Monday, October 26, 2009

a defence of organic milk and eggs

So I buy organic milk and eggs. I'm generally skeptical of organic stuff, I don't think the label means a whole lot. However, for some reason organic milk and eggs don't go bad for like a month and a half. It's crazy. Now some people may be like: "So what, I always use the milk and eggs before they're bad". Well, in that case, good for you, buy the cheapest milk you can find, however I use very little milk. It's a total waste for me to buy conventional milk, it always goes bad before I've had half of it. Eggs I can sometimes get away with, but sometimes I don't feel like eating a bunch of eggs, so organics give me a nice little time buffer.

I'm convinced I save money by buying organic milk and eggs. But I haven't run the budget. I'm too damn lazy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

thoughts on the president's health care plan

It falls almost exactly in the point where I'm not sure if I like it or not. It has a public option, but a very weak one. It is almost certainly better than what we have now, but I'm not sure if it will help or hinder future legislation to strengthen the public option and improve health care more. I think that the one thing that would dramatically improve the plan is just to make the public option available to everyone, why should it be arbitrarily restricted to protect insurance company profits? Perhaps tactically the best thing to do is to pass this bill, create a weak public option and expand it's coverage over time, as conservatives see it's not evil. I'll have to learn more about the proposal to decide whether I think it's worth it, see what all of the implications are, and if there is a chance of passing a better plan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Atheism and Science Wars: It's good to be Strident

Recently there has been a lot of discussion atheist scientists and their role in public outreach of science, largely catalyzed by a new book by Mooney and Kirshenbaum. Now besides the pointless trashing of PZ Myers the thesis of the book seems to be (and I have not read it) that scientists do a piss-poor job out public outreach and need to be more respectful of religion. Now, since I haven't read the book, I'm not going to talk about it specifically, but the idea that scientists who don't make nice to religion will lead to the mainstream religious throwing away science. I think this is a dumb idea on a number of levels:

  • The mainstream of religion largely does throw away inconvenient facts from science.

  • Compromising science to appease religion is a seriously bad idea (I know that few specifically argue for this, though some do, but many proposals do this in practice)

  • Even religions that are not explicitly anti-science usually only give lip service to science (for example the catholic church's silly standards for miracles)

All of these ideas have been played out before, but my own contribution is this thought: in the modern media cycle interesting debates and ideas are much more powerful than bland ones. People live for arguments, it's the entire reason for existence of reality tv. This is not always a good thing (the entire history of the Republican party after Nixon is based on the idea of interesting but bad ideas), but it is a fact. An exciting debate between science and religion is going to get a lot more attention, and probably people interested in science, than mealy-mouthed accommodation. Now, this will certainly lead to a lot of people coming down against science, but I view it as similar to the story of the civil rights movement (and gay rights movement): there was a lot of abstract argument about equality and justice, but there was very little progress in the public realm until there were those who were unafraid of being called strident or militant (and came out of the closet).

Now, science outreach is a very different thing from the (gay) civil rights, so I could be totally wrong about this, there probably is no research on it. But I do tend to think that it's impossible to make much progress on an issue without a strong viewpoint. People may be ignorant, but they are smart enough to tell when you are pandering to them, and they don't like it.

Monday, June 29, 2009


So I moved into a new apartment over the weekend. Compared to previous times I've moved, the lack of internet at home isn't too bad at all due to several factors:
  1. Internet at work
  2. Googlephone with internet
  3. Maybe I'm just less addicted (not likely)

Anyways, I'm enjoying my new bachelor pad. As is traditional the only things in the fridge at the moment are beer, pizza, and condiments.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Finally I can say "I liked them before they were cool"

Some people are saying that the chiptune band Anamanaguchi is going to get big and escape the chiptune scene ghetto. This would, I think, be pretty great. Not only do I like chiptunes in general, but Anamanaguchi is clearly one of the best chip groups out there. As mentioned int he first linked article, chiptunes really make people strip the song down to it's bare essentials, and the most popular soundchips (those that were in the NES and Gameboy) also need very short songs, so the best chiptunes end up being 2 minute explosions of pure melody. As also mentioned, chiptunes are one of the easiest genres of music to get involved with: you can use a free program like FamiTracker to write songs. You don't need expensive instruments, or sample libraries (though those help).

Read about and download their music, and that of other chiptune artists, at 8bitpeoples. Be sure to checkout nullsleep and Random if you head over there too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And I thought it seemed so immature

I am highly amused. This blog has been declared "Adult" by my work's filter. Reminds me I need to post here more often. Now that I have googlephone perhaps I'll look into posting via phone...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Newsflash: economists have seriously fucked up

This is interesting, especially in light of reading The Shock Doctrine. One of the things that keeps coming up in The Shock Doctrine is how free market fundamentalist economists (called the Chicago School after where Milton Friedman taught) always claim that their economic prescriptions are purely scientific in an effort to justify putting in place their programs over objections and without political controls. There are several problems with this (I, for one, always thought that science did not tell us what to do, only what is, and we can use this knowledge to help us get the results we want. In other words science never tells you to cut taxes, it can only say what will happen if you cut taxes.) but it seems that the biggest problem is that it was bad science. Results from models mostly untouched by empirical results are not science, but philosophy. Now economic systems are hard to test in a controlled manner, so a certain amount of reliance on theory and models is perhaps understandable, but all models need to be tested, and it seems that many economists have just assumed their models work for the last ~30 years and proceeded to calibrate their models.

So read that paper, they have many problems with modern academic economics, but the one that I, as someone with a background in physics, found most telling was the lack of empirical support for their assertions.