Episode LII: After the giant ants come the giant insectile predators


Nothing will dissuade the contributors to the evergrowing thread, not even another cheesy 1950s horror flick.

Yak, yak, yak.

(Current totals: 10,115 entries with 977,398 comments.)

Comments

  1. Walton says

    Arrgh.

    I’m annoyed that I don’t seem to be able to function on anything less than six or seven hours’ sleep a night. I was up most of last night revising, got about five hours’ sleep, and am now half-dead at half past seven the following evening. :-(

    I envy those people who can operate on practically no sleep. (Apparently Margaret Thatcher sometimes slept only three hours a night when she was Prime Minister.) I suppose it must be a genetic thing.

  2. Kevin says

    @KOPD:

    Hm, so maybe you should keep showing him your links and status updates – cause with no advertised political disposition, it might mean he’s smart enough to think.

    I haven’t added links or stuff like that to my Facebook because of my ultra-conservative, super-evangelical family members. I know I would offend them – like when I joined the ‘1 million for equality in marriage’ fanpage, and my father told me that gay marriage was about destroying the church.

  3. MATTIR says

    @KOPD

    This is why I have defriended numerous idiots in my social circle. Life is too short to worry about offending someone virtually, and I have enough problems controlling myself in actual f2f encounters. And call me a liberal, but most kids have heard the f-word if they’re over 3.

    The thread about the stupid celibate man in funny clothes giving child-rearing advice is seriously interfering with my getting word done today.

  4. Carlie says

    Speaking of games…

    Kevin – same here. I push it a little with some news stories, but most of my family never checks their Facebook so I haven’t heard anything about it. I’m getting ticked off enough with Facebook that I’ve removed most personal info, though. So even the things I used to be a fan of and such are gone.

  5. Kevin says

    @Walton:

    A lot of your ability to sleep has to do with what you’ve eaten prior to sleeping and what you were doing prior to sleeping. Never go directly from, say, writing a report, to sleeping. Always give yourself a period of time to wind down. If something is on your mind you’re never going to get to sleep – which is why I have to make sure that everything I’ve worried about that night is gone before I close my eyes.

    Also heavy or spicy foods before bed are bad, make sure you have about 3-4 hours between heavy or spicy dinners and sleep. Make sure your room is dark enough, and anything distracting is turned off so it won’t bother you.

    I like to get about 7-8 hours of sleep, but can do with a lot less if I have to (on Wednesdays, Top Chef Masters is on til 11. Takes me about half an hour to wind down, and I wake up at 5.30. But Thursday morning, I’m completely ready for my day.)

  6. Walton says

    Kevin: While I do have trouble getting to sleep sometimes, this really hasn’t been a problem lately, as I’m usually so exhausted that falling asleep doesn’t tend to be difficult. Rather, the main problem is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the studying I need to do. :-(

  7. Ewan R says

    Morally, rather than legally, why shouldn’t he? He could not have been sued for doing the same with plants from a neighbour’s crop without the patent, and if plants grow on your land, why should you not do as you wish with them?

    Morally there possibly is a case, it depends on how you approach the whole issue, I still see it as tantamount to theft, and, were I a farmer working within the system I’d certainly see it as monumentally unfair that I have to pay the tech fee every year whereas Schmeisser, or whoever, gets to utilize the technology for free – although obviously in a system where you can just select for the gene amongst your crop and then keep it this wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, because everyone would do it. The only issue you’d then have is that new traits would never come to market (or spectacularly rarely, unless public funding into GMO generation increased a few thousand percent) and agriculture would have a valuable tool removed from its toolbox. Also I’m not 100% sure (and don’t have enough lunch break left to check…) but I think under Plant Variety Protection you technically could get in trouble for knowingly utilizing a protected variety that happened to get on your land, accidentally – albeit that selection for the variety would be somewhat harder (without some obvious phenotypic difference to the rest of your crop) and possibly detection also would be harder.

    You ignore the main point of the article in any case – the way Monsanto systematically spies on farmers, encourages them to inform on neighbours, etc.

    Maintaining a level playing field for those who do play by the rules. Less than a couple of hundred farmers have had suit brought against them, more than 200,000 per year buy seeds from Monsanto. Not one of them have to by any stretch of the imagination.

    You work for a corrupt, murderous (w.r.t. their pollution-dumping of PCBs, heavy metals etc.), lying, spying bully, and you seem quite happy with that.

    I don’t agree that Monsanto are corrupt, murderous, lying or spying bullies. Historically they don’t have a perfect record, but then I don’t particularly consider the Monsanto that exists today to equate exactly to the Monsanto of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – what with a complete refocus in area, obviously a complete change in people operating in the higher levels of the company, being bought up, broken up, and spun off from Pharmacia as a wholly agriculture focused company (with the non-Ag part going elsewhere, which to me would be where the taint of the past should lie, rather than with a name, if it needs to lie anywhere)

    What I am quite happy with is working somewhere I’ve wanted to work since first hearing about genetic modification of crops, working directly involved with the modification of crops, working with people who are enthusiastic about what they do, enthusiastic about what the company is doing etc etc etc
    Looking at the past decade or so of Monsanto history what I see is categorically not the evil behemoth that in general Monsanto are portrayed as – I see hundreds of thousands of farmer lives made easier, reductions in the environmental damage caused by Ag as a direct result of utilization of Monsanto technologies (admittedly this is more likely a side effect of the technology rather than a direct goal – we’re still working on the first products which have reduction in damage built into the product concept) poor farmers and their families pulled out of poverty and a bright future for more of the same – and I hope, that over the next decade or two that misdeeds in the past begin to be a little less meaningful in the debate, and that good deeds in the present begin to mean a little more – although obviously there will always be those who don’t like any company that is making a bunch of money – regardless of the positives that go alongside that.

  8. Kevin says

    @Carlie:

    Yah – unfortunately, my family lives off Facebook. So I get all the ‘why haven’t you updated your status’ calls if I don’t touch it every month or so. But really, what can I say? “Kevin has finished another day of work and is sitting down watching TV or playing games. He might be drinking a beer, or perhaps rum.”

  9. MATTIR says

    @Kevin

    Make another FB page so that you don’t have to censor yourself. That way you can post the “Kevin has finished another day of work and is happily wanking while watching atheist porn” updates. Some geek here could even figure out how to translate these updates automatically for the mirror FB: “Kevin has finished another day of work and is spending time in adoration of his beloved Lord.”

    Fortunately most of my relatives think that I shouldn’t express any opinions and if I do, I’m doing it specifically to bully them, and they mostly leave me alone.

  10. Kevin says

    @MATTIR:

    Nah, you see. I’m an honest person. If my family ever asks ‘are you an atheist’ I will say ‘yes I am.’ They haven’t, so far, and I don’t honestly think they have to know. It’s not their business. I won’t lie to them, but I won’t go about parading the information.

  11. Walton says

    That way you can post the “Kevin has finished another day of work and is happily wanking while watching atheist porn” updates. Some geek here could even figure out how to translate these updates automatically for the mirror FB: “Kevin has finished another day of work and is spending time in adoration of his beloved Lord.”

    :-D :-D :-D

  12. Bill Dauphin, OM says

    Kevin (@509):

    He might be drinking a beer, or perhaps rum.

    Speaking of rum, I saw a bottle of this in my local liquor store last weekend, and immediately thought of this crowd. I would’ve bought some on the spot, based on the bottle alone, if the Spousal Unit® hadn’t pointedly reminded me that our bar is already well stocked and there was no need to be spending more money on booze!

    MATTIR (@510):

    Your observation that this…

    “Kevin has finished another day of work and is happily wanking while watching atheist porn”

    …translates to this…

    “Kevin has finished another day of work and is spending time in adoration of his beloved Lord.”

    …has given me a whole new appreciation of the nature of the Lord, and of the act of adoring Him! ;^)

    Looking forward to seeing you two, along with whoever else we can gather into our web, in DC.

  13. Kevin says

    @Bill:

    I have some Captain Morgan Tattoo – it’s pretty dang good, a little sweeter than the Private Stock I’ve been drinking, but I’ve heard dark rum is like that, so I was expecting such.

  14. Sili, The Unknown Virgin says

    It’s the variable gravitational pull of the bubbles that irritates me.

    I think he’s referring to how it’s sometimes possible to shoot around corners and between to close balls to hit what’s be behind. And other times it’s not.

  15. iambilly says

    I may regret asking this — I am culturally so unhip I’m amazed my legs don’t fall off — but what in the seven balls of chordite is “steam punk”? I ask because I work with/interpret historic steam power as a part of me job, and I saw the term used above (Carlie @ 470).

    Is this something I shoulc know about already?

  16. Kevin says

    @iambilly:

    Steam punk is a kind of fiction style where technology is run solely through steam power, but it’s futuristic technology. The game Bioshock is Steam Punk.

    So, like steam-powered robots, for example.

  17. Sili, The Unknown Virgin says

    Perhaps in the meantime, you could commiserate with me on the death of my sourdough starter :(
    (neglecting it for 2 months will tend to do that).

    My condolences.

    In addition to liquid starter, I set a bit of the dough aside last time.

    Unfortunately I’d somehow put the lid on the jar a bit too firmly so the other day I had to scrape sourdough off the inside of my fridge …

  18. Kevin says

    @iambilly:

    Dah, I forgot the most important part. It’s also as if history never left Victorian England. Wiki describes it as “any recent science fiction that takes place in a recognizable historical period (sometimes an alternate history version of an actual historical period) where the Industrial Revolution has already begun but electricity is not yet widespread, with an emphasis on steam- or spring-propelled gadgets”

  19. Ol'Greg says

    Billy, you study trains right? Oh man, you already *are* a little steampunk.

    Steampunk is a subgenre of sci fi that takes old technology and projects an alternate future from it. Think of bizarre inventions from the 19th century.

    It’s interesting to me because I find so many historical objects of technology really beautiful. Ever see the manual calculator, for instance?

    Anyway, there’s a whole fashion subculture surrounding it.

    People doing custom casemods to their laptops so that they’re made of wood and brass, kind of 19th century fashion mixed with 90’s cyberpunk.

    It’s hard to tell them from old school romantic goths except that there are so few of them left anyway and steampunk fashion involves way more brown.

  20. iambilly says

    Kevin:

    Thanks. After I asked, I checked on Wikipedia. And asked one of my fellow cubiclesters. Apparently, I’m one of the few who has never heard of this. No wonder (((Girl))) laughs at me.

    Though I did manage to chord out “The Cruise of the Calabar”, so I’m happy.

  21. Kevin says

    @Ol’Greg:

    Plus, steampunk is totally awesome. I dunno what’s so cool about it, but I really think it’s one of the most interesting sci-fi genres.

