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November 13th, 2010

09:41 pm - Remembrance Day 2010

 I hope everyone had a reflective and peaceful Remembrance Day this past Thursday.

I would like to share my new blog post on that theme at Idiomatic Composition.

If you have any great Remembrance day-themed music to share, or films or books to recommend, please post in the comments!

Current Location: Home
Current Music: In Flanders Fields, S. Chatman arrangement

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October 31st, 2010

08:56 pm - New Blog!

After some thought, I have decided to make this journal more of a journal.

When I want to share elements of my personal life in a more in-depth manner than available on, say, Facebook, I will post them here.

For my more 'social commentary' posts, I refer you to Idiomatic Composition

I am starting this new blog off with a timely topic (now that we're two months into school - with all the germ-swapping that goes on - and starting up influenza high season): immunization awareness and the anti-vaccine movement.

This week, I hope to post each day (as summarized on the introductory post) and discuss some element of anti-vaccinationism and its negative consequences.

Please do read the posts as they come in, and take the time to share (if you disagree, you can always link to the posts and explain the basis of your disagreement) on your own blogs, on Facebook or other social media, and on Twitter using the #vaxfax hashtag.

All the best, and happy Hallowe'en (speaking of personal journal posts, I will probably share some Hallowe'en related stuff this week on this blog)!
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: contentcontent
Current Music: None

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October 7th, 2010

11:47 pm - Subjects I would like to blog about...
I think I would like to write a detailed review of Starcraft II in the near future now that I have played through the single-player 'Wings of Liberty' campaign (the only one of three to come with the initial game).
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: None

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September 17th, 2010

08:55 am - Tolkein the Evolutionary Visionary?

In a bit of a joke, this blogger suggests that Tolkein, in imagining the creature Gollum (as he puts it, the 'cave hobbit' Gollum) was foreseeing the discovery of the evolutionary traits that make cave-adapted fish succeed in their specific environment (in this case, by showing how Gollum had adapted over his 5 centuries or so in the darkness to hunt them).

In particular, he relates it to a not-quite-separate-species pair of fish in Mexico, one set of whom live on the surface and another set of whom live in a nearby cave. Over a very short geological time-scale the cave-fish have exaggerated their traits useful to living in a dark environment (the blog shows a comparison photo and discusses the cave-fish vibration-attraction instinct which is much stronger in them than in the surface fish).

The fish are not so diverged, however, that they cannot be cross-bred, and cross-bred they were so the nature of the cave-fish adaptations could be more clearly understood and analysed.

The blogger then relates specifically how Gollum's characteristics made him well-suited to hunting fish not unlike the Mexican cave-fish as described by Tolkein in The Hobbit.

So there you have it. J.R.R. Tolkein, professional philologist, professional writer, and apparently casual evolutionary biologist.
Current Location: Home
Current Music: None

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May 26th, 2010

01:46 pm - Anti-Freedom Rally in Chicago?
Today in Chicago there is a rally "for personal freedom", ostensibly with regards to any and all personal health decisions.

However, since it is mostly associated with the 'AutismOne' conference happening more-or-less simultaneously, and is going to feature such, ahem, luminaries as Jenny McCarthy, disgraced and de-licensed doctor (ex-doctor, now) Andrew Wakefield, and others who are heavily into anti-vaccination pseudoscience, it would appear that the rally is not for anything at all. It is against vaccination as a routine medical intervention. In the context of AutismOne the pseudoscience involved relates to the notion that vaccination (in general or certain vaccines in specific) are a causal factor in development of ASDs.

In that regard, I consider it an anti-freedom rally, since the abolishment or substantial reduction of mass vaccination, by allowing the return of diseases such as measles, polio, pertussis and others, denies the rest of us a significant freedom: freedom from fear (of infectious diseases and the consequences of their spread).

