Tuesday, August 30, 2005

'This is our tsunami'

yeah, 55-70 dead, or a couple hundred thousand, no difference there.

Americans make me want to vomit sometimes.

While I don't mean to disparage in any way the victims of Hurricane Katrina or the damage to the historic community of New Orleans. The two are really not comparable. If we go with a conservative number of 100,000 deaths in the Tsunami, and estimate 100 deaths from Katrina, we still find that the number dead from Katrina is 0.1% of the Tsunami deaths. To compare the two is revolting.

As far as billions of dollars of damages, well at least New Orleans had some warning.

My thoughts are with the City of New Orleans and the families of the victims. But we are one of the worlds most prosporous nations, lets not play the "victim of horrible catastrophy" card too much, eh?

Update: Hrun and I agree.

Update Heh: Mr. Reynolds's recent posts seem to be implying that the world an the US should be reacting to the current situation similarly to the Tsunami. (maybe I'm just reading too much between the lines though)

"UPDATE: Reader Loren Rueter emails: "Any foreign governments

offering aid?"

None that I've heard of. Should we call 'em stingy?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Less snarkily, The Anchoress emails:

Glenn, remember how Amazon put together
the Honor System for
donations after
the Tsunami? Couldn't something like that

It certainly could. Will it? I guess somebody should ask
Jeff Bezos!

Apparently the difference between 100,000 and 100, or several countries and one city is lost on some parts of the United States. I wonder if this constant comparison thing stems from the human's need for familiarity, maybe they want response to every disaster to be exactly the same.... I don't know.

We have money, and we can donate and take care of our fellow citizens just like we did after 9/11, we don't need to rely on the world for this! Donate to the Red Cross, or Noah's Wish (for animals).

Monday, August 29, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

Women's Equality Day

Glenn Reynolds posted this today(Update: on Women's Equality Day, Nice timing guys.). This article discusses the differences between men and women blacks and whites. It is very interesting, but unsurprisingly I have a problem with it.

The intent of this post is not to attempt to prove that women are just as good as men at everything. Personally I'd rather be able to put on matching shoes in the morning than to do quantum physics. Maybe that's because I'm a girl, or maybe that is common sense.

The point I would actually like to make at this point is that there is a reason one does not go around proclaiming from the rooftops that Germans are better drinkers than Irishmen based on their genetic code, or that men are better at math. The reason is in fact that all men are NOT created equal.

When I read this paper, I understand that on average men are better at some things than women, but that these averages are merely representations of a distribution. I know that there will still be extraordinary women who can kick 99% of men's asses at tennis, or who can do quantum physics better faster stronger. But when I was tested in highschool I was in the 95th percentile on everything, so this means that 95% of the population tested lower than me. So at what point do people start being smart enough to understand these things? My generous estimate is that the 70%ile and above understand distributions and outliers and such, and that the rest of the country would read this and go, "Huh? So what is Britney naming her baby again?"

So why is this important, well, it is important because if you say to Mr. Average Joe American guy, "Hey, the average woman is worse at math than the average man", this turns into, "Hey, Women aren't as good at math". It doesn't leave room for understanding that there are still some women who are better at math than most men. Maybe if they thought really hard about it would, but probably not, thinking.... haaard..... Og no like.... Where Grand Theft Auto? Og want shoot things and have sex with hookers.

It is crucial that guard against these conclusions because it is this sort of thinking that leads to prejudice. Understanding the differences between the genders and the races could be very interesting. But it also has potential to re-create the kind of racism and sexism that we fought so hard against in the 20th century. It is generally a bad idea to give people any kind of scientific proof that they are in any way superior to others. Does anyone besides me remember slavery? Or how white conquerors assumed their superiority over other races and slaughtered many of them? (Maybe what white men really have that other races don't is the intrinsic belief that they are better than everyone else? I digress)

Though you and I understand the science, that these are averages, and that there are still girls who want to play sports, Og does not. And if research that proves women are better or worse at some things becomes common knowledge I could eventually lose my job to a guy not because he is better at math than me but because men are better at math than women. And I'd make a really crummy housewife.

What I find interesting is the disdain in the paper and in Mr. Reynold's post for being politically correct, and ignoring supposed differences between demographic groups. Personally I think it must be very easy for white men to look around at people who are struggling and point out that they must not be as smart, or that their ancestors weren't as good at hunting. Where is the intellectual challenge in pointing out that people make less money than you and have one fewer Nobel peace prizes as a group.

It is, in my opinion, much more difficult to show empathy for those in whose shoes we have never walked, and attempt to understand WHY the races or the genders are not equal, if in fact they are not. But while we conduct this research we have to be sensitive to the stupidity of the average person. We have to keep in mind that the average person would LOVE to believe that he/she/it is in some way superior to women, or blacks, or Asians, or white guys, and that arming these people in any way with science is extremely dangerous to the current semi-egalitarian state of affairs.