    Only sci-fi genre that I think is cooler is the futuristic Western world ala Firefly.

  22. Ol'Greg says

    Haha… I don’t like Sci Fi usually but end up liking steampunk because I like history so much! lol

    Plus so much of our image of what is “futuristic” comes from one set of ideas about what looks like the future.

    Heh… in one future the world looks like a giant iPod and in the other like a wunderkammer. No question in my mind which future I’d rather play with!

  23. iambilly says

    Billy, you study trains right? Oh man, you already *are* a little steampunk.

    Well, I study enough to be able to give tours. Right now I’m studying the medieval roots of the tripartite division of French society at the outset of the French Revolution (which I am studying so I can grok the Napoleonic wars (which I am studying so I can grok the wars of German unification (which I am studying so I can grok the Franco-Prussian War (which I am . . . . obsessive compulsive when it comes to following historical threads)))) and Irish folk music for a concert my band will be playing in early October. From labour and railroad music to Irish folk. Well, at least Paddy Works on the Railway.

    And no, I’m not little. In fact, I could drop four stone and still be ‘overweight’.

  24. Jadehawk, OM says

    how to steampunk your computer

    my boyfriend made himself a steampunk costume last Halloween. It included a nerf gun, so throughout the making process, I’d randomly have the “bulltets” fly past me and attach to my computer screen. Those were not precisely ideal working conditions :-p

  25. iambilly says

    Jadehawk: Me likee. Me want. [drool]

    Now that I think about it, I most likely have enough parts left over from the various WWII tanks and airplanes I have built over the years to do that to my laptop.

    And then (((Wife))) would notice.

    And then things would get difficult.

    Not that I’m whipped, or anything. Really.

  26. Lynna, OM says

    Bill Dauphin, I searched on Facebook and found several Bill Dauphins, but I figured you were the guy also friended by Cosmic Teapot and Carlie. Consider yourself friended.

  27. cicely says

    I’m not into Steampunk particularly, but that steampunk house….dayam! The 360o viewability is also awesome.

  28. Knockgoats says

    Steam punk is a kind of fiction style where technology is run solely through steam power, but it’s futuristic technology. – Kevin

    My favourite steampunk is William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, based on the idea that Charles Babbage’s designs for mechanical computers developed into a full-scale industry in early Victorian England, with the result that scientific and technological change were greatly accelerated. Lord Byron is prime minister (the differences from real history seem to start in 1816, when Byron’s wife left him in real life and he left England under a cloud of scandal, but this did not occur in the novel), Britain underwent a Tory coup in 1831 and a subsequent revolution led by the Industrial Radical Party (but don’t worry, Walton, the monarchy survives!), Disraeli is a prominent journalist, the USA has partially disintegrated due to British scheming, Karl Marx is running a communist mini-state in Manhattan, Darwin has been ennobled, early steam cars are on the road, agnosticism is the most respectable of beliefs… Remarkably vivid and atmospheric.

  29. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Ring Tailed Lemurian #400

    One of my uncles was a whaler :( in the 1930’s and had a collection of narwhal tusks :( (and swordfish bills).
    When I saw them as a child I thought the narwhal tusks were the most fabulous objects I’d ever seen.

    Narwhal tusks were peddled for centuries as unicorn horns. As you can see from the picture, they can be quite large. That’s part of why narwhals are so awesome.

  30. AnthonyK says

    *rant rant rant*
    Sorry to interupt your lovely steampunk-related-info, but an internet hero of mine has just shat in my head.
    Pat Condell. Pat, “religion is evil shite, based on authority, I’ll tell you the truth, listen to me” Condell has finally believed all his own hype and told us Brits who to vote for – and it’s UIKIP.
    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh.
    Don’t listen to god, listen to me
    Stupid ****! What next, PZ goes for Pailin in ’12?
    So the man of a hundred polemics against religion thinks so much of himself (oh, and Pat, outside a corner of the internet, you are nothing) that he presumes to tell us how to vote – and tells us to vote for the fuckwittedest party in Britain outside the BNP, the party of Lord Monckton, global-warming-denying inbred paraphyletic moron, the party which thinks that Britain isn’t part of Europe, the one-dimensional parish fascists whose only function is to keep the flies away from the Tories.
    His video is such a pile of steaming stupid: he says things like “we want MPs who have to represent the views of the electors.” No Pat, no – I don’t want MPs who represent the undiluted, insconsequential views of the voters because, among other things, I want no death penalty, laws promoting – nay, demanding – tolerance, equality in the work place, heck, no torture and no slavery to go back in time – laws which would be consistently opposed by the democratic majority.
    Fuck off back to Wankland, you crank, populist, self-important, Nationalist enabler.
    Remember to breathe, remember to breathe…
    Oh dear. Rant over. PZ and Dawkins are still OK and won’t ever do this to us will they?
    Anyway, lovely steampunk house but…I wonder what’s in the basement. A little creep, no?

  31. Jadehawk, OM says

    Pat Condell. Pat, “religion is evil shite, based on authority, I’ll tell you the truth, listen to me” Condell has finally believed all his own hype and told us Brits who to vote for – and it’s UIKIP.

    weeeeelll… not to be too insensitive, but that wasn’t precisely a surprising development to a lot of people…

  32. Walton says

    Wow, AnthonyK: for a change, I totally agree with you. This:

    I don’t want MPs who represent the undiluted, insconsequential views of the voters because, among other things, I want no death penalty, laws promoting – nay, demanding – tolerance, equality in the work place, heck, no torture and no slavery to go back in time – laws which would be consistently opposed by the democratic majority.

    is exactly right. Which is why I support the judicial protection of human rights. There should be some fundamental civil liberties which cannot be taken away by the democratic majority. I also agree with you that UKIP are a bunch of loons.

    Though I never liked Condell in the first place. I could always tell that his anti-Islam rhetoric was tinged with more than a hint of xenophobia.

  33. David Marjanović says

    Watched My Name Is Nobody. Now I finally know the theme of the music by heart, and a refreshment of my classical education is always welcome anyway!

    Potato mines are pretty good at stopping them, too – but you have to plant them ahead of time. A bit later you’ll get the ‘Squash’ plant, which is a lot better.

    Hmmm. The squash which squashes zombies? Maybe two of them work on an American Football zombie, but one doesn’t.

    (I’m asking because I get the entire game in German!)

    Haven’t seen potato mines yet, even though I took the full tutorial.

    Apparently Margaret Thatcher sometimes slept only three hours a night when she was Prime Minister.

    That might explain some things.

    There is indeed a wide variety of how much sleep people need, and it’s fixed the way expected of genetic traits (don’t know how heritable it is); but the minimum appears to be 4 hours, not 3.

    If something is on your mind you’re never going to get to sleep – which is why I have to make sure that everything I’ve worried about that night is gone before I close my eyes.

    This, too, varies between people. I’ve been seriously worried at times, but nothing other than my overproducing nose has ever kept me from falling asleep.

    (Well, noise does. This includes loudly ticking alarm clocks that don’t bother some other people. But a fridge in the same room is almost no problem; had that for 5 years in Paris.)

    In other words, I am already wound down.

    how to steampunk your computer

    Not bad… not bad at all.

    The keyboard especially (except, it looks uncomfortable to actually use).

    actually, here’s a picture of said nerf gun. And here’s a before picture

    …Wow.

    Steampunk cakes

    WTF. The cephalopod leaves me speechless.

    Steampunk house

    The computer disguised as an organ…

    It’s running Windows. :-)

  34. Poor Wandering One says

    Please forgive me if this has been mantioned but my home town paper is running a dot-to-dot puzzle of mohommad on the front page.

    It’s DIY Blasphemy!!

    see here.

  35. David Marjanović says

    paraphyletic moron

    ROTFL!

    But that would merely mean he has children :o)

  36. David Marjanović says

    Oh, actually, here’s a picture of it suggesting I may be wrong

    Yep, Lego = teh awsum.

    It’s DIY Blasphemy!!

    <abdominal contraction>
    <chortle>
    <silent giggling>

  37. Jadehawk, OM says

    But that would merely mean he has children :o)

    well, it’s not like fucking moron doesn’t imply the possibility of same :-p

  38. David Marjanović says

    well, it’s not like fucking moron doesn’t imply the possibility of same :-p

    :-)

    <intellect appreciation>

  39. AnthonyK says

    But that would merely mean he has children

    But surely we wouldn’t regard them as real children?

    Ah cladistics! Where those with autistic sympathies go to chuckle.

  40. Carlie says

    Anyway, lovely steampunk house but…I wonder what’s in the basement.

    A coal-powered spanking machine?

    steampunk jewelry (including cufflinks)

    It’s DIY Blasphemy!!

    Bwah! I wonder at which line connection it turns into a sin.

    Bill Dauphin, I searched on Facebook and found several Bill Dauphins, but I figured you were the guy also friended by Cosmic Teapot and Carlie.

    I sure hope it is, or I’ll feel stupid. I friended the wrong Scott Hatfield once. That was weird.

  41. Carlie says

    Clarification – the person wasn’t weird, just the fact that I friended someone I didn’t know on accident.

  42. AnthonyK says

    OT – I’ve just seen a little bit of Bob Hope on the telly. When I was in Vietnam a few weeks ago I visited the Cu Chi tunnels, the vast and complex underground network reaching up to the outskirts of Saigon that the Viet Cong built. Part of it (there were about 200 miles of tunnels altogether, including factories, kitchens, hospitals, meeting rooms…) ran under a huge US military base. According to the standard book on the subject, at the same time (in 1967) as Bob was wowing a few thousand troops on the surface, some 15m below them the VC were enjoying a performance of traditional and modern music and dance by a renowned master and his troupe.
    Heh.

  43. Bill Dauphin, OM says

    Lynna:

    Bill Dauphin, I searched on Facebook and found several Bill Dauphins,…

    I didn’t know that. Not surprising, though, I guess: Dauphin isn’t exactly Smith, but it’s not that unusual a name, and Facebook is vast.

    …but I figured you were the guy also friended by Cosmic Teapot and Carlie.

    Yah, that would be me. JackC, too (haven’t seen his pixels around here much recently), and a couple others whose FB names don’t match their Pharyngula nyms. I have one FB friend who I’m pretty sure is (or at least used to be) a Pharyngulan… but I can no longer recall which one!

    KG:

    My favourite steampunk is William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, based on the idea that Charles Babbage’s designs for mechanical computers developed into a full-scale industry in early Victorian England,

    I read that when it first came out, and recall being somewhat bummed out by it. I should dig out my copy and give it another chance: I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.

