Friday, September 30, 2005

Unintelligent Design on Trial

As I write this, the teaching of Intelligent Design in schools is currently on trial, in Kitzmiller vs. Dover. 11 parents of schoolchildren, with the help of the ACLU, are suing the Dover Area School District (Pennsylvania) for supporting ID in biology classes and suggesting it as an alternative to evolution. Keep up to date with this trial by reading Red State Rabble, or the ACLU Blog. You can read the parents' motivations here. Here's the message that the science teachers were instructed to read to their students, which they refused to do:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin's Theory of Evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part. Because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations. Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. With respect to any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life to individual students and their families. As a Standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on Standards-based assessments.

I'm so sick of the 'theory not fact' bullshit i'm not even going to address that.

A number of interesting points have been made around the 'balanced view' teaching theory. For example, why is it that IDiots insist on targeting the youngest, most impressionable and least able to distinguish pseudoscience from science when introducing this balanced view? Why not introduce it at college level first? Why are they not insisting that University BSc students also get taught ID?

Secondly, why don't our schools also give equal time to other theories? Shouldn't we teach astrology alongside astronomy? Homeopathy alongside chemistry? Flat Earthism in Geography classes? If someone were to come forward and suggest any of these they would be laughed at.

And finally, why do christians not teach atheism or satanism, or even islam, judaism or buddhism alongside christianity in their churches? Doesn't their congregation deserve a balanced view?

The Onion has a brilliant satire of Intelligent Design: Intelligent Falling. To quote:

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

Science vs. Politics: guess who wins?

Our dear health minister is up on her high horse again over the South African National Blood Service's slow implementation of (ridiculous) new blood donation testing procedures.

For those not familiar with this particular political soap box, Manto got her panties in a twist when President Mbeki make a very public (and by that i mean aimed at publicity) blood donation. The fool also declined to fill out the medical questionnaire (and one wonders why? what's he hiding if he's perfectly healthy?). Not wanting to embarrass the president in front of all the cameras, the SANBS took his blood. After he was gone, they incinerated it. Why? Because he is part of the highest HIV risk group, and he didn't fill out the medical questionnaire, and it's standard practice to incinerate blood that has a high chance of being infected. If it wasn't the president, they would have refused him right up front. Seems simple, right?

Wrong. Because the highest risk group happens to be blacks. So Manto found out about this and turned it into a race issue. Now the SANBS has to spend R90 million changing from a risk assessment-prior-to-donation model to an accept everyone model.

Let me outline the current method of blood testing: when you arrive at the station, you fill out a form. based on the answers to some of those questions (such as race, age, medical history, recent tattoos or piercings, drug use, donation history, etc) your risk category is analysed. If you are in a high risk group, you are refused. If you are in a low risk group, they take your blood. Then they test it. In this way they hopefully minimize the amount of donations they have to incinerate due to infection. It costs the health department less, fewer people have to donate for no reason, and south africa has one of the lowest infection-from-blood-transfusion rates in the world: only 2 infections per year. That is staggeringly good.

Now comes the change. No one may be turned away from donating due to race. This means that more blood will be donated, more blood will be tested, and more blood thrown away, resulting in about the same amount of viable donation at the end of the day, with a completely unneccesary increase in cost. This filters back to everyone. The cost of receiving a blood donation will now increase by about 25%. The rate of infection from blood transfusion is estimated to increase to 30 cases a year.

All because people cannot tell the difference between scientific fact and racial stereotyping.

Fact: according to department of health statistics (ie stats with Manto's stamp of approval), blacks are twice as likely as whites or cooloureds to have HIV, and twelve times as likely as indians. The SANBS has been keeping records of its testing since 1980, and they say it's much worse than that. Apparently blood donated by a black person is thousands of times more likely to be HIV infected than any other race, and that's based on the actual number of donations they have to discard every year. It's not bigotry, it's not a stereotype, it's a god damn fact.

I got turned away the first time i went to donate blood, because i'd had a piercing within the last 18 months. I didn't get on a soap box about how people with alternative lifestyles are being discriminated against. I didn't cry prejudice. I understand that makes me a high risk category for blood infections, and i waited until 18 months passed before going again. But as soon as it touches race in this country, people are falling over each other to make it into a political statement.

