jackofallgeeks: (Diastole)
So, I Posted about this 'Miracle Fruit thing back in February, but as it's cropped up again on my Friends Page and I think it's worth noting, I'm reposting.

The long and short is there's this fruit with a 'glycoprotein' that makes sour things taste sweet. It's apparently been used for centuries, it's heavily marketted in Japan, and has seen both low-cal desserts and relief for people with diabetes -- two things, I think, that Americans would be very interested in.

Unfortunately, the FDA has banned the Miracle Fruit, for apparently unknown reasons. It's not hard to imagine that pressures from Big Sugar and diabetes-pharmaceutical lobbyists might have had an influence on the decision. Some seem to think the FDA fears that miraculin (the glycoprotien I mentioned) might mask the flavors of Aspirin or other things that are toxic in high quantities (and kids might eat them! Think of the children!), but there seems to be a Lengthy Paper saying that won't happen (ie, miraculin won't mask said toxic thingums).

So, there you have it. The FDA is keeping us from some very interesting cuisine experiences, likely because they're being paid to by people who profit otherwise.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
Some bits of This Article on things a man should know about fatherhood are pretty funny. Some bits I don't quite agree with. Some bits seems like common sense. All in all, I want to be a dad.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
And This, dear readers, is a major concern for me.

I need people. If I go more than a few days without seeing a good friend (physically in my presence), I start to get depressed. Sometimes having honest conversation over the ether (email, LJ, IMs, etc), or better yet the phone, can stave that off for a week or so. But it's more difficult than one might imagine, it seems, to have honest conversation over such media. And even still, if I go for more than a couple weeks without physical touch, I get depressed.

Psycho-philosophical discussions about what this says of me as a person aside, this is why LJ comments are so significant for me. I can write into the ether day in and day out, and you can consume my musings faithfully, but until there's an exchange of comments there's not even an intellectual interaction. I'm just, as the article notes, a 'faceless wall of sound.' That may be less true for most of you out there, who actually know me in the physical realm, but even I find I lose sense of who the person on the other side of the screen is if enough time goes by.

This is also why I'm a proponent of emails, because of the opportunity for intellectual interaction that it offers. It's not guaranteed, of course. Even speaking face-to-face can be superficial and meaningless. And I think it's a rather sad state of affairs when most conversations one has follow the form of "yeah, so, uhm, yeah." Sometimes I think that, interaction without meaning, speaking without saying anything, is even worse than no interaction at all, if only because it tends to degrade all communication.

And that's what I get up for in the morning, these days anyways. I get out of bed and drive to work and fiddle around with electronics so that I can earn money to allow me to keep in touch with people. so that I can maintain my ethereal presence, yes, but also so I can drive several hundred miles to sleep on a friend's couch (er, 'futon') or just spend an evening out for dinner and drinks. Which, appropriately enough, is what I'm doing tonight. (Uhm, the drinks, not the futon.)
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
An Article on psychopathology, specifically proposing that psychopaths may not be the cold killers they're believed to be... well, OK, they are, but because they have a deficiency in information processing.
jackofallgeeks: (Wrath)
What. The. Fuck.

A bill approved by the U.S. House yesterday would require school districts around the country to establish policies making it easier for teachers and school officials to conduct wide scale searches of students. These searches could take the form of pat-downs, bag searches, or strip searches depending on how administrators interpret the law.

The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) would require any school receiving federal funding--essentially every public school--to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Saying they suspect that one student might have drugs could give officials the authority to search every student in the building.


I can not express how much this enrages me. And you know what's worse? They'd probably say some shit like "it's to protect the kids!" Protect the kids from what? Certainly not lecherous or bullying school staff. Certainly not from an invasion of privacy, or an attack on their human dignity. Certainly not from constant fear. "If you've done nothing wrong then you've nothing to fear" is always a load of crap, and especially when you're talking about arbitrarily-enforced searches for arbitrary or non-existant reasons. There're a lot of articles out there that compare public schools to prison, and this is getting disturbingly close.

There are no words.

And you know? People wonder why I'm so against schooling.
(Vector: [livejournal.com profile] amereternal)
jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
This article offers an alternate reasoning to the pay gap from the standard "the world is prejudiced against women." In short, it says that women will charge less in certain circunstances, taking into consideration the needs of clients and associates, where as men simply don't care -- an oil change costs $43 regardless of who you are.

I admit i'm biased toward this answer because it reinforces two of my core beliefs: firstly, that (in general) The World is indiferent at worst -- no one is out to ruin your life. Second, that men and women (in general) function in fundamentally different ways, and function so across all fascets of life -- women (in general) are simply always more sensitive and concerned with the relationships between people, and men are rather block-headedly based in the hard facts that it takes $43 to make a profit on an oil change.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
"If you don't understand gender differences, you end up furthering gender stereotypes."

This is an interesting article because of the gender-issues it touches on. Though I'll have to read further on to decide what I think about the school system in question (I have a rather low opinion of education -- not to be confused with learning -- in general), I've always believed there are intrinsic hard-wired differences between boys and girls, and in light of that this seems to be a reasonable move. At the same time, though, I think one of the deficiencies in the current school system is the stratification of grades; that is, 12-year olds only ever interact with other 12-year olds, etc. One of the most beneficial experiences I had in homeschooling, in my opinion, was the regular interaction with people much older and much younger than myself. I hate the word 'diversity' because it's become so loaded, but there's something to be said, I think, for exposure to other people who think and act in ways and for reasons that are different from your own. Put another way, it may be the case that single-sex classes work and are a great improvement for learning, but even at that boys and girls should have significant enough exposure to each other.

