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

I thought this already happened...

It looks like Christianity will need to return to its urban roots.

UN: Half the World Soon to Be in Cities
LONDON (AP) - Most of humanity will be living in cities by next year, raising the threat of increased poverty and religious extremism unless the needs of growing urban populations are met, the U.N. said Wednesday.

Some 3.3 billion people will live in cities by 2008, a report by the U.N. population agency report said. By 2030, the number of city dwellers is expected to climb to 5 billion.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Winners and Losers -

NEWS ON THE TALIBAN: "The Taliban has admitted defeat, in their own unique way. In recent media interviews, Taliban spokesmen announced a shift in emphasis to suicide bombings. The Taliban also admitted that the Americans had infiltrated their high command, which led to the death or capture of several senior Taliban officials, and the capture of many lower ranking ones as well. There have also been some prominent defections recently, which the Taliban spokesmen did not want to talk about."

UPDATE: That's okay, we're having our own defections, too.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

But it's so hip in Santa Monica

Cameron's bag raises a few eyebrows

Actress Cameron Diaz appears to have committed a major fashion crime in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated Shrek films may have inadvertently offended Peruvians.

They suffered decades of violence from a Maoist guerrilla insurgency by touring there on Friday with a bag emblazoned with one of Mao Zedong's favourite political slogans.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Speaking of Fashionable Urban Prejudices...

From Best of the Web:

The New York Sun, stirring up speculation of a presidential run by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, includes a quote that shows why such a run would be unlikely to succeed:

Mr. Bloomberg's freewheeling question-and-answer session was peppered with the kind of provocative, blunt talk that could appeal to some voters while alienating others. "It's probably because of our bad educational system, but the percentage of people who believe in creationalism is really scary for a country that's going to have to compete in a world where science and medicine require a better understanding," he said in one such foray.

If by "creationalism" Bloomberg means the idea that the book of Genesis is an accurate description of the origin of life on Earth, then he is right, at least, that a lot of people adhere to it. A 2005 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 42% believe that "humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time." Another 18% believe that "a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today." Only 26% endorse the view that "humans and other living things have evolved due to natural processes such as natural selection."

It's hard to see how one gets elected president by insulting the religious beliefs of at least 3 in 5 Americans. Of course, one might defend Bloomberg on the ground that he is a courageous truth-teller, unafraid to stand up for an unpopular view. But one would be wrong.

This columnist is among the 26% of Americans who hold a strictly naturalistic view of life's origin. Yet even we find Bloomberg's remark appalling in its arrogance and ignorance. He suggests that anyone who believes in the biblical account of creation is unqualified to do medical research or any other kind of science. This is a complete non sequitur, and it is belied by this story from the Associated Press:

Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating the exact date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible--exhibited this week for the first time--lay bare the little-known religious intensity of a man many consider history's greatest scientist.

Newton, who died 280 years ago, is known for laying much of the groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But in a new Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law--even penning a few phrases in careful Hebrew letters--and combing the Old Testament's Book of Daniel for clues about the world's end. . . .

In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the Apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

"It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner," Newton wrote. However, he added, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."

The AP notes that the Newton papers, according to the exhibition's curator, "complicate the idea that science is diametrically opposed to religion." No kidding. When Bloomberg endorses that idea, is he really expressing a devotion to science, or just a fashionable urban prejudice against serious Christians? (emphasis mine)

Somebody please tell Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris or whoever the Atheist of the month is. Heck, tell Darryl Dawkins. I don't care.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

European Apocalypto

Discovery Channel :: News - Archaeology :: Ancient Graves Suggest Human Sacrifice

June 18, 2007 — Physically disabled people may have been ritually sacrificed by European hunter-gatherer tribes as early as 24,000 years ago, according to an investigation into burials from the Upper Paleolithic period.

Well known in large, stratified ancient societies, ritual human sacrifice has never been apparent in the archaeological data of Upper Paleolithic Europe (about 26,000 to 8,000 B.C.).

But, according to lead study author Vincenzo Formicola of the University of Pisa in Italy, several of these burials suggest that human sacrifices may have been an important ritual activity in this period.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Don't tell Darwin

Evolution: hacking back the tree of life - life - 13 June 2007 - New Scientist

IF YOU want to know how all living things are related, don't bother looking in any textbook that's more than a few years old. Chances are that the tree of life you find there will be wrong. Since they began delving into DNA, biologists have been finding that organisms with features that look alike are often not as closely related as they had thought. These are turbulent times in the world of phylogeny, yet there has been one rule that evolutionary biologists felt they could cling to: the amount of complexity in the living world has always been on the increase. Now even that is in doubt.

