Saturday, December 04, 2010

Fellow ex-pats flaunt fried chicken, induce gluttony.

Embassy related folks partook of Monrovia's new restaurant, Monroe's Chicken, see here.  Which forced - literally forced - me to search it out today for dinner.  So very good.  Southern raised as I am, fried chicken is my kryptonite.  Well, one of them at least.  [See, also: the internet, books, comics, whiskey, chocolate, rum... I could go all day, people.]
Wish I'd have taken the camera out today, because the restaurant is a nice little setup.  Next time.  Except they deliver, so I may never have to leave the house again.
Bonus points for the restaurant's slogan - "The Love of Chicken Brought Us Here."  Which is made of awesome because Liberia's national slogan is "The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here."  Which, you know, they established once arriving in West Africa and subjugating the local populace.  But I digress.  
Bottom line: awesome.

Haul from the Liberian craft fair.

Got some good stuff.  Some of ya'll will see these things again - omiyage preparations begins now.

Colorado > North Carolina.

NC born and raised, it makes me sad.

The Sweet Spot Between Everclear and Pabst Extra Light - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine:
"This week North Carolina banned the 190-proof version of Everclear from its state-run liquor stores. Why? Because it's too strong. As the chairman of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission explained, 'young adults drinking nearly pure alcohol are especially vulnerable to alcohol poisoning.' Another ABC official declared that virtually pure grain alcohol is 'probably the most dangerous product we sell' and has 'no redeeming social value.'

Meanwhile, Colorado is cracking down on bars and restaurants that sell light beer. Why? Because it's too weak. Unlike the North Carolina ban (which is similar to the policies of 14 other states), the Colorado rule is justified not by invoking idiots who die of alcohol poisoning after chugging Everclear right from the bottle but by arbitrary regulations that say grocery and convenience stores may sell beer no stronger than 4 percent alcohol by volume, while bars and restaurants have to stick to beer above that threshold. The long-ignored alcohol floor is being enforced at the urging of the stores, which want to eliminate competition in the watery swill market."
Hey, pontificating, grandstanding political morons, no alcohol has "redeeming social value."  People drink alcohol to feel the effects of alcohol.  Otherwise they'd have a cuppa tea or a Coke.  And restricting anybody's choice to purchase strong liquor 'for the children' is inane.  Stop trying to nerf the harsh edges of reality and making us all weak and soft headed.

In the wise words of immortal Jim Jefferies:
"I’ve never met an interesting person in my life who doesn’t drink. If you don’t drink you’re a boring cunt and all your stories suck. All your stories end the same way with ‘and then I got home’. No one gives a shit that you’ve been promoted at work and no one gives a fuck that your kids don’t have bruises. Ever ask a nondrinker why they don’t drink? It’s the same fucking answer every time. You go ‘why don’t you drink?’ and they go ‘well, I don’t like the taste of it.’ NOBODY DOES! No one likes the taste of it. We drink because we fucking have to! No one ever has had a shot of Tequila and said ‘OH! That’s lovely! Next time I’ll have that instead of pudding it’s so delicious!’ We drink because life’s shit and you go and do whatever you can to get through the fucking day."

'I'd like to test that theory.'

I've read... about Buffy, Season 8, the comic book I've been catching in tpbs. The internets + living overseas is not conducive to remaining spoiler free. Spoiler after the jump.

Howdy, neighbor - "Dispute over Ivory Coast election result."

Elections in West Africa are... different, apparently.  It'd be like if Gore, in 2000, got the backing of the Army and decided he was going to be president anyways, after the Supremes decided to halt the recount.

BBC News - Dispute over Ivory Coast election result:
"The opposition candidate in Ivory Coast's presidential election has declared himself the new head of state, despite his election victory being overturned by the Constitutional Council.

Alassane Ouattara has received strong backing from the international community, but the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to accept the result.

He has received the support of the military and is due to be sworn in on Saturday."
More herehere and here.

Friday, December 03, 2010

I see your Philosoraptor and raise you one Bachelor Frog.

You know, you'd think I couldn't relate - being married 13 years now, but I was a geo-bachelor for about a year and a half, plus, some of these feel oddly applicable between the hours of 9-5. Still no Courage Wolf or Socially Awkward Penguin tho'.




