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November 10, 2005

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For what little it's worth, Dsquared's old SSDB feature remains one of the funniest things I've ever seen associated with blogs.

other Stephens in the media...

The Colbert Report - not as good as i'd hoped.

I like what I've seen of The Colbert Report so far. Of course, I only get to see it and TDS online, so maybe the whole package is lacking in a way that isn't obvious from isolated clips.

"b) I'm having my (so to speak) NVRAM scanned for defects in about 20 minutes."

Are you referring to silicon or organic carbon-based?

possible open thread topics:

1. 23 hour non-stop flight from Tokyo (? lost the link) to london. oh my god, 23 hours in coach!

2. paul deignan is apparently seriously planning to sue B*tch Phd. That should be fun to watch.

3. what is it about evolution that gets so many fundamentalists so riled up? why do some people care so much as to invent this ID nonsense? no one's talking much about the far greater inconsistencies between field theories of gravity and quantum physics.

Well since the possibilities abound, how about Things to Call Your Congressperson About. Here's one: the House is preparing to open up to 20 million acres of public land in National Forests and National Parks for sale at as little as 2.50 per acre to mining companies. The Radical Right Republicans want to remove the provision which the House has passed annually for years that blocks part of an old mining law that would allow the sales.

I wish there was more coverage by everybody, Democrats and liberal blogs included, of envirnmental issues... This administration's policies toward management of our public land is every bit as shameful as their policies in other areas.

For what little it's worth, Dsquared's old SSDB feature remains one of the funniest things I've ever seen associated with blogs.

If you've got a link to it, please provide. I haven't found D^2 to be nearly as witty as he, for example, evidently does, but life sometimes hands us the pleasant surprise.

Are you referring to silicon or organic carbon-based?

OCB. And the "N" in NVRAM is more hopeful than descriptive; sometimes it behaves more likw WOM.*

Translation for nongeeks: I just got a head MRI.

*Geek humor: WOM = Write Only Memory. Which if you're a non-geek, may take a little further consideration.

"what is it about evolution that gets so many fundamentalists so riled up?"

Because their worldview is all-or-nothing. Either the Bible is literally true, or it's not, in which case there is no guide whatsoever in the world for morality or anything else, and all is chaos, immorality, and evil.

They don't recognize any possible in-between positions, so anything that threatens the full literal interpretation must, of course, be fought at all costs.

Hope everything turns out ok, slarti.

"Translation for nongeeks: I just got a head MRI."

That's what I was suspecting you were suggesting with your phrasing, but I wasn't at all sure.

I learned not to mind MRIs, or their predecessor CAT-scans, many years ago, although the CAT-scan that required the internal dye was a bit over-invigorating.

Still definitely far preferable to a spinal tap, in my experience.

I do hope your NVRAM is functioning well.

I once worked for a partner who wanted me to put a bunch of data I'd collected on a series of cases into a "searchable database. What's the word for that? The kind of database you can search?" The other associate in the room and I looked at each other and said "a database"? Later we speculated on what a non-searchable database might be. A big hole in the ground?

"Later we speculated on what a non-searchable database might be."

My offline "files." Aka "those boxes somewhere."

Gary Farber: Because their worldview is all-or-nothing. Either the Bible is literally true, or it's not, in which case there is no guide whatsoever in the world for morality or anything else, and all is chaos, immorality, and evil.

At the bottom this isn't really about religion, but about the role of intellectualism in American culture. The scientific community is seen as an elitist cabal of intellectual gate-keepers (perhaps not entirely without cause), and folks in middle America feel left on the outside while the world changes around them. The weird part is that 100 yeas ago the fight over evolution was really a proxy war over social Darwinism, but nowadays the ruthless "let them eat cake" capitalists are the political allies of the anti-science crowd. Maybe the environmental movement is an important factor in this regard, pushing polluters and millenarian types into an unholy coalition.

Anyway, religion is just the lens through which these cultural changes are being viewed, in my view, at least. If you look at politics, it is easy to see that anti-intellectualism is a HUGE factor in determining who gets elected and who doesn't. Yes, it's foolish, but, unfortunately, saying so only reinforces the perception of elitism and encourages more folks to vote for a George Bush over an Al Gore.

