Wednesday, November 30, 2005


As of today, I have a thesis advisor. This is a big deal. And assuming this whole math thing works out, my mathematical ancestry includes Church, Poisson, Lagrange, Euler, two Bernoullis and Leibniz.

Per Will's request

I read the thing. Some of it was intelligible. This, in particular,
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

is inane, however, given his faith in (i.e. positive belief in) the non-existence of God. (It also involves assuming that 'belief' is like a finite box, which is goofy, as well as applying 'belief' very strangely--I don't think one 'believes' in any of the things in his list, except love perhaps.)

He's right, though, that there are two kinds of atheists--those that claim to refuse to believe in something that is untestable (hence are not really atheists to my mind), and those that believe positively that there is no God. Generally, I have a great deal more respect for the second position, though I would also contend that it is essentially a religious one. Unfortunately, Penn claims the second and actually adheres to the first, which is probably worst of all.

One thing that really irks me is the assumption Penn (and others) make that believers believe what he thinks they believe (note that he makes no reference to non-Christian beliefs), then castigates believers for closed-mindedness. Point of fact, the claim that religion and closed-mindedness are coextensive is just false.

Bottom line: Penn's statement is pretty much worthless. A better thinker, however, could render something similar in a perfectly respectable way.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I Believe in No God

Penn Jillette on This, I Believe:

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.

(via David Galbraith)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Glass Trick

I know Reid at least will care about this. Apparently it's the newest in magic technology: The Glass Trick. The magician's name is Cyril Takayama. He's Japanese-American apparently and his site's got a bunch of other tricks including one where he jumps into a briefcase. If you want, you can read the MetaFilter discussion on how the tricks are done.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Who wants to go to India?

"KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - A woman receiving treatment for diabetes at a state-run hospital in eastern India lost one of her eyes after ants nibbled away at it, officials said on Tuesday.

The patient recovering from a post-surgery infection shrieked for help as the ants attacked her on Sunday night, but nurses told her it was normal to feel pain from the infection.

On Monday, the patient's family saw a gaping hole with swarming ants in it when they lifted the bandage on her left eye.

Authorities of the Sambhunath Hospital in Kolkata said they were probing the incident.

"It's not uncommon for ants to attack diabetic patients. We have set up a committee to investigate the unfortunate incident," hospital superintendent A. Adhikary said.

Scampering rats and stray cats and dogs sharing bed space with patients are not uncommon sights at India's overcrowded state-run hospitals that are used by millions of poor and middle-class people."


Rugby Fan Castrates Self

from Boing Boing:

Geoffrey Huish, 31, cut off his own testicles in February to celebrate Wales beating England at Rugby. He had promised a friend he would do it if his favorite team won, so he made good on the vow. From the Australian Associated Press:
"It took about 10 minutes and there was quite a bit of pain but I just kept going.

"The cutters were blunt so I had to keep snipping."

After picking his testicles from the toilet bowl, he went to the social club.

"I went in and shouted out 'I've done it!'," Mr Huish said.

"I took my b*lls out and passed them in the bag to a friend.

"Some people then laid me on the floor."

Mr Huish continues to see a psychiatrist.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Not even lying:

"This segment of NPR news brought to you buy Ultimate Fighting Championship."

As you were.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ensuring That 2006 Is Even A Greater Entertainment Disaster than 2005

Networks cancel '7th Heaven,' 'Arrested'
Friday November 11 7:12 AM ET

The Camdens will bid farewell to viewers in May when the WB Network's top-rated family drama "7th Heaven" ends its run after 10 seasons in what sources said was largely a cost-cutting move.

The Bluth clan of Fox's ratings-challenged "Arrested Development" is also headed for the exit after Fox cut the third-season order on the Emmy-winning comedy to 13 episodes.

Also getting the ax at Fox is "Arrested's" companion on Monday, the freshman comedy "Kitchen Confidential," whose order will not be extended beyond the initial 13 episodes.

"7th Heaven," whose debut on August 26, 1996, marked the first-ever Monday broadcast of the then-fledging WB Network, will bow out as the longest-running family drama on television.