   


More, after the jump....

A bible [format, at least] I could get behind.

Not quite abstinence education.

Ha-ha, I say.

Point - "...what is going to happen to the various newspapers that do exactly - exactly - the same thing [as Assange], namely publishing those exact same cables?"

Via Assange and WikiLeaks « LewRockwell.com Blog:
"“Now that everyone and his uncle is calling for the blood of Assange for his illegal distribution of cables, what is going to happen to the various newspapers that do exactly — exactly — the same thing, namely publishing those exact same cables?”"

You cannot be certain.

'After a lecture, a journalist asked me how she could be certain that my information was not just as biased... At first I did not know what to say. Afterwards I found the answer.

She could not be certain. Everyone must gain the truth in an active way. If you want to know something you must look at all the premises yourself, listen to all the arguments yourself, and then decide for yourself what seems to be the most likely answer. You may easily be led astray if you ask the authorities to do this work for you.

This is also the answer to those who wonder why even honest scientists are misled. And it is also the answer to those who after reading this book, ask the same question.'
- Uffe Ravnskov

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
– Buddha

“Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
- Robert Anton Wilson

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Speaking of Kazushi Sakuraba, how can you not love this dude?

Made of Win.  Filled with Awesome.

Jason 'Mayhem' Miller - @mayhemmiller - brings the funny & the profound.

Mayhem is one of my fave fighters of the current era, even if he just did put a smackdown on my favorite fighter of all time - Kazushi Sakuraba. Actually a pretty damn good writer too. Here he waxes philosophical.

Can you dig it? - No one Believes in You:
"No one believes in you. Nobody cares about your hopes and dreams and what you want to do with your life. No one cares about your accomplishments, or what potential you have. No one thinks that you can do what you set out to do. You will get eyes rolled. You will get smirks and facetious 'Good Lucks.' People will talk behind your back that you can't make it to your goal.

Appreciate this. Use it as fuel. Burn it in effigy. Condense it into crystalized form, stir it into your coffee and drink it up. The only one that needs to believe in you is YOU. Charge forward in whatever you do with total disregard for the fact that you may fail. When you do fail, try again. All the new age self help toilet fodder is not going to replace you working your absolute ass off. This is free advice, so take it for what it is worth.

I don't believe in you. Prove me wrong and laugh my famous laugh in my face."

Young adult with autism, author & cartoonist, publishes his first book.

This is kind of a cool & touching story. Website here - http://dustinanddarling.com/

About the author -
"Hi, my name is Dustin Nunn and I am 20 years old... and I love drawing cartoons. Ever since I was 4 years old, I started drawing cartoons. I have been drawing for over 16 years, and yet I still draw. I am the creator of the comic strip series, “Dustin & Darling”   ...When I was born, not only was I born with a talented gift of drawing, I was born with autism and I am a slow learner at things. I like playing video games, surf around on YouTube, and spend time with family and friends. I don’t play video games as much because I like to stick with my artwork."
News report on his story.


You can pick up the book here
or via Amazon.

US of Fear - "...whatever inconvenience, embarrassment, or humiliation you suffer... shouldn't be thought of as something the terrorists have done to us. It's what the American national security state... demands of its subjects, based on the idea that no degree of danger from a terrorist attack, however infinitesimal, is acceptable."

Full article is lengthy, but well worth reading.

The United States of Fear by Tom Engelhardt:
"...We live, it seems, in a national security "homeland" of little angry bureaucrats who couldn't be happier to define what "safety" means for you and big self-satisfied officials who can duck the application of those safety methods. Your government can now come up with any wacky solution to American "security" and you'll pay the price. One guy brings a failed shoe bomb on an airplane, and you're suddenly in your socks. Word has it that bombs can be mixed from liquids in airplane bathrooms, and there go your bottled drinks. A youthful idiot flies toward Detroit with an ill-constructed bomb in his underwear, and suddenly they're taking naked scans of you or threatening to grope your junk.

Two bombs don't go off in the cargo holds of two planes and all of a sudden sending things around the world threatens to become more problematic and expensive. Each time, the price of "safety" rises and some set of lucky corporations, along with the lobbyists and politicians that support them, get a windfall. In each case, the terror tactic (at least in the normal sense) failed; in each case, the already draconian standards for our security were ratcheted up, while yet more money was poured into new technology and human reinforcements, which may, in the end, cause more disruption than any successful terror attack.

