Gas Boycott

People, for the love of crap, if you get an email that sounds too good or bad to be true, it probably is. Before you hit the forward button, do a quick Google search for the subject of the email and the word hoax. Or visit snopes.com.

Google search for gas boycott hoax
Gas boycott page on Snopes

Someone taped this gem to the breakroom door at work. I also got it in an email from an otherwise reasonable person. First of all, there's never been a one day gas boycott that dropped the price of gas by 30 cents. Second, if you just buy gas on another day, the monthly total sales won't be different at all. The only things that can drop the price of gas are an increase of supply or a (real) decrease in demand.

If you actually want to do something about gas prices, then use less gas. Bike, walk, carpool, don't travel as much or get a more efficient car.

Gov Blunt's Biggest Donor

Fired Up Missouri reports that Governor Blunt's latest campaign finance report includes some big numbers from a notable name: Bob Perry. He was also a contributor to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the 2004 smear campaign that brought us four more years of Bush. Perry has been the largest donor of some of the political action groups run by disgraced former congressman Tom DeLay.

Some find it surprising that the increasingly unpopular Matt Blunt is even raising money for a reelection run in 2008. Bob Perry is not the kind of person that we want associated with our state. If we judge by the company he keeps, then Matt Blunt isn't either.

Quid pro quo

Contribute toward the character assassination of a war hero and you, too, could be rewarded by being made an ambassador. Bush is so loyal to his hitmen, he's appointed Sam Fox even when it was clear that the Senate thinks he's unfit to serve. At least this crony appointment won't put lives in danger like Mike "heckuvajobbrownie" Brown.

EMI drops DRM in iTMS

Apple, inc and the record label EMI announced (EMI press release, Apple press release) this morning that they will begin offering songs in the iTunes Music store that have no digital rights management (DRM). If you're not familiar with DRM, here's a quick explanation. When you buy a 99 cent song in iTunes, you can play it on your computer and up to four more computers where your iTunes account is authorized. You also can only play the song on an iPod, so if you have bought some songs on iTMS and you get an mp3 player that's not from Apple, you can't play your songs. There's also a limit on how many cds you can burn from the music you buy. The idea is to prevent piracy, but the people who are willing to pay a dollar for a song are usually not the pirating type. They could have downloaded the entire album for free from BitTorrent if they wanted to pirate it. What usually happens is that DRM is an annoyance to law-abiding music purchasers.

EMI is offering DRM-free tracks on iTunes for a premium ($1.29), but they are higher quality (256K). I think the price is still too high, but this is a huge step in the right direction. You'll be able to do whatever you want with these files: email a song to friend, burn as many cds as you want, back them up, play them on any mp3 player and not worry about losing your investment if technology changes. Steve Jobs says that similar deals with other labels will follow and by the end of the year he hopes to have 50% of the iTMS catalog available DRM-free. This may be the beginning of the end for DRM. I've never bought songs from iTunes, but I may consider it now.

I mentioned DRM in a post almost two years ago. I linked to Cory Doctorow's great speech on the subject (still a good explanation of why DRM is terrible) and I hoped that Microsoft's forthcoming portable audio player wouldn't have an oppressive DRM. It does.

If you're wondering what artists this will include, here's a list of EMI artists.

Compassion

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

There is nothing more ugly than a Christian orthodoxy without understanding or without compassion.
-- Francis Schaeffer

Dancing Bananas is back

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

We've posted Episode 4 at the Dancing Bananas website. I also put all of the episodes on YouTube and moved the subscribe links to the sidebar. As always, you'll find links to the high quality version. We've recorded episode 5 and it should be out soon.

White House official Libby guilty

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

White House official Libby guilty (BBC) - A former key White House official, Lewis Libby, has been found guilty of obstruction of justice and perjury. Libby, ex-chief of staff to Vice-President Dick Cheney, faces a prison term of up to 25 years. He will be sentenced in June.

I wish this trial had been about the real issue, which is the outing of a covert CIA agent. I also wish that they could have gone after the people that told Libby to do this. Cheney was involved in this. I also thought that Robert Novak should have felt more heat than he did over this, but I guess some people are tougher to get than others. If they're willing to lie about something that they claim is not even illegal, is there really any reason to trust this administration about anything?

In like a lion

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

Yesterday 4pm: 70 degrees and beautiful
Yesterday 9pm: Tornado and hail
Today 10am: Snow

If we have an earthquake this afternoon, I'm moving.

Best and Worst Presidents

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

A discussion over at Voter Vault got me thinking about who I would rank as the best and worst Presidents in our history. Here are my top five:

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Thomas Jefferson
5. John Kennedy

I don't feel too strongly about Kennedy. Maybe Wilson should be there. Kennedy did get us into Vietnam, but he also pushed the Apollo program. I guess the nerd in me wins out.

Now, for the worst Presidents:

39. Franklin Pierce
40. Herbert Hoover
41. Andrew Johnson
42. James Buchanan
43. Warren G. Harding

It's still way too early to put George W. Bush in either list. Unless things turn around in Iraq in the next year, he'll probably find his place in the bottom five eventually.

Who would you put in these two lists? If you need some help, take a look at this article about scholar's rankings.

Attitude of Nature

This post was written before I became an atheist and does not represent my current views. You can find more up-to-date posts on religion in my faith/skepticism category.

Another interesting quote from the book I'm reading:

One major question needing to be examined is the general attitude of nature. A century ago there was a consensus about this: nature was ‘red in tooth and claw’, evolution was a record of open warfare among competing species, the fittest were the strongest aggressors and so forth. Now it begins to look different. The tiniest and most fragile of organisms dominate the life of the earth: the chloroplasts inside the cells of plants, which turn solar energy into food and supply the oxygen for breathing, appear to be the descendants of ancient blue-green algae, living now as permanent lodgers within the cells of ‘higher’ forms; the mitochondria of all nucleated cells, which serve as engines for all the functions of life, are the progeny of bacteria which took to living as cells-inside-cells long ago. The urge to form partnerships, to link up in collaborative arrangements, is perhaps the oldest, strongest and most fundamental force in nature. There are no solitary, free- living creatures; every form of life is dependent on other forms. The great successes in evolution, the mutants who have, so to speak, made it, have done so by fitting in with, and sustaining, the rest of life. Up to now we might be counted among the brilliant successes, but flashy and perhaps unstable. We should go warily into the future, looking for ways to be more useful, listening more carefully for signals, watching our step and having an eye out for partners.
-- Lewis Thomas, The Key Reporter (Autumn 1980)

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