Category Archives: Politics

The privilege of the forum

As anyone in the atheist/skeptical/feminist blogosphere has heard, there is a massive kerfuffle going on about Rebecca Watson’s response to being creepily propositioned in an elevator1. I really don’t have much to say about it because far better writers than I have covered all the bases I can think of. What hasn’t been addressed is the fundamental fuck-upedness of one of the underlying assumptions of Rebecca’s critics: there is such a thing as an appropriate forum.

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The joy of data

I wanted to share a bit about what I’m working on right now. (Other than my thesis and imaginative writing project, the things I’m supposed to be doing.) I’ve discovered two wonderful tools for data exploration. First is Google Public Data Explorer, which has been around for a while. It’s really cool and has some nice data sets. I wish it had a better map visualization, though. If I want to compare, say STD rates by state, I’d rather shade the states than have different colored dots on them. Normally, you can embed your graphics, but WordPress is picky about embedding anything so I can’t, and have to settle for a permalink to a graph showing that the number of students in California whose parents did not graduate high school has decreased dramatically since 2005.

The other tool, and I think the better, is IBM’s Many Eyes. For one thing, you can upload your own data. For another, you can get image files of your visualizations. This is nice for people like me, who can’t edit their blog’s html, but still want to show you a map of “bigfoot” “sightings” since 1870.

A map of "bigfoot" "sightings." Apparently people like to drink in the woods on the West Coast.

Why am I playing with these tools when I could be getting drunk on Southern Comfort, cinnamon whiskey, and Kahlua? Well, for one I like data better than hangovers. But I’m also working on a post about secession and the many cultural and political divides in the US. Data is necessary for any argument, but to convince anyone it must be presented clearly, accurately, and in an interesting manner.


Beware the College Republicans

I just saw this poster from the Willamette College Republicans. They were going for “superheroes,” overshot, and landed in “crazy vampire stalker.”

CollegeRepubPoster


To the asshat in my econ class:

The Asshat

You are an asshat. When the professor says to ask any questions you have, she did not mean leading questions. Your knowledge of economics is not sufficient to perform the Socratic method on a lima bean, let alone a professor. Having read The Communist Manifesto and being, like, so into socialism does not make you qualified to comment on the interaction of supply and demand. Especially if you have your history so ass-backwards that you think that the USSR surpassed the US in military production.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey


Happy Labor Day America, fuck you Nestle

Today’s Labor Day in the U.S., and while the rest of the country is off to the beach or having barbecues, I’m sitting in front of a computer. I’ve got to finish the abstract for my presentation (how, exactly, are you supposed to explain an entire project in 250 words?) and the presentation itself. Presentations are always a problem for me because I have that horrible trait combination of procrastination and perfectionism. I finally sat down to make the PowerPoint on Friday, and discovered that I needed to make or steal 30 figures. Ugh.

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Anti-vaccine nut comes to visit

Sometimes people confuse me. I just got a comment on an article I wrote for the Collegian last year about vaccinations and autism.

Vaccines are POISON. The only one[s] who benefit from vaccines are PHARMACEUTICALS. Lots of Vitamin D will protect you from the flu and many other diseases. DON’T be fooled by paid off media hype. STOP the sickening assault on humanity.

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Dying the good death

The LA Times reported yesterday on a study that found that religious patients are more likely to consent to, demand, and recieve aggressive treatment toward the end of their lives. This includes such things as bone marrow transplants for breast cancer (which sounds extremely aggressive, but doesn’t work), life support, and ICU admission. They were also less likely to have living wills, powers of attorney, or DNRs. Given the preoccupation that many religions have with death and the afterlife, this seems a little contradictory; shouldn’t those who expect rewards in the afterlife be most eager to get there?

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