Random Thoughts

Colonial Williamsburg is basically a theme park about colonial days in America, the time in the 18th century before and around the establishment of the United States. It can be somewhat kitschy[1], but it can also provide a good bit of education about U.S. history.

New Global Best-Seller

"The Terrorist Hunters" is a new book by Andy Hayman, C.B.E., Q.P.M., former Assistant Commisioner of Scotland Yard, and one-time head of the Yard's head of Special
Operations.  It is set to become a global best-seller.

Following a precedent set by a previous inept British government in the matter of "Spycatcher", the British Attorney General, a direct political appointee of Gordon Brown, the soon-to-be-outgoing British Prime Minister,  has obtained an order banning sales of the book in the UK.
It's late, but still morning in my time zone:

Agnosticism is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle. Positively the principle may be expressed as, in matter of intellect, follow your reason as far as it can carry you without other considerations. And negatively, in matters of the intellect, do not pretend the conclusions are certain that are not demonstrated or demonstrable. It is wrong for a man to say he's certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.

- Thomas Huxley, Collected Essays, vol. 5 p. 237

Tangential Science: It isn't necessarily science, but it's still funny.

1. Want a business card made out of meat and lasers? You're in luck! Meat Cards is having a contest to win one. All you have to do is recreate a classic Frank Frazetta poster and you can win, you guessed it, a meat card, which is basically beef jerky with laser writing on it.   I kind of wish I had thought of this first.

Maj. Frazer: Just how much do you think human lives are worth, McCabe?
Marshal Guthrie McCabe: Whatever the market will bear! No more, no less.
-Two Rode Together (1961)
Well, I don't know how much a human life is worth or what the market will bear, but I do know what the value of a Twitter follower is.
Improvement makes strait roads; but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.

- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Proverbs of Hell #66

Michael Jackson had a voice which was sublime, other worldly for it's softness and notable for it's soft childlike qualities even when he was in his 40's.  Castrati were castrated  men who by nature or human action had similar voices and were common in the 17 and 1800's. 

His voice  did not change much from "ABC-123", to Thriller.  He got bigger, his voice got bigger, but it never really broke.  His songs were timeless and there was much more to him than just a singing voice.  His creative genius, hard work and love for his art make him an unparalleled talent.  His music will be listened to and enjoyed for the next 500 years.  We were all privileged to have lived in the same era as he.
Piracy fascinates me.  I have no interest in being a pirate, but I am fascinated by the factors that govern pirate behavior.

According to this article (no confirmation that this is true):
Luxury ocean liners in Russia are offering pirate hunting cruises aboard armed private yachts off the Somali coast. 

Wealthy punters pay £3,500 per day to patrol the most dangerous waters in the world hoping to be attacked by raiders.

Behold and understand why I consider river otters the finest metazoans around.  Sorry, fellow humans you let me down.  We present the jazz stylings of Dua, the small-clawed Asian river otter.

* Potentially non-platonic, yet still appropriately sport contexted butt slap to Skepchick Amanda.
Queens of the Geek Chic movement, the Skepchicks, have announced their second annual Skeptical Drink Contest.  Last year's skeptic themed drink winner was the apparently tasty Sylvia Browne (no thematic taste of cigarette butts or vague predictions) with the runner-up and people's (i.e., alcoholics) choice being the aptly named mix of tang and vodka, the Buzzed Aldrin, which is doubly cool because Buzz actually