While nobody disagrees that there has been a general trend towards complexity - humans are indisputably more complicated than amoebas - recent findings suggest that some of our very early ancestors were far more sophisticated than we have given them credit for. If so, then much of that precocious complexity has been lost by subsequent generations as they evolved into new species. "The whole concept of a gradualist tree, with one thing branching off after another and the last to branch off, the vertebrates, being the most complex, is wrong," says Detlev Arendt, an evolutionary and developmental biologist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany.

The idea of loss in evolution is not new. We know that snakes lost their legs, as did whales, and that our own ancestors lost body hair. However, the latest evidence suggests that the extent of loss might have been seriously underestimated. Some evolutionary biologists now suggest that loss - at every level, from genes and types of cells to whole anatomical features and life stages - is the key to understanding evolution and the relatedness of living things. Proponents of this idea argue that classical phylogeny has been built on rotten foundations, and tinkering with it will not put it right. Instead, they say, we need to rethink the process of evolution itself.

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Sicko Film Free From Largesse

CBS News:

Michael Moore advocates universal health care, but what does he think about free movies?

The controversial filmmaker will have to deal with that question after a report in Advertising Age that "Sicko," his new documentary on the failings of the U.S. health care system, has been pirated and is widely available for free downloading on the Web.

An Ad Age reporter said he was able to download and watch the film, which won't officially be released for two weeks, "with ease" last night.

Moore, who had worried that the U.S. government might try to suppress "Sicko" because of an allegedly unauthorized trip he took to Cuba, now faces "every film maker's worst marketing nightmare … how to persuade people to go to the theater to see a show that's available free on the Internet."

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Turn and face the strange... -

ADJUSTING TO CLIMATE CHANGE: "Many Arctic plant species have readily adjusted to big climate changes, repeatedly recolonizing the rugged islands of the remote Svalbard archipelago off Norway’s coast through 20,000 years of warm and cool spells since the frigid peak of the last ice age, researchers report in today’s issue of the journal Science. Their finding implies that, in the Arctic at least, plants may be able to shift long distances to follow the climate conditions for which they are best adapted as those conditions move under the influence of human-caused global warming, the researchers and some independent experts said."

Human-caused global warming goes back 20,000 years? Who knew?

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Xinhua - English

HONGTONG, Shanxi, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Police in north China on Friday announced they had rescued a further 220 slave workers from brick kilns and other illegal workplaces, such as small iron and coal mines.

The rescues of the workers, all in Shanxi Province, brings the total number of slave workers reported freed in China to 468 in the last month.

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Slam Dawkins

Read the whole thing.

The Dawkins Confusion - Books & Culture

Dawkins is perhaps the world's most popular science writer; he is also an extremely gifted science writer. (For example, his account of bats and their ways in his earlier book The Blind Watchmaker is a brilliant and fascinating tour de force.) The God Delusion, however, contains little science; it is mainly philosophy and theology (perhaps "atheology" would be a better term) and evolutionary psychology, along with a substantial dash of social commentary decrying religion and its allegedly baneful effects. As the above quotation suggests, one shouldn't look to this book for evenhanded and thoughtful commentary. In fact the proportion of insult, ridicule, mockery, spleen, and vitriol is astounding. (Could it be that his mother, while carrying him, was frightened by an Anglican clergyman on the rampage?) If Dawkins ever gets tired of his day job, a promising future awaits him as a writer of political attack ads.

Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins' main argument seriously.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Best line of the week -

Maybe the solution is for Starbucks to go into the gasoline business, so that people will be happy to pay outrageous prices.

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Romney puts the "green" back in the Monster

Marc Ambinder

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign will commandeer Fenway Park and a Boston arena for a night and a day late next week for a major last-minute fundraising extravanganza. It even has a fancy title: "America's Calling."

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Civil War in Iraq

My Way News - Hamas Overruns Rival Fatah's Key Posts
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Hamas fighters overran two of the rival Fatah movement's most important security command centers in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen into the street and shot them to death execution-style. Hamas also seized control of Rafah in the south, Gaza's third-largest city, according to witnesses and security officials. It was the second main Gaza city to fall to the militants, who captured nearby Khan Younis on Wednesday, and gave Hamas control of the porous border with Egypt, which has been the source of arms smuggling.

