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Older news

616 newsitems found. Page 7 of 62.
Use your words!
Ah, language. If it hadn't been invented yet we'd have to jump through a lot of hoops to mock the foolish.

Column: Hate, in the name of science
Christians may refer to themselves as a "flock," but they aren't sheep. It takes courage to say you believe in something that can't be proven. When scientists formulate hypotheses, they are vulnerable to critique, and they must conduct research to remove all doubt. Religious believers must deal with the same vulnerability, but with the knowledge that they can never prove the existence of a God. Religion takes bravery.

To which commenter DuckPhup responded:
I'm afraid that you seem to be unable to differentiate 'courage' and 'bravery' from gullibility, self-deception, self-delusion, irrationality, willful ignorance, intellectual dishonesty, credulity, lies, hypocrisy, and toxic, drooling stupidity.


Don't you just love language?

Clipart sucks, you should use it too!
After working for 12 years at the same place today I have made my first Powerpoint presentation, to be delivered Thursday.
Until now I have always been successful at avoiding Powerpoint, but I felt it was time to dive in and test the water.

Frankly I must say that Powerpoint isn't that bad as an authoring tool. Setting up slides was fairly easy and as long as you stay away from the annoying transitions and styles and themes and whatnot the results can be quite good and clearly presented.
Of course there's an unwritten law that states that every Powerpoint presentation should have at least one slide with gratuitous, unneeded and cheesy clipart (so bad it's almost real art!). So I felt obliged to insert that with the title (loosely translated) "Gratuitous clipart as required by law".

The biggest and most time consuming part of the project was animating that last slide so parts fade in and out to provide a flowcharty time-line type of thing (with Custom Animations as they're called). Powerpoint sucks at this. Big time. Seriously, this is the best Microsoft programmers can do? I guess it shouldn't come as a big surprise.

But I did get to use that lovely clipart!

Open letters
Open Letters to People Or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond contains so many entries that are too brilliant not to mention that I can only gasp and give up on the effort which would surely fall far short of any mark that would count as close to accurate.
I despair at the brilliance of the gems hidden here. Yet I am also elated to have found you. Oh Open Letters to People Or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond, I salute you.

awww nuts
Air Canada told to provide nut-free zone. What's amazing to me is the comments from people that think this is just some wanton infringement on their freedoms. To be sure there is some infringement going on here, that is not in question, but I think there is a need for regulation to protect those who really need it.

I have a nut allergy and while it's (probably!) not enough to kill me when someone else is eating nuts it is bad enough that I can become quite ill when several people near me are eating fragrant nuts or nut-based products like peanut soup.

I once spent an extremely miserable half hour between London and Schiphol because the only food handed out was a packet of peanuts (this is a flight that lasts an hour and food is handed out about 15 minutes after takeoff). Whilst I didn't eat anything (obviously, as I might not have survived and certainly would have been puking my guts out over random people) the smell of 60 people munching peanuts made me sick to my stomach.

The enclosed space and large amount of people eating peanuts meant that the odour of peanuts pervaded the entire plane and there was no escaping this, it seems the windows in planes can't be opened to let in some fresh air :-). I used large amounts of medicine to stave of allergic and asthmatic attacks, in fact I used more medicine than is allowed in a single day in that one hour just to keep control over my breathing. Hours later I still felt weak and feeble.

Please do not tell me about infringing on your freedoms. My allergy is by no means as bad as it gets and I can certainly imagine someone dying over this, or if not actually dying then at least going into anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death if not treated very very quickly.

One of the commenters wrote: "I do not want my seat selection options to be limited by this fringe group of nut-sensitive agitators".
Presumably this person would be quite happy to sit on an 18 hour flight with a dead person stashed in the seat next to them? Now why do I doubt this?

I do not mind people eating peanuts or other nutty things but I do object to large amounts of people in an enclosed space eating them when there is no way to get away from the smell. That is torture.

Some simple rules should be able to prevent this: do not serve peanuts in small and medium sized planes where there is no escape from the smell, do not serve an entire plane peanuts or smelly nuts (not all nuts smell, at least to me).
There's a lot of research into allergies and it shouldn't be too hard for some experts in the field to come up with simple to follow guidelines for airlines that would allow those that need it the protection they deserve and the fervent nuteaters their pleasures. For example by providing a buffer zone or separate room with better ventilation.

As a society we often infringe upon some people's rights to protect the weak who have no control over their genetic, physiological or mental condition. No one choses to have a food allergy, and it is the right of those people to not only be accommodated but also protected by the companies they do business with.