  44. blf says

    Babbage’s difference engine: I understand that one of the problems with it was – outside not being built in his lifetime – that the precision engineering recquired was so complex as to have been, essentially impractical, even now.

    Nope. The Science Museum in London built a complete (except for the printer) working Difference Engine in c.1990 with the materials available, and to the precision possible, in Babbage’s time. The parts were built by laser-guided machinery, so the exact manufacturing process used wasn’t possible in Babbage’s time.

    I saw that engine whilst it was being assembled (the construction was open to view), and afterwards in a most fascinating exhibition about the machine, both in Babbage’s time and the machine the museum built. One discovery is Babbage made several errors, which had to be corrected.

    Wikipedia says the printer has since been built, and so has a second unit, which apparently has been at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View (California) for the last two years.

    The machine can—and has been—built, can be powered (this was another concern, that it would consume too much power), runs, and continues to run. A think it’s been running flawlessly, but am not sure.

  45. David Marjanović says

    The silver bubbles are real. Where exactly a bubble can pass through depends on the fact that space is quantized for resting bubbles (but not for moving ones). The scrambling derives from the fact that a row which moves down by one has to move to the left of the right.

    But surely we wouldn’t regard them as real children?

    Sure we would. The moron himself is a misleading term according to phylogenetic nomenclature. :-)

    (No cladistics anywhere in sight! Cladistics is the method for reconstructing trees; it has nothing to do with the labels tied to their branches.)

    I wonder at which line connection it turns into a sin.

    :-D

    I’ll check out the Lego links tomorrow, must go to bed.

  46. Owlmirror says

    Feynmaniac @#437:

    There’s also the transcendental argument […] also argument from beauty, morality

    I think the TAG actually has more in common with the design argument than it looks. Ditto beauty and morality.

    Maybe it can all be narrowed down to a single cognitive error, which is mistaking their own minds for the mind of God.

    Sastra has solved the problem of religion!

    =====

    Also: Steampunk… !!

    http://2dgoggles.com/

  47. AnthonyK says

    blf – thanks for the info. I knew that an awesome construction of Babbage’s dream had been made, I was merely suggesting that (despite the presision of engineering at the time, and subsequnetly) it couldn’t have been made then, especially if he’d made an error. Apparently, when they made it, it worked first time.
    I also heard (though the internet said “whatever” when I asked it) that the British Museum used to have the only hieroglyphic typewriter in the world. When times were tough for plucky old Britain in WW2, they donated it to the “metal for spitfires” campaign where it was uselessly melted down – but certainly not turned into planes.
    Ain’t they cute, the frilly fronds of history?

  48. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Going to be a hot evening/night here. We expected 70 ℉ and got 80 ℉. We’re also having some painting done, and they primed the bedroom windows (second floor) today. Unfortunately, they also painted them shut, so I can’t open the window to get the fan in to help cool things off. Then my D3 cable modem decided to go spastic. Not a good evening so far.

  49. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    Nerd:

    Unfortunately, they also painted them shut

    Not nice. Not nice at all. I hope you aren’t soaked in paint smell, that gives me a headache.

  50. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    Sometimes it feels like the whole world is trying to guilt-trip me into not voting Tory. :-(

    Not just the world, but the entire universe itself. Remember, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

  51. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    I hope you aren’t soaked in paint smell, that gives me a headache.

    No, just the outside of the windows and the storm windows are being done, and with latex. Now we’re getting a grumblestorm. Good thing the latex had time to dry, and that we have good eaves.

  52. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    Nerd, there’s thunder grumbling going on here too. Looks like we’ll be getting rain one of these days.

  53. Carlie says

    Sometimes it feels like the whole world is trying to guilt-trip me into not voting Tory. :-(
    Not just the world, but the entire universe itself.

    Also Time Lords.

  54. MATTIR says

    @ Nerd of Redhead

    re your post on the teabagger thread, which I lack energy to read through (and suspect I’d just want to pile onto the free-market types anyway). Yes, knitters are everywhere and armed with string for tying up our victims and sharp pointy sticks with which to administer justice. I will be on the lookout for deserving candidates.

    Are any other pharyngulistas going to be at Maryland Sheep & Wool this weekend? (Hey, MS&W is a huge event drawing from a lot of the east coast, so it’s worth a try, even if it’s not as likely as finding pharyngulistas at the atheist conferences…)

  55. MATTIR says

    My daughter has discovered blaghag and insists on reading it aloud. Between Regretsy and blaghag, I think she’s basically prepared for real life, so I’m done now. (Except for she’s announced that we have to go to the Creation Museum on one of our high school trips.)

    Wow, it appears that I got the whole link thing to work. At least it did in preview when I clicked on the link.

  56. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    MATTIR, the Sheep and Wool festival looks more like something for my sister-in-law in Oregon. She has a few horses, sheep, llamas, alpacas, and spins her own yarn.

  57. Pygmy Loris says

    I’ve finally caught up on the Thread, and I need to check out some others.

    Question for people with full-time jobs: how do you have time to keep up the posting on Pharyngula? I’ve been working full-time for two weeks and I simply don’t have time to post much. By the time I’ve caught up on reading various threads, I’m so tired I have to go to bed. How do y’all do it?

  58. cicely says

    It helps if your full-time job puts you in proximity to a computer, with a lot of dead-time on your hands.

  59. Pygmy Loris says

    cicely,

    How does one procure a job with both computer proximity and dead time? I’m near a computer all day, but I’m busy entering data the whole time. I actually kinda like the job, but there isn’t any dead time. We actually had tons of over-time this week because the enumerators completed their paperwork and started training to go door to door to complete the census. Getting everyone into the system so that they get their paychecks on time has been insane. Who knew census offices would have a third shift?

  60. MATTIR says

    @Pygmy Loris

    Reading pharyngula on your Blackberry in the ladies room. The census does let you go to the bathroom, right?

  61. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    How do y’all do it?

    My job entails a lot of hurry up and wait. Set up a reaction, wait for another addition. Check reaction by HPLC, wait while it runs. Wait some more for reaction to be complete. Check in here while waiting.

  62. Dust says

    Ol Greg

    Too old to try to get into medicine

    Ahem, nursing?
    With a nursing degree, you could travel the world, and it is medicine.

    Just thought I’d mention it. I have 3 nurses in the family, with 3 varied careers. One spent almost 5 years in Saudi Arabia, with lots of holidays spent shopping in Europe. (for example)

  63. Pygmy Loris says

    MATTIR,

    I do not have a Blackberry. Trying to read on the tiny screens gives me a headache. Besides, I spend my breaks having a cigarette, and reading parts of a book. :) I save the bathroom stuff for home. :P

    Nerd,

    Ahh…except for when the system is particularly slow, there’s no waiting at the census.

    Much of what I’m doing now is trouble shooting. We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel of applicants just to have enough enumerators and they couldn’t fill out a timesheet to save their freaking lives. We have people showing up for training and submitting timesheets that we didn’t hire. Lots of other problems with people being generally incompetent. It’s really bad, so I’m trying to do well (I’ll look even better in comparison to the incompetents :)) so that when I move home after my appointment expires, I can get a reference from my supervisors while I apply to jobs back home.

  64. Pygmy Loris says

    Ol’Greg,

    What Dust said. It’s also not true that you’re too old to go to medical school. I’m going to apply to law school for 2011. I’ll be 31 when I start and 34 when I’m done, but it’s what I want to do. Since I’ve nearly completely decided I don’t want kids, there’s no real time pressure to get life going on a particular track.

  65. cicely says

    Well, Pygmy Loris, it helps a lot if the Offspring starts to school at about the same time that one’s spouse’s office is looking to employ someone.

    My job used to involve a lot less free time, and a lot more data entry (and drawing pictures for a computerised catalog, using an ideosyncratic system no-one’s ever heard of), but with increasingly sophisticated means of data transmission, that facet dried up, leaving me essentially a secretary/receptionist/clerical worker/janitor (and, formerly, fish valet). When not answering phones, I surf my way around the blogosphere, or read. Sometimes, I paint. I have been known to do tablet weaving.

    Lest you mistake this for “heaven”, it’s not exactly a highly-paid job. OTOH, until the company goes down in flames, my job is pretty secure.

  66. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    My mother took a break from her medical career to raise us. She went back and did her residency in her late 40s. It was by no means easy finding a residency that would accept her (or taking caring of kids while studying for the ECFMG while raising kids), but she managed to do it.

  67. Pygmy Loris says

    cicely,

    That’s interesting. I guess most of my jobs have been McJobs, which rarely have downtime. Well paying isn’t very important right now; I’m only concerned about the paying part. :)

  68. cicely says

    And I am prepared to fight like a maddened badger to keep my low-paying job.

    Ya know. Just in case some lurker out there is eyeing up my turf.

    ;)

  69. Pygmy Loris says

    cicely,

    I swear I’m not after your job! Don’t hurt me, please. :)

  70. maureen.brian#b5c92 says

    Thanks, blf @ 555, for confirming what I thought but didn’t know how to prove!

    Click here for a picture and brief video.

    In fact, we were bloody good at precision engineering in those days and were until electronics ( a good idea) combined with both the search for a quick buck and the development of yuck-coloured plastics (not so good) which all collided to bring us marvels of engineering made in China which you are supposed to throw away, which are designed to ensure that you do!

    If you are ever in Manchester, I warmly recommend my favourite place on the planet – The Museum of Science and Industry – and don’t miss the textile-related machinery of the early industrial revolution!

    Before anyone asks – you mean you weren’t going to? – the second favourite place is that Viking ship museum near Oslo, already noted somewhere hereabouts.

  71. blf says

    I knew that an awesome construction of Babbage’s dream had been made, I was merely suggesting that (despite the presision of engineering at the time, and subsequnetly) it couldn’t have been made then, especially if he’d made an error. Apparently, when they made it, it worked first time.

    Now that you mention it, yes, I think it did work the first time. I don’t recall precisely what the errors were, how many, or when or how they discovered (Wikipedia says it while Babbage’s drawings were being adapted to modern manufacturing methods), but they were apparently very minor. From memory, one of the reasons the first machine was built was to test the hypothesis that precision issues was a reason it hadn’t been built during Babbage’s time.

    An expense way to test? Not really. As I recall, a point the accompanying exhibition made was that the precision hypothesis arose quite some time afterwards (don’t recall when). Babbage’s own contemporaries didn’t express any doubts on that score. To the contrary, being able to say you worked on the Difference Engine was apparently a high-prestige claim to have on your CV. And if memory serves me right, various other examples of high-precision engineering of the time was also on display; the difference is the Difference Engine is (in comparison) fecking huge and expensive.

