Friday, March 27, 2015

Polit/Celeb: Religious Right Needs A Dictionary

Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) and Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen have something in common, and it's far from healthy for the rest of us. They both made news this week drawing the false conclusion that a shortage of religion implies a shortage of morality.

While religion often (but not necessarily always) is a vessel used to teach morality, morality can be taught without religion, and you don't need to be a Unitarian to figure that out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crime: Digital Bread Crumbs Feed Police Hunt

Criminals are notoriously stupid, and a man in Maine was no different. How he manged to elude police for several weeks is remarkable, considering he was captured when he posted on social media that he was hiding in a cabinet in his home.

Social media addiction is a terrible thing.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Science: Climate Change Dissenters Take A Smaller View

The NOAA announced this past week that this past winter was the warmest on record, according to USA Today, but if you live on the East coast of the US, you probably think it's hogwash.

The reason for that is the record snowfall, but snowfall has a rather complex relationship with temperature, one that I'm not really qualified to try explaining. However, I can say this: just because there was more snow than usual doesn't mean that the winter was colder.

NOAA's ruling was based on cold data (pun intended) over the entire northern hemisphere, not strictly limited to the East coast, and not taking into account how cold, long, or rough the winter felt to those who suffered through it.

Still having trouble coming to terms with the difference? The folks over at MinuteEarth can probably explain it better.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Health: "Just Because They Pay Me Doesn't Make Me Biased"

A neurosurgeon who earns a paycheck and plenty of limelight from the NFL is claiming that "it’s much more dangerous riding a bike or a skateboard than playing youth football," according to NY Daily News.

Youth football is only differentiated from the bigger leagues by the size and age of the players, so I rather doubt his claim is based on real data.

"It's being overexaggerated and being extrapolated to youth football and to high school football," says Dr. Joseph Maroon, "more injuries [happen] to kids falling off bikes, scooters, [and] falling in playgrounds than there are in youth football.”

Gross injuries, sure, that I'm willing to accept, but not per-capita. There are just more kids using bicycles, scooters, and playgrounds than playing youth football. There's also a gaping disparity in the severity of injuries that can result from the two classes of activity.

A frequent bicyclist myself, I'm no stranger to scraping off a couple layers of skin, but it takes more than a little loss of traction and balance to come close to the kind of injuries caused on a football field on as regular of a basis.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Food: Ruling Comes At Long Last

"The food was sizzling hot and should be approached with due care. ... [Applebee's] had no duty to warn against a danger that is open and obvious," said a ruling by the courts of New Jersey for a man's attempt to claim damages, pain and suffering from inadvertant, premature contact with his meal when attempting to pray, according to the Washington Post. (The ruling in whole can be found on the nj.state.gov website.)

Too bad this ruling comes too late for millionaire-making suits against other business, like McDonald's.

Entertainment: Doing More With Less

This past week saw EA shutting down the illustrious Maxis studio building that fostered the long-lived SimCity game series.

Also this week, comes news of a similar game's release, Cities: Skylines. Its publisher, Paradox Interactive, is a much smaller developer, and yet their initial, first version release appears to be far less buggy and more playable than behemoth EA's releases.

This is only a reminder of the lesson we learned from Mojang (of Minecraft fame), that fewer employees are just as capable--if not more so--of creating not just functional, but revolutionary software.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Politics: Who Needs A Policy To Reinforce Common Sense?

It should be common sense not to use personal email addresses for business use, regardless of the industry you work for, provided your business provides you with one. If the company were to give you a car for business-related travel, why would you use your personal car for that purpose instead, especially if they partially if not wholly reimburse you for upkeep and repairs?

The non-technical might argue that the comparison doesn't apply, but that's merely their ignorance of mail server management.

Well, apparently the federal government does need to make that point absolutely clear, because some of our leading politicians just don't get it.

Religion: Family Values Are More Important Than Families

Supporting your children's successes is not admission of agreeing to the decisions they had to make to attain their success, but Mr Pat Robertson disagrees.

He continues to draw unfounded logic, stating "What if somebody wanted to marry his dog?" Legalizing gay marriage is not a "gateway" law (like a gateway drug) to bestiality or pedophilia, but why would you follow a religious leader who wants you believe that it is?

Support your children in finding love, and if you disagree with where they found it, keep it to yourselves. The wedding ceremony is a celebration for them, not for you or any of the other attendees, and if you allow your "family values" to interfere with your appreciation of your family, we can only hope that you soon find yourself without one.

Politics: Federal Employees Ignore A Better Solution


Kansas and Nebraska law-enforcement agencies are suing the state government of Colorado over the the increase of drug-possession violations in their districts.

"What we're being forced to do ... makes me ineligible for office. Which constitution are we supposed to uphold?" says Sher. Justin Smith, leading the suit.

He's one of a few seeking to reverse Colorado's recent legislation on possession and use laws of Colorado, shutting down the now-legal industry that does its part to pay taxes and contribute the government funding.

There's a better way.

Instead of turning all those customers, employees and business back into criminals, he should be campaigning to extend the legalization of marijuana. I agree that arresting those who cross state lines in possession of the drug is a waste of taxpayer money, but the solution isn't to make them criminals; it's to leave them as law-abiding citizens, regardless where in the US they travel.

Health: Wolves and Sharks, Still The Same Bad Press

"[T]hese predators pose serious threats to wildlife management and their listing has damaging impacts to local communities," said a spokesperson for Rep. Don Young of Alaska.

I can't but agree. Humans have done nothing but continue to destroy the balance of innocent animals and plants who only want to continue through the circle of life in peace. Nonetheless, I don't think that homo sapiens was the intended "threat" he spoke of.

This statement follows a comment made by Mr Young in regards to siccing wolves on homeless humans to "deal" with the "problem."

While wolves are certainly predators, like coyotes and sharks, they suffer more through the proliferation of rare instances, bad publicity, and common misconceptions than humankind does from our interference in their lives.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Food: Catchy, Punny Name Draws Fire Instead Of Customers

Early Bird's Haulin' Oates cereal is being attacked over a name usage lawsuit by Hall & Oates, the musical duo. Hall & Oates claim that Early Bird is "trad[ing] off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist's and plaintiff's well-known marks," according to BBC News.

The cereal company, based in Brookyn, doesn't appear to be striving to taint the band's name or create any negative publicity. One can only hope it's settled without too much harm to the punners in their marketing department.

Garfunkel & Oates are left out of the suit, despite their ongoing parodying work.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tech: Biting The Hand That Tames It

The initial purpose of Net Neutrality (which passed this past week) was to stop internet service providers from throttling internet speeds based on which content providers paid them more money or blocking content based on reasons other than copyright violation.

Unfortunately, the language of the bill allows for more than that.

According to WND and the EFF, there are (or will be, since the bill isn't even completely written yet) clauses that allow the FCC to censor conduct based on "non-neutral practices that may ‘harm’ consumers.”

If the FCC isn't "vewy, vewy caweful" hunting their definition of violators ("wabbits"), we may find in five or ten years, the very communities that fought dearly for the passing of Net Neutrality will be fighting to revoke it.