I'll finish off with a statement from independant forensic scientist Dr. David Klatzow:

It is utterly intolerable that Professor Anthon Heyns and Dr Robert Crooks of the South African National Blood Transfusion Service, and the other experts in this field, should be subjected to the political whims of people who in the past have shown themselves to be ignorami in the question of Aids and Aids policy. All the garlic and African potatoes that Tshabalala-Msimang can provide won't alter that fact. The only thing that will alter it is to make the high risk group aware of the problems and to change their behaviour, and this is not going to be done by political posturing.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

An African Perspective

I am beginning to grow weary of Americans complaining about George Bush and America Today. Guess what? It could be a hell of a lot worse.

Yes, I understand that Hurricane Katrina was terrible and killed many people and destroyed lives. I know people were left homeless and sick and felt abandoned. But guess what? Most of South Africa looks like that every single day. Most of Africa is even worse. When was the last time you had an outbreak of Typhoid? Cholera? Polio? Poverty, disease, death and government negligence are major issues for you. Here, it's just another day in africa.

In south africa, the leading cause of death is Tuberculosis. It accounts for about twice as many deaths a year as heart disease. Deaths from TB are increasing in percentage, while deaths from heart disease are decreasing. More people are killed by our 'health care' facilities each year than kill themselves. We have the world's second highest murder rate, at nearly one in 2000 people murdered. America is sitting at about one in 25,000. We're beaten only by Columbia.

More than 10% of the country live in shacks. Only 80% of households have electricity. Only 57% of households have municipal waste removal services. Only 68% of households have running water. 10% of households have no toilet facilities. Not even a hole in the ground, or a bucket.

At the end of last year, the department of health estimated that 6.3 million south africans were HIV positive (thats about 14% of the entire population). Over 100,000 of those infected are babies.

In south africa there are no laws to protect the minorities, and all the discrimination laws are in place to protect the majority. Elected party representatives and members of parliament may cross the floor to join the other parties during their term of office. There is no functional opposition to the ruling party. They may change the constitution at will, as they have a 2/3 majority. 10% of the country's residents admit to having to bribe an official or civil servant to do their job. Our deputy president was recently relieved of his position due to suspicion of corruption. Our ministers of parliament are regularly in the news and in the courts on charges of corruption, nepotism, and misappropriation of public funds.

Or, it could be even worse. Next time you're sitting in your nice first world country, bitching about how hard you have it, imagine what it would be like to have Robert Mugabe as a president. Think about what it would be like to live in Zimbabwe, where soon you will need to be granted an exit visa if you want to leave your country, even on business or holiday. Where the press are controlled by the government, where voting for the opposition can get you killed, and where the president can order your home to be bulldozed or your land taken away, just if the fancy strikes him.

It could be a lot, lot worse. Be grateful for what you have, and remember that at the end of Bush's term, you have the ability to vote for someone else. He can't change the constitution to give himself another term, as Mugabe has time and again.

(All stats quoted in this post courtesy of Statistics South Africa, the Deparment of Health and the Nationmaster website)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Midweek Cuckoos

Given the proliferation of madmen on the internet, i will be introducing a new wednesday post, celebrating the loon of the week. I'm sure it will be a while before i run out of them.

So, without further ado, i introduce to you today's Midweek Cuckoo:

Richard Hoagland shot to infamy with the late and great Face on Mars silliness. He created such a buzz around those images that a later NASA satellite specifically flew over the Cydonia plain to re-photograph the area. The better-quality images of the plain revealed what we knew all along - that the Face was merely an amusing collaboration between light and shade, and the fact that human brains are so good at facial recognition that they see them everywhere. It didn't stop old Hoagie, though.

Hoagland's techniques are very simple. Find a poor-quality image taken at the very edge of our exploratory boundaries. Turn JPEG artifacts into alien artifacts, throw the word 'hyperdimensional' in a few times, and keep reminding people that you know Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan. As time moves on and technology pushes the boundaries further out, ignore improved images of the areas that clear up the fuzziness you thought might be an alien city and show it to be a pile of rocks. Move on to the next fuzzy images.

The current focus of his attention is on Saturn's moon Iapetus. An admittedly odd moon, and extremely interesting to planetary scientists, Hoagland sees this as yet more evidence of alien interference in our solar system. Abandoned alien spaceship? Hyperdimensional outpost? Interstellar walnut? You decide!

For an explanation of how Hoagland does his thing, and why it's so easy to debunk his nonsense, see what a real astronomer has to say.