I'll read this later and think on it more.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
There are significant bits about This that I like, particularly the small paragraph near the bottom that mentions Google's success in fighting a subpoena for their search results.

News Flash!

Aug. 7th, 2006 02:07 pm
jackofallgeeks: (Shocked)
News flash: dirty song lyrics promote sex!
I haven't read this article yet, but the title makes me wince and go, "we didn't know this?"
jackofallgeeks: (Gendo)
Not everything that's wrong with society today, but a significant chunk of it. I'm only half-way through This article, but I already love it.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
There's a lot in Here that peaks my interest: that schools may be geared in such a way that favors one gender over the other; that 'learning disability' may often just mean the child isn't fitting the educational mold we expect them to; considering how culturally-influenced gender roles are, and whether they might not be hard-wired in some way. that's a lot to think about. Unfortunately, I can't take the time to think about it here at work and as I'm going to The Beach for the weekend this afternoon, probably won't be able to look at it until Monday or so...
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
I'm really not sure if I'm surprised by This or not. I really want to say I am, but...
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
In short, I do think that the American educational system is failing, though all I have is empirical evidence, not numbers like in this article.

And numbers, especially statistics, never lie.</sarcasm>

Reading through it, though, I get a distinct feeling of some kind of bait-and-switch, smoke-and-mirrors argument that the schools aren't failing, despite the masses of people in America that can't recount pertinent history, use propper grammar, or even really be bothered to care about things like 'learning' and 'knowledge.'
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
This is a silly little article with a few grains of truth. I can proudly claim that Number 3 doesn't really apply to me -- I kind of have spent my formative years looking to settle down with a girl and grow old together -- but it all made me smile, and I think it's rather encouraging.

Next, the women's side.
jackofallgeeks: (Decepticons)
This is something I'd like to return to when i'm not at work. For a primer, I don't think the action taken was right. Story at 11.
jackofallgeeks: (WTF)
Little things like this make me think "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio..."

Creepy and fascinating all at once.
jackofallgeeks: (Contemplative)
Here's an article titled "Is Abortion Bad?"
I've read it, and I've thought on it, but I haven't the time to put them down right now.
I'll get to that later.
In the meantime, feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.
jackofallgeeks: (Wrath)
What. The. Hell!?
Just what do These Guys think they're doing?
For convenience:
US music publishers are calling for the imprisonment of owners of websites that contain song lyrics, guitar tabs and musical scores.

And of course, the same three-note reasoning:
'Unauthorised use of lyrics and tablature deprives the songwriter of the ability to make a living, and is no different than stealing,'

I mean..! There's just..!
Words fail me.
OK, look people. Music means things to people. Lyrics say something. We're not talking about taking someone's design for 'silent Velcro' or something like that, and selling it so they can't. Some kid who posts lyrics on his blog isn't hurting the musician, he's supporting him. That's the 'effing fanbase, you idiots! If a kid goes online to get guitar tabs of a song he likes so he can learn to play the guitar and emulate an artist he admires, that is a good thing. And it doesn't hurt the artist!

I still hold that file-sharing is doing more good for artists than harm, and that the big 'issue' here is that CD sales are going down. I've even admitted that I'm willing to pay a reasonable price to get the music files I'm interested in, and have been looking into services like iTunes and Napster; so if you want your corporate revenue, there you go.

But don't cry to me about "the poor starving artist," and how we're "denying him a living." If you had your way, Mr. Corporation, you'd be taking food out of his 'effing mouth yourself; he's a cash-cow to you, but he really means something to us, the fans. He speaks to us, he puts to music what we can't even get in words.

And even at that, there are no more than two types of artist out there, by my reckoning: those who make obscene amounts of money, on the order of pro-athletes or third-world countries, and as such won't even notice a dip in their record sales; and actual artists who make more off their live shows, their actual performances, the thing that makes them artists, then off of record sales. And even at that, I don't see any problem if someone can take your song, and play it his way, and have people like it more. that's his skill set, that's his talent. There's no 'safeguard' to me 'making a living' if someone else gets hired because he's a better programmer. That's the downside of this great Capitalistic society we have: you can sell anything, but if you can't get people to buy your product, your performance, you're out of luck. That doesn't mean art isn't beautiful -- and it sure as hell doesn't mean art should be a slave to the All-Mighty Dollar! Anyone who started out doing music because they had something to say should know that, and anyone who became a musician solely to make money deserves to take a financial hit as consequence.

-snear- Put people in jail for lyrics and guitar-tabs posted online? You people make me sick.
jackofallgeeks: (Integrity)
A friend pointed me to This article, the implications of which are simply disgusting. That our society is so... twisted as to demand beauty bow before... what? Money? Someone else in the thread used the term "Mammonist" in reference to this 'new' sort of fanatic. I like the term.

For my part, I'm not the artsy-sort. I like to pretend I can write, but I'm generally rather analytical and goal-oriented and all that. I'm probably quite suited for ending up as one-size-or-another cog in some capitalist machine; that having been said, I do this grudgingly, and only because bills have to be paid and food has to be put on the table (which itself needs to be paid for). I'm generally OK with this, because I like what I do (Computers) and I believe that providing for the family I hope to have is a goal worth sacrificing myself on the Corporate alter. If I were to really strike it big and one day acquire vast sums of money, though, I would pour LOTS of it into theatre and music and anything else that's "unproductive" but beautiful. I'm a big proponent of students in College studying what interests them, not what will make them money, and I would like to help people do just that.
jackofallgeeks: (Goofy)
Everything else aside, you have to admit that This is really freaking cool.

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