I just love-nit pickers
The Case for the Legalization of Marijuana: "Sixty thousand people are behind bars today for marijuana offenses. This is costing taxpayers $1.2 billion per year (Thomas). Is it really worth it? Marijuana should be legalized in the United States for all to grow, distribute, purchase, and use, because marijuana prohibition causes far more damage than marijuana itself. Those in favor of prohibition would have you believe that marijuana destroys people's lives. They would tell you that innocent little Johnny would have been successful, but then he smoked some weed and his life was ruined. This is far from the truth. The reality is that people who are not going to succeed are in a position in which they are more likely to smoke marijuana. There is no causal relationship however, between marijuana and personal success."
The Genetic Origin of Ashkenazi Genius: "A genetics paper published in the Journal of Biosocial Science in June, ‘Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence,’ makes the following claims about Ashkenazi European Jews: They have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group. Their intelligence advantage is genetic. Their intelligence advantage is recent. Jews as a whole are not of above-average intelligence, just the Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi intelligence is a result of natural selection. The paper is important not just for what it says about the Ashkenazi, but also for what it says about the nature of intelligence and genes. A surprising amount of favorable press coverage was generated over it—positive coverage appeared in both The Economist and The New York Times—despite the fact that the authors are claiming that: a) some racial differences in intelligence exist, and b) that they can be genetic in origin."
Hannibal Lecter: Transhumanist Icon: "In certain circles you hear the word Transhumanism a lot lately. This is the idea that new technologies will make people so intelligent, powerful, healthy, and long-lived that we will not be merely human any more; we will transcend what is commonly called the 'human condition' and become something more like gods. Of course it's very difficult to imagine what it would be like to become something so much better and different than ourselves. But it's also an old dream of ours, and some of our brightest thinkers have tried to imagine it for us. Come with me on a slightly different reading of a character you've probably already met: One of the most well known and yet clearly transhuman characters in modern literature is Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer who has now appeared in three novels by Thomas Harris. (Note: In case you are one of the six people left who have never read these books or seen the movies, this review does spoil all the endings.)"
Daily Show on Scientology: "Cory Doctorow:
The Daily Show recently tackled the subject of Scientology and celebrity, focusing on the woo-woo origin story that involves the Galactic Tyrant Xenu banishing pure energy beings called Thetans to Earth. The segment is incredibly funny.
(Via Boing Boing.)
Macrofocus bug photos for sale: "Cory Doctorow:
Last spring, I blogged about Rick Lieder's incredible macro-focus insect photos. Instead of shooting bugs in a studio under lights, Rick crouches motionless in his garden for hours at a stretch and waits for his moment. The results are naturalistic and outstanding -- breathtaking, even.
A lot of people asked Rick if he had art lithos of his photos available for sale. He took the hint and has started to offer large, limited-edition prints of his bugs for sale via PayPal. (NB: Rick is also a talented and prolific science fiction and fantasy illustrator whose paintings and drawings grace many of the finer books at your local bookseller)
(Via Boing Boing.)
Auteurs Glimpse Digital Future: Ray Bradbury at DGA event: "Xeni Jardin:
I filed this report for Wired News today about the Directors Guild of America's annual Digital Day event, which gives filmmakers a look at revolutionary new movie-making gear. Future-lit legend Ray Bradbury (who hatehatehates being called a science fiction writer) spoke there.
'When I go into meetings at the big studios, I try to hide the fact that I love movies,' Ray Bradbury told an audience of filmmakers at the Directors Guild of America's yearly Digital Day event this weekend.
'You, too, have to disguise the fact that you love making movies.... If you revealed it to them, you'd never get paid.'
Addressing an overflow crowd of more than 600 at the guild-members-only gathering, the 85-year-old author admitted to being a voracious film fan since childhood -- so much so that he keeps a TV set in his home tuned in to classic movies all day.
Bradbury's name appears in more than 50 years' worth of writing credits for movies including It Came From Outer Space, Fahrenheit 451, and the big-screen adaptation of Moby Dick for director John Huston. But he expresses little love for some of Hollywood's more recent big-budget blockbusters.
'I hope we start making better films,' he said, acknowledging that some of his own midcentury favorites might seem silly to audiences today.
'We've been making a lot of lousy ones lately. But I'm writing an article called 'Better Silly Than Stupid,' and anyone who's seen Van Helsing knows what I'm talking about.'
(Via Boing Boing.)
The Quill Awards (you care; you just don't know you care) has listed the top five nominees for each of their 19 categories, and the awards ceremony will be televised on October 22. So how'd they do?
American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
Bone by Jeff Smith
In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman
Marvel 1602 Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman, Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi
180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day edited by Billy Collins
Ariel: The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath
Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
Blue Iris by Mary Oliver
Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes
Syntax of Things spends some time going through the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book online image archive. He comes across this picture of a young Ernest Hemingway, looking like a somewhat jauntier Leonardo DiCaprio."