...And yet there are a few dots that still need to be connected. After all, since the beginning of George W. Bush's second term, Americans have been remarkably quiet when it comes to the national security disasters being perpetuated in their name. America's wars, its soaring Pentagon budgets, its billion-dollar military bases, its giant new citadels still called embassies but actually regional command centers, its ever-escalating CIA drone war along the Pakistani tribal borderlands, the ever-expanding surveillance at home, and the incessant "night raids" and home razings thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, not to speak of Washington's stimulus-package spending in its war zones have caused no more than the mildest ripple of protest, much less genuine indignation, in this country in years.

...Americans don't tend to connect what we're doing to others abroad and what we're doing to ourselves at home. We refuse to see that the trillion or more dollars that continue to go into the Pentagon, the U.S. Intelligence Community, and the national security state yearly, as well as the stalemated or losing wars Washington insists on fighting in distant lands, have anything to do with the near collapse of the American economy, job-devastation at home, or any of the other disasters of our American age.

As a result, those porno-scanners and enhanced pat-downs are indignities without a cause – except, of course, for those terrorists who keep launching their bizarre plots to take down our planes. And yet whatever inconvenience, embarrassment, or humiliation you suffer in an airport shouldn't be thought of as something the terrorists have done to us. It's what the American national security state that we've quietly accepted demands of its subjects, based on the idea that no degree of danger from a terrorist attack, however infinitesimal, is acceptable. (When it comes to genuine safety, anything close to that principle is absent from other aspects of American life where – from eating to driving, to drinking, to working – genuine danger exists and genuine damage is regularly done.)

We now live not just with all the usual fears that life has to offer, but in something like a United States of Fear..."

Hobo Twist!* Wikileaks #cablegate as disinfo/cointelpro.

Pretty darn unlikely, too many moving parts and would require too many folks [as mentioned in the comments] to tamp down their fevered egos...  so unlikely, yes.  But with intel, thinking layers upon layers is fun, if non-productive. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!  Besides, he namechecks RAW's The Illuminatus Trilogy in the first paragraph FTW.

The Wikileaks Twist - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine:
"*Historian of the neocons Jacob Heilbrunn at the National Interest on cui bono? from the latest leaks? Obama bono! (Or Cui Obama!, I ain't no Roman, mea Americanus!)"

*'Hobo Twist!' a catchphrase developed by my esteemed wife and one of her friends when watching a TV show with an unforeseen plot twist-y development.  Why "Hobo Twist!"  I don't remember... but it's a phrase that rolls off the tongue like milk&honey, so I have stolen it.  Hobo Twist!

Jesus. H. Christ. - "TSA recommends using sexual predator tactics to calm kids..."

Yes, parents, let your kids know that when strangers assert authority over them and start touching them all over... it's just a game and they should do as they're told.

TSA recommends using sexual predator tactics to calm kids at checkpoints - Boing Boing:
"TSA regional security director James Marchand advises parents whose kids are upset by TSA groping to make a game of it, a suggestion that alarmed sex-abuse prevention experts, since 'Telling a child that they are engaging in a game is 'one of the most common ways' that sexual predators use to convince children to engage in inappropriate contact.'"

3 reasons Japan is awesome today [and 1 it is not.]

Reason #1 - Creativity under adverse conditions - Marketing Japan: Porn Filmed in Japanese McDonald's? I'm Rubbin' It!

Reason #2 - Pragmatism and rational self interest - Japan's Motion to Kill Kyoto Protocol a 'Slap in the Face,' Advocates Say | SolveClimate News  [Look, without the US, China or India bound by this, all you're asking people to do is shoot their economy in the foot.  And that's even if carbon emissions, not adaptation, is a better way to deal w/global warming.]

