Hitchens on Palin and the current GOP
This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.
Amen. Read the full essay here.

Furriners and ObamaWhy bother doing any research when it's so much easier to sling ridiculous accusations willy nilly. I loved what this guy had to say in the comments:
And thus the line is drawn between folks who still have something to learn about the world (and who would therefore ask questions) and those whose brains have fossilized to the point that all data merely confirm what the rocks in their heads are already telling them.

Think you can make money in the stock market?Try it risk-free.

Financial Crisis PrimerWith the recent financial meltdown, I'd been feeling awfully ill-informed. So I decided to start scouring the web in an effort to understand what the heck is going on, how it all happened and what it all means. This American Life had two recent shows about the crisis. First, there was The Giant Pool of Money, a show about the housing crisis and what it has to do with the turmoil on Wall Street. Then there was Another Frightening Show About the Economy which focuses more on the Wall Street end of the crisis. I also came across a piece by Paul Krugman (who just won the Nobel Prize in economics) in which he uses the analogy of a baby-sitting co-op to explain how economies work (or don't). And then there's this piece by Jim Manzi on The American Scene who uses a caveman analogy to explain the economy and the recent Wall Street crisis. If you've come across other useful resources to explain the economy and the Wall Street crisis, feel free to leave a link in the comments.

Articles of ImpeachmentWill these people ever pay for their crimes?

Our Freakin' Amazing SunThe Big Picture has some amazing pics of the sun.

Epicurus on the coexistence of God and evil:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able, and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

The good new is we'll all be dead.From a review of Michael Novecek's Terra: Our 100-Million-Year-Old Ecosystem--and the Threats that Now Put it at Risk in the November 15, 2007 issue of Nature:
The geological perspective of Terra is bizarrely reassuring. Humans will presumably be gone within a few million years, perhaps sooner. If the past that Novacek describes is a guide to the future, global ecosystem processes will be restored some tens of thousands of years to a million years after our demise, and new forms of life over the ensuing millions of years will exploit the denuded planet we leave behind. Thirty million years on, things will be back to normal, albeit a very different 'normal' from before. It is good the be optimistic. The problem is living here in the meantime.

I think it's safe to say the tree-huggers have gone off the deep end when their view of eutopia is a world without us.

Regime Regulated ReincarnationReligion is absurd. Government is absurd. Religion + Government = Sublime:
In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

Full story here.

So You Think You Can Danceis rigged. How else can you explain Sabra's win. I mean no disrespect to Sabra. Of all the girls, she was my favorite, but Danny and Neil were way better. Danny clearly deserved to win. I could have lived with a Neil win as well; after all, he is a great dancer and admittedly there's more to this sort of competition than just skill. But no way do I buy a Sabra win. The producers felt they had to have a female win at least once in three seasons--they stole a quarter of a million dollars from Danny. Very disappointing.

The Flask is BackI don't know why it was ever gone, but for the last several weeks, the bubbling flask in my hand has been nothing but a white box. Since I haven't blogged in I don't know how long, I didn't want to bother Evan about it. Maybe now that it's back, it'll inspire me to start blogging again.

Yeah, it's a scam.Here's the follow up response to the "tutoring email" I wrote about earlier.
Thanks for your email,And more so i am glad the way you have kept me posted on the (tutoring) and i have accepted your offer and its okay by me,

I have make contacts with my son concerning the arrangement of the tutoring which he told me is ok by him and i want you to know that i am going to pay for month which is $300and also my client who is in U .S. will be sending you a check of $4,000

And i want you to know that the rest of the money will be used to get house accomodation beside your location for my son and his nanny and any other arrangement for the lesson so that the tuition can be able to conveniet for both of you,as soon as you get the check cash you will deduct cost of price of the lesson and send remaing balance to my son's TICKET AGENT so that they can book for their flight ticket to come to U.S.

Regarding this kindly get back to me with your full information to receive the check ,like your full name we be on check your full address where you can receive it, inculding your contact phone number, so that payment can be able to made out intime,Because i want the lesson to start as soon as you received the check .

Thanks and waiting to read from you.


Obviously, I'm not going to give them any personal information, but I would like to have some fun with this. Any suggestions?

