Tram Town
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Category: Christmas
There's always some big disappointment at Christmas time. This year, for me, it was the discovery that Santa's suit did not get its colour from Coca Cola advertisements. That Snopes dude is a real downer.

Category: Transport/Books/Maps/Art
A while a go we pointed our reader to a fascinating book and I just received a copy as part of the Christmas thang. It is even more beautiful in the flesh. More information to follow as I read it from cover to cover.

Monday, December 24, 2007
Category: Megalomania
Again with the warmening thing... From the magnificent Sp!ked website comes this article from Brendan O’Neill. Of Al Gore, he says:
He seems to think he is the spokesman for the human species, the legitimate representative of every human being who has ever lived or who will ever live in the future. He thinks he and his supporters ‘control the destiny of all generations to come’, a boast that even the worst dictators in history never dared to make. Al Gore is an enviro-tyrant with delusions of global domination.
That's big talk but it is well supported in the article.

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Category: Planet, Saving the
I think a power interruption caused me to miss reading the BoltA's column of last Wednesday which had a list of ways to save the planet. It has some magnificent examples of demands to impose one group's will on another. It finishes with this:
19. End democracy.
Says green academic Mayer Hillman, author of How We Can Save the Planet: "When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it. (Carbon rationing) has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not."
Just how long after we hand over control of our lives to these "benign" green dictators does this clown think it will be before they become malign dictators and shut down all free speech, including his?

Category: Islam
This extract from a presentation by Nonie Darwish, "an American woman of Muslim Arab origin", makes for quite enlightening reading. I was particularly interested in the notion of when it is alright for a Muslim to lie.

Category: Quotes
Tim Blair has picked out some of the year's outstanding quotes for his column in the Tele this week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007
Category: Surfing
There is an extraordinarily good explanation of waves and the secrets of body surfing on last week's Ockham's Razor on Radio National here.
Read the transcript, download the podcast, or listen NOW. I hope you will learn something. I know I did.
You might even consider subscribing to the podcast. On balance (and despite the odd nutbag presenter) it is well worthwhile.

Category: Warmening
I had not been to the Classically Liberal blog before today but it is already on my feed reader. They had a fascinating article about the North West Passage a while ago. Worth a look!

Category: WHWTMSitW*
Britons 'healthier in medieval times'
Given life expectancies back then, what sort of clown would make such a claim? A Cholesterol Clown™ is what!

* We Have Way Too Many Scientists in this World™.

Category: Christmas
From The Sneeze:
If "Christmas song performed by Neil Diamond, Stryper and Barney" was in your letter to Santa this year, boy are you in luck.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Category: Climate
Jack Lacton over at Kerplunk has looked at some of the comments of the people who visited Bali with not so much of the whole faith thing. Go read it.

Category: Israel
Read Tim Blair's latest column for the Telegraph. It's an absolute cracker!
My trip to the heart of Jewness

Sunday, December 16, 2007
Category: Religion
Charles Krauthammer has an article in the Washington post entitled "An Overdose of Public Piety" that talks of the right way to truly separate church and state. Good read!

Thursday, December 13, 2007
Category: Podcasts
I put an email together of some of my regular podcasts and thought it might be worth posting here so...

Skeptoid is Brian Dunning a man who researches and publishes a ~10min piece each week on some sort of classic skeptic's issue.
I listen every week and I have listened to all past episodes. Large numbers of them would make quite good driving-to-the-beach material in my opinion. Of particular note: episode 14 Cellphones on Airplanes and episode 19 Organic Food Myths.

The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe is the podcast of the New England Skeptical Society. It is a lively discussion amongst five opinionated people (was six but the best of them, Perry deAngelis, sadly died earlier this year, from all this distance, I miss him).
The whole website is interesting.

Skepticality, the official podcast of Skeptic magazine is quite good when Skeptic editor Michael Shermer is conducting an interview and patchy when the regular hosts, Derek and Swoopy, are hosting. They are a bit subject to being guilty of the fallacy of "Argument from Authority" when the particular scientist happens to hit their political buttons, IMHO. Skepticism is often about questioning scientists. They are also celebrity whores. I subscribe but only listen to about half of the episodes.

NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me is great driving listening. It is a news quiz of the Good News Week type but perhaps a bit classier and with an interesting celebrity guest each week. Last week it was a Whitehouse press secretary, it has been Barack Obama and Tom Hanks in the past. Being NPR it does have a little bit of a [US] liberal bias but it works hard at disguising that and I never miss an episode. One of their regular panelists, their token republican I guess, is P. J. O'Rourke.

