Sunday, September 30, 2007


I always loved this song . . . such a shift from their sweet earlier stuff.

You will note the video has little to do with most of the song

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Iraqi teaser Rates


Tom Toles, via Yahoo!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

The Stuff of Thought

I'm always attracted to books that give insight into the investor's mind.

The newest outing from Harvard prof Steven Pinker looks to be just that sort of book: “The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature” explores human cognition:

“The Stuff of Thought” explores the duality of human cognition: the modesty of its construction and the majesty of its constructive power. Pinker weaves this paradox from a series of opposing theories. Philosophical realists, for instance, think perception comes from reality. Idealists think it’s all in our heads. Pinker says it comes from reality but is organized and reorganized by the mind. That’s why you can look at the same thing in different ways.

Then there’s the clash between ancient and modern science. Aristotle thought projectiles continued through space because a force propelled them. He thought they eventually fell because Earth was their natural home. Modern science rejects both ideas. Pinker says Aristotle was right, not about projectiles but about how we understand them. We think in terms of force and purpose because our minds evolved in a biological world of force and purpose, not in an abstract world of vacuums and multiple gravities. Aristotle’s bad physics was actually good psychology.

How can we be sure the mind works this way? By studying its chief manifestation: language. Variations among verbs reflect our distinctions among physical processes. Nuances among nouns illustrate the alternate interpretations built into our most basic perceptions."

-from the NYTimes review

Fascinating concept, completely applicable to the Bull/Bear debate.

A great video of Steven Pinker at TED is below:

“The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature”

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Q&A: Ridley Scott on Blade Runner


Attention Blade Runner junkies: The offline Wired interview with Ridley Scott, which I mentioned in this weekend's linkfest, is now online.

As we noted previously, the latest version of Blade Runner is in theaters in October, with a 5 DVD disc set to follow next year.

Here's the Ubiq-cerpt:™

"It's a classic tale of failure and redemption, the kind of story Hollywood loves to tell.

Fresh off his second successful movie, an up-and-coming director takes a chance on a dark tale of a 21st-century cop who hunts humanlike androids. But he runs over budget, and the financiers take control, forcing him to add a ham-fisted voice-over and an absurdly cheery ending. The public doesn't buy it. The director's masterpiece plays to near-empty theaters, ultimately retreating to the art-house circuit as a cult oddity.

That's where we left Ridley Scott's future-noir epic in 1982. But a funny thing happened over the next 25 years. Blade Runner's audience quietly multiplied. An accidental public showing of a rough-cut work print created surprise demand for a re-release, so in 1992 Scott issued his director's cut. He silenced the narration, axed the ending, and added a twist — a dream sequence suggesting that Rick Deckard, the film's protagonist, is an android, just like those he was hired to dispatch.

But the director didn't stop there. As the millennium turned, he continued polishing: erasing stray f/x wires, trimming shots originally extended to accommodate the voice-over, even rebuilding a scene in which the stunt double was obvious. Now he's ready to release Blade Runner: The Final Cut, which will hit theaters in Los Angeles and New York in October, with a DVD to follow in December.

At age 69, Ridley Scott is finally satisfied with his most challenging film. He's still turning out movies at a furious pace — American Gangster, with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is due in November — building on an extraordinary oeuvre that includes Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down. But he seems ready to accept Blade Runner as his crowning achievement. In his northern English accent, he describes its genesis and lasting influence. And, inevitably, he returns to the darkness that pervades his view of the future — the shadows that shield Deckard from a reality that may be too disturbing to face."

Other goodies:  An interactive look at the Cultural Influences Before and After the Film in the Blade Runner Nexus , and a full transcript and Audio of Wired's Interview with Ridley Scott.

Its a must read for fans -- even if Ridley gets whether Deckard is a replicant or a human wrong . . .



Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined   
By Ted Greenwald  09.26.07 | 4:00 PM

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nuclear Renaissance



Nuclear Energy's Second Act?
Bid to Build Two New Reactors  In Texas May Mark Resurgence;  NRC Gears Up for Many More
September 25, 2007; Page B1

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Armageddon Flowchart


via Listaholic

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Let It Be

The Beatles

Live studio recording

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Yom Kippur versus Lent

Before he started to host The Daily Show, I saw Jon Stewart do his monologue on one of those charity benefits organized by Denis Leary. Comparing Yom Kippur to Lent and, therefore, Jews to Catholics, Stewart said:

“You give up something for 40 days. We go one day without eating. Even in sin, you pay retail.”

via Comic Mix

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Quote of the Day

via the Long Tail

"Admit it - back in the 20th Century, none of you imagined that World War III would be Robots vs. Muslims. Seems obvious now."   

Posted at 07:26 AM in Current Affairs, War/Defense, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, September 20, 2007

US Founders on Religon & the Constitution

"Most Americans believe the nation's founders wrote Christianity into the Constitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship covers religious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds.

The survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and the press found that 55% believe erroneously that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. In the survey, which is conducted annually by the First Amendment Center, a non-partisan educational group, three out of four people who identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that the Constitution establishes a Christian nation. About half of Democrats and independents do."

Only 56% agree that freedom of religion applies to all groups "regardless of how extreme their beliefs are." That's down from 72% in 2000. More than one in four say constitutional protection of religion does not apply to "extreme" groups.

Support for constitutional freedoms has rebounded from a low the year after 9/11, when 49% said the First Amendment "goes too far in the rights it guarantees." Now, 25% agree."

The entire USA Today article can be found here

The full poll results can be found here:


In contrast to what many inadequately educated Americans today think, consider what many of the nation's best-known founders actually DID say about Religion, and our "Christian Nation:"

It's useful to have the facts handy when talking to anybody who believes such things.

"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

  --Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of the Bey of Tripoli of Barbary,'Authored by American diplomat Joel Barlow in 1796, the following treaty was sent to the floor of the Senate, June 7, 1797, where it was read aloud in its entirety and unanimously approved. John Adams, having seen the treaty, signed it and proudly proclaimed it to the Nation.'

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event  as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."

  --John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" (1787-88)

Thomas Jefferson had this written on his tombstone:

                         HERE WAS BURIED
                        THOMAS JEFFERSON
                          AUTHOR OF THE
                    OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
                             OF THE
                       STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
                        RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
                        AND FATHER OF THE
                     UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
                     BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S.
                        DIED JULY 4. 1826

"Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting "Jesus Christ," so that it would read "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination."

  --Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, re Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Here's the text of the U.S. Constitution in a variety of handy formats

It never mentions God or deity.

It mentions religion only twice, in Article VI clause 3:

"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

And in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

The founders meant what they wrote.

George Washington, 1st President (1789-1797)
  "... the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion ..."
Source: The "Treaty of Tripoli," negotiated and signed by the First President of the United States, on November 4, 1796

John Adams, 2nd President (1797-1801)
  "This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religions in it.
Source: A letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 15, 1817

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President (1801-1809)
  "Christianity ... (has become) the most perverted system that ever shone on man. ...  Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and importers ..."
Source: Six Historic Americans, by John E. Remsberg

James Madison, 4th President (1809-1817), often called the Father of the Constitution:
  "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise."
Source: Letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774

Benjamin Franklin:
  "I have found Christian dogma unintelligible.  Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies."
Source: "Toward the Mystery"

Thomas Paine (1737-1809):
  "I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator God by attaching His name to
that book (the Bible)."
The Age of Reason, Part 1, Section 5

Thomas Jefferson:
  "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot ..."
Source: Thomas Jefferson letter to Horatio G. Spafford, 1814.  ME 14:119

Thomas Paine (1737-1809):
  "The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion."
From The Age of Reason

And not as founders of the USA, but similarly well-known:

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865):
  "The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma."
Sources: Salvation for Sale, Gerard Thomas Straub; also quoted by Joseph Lewis

And for Southerners, although not a founder of the United States, but as a leader in the brief-lived Confederacy:
Robert E. Lee, in a Letter to President Pierce:
"...Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?"

Oh, and by the way, of the activities that the Bible's Ten Commandments prohibit, throughout the history of the USA, its secular laws enacted by those founders and all of their successors, prohibit only two as crimes.  (VI and VII)


And this, from one of my former high school students who's now a shrink <grin>:

"If you talk to God, it's religion. But is God talks to you, it's schizophrenia." -- James Latham

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