Archive for June, 2010

Oh Censorship, when will you learn?

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:50 pm by AndromedasWake

This is the Internet.

“Woah! Slow the fork down! What does that mean?”

It means that when you try to get someone’s opinion removed, instead of constructing a mature response, said opinion will come back with force. There is no bullet to the head of popular internet content. It appears, it thrives, and if it suspiciously disappears, memefication occurs. Yes. Memefication.

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine

Many moons ago, a YouTube user named DannyMendlow posted a comical advertisement parody entitled “Religion!”. You can tell where this is going, can’t you? The video became hugely popular, making Pharyngula and other blogs if I recall correctly. I can’t remember exactly how long ago it was originally posted, but I’m willing to wager that it was quite some time as I’ve seen this video all over the place.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Digg. It’s a website designed to direct people to popular internet content. By Digging something, you increase its ranking on Digg, increasing the likelihood that it will be brought to the attention of the Digg massive.

DannyMendlow’s video was Dugg (Digged?) to the extent that it reached the front page. Let me make this abundantly clear: that means the video in question was well liked by a large number of people, who felt that others should see it. By some magic shortly after its arrival on the front of Digg, the video was pulled by YouTube as being ‘inappropriate’. Stupidity abounds at the YouTube HQ (which I have on good authority is manned by a crack team of ducks) because the only thing inappropriate about the video is that it’s so depressingly true. Yesterday, DannyMendlow reposted the video for the first time, and in my opinion it deserves support. I urge you to head over and favourite/rate/comment the original. Oh, and why not Digg it too? Enjoy…



Episode 2 – today, 7pm GMT

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:44 pm by AndromedasWake

Crikey! Has it already been two weeks? I guess it’s that time again… almost.

Since the first instalment of the League of Reason Show on the 6th, we’ve taken on board a lot of criticism and hope that everyone will agree that this week’s is an improvement.

Things are still progressing slowly as we aim to craft something everyone can enjoy without rushing it. With any luck, this time next year we’ll still be going and everything will be almost unrecognisably more awesome. For now though, you’ll have to share our frustration at trying to explain technology to dprjones (who asked him to be involved again?)

There are just a couple of things I’d like to point out, as I did in my video announcement. If you intend to be a guest on the show, please do not call us (we’ll call you), wear headphones throughout and mute your microphone when you aren’t speaking. These simple steps will help things run immeasurably more smoothly.

Today I’ve created a sub-forum for show discussion, as well as an FAQ thread which I hope will answer any current questions, and will be updated as needs be. Analysis, criticism and suggestions would be very welcome in this forum, and I will be checking it on a daily basis.

Here are the time-zone details for today’s show:

US: 3pm E, 2pm C, 1pm M, 12pm P
UK: 8pm BST
Europe: 9pm CEST, 10pm EEST
Australia: 4am West, 5:30am Central, 6am East

I very much hope to see you there, and before I forget, here’s a nice, clickable link!

San Francisco legislators clearly have irradiated brains

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:23 pm by rabbitpirate

This is a completely unintentional follow on of sorts from my previous post about how non-scientists and the general public are most definitely not the right people to be making decisions of a scientific nature. Now while the subject has nothing to do with synthetic biology this time round I think the underlying feeling of this story is pretty much the same.

 

Legislators in San Francisco are set to introduce new laws requiring all mobile phone retailers to post radiation emission level notices next to all the handsets they sell. Tony Winnicker, spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, claims that this “is a modest commonsense measure to provide greater transparency and information to consumers” and the proposal, which passed with a vote of 10-1, is likely to get its final approval next week despite the fact that there is NO EVIDENCE that mobile phones cause any harm to humans.

 

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Because the public always knows best

rabbitpirate
rabbitpirate
Mon Jun 14, 2010 3:04 pm by rabbitpirate

I came across this story on the BBC website this morning that, as a skeptic and someone with a keen, if purely amateur, interest in science, gave me considerable pause. A joint report issued by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) shows that the public is calling for the regulation of Synthetic biology. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, after all ever since Craig Venter created the first artificial cell it should have been obvious to anyone that this was coming, and it is not as though a bit of regulation is a bad thing. However what got me about this report is the level of control the general public is calling for.

 

The resulting report concluded that people wanted scientists who worked with the bits and pieces of life to do so with humility and respect for the material they were working with.