Meanwhile: John Cole Links to Another Study that will Piss Everyone Off. I'm not pissed, if the men want to be convinced they are smarter than us, I'm okay with that, as long as they don't expect me to go home and start making babies (shudder). This could be fun. I'm moving on wednesday and, well, I'm just so dumb I can't figure out how to carry boxes and drive a U-Haul, are there any big smart men that could help me out?

But seriously, maybe men are just better at IQ tests. Duh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


I've signed up for googletalk. Just in case you feel like some real time ranting, since I obviously SUCK at blogging. (Clearly because I can't do it and play Worlds of Warcraft simultaneously, why worry about the real world when I can actually kill the people who are causing trouble in Azeroth.)

You can gtalk me at shinobi42@gmail.com

And if you are a pathetic loser without a gmail address, e-mail me because I have about a thousand invites.

Monday, August 22, 2005


This is my problem with America today, everything we do is half assed. We get to the deadline, look over our current situation and shrug. Eh, Close enough. Sorry kids, close only counts in horseshoes. My family and I have long employed the phrase "Close enough for government work" I wish that it were just funny, and not quite as true.

So what am I talking about right? Oh yeah. I'm talking about the concession to the Islamic fundamentalists in the Iraqi Constitution which may turn into a huge blow for women's rights in Iraq. You should read Echidne's posts and Digby's posts because they are quite good.

My personal take, Why bother to invade a country only to fuck it up? I wasn't pro this invasion, and I think our military is spread to thin, but we got in to this and we might as well do it right. I think it is stupid for politicians to give into pressures to bring our boys home before the mission is accomplished. We did this and now we will only make things WORSE by doing a half assed job. We can't un-invade Iraq, so protesting for peace is just stupid. If anything we should make sure to do a good job this time, so that we don't have to go back. Though it may be too late for that already.

This is only made worse by the fact that media type pundits seem to think it is okay that we do a half assed job:

MR. GERECHT: Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective. (emphasis mine via Echidne)

Can anyone find this guy's contact info? He makes me want to vomit, so I thought I'd mail him some.

Excuse me, but WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!! I'm sorry, I don't even understand how someone could say this out loud without some part of their brain clicking on and realizing they sound like a complete ASSHOLE. All political correctness aside, he has to be kidding! The social rights of half the population of a country are not critical? How can we invade a country only to remove social rights from HALF of the country's population.

Mr. Gerecht seems to think it perfectly reasonable, so I have a proposal. How about we enact legislation here in the US, where everyone flips a coin. Everyone who gets heads, gets the right to make their own decisions, and everyone who gets tails suddenly becomes the ward of their oldest living relative who got heads. And from now on every time a child is born we flip a coin and they become either heads or tails. Heads they get to pick what they study, what they wear, who they marry etc and Tails they can't get a divorce, fight for custody of their children or leave the country without permission, among other things. Sound cool? Because that's what we're talking about here.

How like America to invade a country and then liberate only half of it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Due to the fact that my new job involves me doing actual work I wont be able to post my lengthy rants during work hours. This is tragic because it means that I'm going to have to chose between blogging and World of Warcraft. /cries

But never fear, I plan to try to focus my blog more on the topics I actually intended to post about in the beginning, that is use of statistics and science and how it is manipulated by the media and stupid people. The ranting will be saved for the occasional, "God damn both political parties in this country are so fucking stupid" moments.

In honor of my new found focus I have linkmania:

From the Mystery Pollster: 2008 Presidential Polling in 2005: a REALLY Big Grain of Salt He makes a very good case for most of the presidential polling taking place at this point being a huge waste of time. And I couldn't agree more. Polls are not forecasts, all they tell you is who would win if the election were tomorrow, but much to my chagrin it is not. We still have 3 more years of Mr. Bush to deal with first, and who knows what could happen before 2008................. not that I have anything but confidence in our current administration. (Damn I almost typed that without laughing, so close.)

The second has more to do with science, Bill from INDC has pointed out the clear lack of impartialness to Michelle Malkin's evaluation of the RU-486 pills and the related deaths Bill does a good job of comparing statistics:

So, while 1 in 92,000 women have died from RU-486 side effects since the drug's US approval, 1 in 3,700 American women have died in childbirth during the same period, making actually giving birth 25 times more deadly than having a chemical abortion (the article states "10 to 13 times riskier" than having any type of abortion).

This whole controversy really has to do with people's views on abortion, not problems with the drug, lets talk about the real problem people and stop pussyfooting around. YAY Bill!

Also Instapundit linked to a post written just for me: Advice to the angry young blogger Actually he seems to be targetting complete idiots, which I'm not, but I thought the title was funny anyway. Would be nice if there were actual Advice involved, like can anyone tell me how not to get angry all the time? That'd be nice.

