[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
Graham Lester's LiveJournal:
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|Tuesday, March 30th, 2004|
|Monday, March 29th, 2004|
|Water Problems at the Oasis of Corporate Health
Last Thursday I was given one day’s notice at the temp job where I had been working for six months. Since my assignment was originally supposed to be over last December, I can’t really complain.
Today I started a new assignment at a building that I have previously described as the most ugly building in the world, but which the BBC, on the other hand, considers an
oasis of corporate fitness.
Apparently uglier buildings make for prettier occupants. This particular complex has always reminded me of the Victorian lunatic asylum
where my mother used to work.
But this post is not about aesthetics. It’s about my drug test.
I was supposed to take a drug test this morning before going on to the workplace, so I did what I always do before a drug test: I drank inordinate amounts of water so that I would be able to pee on demand.
I drank five pints of water and then I went down to the lab. Unfortunately, it being a Monday morning, there was rather a long wait. After a while, I was desperate to pee. “Aha, this must be what it’s like to be pregnant,” I thought to myself, “It truly sucks.”
After about half an hour I felt as if I might burst at any moment and I gave up. I made my way in excruciating discomfort to the nearest toilet. Sweet relief. Afterwards I went back to the lab and was told to go away and drink more water and come back in at least half an hour.
So I drank the remaining three pints of the gallon of water that I had brought in the car and came back about 40 minutes later and gave them what they wanted. Then I went to work. I arrived about an hour later than I had intended but I had no idea that I was considered late because I didn’t think that they would expect me to take the drug test and still be there on time, even under optimal circumstances. Normally, I would have apologized profusely for being late but in this case I had no idea that I was even considered late. I only knew that I wasn’t as early as I had originally planned.
During the remaining three hours of the four-hour shift I had to go to the restroom twice more because of the cumulated effect of drinking so much water. I took no other breaks.
When I got home from work I received a phone call from the temp agency telling me that I didn’t need to go back tomorrow.
I was fired because of a drug test that I passed.
|Sunday, March 28th, 2004|
|Saturday, March 27th, 2004|
|Food for Thought
Francis Wheen has written a short piece on the Top Ten Modern Delusions that is well worth perusal, although I don’t agree with him entirely. Here is his list:
1. "God is on our side"
2. The market is rational
3. There is no such thing as reality
4. We mustn't be "judgmental"
5. Laissez-faire capitalism is the prerequisite for trade and prosperity
6. Astrology and similar delusions are "harmless fun"
7. Thin air is solid
8. Sentimental hysteria is a sign of emotional maturity
9. America's economic success is entirely due to private enterprise
10. "It could be you. . ."
Some of these headings won’t make a lot of sense unless you read the whole article.
|Wednesday, March 24th, 2004|
|Child Abuse (No Comment Necessary)
From the Haaretz Daily:
"Israel Defense Forces paratroopers caught a Palestinian boy aged 14 wearing an explosive belt at the Hawara roadblock, south of Nablus, in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon. . . . (snip)
Abdu told soldiers of his dream of receiving 72 virgins in heaven, which his dispatchers had promised him, and said that he had been tempted by the promise of sexual relations with the virgins. He said that he had been bullied at school for his poor academic performance and that he had wanted 'to be a hero.'
The commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel 'Guy,' told Haaretz that the boy was apparently instructed to set off the explosives he was wearing among the soldiers.
It appears that he was afraid to detonate the bomb at the site, as he was surrounded by Palestinians and the soldiers were too far away. Lieutenant Colonel 'Guy' added that the 'level of awareness' of the soldiers prevented a serious terrorist attack.
The family of the boy said that he was gullible. 'He doesn't know anything,' his brother, Hosni, said." read the rest
|Monday, March 22nd, 2004|
|The Secret of My Success (as a Failure)
For those of us ordinary folks who are not part of any privileged elite, the secret of maintaining sanity in the modern world is really fairly simple. It is a matter of balance. Equilibrium.
You have to balance the depression against the stress. The key to survival is to use them as mutual antidotes. You want to avoid getting so completely depressed that you are unable to function. Stress is the answer. Stress will keep you moving. On the other hand, you want to avoid getting so stressed out that you explode and do someone some serious damage. That is where depression can be a lifesaver.