 

It also showed that people wanted to have a say in how the research was conducted and how grants were awarded. There should be consideration of social values as well as scientific merit, they said.

 

Now I don’t know about you but I can’t think of anyone who would be worse than the general public when it comes to evaluating the benefits of various areas of scientific research. I’m also sure that I’m not the only one who can’t help but read the words “humility and respect” and think “must not play God.” The general public as a group stopped getting itself vaccinated due to one ethically vile over reported paper. It now doubts climate change due to the use of the word “trick” in a couple of emails. And it spends millions every year on alternative medicine that, to put it bluntly, doesn’t work. This is hardly the right group of people to be making decisions about a new cutting edge area of scientific research. This is exactly what we have, oh what are they called, ah yes, experts for.

 

Ok, that is all. Please return to your daily lives.

League of Reason Show starts today!

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:56 am by AndromedasWake

At the end of last month, the notorious YouTube creationist and geocentrist, NephilimFree, posted an open invitation to debate any other user. DonExodus2, author of many popular videos detailing evidences for evolution, accepted the challenge, and they began to establish the debate rules. It was all agreed over Skype, and I myself was privy to some of the conversation and chat between them.

The initial debate subject was Creation and Evolution. Of course, that’s not actually a debate, it’s just the teams. The debate requires a proposition (for example, “Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?”) for which one party can argue in favour, and one against. Without such a statement, NephilimFree’s proposal was akin to establishing a game called Chelsea and Manchester United, and then refusing to further specify what game they are actually playing. Without establishing that they are playing football (or soccer to my American friends) we have no rules in place to determine how the game can actually be won or lost. Likewise, Creation and Evolution (and the long list of other subjects NephilimFree listed he wanted to discuss) is not a debate; it’s just two nouns.

For a couple of days a debate question was established and agreed upon by both parties, as was the issue with moderators. It was shortly after that NephilimFree insisted on returning to his original proposition (despite being thoroughly educated about why it was not a debate) and began accusing DonExodus2 of backing out. I wish to make my it clear that from my position as a third person, it is NephilimFree who I think is being unreasonable, and rejecting previously accepted terms without giving good reasons.

Due to the conflict of understanding, the debate as originally planned will certainly not be going ahead, but perhaps that’s a good thing after all. On Friday, Thunderf00t posted a video detailing the first ever League of Reason Show. It’s an idea that myself and others have been considering for a long time, and since NephilimFree won’t be showing up to BlogTV (by his own admission) we have a good excuse to kick it off this weekend.

The format is quite simple; we will be using Skype and BlogTV to broadcast a group discussion, and taking questions live from creationists, or those of a theistic position who feel they can back up their claims. In order to do this, we have created a LoR Skype account (LeagueOfReason) which must be added before a question can be submitted, and a new BlogTV channel.

The show will last 2 hours, giving everyone time to pop over to watch The Atheist Experience on ustream. We won’t deny that our show is flagrantly derivative of their own, we just hope there’s room for one more. To further rip them off, we will also be uploading clips to our YouTube channel and they should be available on Monday for most people. We are not yet sure how regularly this show will take place, but dependent on the turnout, we would like to make it a weekly affair.

The show starts at 3pm EST, which is 8pm BST. This is 7pm GMT, but remember to take Summer Time into account. In any case, I recommend turning up early of course, and I hope to see you all there in the chat!

There’s A Reason The Metro Is Free

Th1sWasATriumph
Th1sWasATriumph
Tue Jun 01, 2010 5:55 pm by Th1sWasATriumph

Most of you will have realised that I get the vast majority of my newsing from free London rag The Metro, distributed around the Underground every morning in order to allow bleary-eyed businessmen to further realise that the world is falling gracelessly towards the sun. I don’t think the Metro is a bad little paper, really; the quality of writing is generally good, and it catches stories earlier than other papers you might come across in the day. And you’ll find articles of comparable quality on the same subjects in “real” newspapers.

However, you develop an unfair bias of a newspaper when you peruse it mainly to find new nonsense to write about in your blog. You ignore all rational articles about politics\current affairs\crossbows to the face and concentrate only on articles that guarantee a spout of vitriol frothy enough to incur a transparent sense of self-righteousness. And as a result, your perception is that the chosen paper exists only to print stories about religion, druids and the supernatural. Unfair, since the Metro regularly dishes out reasonably informative articles about modern science and astronomy.

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