October 26, 2010

Playing Catch-Up


With an election coming up in the US, it looks like people are back to ignoring the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque". Must be a relief to know that any major protest can simply be ignored and/or ridden out until attention goes elsewhere! But even as the Muslims are breathing a sigh of relief, another group gets pushed ahead.


Well, I suppose Wiccans generally rather than witches in particular. Bad enough trying to overcome the image of sexually gratifying yourself with a broom handle or being hideously ugly or being in league with the devil; now they have to get past being phenomenally stupid as well.


...Which brings us to the Tea Party nominees. A boon for anyone who is even marginally progressive in the US, there are over a dozen seats or Republican nominations that went to TP nominated or backed candidates, and not many in the Republican Party are happy about it. Many are making sure to add a huge "fiscal responsibility" angle to their campaigns, despite ample proof over the past twenty years that Republicans are utterly inept at managing national finances.

Even so, Republican nominees that are clearly supported by fervent, single-issue fanatics are more likely to keep the more moderate conservatives at home or even voting in favour of their rival Democrats. Which is, again, a boon for any progressives in that nation.


So long as the Democrats actually behave like progressives.

President Obama benched a federal court decision on the rather idiotic "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy brought in by former President Clinton because having gays serve openly in the military is apparently still an issue that frightens Americans. The federal court judge ruled that DADT is unconstitutional in a court case brought up by the Log Cabin Republicans (irony alert going off every time those guys are mentioned), but an injunction was granted to the Department of Justice by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals staying the ruling, at least until after the national elections. This comes after a previous effort to have DADT removed passed the House of Representatives but was filibustered by that "Maverick" John McCain.

To clarify: The Democrats got an injunction to keep a law in place that has stopped soldiers from serving in a time of war and cost over $350 million to enforce despite the removal of that policy being a large and very visible promise last Federal election; a group of Republicans (though not the party itself) fought and beat that law, which led other Republicans to decry "activist judges" and defend the Democratic policy.

The rather silly idea that serving beside gays would lead to a dissolution of the military is rather ludicrous, as the US Army has already served alongside gays in the armed forces. As of this date, only two European countries do not allow gays to serve openly in their militaries: Serbia and Greece, who have apparently decided to completely ignore their own military history.


I am not a scientist. There is no possible way I could be confused for one, what with being a high school dropout and essentially unemployable for any white-collar position. So why is it I understand what this story in the Atlantic means better than the person who wrote it? It is long, and it is well written, but the deliberately antagonistic headline that writer David H. Freedman uses as a lead - implying not only that science is unreliable, but also deceitful - does nothing to help Dr. John Ioannidis' major work.

What Dr. Ioannidis did is report on the difficulty in getting accurate results in scientific studies, specifically medical ones. His own headline is also grating, and one that is used by people who don't understand what scientific method is as a catch-all for "proving" that their crackpot beliefs are better than science. Again, the entire point of Dr. Ioannidis' work is that tests have to be more rigorous before they are published, with clear methodology that is open to criticism - in short, more scientific. For a more complete response, check out Dr. David H. Gorski's (who is quoted in the Atlantic article) reply here.


Missed the entire riding season because I like interesting bikes: my Goose is still out of commission because of the difficulty in getting engine parts for it. Next time, something new, perhaps... Still, looking to sell off my rebuilt RD350 to help pay for it, so I must be dedicated to the Italian.

Since I have a bike already, the next one we bring in is going to the Significant Other. We were looking at the Honda 125, which is a brilliant price and good engineering: under $4500 for a new Honda is tough to turn away from. Alas, it just didn't have the juice we need to travel highway speeds while sharing the road with logging trucks. Kawasaki's 250 Ninja is the next option, with a bit more power and a touch more heft, but after trying it on the road, I still couldn't picture the little thing hauling my fat (210 lbs) corpse around with much alacrity, never mind introducing a passenger to the already taxed shocks.

But this year, Team Green introduced a 400cc size to the stable. It's very much a middle-of-the-road bike, having only 45 horsepower and weighing in at nearly 500 pounds; but as you could probably guess by my ride, I don't mind the extra weight, and the size slips right in to the 201cc-400cc category as far as insurance is concerned. It is also apparently moving into the 650 Ninja chassis, meaning it's going to have more room to move than the 250. The down side is having a price tag that's only $1200 less than the 650, and at $7500 there's going to be a lot of competition at the price, if not at the size. No one else makes the 400cc motorcycles any more, which I admit is my second favourite size (right after 750), so it'll be interesting to see how it sells.


Memo to Rick Rypien: if you want to reach out to fans, try Twitter.

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posted by Thursday at 10:55 am 0 comments

October 12, 2010

An Unexpected Relief

Funny story.

I've been working with a new show: a musical, of all things. Not really my thing, but it'll be fun, and I've never been in a pantomime before, so why not? I believe I've mentioned that I'm musically declined before? Looks like I'm "singing" ABBA in this one.

In any case, I found myself working with a slew of new people of pretty much every age and shape, two of which are quite attractive. So naturally I've been chatting regularly with one or the other when time has allowed. Over the days, I noticed they arrived in different vehicles, but the kids they brought with them seemed interchangeable. Then I caught that they lived in the same house, and was brought up cold.

Were they mother and daughter? Was the eldest girl still (or back to) living at home, and driving her own car so they can pick up other kids on the way to rehearsals?


Granted, I'm lousy at judging ages, but looking again, I supposed it was possible for one to be in her mid-thirties and the other to be... No, no no no no no! Nooooooo... There was no way I was attracted to a 17- or 18- year old! That's literally less than half my age! I've got a certain self-image, as we all do, and mine doesn't include the Dirty Old Man:

This isn't what I am turning into, is it? The caricature can stay just that, thanks: a nicely self-contained joke; a piece of cultural shorthand for sad old perverts forever chasing brainless young hotties around a desk or using their canes to lift up the skirts of girls in the park.