And Reason #3 - This.  Just this - Jesus mourns Tokyo subway umbrella losses - Boing Boing


In the 'not awesome' category, it looks like the end of an era - No K-1/MMA on broadcast TV on NYE. That may be the only thing that's swung in my favor since I had to leave Nippon this summer.  If I don't get free shows on NYE of people beating the hell out of each other, then no one does -  

"With there being an impasse between Tokyo Broadcasting System and K-1 over what to do with Dynamite on New Year’s Eve, the bitterness that fans are tasting has nothing to do with an emotional connection for K-1 as a product. This time around, the sadness is all about the fact that MMA may not make it again onto a major broadcast network in Japan for a long, long time (if ever again)...  
Currently, the situation right now for Dynamite appears to be on course for a ‘no TV’ show. In other words, it may air on HDNet and on SkyPerfecTV PPV, but perhaps not on broadcast television. The whole point of the New Year’s Eve concept when it was developed and crafted by K-1, DSE, and Antonio Inoki was to stage an assault on NHK’s Kohaku (Red & White Music Festival show) and demonstrate the strength and appeal of the fight game. It worked. Despite finishing second or third at times, the NYE shows demonstrated an erosion in viewership for NHK’s programming."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Philosoraptor is a goodness.

Hat tip to Mike's Facebook page.  Good meme, nice meme...


NC no longer the greatest state.

You know, in my personal pantheon of US states, NC has long ceded the #1 spot to Hawaii, but honestly, now... in NC, what will you mix with fruit punch? I am sad for America.

Texts From Last Night:
"(910):  NC is no longer selling 190 proof Everclear. We are officially no longer the greatest state."

Hinder's 'All American Nightmare' speaks to my raised-in-the-south-in-the-80s-a-little-white-trashy youth.

Good song tho'.  Kinda diggin' it.

Dick-ish police VS the crazy religious! Who will win?! You decide!

No, you won't actually. Though, personally, I find myself leaning towards the crazy religious on this one.

The Yeshiva World First Report: Councilman Greenfield Calls For Suspension Of Cops Who Forced Orthodox Jew To Violate Shabbos « » Frum Jewish News:
"The resident of Midwood was walking home from synagogue on Friday night, wearing the traditional black hat and jacket worn by observant Jews, when he admittedly jaywalked across the street. While jaywalking, he was stopped by two police officers from the 61st Precinct who demanded his identification in order to issue him a summons.

The man was happy to give his name and address to the police officers, but he had no identification at the time.  The man was not carrying his driver’s license because observant Jews do not drive, and are also prohibited by Jewish law from carrying items, on the Sabbath.  The young man asked the officers if they would walk him to his home down the block where he would then provide the officers with his driver’s license. The officers refused and threatened to arrest him for jaywalking. The young man pleaded with the officers, but to no avail. Under threat of arrest, they forced the young man to violate Jewish law by writing his name and address down..."

The funniest, if not the final, word on WikiLeaks #cablegate - "UNMANNED WIKILEAKS DRONE DESTROYS AFGHAN VILLAGE."

The Daily Mash - UNMANNED WIKILEAKS DRONE DESTROYS AFGHAN VILLAGE:
"WIKILEAKS was last night accused of putting lives at risk after destroying an Afghan village with an unmanned drone.

Important secret experts said the attack by the online whistleblower was its most devastating since it killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in the search for weapons of mass destruction that it secretly knew were all made up.

The slaughter came just hours after the website, popular with paedophiles and smokers, published 250,000 secret documents that revealed, for only the 78 millionth time in human history, that governments are run by the sort of utter tosspots you wouldn't have in your house.

"...we talked about vitally important things that need not concern your decent hard-working little head. Suffice to say we are extremely clever and the things we do are so breath-takingly important that we have to keep them a secret or someone with a codename will be strangled by a man in a turban.

"Do not argue with me, for I am Sir Malcolm Rifkind."

...Meanwhile, Julian Cook, professor of international news stories at Reading University, explained: "Everyone that America has been spying on would have already assumed that America was spying on them and if they didn't then they are even more cretinous than these leaks confirm them to be."

He added: "Nevertheless, the point about Wikileaks undermining the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would have some validity, if only it wasn't such a humongous vat of liquidised monkey-shit from start to finish.

"Because - and you might want to write this down and keep it somewhere safe - the key thing that has undermined the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is them firing their big fucking guns at Iraqis and Afghans.

"And of course that is usually on the orders of weasely little inadequates with penis issues who like to keep everything secret in a bid to make their imaginary cocks even bigger."