Thanks to Lucas for reminding me of this guy's existence. he's always worth a laugh.

Monday, September 26, 2005

zombification and other things to do with your weekend

Big thank you to Schpat, Nu Metro and the One Ring for the Land of the Dead Release Party. Traipsing around cAnal Walk dressed as a zombie (second time now) was great fun, especially with the added support of about 10 more zombies than last time. managed to provoke a few screams between us, people seemed generally entertained by it all, and even some people asked for pictures. The movie itself was great fun, and i would recommend it to all horror fans out there.

I was lucky enough to win 3rd Best Zombie (yay!) which got me an awesome Land of the Dead top and a bottle of Apple Sourz (thanks to ppl for voting :). Unfortunately I had to leave the One Ring early as my makeup was itching and flaking and gross, my eyes were super-dry and i was seriously craving a shower. Oh well, totally worth it.

In other news, here's an interesting take on the cause of hurricane Katrina. the author appears to be a weatherman, and laments that weathermen must now attempt to forecast the intents of shadowy organizations instead of real weather. yes, you read it correctly. the former soviet union was developing weather control devices and other EM weapons during the cold war. they got sold off and now the world's weather is largely controlled by the owners of these devices. Katrina was purposefully steered along its course to create maximum possible damage. Wow. This uncovers an enormous conspiracy using EM weapons by organizations worldwide. The Secret Scalar EM Wars the Media doesn't want you to know about! And Katrina even sounds Russian! So it must be true!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Feature, not a bug

Ok, before i start, go and have a look at the ugliest website ever made. Scroll down, click on the links on the left for the full impact of the ugliness. If your eyes start to bleed, close the window.

Also, here's a site with some fun stupid little quizzes to take and get things to put on your blog:



Your Blog Should Be Red

Your blog is full of intensity and passion.
You are very opinionated - and people love or hate you for it.
You have the potential to be both a famous and infamous blogger.





I think black is just fine, thanks.

OK, so to explain the title of today's post: we just got some testing feedback from one of our clients. One of the bugs? "The popup alerts don't work when popup blocker is on."

Holy shit! Really?? Someone call microsoft! Something they built actually works!

We recently sent an email to the gateway provider we use for one of our applications, to ask them a question relating to the test probe we send to them every half hour. It is designed to generate an error, and if it doesn't generate the error, we know there's something wrong. We're asking if there's a better way to perform a test without littering the reports with errors. Their response?

"You are receiving this error because of the following reasons (list). Try (suggestions). Regards, Simmy, Blah Payment Services"

Simmy. As in... Simulation. Uhuh. We got a god damn bot responding to our email, instead of a human, with a completely useless response. We know what the error is! We are sending it on purpose!

So we reply to their reply, saying please can we talk to a human being. And we get issued a whole new tracking number. Brilliant. What exactly is the point of a tracking number, then, if they're only tracking as far as their first response?

On the other hand, Simmy could be short for Simian. It is entirely possible that their helpdesk is manned by a troupe of monkeys. It would explain a lot.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Selling your Soul for Jesus

Babyacid: it's good to know that in the 21st century you can buy just about anything online, because somewhere there is someone willing to profit from selling stuff they should be giving away. Find the online 'Religioustore' for Lourdes, the holy fount after which Madonna (the singer, not the mother of christ) named her daughter. You can buy holy water from Lourdes, in nice little bottles. I'm sure they won't even charge you that much :)

No BS: Would you settle for me setting your farts on fire without the aid of matches? While they're still inside you? I think that would be even better.

TW: hehe, and speaking of penis. Gotta love IOL.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

evil is as evil does


hehe, got the mark of the beast on screenshot this morning :

And my evil rating went up 3%. Slowly climbing to the 50% mark.

In news of real evil, health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is supposedly backpeddling on her alternative AIDS cures claims in the face of impending legal action from the Treatment Action Campaign. However, her 'backpeddling' consists only of issuing the following statement:

"I have never said that traditional medicines and vitamins should be offered as alternatives, which means instead of anti-retrovirals.What I have emphasised is that our people must be given a choice."

Now, explain to me how 'giving a choice' is different to 'offering an alternative'? At no stage does she say that nutrition and vitamins should be offered in conjunction with ARVs. She says patients should have a choice whether to use these instead of ARVs. She's been quoted. It's down in writing. Whatever she says now to backtrack on that is a lie.