Am I Being Scammed?In an effort to rake in some extra cash, I recently posted an add to craigslist offering my services as a chemistry tutor. It took a couple weeks, but I finally started getting some hits and last night I met with my first client. So far so good. I have one question though. In the past few days I've been getting these strange emails requesting my services and I can't help but be suspicious. Here's the text of the first message:
Good day to you over there, I need a tutor for my son (larry) for the month of (Feb), i got your advert while surfing through the internet and i really want my child to be taught by you.larry is 14 year old and easily catch up.

Although,i understand you are in (U.S} but i've arranged with my Nanny ASSOCAITE living there that my son is coming to stay with him for his period of tutoring and he has agreed with me,i am based in finland kindly get back to me with......





don't hesitate to e-mail with your total charges.

Sound suspicious to you? It did to me, but I responded anyway. I did give my phone number, but said I was located in "South Natomas area of Sacramento, just off Garden Highway,"--I wasn't about to give out my home address. If this is some sort of scam, how would it work?

And here's another email I just got:
My name is debrah smith and i am 24 years old.I am a very tolerant person and down to earth,dont interfer into other peoples business cos i like to respect their privacy.I am looking for someone that i could confide in to take some Home Lessons in my new apartment i just acquired in the States(thanks to roomates.com), as I will be making my move from Marion Iowa to my new apartment very close to your place .i saw your ad the web.so i would like you to help me out in some Lessons,i work for a company as a model in the us, i want to know where you are located also as the company will be paying for the lessons and also i have a modelling partner her nick name is surygirl, I think she too is interested as we are both on this lesson,they are also paying for her lessons,Pls send me your location and i will mail you if this is possible please inform on your price ranges and also your address where the payment could be made to via cheque from my company,i await to hear from you.

I was suspicious of this as well, but responded anyway (this time without even my phone number). Then, moments after I replied, I got another message from someone else, but with the exact same text as debrah's message. So obviously, these weren't for real, but what is it? In both, roomates.com was hyperlinked--is this just a crazy way to get people to their webpage?

Deserved ReputationI know it's old news, but I came across this tidbit about the backlash to Pluto's demotion in Chemical & Engineering News (subscription required) and just had to share:
My favorite protest came from California Assemblyman Keith Richman, who introduced a resolution condemning IAU's reclassification of Pluto as "mean-spirited." Among the resolution's light-hearted declarations are that Pluto, "affectionately sharing the name of California's most famous animated dog, has a special connection to California history and culture" and "downgrading Pluto's status will cause psychological harm to some Californians who question their place in the universe." Richman managed to get 53 assembly members to sign on as coauthors.

Is it any wonder Californians have a reputation for being nuts?

Moms More Alarming Than Fire
Children in deep sleep awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices -- calling them by name and ordering them out of their bedrooms -- even if they slept through the beeping sound a smoke alarm makes, according to a small study.

Why is this not surprising? Read the full story at CNN.com.

Penn State 33, Northwestern 7We're baaaack! It looks like we might have an offense after all. Morelli was throwing good, and while he did make a few mistakes, it was a drastic improvement over last weeks showing at Ohio State. If he continues to make quantum leaps like that, we'll be crushing Michigan in no time. Wouldn't it be grand is Penn State gave Michigan their only loss this season?

Quote of the Day
It is tremendously worrisome that we don't talk about nature anymore. We talk about natural resources as if everything had a price tag. You can't buy spiritual values at a shopping mall. The things that uplift the spirit—an old-growth forest, a clear river, the flight of a golden eagle, the howl of a wolf, space and quiet without motors—are intangibles. Those are the values that people do look for and that everyone needs.

George Schaller in National Geographic.

FDA Turns 100Chemical & Engineering News has an article commemorating the one hundreth anniversary of the Food and Drug Administation. My favorite tidbit:
Food processing in the late-19th and early-20th centuries involved a great deal of deception. Chemicals were used to heighten color, modify flavor, soften texture, and delay spoilage according to FDA. Jars labeled strawberry jam often contained no strawberries, only glucose, red food coloring, grass seeds, and gelatin. Jars of honey were sometimes diluted with glucose. Rotten eggs were deodorized, rancid butter was revived. "Soothing syrups" for babies were often laced with morphine. "Olive oil" was sometimes made with cottonseed.

There are two things I want to know—how does one "revive" rancid butter and how do I get my hands on some of that "soothing syrup?"