Gary -
I once was stricken by an utterly blinding, cataclysmic headache during a moment of great strain - so bad, in fact, the only thing I could think was ...ohf**kitsastroke before I collapsed. My then-girlfriend took me to the hospital, where they performed a headscan and then, when the MRI showed nothing out of place, a spinal tap. Now, I was unemployed, had no health insurance, and was in the emergency room of New Orleans' charity hospital. The spinal tap was performed by a med student, of indeterminate youth. It took her three tries, with varying degres of sliding and probing, to fill the syringe with amber spinal fluid. It was the worst experience of my life, an unending kind of body crisis, past pain into a fullthroated cry from every nerve of WRONG. When it was over, I was crying, and the old nurse who had been ignoring me all night (I was there for 17 hours all told) leaned over to my ear and whispered "that's what you get when you come to the hospital with a headache and waste everybody's time with this bulls**t."

What's my point? That the tap was not only worse than the MRI, it was worse than just about anything ever.

No major malfunctions, Gary, only irritating minor malfunctions, such as the loss of ability to focus on...well, on much of anything. This is a major problem for me, because I think for a living. And the headaches, those are irritating but not debilitating. And slight lapse in equilibrium. Could be nothing serious; at least, that's my working hypothesis.

Thanks to those who wish me well. There'll be nothing new to report for a couple of days, and hopefully nothing exciting after that.

Slart:

I just looked, and the Dsquared Digests don't seem to have a search function. If you don't like his style, you weren't likely to find the "Shorter Steven den Beste" series that funny anyway. Although I think people from all ideological perspectives can appreciate the "shorter" part.

the Dsquared Digests don't seem to have a search function

one of those 'unsearchable databases', i suppose

Here's a cell phone feature I'd like: real GPS. Downloadable maps. Voice direction prompts. Bluetooth to link to my car stereo. Etc.

I had an MRI once.... The 'galloping' sound reminded me of the coconut shells in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail... I tried REALLY REALLY hard not to giggle, but I couldn't stop and they had to re-start the MRI. The guy in the booth wasn't amused.

1. 23 hour non-stop flight from Tokyo (? lost the link) to london. oh my god, 23 hours in coach!

What about it? Some of us old school transpacific travellers laugh such ease to scorn...

Because their worldview is all-or-nothing. Either the Bible is literally true, or it's not, in which case there is no guide whatsoever in the world for morality or anything else, and all is chaos, immorality, and evil.

I've always wondered at people whose notion of morality is so stunted and fraught with fear that they are genuinely terrified of the prospect of functioning in the world without restrictions from on high. As if, absent the Bible, they'd ultimately give in to those urges to rape goats or eat babies or something. I mean, it's one thing to love the Word of God; it's quite another to believe that without it you'd be a monster.

Oh, and best of luck, slarti.

"For what little it's worth, Dsquared's old SSDB feature remains one of the funniest things I've ever seen associated with blogs."

It can't be as good as Philosoraptor's du Toit pantsing.

I like to read it once every few months.

Yes, but given SDB's prolificness and prolixity, D2 was able to do it in real time. Degree of difficulty counts, sid.

paul deignan is apparently seriously planning to sue B*tch Phd. That should be fun to watch.

Yes, he's going to get an interesting, and rapid, education concerning the meaning of the phrase "summary judgement."

Anarch: Sadly, I have encountered my fair share of people over the years who absolutely insist exactly that -- that if they had reason to believe the Bible was untrue, they'd give in an become rapin', murderin', stealin', sinnin' machines. I can't imagine what kind of self-hating pathology results in that worldview.


Re Steven denBeste, the best recent slapdown on him came from here, in a post on the recently revealed "black sites." Witness:

1. What part of “We’re at war” are you having a hard time understanding?

It’s not like they’re spiriting Cindy Sheehan away to one of these places, after all. (Though come to think of it...)

Posted by Steven Den Beste on 11/02 at 10:45 AM

2. Oh my God. Are you kidding?

Not that again.

Do you have a macro written that just autofills the words “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”

Steven, I used to read your stuff for the richness of your arguments and for how crazy it made me. I disagreed with you much of the time, but always found your stuff compelling, interesting, and generally thoughtful. Unfortunately what often turned me off, as happens often elsewhere in the right-leaning blogosphere, was the assumption that everyone who questioned tactics used by the Army or government in the GWOT were, somehow, not getting the big picture. Were, somehow, less intelligent, less manly, ... less.

‘What part of ‘we’re at war’ am I having a hard time understanding?’

Not a goddamn frigging word, you condescending prat. I get that we’re at war. I get that the stakes are high. I get that sometimes, as Mencken put it, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

Great. I get it. So what. Is that your argument?

I’ll turn this around.

What part of “America is supposed to be above the nasty shit that we get all over the rest of the world for pulling” don’t you understand?