    So why wasn’t one built in Babbage’s time? Several reasons. I (vaguely) recall there being evidence of disagreements between Babbage and at least one of the key project managers (both were apparently quite stubborn men). The project also had massive cost overruns, which I believe was the official reason it was cancelled. And also, apparently, the first example of a disease anyone who’s involved in the modern computing industry will recognise: Babbage also kept redesigning and tweaking, and was distracted by the Analytical Engine, which was so revolutionary he couldn’t get funding for it (and with the amount of money that had been sunk into the Difference Engine, it must have taken precisionhuge balls to ask).

  72. Walton says

    What Dust said. It’s also not true that you’re too old to go to medical school. I’m going to apply to law school for 2011. I’ll be 31 when I start and 34 when I’m done, but it’s what I want to do. Since I’ve nearly completely decided I don’t want kids, there’s no real time pressure to get life going on a particular track.

    I think you’ll be a good lawyer.

    Though, given your views about wealthy people, inheritance, property, and so on, you may not enjoy land law, equity and trusts very much… :-)

  73. Alan B says

    #586 Cicely

    Did anyone say …?

    (Did I see PZ making a guest appearance with a tentacle coming out of his academic robe?)

    And specially for duck lovers:

  74. David Marjanović says

    Photo of a hybrid between two very distantly related dolphin species, Tursiops truncatus and the false killer whale Pseudorca crassidens.

    Spraying oxytocin into men’s noses makes the men as sensitive as women – and increases their ability to learn! Press release in German. “Sensitive” refers to what the authors call “emotional empathy”, not “cognitive […] empathy that is reportedly impaired in individuals with ASD” (autism-spectrum disorders).

    Ooooh oooh ooh! Looking at the lego difference engine I inked to above, checkout the 15 most amazing lego models (including a lego iPhone).
    Puts the “fuck me that’s amazing” into awesome.

    QFT.

    Also: Steampunk… !!

    http://2dgoggles.com/

    CURSES!! IF ONLY THIS INCONVENIENTLY PLACED CAPTION WERE NOT OBSCURING THE DIALOGUE, WE COULD KNOW ALL ABOUT THE ORGANIST’S EVIL PLANS, THUS ELIMINATING ALL THIS TEDIOUS ARTIFICIAL SUSPENSE! OH WELL!

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Maybe it can all be narrowed down to a single cognitive error, which is mistaking their own minds for the mind of God.

    Sastra has solved the problem of religion!

    Rāmen.

    Going to be a hot evening/night here. We expected 70 ℉ and got 80 ℉.

    Over here, it’s summer, too – the third day I’ve been running around in T-shirt & shorts.

    Sometimes it feels like the whole world is trying to guilt-trip me into not voting Tory. :-(

    Not just the world, but the entire universe itself. Remember, reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    Cameron has announced that, if elected, he’d start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan within his term.

    I suppose this means the others would finish it during their terms if elected instead of him…?

  75. Carlie says

    Son of Time Lord.

    Well, there was a Ten voice-over at the end there. :)

    And I assume that son of would have inherited at least some of it, as did Jenny. Although she was a clone. But not quite. Which they never did explain to my satisfaction.

  76. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    As Popeye put it so well, “That’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more.” You folks won’t have Ol’ ‘Tis to kick around any more. That is, until I get back from sailing.

  77. David Marjanović says

    David Marjanović beat me to the link

    I just quoted Owlmirror (comment 558). I didn’t know that comic.

  78. Pygmy Loris says

    Thanks Walton.

    I’m talking to some of my lawyer friends about what kind of law I’d like to go into. I really want to do something that helps people who need help now.

  79. Knockgoats says

    I don’t particularly consider the Monsanto that exists today to equate exactly to the Monsanto of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – what with a complete refocus in area, obviously a complete change in people operating in the higher levels of the company, being bought up, broken up, and spun off from Pharmacia as a wholly agriculture focused company (with the non-Ag part going elsewhere, which to me would be where the taint of the past should lie, rather than with a name, if it needs to lie anywhere) – Ewan R.

    That’s dishonest garbage. Monsanto has fought and is still fighting to avoid responsibility for the pollution and deaths they have caused. A company whose leaders had an ounce of moral decency would not be doing so. The federal government is attempting to recover Medicare payments from them. The splitting off of Solutia (burdened with as many of Monsanto’s legal liabilities as possible), and merging followed by demerging with Pharmacia, are typical corporate scams to avoid paying compensation, of the kind familiar from events following Bhopal, and the history of Turner and Newall.

    With regard to dishonesty and bullying, a few extracts from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto

    “In 2003, Monsanto sued Oakhurst Dairy in Maine for advertising that its milk products did not come from cows treated with bovine growth hormone, claiming that such advertising hurt its business… As of May 2008, Monsanto is currently engaged in a campaign to prohibit dairies which do not inject their cows with artificial bovine growth hormone from advertising this fact on their milk cartons.”

    “In January 2005, Monsanto agreed to pay a $1.5m fine for bribing an Indonesian official. Monsanto admitted a senior manager at Monsanto directed an Indonesian consulting firm to give a $50,000 bribe to a high-level official in Indonesia’s environment ministry in 2002, in a bid to avoid Environmental impact assessment on its genetically modified cotton. Monsanto told the company to disguise an invoice for the bribe as “consulting fees”. Monsanto also has admitted to paying bribes to a number of other high-ranking Indonesian officials between 1997 and 2002…”

    “Gary Rinehart of Eagleville, Missouri was sued by Monsanto in 2002, who claimed that he had violated their Roundup Ready Soybean patent. Rinehart is not a farmer or seed dealer, but he still had to spend money for his legal defense. Monsanto eventually dropped the lawsuit, but never issued an apology, admitted to making a mistake…”

    “Monsanto sued the Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator in Pilot Grove, Missouri, claiming that offering seed cleaning services to farmers was tantamount to inducing them to pirate Monsanto seeds. The Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator had been cleaning seeds for decades before companies such as Monsanto could patent organisms.”

    Scum. Absolute scum.

  80. Lynna, OM says

    Question for people with full-time jobs: how do you have time to keep up the posting on Pharyngula?

    I don’t.

  81. Pygmy Loris says

    Somehow in my catching up I missed part of the Thread.

    Tis said,

    Passenger trains have pretty much gone away in the US for a very simple reason, money. It’s not profitable to run passenger trains with a very few exceptions.

    And Jadehawk replied,

    since when is it the point of public transportation to make money?

    Both make good points, but no one seems to have asked why trains, in particular, are so unprofitable in the US. There’s certainly a lot of people moving from place to place all over the country, but few of them choose to use trains. What we need to address to improve train usage (and profitability) is why don’t people take the train?

    I think the biggest reason people in the US don’t use the trains more is our car culture. The big three invested heavily in marketing the car and intentionally destroying public transport to encourage more and more people to buy their product. The second major issue, now, is routes. The most frequent trip I make is from my current location to my parents’ home. It’s a 2 hour drive in a car, but due to the lack of a direct train route, it’s an 11 hour train ride (with a multiple hour layover) at a cost of more than $100 round trip. The train is not feasible for a weekend at home. Add to the time and money costs the fact that the trains in my area run at inconvenient times (seriously, one of our passenger lines comes through at 3:00 AM), and it’s a huge pain to take the train. I could take Greyhound, but the bus is a terribly unpleasant experience, and it’s not any less expensive than driving my car.

    So, there are some major problems with our public transport infrastructure and cultural aversions to using it. On to the profitability argument.

    Cars are so cheap to use in the US because they are massively subsidized by the government. Paved roads, conveniently located interstate highways, foreign wars and diplomacy to keep the cost of gasoline low are all forms of government subsidy to the automobile industry. The real cost of driving your car around and between cities is much higher. Without the government subsidies, the auto industry might not be profitable either. Just sayin’

    My personal experience with Amtrak has been fine. On the less heavily traveled route I took there was an abundance of space to spread out. The train arrived at my destination on time and baggage pick-up proved no problem. The more heavily traveled route I use means that there isn’t much room to spread out. If you’re on the train on a weekend, it’ll be full. However, the seats are not nearly as cramped and uncomfortable as an airplane, and if you get uncomfortable you can go down to the snack or lounge car to stretch out for awhile. All in all, I prefer coach class on a train to coach class on a plane, even with the added time. I just wish smoking stops were a tad more frequent. :)

  82. Walton says

    I’ve now got my postal vote paper for the general election, so I now have to make my decision as to how to vote. I’m still agonising a little as to whether I can, in good conscience, vote Conservative, given all the areas in which I disagree substantially with party policy.

    If I do vote Conservative, and a Conservative government repeals the Human Rights Act, and/or imposes some arbitrary bullshit “points-based” system on immigration, I will feel terrible. Then again, if I don’t vote Conservative, and Labour gets back into government and imposes ID cards and more authoritarian bullshit and continues eroding our basic civil liberties, I will also feel terrible. And if I don’t vote Conservative, I will also feel like I’ve betrayed the party which I’ve supported actively for years.

    Argh. I’m sorry I keep going on about this, but it’s quite an important decision.

  83. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Part of the train usage problem is sheer distances in the US. I recall a report where past 500 miles, air travel became cheaper than trains. Buses were cheaper out to a couple of hundred miles. The other problem is transportation at the other end. The rental car agencies are tied into the airports.

    I suspect train travel would be used more for long distances if they ferried cars. I know a lot of retired folks who would like to get on a train in Chicago, with their car, and take an express or semi-express to Florida or Arizona for the winter. Likewise, semi-express trains to the east or west coast might be feasible. And with the car along, a couple of hundred mile drive at either end, without the intervening hundreds or thousands of miles and overnight motel stays, might be greatly appreciated.

  84. Pygmy Loris says

    Nerd,

    Oh yeah, the distances here are freaking vast, especially in the low population density area of the Great Plains. Population density is another big issue. There’s a reason the East Coast and West Coast have more cost effective trains, the sheer number of people living there. Similarly, Chicago has wonderful access to trains. A huge proportion of the passenger routes go through Chicago.

  85. iambilly says

    There are a couple of other reasons that help explain the lack of intercity rail transportation in the United States.

    One was the absolute phobia that the railroads had against any form of government money. Again and again, the idea of a local, state or federal subsidy for a rail profitability problem was viewed as ‘the camel’s nose coming into the tent.’ The prevailing view was that if, say, the state of New Jersey covered the deficit created by the commuters on the Erie Lackawanna or the Central of New Jersey, this would lead, inevetably, to a full federal takeover and nationalization of the railroads. (Another problem was that the state itself saw no reason to support the rail commuters — railroads were percieved as very wealthy companies (of course, most of that wealth was sunk in real estate, especially right of way and stations).) By the late 1960s, when railroads and states were willing to admit that (a) commuter rail was a public good and (b) a private company should not be expected to shoulder the massive losses associated with the business, rail travel, save for a few areas (mostly commuter areas) was already being abandoned so the railroads could stave off bankruptcy.

