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The problem with slippery slope arguments is that once you start using them you quickly move on to other fallacies

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 18:06 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


An illustrated guide to common logical fallacies as well as well as a very nice worked example of the fallacies involved in Cardinal Keith O’Brien‘s recent(ish) article against gay marriage.

And, from the comments, this awesome work.

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Yes, Prime Minister to return after 24 years

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 17:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


The great satire of British bureaucracy, Yes, Prime Minister, is to return after 24 years away from our TV screens. The original scriptwriting duo of Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn has already turned in their first plot, says UKTV, which has has commissioned the show to be broadcast on UK Gold.

What a pity Nigel Hawthorne is no longer with us..

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  1. And Margaret Thatcher still is (just).

Distributor Neglects Indie Filmmaker’s Movie, So He Asks Fans To Pirate It

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 14:41 by Paul Jay in category: News


As all sorts of creators, from musicians to authors to filmmakers, have been discovering for decades, being scooped up by one of the entertainment industry’s big-business gatekeepers isn’t always the career-changing windfall that popular romantic notions believe it to be. Whether through crafty accounting, creative interference or a total lack of support, doing business with big labels, distributors and publishers often fails to deliver the financial and career benefits that creators expect. Once upon a time there was very little they could do, but with the direct-to-fan communication potential of the internet, we’re seeing more and more artists publicly turn on their supposed partners and implore their fans to route around them. Recently we covered the indie band Streetlight Manifesto, who encouraged fans to either buy the music directly from the band or just pirate it, so long as they don’t give their money to Victory Records. Now, via Twitter, @cephyn points us to a similar story in a blog post from indie filmmaker Jordan John Michael Thomas, asking fans to please pirate his movie Corpse Run. Thomas explains how, after success on the festival circuit, he came head to head with the unfortunate realities of getting a film distributed the Hollywood way:

The first thing we had to do was get a Rep for our film, this Rep would then try to sell it to different distributors and take a small fee. We had many offers for Representation and ended up going with the most prominent one that had the lowest fees. They took a retainer fee to pay for their expenses. – of course this retainer would never be returned.

They did find us a few different distributors and we ended up going with the one that they reccomended the most. This was exciting, as our film was about to get released, we would soon see it on netflicks, on some cable stations and in video stores!

We didn’t get any money up front, which is the general practice in the indi world – I know you hear about these million dollar deals, but they are by far and away the exception to the rule, as Cicero would say, “You can’t hear the prayers of the dead on the ocean’s floor.” So we had a backend deal, a completely fair backend that I was happy with.

And then what happened? Our film was shelved. We had no recourse, it just sat on the shelf doing nothing, sitting there for years! In fact, They still have it for two more. Recently it has been released on Amazon as a print on demand title. And that is it. Well I don’t think my distributors should make any money for doing nothing.

So I am asking you, begging you, please steal my movie.

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TSA agents arrested at Dulles Airport

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 12:34 by John Sinteur in category: Do you feel safer yet?


In November, I was barred from my flight at Dulles Airport for a double opt-out. I refused to go through a blue-box backscatter (x-ray) body scanner, and I refused to endure an intimate feel-up from a woman I didn’t know. The body scanners at Dulles have no privacy filter. Backscatter machines dose passengers with carcinogenic ionizing radiation to create images of their naked bodies for inspection by a screener working in the hidden viewing booth.

What I sensed was happening at that airport – targeting young women for special security attention out of sexual motivation – now seems even more difficult for the TSA to deny. Not one, but two of the men working for TSA at Dulles Airport on that day have now been arrested for sex crimes.

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  1. This is why I don’t fly any more, unless there just is no other option. I’d rather take 2+ days to drive to California/Oregon/Washington, or 1 day to drive to Boston, NY, etc. than to fly. At current $4+USD / gallon gas prices, it will cost me about $600 round-trip for gas alone (1 night motel is extra) to the west coast, and 1/2 that to the east coast (I live near Chicago). For east coast trips, this is a no-brainer. Between flight costs and time to deal with airport cruft (security), flight time, rent-a-car time, drive-to-location time then the total time is a wash (15-16 hours) – plus I don’t have the expense of renting a car at the other end. Food? That’s a wash, and possibly cheaper when on the road given that airlines don’t feed you any longer (unless you fly first class) and airport food, while generally palatable is waaaay overpriced.