I am sure there are coherent (I will not concede 'principled') arguments to be made against the status quo vaccination policy in the US and Canada. I am also sure that such arguments will not be made at today's rally. Indeed, the rally seems to be based on the misrepresentation that vaccines are compulsory ("get yer shot or go to jail!"), when in fact it is very achievable for parents to obtain exemptions from vaccinating their children.
Current Location: At the office
Current Mood: working
Current Music: BOB FM

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May 14th, 2010

02:19 pm - Can They Do It?

The Philadelphia Flyers are playing Game 7 of their best-of-7 series tonight against the Boston Bruins.

The kicker is that the Flyers have come from trailing 3 games to none.

If the Flyers win, it will be the first such victory in approx. 35 years.

For a more nuanced review of this series, this year's playoffs, and hockey in general, I would suggest checking out my brother's NHL Fans hockey blog (http://media.fans.nhl.com/service/displayKickPlace.kickAction?u=8044015&as=111820&b). His satirical, Onion-style article on the Habs planning to tank Round 3 to prevent rioting is a priceless work of comedy.

(Jonathan: You're welcome. You know how to reach me for the kickback.)
Current Location: At the office
Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Current Music: BOB FM

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May 13th, 2010

12:36 pm - Condo Stuff
So I may be a bit neglectful of mentioning things on this blog about my life.

As of just a couple of weeks ago, I got engaged to my girlfriend, Leyna.

We have spent the better part of a month reviewing condos to purchase.

Yesterday, we put in an offer on a condo in Ottawa. As of this writing, we are haggling over the price right now with the sellers.
Current Location: At the office
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: BOB FM

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March 16th, 2010

11:48 am - You Can't Make This... Er, Stuff... Up

At least, I can't.

Courtesy of cancer surgeon and skeptical blogger Orac, we learn of an attempt to provide a science-"ish" explanation for how various forms of quack medicine might operate.

Braver souls than I may follow the original: www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2009.0125 - note that there may be a paywall.

Readers with knowledge in physics, medicine, and mathematics are encouraged to have a bottle of painkillers available when attempting to read the JACM ("Journal" - hah! - of Alternative and Complementary Medicine) article.

The JACM article author, one William A. Tiller (notice how he has his very own foundation for "New Science"? Sketchy vibes.) is, in my opinion, turning the standard scientific practice of drawing conclusions from observed evidence on its head. Or maybe he's just making it all up as he goes.

No wonder this stuff gets called 'woo'. Try saying that while waving your hands in the air à la 'Jazz Hands'. Woooooooooo!

P.S. The comments section of Orac's blog is hilarious.
Current Location: At the office
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: BOB FM

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February 11th, 2010

02:41 am - Intuitive Thinking: A Case Study

One of the more interesting notions coming out of 21st-century psychology is the fallibility of human intuition. We are very quick to come to snap judgements about people, situations, circumstances, or things, and we will only grudgingly concede if our initial impressions do not match up with reality. Unfortunately, the heuristics our minds use to come to snap judgements are increasingly unreliable in the contemporary, urban technological world of North American life.

Cut for minor spoilers - do not read if you have not seen Avatar and don't want it spoiled at all.Collapse )

Current Location: At home
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Schutz swv 281

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February 9th, 2010

01:31 pm

It appears that the Ontario Provincial Police believe they have resolved some murder and sexual assault cases in southeastern Ontario.

On Sunday, February 7, the OPP arrested Canadian Forces Colonel Russel Williams and charged him with two counts of 1st-degree murder and with charges related to two separate break-in and sexual assaults in or around Tweed, Ontario. They are currently looking into his service history and may add on more charges for currently-unsolved murders in those areas.

While this does unsettle me somewhat (I have family in Tweed), and while I hope that the OPP would not have proceeded with the arrest without believing they had a sufficient case to secure his conviction in court, it is nonetheless important that the rest of us suspend judgement on the matter. Col. Williams is, in my estimation, innocent of wrongdoing until evidence demonstrating otherwise is brought forth.

(At the same time, we should not want to let Col. Williams' status predispose us to overlook or ignore evidence of his responsibility if and when it comes to light.)

We'll see how things play out.
Current Location: At the office
Current Mood: busy
Current Music: BOB FM

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