Real robot drama is happening on Mars today. Spirit, racing for her life to find shelter before winter, injured and underpowered after four years of hard labor, may have made her most significant find yet. The broken foot she’s dragged behind her for the past two years unexpectedly uncovered evidence of a once-wet Mars with conditions theoretically hospitable for primitive life.
Some great comments in the thread:
Reason #17 why I love living in the 21st Century: Headlines like
Spirit is called “her” because, despite years of performing well over expectations and in much harder conditions that most will ever see, she still earns only a tiny fraction of the income and respect that her male counterparts enjoy.
update: APOD has a great picture on this as well.
Microsoft’s PlaysForSure DRM just took another step closer to the grave with the help of some rebranding. Those of you with players from SanDisk, Nokia, and Creative among others, looking for compatible music from Napster, Real Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, Wal-Mart and such must now look for the “Certified for Windows Vista” logo, not PlaysForSure. Of course, Microsoft’s Zune is also certified for Windows Vista, just not certified for Windows Vista so it won’t play back the same protected files. Man, could DRM get any more consumer unfriendly?
Actually, yes, it can. Just wait for the next attempt to polish this turd.
Here’s a fresh Apple rumor in the run-up to MacWorld: a TomTom GPS module for the iPhone. We just received this supposed photographic “evidence” of said device from a Dutch tipster. Our take? Might be, might not. TomTom is a Dutch company and a righteous, straight-talkin’ Dutchman would never tell such a fib, would he? On the other hand, that device is clearly not in a car heading to Rotterdam. Still, it could be a route demo and that stretch of highway (A13/E19) is a favorite for internal TomTom validation studies.
Shell, the oil company that recently trumpeted its commitment to a low carbon future by signing a pre-Bali conference communique, has quietly sold off most of its solar business.
The move, taken with rival BP’s decision last week to invest in the world’s dirtiest oil production in Canada’s tar sands, indicates that Big Oil might be giving up its flirtation with renewables and going back to its roots.
Take a moment to review this painting
How does it strike you? Do you see it as an expression of Truth, or do you feel the artist was sorely mistaken? If you’re Christian, are you offended? In my opinion, one’s opinion of this painting is a good litmus test of how well one understands Jesus’ message, and the story of this painting is proof that many who claim to be followers of Jesus don’t.
If you’re offended, take some time to read the whole thing. (and if you’re not, go read the whole thing anyway, it tells you something about a lot of Christians)
In a surprise ruling the Federal Court of Canada has overturned the “Canada United States Safe Third Country Agreement” in a judgment issued on November 29, 2007.
In a 124-page decision Mr. Justice Michael Phelan ruled that the Safe Third Country Agreement, which came into effect on Dec. 29, 2004 and regulated refugee movement between Canada and the U.S., violates refugee rights and that the United States did not meet the conditions required to be considered a “Safe Country” under the terms of the Agreement.
The Agreement was also held to be contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “The interest at stake is highly important to an individual’s life, safety and dignity,” wrote Justice Phelan.
The Judge stated, “I would therefore conclude that the designation of the U.S. as a safe third country leads to a discriminatory result, in that it has a much more severe impact on persons who fall into the areas where the U.S. is not compliant with the Refugee Convention or CAT (Convention Against Torture), as well as discriminating and exposing such people to risk based solely on the method of arrival in Canada.”
“For the reasons outlined in this judgment, the United States’ policies and practices do not meet the conditions set down for authorizing Canada to enter into a Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA),” Justice Phelan stated.
According to figures compiled by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), almost 30m people claimed “no religion” in 2001, a doubling from 1991. This dwarfs America’s 2.8m who describe themselves as Jews according to the same survey (although other estimates suggest that the Jewish population is much larger, at about 6m). Catholicism, the country’s largest Christian denomination, boasts 51m followers. In other words, irreligion claims a surprisingly large number of adherents. Mr Romney’s attack on disbelievers prompted Christopher Hitchens, a well-known polemicist and the author of “God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything”, to describe him as “Entirely lacking in dignity or nobility (or average integrity)”. Others cited Thomas Jefferson’s ruder comments about religion. Even some conservative columnists chided Mr Romney for not saying, as George Bush has, that people of no faith at all are Americans too.
And yet those with no religious beliefs are shut out from political power. Earlier this year, a secularist group offered $1,000 to the highest-ranking politician in the land who would publicly proclaim no belief in God. This turned out to be Peter Stark, a Democratic congressman from the San Francisco area. He is the only congressman, of 535, who professes no belief in the Almighty.
Mr Stark suspects that many of his colleagues secretly agree with him. But they dare not do so publicly, even Democrats. And every one of the Democratic presidential contenders has talked about God; they even submitted to an awkward debate on religion, in which they were asked about their biggest sin and their favourite bible verses. The Republicans were not put through a similar inquisition; their religious bona fides are apparently not in any doubt.
If atheists, agnostics and secularists could polish their image they might prove powerful, and increasingly so. If the number of people declaring “no religion” can double over the ten years to 2001 who know how many more there are now or might be in years to come. Polls have shown that eight years of Mr Bush’s mix of piety, divisiveness and incompetence have pushed young people towards the secular in higher numbers than before.
If these growing ranks concentrate on areas where American religiosity can do harm—over-aggressive proselytising in the armed forces, undermining science or AIDS programmes, alienating minorities at home and Muslims abroad—they could wield the sort of influence that any other minority representing 10% of the country might do. An unbelieving president still seems an unlikely prospect. On the other hand, only 53% of Americans still say they would not vote for an otherwise well-qualified atheist.