I have found in my investigations that as long as one does not allow either one of these devils to get the upper hand, a single organism can carry almost infinite amounts of both stress and depression without ever completely yielding. I find in particular that the stress of having an out of control 11-year-old autistic child and the depression of being unable to find work complement each other in a most agreeable manner, thus enabling the particular organism under consideration to achieve a level of sustained and maximized futility that I can only describe (and yes, I am patting myself on the back a little here) as a marvel of the modern world.
Two solutions to stress and depression are Rocky and Bullwinkle, so check out the Bestofme Symphony 16
now up at Practical Penumbra.
|Sunday, March 21st, 2004|
|Saturday, March 20th, 2004|
Here’s an interesting story from New Scientist about an IT consultant’s one-man war against online pedophiles. He’s developed a program called ChatNannies. It creates spin-off applications called nanniebots, which pose as children initiating chatroom conversations. The nanniebots analyze responses from other chatroom participants and report anything suspicious. The inventor, Jim Wightman, claims that none of the 2,000 chatroom participants who have interacted with the nanniebots has caught them out so far. Story here.
Here’s a pair of fun sites where you can design your own bumper stickers
Great for fundraisers.
|Friday, March 19th, 2004|
|Wednesday, March 17th, 2004|
|For Saint Patrick's Day
An Englishman, A Scotsman, and an Irishman go into a pub, and each orders a Guinness.
As they’re about to begin drinking, a fly lands on the head of each pint.
The Englishman pushes his pint away in disgust.
The Scotsman picks the fly from the glass, tosses it away, and downs his drink.
The Irishman picks out the fly, holds it up close to his face, and shouts:
“Spit it out ya little bastard. Spit it out!”
|Monday, March 15th, 2004|
Where did the water on Mars come from? A difficult question to answer because it turns out that we’re not at all sure where the water on Earth
A correlation between the establishment of casinos and a doubling in personal bankruptcy filings
in the surrounding area.
How humane is lethal injection? It looks as if states that use pancuronium bromide had better consider switching to sodium pentobarbitol if they want to avoid accusations of cruel and unusual punishment.Robin Picks Wrong Hood
|Saturday, March 13th, 2004|
|Quick Rant About It All
Well, this should be interesting. We’re going to have an election that’s largely about the economy fought between two contestants neither one of whom seems to know anything at all about economics.
Gay marriage? A massive and acrimonious public debate about what label to apply to gay couples. Are “civil union” and “marriage” not just two labels for the same state? What does the label have to do with the essence? Allowing gays to use the word “marriage” for their unions will have no effect whatsoever on heterosexual marriages.
It’s an interesting gamble though. Republican strategists and gay activists seem to have quite different interpretations as to the mood of the public. One side thinks going anti-gay will help garner more votes while the other thinks that society has progressed to the point that gay marriage will be officially tolerated. I tend to think that the Republicans have underestimated the speed at which cultural norms are shifting. I think that most Americans would prefer to just let gays make their own choices. We have been told so many times that the toleration of homosexuality will cause the sky to fall, but it hasn’t fallen yet. I think most of us would just like to try treating them with a bit of respect for a change.
I am embarrassed by Bush’s support for an anti-gay marriage amendment, but it doesn’t anger me because my gut feeling is that he sincerely believes that gay marriage is a violation of God’s will. Kerry’s opposition to gay marriage, however, seems to me to rest on no spiritual conviction. He is not against homosexuality as such but only against supporting gays when they want his to endorse changes that might cost him votes. So I think that Kerry’s stance is cowardly whereas Bush’s is just wrongheaded. I think that the Republican strategists are taking advantage of Bush’s Christian beliefs in a way that is rather ill advised.
I also think that the Republicans missed a major windfall this week. If they had not launched this silly “900 billion dollar” negative ad, Kerry’s “worst bunch of crooks” remark could have seriously damaged him. The use of negative ads by the Republicans so early in the campaign has prevented them from gaining the moral high ground.
I thought that Kerry came across as aristocratic in the worst possible way – the educated snob telling the dumb blue-collar workers how to think. It reminded me of Graham Chapman in the Monty Python North Minehead By-Election sketch (the part where he’s dressed in important looking clothes and mingling with the crowd and making supportive remarks about the candidate).