This woman has single-handedly done more to confuse AIDS and HIV patients than every crackpot, quack and other source of selfserving misinformation combined. She has said that traditional african remedies were as important as antiretrovirals in treating HIV/AIDS, and that they did not have the side effects that modern medicines have. She advocates an "African potato, lemon and garlic" diet that has been shown to have doubtful efficacy against the infection. Worst of all, she supports snakeoil salesman Matthius Rath and his multivitamin 'aids cure' cash machine. She refuses to distance herself from him unless his multivitamins are shown to be "toxic". As if that's the point. He's claiming they cure aids, and charging people an arm and a leg for them. They have been shown not to cure aids. Therefore he is a liar. End.

More than 80% of south africans consult a 'traditional healer' before going to a doctor or hospital. It is no wonder, when the country's health minister would advocate traditional medicines over ARVs because the schedule is "less rigorous" and the medications "cheaper". Because laziness and cost are so much more important than it actually working.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ole!

Well, a weekend full of mexican food... had some ppl over for mexican on saturday, and when i went to my mom's on sunday, she proudly announcing we're having mexican for a change. not that i'm complaining, you understand...

Congratulations to William Shatner on winning an Emmy. I was surprised to discover his wife's name is Lisabeth, increasing the parallels between the Schpat and the Shat. It's just weird, man.

Oh, and I spoiled myself this weekend by purchasing Todd McFarlane's Red Riding Hood. That increases my collection of his figures to 4. Yay!


And i'm just uploading this image so i can have a pic in my profile. It's Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion, for you anime watchers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sad and not at all funny in the end

Well, they blew the whale up. No destruction to property. No people hit in the head by flying whale blubber. Just a dead whale. Sad, really.

Mr. Patel is in the news about his signs again. According to an IOL poll, only 19% of readers agree that his signs are discriminatory. The rest either think he's right or that people are taking it too seriously. My favourite quote:

"I don't moan, I take action. I wear underpants, other businessmen wear panties"

Somebody give that man a medal.

Thar She Blows!

Well, amazingly enough we're all set for a repeat of the Famous Exploding Whale of Oregon. Western Cape police and marine officials are set to euthanase by explosion the Southern Right Whale that's been stranded on Mnandi beach for over 36 hours. According to some sort of local Dolphin Action group, it's the most humane way to kill a whale. Ouch. Hope people move their cars out of the way this time.

Note some interesting new links on the side, to Urban Legends factual resource Snopes.com, and to Phil Blait's Bad Astronomy. Both very interesting reads and sources of good info.

Good to see the Utah Board of Education has given Intelligent Design the finger, as it rightly should. Unlike Kansas, that den of educational iniquity, ID will not be taught in Utah schools as it is not deemed to be scientific. Nice one, Utah. Keep on fighting the good fight.

Also, our *laugh*esteemed*laugh* Deputy President has claimed that a massive loan to Zimbabwe would not constitute ass-raping South Africans in order to support Zimbabwe. Apparently we just have all this extra money lying around. I can see it now: Mbeki is standing in his office with a sack full of cash, with $$$ signs on the outside. "Phumi, what should we do with all this money? We could spend it on the poor and homeless who we made so many promises to in getting into office, or we could throw it down this bottomless pit." Gee, guess which choice he's going to make.

Their favourite claim is that if Zimbabwe collapses (further) SA will be the first to feel the brunt of it. I say, if we're sending all our money there, and all our grain there, and all our electricity there, and half their people are here, why don't we just annex them? Seriously, if the fates of these two countries are so incontravertibly linked that we have to support them with our own taxpayer's money, why don't we just take them over? I'm sure our defense force could kick their asses if Mugabe puts up a fight. It would be very very easy for us to destroy their army: just stop supplying them with spare parts. They'll be without a single weapon, tank or helicopter inside two months. We can take them over, dissolve their cabinet, send Mugabe off to some retirement farm (previously white-owned of course), and sort their shit out.

It's not like they're going to pay us back for the loan, or the grain, or the electricity, or the parts, or anything else we give them, anyway.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mampi-Rampi on the Rampage

Former UCT chancellor Dr. Mamphela Ramphele has hit out at 'uncivil servants', saying it is "unacceptable for taxpayers to continue paying them for the right to be insulted". She said a lot of other stuff about citizenship and what it means to be a citizen that i think is great. Glad someone out there understands what it means.

