Steve Jobs is dead

I’m typing this on a Mac laptop. I heard about it while browsing the news on my iPad. I have an iPhone in my pocket. There’s an iPod in my bedroom that we use for alarm and music. I bought my first Mac in 1984; I wrote my Ph.D. thesis on an Apple II. Maybe you use a Windows machine, but face it: Microsoft has been chasing Apple’s interface design since the 1980s.

And now Steve Jobs has died.

We owe a lot to him. He’s the guy who shaped our virtual world.

(Also on FtB)

Too soon?

Wait, I don’t think this was intended as a joke. Esquire introduces an article on oral sex with Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s maid.

We don’t mean to be indelicate, but well, this whole thing has gotten a little indelicate, hasn’t it? In the latest Newsweek, the maid who was allegedly raped by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives a very graphic account of their time together, including some very indecent oral sex. And whomever you believe, that’s a tragedy. Because as we’ve learned over the years from our sex expert, a blowjob need not be degrading or hurtful, for either party. Here, a little timely etiquette dedicated to one of America’s indelible bedroom acts. It might just help us all.

Diallo’s account is below the fold: not for the squeamish.

[Read more…]

The nightmare in Norway

The latest reports say eighty young people were gunned down on Utoya Island in Norway, and seven killed in the Oslo bombing. The questions now are who did it, and why.

I’ve run across some wild speculation that it was an Islamic group, which would have meant we were in for months of furious howling and recriminations and righteous anger from conservatives. There’s nothing quite like the boogeyman coming to life to stir the Right into paroxysms of self-vindication and pious demands for action.

Unfortunately, the right-wing story line may very well be thoroughly derailed. The Norwegian police have a suspect in custody: Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist, a Christian, a nationalist, and Islamophobe. Oops.

If it turned out to be an action by Al Qaeda or angry immigrants, we’d be in for many denunciations of Islam. If it turned out to be an action angry conservative Christians, do you think we’d get similar denunciations of right-wing extremism? I don’t think so. Expect Fox News to lose interest very quickly if the culprit turns out to be a white guy.

Explosion in Oslo

There has been a major explosion at the offices of the prime minister of Norway — it’s very early in the investigation, but news sources are talking about it being caused by a bomb.

I know some good people in Norway, and I’ll be visiting Oslo next month for the World Humanist Congress. It’s shocking that such a civilized, peaceful place would be afflicted with this kind of horror…although, actually, no place deserves bombs going off.

So it’s somewhere between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and getting worse

The situation in Japan is looking dire. Workers have been evacuated for their safety from one of the failing nuclear plants, setting the stage for a possible meltdown. There have been more explosions, and more venting of radiation. Another unit, Unit 4, which was not one of the plants that was highly stressed in the earthquake, is now on fire.

I’m going to be going to bed soon. I have a grim feeling about the news I’ll be waking up to. But I figured I’d better create a space here for the overnight discussion of the doomful news coming out of Japan.

Cyclone Yasi

Queensland, Australia is currently threatened by a major cyclone, and everyone is bracing for the impact. There isn’t much we can do right now but watch and wait, and be prepared to help however we can. But there are things that are pointless to do.

I thought this was the silliest, most useless web source I’d find for this problem: it’s a set of specific instructions on how to pray during a natural disaster. Yeah, everybody in Cairns right now — all you need to do is get on the internet, read a few hundred words telling you what to pray for, and then get on your knees and start begging God based on an 8-point checklist.

But wait! There’s an even more stupid way to waste your time! You could do like Catch the Fire Ministries (Aussies are not surprised that that organization comes up when the word “stupid” is mentioned) and even before the cyclone makes landfall, you can start pointing fingers and blaming the atheist prime minister and the gay Green party leader who have caused the catastrophe. Prime Minister Gillard has failed to pray for God to turn the cyclone away.

Maybe someone should send those prayer instructions to the PM. Or better yet, send them to Daniel Nalliah! He seems to have a special in with god … maybe he should be using his persuasive powers to get his god to send his cyclone away. If he doesn’t, I think we should blame Nalliah for the cyclone, since he’s not using his prayerful powers to help the people of Australia.

How to recognize when someone is drowning

If I’d seen this before, I would have posted it at the start of the summer: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. This is incredibly useful advice for people who live in a state with more than ten thousand lakes, or people who live on the coast, or people who live in places with swimming pools, or places with water, period.

Key point: drowning doesn’t look the way it’s portrayed in TV, with thrashing and splashing and gurgling cries for help. It looks like this:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

You know, somebody ought to publish that in the Minnesota newspapers every spring. It might save some lives.

(via Making Light)