But sources at the Ministry of Defence confirmed that Professor Cook's comments had already put lives at risk in Belgium and Ecuador, adding: "And of course, he's also a rapist.""

"Epic Rap Battles of History - Darth Vader vs. Adolf Hitler" - Great thing? Or GREATEST. THING. EVER?

"I am Adolf Hitler, Commander of the Third Reich. Little known fact:  Also dope on ze mic..."

Via Marketing Japan: Hilarious! Darth Vader vs. Adolf Hitler Rap

Plus the not quite as funny but still worth a chuckle - John Lennon vs Bill O'Reilly...

"Well, you Can't Buy Me Love, but I'll kick your ass for free..."

TSA House Party.

TSA "opt out" parody from the Red vs Blue creators - Boing Boing:
"...chortle-inducing short about the essential and creepy incoherence of the security theory..."

WikiLeaks #cablegate roundup PT II - "Truth is treason in the empire of lies." - Ron Paul/2008

PT I here... more ruminations from around the interwebs...

Secretary of Defense on the leaks - Gates on Leaks, Wiki and Otherwise - NYTimes.com:
"“Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation...  “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’"
Stewart nails the one of the more cogent "revelations" of the cables, which wasn't really, if you know anything of the region...  the inanity of funding the funders of Islamic militant extremism, our 'buddies' the Saudis.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Il Communication
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook


Which is predated by those paying attention, by this "epic rant" by Dylan Ratigan.  Truly excellent.  Particularly the dumbfounded looks on the faces of the rest of the talking heads panel.
"...there is a small group of well-funded Wahhabi extremists, funded by the Saudi Arabian government, to whom we gave money...  American oil money and American guns, to the Saudi Arabian government...  Those guns, that money, to Wahhabi extremist Muslims in Saudi Arabia. The only ones who have ever killed us. Them.  We are not at war with Islam, we are not war with Muslims, we are not at war with Afghanistan, we are not at war with Iraq, Iran, it's nonsense...  it is an extraordinary failure of our politicians and our media [...] to fail to make that distinction...


Punish the Wiki “Sleazeball?” Bill, Chill. « John Stossel:
"After the last Wikileaks dump of on-the-ground reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, officials panicked. “Innocents will die,” former CIA director Michael Hayden wrote.

The reality? Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote: “The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised.”"
Ron Paul quote hat tip via ‘Treason’ « LewRockwell.com Blog

A man who struck me as very smart, who I voted for, said
“The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they’re being made, and whether their interests are being well served. For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city…That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known."
That was President Obama. But like many things in the hope/change era, this has turned out to be little more than rhetoric, which profoundly disappoints me.

Japan, still different. Still awesome. "Miniskirts on Mount Fuji..."

So filled of win.  Via.

Miniskirts on Mount Fuji as Japan's `Yama Girls' Spur Trekking - Bloomberg:
"Forget the ice ax and $500 climbing boots. The mode du jour for today’s female mountain hikers in Japan is a miniskirt and leggings.

The North Face, a maker of Gore-Tex waterproof jackets, and Alpine Tour Service Co. are targeting “yama girls,” or mountain girls, the nickname for the growing number of women who are taking to the hills of Japan wearing short pants or fleece skirts with leggings and designer trekking boots.

“I want to wear something cute like a skirt,” said Machiko Miyauchi, 25, who made her first ascent of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak, earlier this year after buying new equipment and shoes. “Climbing is healing. You can breathe fresh, clean air.”"

Oh, entitled parents...

Bonus points for being Asian.

Overheard in New York | Could a Pipe Solve This Problem? Discuss.:
"Asian mother, walking past smoker: Get your cigarette away from my baby!
Smoker: Get your baby away from my cigarette!
Old woman: Yeah! Fuck you, lady!

--W 96th St & Broadway

Overheard by: Hobbes"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sinfest nails it in one.

Via.

Brutal/Hilarious - "So You Want To Be A Diplomat."

Huzzah! - "The Return of “Get Your War On."





Uncomfortable Truthasaurus is a bit of a hero.

I don't care, I think it's funny.


