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October 2008 Archives

Women rule in Rwanda

It's terrible what had to happen to lead to this, but as of the September elections, 56% of the Rwandan parliament is female [WaPo], making it the first national legislature in the world with a female majority [Wiki]. (55% of the total population is currently female.) President Paul Kagame's post-genocide gov't, instituted rule that at least 30% of parliament had to be female, in the hope that women would not allow genocide to repeat. The women of Rwanda have far surpassed that.

The pessimist in me wonders how long it will last, but, in the meantime, the new female majority has been busy striking sexist laws off the books, going so far as to form a committee dedicated to poring through the law books to look for discriminatory laws to reform. Hopefully, the reform will be effective, and a new generation of both women and men will get used to the idea of women with power.

(As for my pessimism, consider how quickly women reverted to traditional roles in the US after WWII, though this is pretty different of course.)


How many vans would Van Damme dam if Van Damme could dam vans? Now here's a movie I didn't expect: An indie flick starring Jean Claude Van Damme as Jean Claude Van Damme. [Trailer] [Opening Schedule] It'll be opening in SF and Berkeley on November 14. I'll have to go check this out.

Dueling PC Ads

You've probably seen Microsoft's "I'm a PC" Windows commercials. I'm not totally convinced about them, because they seem to just say, "PCs are very mainstream. Everyone uses them. So should you." It's the exact opposite of what Apple shoots for. Does it work? I dunno.

I do, however, think they were pretty effective at attacking Apple's famous ads. By parodying John Hodgman's very effective PC character, I felt they did take him down a notch. I wondered if Apple was going to back off on their campaign. Well, it seems that they have not only not backed down, they've come back swinging by attacking the Windows ad campaign. I find it a bit odd to attack your opponent's advertising in... and ad. But it's an interesting response.

Foundation, Bad Times, more Bad Times, and the Best Thing Ever

Some links I posted on Facebook recently that I didn't get around to posting here:

First up, Paul Krugman, who just won a Nobel Prize in Economics, became interested in economics after reading Isaac Asimov's Foundation novels. He wanted to be a psychohistorian when he grew up! Adorable. :)

In other Nobel news, Douglas Prasher was a chemist who lost his funding and had to let others carry on his work. Those others just won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the stuff he was working on. Meanwhile, he lost his job a few years ago, and, after being unemployed for a year, started driving a courtesy shuttle for a car dealership for $10/hour, and he's nearly broke. [Cap Cod Times] [NPR] Hopefully, this news will lead to some job offers!

Speaking of tough times, Sequoia Capital, a major venture capitalist firm, apparently had a chat with their portfolio companies recently, and their presentation was titled "RIP Good Times". It has lots of informative graphs about the nature of our current economic crisis. Their final advice seems to be: Be profitable.

Finally, in these difficult days, I believe the only thing that can save us is..... THE KAZOOKEYLELE!

YouTube Link

P.S.: One more article link, which needs no description other than its headline: Bank robber hires decoys on Craigslist, fools cops

Okay, I lied. It should also be mentioned that the article involves a "getaway inner tube".

Okay, P.P.S.: Be sure to also check out this Wii ad on YouTube. (Hint: Try dragging after it finishes playing. You'll know what I mean when you watch it.)

Planetariums are as useless as community organizers

Overhead Projector is not a Planetarium Projector

(This comparison was uploaded by a flickr user hcovitz, found via a boingboing post sent to me by a high school science teacher friend.)

During the second Presidential debate, the McCain campaign once again chose to belittle something important. No, I'm not talking about the "that one" comment, which I think is blown out of proportion. I'm talking about when McCain complained about Obama supporting "$3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois." Oh yeah, we all know that planetariums and other educational facilities are soooo over-funded. They're almost as worthless as community organizers!

If anyone out there cares about education, please take note of this as a sign of how much respect Senator McCain has for education.

The Adler Planetarium in Chicago has put out a press release [PDF] about the matter. I'll reproduce it here:



Last night, during the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Senator John McCain made the following statement:

McCain: "While we were working to eliminate these pork barrel earmarks he (Senator Obama) voted for nearly $1 billion in pork barrel earmark projects. Including $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?"

To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler's Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler's projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler's 78 years of operation.

Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Senator McCain's statements about the Adler Planetarium's request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama.

The Adler has approached the Illinois Congressional delegation the last few years for federal assistance with various initiatives. These have included museum exhibitions, equipment and educational programs we offer to area schools, including the Chicago Public Schools.

We have made requests to Senators Durbin and Obama, as well as to 6 area Congressmen from both political parties. We are grateful that all of the Members we have approached, including Senator Obama, have deemed our activities worthy of their support, and have made appropriations requests on our behalf, as they have for many worthy Illinois nonprofit organizations.

As a result of the hard work of our bipartisan congressional delegation, the Adler has been fortunate to receive a few federal appropriations the past couple of years.

However, the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama's efforts. This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in the reports that accompany appropriations bills.

October 8, 2008

Bonus Onion Weekender cover, courtesy of a commenter on the boingboing post.

Oakland Docks


I went to Reno this weekend, but my favorite photo that I took was this one of the Oakland Docks, with the Bay Bridge and San Francisco in the background. I had to warm up the white-balance because it looks better in orange than blue, but I really like how it turned out.

View on black or View it full-size

Here are the rest of my public Reno trip photos.

Btw, to see the power of post-processing, compare the processed version to the original. :P

About October 2008

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in October 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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