Since they found no weapons of mass-destruction and the country is sliding into civil war, the Bush administration should... hey wait a minute. What the heck? Does the US have any troops in Gaza? Well we should bring them home now because the surge is apparently not working.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Triablogue: Hitchens' flat world

Despite Hitchens entertaining style, his book quickly becomes tedious. If you are the sort of person who thinks it very clever to respond to, say, an argument defending the role of religious believers in a pluralistic society by shouting, "What about the Crusades?", you will be nodding along with Hitchens in emphatic agreement. If you find such ad historiam arguments tedious, you will be simply nodding off.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

You're outta here!

KnoxNews | No Silence Here

Courier-Journal sports reporter Brian Bennett had his media pass revoked and was ordered to leave the press box during a college baseball game Sunday because of what the NCAA said was a violation of its policies prohibiting live Internet updates from its championship events. "It's clearly a First Amendment issue," says C-J executive editor Bennie Ivory. "This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers."

More here.

What next? Are they going to confiscate cell phones?

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Things you should know before using Sitemeter « Michael Sync

Things you should know before using Sitemeter « Michael Sync: "It’s so sad for me to hear that SiteMeter, a well-known web stats providers, is pushing specificclick tracking and advertising cookies on to visitors of sites using their service. "

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Religious Hypocrisy

Sadly, elites have been using religion to solidify their power and wealth for centuries. The practice continues. -

MY EARLIER POST on Cape Wind reminded me of something I had read a while ago, and this column on the Cape Wind affair brought it back: "A tip of the hat to author William Tucker, who wrote an essay for Harper's magazine in December 1977 titled, Environmentalism and the Leisure Class: Protecting birds, fishes, and above all, social privilege. That article, on how rich landowners who wanted to protect their views used bogus environmental claims as a smokescreen, fits the Cape Wind scenario pretty well, too.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Think Different

Personal data found hidden in iTunes tracks-Business-Industry Sectors-Media-TimesOnline

Fresh privacy fears have been sparked after it emerged that Apple has embedded personal information into music files bought from its iTunes online music store.

Technology websites examining iTunes products discovered that personal data, including the name and e-mail addresses of purchasers, are embedded into the AAC files that Apple uses to distribute music tracks.

The information is also included in tracks sold under Apple’s iTunes Plus system, launched this week, where users pay a premium for music that is free from the controversial digital rights (DRM) software that is designed to safeguard against piracy.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation, the
online consumer rights group, added that it had identified a large amount of
additional unaccounted-for information in iTunes files. It said it was
possible that the data could be used to “watermark” tracks so that the
original purchaser could be tracked down were a track to appear on a
file-sharing network.

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Signs of War

Terror Plot "One Of The Most Chilling Imaginable" - News Story - WNBC | New York

NEW YORK -- As first reported by NewsChannel4's Jonathan Dienst, three people were arrested and one other was being sought Saturday in connection to a plot to blow up jet-fuel lines at John F. Kennedy International Airport, officials said.

Four people have been charged. Three suspects are in custody: Russell Defreitas, Kareem Ibrihim and Abdul Kadir. Another suspect, Abdul Nur is still at large.

Defreitas is to be arrainged Saturday in Brooklyn on terror conspiracy charges.

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I'm shocked, shocked...

Colleges veer left for '07 speakers - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Commencement addresses at the nation's top colleges and universities this year mostly were given by left-leaning or Democratic speakers with few conservatives snagging the honor, according to a report released yesterday by the Young America's Foundation.
The conservative group conducts the review each year using the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top schools. This year, it found left-leaning speakers outnumbered conservatives by a ratio of 8-to-1.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Death Penalty Deterrence - News From The Associated Press:
"Newton had insisted on the death penalty as punishment for choking and beating Jason Brewer, 27, his cellmate at the Mansfield Correctional Center, over a chess game in 2001."

Associated Press:
"Brewer died a few hours after the attack at Ohio State University Medical Center. Newton told authorities he made a rope and later cut a strip from his prison jumpsuit to strangle Brewer when the rope broke. He also stomped on Newton's head, throat and chest.

Newton admitted to the killing, and said he had never met or heard of Brewer until they had been put together in the cell."

Some say that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder. Here is a clear case where a murderer has been deterred from murdering any more fellow inmates while playing chess.

Watch and Learn

How he solved the Rubik's cube with his feet:

Interesting Stuff