That's all I've got for now, time to go do actual work at my amazing new job! (Today my boss told me "Well.... yeah, you're smart, you can figure it out" it was a clear illustration to me of how my career has made a turn for the better.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Moving Sucks: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the U-haul.

Moving to Chicago was just another example of how nothing in my life ever works out the way that it should. Nothing. Ever.

The plan was my sister came in Monday night to help me pack up and move Tuesday morning, and then she was going to fly out of Chicago early on Wednesday. As it is now Thursday you can imagine this did not go as planned.

First I'm a shitty packer, I suck at it. So I was barely packed when she showed up. So it took us most of the night and all of the next morning to load the U-haul. Around 11:30am we were done loading so I went to go drop off some stuff and get some McDonalds before we left on our 8 hour trek.

While I was waiting for my much abused boyfriend to bring food out to the car I smelled smoke. And then I SAW smoke coming from the blinker thingy. (Which I later learned is called a Multi-Function switch)

Le sigh, we returned to my mostly empty apartment and after much deliberation I decided that I would not have my little sister driving a car that could possibly catch fire at any time for 8 hours, much to her chagrin.

So we said goodbye to the poor boyfriend and took my car and my U-haul and dropped the car off at the shop. They had implied on the phone that they could fix it that night, but when I dropped it off they said something to the effect of, so are you going to come back in 2 days and get it? I nearly lost it. But they said they would call after they had looked at it and let me know what the situation was. Great, more waiting.

I should mention that we were also accompanied by 2 very upset cats this entire time. So we took the 2 very upset cats and most of the contents of my Explorer and put them in the U-haul. And then we checked in to our 70's tastic Holiday Inn on the top of a hill with a narrow winding drive (YAY U-HAUL!). The much abused boyfriend was forced to help locate aformentioned hotel among other things. I drove the U-haul around all evening for food and shopping, and it Suuuuuuuucked. Especially since we were on one of those divided highways so we kept having to go one way, turn around, come back the other way over and over. If ever I questioned my desire to leave Pittsburgh before this, the question was answered.

The Mechanics called and said they'd have my car fixed the next morning. We went, waited around a lot and eventually, picked it up, shoved completely distraught cats into carriers and went to get gas. We hop into our respective gas guzzling vehicles and start up. The U-Haul goas VROOOM and the Explorer went Click Click Click. Oh my fucking god. I know many times in your life you have asked yourself if employees of gas stations can jump battery's on cars, I now know the answer to this, No. We had to use the U-haul to jump the Explorer, which was just a leeeeetle silly to say the least.

Finally we were off, and to make my final moments in Pittsburgh resemble my entire life there, I got off on the highway going the wrong way and we had to turn around. 8 hours later we arrived in Chicago without too much major damage. I am now here, I can only find one of my cats, but at this point I'm not that picky.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Pristine Beauty

I'm back from my cruise to Alaska. I had an amazing time, I'm having trouble getting pictures off of my camera so I haven't finished my cruise blog but I plan to do so soon.

Today I found this article about Alaskan drilling CNN.com and I'm a little upset. I've been trying to take a little break from politics because I still haven't figured out how to keep my youthful idealistic outrage from affecting my mental health. But after my amazing trip to Alaska I just can't leave this alone.

Proponents of drilling in the Alaskan Oil Reserves are going to make an end run around environmentalists by including the measure to open up these reserves in a budget bill that cannot be filibustered. Though I understand that some people think the filibuster is an unfair exploitation of procedure, I disagree. Just because the majority of people think something is a good idea does not make them right. (SHOCKING!) And in this instance I think that no measures are too extreme to protect the untouched beauty of Alaska.

There is no way for me to explain in words or in pictures how awe inspiring the wilds of Alaska are. (And I really only got to see the touristy bits) There were gigantic mountains covered in forests completely untouched by man, and the peace as our ship floated through straigts past seemingly endless beauty was almost spiritual. Watching parts of a gigantic glacier crumble into the ocean with sounds like a thunderclap increased my respect for this amazing planet we are lucky enough to live on. I got to see otters, whales, killer whales, bald eagles and sea lions all in one place. And on our way out of Alaska there were dolphins following the ship into the sunset.

It was an amazing trip to say the least. Before the trip I would have said that drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge was obviously a bad idea. Now I think anyone who thinks that drilling in Alaska is a good idea should go there, see the animals, the glaciers, the mountains, and then if they still think it is a good idea they should be "humanely euthanized" because they are clearly idiots.

No amount of money can replace these animals or that amazing untouched wilderness. Once we start drilling there we can't ever take it back. The consequences of our actions will be felt not by humans but by the animals and by the earth. No amout of fuel will ever be able to fix the damage we have already done to this planet, can't we just leave a little bit of it alone?

I am once again disgusted by the selfishness of the human race.