This Weeks Reader April 20, 2008  

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Das Rad (The Wheel)

It's Fundamental
RIF is in trouble. In a move that is, by now, completely unsurprising, Bush has eliminated all funding for the program--funding that has been given by every administration since 1975--in the 2009 proposed budget.

Enterbrain president Hirokazu Hamamura has speculated that Nintendo may be preparing to unveil a new DS at its E3 press conference in July
According to Bloomberg Japan, Hamamura said Nintendo might be readying to show off the third iteration of its handheld system later this year during the E3 Media and Business Summit.

New PlayStation Store live, impressive
Beyond the glitz and glamor of the new look is a tighter integration between the PS3 store and the PSP store. The PlayStation 3 can now act as a download station for the PSP for more than just PlayStation 1 games: demos, videos, and the lot of PSP-specific content previously found on the PC version of the Store can now be found directly on the PS3 version. Downloading content to the PSP just got significantly easier, and better integrated with the PS3.

Ricky Gervais to make cameo in GTA IV
Ricky Gervais, star and creator of shows like The Office and Extras, will be making an appearance in Rockstar's upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV. Gervais will be found in the Liberty City comedy club, where players can see a digital version of the "character" perform three minutes of brand new material, as well as several extracts from his Fame tour.

Mortal Kombat and DC comics meet, in a very bad idea
So, we have what appears to be a 3D Mortal Kombat, which is one strike. Add in DC characters in a video game, which is strike two (at least historically), and then take away the fatalities? No sir. I am open to the possibility of this game not being total dreck, but that would be quite the surprise indeed.

My letter to Monique Davis
In stating that atheists ‘believe in destroying’, you have shown incredible bigotry to all people who, for whatever reason, come to believe that God probably does not exist. I urge you to consider your atheist constituents and apologize to them, too, as a lawmaker who publicly stated that they did not have a right to be heard by the state government. I realize your comments were spoken in the heat of the moment. Please take the opportunity to put them right!

Science education, research need a boost from U.S.
Realizing that the government's commitment to science had become seriously weakened, the president and congressional leaders promised early in 2007 to double key research budgets, making long-term investments that could produce extraordinary breakthroughs.

However, when December came, science funding was clearly expendable, despite the enthusiastic support of clear majorities in both parties for the increases. One can only conclude that what is lacking is a sense of commitment, resolve and passion across the federal government that the investments we make in science today will create the opportunity for a better life for every American.

Oh, Canada

The Most Schadenfreudtastic Story of the Month
I’m not so petty that I hope Gonzalez does not find suitable employment, but given his immediate past record, I think it’s fairly evident that “the law,” “suitable employment” and “Alberto Gonzalez” really ought not be used together in a sentence, unless “is not” is placed between the first and second of these phrases. Unfortunately, that leaves “lick-spittlery” as Gonzalez’s only marketable skill, and, well. Link-spittlery really is a young person’s game, isn’t it. Gonzalez had a good run in that department with Bush, but he was rode hard and put away wet by the president, and everyone knows it. No one wants a tired old second-hand lick-spittler when new ones, young and dewy fresh, are thick on the ground. “Discarded Sycophant” just doesn’t make friends as a resume line item.

Sky Delights Over Sweden

A Protected Night Sky Over Flagstaff

Is “Negro” a Slur?
There is one common thread in all of this…and that is context. The context in which a word is used is very important. Using the word “Negro” in the context of an organization’s name does not make it okay to use in all contexts. Part of dealing with any culture involves understanding the contexts which apply to it. For example, I’ve been told that in some cultures, sitting with the sole of your shoe facing someone is insulting; in other cultures, making a “peace sign” with the back of your hand facing out is akin to “giving the finger.” In the Jim Crow South, a black man who smiled at a white woman, looked a white man in the eye for too long, or was merely in the wrong town (or part of town) after dark could (and would) get lynched. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmitt Till, visiting Mississippi from Chicago (!), was brutally murdered simply for saying “bye, baby” to a white woman. Understanding cultural contexts keeps you out of trouble.

My abstinence education
My own experiences make me wonder how many teens who are making chastity pledges are doing it because they are afraid to grow up. Now, I don’t think teens should have sex before they are ready, and no one should never do anything sexual that makes them uncomfortable. But you can’t avoid puberty and hiding in a cave of piety will not help you mature emotionally or spiritually. This type of behavior simply stunts growth and development. Looking back, I am sad for my younger self–sad that she missed out on so many wonderful experiences and that she was so afraid of everything. I am also sad that so many teens today are falling into the same trap, and that they are being encouraged to do so by their parents, pastors, and peers.

Standing Up For Nontheists Like Nicole
So far as I can see, god is an unnecessary hypothesis. That is, it seems to me the existence of god is not required to explain anything. And that fact accounts for most of my boredom — maybe all of my boredom — with the question of god’s existence.

Bacteriophages to Fight Bacteria: Is this the Beginning of the End?
The interesting question to ask at this time is: Is this the Beginning of the end? Will the use of viruses - notably bacteria viruses that do not infect humans finally help science to solve the growing problems bacteria that has beleaguered mankind for millions of years? What if these scientifically targeted bacteria become resistance to the viruses, then what? Alexander Sulakvelidze and others on the show confidently stated that the problems of resistance to this "viral therapeutic use" should not be of concern for few reasons: First, bacteriophages are purely bacteria eating viruses and do not infect humans. The other was, these viruses are known to have evolved for billions of years with the bacteria themselves, and therefore, the viruses will evolve if the bacteria evolve to become resistant. Finally, the viral therapies will be target specific and the therapies have been successfully used before.

Logical Fallacies and Cognitive Dissonance
This is often where the logical fallacies come into play - during the rationalization phase - the lies we tell ourselves to relieve our cognitive dissonance. It is a lot easier to commit a little logical fallacy, than to work hard at changing our emotional makeup, or to challenge long and strongly held beliefs. When logic and emotion conflict it is a lot easier to subtly (or not-so-subtly, depending on the sophistication of the person) twist the logic, rather than to painfully force ourselves to grow emotionally. In fact, intelligent people are often better at rationalization and are not necessarily more logical.

Coming Out of the Menstruation Closet
Why do I feel this way? It's utterly stupid. Because somehow my making these men aware of the fact that I am menstruating is going to make them briefly contemplate my vagina and then their heads will explode? Or is that I shouldn't impose my gross bleeding on other people because this is a Private Matter? And yet, I doubt I'm at all unique in having these particular thoughts. Like menstruation is a shame that we shouldn't impose on men. I never had anyone buy me pads or tampons until, I think, about three months ago. My boyfriend thought it was weird that I was like, "Are you sure? You don't mind?"

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