The number of the beast
This is probably of special interest to my friend Ernst (who studied Sonology and was the producer of Central Grinder, the most insane Noise band I ever heard). The number of the beast mp3 compressed 666 times: http://www.beigerecords.com/cory/Things_I_Made/Maiden

via Kottke, who you should all be reading anyway.

Ronflonflon
Note: This is only of interest to those of the Dutch persuasion.

Ronflonflon, legendary anarchic radio show from the 80s. We used to stay home for this and discuss the latest antics of the crew the next day in school. Presenter Jacques Plafond (Wim T. Schippers) talked through his guests and music. Got into fights, played countless self made jingles, called up people and deliberately misunderstood them and got into irrelevant semantic discussions. And of course he shamelessly plugged the productions of his friends and himself.

I've been a bit under the weather this weekend and listening to these again has been a real boon for me. Now if you'll excuse me I have about 270 shows to go. I should be done around March.

Rare Exports, part 2
4 years ago I linked to Rare Exports Inc. A movie about wild father christmasses.


Today I found part 2 online.


Rejoice! 'tis the season to be jolly.

Hamster in Tutu Shuts Down Large Hadron Collider
I have a soft spot for hamsters which is why the following article pleases me, although I do feel sorry for the poor rodent.

Hamster in Tutu Shuts Down Large Hadron Collider

Browser games - minireviews
Just a quick shout out to let you all know my Swedish friend Psyce (a.k.a. Woorg) from WoW has created a site where he hopes to review browsergames.
http://browsergametoplist.blogspot.com/

He's in for a massive challenge as the number of browsergames is already huge and still exploding and he's just at 4 at this moment but give him a visit. I tried almost all of the ones reviewed as we chat about this sometimes.

I'll do some quick mini reviews for some games he hasn't covered yet.

I just tried Evony for a few days which is advertised on Facebook as the browsergame with the most members. The early stages of the game are very much like Travian where you cultivate some resources, upgrade the gathering of said resources and build up the infrastructure of a town and fortify it with a military presence.
Unfortunately the MMO aspect is ill thought-out, chatchannels and even the game window itself are constantly spammed by irrelevant messages from the game itself (XXX has won a Scroll of Uberness worth 50 cents, YYY has won a Pendant of Doubtful Usefulness worth 15 cents).
I found these constant irrelevant messages so distracting that I quit.
The good side of this game is that it guides you very well in building up your town via quests, unlike Travian which to my mind kinda dumps you after the introduction. The quest part of Evony is definitely something other games could benefit from.

I also tried to try out Seafight but the method to log in via OpenID didn't really work very well (I have an OpenID account at Wordpress). I did manage to log in a few times but the first time I spent about half an hour looking for the actual sea part. This game could use a good tutorial or guided quests to get you started, as it is it just dumps you in the deep end and hopes you figure it out before you get frustrated. I just quit.

I also tried out some Facebook games from Zynga, I like Mafia Wars a lot and will continue to play that for the foreseeable future, but games like Roller Coaster Kingdom are a bit boring and you're limited to a very very basic game unless you have tons of other friends that play it, and FarmVille is too much like Molehill Empire in which I've already invested more than 6 months. (I'm currently ranked 21 on server 3.)

So all in all browsergames offer a lot of fun playing but there's some real problems in many of them. With the business booming I expect to see more top notch games in the next year though.

On Malthus
Starts with a Bang asks "If you took all the people on Earth, and you spread every one of us -- men, women, and children -- out as sparsely as possible over the entire land area of Earth, including land like Antarctica, Greenland, and Siberia, how much land would everyone get? How far away would your neighbors be?"

Think about it for a minute and then look up the answer. I was way way wrong. Scary stuff, which proves that what Malthus wrote more than 200 years ago still applies today even though birthrates are dropping in the western world, the areas where food is actually scarce do not seem to benefit from modern knowledge about contraception.

Comedian Sarah Silverman has a novel approach to food shortages though: sell the vatican, build a nice house for yourself with pools and whatnot, use what's left over to feed the world.



Of course the above clip is comedy, give a man a fish and he will be fed for a day, teach a man how to fish and he will feed himself for life, as the saying goes. Problem is being able to fish means little if there's simply too many people around you going hungry, pretty soon you'll have emptied the lakes and oceans. Which is where we are heading now.
On the other hand maybe birth control will finally be accepted in the poorest countries when the delusional dictator in the Vatican is gone.

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