    The other major difficulty, which still exists today, is the demographics of the travellling public. In the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s, a majority of intercity rail passenger traffic was business related. As soon as the economic efficiencies of the jet turbine came to fruition, the business traveler abandoned rail for jets. And are still there.

    These are pieces of the rail passenger puzzle. Taxation, support of other forms of transportation, and the magic of the car were also major factors.

  86. Pygmy Loris says

    Thinking about the rental car issue, there are structural reasons for their proliferation around airports, outside of the obvious that people who fly in need to get a car to travel around. Airports tend to be on the outskirts (or former outskirts) of the cities because of the vast quantities of land needed. Large rental car lots also need lots of land. Train stations, OTOH, tend to be located in the downtown areas because that’s where the people were when the trains went through. Downtown real estate is too valuable to have large rental car lots adjacent to train stations.

  87. Knockgoats says

    blf@555,

    There’s a fine book describing both Babbage’s own work, and the recent construction of the difference engine: The Cogwheel Brain by Doron Swade, who headed the recent construction project. IIRC, he blames the failure to build at least the difference engine (as opposed to the much more ambitious analytical engine) in Babbage’s time to Babbage’s own faults: he was a technical genius, but organisationally hopeless, quarreled repeatedly with collaborators, and kept on revising and expanding his designs and spending time on scores of other projects rather than actually getting on with building the damn thing. The British government of the time was remarkably generous, funding him to the tune of millions of pounds/dollars in modern terms. If only…

  88. Knockgoats says

    OTOH, this group is actually proposing, with a straight face and at least minor financial support from the U.S. Air Force, flying to orbit using nothing but airships. – Bill Dauphin@297

    Bill, that’s absolutely amazing! Would be great if they succeed.

  89. Pygmy Loris says

    (((Billy)))

    Didn’t the railroads accept huge subsidies in the form of land to build the tracks on? Seems hypocritical of them to refuse such subsidies later.

  90. Carlie says

    Another big problem with train use is that freight trains have right of way over passenger trains nationwide (I’m guessing that industry was way more powerful at lobbying than passenger companies). That means that there is no way to guarantee an arrival time. The one trip I used Amtrak for was amazingly pleasant as for the ride itself; the seats were comfy, I had a laptop outlet, could move around as I pleased, happened to have an amazingly cool seat companion. However, it was a 5 hour trip that arrived almost 4 hours late thanks to a gravel truck spill at a crossing that had to be cleaned (1 hour) and then waiting for freight trains to get out of the way (three hours with four stops).

  91. Lynna, OM says

    Mormons are divided over support for the anti-immigration bill recently passed in the Arizona legislature, and signed by the Governor of Arizona. But, the head honchos writing the bill, lobbying for the bill, collecting signatures for the bill are mormons and white supremacists. A lovely group.

    No matter how much the LDS Church would like to remain neutral on the issue of illegal immigration, Mormon activists on opposite sides draw on their faith’s doctrines or practices to buoy their positions.
         Russell Pearce, the Arizona senator who proposed that state’s tough anti-immigration law, is LDS and hails from Mesa, a stronghold of Mormonism. A former missionary for the faith, the Republican lawmaker points to LDS scripture to buttress his push for a crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
         “We have a special duty [to] this land, this republic and to the rule of law,” Pearce wrote in an e-mail. “It is our duty and well established in scripture and modern revelation.”
         He cites a verse from the Doctrine & Covenants, a part of the Mormon canon, that says to “let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”
         Pearce also refers to the Utah-based church’s 12th Article of Faith, which says Mormons believe in “obeying, honoring and sustaining the law.”
         That also is a key teaching for GOP Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, a Mormon legislator from Orem who has met with Pearce several times and hopes to introduce a similar bill in Utah.
         “We are a country with the rule of law,” said Sandstrom, who served an LDS mission in Venezuela. “That’s the only way a country can prosper.”…
         “We’re not agents of the immigration service, and we don’t pretend to be,” LDS apostle Jeffrey R. Holland told The Salt Lake Tribune last year, “and we also don’t break the law.”
         In January 2008, Marlin Jensen, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was assigned by LDS President Thomas S. Monson to urge Utah legislators to use “compassion” in their immigration legislation.
         That didn’t stop Utah’s mostly LDS lawmakers from passing SB81, which took effect last July and tightened enforcement while limiting immigrants’ access to some services….
         On several occasions, Sandstrom said, he has shared his legislative proposals on illegal immigration with LDS officials.
    “Not one of them told me to ‘cease and desist,’ ” he said. “I’ve been told to do what I feel is right for the state and my constituents.”
         Garcia has, again, a different perspective.
         No, the LDS Church has not come out as strongly against these anti-immigration measures as the Catholics or the Evangelical Association, he said….
         Mormon conservatives seem to feel that not only is the United States being invaded by foreigners, but also their homes, their churches and their congregations, he said….

    Source: http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14986486?source=pkg

    And here’s Rachel Maddow detailing yet more lies from the racist backers of Protect Arizona Now: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#36881928

  92. Pygmy Loris says

    Carlie,

    I think the freight trains having right of way is part of the contract between Amtrak and the freight companies that own the tracks. Similarly, if you’re injured in an Amtrak accident that is caused by faulty tracks, you still can’t sue the company that owns the tracks. It’s in the Amtrak contract that Amtrak is liable for such things.

    But yeah, I’ve never been on a train that was significantly delayed, but we did have to wait for freight trains several times. My longest travel delays have all had to do with airports and ice. I was on a plane that circled O’Hare for a couple of hours because of the ice a few years ago. That was annoying because we had to keep our tray tables up, so no more drinks. Just two hours of knowing we were flying in a circle while my connecting flight got closer and closer to it’s take off time.

  93. Ewan R says

    “In 2003, Monsanto sued Oakhurst Dairy in Maine for advertising that its milk products did not come from cows treated with bovine growth hormone, claiming that such advertising hurt its business… As of May 2008, Monsanto is currently engaged in a campaign to prohibit dairies which do not inject their cows with artificial bovine growth hormone from advertising this fact on their milk cartons.”

    This is completely in line with Monsanto’s stance on labelling – labelling as ‘not from rBST treated cows’ at least tentatively suggests that there is a risk in milk that comes from rBST treated cows – as such Monsanto are completely within their rights, and in no way being immoral to object on legal grounds – it is then up to the courts to decide on the legality or otherwise of the labelling – a perfunctory search brings up the FDA response http://www.fass.org/fasstrack/news_item.asp?news_id=909
    which to me at least seems reasonable

    “In January 2005, Monsanto agreed to pay a $1.5m fine for bribing an Indonesian official. Monsanto admitted a senior manager at Monsanto directed an Indonesian consulting firm to give a $50,000 bribe to a high-level official in Indonesia’s environment ministry in 2002, in a bid to avoid Environmental impact assessment on its genetically modified cotton. Monsanto told the company to disguise an invoice for the bribe as “consulting fees”. Monsanto also has admitted to paying bribes to a number of other high-ranking Indonesian officials between 1997 and 2002…”

    Not only did Monsanto admit this, they self reported – the individual involved was operating outside of Monsanto policy, the misdeeds were uncovered internally and reported by Monsanto to the government – if Monsanto were the absolute scum you apparently believe they are, across the board, then nobody would ever have heard of the Indonesian bribery.

    “Gary Rinehart of Eagleville, Missouri was sued by Monsanto in 2002, who claimed that he had violated their Roundup Ready Soybean patent. Rinehart is not a farmer or seed dealer, but he still had to spend money for his legal defense. Monsanto eventually dropped the lawsuit, but never issued an apology, admitted to making a mistake…”

    Gary Rinehart sharecropped his property with his nephew Tim Rinehart – when it became apparent that it was not the property owner (Gary) but the nephew (Tim) who was utilizing saved seed Monsanto dropped suit against Gary and persued action against Tim, who settled on seed that he had planted. I think in this case, as Gary was the owner of the land, and the person who Monsanto were directed to as to the contact person for the farm, that after he was completely uncooperative it is perfectly reasonable to file suit given the circumstances (and the outcome that seed were infact saved illegally and planted on the land) – a more evil company would surely just have persued the landowner rather than the wrongdoer in this case.

    “Monsanto sued the Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator in Pilot Grove, Missouri, claiming that offering seed cleaning services to farmers was tantamount to inducing them to pirate Monsanto seeds. The Pilot Grove Cooperative Elevator had been cleaning seeds for decades before companies such as Monsanto could patent organisms.”

    Pilot grove were cleaning RR soybeans and helping farmers save them – this is against patent law, nobody is preventing seed cleaners from cleaning seed not prohibited by law – just as nobody is prohibited from copying DVDs of family functions, but if you’re copying DVDs of the latest hollywood blockbusters, even for someone else, you’re breaking the law

    Scum. Absolute scum.

    No. Absolutely no.

    Also in all cases where Monsanto does settle, or win a court settlement, the proceeds go to fund scholarships, FFA nad 4-H programs, rather than into Monsanto coffers, which again is not the action of a wholly profit motivated organization of scum.

    On the splitting off of Monsanto – the whole deal, as far as I am aware, was around trying to drive R&D in pharmaceuticals (Celebrex I believe) – the conglomerate corporation saw Ag-productivity as more of a liability than anything else and so decided to spin off the company – the initial company worth is reflected in the spectacularly low share price, rather than to move about liabilities (if the Ag company was trying to avoid liability etc I think the obvious choice would be a name change in the spin-off, who’d be vastly angry at a spun off company with nothing at all to do with the sort of manufacturing all the anger is stemming from if they had a different name? Nobody. As nobody is vastly annoyed at Pfizer for PCBs or agent orange (although they do generate a lot of controversy around pollution caused under the pfizer name)

  94. Lynna, OM says

    Disinformation disguised as education expands from Utah into Nevada:

    Beginning Fall 2012, high school graduates and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be eligible to attend a new college in Logandale, Nev.
         While it is unaffilitated with the Church Educational System, Desert Valley College officials say it will purport LDS values, providing an alternative to Brigham Young University and the already established, privately run Southern Virginia University, which also maintains standards of conduct and a strict honor code. The goal of the new school will be “to provide for an intensive learning experience in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued,” according to executive director Rex Jensen.
         Desert Valley College, he said, will be modeled after the successful SVU plan and the BYU system of LDS Church colleges. As a small percentage of LDS high school graduates across the country are admiteed into the BYU system, or SVU, Jensen believes the academy in Nevada will serve a specific need. He said that morals and standards at state-sponsored universities are continuing to erode and therefore provide a unique opportunity for a nonprofit institution like his.
         The Desert Valley college motto is “leadership through learning and faith.”
         Donations to the school are tax-deductible and can be pledged online at http://www.desertvalleyacademy.org. The school will need to fundraise at least $75 million, and secure about 80 acres of land in order to become completely established, but just about $3 million is needed to get started.