Via An Appropriate Response to the Police State | End the War on Freedom

American stupidity [in the name of security] continues to spiral - No international packages over 1lb allowed in.

More at the link.

Sealed With a Kiss by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers:
"What does modern North Korea, 1600 ~ 1853 Imperial Japan and the USA have in common? Those government's try to support failing systems by cutting their people off from the foreign influence. It's called, in Japanese, Sakoku. Sakoku means something like isolation from the outside.

In North Korea, if they catch you trying to escape, they execute you. Imperial Japan did the same thing. How much longer until the USA tries this? Laugh now but the situation there is getting more absurd by the minute.

People from the outside of the USA can't send you regular mail in many cases anymore.

Americans have lost their freedoms and their country. How much longer will they tolerate what has happened to them? How much farther will they allow their government to invade on their privacy in order to give them "security"?

Considering all the recent uproar about police brutality to TSA groping, I wonder, how many more of these mini cancers will be needed to accumulate before the entire system collapses?

Now, unbeknownst to most Americans, I'm sure, people outside of the USA can no longer mail you packages if that package weighs more than 1 pound (453 grams). That's the total weight including packaging. One pound is not very heavy..."

40-Proof Adult Chocolate Milk. Awesome/Terrifying.

Must try.  But fear, with a steady supply, I'd never be sober again.

Adult Chocolate Milk: 40-Proof Alcoholic Nostalgia | Foodbeast:
"Adult Chocolate Milk is a 40-proof alcoholic drink featuring real cream, “rich chocolatey flavor”, advertised to taste like the original classic, but with an adult-like alcoholic update. Each Adult Beverage will come packaged in retro-chic bottles..."

Homepage - Adult Chocolate Milk

Holy Shit.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, Studies & Science - making it hard to not call it all hokum.

I first remember reading something along these lines way back in Robert Anton Wilson's The New Inquisition - something to the effect that only about 40% [don't quote me, shooting from memory and impression here] of all recommended modes of therapy from MDs were actually supported by peer reviewed double blind placebo controlled studies.  The rest of the time they were just using medical "common sense."  Which struck me as no more commonsensical than normal "common sense" - which is rarely either.  When you read about Ioannidis' work debunking what passes as medical and scientific research, you run the risk of going too far around the bend.  It's certainly important to not make a god of science, or your opinion of what science is, but when you take it too far then you're potentially turning your back on centuries of progress.  Still, for the process of science to mean anything at all, it needs to be subject to every variety of examination and every attempt to poke holes in it.  That's the only thing that separates the concept of science from every other form of dogmatic belief.

Much more at the link, all interesting.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science - Magazine - The Atlantic:
"Ioannidis, who had mostly been listening, delivered what felt like a coup de grĂ¢ce: wasn’t it possible, he asked, that drug companies were carefully selecting the topics of their studies—for example, comparing their new drugs against those already known to be inferior to others on the market—so that they were ahead of the game even before the data juggling began? “Maybe sometimes it’s the questions that are biased, not the answers,” he said, flashing a friendly smile. Everyone nodded. Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?

That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences...
...rates of wrongness roughly corresponding to the observed rates at which findings were later convincingly refuted: 80 percent of non-randomized studies (by far the most common type) turn out to be wrong, as do 25 percent of supposedly gold-standard randomized trials, and as much as 10 percent of the platinum-standard large randomized trials. The article spelled out his belief that researchers were frequently manipulating data analyses, chasing career-advancing findings rather than good science, and even using the peer-review process—in which journals ask researchers to help decide which studies to publish—to suppress opposing views."

This is awesome - "The Real Voice of Japanese Students."


Via California English: How some Japanese students feel about English in the Public School 

"TurBaconEpic Thanksgiving" = Magical Genius.

"A bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a pig."

Yes, this - "[religion] ...didn't deny death. They were obsessed with death. But they denied life."

HARDCORE ZEN: DEATH AGAIN:
"When I looked into religions it was all about escape. They offered ways by which they said you could escape from this life into a life in Heaven or Krishna Loka or a variety of other places. They didn't deny death. They were obsessed with death. But they denied life. What they said translated to me as something like, 'Trade your life now for a chance at something amazing after you die.'

