Monthly Archives: November 2010

Freedm of speech

 Freedm of speech

From Hey Okay, via This Isn’t Happiness.

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TSA alternatives

 TSA alternatives

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Vikings probably took a Native American home

Some genetic researchers have found genes in an Icelandic family that could be traced to an American Indian from 1000 AD.

“As the island was practically isolated from the 10th century onwards, the most probable hypothesis is that these genes correspond to an Amerindian woman who was taken from America by the Vikings some time around the year 1000,” Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Pompeu Fabra university in Spain, said.

I bet they just took her with them to show all the Icelanders what nice people Native Americans were.

Via The Daily What.

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Draw Hugo Chavez Day

Venezuela’s democratically-elected socialist dictator Hugo Chavez wants amateurs to stop making pictures of him.

[The government] has banned the use of the “name, image or figure” of Hugo Chavez on “infrastructure projects, constructions, educational establishments or public buildings of any kind” unless express permission of the president has been granted.

I totally understand. Once people think they’re allowed to draw pictures of you, they come up with shit like this:

 Draw Hugo Chavez Day

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Groucho Marx had a nice evening

A letter of note from Groucho Marx:

My De Soto was whisked away from the front of the theatre so swiftly that I arrived at Romanoff’s in a Buick. There I rapidly got drunk, danced with Audrey Hepburn, looked down (and up) Jayne Mansfield’s knockers, had a fine lobster dinner and spent a good half hour rubbing someone’s legs under the table …. which, on investigation, turned out to be my wife’s.

Via Gawker.

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Shit-faced Mondays

 Shit faced Mondays

Via Ffffound.

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Liver survives plane crash, is transplanted

A plane crash-landed in England and burst into flames. A donated liver was on board. Happily, everyone survived, including the liver, which was then successfully transplanted.

Via Gawker.

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The Cornbrator

 The Cornbrator

Via Gizmodo.

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The resolution will not be televised in HD

 The resolution will not be televised in HD

Via Fuck Yeah Albuquerque.

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How to know if something is supernatural

Sean from Cosmic Variance has some interesting thoughts on what makes something “supernatural” and whether science is qualified to study such things. He divides out three categories:

  1. The silent: things that have absolutely no effect on anything that happens in the world.
  2. The hidden: things that affect the world only indirectly, without being immediately observable themselves.
  3. The lawless: things that affect the world in ways that are observable (directly or otherwise), but not subject to the regularities of natural law.

There is literally nothing to say about stuff that would be categorized as silent. They affect nothing and so are unobservable and uninteresting. So that’s a category that’s off-limits to science.

The example Sean gives for stuff that’s categorized as the hidden is dark matter. It fits the definition perfectly. In fact, the only reason we have the concept of dark matter is because its effects — but not it — have been observed. We don’t know anything about dark matter other than what we’ve seen it do to other, directly observable, things. Yet, dark matter is definitely science. Which is to say, science can conclude facts about dark matter.

Finally, the lawless: stuff that’s observable, but that you can’t say anything about. But wait… can’t I say that “I can’t say anything about it”? Can there ever be something that you truly can’t say anything about?

Sean hypothesizes about how scientists would react to more evidence of a truly lawless and supernatural force. Basically, he thinks scientists would be able to accept some God-like entity that broke all the rules — given enough evidence. I think the scientists would be thrilled with such a compelling mystery to try and solve.

UPDATE: On re-reading, I see that I’ve contradicted my point about the silent with my point about the lawless. There’s one thing you can say about the silent. They’re silent. Except, I think the crucial difference between the silent and the lawless is that you can’t even know the silent exists. So by definition, if something that’s lawless isn’t silent, there’s more you can say about it than something that’s silent.

Via The Morning News.

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