Famous Last Words on CJSR

Campus/community radio stations can wax and wane as the semesters turn and the djs come and go. For as long as I’ve been listening to them, CJSR out of Edmonton has been consistently great.

Currently listening to Tish and Sarah’s show, Famous Last Words. And I’m hearing music I don’t know from Edmonton, Chicago, and the Funk Cloud. “Thursdays from 9-11am (MST)”. Recommended.

A Whole Population of Unicorns in the Lab

For several weeks I have been meaning to read up on Lenski et al‘s 20-year test tube experiment, in which they observed the rise of novel, beneficial traits in populations of bacteria they stored in a closet. It’s interesting to me because (if I read the summaries right) only some of the test tubes evolved the traits, which suggests an interesting contingency in evolution. I love ragged ass evolution.

The research is interesting to the folks at Conservapedia because they don’t like anything that purports to demonstrate evolution. Because they are intelligent design supporters. Or, as this nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy researcher puts it, an “army of homeschooled numbnuts”. Now now. So they sent some letters demanding to see the data. The correspondence is well documented elsewhere, but I wanted to draw attention to this particular reference from Lenski, made after some goading from the conservapedia crowd:

(Read the whole damn thing on conservapedia itself if you want)

“It is my impression that you seem to think we have only paper and electronic records of having seen some unusual E. coli. If we made serious errors or misrepresentations, you would surely like to find them in those records. If we did not, then – as some of your acolytes have suggested – you might assert that our records are themselves untrustworthy because, well, because you said so, I guess. But perhaps because you did not bother even to read our paper, or perhaps because you aren’t very bright, you seem not to understand that we have the actual, living bacteria that exhibit the properties reported in our paper, including both the ancestral strain used to start this long-term experiment and its evolved citrate-using descendants. In other words, it’s not that we claim to have glimpsed “a unicorn in the garden” – we have a whole population of them living in my lab! And lest you accuse me further of fraud, I do not literally mean that we have unicorns in the lab. Rather, I am making a literary allusion.”


Stephen Kohn is the executive director of the National Whistleblower Center. A week ago on the Worldview radio show, he deployed the word “guantanamization” into the english language. You can hear him do it here.

Space Movies In Space

From the log of the space station crew:

5 JAN 2001: Finished the 2nd disk of “2010”. Something strange about watching a movie about a space expedition when you’re actually on a space expedition.

Oh they so watched 2010 just so they could breezily make that comment.

You’re Doing it Wrong

Reason magazine’s blog points us to a funny: Not the Strongest Possible Argument

Agent-based Modeling as Manhattan Project

Steve Steinberg argues that human terrain mapping, and in particular emergent group simulation, may be a damaging technology we are developing without due thought to it’s consequences.

With regard to Paul Torrens‘ work:

“The next example was more disturbing. The scenario this time is a public demonstration, similar to the WTO protests that occurred in Seattle a few years ago. The model includes such details as tear gas which causes civilians to stampede, extremists who are trying to instigate violence, and mounted police. Torrens shows that changing a few small initial conditions controls whether the protest spins out of control or not, and suggests this simulation is a valuable tool for policing. Indeed. Demonstrating either startling ignorance or touching naïveté, Torrens argues that this scenario is really a public health issue, due to the possibility of injury. Well, yes – but, more importantly, it’s a democratic, human rights issue, and improving the state’s ability to squash demonstrations doesn’t strike me as a desirable development.”

Design is Dead, Praise Be

Somehow the word “design” has come to mean imprinting the questionable personality of pompous and incoherent scenesters on innocent and previously useful objects. According to Phillippe Starck, who is one of the world leaders in this class of low-key crime, design in that sense is dead. He expresses what seems like genuine remorse, and consequently I think we should be easy on him when the revolution comes.

The Lesser of Two Evolutionists

PZ Myers is a biologist-blogger-creationism-debunker. Last week he went with his family and a friend to a screening of Expelled, which is some kind of pro intelligent design documentary. Before he got in, he was pulled out of the line by rent-a-cops and told to leave the premises. Yes, a biologist so dangerous he must be expelled.

But that’s not the funny part. Read his post to find out the funny part.

From an Assembly Church of Yahweh Member

Received a comment on this post regarding one of Michigan’s churches of Yahweh.

Charlie Fawcett: Also Alive

Charles Fawcett — Telegraph Obituaries

Jesus, these people!

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