They made the trade sound reasonable. I only get to live in this world a few decades. But the afterlife, they said, is eternal. So I was supposed to live a bland, boring , restricted, white bread and mayonnaise life now in the hopes of a really super terrific future in the afterlife that would last forever.

Problem was, I couldn't believe in the afterlife. The evidence for its existence was not convincing at all.

...What I'm about to say might seem like mysticism, but here goes anyhow. Once you start seeing this moment for what this moment really is, you start to understand that you can never really be annihilated in the ways that you previously imagined could happen. What I think of as "Brad Warner" is a construct in my mind. It isn't real. Yet there is a real something upon which that mental construct I've called "Brad Warner" is based. This something can't really die because it was never really born. At least not in the sense we commonly think of things being born and dying. Yes, Brad Warner was born and yes Brad Warner will die. And yet he is not just an individual entity. He is also a temporary manifestation of something vast and unknowable that has no beginning and no end.

Weird shit, huh? Sorry about that."

'-isms' are too much like religions.

'Hate' is a stronger word than I'd use. And being a privileged white male who could never understand my privilege [the internets really needs a sarcasm font] I don't know what I'm talking about, etc, etc. And this goes a ways further down the standard internetery feminism vs evolutionary psychology rigamarole than I'd be inclined to agree [at the link..]  And I understand that as a white dude in modern America that gives me all sorts of extra chances to succeed/fuck up and still recover when the other gender or other ethnicities or sexual preferences might not get it.

But.

Far too many -isms, be they of political or other stripe, pick a group that is somehow guilty by their very nature or existence, and that's straight up old school religious kooky original sin thinking.  Which I firmly disavow, at the cost of my immortal soul!  [Not really, tho'.  I mean, I do disavow.  But at no cost.  Because, you know, fairy tales.]

But the big point, I guess, maybe, is that I get older every effort to put anyone in any category, either oppressed or oppressor, strikes me as wrong headed.  Treat people decently, as individuals, and the further you get away from that, the worse off you are.

Darwinian Feminism vs. The Caveman Mystique | Evolvify:
"I hate postmodern feminism. As a man by birth, not by choice, I call shenanigans on the idea of a vast male conspiracy in which I’m hopelessly complicit. The charge that I am conditioned from birth to oppress all of the women I love, all of the women I know, and all of the women on the planet is not one with which I’m likely to acquiesce. The notion that I’m doomed to omni-directional socialization smacks of Christianity’s putrid communicable mind-disease of “Original Sin”. But while Christianity offers potential salvation through authoritarian subjugation of our minds and the rest of our human nature after a life of guilt, postmodern feminism offers nothing more than perpetual guilt and a labryinthian trial of futility that would lead Josef K to rejoice in the relative clarity of his nightmare of Kafka’s prison. Like the magical monotheisms’ strategic defense by placing its rules outside the observable world and beyond the understanding of feeble brains, postmodern feminism holds its truths just on the other side of spectacular society’s aim or grasp. We are all inside the conspiracy, and thus, forever powerless to question its pervasive hold with our tainted minds."

WikLeaks cables roundup - "Don't some secrets need to stay secret?"

"Don't some secrets need to stay secret?" is wrong question. Unless it's OK for your govt to lie to you. From @jricole: http://bit.ly/f8YU5p" - From author/former CIA employee Barry Eisler's Twitter.
The subject matter is fascinating to me, as I'm now peripherally adjunct to the scene and my general inclinations towards matters of state secrecy.