What i'd love to see is citizenship as defined in the movie Starship Troopers, ie privilege not right. That would be great.

Anyway, not much to say on the home front. Roleplaying tonight, and i hope we do some actual roleplaying. Forgot to mention yesterday that HoleyCrusader just got engaged. After 10 years!!! I'm really happy for him, tho, despite throwing him the occasional horrified look :)

Average Person Wanted - Only Stupid People Need Apply

okay, i really had to laugh at this article. A Durban businessman has put up signs advertising jobs for "attractive indian cashiers", a "pretty black floor supervisor, no fatties" and a "smart white salesladies supervisor". People are, naturally, up in arms about it, as people love any excuse at all to be up in arms.

Now, there are really three discrimination issues going on here: race, appearance and weight. maybe also intelligence, depending on how he meant 'smart'. The Advertising Standards Authority and the Human Rights Commission are both generally in agreement that some discrimination is ok as long as it's warranted for the job and is not seen as unfair or injuring anyone's dignity.

so, is it fair to discriminate against someone's race for a job application? affirmative action tells us yes. so really, i have no problem with the racial issue. if you can tell someone that only blacks need apply for a job, you can tell them only indians need apply. otherwise it really is discrimination.

is it fair to discriminate against someone's appearance for a job application? i think it's naive to assume that looks and presentation do not form a part of success in any job. In some jobs like modelling looks are a requirement. In customer service and sales, i believe a person should at the very least be presentable and not repulsively ugly. Scaring away the clients is not good for business, and neither is looking untidy or generally scruffy, so specifying pretty, attractive and smart are not, imho, unfair discrimination for these jobs. And if he was using smart in the sense of intelligent, it is definitely not an issue to expect a certain level of intelligence from a supervisor.

lastly, is it fair to discriminate against someone's weight for a job? in some cases this may be seen to be unfair, but i can imagine instances where an overweight person may not be as suitable to a job as someone smaller. Pilots, for example, are discriminated against by both height and weight. Jockeys. Race car drivers. What if the area behind the desk where the salesperson has to stand is very small? Granted, i know i'm being slightly facetious with that last one, but there are cases where discrimination against weight or size are acceptable. Maybe not in this instance (and using the term 'fatties' is definitely a no-no) but there are cases where it is a valid criterion.

In general, i think people should have every right to specify the qualities that they want in an employee, only drawing the line at actually insulting someone. It avoids wasting the time of both the interviewer and the applicant. I personally do not want to go through the whole application process to find out at the interview that they're only looking for a black person, or a man, or someone with an arts degree. If you are offended by a job advertisement that says 'chinese person only', then you need to seriously think about how you feel about your racial and cultural identity, especially if it's a chinese shop and you can't speak a word of mandarin. If you see a job that says 'intelligent people only' and you don't think you fall into that category, don't be insulted. A fact is a fact, and not everyone can be a rocket scientist. And if you are overweight, and you see a sign saying 'thin actor needed to play anorexic character in stage production', do not feel insulted. The same goes for a 90-pound weakling with allergies being offended by an ad that says 'large lady needed for circus act. Must be more than 200 pounds or the elephant will drag you off stage. Must be willing to wear lycra'.

Really, short of being nasty, i don't see a problem in telling someone up front what you need for the job. Rather be honest. In the same way that you specify academic qualifications, we must admit that there are other things that qualify you for a job. I would much rather they were stated up front, rather than never stated and just being told you don't qualify.

But given our namby-pamby, pc society, these days we have to tiptoe around every issue, because we might offend someone. A short while ago, the Tattler had to publically apologise for describing a wanted felon as a 'tall black man in his 30s or 40s' or something like that. because they said he was black. which is totally a required piece of information for identifying him. Seriously, wtf???

Monday, September 12, 2005

another week, another blogger

I submitted Gary Novak's page to The Quintessence of the Loon, where hopefully he will join the ranks of such esteemed crackpots as David Icke.

Last night i was watching an edition of Special Assignment, focusing on the corruption in the Booysens police department. Illegal (and legal) immigrants are being picked up by the police, and then bribes of no less than R300 per person are accepted for that person to be released. No charges are made. No papers are checked. People are detained (often illegally in the case of actual refugees with papers to prove it) until someone pays the bribe. This was all caught on camera, including numerous officers shamelessly accepting money in full view of other officers and members of the public.