    Source: http://www.mormontimes.com/people_news/education/?id=14601

    This new “University” is in addition to recently-created George Wythe University, which is backed by Glenn Beck, and is located in Cedar City, Utah.

    “‘Quite honestly, the first thing that attracted me was that to graduate you have to know all of the principles behind The Five Thousand Year Leap,’ Beck said.” Indeed, incoming freshmen are required to read this book before any other.

  95. Katharine says

    You know, why is there this icky double standard where the idiots of society get to act like idiots but we who are not so idiotic can’t at least occasionally fuck these people up?

  96. Alan B says

    #602 Lynna, OM

    Question for people with full-time jobs: how do you have time to keep up the posting on Pharyngula?

    I don’t.

    I’m retired from gainful employment and I can’t keep up. Time zones don’t help – by the time I get to see something interesting, everybody else has moved on!

  97. Pygmy Loris says

    Alan B,

    Ah, retirement. I’m looking forward to it. :)

    I would like to not have to work full-time, but until I get my debts paid off (not the student loans, those’ll never get paid off), that’s just not possible.

    If I can continue to find gainful employment, I should have my credit cards paid off in time to start law school. I look forward to the day those bills come in saying Balance: $0.00 Minimum Payment $0.00. It’s going to be awesome!

  98. iambilly says

    Pygmy Loris: The land grants were primarily collateral for the loans required for the initial funding. They were also much smaller than the areas shown in most textbooks. By the 1930s, the initial value of the land grants had been paid back tenfold by the railroads. They did, however, keep raising their head during the merger era: when the Southern Pacific transfered its land grants to the SPSF (the parent company which was supposed to oversee the merger of the Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific), objections were raised as to whether or not the land grants actually belonged to the railroad and whether they could transfer ownership.

    Carlie: Amtrak is a quasi-government corporation (along the lines of Conrail) which was created to relieve the railroads of their passengers. Railroads are common carriers. They are under an obligation to carry anything, or, at least, quote rates on anything. Part and parcel of the eminent domain and land grant deals was the provision of passenger service. By the 1950s, railroads were earning, on average, a 5-7% return on investment for freight operations, but the ROI for railroads as a whole was around 2% because of passenger losses.

    Railroads found it difficult, if not impossible, to abandon passanger service. As long as one or two vocal passengers were willing to object, the ICC, and, often, the state, extended service. In an attempt to preserve freight service, congress created Amtrak with the understanding that nobody in their right mind expected it to make money. They expected most routes to fade away.

    Except for the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak does not own the track. Their schedule is carefully integrated with the freight schedule. When (not if, but when) something goes wrong, the railroads concentrate on getting the freight where it needs to go. After de-regulation (Staggers Act), the railroads were granted freedom to make rates (within limits (railroads are still one of the most regulated industries in America (which, perhaps, explains how good they are at hauling freight and not bankrupting themselves))). Some contracts incur penalties for late delivery. In the day of just in time inventory, that makes sense. Though the railroads get paid trackage fees by Amtrak, those fees are nothing compared to losses incurred by late deliveries.

    That is why freight takes precedence over passenger operations.

    Another reason for delays is the dispatching system. Before radios, busy railroads had two tracks — one track for trains heading each direction. Centralized Traffic Control allows operation of more trains on one track with passing sidings than could be run on two tracks, and it cuts maintenance costs. When things get bollixed up, though, the passing sidings can get filled and, until the district clears out, low priority traffic gets to sit and wait. To a railroad, the passenger train that the railroad does not own, does not lose money for poor performance on, is low priority.

    Sorry for the long replies. It really is an occupational hazard.

  99. Pygmy Loris says

    (((Billy)))

    I appreciate your insight into the railroad industry. My knowledge of those land grants is limited to what we learned in high school history class. :)

    On place that really needs more railroads is the stretch that I-40 covers across Arkansas. Driving from Memphis to Little Rock (I rarely go further west) it’s literally bumper to bumper semis in the right lane. Kinda scary to drive through.

  100. Knockgoats says

    Ewan R.,

    Provisionally, I’ll concede the bribery case. The rinehart case, I’d have to know more – and from a less obviously biased source. The Pilot Grove case sounds to me as though they were trying to force another company to do their dirty work – how would Pilot Grove know the seeds were RR?

    This is completely in line with Monsanto’s stance on labelling – labelling as ‘not from rBST treated cows’ at least tentatively suggests that there is a risk in milk that comes from rBST treated cows – as such Monsanto are completely within their rights, and in no way being immoral to object on legal grounds

    You evidently support their bullying. Why the fuck shouldn’t a company give information about its products that many people want to have? Safety concerns are not the only reason for objection to rBST: animal welfare would be my big concern; but even if the wish to avoid it were wholly irrational, this effort shows that Monsanto doesn’t give a shit for consumers’ rights.

    Also in all cases where Monsanto does settle, or win a court settlement, the proceeds go to fund scholarships, FFA nad 4-H programs, rather than into Monsanto coffers, which again is not the action of a wholly profit motivated organization of scum.

    Be serious. Their aim in suing is intimidation, not profit from the relatively trivial sums involved.

    You say nothing whatever about Monsanto’s continued efforts to avoid responsibility for the pollution they have caused – not only in Aniston, but in scores of sites around the USA, and a site in South Wales. Your blethering about “the split off of Monsanto” does not cover the creation of Solutia in 1997. Solutia was saddled with financial responsibility for all compensation claims resulting from PCBs (and asbestos), then, well would you believe it – filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

    Scum, absolute scum.

  101. iambilly says

    Pygmy: A large chunk of that traffic was carried on the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific line from Memphis to Little Rock to Oklahoma City. UP proposed absorbing the Rock in the 1960s. Every other railroad affected screamed bloody murder and stopped the deal. The ICC came up with a way to merge the granger railroads into the big western roads, but that smacked of government coercion. So in 1979, the Rock Island was sold off, in pieces, to satisfy debts.

    The line from Memphis to Little Rock remained in service (part with CSX (trackage rights over the SP’s Cotton Belt) and a shortline. West of Little Rock, it is gone. The Southeast is not really set up for easy east-west travel by rail. Both CSX and NS achieve it, but through roundabout ways. Most container traffic transits either Kansas City/St. Louis or Chicago for transfer between the eastern and western roads.

    I suspect that much of the I-40 truck traffic is comprised of loads which are not going cross country, probably less than 1,000 miles. Some areas, if the tracks are in place, the railroads can compete for that container traffic. If the parallel road is gone, the roundabout route the railroads would have to take negates their advantage.

  102. Pygmy Loris says

    (((Billy)))

    Wow, you’re better than Google. ;)

    The South never did develop very good rail routes, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  103. iambilly says

    Pygmy: Actually, the south did develop some very good rail roautes. The Piedmont/coastal routes from Florida to Washington are very good. As are the Atlanta to Cincinnati (and to Chicago), the New Orleans to Chicago, Virginia to Ohio, and Florida to southern Texas. Routes were not built by railroads to open up undeveloped areas. They were built to connect two markets, or connect a product with a market. This means that there were some excellent but worthless routes, and also some routes which were abandoned for reasons that had little to do with the market need for a track in that area.

    And one other thing regarding the land grants — only some railroads built west of the Mississipi got them. East of the Mississippi, none. Though the New York & Erie (which became the Erie) was built using loans from the state of New York which became grants if certain towns were reached by certain dates. Of course, this meant that sometimes the first train was running on rails that had only 1/4 of the needed spikes, but they made it.

  104. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Knockgoats #608

    Happy May Day, comrades and friends!

    You didn’t post a link to the song!!



  105. iambilly says

    boygenius: I’ll take City of New Orleans, Worried Man Blues, Wreck of the Ol’ 97 (MTA), and Freight Train Blues.

    But, outside of work, I try to avoid that shit.

  106. SC OM says

    I had prepared a little substantive response to some of Ewan R’s comments several days ago, but have been forcing myself to keep away from the blogs (even though I’ve left threads dangling across the science blogosphere) until my work is done. I’ll post it soon. I did, though, just Google “Ewan R Monsanto,” and from the looks of things commenting on the internet in defense of the indefensible giant is what Ewan spends a great deal of time doing.

    In case no one has asked yet (I may have missed it): Ewan, what is your job at Monsanto? Is your commenting here part of it?

  107. iambilly says

    boygenius: Not only do I avoid railroad history (other than music) outside of work, I avoid Ayn Rand like the plaque. Not fatal, but can make things ugly. Randian charaters are ideologies masquerading as people which makes for breathtakingly boring writing.

  108. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    boygenius, you forgot the most socially significant railroad song:



  109. Pygmy Loris says

    (((Billy)))

    Hmmm, those routes basically ignore the vast stretch of the South between the Appalachians and the Mississippi (and the Mississippi adjacent states of Arkansas ans Louisiana). I guess there were never many people living in these states. I’m from the Mississippi alluvial plain area, so I’m used to my homeland being ignored. The City of New Orleans does run through Memphis though. That’s nice.

  110. owenevans00.myopenid.com says

    Late to the steampunk party, but the gun reminded me of this – somewhat NSFW but great example of high-fashion steampunk.

    Also, does anyone know why SB isn’t using the name from my openid persona and just displaying the id?

  111. blf says

    I am seriously annoyed. (I’m also perhaps not-sober, so if this makes even less sense than usual, or contains more typos (or parenthetical phrases) than usual, that’s my excuse.) I’m supposedly on vacation for about a week. I was planning to travel to X, by TGV, ideally departing yesterday. I didn’t make any reservations in advance of the ash cloud, and avoiding making any during the ash cloud, only to discover all the departures for the next N days are fully fecking booked. The only option is to travel by slow donkey cart.

    Well, Ok. Sort of. I’ll stay here. So I goes to the bus stop. There’s no fecking bus. Wait a bit—the buses aren’t always on time—still no fecking bus. Think a bit.

    Ah! May 1st. A fecking holiday. So no buses.

    Godsdamnit. Walk into the village. Stop for lunch on the way in. Rain starts pissing down. Ok, stop for an extended lunch. Finish walk into the village later than desired, having consumed more alcohol than intended, and discover the local movie theatre has run out of schedules.

    Ok, feck you. Visit a bar where I’m a known character, and order an unusual (for me) drink. Surprised barman gives me the evil eye but no actual problems.