What part of “A Modell of Christian Charity,” The Constitution, the Declaration, the Bill O’ Rights, and George Herbert Walker Bush’s Thousand Points O Light Speech don’t you understand?

What part of “What good is a victory if we sell out our core ideals to win it” don’t you understand? Nice work, Capt. Calley! You saved the village!

There are a hundred constructive ways to talk about where the line falls between right and wrong, American and monstrous, necessary and gratuitous, and it’s a debate that needs to be had.

But don’t you dare kick it off by questioning my perception or intelligence.

re: Paul D and BPhd fight, here's a program. I do not vouch for the accuracy of the article, (there's a long comment somewhere by the former protagonist about the errors of that article, starting with the fact that he's 40, not 41) but it will get those interested up to speed. There is a reason that I only comment here.

Yes, he's going to get an interesting, and rapid, education concerning the meaning of the phrase "summary judgement."

More like "motion to dismiss".

Hey, he's a numbers guy. Let's just throw out a few, like 12(b)(6) and our old friend 11.

Slart:

Good luck with the tests. My wife goes in next week for an MRI on the spine and brain for some weird things going on, too. I'll be hoping for both of you.

st:

That's what you get for consuming healthcare without any money. ;) Did you riot afterwards, because Paris is engulfed in rioting right now by folks who received free spinal taps and then hit the streets expecting a baguette and a carafe of chablis for their trouble?

By the way, that nurse with the bedside bad manners -- I didn't know Grover Norquist was into transvestism. Or was it Dick Cheney, boning up on a little pre-Abu Ghraib torture trash talk?

And while we're talking about fights, who'd win a duel between Kim du Toit and Stephen den Beste? And why do conservatives with excessively European names have large chips on their shoulders?

who'd win a duel between Kim du Toit and Stephen den Beste?

We all would, Dave. We all would.

I hope it's OK, Slart (and John, I hope your wife's OK). I have to have a CT scan (I think that's a head MRI) too, but my symptoms are though very similar to S's, minor.

what is it about evolution that gets so many fundamentalists so riled up?

About six months ago my sister, a post-doc biologist, went to a one-day conference dedicated to teaching evolution in lower-divisions. As she told me later, she went with a single goal: learning how to deal sensitively with students from religious backgrounds who might be meeting this sort of material for the first time. After all the presentations were done and the question not addressed, she asked one of the presenters about the issue--and was brushed off. "Not the place of scientists," was the basic answer. And that is technically correct.

Then my sister told me about one of her post-doc colleagues, a woman who had been raised very religious, who had confronted non-Biblical historiography for the first time in Freshman or Sophomore Biology. She was overwhelmed, confused; she couldn't reconcile what felt like betraying her parents with what would get her a good grade. She went to the professor's office hours with her doubts and worries and was told that science is science and to get over it. Fortunately for my sister's colleague, the graduate TA for the class was more willing to talk over some of the problems, to spend more time separating method from faith, and so this woman was not discouraged from becoming, as my sister assures me, an excellent scientist. (We didn't talk about this colleague's current faith.)

Upshot? My sister, also and perhaps moreso a jack mormon, declares to her classes that if anyone needs to talk about doubts, religious problems, etc., that she is open to do so during office hours but that in the classroom she will talk about science. An idealistic compromise, as my sister is a Renaissance woman, can talk history of religion and philosophy, and knows personally how science and religion can be reconciled.

My take is that if conservatives weren't so obviously trying to use seemingly reasonable issues like "simply talking about the idea of an agency behind the Big Bang" to cast doubt on the scientific revolution, then scientists wouldn't be so defensive about chatting with students about their doubts.
___
Slartibartfast, I'm hoping that everything turns out well for you.

"My take is that if conservatives weren't so obviously trying to use seemingly reasonable issues like 'simply talking about the idea of an agency behind the Big Bang' to cast doubt on the scientific revolution, then scientists wouldn't be so defensive about chatting with students about their doubts.'

Given that I've posted about 50 billion posts on the idiocy of anti-evolutionists, my take should be clear, but I do have to say that there are a certain number of scientists and science-positive people who are aggressively, militantly, atheistic, and who aren't in the least interested in finding reasonable common ground with any religious person of any stripe. Unfortunately. Not that they're in great danger of overwhelming society with their numbers or power, to be sure.

Crossing my fingers, Slart.

Completely and totally unsolicited medical advice. My mom recently had some equilibrium problems, which was quite a cause for concern given that she was undergoing radiation therapy. The doctor said that no, it was BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo), caused by calcium carbonate crystals forming in the inner ear. Just because things happen at the same time doesn't mean they are causally related is all I'm saying.

