Archive for August 31st, 2009

Conspiracy theorist convinces Neil Armstrong that moon landing was hoax

| August 31, 2009 | 1 Reply
Conspiracy theorist convinces Neil Armstrong that moon landing was hoax

This is quite amazing. A conspiracy theorist has now convinced astronaut Neil Armstrong that claims of moon landings are hoaxes. The Onion reports:

Apollo 11 mission commander and famed astronaut Neil Armstrong shocked reporters at a press conference Monday, announcing he had been convinced that his historic first step on the moon was part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the United States government.

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Craigslist: a most unusual near-monopoly

| August 31, 2009 | 6 Replies
Craigslist:  a most unusual near-monopoly

Wired’s Gary Wolf gives a detailed look at Craiglist. This is truly a remarkable story of a business that is not in it to gouge consumers. Quite the opposite. Consider the eccentricities of the founder, Craig Newmark:

Newmark’s claim of almost total disinterest in wealth dovetails with the way craigslist does business. Besides offering nearly all of its features for free, it scorns advertising, refuses investment, ignores design, and does not innovate. Ordinarily, a company that showed such complete disdain for the normal rules of business would be vulnerable to competition, but craigslist has no serious rivals. The glory of the site is its size and its price. But seen from another angle, craigslist is one of the strangest monopolies in history, where customers are locked in by fees set at zero and where the ambiance of neglect is not a way to extract more profit but the expression of a worldview.

The axioms of this worldview are easy to state. “People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day,” Newmark says. If most people are good and their needs are simple, all you have to do to serve them well is build a minimal infrastructure allowing them to get together and work things out for themselves. Any additional features are almost certainly superfluous and could even be damaging.

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Missouri’s Turn for Anti-Science Ridicule

| August 31, 2009 | 3 Replies
Missouri’s Turn for Anti-Science Ridicule

A minor brouhaha erupted over a t-shirt in Sedalia Missouri. But this isn’t about an uppity student. The band director designed an official band t-shirt to illustrate the evolution of brass music. What image did he choose to evoke the idea?

Yep, a common ascent-of-man icon from the early 20th century.

After some parents saw the shirt proudly worn at the Missouri State Fiar parade, they complained. From the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch:

“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt,” said Sherry Melby, a band parent who teaches in the district. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”

What sort of science program do you think she had? What sort do you think she would vote for?

The school quickly recalled the t-shirts, eating the cost of their production, and will be designing new shirts that don’t offend by presenting an image that obliquely refers to actual science.

Naturally, Pharyngula jumped on it.

And in the Sedalia Democrat, they quote the assistant band director about pulling the shirts,

“If the shirts had said ‘Brass Resurrections’ and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing,” he said.

Apparently there is a strong belief that science is a religion that should not even be tangentially promoted over any other belief.

And people wonder why I sometimes write that I live in the state of Misery.

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