Friday, April 25, 2008

Interesting TV watching

Via Ex-Gay Watch, I see 20/20 updates a show they did previously by examine how people react to public displays of affection -- by gay people. According to EGW, "The setting is NJ for lesbian wives and Alabama for a gay couple. Guess where the 911 call happens."

That this is happening on the Day of Silence just can't be a coincidence. Appropriate timing.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My five

The mighty Gamera tagged me with this a while ago and I'm just now getting around to it. So here are five facts about myself:

five things:

1. I really hate tomatoes. When raw, anyway. It's something about the texture, I think. Cooked, I have no objection. Which is odd, since I have a friend who hates cooked tomatoes in any form, but has no objection to raw ones. I think I'm learning to like olives (except for those nasty things that come on frozen pizza), but tomatoes are more of a challenge.

2. I don't like California. There's nothing actually wrong with it; something about it just grates on me the wrong way. Maybe it's the fact that the weather is always insufferably perfect, or that they don't always number their highway exits. Or maybe it's that there are just so damn many people everywhere. We always joke that Champaign-Urbana is a city surrounded by a sea of corn, but in Southern California, you're always in a suburb surrounded by an sea of more suburbs.

3. I'm terrified to fly. It used to be that I didn't mind it at all, then became gradually worse. And now I can't really get on a plane at all. It's getting affecting where I look for jobs, even. I probably should do something about it, but not dealing with the problem is always easier than doing something about it.

4. When I was a freshman in college, I dislocated my kneecap while playing racquetball. (The really embarrassing part is that I was playing alone.) Two years later, I slipped on some wet concrete, fell down and either dislocated it again or wrenched it badly. I wound up having surgery on it a year later. It's better; I can go up stairs without it sounding like I have a ratchet in my pants, but getting up from a squatting position can be distinctly uncomfortable.

5. There are only four interesting things about me. Yes, I know this is a total cop-out, but I really cant think of anything else.

Since all the bloggers I know have done this already I'm going to tag PZ Myers, Atrios, Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Tobias, and Dr. Fig. People, of which, only one reads this blog. See if you can figure out which. One of these things is not like the other...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Champaign County Computer & Electronics Recycling Event

This is short notice, but there will be an electronics recycling event tomorrow, Saturday, April 19, from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. It looks like they're taking all sort of electronics, with a small charge for televisions. Here's the flyer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This is what happens when you put two scientists in a room together

We have a new staff member starting at work soon. He is looking for an apartment. Another colleague recently went through a series of apartments looking for one that he found accessible and I suggested he might be able to share some of what he learned. We got into this discussion and it came up that it seemed the farther you get from campus, the better the apartments became. Somehow, paper and a pencil was involved and this sketch happened:

I think the fact that the "optimum distance to campus" is given in metric units just ices the cake.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I am not your mother!

Alright, people, listen up! When you have finished with a pair of rubber gloves, you take them off and throw them away. What you do not do is leave them lying around on the nearest work surface looking like the shed skin of some dismembered, purple, reptilian hand. I also don't appreciate you leaving them inside out, with your nasty sweat and germs all over the surface I have to touch in order to throw them away.

This has been an announcement from the Eeeewmergency Broadcast System.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Open news, insert frame

The more I pay attention, it seems like the more I notice that media narratives are always forced into a particular frame. Any science story about computers involves artificial intelligence or how many times the Library of Congress would fit in a new storage device. People that go missing are almost always female, white, young, and attractive. Really, when was the last time a media cycle fixated on a missing African-American woman?

Politics is especially bad. Lately we've heard tons about Obama's un-American preacher and Hillary's Bosnian misremberances. Really, could you tell me how John Edwards's health care policy would differ from anyone else's. I bet, however, you could tell me how much he paid for the famous haircut.

And it's still happening. Glenn Greenwald points out:

One other point to note about all of this is that these fixations are as skewed as they are vapid. Barack Obama is an exotic elitist freak because he went to Harvard Law School and made $1 million from his book. Hillary Clinton can't possibly have any connection to the Regular Folk because her husband, who grew up dirt poor, became quite wealthy after being President. John Kerry was completely removed from the concerns of the Regular People because his second wife was rich.

By contrast, George W. Bush was a down-home, salt-of-the-earth Man of the People despite being the grandson of a U.S. Senator, the son of a President (who greatly magnified his riches in his post-presidency), and the by-product of an extremely wealthy, coddled life. Ronald Reagan was pure Americana despite spending most of his adult life as a very wealthy Hollywood actor (and converting his post-presidency into far greater riches still). And John McCain is as Regular a Guy as it gets, even though he dumped his first wife (the mother of his three children) after she was disfigured and disabled by a near-fatal car accident so that he could marry his much younger, much prettier, and extremely wealthy heiress-mistress, whose family riches then launched his political career and sustained a life of luxury for almost three decades (that's how McCain's rustic "Sedona cabin" -- i.e., his sprawling compound -- came to be).

It would be bad enough if our political press were obsessed with such trivialities. The fact that they do so in such a Republican-leader-worshiping manner makes it only that much worse, particularly given that it's this dynamic, more than anything else, that determines the outcome of our elections.

I imagine nothing is going to change about this any time soon. The Republican candidate will always be a cowboy "man of the people" while the Democrat will be a latte-drinking, elitist Frenchman.