Now, i'm not surprised at all. I wasn't even all that surprised when the tape was shown to top police officials, who then said that they would have to make their own investigation before they could accept the allegations. now, seriously, how much more of an investigation do you need than reams and reams of camera footage, as well as witnesses willing to come forward to testify? Who is a court going to be more likely to believe? an independant news investigation or an internal investigation of a department known to accept bribes? We all know what's going to happen - the investigators will be bribed and it will go away.

10% of all people interviewed in a recent survey said that they had had to bribe a civil servant to do something that was their job. 40% of all illegal immigrants have paid a bribe to a policeman or official in order to stay in the country.

------

Welcome to Yancke, who has joined the CLAWs blogmunity (or whatever the fuck people are calling a community of blogs these days. Comblogity. whatever). I will add him to the links toot-sweet.

Also thanks to yancke for organizing mexican at pancho's on friday. i can now advise everyone that tortilla-based foods from panchos are not good when reheated. There is something fundamentally off-putting about soggy tortilla. Ech! Same goes for taco- or nacho-based foods, i'm willing to bet.

Z spent the week coding up at varsity. Saturday i gave my glasses in to the optometrists to be fixed, signed up at the local gym, got the driver's door window and lock fixed on my car, and watched Closer (natalie portman mostly naked, not as boring as schpat would have you believe) and Bridget Jones 2 (best line: the Sistine Chapel - history's first example of a poof interior designer gone bonkers). That night, 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot' was on and i couldn't resist watching that either.

Sunday was my gran's 75th birthday party. i spent most of the day in the kitchen making fiddly little snacks. Nice party tho.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stupidity: Free

The news today has left me gaping. Only in South Africa can we have all of these news stories in the paper on the same day:

1. Police re-arrest 157 of the 65,837 prisoners who were released earlier this year. Not paroled... released, as in remission of sentence to aleviate overcrowding, including a number of people who were considered to not have been rehabilitated to a satisfactory extent. And they consider the re-arrest rate of less than one percent to be an "extraordinary effort". That's just the number re-arrested, not the number who have committed crimes since being released, i'll bet. I wouldn't call sitting on your ass failing to arrest people an extraordinary effort.

2. Typhoid breaks out in SA due to faeces-infected drinking water. Typhoid??? This guy who keeps coming into alex's dad's shop once stated that he didn't believe we should have to pay for clean water because water comes from the sky, so it's free. Well, guess what, typhoid is also apparently free. So is cholera, bilharzia, and a host of other diseases related to unclean water. have fun.

3. 40 bodies discovered decaying in a mortuary that had its power cut due to being R26,ooo in arrears on their electricity bill. The daughter of the late mortician (he died in february) first claimed that she didn't know the bodies were there, despite the fact that she had been living in the building. As this was obvious rubbish, she later admitted that she had actually known, just not done anything about it. Since Februaury. One of the bodies has been there for 14 years without burial. The stench of decay after the cold room ceased being cold was what finally alerted residents to the fact that something odd was going on.

4. King Goodwill Zwelatini urges business to help men get their viginity tested. he has not disclosed how. Of course not!!! it's not medically possible. I can't wait to see how he plans to do it, though. Probably involves elves or goblins or something.

5. And on a related note, people are up in arms that the updated Children's Bill of Rights has outlawed the practice of virginity testing on young girls. many young girls have come forward saying that although their parents made them get tested, they are glad they did because now they know they don't have AIDS. What??? First of all, how can you not know if you're a virgin or not? and second, sex is not the only way you get HIV/AIDS, dumbasses. If you want to know if you have HIV, get an HIV test. asshats. Also, another of their stunning debate tactics is that it's a cultural thing, and no one is speaking out against Divali, which is also cultural. A little background is that Divali is the indian festival where participants enter a trance and then allow themselves to be pierced. Exactly what do the practices of consenting adults have to do with a bill aimed at children? If you want to make a comparison, try circumcision. Again, asshats.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Science You Can Make Up For Yourself At Home!!!

As everyone else has already mentioned, yesterday's roleplaying session did not involve any roleplaying, but certainly a lot of arguing about new orleans, science, bank charges, and what a mission statement means. late night.

schpat introduced us to the work of mushroom-scientist Gary Novak, who is a complete nutjob who believes that the luminiferous ether is the only way to explain relativity, and that kinetic energy is equal to momentum and all of physics is wrong. Nutjob. His 'proofs' are laughable. A matric pupil could disprove his rubbish. Hell, an OBE matric pupil, even.