As for Martha Stewart, it’s just another example of why it is that Americans are so afraid of their government. Here’s a woman who was convicted of lying about nothing to a bunch of jerks who were trying to frame her for what wasn’t even a crime in the first place. She’s famous and has a bad temper so she goes to jail to teach us all a lesson. Dream your American dream boys and girls but don’t think that you can ever be totally free from the possibility of a selective prosecution. We’ll reinterpret the criminal statutes however we need to if we want to get you bad enough. The Stewart case is a considerable threat to civil liberties because it sours the dream for everyone.
I can’t think of a more honest business than teaching ordinary people how to improve the quality of their lives. But then again, somehow I always knew that style was a sin and not to be tolerated. If Stewart had been a pornographer or the leader of a religious cult, the whole world would have leapt to her defense. And thousands of shareholders lost a total of over 10,000 times as much money as a result of the prosecution than she saved by dumping Inclone. Go figure.
|Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004|
|Saturday, February 28th, 2004|
|This and That
Some fascinating articles from the Guardian. This could be a major
Are the Americans
Bugging the UN?
Are the British
bugging the UN?
Is the UN bugging the UN? According to this article,
the British, the Americans, the Russians, the French, the Canadians, the Australians, and even New Zealand, are all at it.
And why aren’t the American press interested? A synopsis from Norman Solomon.
Some stories from the ever-interesting Science Blog:
The effect of Stress
on the body as a possible explanation for Gulf War Syndrome.The human brain as a potential source for stem cells
The fundamentalists’ worst nightmare: evolution in the lab.
And another science story from the BBC on the free radicals: were they framed?
On the subject of being framed, Snopes sets the record straight (the military record, that is) on John Kerry.
For balance, they also have a nice touchy feely story
about George W.
Here’s a really useful site
that advises on the most effective ways to search the web, depending on what type of information you require.
Ronald Bailey has the last word on the farmed salmon controversy.
And here’s a stimulating Ronald Bailey essay on Malthus
and the law of increasing returns.[You can permalink an entry by clicking on Calendar Link at the top of the page and then clicking on the date of the entry. Click for my blogroll and links page.]
|Monday, February 16th, 2004|
Here’s a cute idea. Check out the Hype Gallery,
which displays artworks emailed in from all over the world.
Ever wanted to write a book? This site
will give you a short but not so sweet introduction to the realities of the publishing industry.
Need a logo? Here’s an excellent primer
on how to design one.
More on publishing. The Washington Post’s Off the Page,
a series of interviews with contemporary novelists, is always a worthwhile read.
News of a study suggesting that prenatal maternal exposure to fumes from leaded gasoline
may significantly increase a child’s risk of developing schizophrenia.
Here’s a synopsis of the Kerry intern allegations
that I found quite interesting. We shall see if anything substantial develops from it all.
|Saturday, February 7th, 2004|
The British are winning the space race thanks to two resourceful individuals who have apparently collected more of yer actual chunks of yer actual Mars
than they know what to do with. And all for about a millionth of the price of the NASA program.
The controversy over Vitamin E continues to rage. A recent study
suggests that taking Vitamin E together with Vitamin C can decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But you might want to avoid supplements
and stick with reinforced cereal for your Vitamin E source. And here’s an earlier study
that helps tie the first two together nicely.
It’s the Helium-3, stupid. If we find a way to utilize it efficiently as an energy source, the amounts of Helium-3 on the Moon
may prove sufficient to finance innumerable trips there and back and produce an enormous profit to boot.
But space travel beyond our solar system may well remain out of humanity’s reach eternally. If there is any other intelligent life in the universe, it is probably at least 40 light years away. A light year is approximately 6 trillion miles. That is to say, if you had a spacecraft that travelled a million miles an hour, it would still take 6 million hours to go one light year. That’s 684 years, so 40 light years would take (very roughly) 27,360 years at a million mph.
Thought for the Day:
“The greatest moral teacher is not the one who encourages the selfish to act more generously but the one who encourages the generous to act more selfishly. Evil people can never be taught to be good, but good people can sometimes be taught to be wise.”