Monday, April 06, 2009

Shared Google Reader Items, 4/6/2009

Last time I posted my shared items from Google Reader, I said that maybe I'd get on a daily schedule. Oops.

The Internets:
Geek Culture:
  • Thinkgeek made an awesome Tauntaun sleeping bag as an April Fools' prank. Now demand is so high that they might actually make it. Please please please please please. Also, please sell it in adult sizes.
  • Two geeks in New Jersey made fools out of a lot of people with a simple UFO hoax. Strong work.
Politics and Government:
  • Sweden's Parliament voted last Wednesday to allow same-sex marriage (226 to 22). That's like Congress voting to allow it. That's awesome, I wish we could get to that point.
  • But hey, at least Iowa's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Iowa. It's a start. According to 538, it might even survive.
  • The US government will launch in late May to provide a clearing house of government data. Very, very cool.
  • I love Obama. "I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is, although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
  • T-Mobile is going to launch an Android-powered tablet. I hope it's going to be actual touchscreen, like a G1 or iPhone, not stylus-based... but it'll be interesting to see how they solve screen-scratching potential in something as large as a laptop if that's the case.
  • Sure, I could have put this in the Science block, but it really needed its own tag: a robot made a scientific discovery all by itself. To be clear, this wasn't a group of scientists deciding what the robot should investigate and using the device to test their hypothesis. The robot was given a pool of data, and software to analyze that data in order to make its own hypothesis. It then designed experiments to test that hypothesis, carried them out, and analyzed the results. That is unbelievably awesome. I, for one, welcome our new robot scientist overlords.
As always, leave your comments on these or anything else below.


McCarron said...

1. I have found a link between autism and shitty statistical interpretations!
2. Sure, jenny McCarthy killed 150. But she looked good doing it. And isn't that the important thing?
3. The Iowa ruling is going to stick. Not only because good luck amending the constitution, but the earliest they can do so is like 2011.

Jon Harmon said...

3. That's almost what the link I posted to 538 said, except Nate Silver had more info... :)

But seriously, "good luck amending the constitution" is a reason it won't happen? Tell that to the thirty states that have already amended their constitutions to ban it. Sure, it's *slightly* trickier to do so in Iowa, but if attitudes weren't shifting, it would happen. The only saving grace is that by the time it gets to a popular vote in 2012, Iowa *may* vote against the amendment.

Die Anyway said...

re: autism - vaccine link

Just as a mental exerecise let's say that we found that there IS a real link between vaccines and autism. And it's just something inherent in vaccines that we can do nothing about. At what level would we, or should we, decide that vaccines should not be used? What if we knew it would cause autism in 10 kids out of every 1 million vaccinated? 100 kids? 1,000 kids? 999,000 kids protected by vaccines, 1,000 harmed. Acceptable? Unacceptable?
I'm not prepared to say what risk level I could tolerate (I need more data) but I get the feeling that Jenny and her cohorts wants a risk level of zero, while totally ignoring the risk level of not vaccinating.
For my own part, I suspect that autism is an embryonic developmental issue that relates more to the mother's body chemistry than anything the child is exposed to after birth.

The 2 ltr. bottle trick was cool but I'll be darned if I can think of anyplace around my house to use it. I'm going to make an assumption that the bottle is better than just putting in a flat skylight of the same diameter, but it would have been nice if they showed a comparison.