Other than that, we're super-busy with client stuff. Short post. deal.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

labour day weekend - no labour involved

I took a nice long weekend thanks to the americans having a public holiday - if i haven't mentioned this before, since the clients are american i get to take their public holidays instead of ours. It's great. Shops are open and everyone else is at work. I got a lot done yesterday, including relicencing my car (R279 later - holy crap).

Also watched Bad Santa, which was hilarious and totally recommended, and Alexander, which was another Oliver Stone biopoic. The thing with Oliver Stone biopics is that, while claiming to be about someone else, they are all in fact about Oliver Stone. Not even the great and glorious Angelina Jolie could save a movie that just went on and on and on. If Stone had cut out all the scenes that were just blatant directorial masturbation, and reduced the number of scenes in which Colin Farrel bursts into tears at a moment's notice (and he does that a little too easily), and then cut out all the scenes with Anthony Hopkins (which were not necessary to the story at all, and were obviously just an excuse to have a big name in the movie) then what would have been left over would have been about 90 minutes of decent story. Throw in a gratuitous nude scene with Angelina and you have the makings of a great movie.

In the news, Mugabe is even more insane than ever, if that's at all physically possible. The man is like a case study for psych students. Paranoia, check. Delusions, check. Shit flinging, check.

A big project openbox is working on went partially live last thursday. Check it out.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

That's no moon!

Enceladus (enSELadis) is in the news today, apparently due to a hot spot that has been discovered at one of the poles. Of course, this could mean that it's actually a death star and it's getting ready to discharge. That would 0wn.

Seriously though, as an ex-astronomer i feel i should add a little extra info to the IOL article. You can also find a much better article at the beeb. it has more pictures.

The hot spot is unusual because it occurs at the pole, scientists said. Usually, the hottest part of any planet or moon is around the equator, as is the case with the earth.
This is kind of odd, but scientists aren't even entirely sure why the equator is usually the hottest part. "Well, it's because most planets have a rotational axis tilted at or near zero degrees, so the equator gets most of the heat. Uranus is tipped over at nearly 90 degrees, so its one pole should be hotter than the equator. Right?"
Wrong. In fact, despite the fact that Uranus' south pole is pointed almost exactly at the sun, it's equator is still hotter. The mechanism for this is still unknown.

"It's like flying past Antarctica and finding that it's warmer than the earth's equatorial regions. It's that strange."
Well, that's not really all that strange. Think about flying over the Arctic instead - you hit iceland and suddenly the heat increases with respect to the surrounding area. Iceland is one of the earth's most geothermally active areas, and it's very close to a pole. Granted, it's not hotter than the equator, but then again it's not as icy as its name would imply, either. However, earth has quite a radioactive core which provides that geothermal heat. Encaladus is thought to be too small to still have a (radio)active core, but that's a theory. As we've shown, we don't understand a hell of a lot about how planets work.

The team says the hot spot suggests there might be volcanoes and geysers on Enceladus.
Well actually, this has been suggested by a lot of other stuff that's already know, like the fact that parts of the surface are relatively new, and that if the E ring material is provided by outgassing from Encaladus it must have happened very recently. So while this is very interesting news, it's not so much a big surprise as a confirmation of something astronomers have suspected for a while.

The 'hotspot' isn't very hot.
yep, the so called hotspot is in fact -182 degrees. while this is hotter than the surrounding areas, it's not hot in any real sense of the word. Just to put it in perspective.

The tidal heating theory does not adequately explain the heat, but then again neither does it adequately explain the heating of Io and it's about the best theory we have for that moon. Seems like something is going on with the moons of the larger planets that is quite interesting and not exactly what we'd expect. most people seem to think that we have the solar system covered, but in fact we do not have even so much as one theory that adequately explaines planet formation in our own solar system, let along others. The Nebular Hypothesis makes attempts at it, but doesn't cover everything and falls over completely when hit with other systems. So there's a lot still to be learned.

One important thing to remember about this discovery: heat + ice = liquid water = possibility of life.

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I'm sure zenstar will tell you all about our adventures with stray dog last night.

Roleplaying tonight, yay. And my evil rating went up again! Fast approaching the 50% mark!