Best one line lede of the job of the media role [that they often forget] - US embassy cables: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | The Guardian:
"Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be 'world policeman' – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. "
How did the cables get released? Because millions already have access. Information finds a way - Siprnet: where America stores its secret cables | World news | guardian.co.uk:
"Siprnet is itself an acronym, for Secret Internet Protocol Router Network...  This means that a diplomatic dispatch marked Sipdis is automatically downloaded on to its embassy's classified website. From there it can be accessed not only by anyone in the state department, but also by anyone in the US military who has a computer connected to Siprnet. Millions of US soldiers and officials have "secret" security clearance. The US general accounting office identified 3,067,000 people cleared to "secret" and above in a 1993 study. Since then, the size of the security establishment has grown appreciably. Another GAO report in May 2009 said: "Following the terrorist attacks on September 11 2001 the nation's defence and intelligence needs grew, prompting increased demand for personnel with security clearances.""
Geeks [my people!] work at the Moscow Embassy - WikiLeaks cables gallery: Washington's view of world leaders | World news | guardian.co.uk:
"In late 2008 the Moscow embassy wired back about the relationship between Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev and the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, remarking that Medvedev, officially the senior partner, 'plays Robin to Putin's Batman.'"
The cogent critique of having these released - Instant View: Wikileaks releases US diplomatic cables | Reuters:
"'These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only U.S. foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.'"
"This is pretty devastating. The essence of our foreign policy is our ability to talk straight and honest with our foreign counterparts and to keep those conversations out of the public domain. This massive leak puts that most basic of diplomatic requirements at risk in the future. ...""
Which, you know, I almost... almost... buy. But it smacks too much of the same line of nonsense we heard from former VP Cheney when he had his buddies the oil execs secretly into the White House to, basically craft American energy policy. But people didn't need to know who he was talking to, or when, because if folks knew, it would "compromise" the dialogue.  You know, because accountability compromises conversation, apparently.

The only convincing rationale I could conceive of would be one if individual confidential sources would be placed in physical danger, but both Wikileaks and the news orgs that summarize the leaks have said they have their own vetting process to keep that from happening - and while they can't be trusted any more than government in that regard, I'd argue they can't be trusted any less either.

Judicial cognitive dissonance - Matt Taibbi on foreclosures in Florida.

More on Foreclosure: Judge Admits Apathy -- RollingStone.com:
"The essence of all of this is that the legal system has yet to accept the idea that once-trusted institutions like transnational investment and commercial banks could be guilty of widespread criminal fraud. It's an issue of perception. Judges I think are long used to the idea that individual people are deadbeats and don't pay bills -- they've seen enough lying-ass individual debtors stand in their courts with their faces unshaven and their shirts untucked, trying to sell them excuses and stories -- but they haven't quite made it to a place where they can accept the idea that the nation's top 10-20 banks could be engaged in ongoing criminal conspiracies. I think it blows their minds and they don't believe it."

How politics is broken - "Imagine, for a moment, that George W. Bush had been president when the Transportation Security Administration decided to let Thanksgiving travelers choose between exposing their nether regions to a body scanner or enduring a private security massage..."

The Partisan Mind - NYTimes.com:
"...Democrats would have been outraged at yet another Bush-era assault on civil liberties. Liberal pundits would have outdone one another comparing the T.S.A. to this or that police state. (“In an outrage worthy of Enver Hoxha’s Albania ...”) And Republicans would have leaped to the Bush administration’s defense, while accusing liberals of going soft on terrorism.

But Barack Obama is our president instead, so the body-scanner debate played out rather differently. True, some conservatives invoked 9/11 to defend the T.S.A., and some liberals denounced the measures as an affront to American liberties. Such ideological consistency, though, was the exception; mostly, the Bush-era script was read in reverse. It was the populist right that raged against body scans, and the Republican Party that moved briskly to exploit the furor. It was a Democratic administration that labored to justify the intrusive procedures, and the liberal commentariat that leaped to their defense."

The hypocrisy of politics, or 'It's stuff like this that made me realize Hope/Change was nonsense.'

Torture Tort Terror - Reason Magazine:
"During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for its excessive secrecy, noting that it had “invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.” Obama also promised to end “extraordinary rendition,” a practice through which “we outsource our torture to other countries.”

In September, however, the Obama administration used the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit by five former captives who say they were tortured as a result of extraordinary rendition. Although candidate Obama surely would have been outraged, President Obama is for some reason less concerned about abuses of executive power.

“To build a better, freer world,” Obama the candidate wrote in a 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, requires “ending the [practice] of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries.” It turned out Obama meant that he, like his predecessor, would seek assurances that detainees transferred to other countries would not be mistreated. After all, why would governments that routinely torture their prisoners lie about it?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving III?

Probably doesn't count as a Thanksgiving, but there was turkey.  The re-christening of a friend's updated beach palava hut.

 Turkey goodness.

 Relaxing hanging chair is relaxing.


 Adorable teething baby is adorable.

  Dry run setting up Sandy's car tent.
 Success!