Archive for August 10th, 2010

Dangerous Intersection is under construction, always

| August 10, 2010 | 2 Replies
Dangerous Intersection is under construction, always

Recently, it occurred to me that we should have a mobile version of Dangerous Intersection, but I learned that the plugins allowing mobile versions required upgrading my WordPress Platform version. My past two attempts to upgrade to 2.9x hadn’t gone well (I twice tried and twice reverted to version 2.7 over the past few months). This week’s upgrade to 3.0 worked without any snags, however. I truly love the WordPress system and the fact that it’s open-source software.

To take full advantage of the 3.0 features, I also decided to upgrade the design of this website, making use of Solostream’s newest WordPress design theme, called “Prosper.” BTW, I’m extremely happy with Solostream’s products, forums and customer service. In case you’re wondering, this single use version of “Prosper” cost $79, which I consider a great price, given the loads of feature options, most of which require no knowledge of html. There’s no way I could have afforded a custom design this sophisticated.

Coming soon, I hope, will be a mobile version of Dangerous Intersection. Until I started using an iPhone (my workplace offered them to employees this year), it didn’t occur to me that I would actually spend significant amounts of time reading from a mobile device, especially while waiting in lines or riding mass transit. Well, that’s how the world is moving, it seems.

I hope you enjoy the new design of DI, which I worked to make more “open” than my previous designs. You’ll notice that it is a two-column site now (more or less). I also took the liberty of reworking the title artwork and moving in some new navigation features. For instance, if you search categories or key words, the results will now show up in three columns, making it easier to scan your results. I’m still making quite a few tweaks, and some of the previously existing features are not yet back in. Thus, you are looking at a design-work-in-progress to go along with the contemplative-work-in-progress. If this website continues to be successful, that is how it should be—one of our main goals should always be to avoid ossification. That is essentially what philosopher Bertrand Russell once told someone who had accused him of having changed his mind on a topic. Russell pointed out that the option to changing is stagnating.

Update: We now seem to have the mobile version of Dangerous Intersection working. I’ve been testing it on an iPhone, while Josh Timmons, who aptly hosts the site and provides technical consultations, indicates that DI also looks good on Android.

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U.K. Guardian skewers the “war on drugs”

| August 10, 2010 | 1 Reply
U.K. Guardian skewers the “war on drugs”

It’s clearly time to rethink the U.S. War on Drugs. For many good reasons, consider this Editorial by the U.K.Guardian:

If the purpose of drug policy is to make toxic substances available to anyone who wants them in a flourishing market economy controlled by murderous criminal gangs, the current arrangements are working well. If, however, the goal is to reduce the amount of drugs being consumed and limit the harm associated with addiction, it is surely time to tear up the current policy. It has failed.

This is not a partial failure. For as long as courts and jails have been the tools for controlling drugs, their use has increased. Police are powerless to control the flow. One recent estimate calculated that around 1% of the total supply to the UK is intercepted. Attempts to crack down have little impact, except perhaps in siphoning vulnerable young people into jails where they can mature into hardened villains.

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The mystery of early puberty

| August 10, 2010 | 7 Replies
The mystery of early puberty

A new study available from the journal Pediatrics (subscription required) shows that girls are entering puberty at steadily younger ages. WebMD explains:

The researchers assessed the onset of puberty by a standard measurement of breast development.

They compared the findings to a 1997 study of age of puberty. They found the following in a study of girls aged 6-8:

  • 10.4% of white girls in the current study had breast development, compared to 5% in the 1997 study.
  • 23.4% of African-American girls had breast development, compared to 15.4% in the 1997 study.

The early onset of puberty is found to be correlated with both race and body-mass index (BMI). But what’s causing girls to enter puberty sooner?

The researchers also collected urine and blood specimens from the girls to look at levels of compounds called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, Biro says, to see what role these environmental exposures might play in early puberty.

”It appears that some of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals are interacting with body composition and this may be the reason some girls are going into puberty earlier and others later,” Biro tells WebMD. “That would have to be speculation,” he says of the interaction idea. “But we do know BMI is doing it.”

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Hitchens, Prayer, and Decency

| August 10, 2010 | 1 Reply
Hitchens, Prayer, and Decency

Christopher Hitchens has esophageal cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy. His prognosis is not good, as this is a particularly nasty form of cancer with a low survival rate.

It turns out that many people are praying for his recovery, which I find ironic but wonderful. This is, I’ve been told, what true christianity is supposed to be like—extending the benevolence of your faith to those who might qualify as an enemy. If only all christians were like that. If only those who are like that were the loudest voices.

Unfortunately, the screaming meme misanthropic anti-intellectual pre-Enlightenment ignoramus branch of the movement tends to dominate a lot of the discourse, from the supporters of Proposition 8 to those who are not only praying for Hitch to die, but are sending notice of such prayers to public fora and putting megaphone to mouth so as many people as they can blast with their message will hear.

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