AGH! Fix it already so we can smash stuff into other stuff!

The beleaguered Large Hadron Collider project has experienced yet another delay, when a leak was discovered in the insulating vacuum around the helium circuit in sectors 8-1 and 2-3; this delay will likely push its restart back to November. The repair to the helium circuit seals have been completed, however, which is good news. The full repair timeline is available at CERN.

That these leaks are being discovered now rather than during the test is great. I’d rather it not break once the thing is going. Not that it breaking is going to have any kind of catastrophic effects outside the scope of the experiment itself — I still don’t get where nutters come up with doomsday scenarios from this project. If anything was going to happen it would have already happened either with the cosmic rays that bombard our atmosphere daily, or with the other, smaller labs like Fermilabs which also have a shot at discovering the Higgs Boson or other unseen but predicted particles. There will be no world-ending black hole (and anyway, even if the Earth collapsed to a singularity, it would still have a mass of exactly one Earth). There’s nothing special about micro-black-holes that suggest that they’ll collapse the world into a singularity before evaporating away.

The reality of “Canada-style health care”

Protip: Obama’s health care plan is very little like Canadian health care.

The other day, I saw an ad on CNN that made me gnash my teeth and break out into a sweat. Though, the fact that we don’t have cable (we are interwebs TV watchers), means that I was watching this at the gym while on the treadmill, so that might have had something to do with the sweating and gnashing. The ad proclaims a number of things: a) that emergency services are going undone and people in Canada are dying from lack of health care, b) Obama is bringing “Canada-style” health care to the States, and c) this will interpose a government bureaucrat between you and your doctor.

The ad is shown in this video, in the first 30 or so seconds. The guy afterward offers a good explanation, and it’s a bit long and dry, but well put.

Right now, there are bureaucrats between you and your doctor. They are your HMO, your insurance agents, and the money that it takes to vault these bureaucratic hurdles is disturbingly large — so large that, as 17,000 people in the States lose health insurance daily, the number of uninsured and underinsured and therefore at risk of death or bankruptcy from otherwise minor health issues grows seemingly exponentially.

Do not mistake me. There are indeed examples of Canadians that get shafted by the Canadian health care system. Including the woman in the example, who is being shafted by Ontario’s health care charter, which is slightly different — it has no health ombudsman. This is a travesty, but it occurs mostly only in Ontario (and slightly so in Quebec, where the ombudsman is fairly weak). And to compare the few people getting shafted in our system, which is tangibly superior in almost every way, to the vast number of people in the States who are completely without any kind of reasonable health care expectations, is ludicrous.

There’s one particular Canadian doctor that’s advocating a US-style, privatized health care reform in Canada: Dr. Brian Day, owner of the largest for-profit, privatized hospital in Canada. Obviously, he is biased, insofar as any push toward privatization of health care and health insurance would allow his model of profit-maximization to expand and become the common mode of health care in Canada. This interview with Natalie Mehra, director of the Ontario Health Coalition, who gets the whole problem, and the *actual* problems with Canadian health care, exactly right — and they are nothing like the commercials claim, taking the worst case scenarios from the Ontario health debacle and painting the entire system with that same brush.

So armed, my dear American friends, go forth and crush this ridiculous set of right-wing anti-healthcare talking points, and win yourselves freedom from fear of bankruptcy or job loss from a mere medical accident.

And on that day, I will make the Sun go down at noon

Because religion is so obviously attuned to scientific progress as Zdenny claims, here’s what happened when religious folks saw this most recent total eclipse in India:

They hid indoors in more rural areas; or stampeded, killing at least one person.

If only scientists were so enlightened.

It’s only the Bible! It’s not Gospel!!

You can tell I’m phoning it in when I’m just sitting around watching Youtube and posting the stuff that makes me laugh.

Some stuff worth blogging — got the furniture for our bedroom, finally. Have to re-adjust the map “tapestry” thing we have above the bed, as it needs to be raised up to accomodate the headboard. Pictures of it as soon as we take some. Also, we completed our guest room by moving out our old crappy Ikea furniture from the master bedroom. Hopefully we will also have time to paint it before Jennifer and Opal come down to visit next month, on the 14th through the 17th. I’m considering taking a few days of vacation time around then, though it’s not really necessary to accomodate their visit schedule — mostly just to keep from burning out on work which has been riding me rather hard lately. (Are you impressed now with the volume of my blogging lately? Because I sure am!)