Also, (and forgive me for noting this) but you've gotten into a couple of knock down drag outs on the board lately. Rather than view those as a symptom of problems, might they be a cause? I find that when I get into big arguments here, it affects my concentration and such. Obviously, this doesn't stop me from getting into arguments, but it does have me moderate my online habits (yeah, yeah, imagine what I'd be like if I didn't) This is not to take a position on your being right or wrong on any of the threads, just a purely andecdotal observation about the linkage between online expression and my mental attitude.

Again, best of luck.

GF: Yeah, I've run into a few people like that (there's a particularly hardcore one on Calpundit) and they're incredibly aggravating. Fortunately they are, as you say, few and far between.

Slart, Best of luck. I'm not sure what's going on, but if you have vertigo and fall down - which it doesnt sound like - have an EarNoseThroat check for Menieres, an inner ear disorder. I suspect you're talking about migraine, but I generally guess wrong.

I have to have a CT scan (I think that's a head MRI) too, but my symptoms are though very similar to S's, minor.

Just incidentally - CT (computerised tomography) is just a really sophisticated sort of X-ray. MRI is a different beast altogether - it uses strong magnetic fields to detect water, and builds up an image based on different tissues having different amounts of water in them.

OTHER THINGS YOU MAY HAVE DONE TO YOUR HEAD BY A DOCTOR:
functional MRI: takes lots of MRI scans to build up a movie of blood flow in the brain.
PET scan: uses a radioactive tracer in the blood, detected with a scintillation counter (like a Geiger counter) to work out where activity is going on in the brain or elsewhere.
Confusion: traditional precursor to other medical procedures; used to reduce ability of patient to ask awkward questions.
Trepanning: if your doctor suggests this, ask to see his degree certificate.

GF: it is my firm believe that every kind of movement/ideologie has their own fundamentalists. Science is no exception.
I once read an article about how there should be more philosophy tought in science classes, to improve seeing nuances and appreciating different approaches.

Slart & John Tullen: crossing my fingers too.

LJ, I haven't ruled out anything, including fights here. However, this began months ago and persisted through a period of fairly light involvement for me here, so I'm not leaning in that direction. As far as I'm concerned, this could be anything including stress, diet, food allergy, not enough or too much of X (where X can be anything from trace elements to sex), inner ear infection, dry sinus infection...all the way past mild stroke to brain tumor. Although if I had my pick of brain tumors, I'd go for the one John Travolta had in Phenomenon. But life is never like the movies. I have noticed my right side is a little weaker than the left; normally it's vice versa. All of the symptoms are, so far, relatively mild (more irritating than truly debilitating), so I'm even entertaining the notion that it's self-inflicted. Which is more or less what you suggested, maybe.

I am fairly calm about all this, so although I'm grateful for all the well-wishing, I'm really not in need of reassuring. The only thing my blood tests have turned up to date is elevated cholesterol (probably due to the fact that I was slowly converting myself into something soft and pasty through poor diet and even worse exercise habits; said metamorphosis is being reversed. Let's just say that if there were such a thing as beer ice cream, I would probably weigh a lot more than I do.

Nice to know that people care, though, so: thanks.

ajay, - CT (computerised tomography) is just a really sophisticated sort of X-ray.

thank you; that's good news in a way, as I had an MRI (of my knees) and I hated it!

Trepanning: if your doctor suggests this, ask to see his degree certificate.

She (!) is a specialist, she'll probably refer me to another specialist; I'm seeing her again on Tuesday.

Slartibartfarst (sorry to call you Slart before)

this could be anything including stress, diet, food allergy, not enough or too much of X (where X can be anything from trace elements to sex), inner ear infection, dry sinus infection...all the way past mild stroke to brain tumor.

yes... I'm second-guessing mine as either stress or the results of a head injury. But what I really wanted to say is that I do understand what a problem inability to concentrate is. I no longer work but even so find it a real nuisance. And I do hope the news you get is good.

Let's just say that if there were such a thing as beer ice cream...

There is, or was, since this is from 2003. Even better is the beer, ice cream and pizza diet

good luck with the MRI

Mmmmmmm...Newcastle ice cream!

Slart: get well soon.

i've battled mild vertigo off and on for years. the most aggravating part (besides low grade nausea basically arising from being seasick on dry land) was every once in a while not knowing how far away the ground was when stepping off a curb. very curious sensation and most unpleasant.

anyway, it turned out that i had a low-grade viral infection of the inner ear fluid and not a brain tumor. best of luck to you and once again get well soon.

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