Friday, August 25, 2006

One-Handed Rubik's Cube solve (20.09 seconds solve)

my fastest ever solve (back in the day) was right around 30 seconds, but that was using both hands. Mad props to this guy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

creationism's innovative tactics

Interesting to see this discovery reported in the NYTimes today. Ironic to see how the Creationist's insidious tactics are evolving:
Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students....

The program provides $4,000 grants to third- or fourth-year, low-income students majoring in physical, life or computer sciences; mathematics; technology; engineering; or foreign languages deemed “critical” to national security.

The list of eligible majors (which is online at is drawn from the Education Department’s “Classification of Instructional Programs,” or CIP (pronounced “sip”), a voluminous and detailed classification of courses of study, arranged in a numbered system of sections and subsections.

As the article details, it's no small task for a major to be removed from the list, and the current pleas of "clerical error" strain what little credibility I have for folks in the department.

It's disturbing to see a tactic so brazen as to impose creationist religious beliefs through omission in a program like this. If this goes unchecked, I hate to see what's next.

Monday, August 21, 2006

How Crayons Are Made

Can you tell me how to get here?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

desert soundtrack

On the flight from SFO to Salt Lake City, we spent a lot of time flying over the deserts of northern Nevada and western Utah.

While I had my nose buried in a book, I did glance out the window rather frequently, and I realized the perfect soundtrack for flying over the desert was playing on my iPod: Arvo Part's Alina.

Sparse notes across a barren landscape studded with craggy hills. And the land below looked a lot like that, too.

Friday, August 11, 2006

proportionality is a slippery thing

From Le Monde Diplomatique:

Attacks targeting towns, villages and civilian infrastructure have forced some 600,000 people out of their homes. Under international law such actions count as war crimes. The 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention clearly defines the principle of proportionality: “An attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated”. Who could ever imagine that the stated objective, to rescue two soldiers, justifies the death and destruction caused by the Israeli bombardment? Is a Lebanese life is worth less than an Israeli life?
This lack of (objective) proportionality reminds me of the conclusion of the recent NYT op-ed by Daniel Gilbert, He Who Cast the First Stone Probably Didn’t:

Neither [party in the experiment to deliver retaliatory, yet equal blows] realized that the escalation was the natural byproduct of a neurological quirk that causes the pain we receive to seem more painful than the pain we produce, so we usually give more pain than we have received.

Research teaches us that our reasons and our pains are more palpable, more obvious and real, than are the reasons and pains of others. This leads to the escalation of mutual harm, to the illusion that others are solely responsible for it and to the belief that our actions are justifiable responses to theirs.

None of this is to deny the roles that hatred, intolerance, avarice and deceit play in human conflict. It is simply to say that basic principles of human psychology are important ingredients in this miserable stew. Until we learn to stop trusting everything our brains tell us about others — and to start trusting others themselves — there will continue to be tears and recriminations in the wayback.

make way for the living

This music video shows an 8000 flag installation on Salt Spring Island which represents the humans that die each day due to HIV/AIDS. The African reality is from Lesotho. The song is by Harry Manx (I'm a huge fan of his work).

Friends of mine from the community are behind the broader project of creating these flag installations across Canada. I couldn't be prouder of them and their work.