    Eventually move to another bar to watch the rugby (the main purpose of walking into the village). Preferred team looses. Feck.

    Start the walk back to home. Stop at a local good restaurant (where, again, I’m a known character): “Sorry, we’re full, and you didn’t book.” Well, Ok, true…

    Wander on to another local decent restaurant. wind up being seated next to the fecking toilets. Grumble. And the main dish is overcooked. Grrr… Worse, it’s served with fecking french motherfecking fries, which I hate (at least there were no peas!).

    Stumble home—where I didn’t expect to be—with a higher blood-alcohol content and fouler mind-set than expected…

    </rant>
  112. David Marjanović says

    Sunk costs, Walton, sunk costs.

    Vote Lib Dem!

    What more can I say.

    I suspect train travel would be used more for long distances if they ferried cars.

    As, indeed, they do in Europe.

    There are a couple of other reasons that help explain the lack of intercity rail transportation in the United States.

    One was the absolute phobia that the railroads had against any form of government money.

    Or should I put it this way: one was the fact that the railroad companies were private in the first place.

    Another big problem with train use is that freight trains have right of way over passenger trains nationwide

    Yeah, that’s just madness.

    the freight companies that own the tracks

    More madness.

    labelling as ‘not from rBST treated cows’ at least tentatively suggests that there is a risk in milk that comes from rBST treated cows

    Doesn’t the bovine hormone work in humans, too? I bet it does. Peptide hormones don’t evolve that quickly.

    I’m pretty sure it’s forbidden over here to treat livestock with growth hormones.

    You know, why is there this icky double standard where the idiots of society get to act like idiots but we who are not so idiotic can’t at least occasionally fuck these people up?

    Details, please. Who are “the idiots of society”, and what does “fuck these people up” mean?

    Before radios, busy railroads had two tracks — one track for trains heading each direction.

    Most railroads in Europe have two tracks, and Austria’s most used railroad was recently upgraded from two to four tracks. Single-track railroads only connect villages.

    like the plaque

    I don’t doubt that you avoid to get plaque (with [k]) on your teeth, but here you mean the plague. :-)

  113. David Marjanović says

    I was planning to travel to X, by TGV, ideally departing yesterday. I didn’t make any reservations in advance of the ash cloud, and avoiding making any during the ash cloud

    Erm…

    I thought it’s a Well Known Fact that TGV reservations must be made months in advance because the tickets* are just gone if you don’t book soon enough?

    * The TGV has a reservation requirement.

  114. Jadehawk, OM says

    I had prepared a little substantive response to some of Ewan R’s comments several days ago, but have been forcing myself to keep away from the blogs (even though I’ve left threads dangling across the science blogosphere) until my work is done. I’ll post it soon.

    yay!

    like the plaque

    I don’t doubt that you avoid to get plaque (with [k]) on your teeth, but here you mean the plague. :-)

    actually, judging from the “not deadly, but can make things ugly” part, I’m going to guess he did mean plaque ;-)

  115. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    blf:

    Stumble home—where I didn’t expect to be—with a higher blood-alcohol content and fouler mind-set than expected…

    Have you offended any Maypoles lately? Perhaps tweaked and old god or two? Seriously, sounds like a good sort of day to be drunk.

  116. SC OM says

    Holy shit! Just turned oon the TV, and there’s been a big water main break here. If you’re in the Boston area, don’t drink your water until you’ve checked to see if you’re in one of the 38 towns affected (fortunately, mine isn’t).

  117. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I suspect train travel would be used more for long distances if they ferried cars.

    The Amtrak Auto Train carries cars from Lordon, VA (suburb of Washington, DC) to Sanford, FL (suburb of Orlando).

  118. blf says

    I thought it’s a Well Known Fact that TGV reservations must be made months in advance because the tickets are just gone if you don’t book soon enough?

    I’ve never(?) had any problems before booking just a handful of days in advance; I’ve even managed to book less than 24h in advance previously. Having said that, I concur, booking as far in advance as possible is desirable. (I also almost always book over Teh Internets.)

    I suppose it depends on the routes travelled? In my case, it’s mostly from one point in S. France to another, with the occasional journey to Brussels or Paris. X is a Southern France destination, starting from another Southern France location.

  119. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    The Amtrak Auto Train carries cars from Lordon, VA (suburb of Washington, DC) to Sanford, FL (suburb of Orlando).

    Dang, there goes my second million (I gave up on my first).

    *I’ll be playing all weekend. Try the veal*

  120. iambilly says

    Pygmy: Anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains there was coal, there were railroads. They go up and down some of the most incredible grades to get the carbon out. The Southern Piedmont and Coastal plain, even along the Gulf Coast, was criss-crossed with small railroads. Most of these, though, were slow and twisty, not the kind of road that is used today by the big main line railroads. Some have become shortlines, but half the mileage which existed in the 1920s has been abandoned, much of it because it should never have been built. Some was abandoned due to changing markets — turpentine is no longer a major cash crop across the Southern pinelands.

    David:

    I did mean plaque — not deadly, just creates ugliness, just like Rand.

  121. MATTIR says

    The first weekend in May is the most overscheduled to days of the entire year. (Just felt like complaining.)

    Please let the squidly overlord post a sunday sacrilege tomorrow, preferably one that does not engender major abortion debates, but does lead to interesting philosophical musings (like the ensoulment post). I’d pray, but that’d be against my policy of only praying for personal character traits, like patience for dealing with idiots when force isn’t advisable. So I’ll just say please.

  122. David Marjanović says

    actually, judging from the “not deadly, but can make things ugly” part, I’m going to guess he did mean plaque ;-)

    Oops. I overlooked that part, because I’ve seen bizarre misspellings between q and g so often in English, this particular one several times.

    I’m gainfully unemployed and I can’t keep up.

    I keep up with some threads (like this one, of which I’ve read every single comment since the announcement of Titanoboa). Whether I can keep up is a fairly good question.

  123. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Rorschach #659

    Maher is a lot more palatable when speaking about Muslims than Pat Condell.

  124. KOPD says

    I shouldn’t keep up as well as I do. It’s going to get me in trouble one of these days.

  125. Rorschach says

    Maher is a lot more palatable when speaking about Muslims than Pat Condell.

    Aren’t their messages wrt this similar tho ? Both seem to me to be saying, “you want to stone your kids or rape your wife or kill cartoonists/authors/anyone do it in your own country”.

    There’s not much any westerner can do to prevent these practices from happening in Afghan/Somalian/Iranian/Gazaen etc villages, but at least we can have a say if they try and do these things in western countries.

    Off to work, again….*sigh*

  126. ronsullivan says

    @ boygenius #631: Man, I miss Utah Phillips. (tear) Ever see that tattoo on his right arm?

    Here’s another—those of us who get seasick might listen with eyes closed.

    (((((Billy)))))))))))) oops, got carried away: Great stuff! Thanks.

  127. John Morales says

    Rorschach,

    There’s not much any westerner can do to prevent these practices from happening in Afghan/Somalian/Iranian/Gazaen etc villages

    I guess it’s pretty bad in Africa and the Middle East. Apparently, Pakistan is a little more moderate, Malaysia much more so.

  128. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    ronsullivan #664

    I miss Utah Phillips. (tear) Ever see that tattoo on his right arm?

    No. What was it?

  129. ronsullivan says

    ‘Tis # 666 (You WIN!)

    (Ever see that tattoo on his right arm?)
    No. What was it?

    Great big engine and tender. I bet you’d see it somewhere on The Long Memory site.

    “The most radical thing in the world is a long memory.”

  130. ronsullivan says

    “The most radical thing in the world is a long memory.”

    Or something like that; I forget.

  131. boygenius says

    Auntie ron #664:

    Man, I miss Utah Phillips.

    Yeah, me too. I do have the good fortune of living fairly close to Rosalie Sorrels. Through mutual friends in the Boise music scene, I have had the pleasure of hanging out with her and hearing some of her stories from back in the day.

  132. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    LMAO! There was a congressman who compared illegal immigrgants to grasshoppers and his actual name is Ted Poe. Another surprise: he’s from Texas.

    Poe: “Now it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil, in the holds of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas on the Sabine River. Sabin River, madam speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana. If we’re able to do that as a country, how come we can’t capture the thousands of people that cross the border everyday on the southern border of the United States? You know they’re a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier.”

  133. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    You know they’re a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier.”

    Golly gee, Mr. Poe, I expect people might just be more intelligent than grasshoppers. People might even have…motivation!

  134. boygenius says

    In keeping with the spirit of this incarnation of teh Thread, the part of Praying Mantis will be played by Ted Poe. The part of the illegal immigrant will be played by the grasshopper:

  135. ambulocetacean says

    Um, I trust that everyone has seen this marvellous Tet Zoo post about Peruvian sloths climbing into toilets to eat human faeces.

    If, for some reason, you find yourself in need of LOLcat-style photos of poop sloths you can find a couple here. That is all.

  136. Ring Tailed Lemurian says

    Something (more) for Walton to consider before voting….

    Conservative high-flyer Philippa Stroud founded a church that tried to ‘cure’ homosexuals by driving out their demons

    Philippa Stroud, who is likely to win the Sutton and Cheam seat on Thursday and is head of the Centre for Social Justice, the thinktank set up by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, has heavily influenced David Cameron’s beliefs on subjects such as the family. A popular and energetic Tory, she is seen as one of the party’s rising stars.
    The CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many as 70 of the party’s policies.

    Stroud and her husband, David, a minister in the New Frontiers church, allied to the US evangelical movement, left the project in the late 1990s to establish another church in Birmingham. Angela Paterson, who was an administrator at the Bedford church, said: “With hindsight, the thing that freaks me out was everybody praying that a demon would be cast out of me because I was gay. Anything – drugs, alcohol or homosexuality, they thought you had a demon in you.”

  137. John Morales says

    Praying mantis ain’t bad, but I like to subvert by saying preying mantis¹.

    (I do it with butterflies, too — I try to call them flutterbyes, because it’s so much more appropriate.)

    ¹ Though with my spanglish accent, I doubt most people notice.

  138. Ring Tailed Lemurian says

    Trains
    Train from Dumbo

    Got six days to spare?
    Moscow-Vladivostok: virtual journey on Google Maps

    The great Trans Siberian Railway, the pride of Russia, goes across two continents, 12 regions and 87 cities. The joint project of Google and the Russian Railways lets you take a trip along the famous route and see Baikal, Khekhtsirsky range, Barguzin mountains, Yenisei river and many other picturesque places of Russia without leaving your house. During the trip, you can enjoy Russian classic literature, brilliant images by photographer Anton Lange and fascinating stories about the most attractive sites on the route. Let’s go!

