Paul Murray's weblog, with news you may have missed and my $0.02 worth on a number of topics.
"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
I bet you don't have a friend who's an acupuncturist
E-mail me: pmurray [at] despammed.com
Tuesday, January 20, 2004
Too funny. I can't resist pointing you to the story that Winston Churchill's parrot Charlie is alive and well and still repeating her owner's obscenities about Adolf Hitler.
Update: Alas, this story may be too good to be true. Churchill historians are not sure if he owned a parrot.
Friday, January 16, 2004
More skepticism about Bush's space plan. GlobalSecurity.org's John Pike finds one hidden motivation:
Pike said he was skeptical of the administration's motives in articulating the moon-Mars plan. He noted that a new moon landing would not take place until at least 11 years after the end of a possible second Bush term.
And who will benefit if Bush's plan is actually funded? The usual suspects.
You'd never know it from my recent posts, but I really am all for exploring space. It's just that I think that Bush's proposals are poorly thought out and disingenous at a time when he's busy running up the national debt to frightening levels.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Naivete, low-balling or outright lies.
Don't believe the Bush Adminstration's cost estimates for the Moon/Mars boondoggle. Oh, that's right, that haven't released any! But they have estimated the cost of the vehicle (i.e., not the Moon base), and they are preposterously low (and fast -- four years?!?)
Because a picture can be far more effective, I put together this chart to illustrate the numbers cited by Gregg Easterbrook. I encourage you to read his explanation.
So far all money numbers announced for the Bush plan seem complete nonsense, if not outright dishonesty. We shouldn't expect George W. Bush himself to know that $12 billion is not enough to develop a spaceship. We should expect the people around Bush, and at the top of NASA, to know this. And apparently they are either astonishingly ill-informed and naïve, or are handing out phony numbers for political purposes, to get the foot in the door for far larger sums later.
Saturday, January 10, 2004
Why bother with the Moon? And why rush to Mars? While I'm all for space exploration, the grandiose ideas reportedly being bandied about by the Bush Administration are absurd. Gregg Easterbrook explains why:
I'm sitting here trying to figure out what possible reason--other than science illiteracy at the White House--there could be for George W. Bush to announce a plan to build a Moon base. Manned exploration of Mars is even crazier.
Friday, January 09, 2004
Great moments in journalism, continued. About three years ago, I repeated a story to friends that I heard on WWJ News Radio (a CBS News affiliate here in Detroit). It claimed that men receive the benefits of aerobic exercise when they ogle women. It seemed preposterous, of course, but here was a real journalistic concern reporting it, complete with the name of the doctor making the claim. It was a big hit at the bar after class that night, but I felt like nobody really believed me, so I decided to track the story down.
After a little digging, the only source I could find for this turned out to be the Weekly World News. You can imagine how thrilled I was to explain this to said friends. I always tell people that I don't make things up because I don't have to, so this was flat-out embarrassing.
As I drove in to work this morning, the same station breathlessly reported that they had learned Homeland Security was concerned about someone -- possibly terrorists -- buying $32,000 worth of UPS uniforms on eBay within the past 30 days.
So now they're getting their news from forwarded e-mails, apparently. Because I don't know about you, but I first heard this via forwarded e-mail last spring. Need I add that it isn't true?
I called them and pointed this out. To my credit, I wasn't sarcastic about it.
Monday, January 05, 2004
Medical slang. Many professions have their own slang, and there's no reason the medical profession should be any different. Here, then, is purportedly a collection of medical slang and acronyms from the US and UK. It's probably NSFW (not safe for work), but it is amusing. (via Metafilter)
Sunday, January 04, 2004
Be careful where you exercise your freedom of speech. Going to an event where George Bush will be, or along the motorcade route? You're perfectly welcome to come -- as long as your sign supports the President. If it doesn't, you have to go stand in the designated protest zone where you will never be seen. And this isn't some "liberal rag" reporting this; it's from the American Conservative magazine (founded by Pat Buchanan), and was adapted and reprinted by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here's an excerpt (emphasis added):
When Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up “free speech zones” or “protest zones” where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.
It goes to explain the ways the Administration is trying to get around the pesky free speech thing so they can do what they want. Read it all. (via Drudge)