The other night CBS news reported a study on Americans and religion. The most interesting part was that only 1.6% of Americans are Jewish, yet since they dominate the media (it seems like every actor is a Jew), the perception is that they comprise a large proportion of the country. It is interesting and concerning that such an overestimation can occur, but then, statistics are the bastard child of maths.

Female Dress

The whole religious debate about how women should (or may) dress is idiotic. Like everything else in the world, the key is balance.

The reason that “conservative” religions like Islam, Mormonism, etc. dictate that women must dress to the nines so to speak (that is, they must be clothed enough to show as little of themselves as possible—though the degree of coverage varies greatly even within a single religion), is to prevent arousing males, and thus avoid rape. It helps the women by saving them from being raped, and the men by helping them avoid raping.

The contention comes when extremists like Al Qaeda force their women to dress in “bee-keeper outfits”, “burlap sacs”, , etc. One does not however need to be an ultra-liberal to think those outfits excessive.

Of course “liberal” nations are not exactly faring much better; they have ridiculously high rape, rape-murder, pedophilia, molestation, etc. rates. Then there’s all the men who don’t actually commit rape, but suffer because they are constantly bombarded by flesh, and have to struggle to “keep it in their pants”.

Again, the whole debate is idiotic since it seems like such a no-brainer: balance. Share the responsibility of preventing rape between men and women instead of putting the entire onus on just one side. Woman shouldn’t have to dress like a sac of onions to avoid being raped; men should control themselves. On the other hand, women shouldn’t walk around with their tits hanging out, forcing men to get themselves snipped to stop their suffering.

If women dress (and are allowed to dress) comfortably and stylishly, and modestly and appropriately everybody wins.


America is England

I’m watching The Colbert Report right now and Stephen made an interesting analogy. He is talking to Congressman Phil Hare from “The Fighting 17th” of Illinois and compared the civil war in Iraq with the American Civil War. He played his roundabout game of confusion by saying that America is the Union in this analogy.

In fact, if the civil war in Iraq is like the American Civil War, then America is sort of like the British, in that they are not really part of it at all, but rather an enemy from a former battle—well for the most part, America’s got it’s nose in Iraq’s conflict.

Daylight Savings Change

What is the big deal with the change in daylight savings time rules? Why are people making such a big freaking fuss about it? It changes almost nothing.

There are two main kinds of time-keeping devices that are affected by this: auto-adjust and manual-adjust.

The manual-adjusted devices are not affected whatsoever. Before the change, you would simply wait for the TV to tell you to move your clocks forward or backward an hour and then you would do so. The only difference now is that the TV tells you to do it four weeks earlier and later. Microwave clocks, grandfather clocks, wristwatches, etc. are not affected.

Auto-adjusted devices are a little more complicated. They come in two types: updateable and non-updatable. Updateables are things like computers which will receive patches to update their daylight-savings logic so that they are aware of the new rules. These are unaffected because once they are patched, they follow the new rules. Done. The non-updateable devices include VCRs and such. These are usually older devices that include the auto-adjust ability as a convenience. In most cases you can simply turn off the auto-adjust and update it with the rest of your manual-adjustment devices. Done.

Frankly, the only things that are detrimentally affected by the change are devices that cannot be updated and cannot have the auto-adjustment turned off. In these rare few cases, you merely adjust them manually with the rest of the manual-adjustment devices, and then adjust them once more when they mistakenly update according to the old rules. In other words, a few people in the continent will have to spend an extra minute per year updating a couple of devices. That’s it, no big deal, stop panicking!

Racism Knows No Species

It’s fascinating that blacks just cannot get a break no matter the species. It is well known that black humans have had a tough time at the hands of whites for hundreds of years, but apparently black squirrels are no stranger to racism either. It seems that grey squirrels are a lot more aggressive than black squirrels and will fight and chase them for food and territory. Very interesting…

Rollercoaster Masochism

What exactly makes a roller-coaster ride so much fun? Certainly the physics is part of it; the speed, the momentary weightlessness, the air, the normally impossible manoeuvres; but there is no doubt that the danger is as much, if not more a part of it. The idea of possibly dying makes roller-coasters a thrill just as it does for skydiving and bungee jumping.

What would happen if you rode a roller-coaster that you knew was completely safe? That is, you know for certain that there is a 100% chance of living through it because there was absolutely no possibility whatsoever of getting hurt (let alone dying). Would you still enjoy it? Would it feel the same?

I’ve also wondered the same thing about watching scary movies or eating hot peppers. Why do we enjoy things that are ostensibly harmful? That’s definitely masochistic.

I Smell Burnt Toast – Would You Know If Your Brain Broke?

Would you know it if your brain was not functioning correctly? Perhaps; it depends on exactly what problem it was having.

Would you know if you had forgotten something? How could you if you have forgotten it? Wouldn’t simply knowing that you knew it allow you to know it? Again, it depends on the knowledge. It’s possible to know that you used to know how to integrate a calculus problem, but be unable to do so anymore because you’ve forgotten how. You have lost the primary knowledge, but retained the meta-knowledge, that is, knowledge about other knowledge. On the other hand, you could know that you have an appointment tomorrow, but forget it. There is no meta-knowledge involved in this however because the mere act of knowing that you know that you have an appointment is itself the primary knowledge: that you have an appointment. The closest thing to meta-knowledge in this case would be knowing that you had to do something, but cannot remember what, but that is too generic and applies to pretty much all knowledge one has.

What about more significant damage? What if you incur Alzheimer’s disease? Would you know it? How could you since the disease affects the fundamental ability to think?

These problems arise because the brain is our primary (and only) method of thinking about things, including our brains themselves. If the brain gets damaged, how can it think about itself? If you sustain some brain damage resulting in a loss of cognitive ability, how can you know it if that requires the brain to know and understand it?