Category Archives: Technology

Shared Experience Or Spoiled Memory?

This video is great fun to watch, and I can only imagine how much fun it would’ve been to be at that wedding and experience it myself.

Imagine if wedding had occurred before Youtube. The guests would’ve been thrilled and then they’d’ve gone home. The stories would’ve spread as people tried it at their own weddings with their own special twists. Thousands of weddings and millions of friends and families may have experienced the fun and special memories of these special occasions.

As it is, there have been a few copy cats (including The Office) but each time you know that it is a copy, and you judge it against the original. They may have their own spark of creativity and deserve commendation but you would’ve judged them. They aren’t the original and they will all be judged for that, and the memories will be spoiled.

Not that progress, the internet, and Youtube aren’t wonderful, amazing, and worthwhile things, but I think we need to be careful how we allow Youtube and this eternally connected and sharing generation influence our lives and our experiences.

Don’t let Youtube spoil your memories.

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Merely Human: Science Vs. Religion

Elena Kagan in concert with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists fudges the facts regarding partial birth abortion to support her employer, then President Clinton.

Climatologists fear those with differing viewpoints so much they nudge numbers and massage facts, not substantially, but just enough, and very carefully control who gets access to their data.

A study finds children raised by adults living in homosexual relationships turn out OK, and then it turns out the study was run by a militant lesbian and contained unrepresentative samples that could not be construed in any way to represent a reasonable portrait of the general population.

I think it’s about time we set the 19th century idea of scientific infallibility to rest. It’s been dead a long time and the corpse is starting to stink.

Fourteen years ago, to protect President Clinton’s position on partial-birth abortions, Elena Kagan doctored a statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Conservatives think this should disqualify her from the Supreme Court. They understate the scandal. It isn’t Kagan we should worry about. It’s the whole judiciary.Kagan, who was then an associate White House counsel, was doing her job: advancing the president’s interests. The real culprit was ACOG, which adopted Kagan’s spin without acknowledgment. But the larger problem is the credence subsequently given to ACOG’s statement by courts, including the Supreme Court. Judges have put too much faith in statements from scientific organizations. This credulity must stop.

The problem with science is the problem with religion is the problem with corporations is the problem with the poor: we’re all merely human. We’re incapable of unbiased action or thought, no matter how carefully we try.

As conservative talk show host Michael Medved says, he admits he’s biased and is up front about it. No one can talk with him and not be aware of where he is coming from. And it is precisely this honesty, this up-frontness about his perspective that means you can learn the truth from him. It’s not that conservatives always tell the truth and liberals always don’t, it’s that when you know someone’s perspective and know they are not trying to obfuscate, you can see how their story fits into the bigger picture of Truth.

Compare the unabashedly conservative hosts on the Fox News channel. No one expects them not to be conservative (and even the liberals there trumpet the fact) and therefore, because there is no guise of infallibility or ruse of absolute even-handedness, they are the most watched news network, and the fastest growing too.

CNN pretends to be totally unbiased, and thus tip their hand. MSNBC proves everything.

I don’t care where you come from nearly as much as I care that you’re up front about it.

Being up front about your opinion shows that you respect others to be capable of informed decisions, and it shows you’re not so conceitedly ignorant you’ve convinced yourself you’re the only one right.

Science is made of human observation.The existence of biases in each and every human being means all observations and perceptions are biased as well. To deny the bias it to enhance the bias and the resulting skew in all your resulting data. You may be able to claim the scale cannot lie but you’re still going to interpret the data the way you want.

Science is not the holy pursuit of the epitome of truth, it is the headlong search for rationalization, for proving we’re not wrong.

The sooner we accept that science is just another human endeavor and therefore subject to all the faults and failures and stunning triumphs of all other human endeavors, the sooner we can get on with this crazy little thing called life.

Government Gets It Wrong. Again.

Evil phone attacking innocent but distracted motorist

A new study is out reporting that laws forbidding cell phone use, both texting and calling, while driving do not have a significant impact on the number of car accidents. Instead, it’s distractions, not just cell phones, that kill.

In the Wall Street Journal:

Laws that forbid motorists from using hand-held phones or texting while driving don’t appear to result in a significant decrease in vehicle crashes, according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute expected to be released Friday.The study, expected to be released at a conference in Washington, D.C., Friday, comes amid stepped-up efforts by federal highway-safety regulators to ban texting while driving and curb other forms of driver distraction. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this week announced rules to forbid commercial truck and bus drivers from text messaging while driving. Mr. LaHood has said he would ban all texting while driving if he could.