If you're looking for a daily ~half hour of tech news (this is my dog walk podcast), you could do a lot worse than Buzz Out Loud from CNet. It is informative, funny, opinionated and of indeterminate length.
(URL looks dodgy temp, maybe bol.cnet.com would be better)

Weekly supermarket podcasts include some from the TWiT network including the original This Week in Tech, Windows Weekly (lots of Microsoft news, bad AND good), and Security Now which I would advise any sys admin to listen to all 100 and something episodes, it is that good.

EconTalk is a terrific piece of work with Russ Roberts from George Mason University interviewing colleagues and friends on economic topics. Russ is a dag but the the issues are fascinating. The department at GMU has come up with the word Masonomics to describe their particular almost naive but insightful view of economics. It is definitely descended from the Austrian school but with a touch of simplification thrown in. It's kind of like: we know economics is complicated but let's try and look at some aspects that we can really understand. Of course, on re-reading I get the feeling that if Russ ever read this he would claim I had completely missed the point but never mind.

Without trying to come up with a commentary on each of these I will list some extra weekly listens (Google yourself):
Ockham's Razor on Radio National: 2/3's interesting, 1/3 nutbags
NPR Car Talk: We listen, laugh and learn (one of Tommy's favourites)
WeatherBrains: I learn something every week.

Saturday, December 08, 2007
Category: Fluoridation
I was told by a dentist with whom I worked a bit over twenty years ago that the science on fluoridation of water was in and there was no debate to be had. It seemed that in every example known to man, fluoridation improved dental outcomes. He even felt that a degree in dentistry would become worthless into the future because of fluoridation. He, of course, failed to predict the gradual move of dentistry from concern for the healthy gob to concern for the aesthetically attractive gob. Dentists are now largely cosmeticians (Just One Guy's Opinion™).
Now, I'm not convinced that fluoridation is the most dangerous evil confronting mankind by a long shot, but I do feel that perhaps it is another of these issues that requires all-cause mortality studies to be done. This article from the Brisbane paper is worth reading. Perhaps the most interesting point he makes is this:
Finally, less than 1 per cent of water used is actually drunk.
Most water is for other household use including sewage, and for use by industry etc.
Could a less efficient, more wasteful system of medication distribution ever be devised?
BTW Wouldn't you a love to have a couple of bob for every time you have heard a dentist say "that's an important tooth".

Friday, December 07, 2007
Category: Music/Art
Heck, for those of you who don't know, I went to "Film School" and we all know what that means. A band that fascinated me on a number of levels was Devo (although I still reckon that some of their early bootleg stuff was more interesting). I'd vaguely followed individual members careers off'n'on over the last thirty odd years. A fascinating, albeit 8 pages long, piece about Mothersbaugh (think Rugrats et al) and their current state of play. Interesting on a number of levels -- wade through it if your into electronic music/instruments, media-manipulation, scoring, composition and corporatisation!

Category: Bizarre
This article about a murderer's rights to IVF treatment could easily be an April fool's joke but it's true!
Britain breached the human rights of a murderer and his wife by refusing them access to IVF treatment, the European Court ruled yesterday.
Kirk Dickson, 35, and his wife Lorraine now have the right to start a family even though he is serving a life sentence.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Category: Board Games
Lately I've been spending far too much time playing Monopoly on my MacBook. But now, thanks to Auffers I've discovered this.

Category: Squircle
Who knew? There really is such a thing as a squircle. It is defined by: x4 + y4 = r4. Sort of obvious when you think about it.
What about that?

Category: Fluoros
Over at Global Warming Politics the Stottman is today discussing compact fluorescent lights. One of his suggestions particularly piqued my interest...
I should like to ask every reader of this blog to approach their local council to ask them precisely how they propose to re-cycle the mercury from CFLs?
I'm off to the the Moreland website, me.

UPDATE: I'm back! Not much success, though, their site is down. I'm guessing that someone accidentally smashed a CFL in their computer room and it has had to be vacated until a full cleanup team in sealed suits can do a job of work.
UPUPDATE: The site's back up and the answer is that when you need to dispose of a fluorescent tube of any sort you need to drive 10 km to a disposal centre. No mention of what people without cars should do and certainly no mention of mercury.

Sunday, December 02, 2007
Category: Warmening
A comedian's take on Al Gore et al
Childish swearing and grubby innuendo alert!!!

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