April 17th, 2003


Theologian of the Year

Religious magazine "The Door" just made Buffy "Theologian of the Year".

Fanatastic article here explaining why. Apparently it boils down to the relevance of the messages to modern life (due to their lack of hard and fast belief) coupled with the reliance on traditional values of good and evil.

Oh, and all the parabley goodness.

Xeno's Footsoldiers (being an idea I had while walking for the bus this morning)

The Philosopher-Mage Xeno was but one of many mages active in early Greece. Much of early philosophical thought was laid down as varying mages attempted to wrest control of reality from each other by imprinting their ideas onto as many students as possible. While many philosophers had quite abstract ideas for their own realities (basing them on the primacy of numbers or shapes or attempting to reduce all others to mere shadows of the true reality), Xeno went straight for the jugular with his own brand of attack philosophy. Much of this has now been lost, but one item remains - his footsoldiers. These were remarkably strong and capable in hand to hand combat, but sadly susceptible to arrow-fire. Xeno therefore put forward the idea that it was impossible for an arrow to ever hit its target, because it would first have to travel half of its distance and then half of the remaining distance, followed by half of the distance still remaining. his would continue forever, with the distance travelled becoming smaller the closer it got to it's target. By this method, Xeno's troops became invulnerable to all kinds of missile fire. Sadly, overzealous application of the theory caused his troops to later starve to death, as their food was able to approach their mouths but never actually reach it.

Axis of _what???_

Bitter after being snubbed for membership in the "Axis of Evil", Libya, China and Syria today announced that they had formed the "Axis of Just as Evil", which they said would be more evil than that stupid Iran - Iraq - North Korea axis President Bush warned of in his State of the Union address.

Axis of Evil members, however, immediately dismissed the new Axis as having, for starters, a really dumb name. "Right. They are just as evil . . . in their dreams!" declared North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. "Everybody knows we're the best evils . . . best at being evil . . .we're the best."

Diplomats from Syria denied they were jealous over being excluded, although they conceded they did ask if they could join the Axis of Evil. "They told us it was full," said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"An axis can't have more than three countries", explained Iraqi President Saddam Hussien. " This is not my rule, it's tradition. In World War II you had Germany, Italy, and Japan in the evil Axis. So, you can only have three, and a secret handshake. Ours is wickedly cool."

International reaction to Bush's Axis of Evil declaration was swift, as within minutes, France surrendered.

Elsewhere, peer-conscious nations rushed to gain triumvirate status in what has become a game of geopolitical chairs. Cuba, Sudan and Serbia announced that they had formed the "Axis of Somewhat Evil", forcing Somalia to join with Uganda and Myanmar in the "Axis of Occasionally Evil", while Bulgaria, Indonesia and Russia established the "Axis of Not So Much Evil Really but Just Generally Disagreeable".

With the criteria suddenly expanded and all the desirable clubs filling up, Siearra Leone, El Salvador, and Rwanda applied to be called the "Axis of Countries That Aren't the Worst But Certainly Won't Be Asked to Host the Olympics ".

Canada, Mexico and Australia formed the "Axis of Nations That Are Actually Quite Nice But Secretly Have Some Nasty Thoughts About America", while Scotland, New Zealand and Wales established the "Axis of Countries That Want Sheep to Wear Lipstick". "That's not a threat, really, just something we like to do", said Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell.

While wondering if the other nations of the world weren't perhaps making fun of him, a cautious Bush granted approval for most axis, although he rejected the establishment of the "Axis of Counties Whose Names End in 'Guay", accusing one of it's members of filing a false application. Officials from Paraguay, Uruguay, and Chadguay denied the charges.

Israel, meanwhile, insisted it didn't want to join any Axis, but privately world leaders said that's only because no one asked them.

Nicked from Aaron

Genders again again again again

I saw a program called Mind Readers recently which covered autistics and the problems they have due to their complete inability to tell what other people think/feel. The program went at length into the Amygdala, the area of the brain which seems to be in charge of using faces to tell what other people think/feel. It also covered some syndromes that are like autism and showed how it's sex linked (you get vastly more male autistics than female). It also highlighted the fact that while 5% of the population works in an area that oculd be classified as 'engineering', 12% of autistic's parents do. That coupled with the sharp increases in autism in Silicon Valley and other high-tech areas leads me to believe that engineers are well o ntheir way to Asperger's syndrome at the very least. The program went on to posit some theories about autism, aspergers and general geekiness being along a scale and that this scale was also sex-linked. There wasn't much to back this last part up, but the program wasn't very in-depth so it didn't surprise me.

This is one of the reasons I was delighted to see this article in The Guardian by the head of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University on sex differences. I'm looking forward (with trepidation) to having errors/problems pointed out, but it backs up some of of what I've heard about testosterone and its effects on the development of the brain:

Some of the most convincing evidence for biological causes comes from studies of the effects of hormones. There was a time when women were prescribed a synthetic female hormone (diethylstilbestrol), in an attempt to prevent repeated spontaneous miscarriages. Boys born to such women are likely to show more female-typical, empathising behaviours, such as caring for dolls. And if a female rat is injected at birth with testosterone, she shows faster, more accurate maze learning, compared with a female rat who has not been given such an injection.

Some important lessons have been learnt from studies of clinical conditions. Male babies born with IHH (idiopathic hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism) have very small testes (and therefore low levels of testosterone) and they are worse at spatial aspects of systemising, relative to normal males. Other male babies born with androgen insensitivity (AI) syndrome (testosterone is an androgen) are also worse at systemising. Compare these with female babies born with CAH (congenital adrenal hyperplasia), who have high levels of androgens and who have enhanced spatial systemising.

Poll de Nathan

Nathan asked me a whole bunch of disconnected questions (due to boredom, I suspect) and I liked them enough to convert them into a poll....

Poll #125324 Courtesy of Nathan

I prefer to communicate by


I would rather spend a month without

the internet

My preferred way to die would be:

My religious beliefs are closest to:


I would rather have sex with a

50 year old
16 year old

I would rather lose my


It would be easier to lose

my memory of my life so far
a limb