Daily Archives: August 5, 2012

Oak Creek Wisconsin

The last time I was in Oak Creek Wisconsin, it consisted mainly of field after field after field of corn. The soil was clay-rich, most likely representing a modified Pleistocene lake-bed. Although there are surely some interesting prehistoric sites in the area, the excavation of a few hundred test pits by a crew of us failed to yield anything of interest. Now, when I look at Google Map I can see that the development for which that archaeology was being done has happened and Oak Creek is no longer fields, and is now pretty much connected directly to Milwaukee by suburban sprawl.

White guys with guns seem to be a real problem. Isn’t there something we can do about that?

At least six people were killed Sunday when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, authorities said. The suspected shooter was later killed in exchange of gunfire with police.

Police were called to the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the suburb of Oak Creek on Sunday morning, when witnesses said several dozen people were gathering for a service.

Police in Wisconsin say one suspect has been “put down” outside a Sikh temple and they do not know if other shooters are inside the building Authorities were called to the temple Sunday morning with a report of shots fired.

Greenfield Police Chief Bradley Wentlandt said the first officer to arrive encountered a man police believe was the shooter. The two exchanged gunfire, and the suspect was killed, he said.

For the last shooting, in Colorado, a lot of people took the effort to tell other people what to not say after it happened. They were not disagreeing with the comments being made, they were just saying that they knew a Magic Number that no one else seemed to know, a magic number of days after which it would be OK to speak your mind after a heart-numbing tragedy like this one.

The problem with telling people shut up until the right time has arrived (aside from the fact that the “right time” is made up and the “proper” delay is arbitrary) is that the next shooting by some white guy with guns may well happen before the Magic Number of days has passed. What do we do then?

Live Blogging the Olympics

OK, I only have a minute to watch while I’m having lunch.

A women’s basketball game has just ended.

Americans playing Olympic basketball is like kids pulling the legs off grasshoppers.

“So, are you ready for your next game, do you have any strategy?”

“I don’t even know who we’re playing. I only need to know who the next team we’re playing is.”

“So, do you know who you’re playing next?”

“No, I don’t even know that.”

“You’ll be playing Canada.”

“OK, whatever.”

Hahaha. The American Women’s basketball team just beat whomever they were just playing (nobody can remember) by 46 points. In games between US basketball teams and anyone else at the Olympics, that would be considered close.

This year, I heard that instead of awarding the Americans the Gold Medals in a ceremony they just sent them by post a couple of weeks ago.

That reminds me, did you see the American Flag fall off the thingie yesterday when Serena Williams was getting her medal? She LOL’s through the whole National Anthem.

Which reminds me. A large number of politicians gathered in Saint Paul yesterday to unveil a new stature of Hubert Humphrey. The news kept cutting live to the event. First they cut in and Senator Klobuchar was speaking. Then, they cut in later and it was Bill Clinton. The very moment they cut in, the former President ducked and made a move towards the floor like he was being assassinated or something, and there was other strange movement on the grainy low quality TV image by people behind him. It turns out the American flag had fallen on him (it was windy). Without skipping a beat, Bill reached down, picked it up of the floor and righted it, and said…

“… which reminds me; Years ago this happened to the Senator in our state when he was giving a speech, and he set the flag up and said ‘I nearly gave my life fighting for that flag…it would be bad if it killed me now.'” or words to that effect.

Anyway, For you young folks, you need to know this: There used to be two countries that could play basketball: The US and the USSR. The USSR didn’t really play basketball, but they hated the Americans (it was mutual) and wanted to beat them at their own game so they measured everyone and found the 10,000 tallest Russians and sent them to a Gulag (which is a kind of department store but you can’t leave) and made them play basketball with each other until there were only a couple of dozen left, and that was the team that could beat the capitalist running dog Americans. And they didn’t. And that is the origin story of Olympic Basketball.

And that is exactly where the phrase “Dream Team” comes from. The US team was the Dream Team.

“…Great last minute correction, to makes sure his horse is back on his hox to get ready for Nelson’s Column..”


They just said a guy’s rain broke. They said his groom is in big trouble. He’s going to beat his groom. Is that a euphemism for something? I hope so.

OMG this horse thing is mind numbing. I’ve seen it in real life and it is not mind numbing in real life. Must be the that the color commentary is in black and white or something.

It is also funny that the American sports commenters call the buses in London “Double Decker Tourist Buses.” True, double deckers are very often tourist buses in various places around the world one finds them, but in London, those are the buses.

OK, lunch is over.

Genetics of Genius, Sunday Funnies, and Other Matters

This evening, Skeptically Speaking will have Sam Kean, author of The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements and The Violinist’s Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code. Details here.

The Sunday Funnies are here.

And while you are over there, check out Atheism 101 and the latest crazy from our friends on the other side of the culture war that they imagine exists.

Is it appropriate to use the term "Pygmy" when speaking of…Pygmies?

Left: Efe (Pygmy) man. Right: White guy.
Some of the people who live in the rain forest of Central Africa are known widely as “Pgymies.” That word…Pygmy…is considered problematic for a few different reasons. It refers to a person’s physical appearance, because it means “small.” The word is sometimes used in biology to refer to the smaller species among a group of closely related species, as in “Pygmy Hippopotamus” or “Pygmy Chimp.” In English and probably some other languages, the term is used in a derogatory way to refer to someone who is perceived as not very smart, as in “Pygmy mind.” Sometimes the word is simply used, as it is, as a non-specific derogatory word. Someone might be called a “Pygmy” because by someone who does not like them. Also, more of a distracting complexity than negative meaning, the term “Pygmy” is often misused to refer to a much larger number of different people around the world who happen to be dark skinned and short. We see the term used for the Andaman Islands, in Papaua New Guinea and Australia, for example. These a are some of the reasons the term is considered problematic. Continue reading Is it appropriate to use the term "Pygmy" when speaking of…Pygmies?

Curiosity Cruises Ever Closer

This just in:

Curiosity Closes in on its New ‘Home’
Sat, 04 Aug 2012 06:20:24 PM CDT

With Mars looming ever larger in front of it, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are in the final stages of preparing for entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected. Today, the flight team uplinked and confirmed commands to make minor corrections to the spacecraft’s navigation reference point parameters. This afternoon, as part of the onboard sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing, catalyst bed heaters are being turned on to prepare the eight Mars Lander Engines that are part of MSL’s descent propulsion system. As of 2:25 p.m. PDT (5:25 p.m. EDT), MSL was approximately 261,000 miles (420,039 kilometers) from Mars, closing in at a little more than 8,000 mph (about 3,600 meters per second).