    So, if I have a business trip to the east coast, I pack up a cooler with food and drinks, leave at 8am, and arrive in Boston or NYC at a decent time to check into my hotel for a night’s sleep before I visit clients in the morning. No muss, no fuss, and I can use my laptop w/ wifi to keep in touch when I make a pit stop for gas and such. My Toyota Camry gets 30+ mpg on the highway, and is MUCH more comfortable than airline seats! Trips to the west coast depend upon how long I expect to be there. If I am going to be there for a week or more, then I’ll drive. If only for 1-2 days, then I’ll fly and bear the pain of the TSA digging through my rocks…

  2. otoh, your chances of having an accident en route are probably higher.

Wind Map

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 10:52 by Desiato in category: Great Picture


This map shows you the delicate tracery of wind flowing over the US.

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  1. Fantastic!

Colombia’s former president calls America’s drug war a ‘failure’

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 9:58 by John Sinteur in category: News


Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, the former president of Colombia, told a Spanish-language radio station this week that America’s war on drugs has been a disastrous “failure” that the ruling political parties simply refuse to talk about.

“Society does not want to accept that people consume [drugs],” he told RCN Radio in Colombia. “You cannot turn away from reality. We cannot accept that theory. [American politicians] may prefer not to talk about it. We cannot accept it. We cannot be condemned to live in war because Americans do not want to talk about it. No one speaks in favor of the war on drugs.”

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Senators Who Voted To Protect Oil Tax Breaks Received $23,582,500 From Big Oil

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 9:55 by John Sinteur in category: News


– The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas. The 51 senators voting to repeal oil tax breaks have received $5,873,600.

– The senators who voted for Big Oil’s handouts received on average over four times as much career oil cash as those who voted to end them.

– Overall, Senate Republicans have taken $23.2 million in oil and gas contributions. Democrats received $6.66 million.

– Since 2011, Senate Republicans have voted seven times for pro-Big Oil interests and against clean energy three times.

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Economist Debates: Airport security

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 9:06 by John Sinteur in category: Security


As this debate begins its final descent, victory for the proposer, Bruce Schneier, looks certain. The vast majority of voters have agreed with him that the harm done by modern-day airport security outweighs its good. Commenters have written about the humiliation, stress and anger that accompany their experiences at the airport. “I’d much rather have less hassle and higher risk,” said one. Many accede to that view.

Mr Schneier expands on the harms attributable to modern airport security in his closing statement. It has led, he says, to a loss of trust, physical harm, economic losses, a loss of liberty and an increase in fear. The last of these is particularly notable in the context of a system designed to contain terrorism, because governments that make passengers scared “effectively do the terrorists’ job for them”.

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Study tracks how conservatives lost their faith in science

Posted on March 30th, 2012 at 8:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


An analysis of 36 years’ worth of polling data indicates that confidence in science as an institution has steadily declined among Americans who consider themselves conservatives, while confidence levels have been at steadier levels for other ideological groups.

The study, published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review, provides fresh ammunition for those who complain that conservative views on issues such as climate change are at odds with the scientific consensus.

“You can see this distrust in science among conservatives reflected in the current Republican primary campaign,” Gordon Gauchat, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Sheps Center for Health Services Research, said in a news release from the American Sociological Association. “When people want to define themselves as conservatives relative to moderates and liberals, you often hear them raising questions about the validity of global warming and evolution, and talking about how ‘intellectual elites’ and scientists don’t necessarily have the whole truth.”

It’s not clear how much impact Gauchat’s study will have on the debate over politics and science: Liberals are likely to see it as confirmation of what they already believe, while conservatives who are skeptical about the scientific elite are likely to greet these scientific claims with skepticism as well.

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