Sure, I'm a sad old pervert: that I can accept. Hell, I accepted that when I hit 30. But why on Earth would I suddenly be macking on kids decades younger than me? Was I hoping to recapture my youth by fucking some? AAAHHH!!!

Luckily, my concern only lasted for a day when I read their bios: they were married, and to each other, at that. So, sure, my chances with either are pretty much shot, but my self-image has been restored. I am not suddenly having my head turned by a wildly inappropriate teenager after all! And as an added bonus, I got to say a line I never thought I would:

"Oh, thank God you're married!"

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posted by Thursday at 10:47 pm 0 comments

October 07, 2010

A Reminder

The lovely folks at World-O-Crap do terrible things: they read horrible, horrible writing and gleefully tear it to shreds so you and I and other more delicate folk don't have to. Their latest piece is all about spit-roasting staggeringly idiotic "Dr." Mike Adams, who tried this tired chestnut of and inequality argument:

My speech will highlight several pending cases, which show that homosexuals are not the principal victims of civil rights violations in this country. Instead, they are the principal perpetrators of civil rights violations in this country – especially on our college campuses.

And don't that just warm the cockles of your heart? But don't be afraid - go look at the things they (and their commenters) can do to the stupid: they takes a load of hot air and turns it into a cool breeze!

There are reasons why gay boys and girls are far more likely to commit suicide that straight ones are: they feel alone. That there is no one else like them around, and certainly no one they can trust to talk to. Teenagers can be isolated and lonely without having the added pressure of being the target of the weak and small minded.

But now they don't have to.

One of the unpredicted effects of the internet is this: community. The exact opposite of the closeted stereotype, kids (and adults) on-line can find friends, share ideas, see that the world is not only bigger than they imagined, but that they can also touch any part of it! And one of those parts is the It Gets Better Project.

At the It Gets Better Project, gay people are encouraged to show gay kids that not only is what they are going through survivable, but they can thrive after it. Survive school, and school becomes a smaller and smaller part of your live until it is just a tiny, miserable little speck that can be blown away with the smallest breath from your future self.

So if you're gay - or heck, even if you're not - go ahead and submit a video. Give them a chance to see who is out there, hear how they got there, and just how much better life is now!

It serves as a reminder that whenever you hear someone say that high school was the "best years of their lives", they either have really bad memories or really pathetic lives now. Just ask Stephen Fry.


posted by Thursday at 3:20 pm 0 comments

And Back!

Boston was a great trip. It's a fantastic city, especially if you're one of two things: a history nerd or a sports nerd. Seriously, it's a four sport city: I don't think I went more than two blocks without seeing a banner or sign for the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, or Celtics. And I mean in stores and on official public buildings, not just flapping from cars and draped over people.

As for history, it's one of the oldest towns in the Americas - which isn't saying much compared to the rest of the world, but credit where it's due. The American Revolution did start there, giving the place a 200+ year old Paul Revere fetish.

And its a college town, giving the living people a young fearlessness for new experiences: there's a huge variety of cultures, restaurants, and a lively arts community in Boston. Which is funny coming from the same town that was a living punchline for how delicate their sensibilities were. Seriously, this is the town that banned Christmas for twenty years.

Even so, there were down sides to the trip which were a bit disappointing. A little synopsis:

Nice: The Freedom Trail. Lots of stories in a bunch of the original buildings with graveyards, churches, and pubs all the way along it.
Bummer: Infrapatellar bursitis. That trail is about five kilometers long, and there weren't a lot of elevators in the seventeenth century.

Nice: Attending an NHL game in an NHL arena in the lower bowl. Probably the only time I'll be able to afford that is the pre-season. It was worth it.
Bummer: The home team lost, and they deserved to. Would have been funner to be in a happy crowd.

Nice: A Sam Adams Brewery tour that got us free beer and free glasses. Oh, and some information about how they make beer.
Bummer: They still spread the myth of different places on your tongue responding to different flavours. It's wrong! Stop it!

Nice: Lots of bars and restaurants with a huge variety of styles represented - we started with Italian and finished with Senegalese!
Bummer: The two bars we entered both carded us, and one refused to serve us because we weren't carrying passports. We're thirty-eight. Whats the point of this law again?

Nice: Museums. We hit the Fine Arts, the MIT, the Natural History, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner in the week. Some great collections in all three, my personal favourite being the geology exhibit in the Natural History Museum - I now want a table made of polished Kyanite.
Bummer: The Museum of Fine Arts had some great stuff (especially from Egypt), but three exhibitions were closed, a connecting hallway was shut adding some randomness to our day, and the people in blazers were pretty useless for help getting around.

Nice: The Iggies! We learned that fruit bats perform fellatio; remote controlled helicopters are the best way to collect whale snot; and there is mathematic proof businesses have a better chance of success if they promote people at random rather than by merit.
Bummer: You kidding? There are no down sides to the First Annual IgNobel Awards! This year, previous Iggy Award winner Andre Geim became the first double winner, adding a Nobel Award in physics to his bookshelf to go with his 2000 IgNobel win for levitating frogs with magnets. Decide for yourself which is more impressive.

Check the highlights from past years (including the best of Miss Sweetie Poo) here.

Glad to be back, but wouldn't have minded another week. On the other hand, we're already thinking about where to go next... Chicago? San Francisco? Montreal? The years (and finances) will tell!

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posted by Thursday at 7:58 am 0 comments