The ridiculous argument of science by popularity (or: Pluto IS TOO a planet!)

It would appear our new acquaintance SBH is in possession of an uncanny knack for identifying apocryphal insertions into humankind’s history. Over at his blog, he has a well-written introspection on the “eternal truths” he’s learned over the years, and how he reacted when science overturned two of them specifically: his irrational gut-instinct rejection of the notion that birds evolved from dinosaurs, and his ready acceptance of the booting of Pluto from the pantheon of planets.

In discussing the Pluto “debate”, he’s succeeded in prodding me into writing something space-related, on this, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing (though sadly, I didn’t finish drafting this post in time). Strangely enough, my topic ties in with the Unscientific America blog-tempest, specifically the passage where Mooney/Kirshenbaum apparently and in all earnestness claimed that the ousting of Pluto hurt the cause of science because it was done despite some (as I recall, media-amplified and really quite minor) dissent. It seems fitting to me that the blog-blitzkrieg brought on by M&K’s book couldn’t stir me to write about Pluto, given their antithetical stance against pretty well everything I believe, including the scientific method’s correct decision to reclassify the puny clump of ice; yet this new acquaintance’s blog managed to do so on my first visit.

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Fifteen Books for Fifteen Minutes

Okay, the allusion to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is a big fail, not to mention the grammar — should be “in”, not “for”. Doesn’t even make sense, in context of books, since it’s a movie. It seemed like a snappy title though.

That fucking traitorous militant asshole DuWayne was so kind as to tag me on a Facebook meme that has spilled over into the blogosphere (more grist for my “meme paper” mill, as though I’ll ever even start it!). The idea is that you get fifteen minutes to list fifteen books that have influenced you and/or stick with you. I’m sure I’ll end up missing a lot of my favorite books by doing this (I have a small library of over 100), but let’s just see what pops out of my head first to see what’s actually “stuck with me” and all that.

My main 15:
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (all 5 books)
Lord of the Rings – J R R Tolkien (all 5 books, including Silmarillion and Hobbit)
Dune – Frank Herbert (original cycle, not including his son Brian’s stuff)
Foundation – Isaac Asimov (all 4 original books)
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
1984 – George Orwell
Animal Farm – George Orwell
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
Cosmos – Carl Sagan
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo (translated unabridged, though I’ve been meaning to read the original French one day)
Macbeth – Bill Shakespeare
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
Microserfs – Douglas Coupland

Runners-up, thought of after the time limit or beyond my 15 mins:
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Time Machine – H G Wells
War of the Worlds – H G Wells
Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury
The DC Super Dictionary (sadly, I can only find a site containing “word of the day” entries from that dictionary, and can’t find the dictionary itself.)
Hardy Boys (grew up on ’em)
Choose-Your-Own Adventures (them too)

Atlas Shrugged NO

So, I guess I gotta tag some people now. Get to it, SBH and Cyberlizard!

Oh, and ReformedYankee, Jason Pickles, you don’t have blogs of your own, but you’re tagged. Best get to posting a comment boyeees. And I’d love to see D. C. Sessions’ picks, given that (from elsewhere on the blogosphere) I understand he is a bit more… tenured… on this planet than the rest of us. Also, Jodi, DuWayne wants you to put your list up too. Only he sort of doesn’t, because we’re Teh Enemie.

Atheists In Love

I should theoretically be posting about the horrible diversion we all encountered recently on my blog, or perhaps about the Quiche Moraine post whose title we have so blatantly ripped off (with love, Stephanie!), but no. This post is to inform you, the interwebs denizens who happen to give a crap about this sort of thing, that Jodi and I have finally finished setting up the wedding blog we’ve been promising since the proposal.

It gets a subfolder on my domain for the time being, though if it should ever move a redirect will be installed in that folder instead.

To everyone who participated in the blogscapade that kicked off our betrothal, consider this our way of giving back. It ain’t much, but if you don’t like it you can shut your word holes.

(I’m betting right now it’ll mostly only be used by our family and friends to keep abreast of the wedding plans, but oh well.)