But the government and do-gooders who live by restricting others will not give up so easily.

The Transportation Department won’t be troubled with little things like facts:

…it is irresponsible to suggest that laws banning cell phone use while driving have zero effect on the number of crashes on our nation’s roadways. A University of Utah study shows that using a cell phone while driving can be just as dangerous and deadly as driving drunk. We know that by enacting and enforcing tough laws, states have reduced the number of crashes leading to injuries and fatalities.

In that statement they claim one substantiated claim, that the University of Utah found cell phone driving is as bad as drunk driving, and one unsubstantiated claim phrased in such as way as to scoff at substantiation, “We know that by enacting and enforcing tough laws, states have reduced the number of crashes leading to injuries and fatalities.”

That’s pretty much the same as leading an argument with “everybody knows…”, appealing to common sense without factual basis.

The Highway Loss Data Institute, which sponsored this new study, is financed by the insurance industry. This will lend credence to the study as insurance companies need to mitigate risk in order to maximize profit, and this report claims there is much less risk than previously assumed.

The facts (WSJ):

The HLDI studied data on monthly collision claims in four states that banned the use of hand-held phones by motorists before and after the bans went into effect. The HLDI also compared collision data from states that enacted bans on driving while texting or phoning to accident claims in states that didn’t enact such bans.

In New York, HLDI said its researchers found that collision claims decreased compared to other states, but the decrease began before the state’s ban on hand-held phoning took effect.

The HLDI data don’t show whether drivers involved in accidents were using cellphones at the time. But the HLDI said in a statement “reductions in observed phone use following bans are so substantial and estimated effects of phone use on crash risk are so large that reductions in aggregate crashes would be expected.”

So what are we left with? Restrictions on the use of cell phones while driving which do not affect the number of accidents.

Sounds like and apology and lifting of the regulations is in order.

Likelihood of this occuring? Nil.

Story in CNET.

Story in the Wall Street Journal.

Epic Fail: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Epic Fail: For some things, there's just no excuse

Investors Business Daily reports the institute created by California Proposition 71 to research medical applications of Embryonic Stem Cells has quietly begun shifting it’s research focus to Adult Stem Cells.

Quick rehash: Embryonic Stem Cells are the result of abortions, the designer baby process, in vitro fertilization, and other procedures of a morally ambiguous to morally evil nature. Adult Stem Cells are derived from adult human adipose (fat) and other sources all given voluntarily, usually by the very person who will be benefiting directly from the treatment.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) = Morally murky, usually objectionable.

Adult Stem Cell Research (ASCR) = Morally good.

Now back to the story.

Five years later, ESCR has failed to deliver and backers of Prop 71 are admitting failure. The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state agency created to, as some have put it, restore science to its rightful place, is diverting funds from ESCR to research that has produced actual therapies and treatments: adult stem cell research. It not only has treated real people with real results; it also does not come with the moral baggage ESCR does.

To us, this is a classic bait-and-switch, an attempt to snatch success from the jaws of failure and take credit for discoveries and advances achieved by research Prop. 71 supporters once cavalierly dismissed. We have noted how over the years that when funding was needed, the phrase “embryonic stem cells” was used. When actual progress was discussed, the word “embryonic” was dropped because ESCR never got out of the lab.

Alan Trounson, stem cell pioneer in Australia and director of the California institute says “If we went 10 years and had no clinical treatments, it would be a failure.”

In other words, as I’ve mentioned here before, Embryonic Stem Cell Research fails. Epicly. Again.

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Failure Of Diplomacy

Iranian nuclear power plant southwest of Tehran
Iranian nuclear power plant southwest of Tehran

“In the last year, two things have happened,” he told the FADC. “Iran has advanced its military nuclear program, and the international community has lost its legitimacy.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commenting on reports that Iran is now capable of building nuclear weapons and delivering them as warheads to Israel.

I’d add one more thing that has happened in the last year, we’ve lost a President with backbone and nerve and a strong sense of leadership and gained one who believes in diplomacy above all.

Diplomacy is good and an excellent first choice, but the entire world is now held ransom by the tin-hat despots and megalomaniacal extreme religious leadership of Iran because we didn’t bring our big stick to the table.