    You can chose the soundtrack to your journey:
    rumbling wheels, Russian radio (rubbish hip hop), balalaika music (great), or some guy with a deep voice reading either War and Peace, Dead Souls or The Golden Calf, in Russian.

  139. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    From RationalWiki:

    The people over at ConservaPOEdia are thinking of starting a “PZ Myers Project”. Judging from the “Richard Dawkins Project”* it will consist of trying to link him to Hitler, clowns and writing many article titles (just the titles). Can’t wait!

    * Linking to Conservapedia is banned here. If you want to take a look just go there and type “Richard Dawkins Project”.

  140. Weed Monkey says

    Jadehawk #529,

    is this the one he painted? Looks very much the same :) (And an unrelated note: HOT DAMN)

  141. Knockgoats says

    Both seem to me to be saying, “you want to stone your kids or rape your wife or kill cartoonists/authors/anyone do it in your own country”. – rorschach

    I’m astonished you can’t see the racism in this message.

  142. Knockgoats says

    I did, though, just Google “Ewan R Monsanto,” and from the looks of things commenting on the internet in defense of the indefensible giant is what Ewan spends a great deal of time doing. -SC,OM

    Well, I’m sure he does it out of sheer devotion to that wonderful philanthropic organisation! I’m looking forward to your critique, SC.

  143. negentropyeater says

    LMAO! There was a congressman who compared illegal immigrgants to grasshoppers and his actual name is Ted Poe. Another surprise: he’s from Texas.

    Another surprise : he’s a Republican

    Another surprise : he speaks at teabagging protest (at the capitol) and rally (King street tea party patriots)

    Another surprise : he’s got a pointless poll on his Poe for congress web site

    Do you believe the federal government can provide better health insurance than your current plan?
    NO 88%
    YES 11%

    With only 196 votes so far, it should be fun to pharyngulate this poll rapidly.

  144. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    Poe for congress web site

    hehe

    With only 196 votes so far, it should be fun to pharyngulate this poll rapidly.

    I’m on it.

  145. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    LMAO!

    “Do you believe the federal government can provide better health insurance than your current plan?
    Yes 52.7%
    No 47.0%
    Undecided 0.3%

    Total votes: 370”

    Is this the quickest Pharyngulation ever?

  146. Walton says

    RTL @#676: That’s awful.

    I’ve always been deeply suspicious of Iain Duncan Smith’s “Centre for Social Justice”. (I have heard him give a talk about it in person.) IDS is a right-wing Catholic, and his group’s “research” seems suspiciously to support a whole host of “traditional family values” bullshit, with homophobic undertones.

    Taking this into account, as well as the fact that I hate the Conservative policies on immigration and criminal justice (and prefer the Lib Dem ones), I think I’m going to have to vote Lib Dem as a protest – and have just posted something to that effect in my Facebook status.

    I just feel like my basic values have diverged substantially from those of the Tory Party; there is a disturbing segment of the party which holds right-wing authoritarian views with which I profoundly disagree, and I don’t think that I can in good conscience vote for them. That said, I will never be a true-blue (true-yellow?) Lib Dem either, as the Lib Dems are too left-wing on the economy for my liking. Rather, I’m really a classical liberal or moderate libertarian, and the problem is that there is no mainstream party which actually shares my political values.

  147. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    I think I’m going to have to vote Lib Dem

    Our little boy is growing up. [dabs eyes with handkerchief]

  148. Knockgoats says

    I think I’m going to have to vote Lib Dem as a protest – and have just posted something to that effect in my Facebook status.

    May I be the first to congratulate you, Walton!

    the problem is that there is no mainstream party which actually shares my political values.

    Ditto. I may actually be obliged to vote for the Scottish Socialist Party, even though I know it’s full of Trots – I got a leaflet from them yesterday, and support every one of the policies mentioned. As the Greens are not standing in my constituency, all the other parties are fundamentally opposed to my views, and all kow-tow to big business.

  149. Knockgoats says

    I should add that there’s not the slightest chance of the SSP winning the seat – or, indeed, any seats! So this too is a protest vote – against corporate capitalism.

  150. negentropyeater says

    Is this the quickest Pharyngulation ever?

    Now %74 YES.

    Just would like to see the face of the Webmaster when he sees the results.

    Maybe we need a new term when the Pharyngulation takes place entirely within the endless thread ?

    Endlessthreadulation?

  151. Feynmaniac, Chimerical Toad says

    I’d like to have some sort of preferential voting system so that you can vote for the candidate that closest represents you and still not “waste” your vote.

  152. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    Just went out to fill the bird feeders – it’s snowing. Fuck.

  153. David Marjanović says

    Toothless goodness for Sven! Seriously not cool that it was exterminated a few hundred years ago.

    My. It looks like our heddle has attained famehood.

    I shall spend the rest of the day cackling with glee.

    Though with my spanglish accent, I doubt most people notice.

    Erm… there is nothing to notice. Pray and prey are pronounced the same.

    Do you believe the federal government can provide better health insurance than your current plan?

    Yes 74.6%
    No 25.3%
    Undecided 0.1%

    Total votes: 692

    The best part is the signature: “God and Texas, Congressman Ted Poe“.

    the Lib Dems are too left-wing on the economy for my liking

    <Homer Simpson>So far!</Homer Simpson>

    Our little boy is growing up. [dabs eyes with handkerchief]

    I wouldn’t have put it in such… paternalistic terms.

    But I do wonder what this development says about “if you’re not liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart; if you’re not conservative when you’re 40, you have no brain“. Seems to me like political orientation depends on information more than on anything else.

  154. Matt Penfold says

    I’d like to have some sort of preferential voting system so that you can vote for the candidate that closest represents you and still not “waste” your vote.

    There is talk of having such a system here in the UK. The Tories are the only party openly hostile to the idea. If, as expected, the Lib Dems do well in the overall share of the vote but do not see that share reflected in the number of MPs the demands for some sort of proportional system may become irresistible. There is also very real prospect of Labour coming third in the total number of votes but coming first in the number of MPs.

  155. Carlie says

    I’d like to have some sort of preferential voting system so that you can vote for the candidate that closest represents you and still not “waste” your vote.

    That’s one thing New York gets kind of right. It’s still one vote per office, but there are several minor parties on the ballot and often they endorse the majority candidate. So let’s say I’m Working Families Party, but don’t want to “throw away” my vote on a third party candidate. Working Party usually endorses the Democratic nominee for the big offices, so I can vote for a Democratic governor but through Working Party, so whoever the candidate is knows exactly how many votes came from the extra-progressive constituency. That makes it a little more clear where the votes are coming from and in what direction the voters expect the candidate to move if elected.

    Plus, we’re about the only state left that uses the old voting booths. It’s supposed to be switched to computer (boo!) but with our budget that’s not likely to happen for awhile. The *ca-chunk* of throwing that big red lever is quite satisfying.

  156. Matt Penfold says

    Plus, we’re about the only state left that uses the old voting booths. It’s supposed to be switched to computer (boo!) but with our budget that’s not likely to happen for awhile. The *ca-chunk* of throwing that big red lever is quite satisfying.

    I have never found anything wrong with a ballot slip and putting in a cross in the box by the your chosen candidate.

    We use that system here in the UK, and we seem to get our election results quicker than you do in the US.

  157. ambulocetacean says

    Preferential voting (like we have here in Oz) is fantastic. Just imagine – you could vote for Nader and still not get Bush!

  158. Knockgoats says

    There is also very real prospect of Labour coming third in the total number of votes but coming first in the number of MPs. – Matt Penfold

    That’s the result I’m hoping for! It would as you say maximise the pressure for electoral reform. The Lib Dems want STV-MM (single transferable vote in multi-member constituencies, which IIRC Ireland and New Zealand have); I somewhat prefer the additional member system we already have for the Scottish Parliament (it’s much simpler), but I’d much rather STV than the current grossly unfair system, where a party with less than 40% of the vote can be in a position to push through whatever its leader wants.

  159. AnthonyK says

    Walton to vote Lib Dem?
    Truly, there is a Dawkins!
    One of the problems the Tories pose for me is that I suspect that behind their fresh-faced Eton lite facade lies the nasty, little Englander party expressed so gleefully by UKIP, a govenment that would try to emulate Mrs Thatcher and give us the freedom to be run by the wealthy, once again.
    But in practice, and whatever the “real” ideology of an incoming Conservative government, things will no doubt turn out differently: whoever gets in the problems facing the country in terms of economy and possible social unrest (cf Greece)when the cuts come will be such as to overwhelm ideology in favour of grim pragmatism, leading to deep and continued unpopularity.
    So part of me wants the Tories to win, just to watch them screw up. Again.
    I am grateful to the Labour government because, despite their many faults, they did invest so much in health and education and they made a valiant attempt to end child poverty. The Tories, I feel, would have done very little in these areas.
    But it will probably be a hung parliament: I hope so, because then they’ll all be forced to co-operate. Hurray!

  160. Matt Penfold says

    Truly, there is a Dawkins!

    By a strange coincidence, Richard Dawkins has spoken in positive terms of the Lib Dems.

  161. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Seems to me like political orientation depends on information more than on anything else.

    It might if we all wanted the same thing. Unfortunately, my neighbors might want to live in a world where teh gay is outlawed, or where the poor are made to suffer. I can’t think of what kind of information I could bring to bear against such horrific people that would change their mind.

  162. AnthonyK says

    Political orientation depending on information?
    If only this were so! Rather, I think, people selectively use or abuse information to bolster their prejudices – I know I do :p
    Political orientation would seem to me to depend, like religion, on upbringing and the curcumstances of your family. That will put emphasis on different aspects of society, poverty and injustice, say, or the importance of keeping your own money to yourself. Children growing up in a household where politics is important will most likely grow up to share the familial view.
    Most people in Britain are uninterested in politics (and distrust politicians) which is why the recent telivised debates have been so good, more people I feel are uncommited to their old parties and have been forced to examine the different policies, thus breaking old allegiances.
    One thing also suggesting this is the almost total absence of “Vote X” posters in peoples’ windows, in contrast to previous elections where they were common.

  163. Caine, Fleur du mal says

    Antiochus Epiphanes:

    It might if we all wanted the same thing. Unfortunately, my neighbors might want to live in a world where teh gay is outlawed, or where the poor are made to suffer.

    *Nods* I think information does matter when it comes to political orientation, but not the way David meant it. Most of the people I know tend to seek out information only in the form of confirmation bias. They look for whatever will strengthen their opinions, rather than look at all the available information in depth. Most people have a very shallow understanding of politics and they tend to go on soundbites and their “gut”. That’s why the whole “God, Country therefore War” crap gets sold so easily, among other things. Of course, I’m talking about the U.S. here.