After 10 seasons, the show is still a top draw for WB, averaging 5.1 million viewers this season to date. Creatively, the show also will go out in style, creator Brenda Hampton said.

"I think this is the best season we've ever had, and we're planning a very exciting and heartwarming conclusion to the series," she said. "On the show, we talk about choosing your feelings, and we chose to feel happy and blessed to have been on the air for so long."

There is talk about a potential "7th Heaven" spinoff, but Hampton admits that would be hard to do.

"('7th Heaven') is a family show," she said. "I think the success of the show is that the family is intact with the mom, the dad and the children, so it is a very difficult show to spin off."

Sources indicated that the reasons to take "7th Heaven" off the air were primarily financial. As series age, they get more and more expensive, with the price tag especially high for a show with a large cast like "7th Heaven." The cancellation of the long-running series also comes during a process of extensive cost-cutting across all Warner Bros. divisions.

As for the demise of "Arrested," it comes just as the acclaimed comedy came back this week after a hiatus to make room for Fox's baseball coverage. The two back-to-back episodes averaged a paltry 4 million viewers Monday, sending Fox to fifth place in the 8 p.m. hour and putting a dent on the ratings of its lead-out, the rookie drama "Prison Break."

There is a possibility that the show will be shopped around, but its high cost is expected to be prohibitive for a cable network.

Fox said Thursday that it will pull "Arrested Development" and "Kitchen Confidential" off the schedule for the remaining three Mondays of the November sweep, replacing them with a rerun of the previous episode of "Prison Break" leading into an original episode of the serialized drama.

"Arrested" and "Kitchen" are set to return to their time slots with original episodes December 5, following the fall finale of "Prison Break" on November 28.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Not to pry, but did any of you vote no on Prop. 80?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

New fan-created Kings Quest game

I know Cary at least will care about this:

Apparently a group of fans have been working on a new sequel "King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has A Silver Lining" since 2002, which they were planning to make freely available for all. They are now in a battle with Vivendi Universal Games (the copyright holder), which issued them a cease and desist order.

To find out how you can help visit the group's site: Save King's Quest IX.

Absurd Blue Ball Machine

Crazy tiny Rube Golberg-style assembly line that features tiny stick figures and machines moving a zillion little blue balls around. Get it as big on your screen as you can and TURN UP THE VOLUME!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Eight Year Old Korean boy enters university, studies to become supervillain

Song Yoo-geun is an eight year old physics genius who is about to enter college. He finished elementary school, junior high and high school in nine months and now wants to study superstring theory so that he can invent flying cars:

"It goes against Newton's law. Everything on earth gets drawn to the surface by gravity, but in the case of flying cars, it's different," Song said. "There should exist the same opposite magnitude of power as the earth's gravity-pull. So, a balance is formed between gravity and reaction, which makes flying cars float in the atmosphere," he explained.

"To study more on flying cars and the super-string theory, Yoo-geun wants to join CERN," the father said.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Borat Movie in the works

Apparently, they're making a Borat Movie. The plot is not all that surprising:

A Kazakhstani TV talking head (Cohen) makes waves in the United States for his controversial reports.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Biggest Ever Sandwich

This guy made and ate what is likely the biggest and least healthy sandwich ever. It contained 29,559 calories and took him twelve hours to eat. This is his story:

So I'm sure you all have seen the Giant Sandwich. If you haven't, go there now. When I first read that, I realized he is a god among men.

So I got an idea in my head. A particularly stupid idea. This makes it even harder to simply pass up.

I think to myself: "I can top this guy - he didn't fry anything!"

And it begins.

The result will be… appalling. A tyrant of a sandwich, so gargantuan and calorically blessed that the mere sight of which would cause Jesus himself to break down in an explosive torrent of tears and fury.
Consumption of this sandwich, this crime against nature, should in and of itself be enough to sentence its eater to the third Dantean circle and an eternity in festering muck.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


October 5, 2005, 2:41 PM EDT

MIAMI -- Alligators have clashed with non-native pythons before in Everglades National Park. But when a 6-foot gator tangled with a 13-foot python recently, the result wasn't pretty.

The snake apparently tried to swallow the gator whole -- and then exploded. Scientists stumbled upon the gory remains last week.