Tuesday, August 31, 2004

My apartment is now a sick ward.

Susan, my live-in lover, had a bad case of the 'flu that managed to transform itself into a bad case of bronchitis. I'm not sick, but I keep worrying that my constant exposure is turning me into some sort of plague-dog. I'll be keeping a sharp eye on my associates to see if I'm unintentionally conducting any sort of low-intensity biological warfare.

Now, though, is the time to rack up some major points in the hand-holding, tea-making, soup-heating and pill-fetching senses of the word.

Joel M.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I command you to read The Law of the Monkeysphere.


When you ask why things are so fucked up, this guy has An Answer. Maybe not The Only Answer, but it's pretty amazing.

Joel M. (via Ross)

That wacky Pete Bagge is at it again! This time, his comic dissects the notion that public funding for the arts is automatically a good thing.

I tend to agree with him because it is entirely possible for an artist to be commercially successful. And, in most other professions, a practitioner who is not commercially successful is called a 'hobbyist' and does not receive public monies.

However, I do believe that it is important to provide some form of assistance to new artists who are developing new forms of art that may not be currently seen as commercially viable:

Perhaps, since so many aspiring artists work at minimum wage jobs, it would be better to reduce the number of deductions that minimum wage earners pay so that they have more time to work on their art or, in the event that they are not artists, more money to feed their kids.

Or maybe it would be a good idea to roll the length of copyright back, so that businesses like Disney are more motivated to develop new properties rather than continue trying to milk the same old licenses forever.

Heck, since taxes won't go down and our leaders can't just mind their own business anyway, it might be a better move to cut paper-pushers out of the equation and have arts funding distributed through reality-TV gameshows where artists compete against each other in creative challenges for phone-in votes! The advertising revenue could cover the costs of the show, leaving more slush for the actual artists.

Joel M. (via www.reason.com)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

My pal Allie has had a letter published in the Edmonton Journal. She wrote it as a reaction to the tragic death of her brother in Vancouver just a few days ago. She is my hero right now.

Joel M.

Dr. Dyer does it again. An article that lacerates the stupidity of American politics with the efficiency of a porcupine in your colon.

Take this:

"Let me be clear: while we have raised the threat level for the financial services sector in the affected communities, the rest of the nation remains at an elevated, or Code Yellow, risk of vampire attack....The vampires should know (that) in this country, this kind of information, while startling, is not stifling. It will not weaken the American spirit, etc., etc."

Or this:

Americans face a bigger risk of drowning in the bath than of being killed by terrorists (a good reason to take baths in pairs whenever possible), and a far greater risk of dying by falling down the stairs. Even in the tragic month of September, 2001, just as many Americans died in highway accidents as from terrorist attacks, and almost as many died of gunshot wounds.

Just read it. The whole thing is hilarious and informative like crazy.

Joel M. (via www.gwynnedyer.net)

Sunday, August 08, 2004

OK. I officially don't believe anything anymore. Check this out:

The upshot of these various observations is that atmospheric CO2 enrichment sets in motion a self-enhancing cycle of positive biological phenomena, whereby increases in the air's CO2 content (1) stimulate plant productivity and (2) reduce plant evaporative water loss, which results in (1) more organic matter entering the soil and (2) a longer soil moisture retention time and/or greater soil water contents, all of which factors lead to the development of larger and more active earthworm populations, which enhance many important soil properties, including fertility, structure, aeration and drainage, which improved properties further enhance the growth of the plants whose CO2-induced increase in productivity was the factor that started the whole series of processes on the road to a higher level of activity in the first place, and so on.

Or, in other words, an increase in atmospheric CO2 is actually quite good. If you're a worm, or if you're a plant, or if you happen to depend upon worms and / or plants for anything at all. This means you.

So why don't I believe in anything because of this little tidbit? Because the prevailing wisdom is that increased CO2 is bad. Global warming, donchaknow. And just try telling anybody different. You'll either get a blustery counterattack or the total agreement of somebody you probably wouldn't trust with change for the parking meter.

I can see it now: mighty PlantMan (don't ask) leads an army of placard-waving worms through the streets of Ottawa, demanding an end to the brutal repression of the Kyoto accords. Eventually, their lost-earnings class-action suit makes it to the Supreme Court, where PlantMan's sage nod and quiet dignity (I told you not to ask) carries the day.

Fuck it. Every time I look too closely at something, it wriggles away or falls apart. Climate change, space travel, any particular war. All anybody can do is muddle through, hope for the best, and then get crushed by a meteor. A big one.

All I want anymore is to throw rotten fruit from the cheap seats.

Joel M. (via www.junkscience.com)

Saturday, August 07, 2004

This article says it all about laziness and the benefits thereof:

In his youth, the great poet of loafing, Walt Whitman, would arrive at the offices of the newspaper where he worked at around 11.30am, and leave at 12.30 for a two-hour lunch break. Another hour's work after lunch and then it was time to hit the town.

Gotta get me some (more) of that!

Joel M. (via www.boingboing.net)

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