The Geek Goes On

Day Two at AAAS Conference...Data to Knowledge to Action: Computational Science in a Global Knowledge SocietyI'm taking Sebastian Thrun's Programming a Robotic Car class starting this week, so I was particularly excited for Peter Stone's talk "Intersections of the Future: Using Fully Autonomous Vehicles" and boy oh boy did it not disappoint.  Behold the future:What I found particularly interesting about his system is that it depends on the human passanger not overriding the … [Read more...]

“So you’re on vacation at a science conference?”

Heck yeah I am!  Here are some quick highlights from my first day at the AAAS Annual Meeting:Fifty Years of the Pill: Risk Reduction and Discovery of Benefits Beyond ContraceptionHow could I skip this session given the topic's recent prominence?  According to the panelists, the non-contraceptive side effects of the pill are varied.  It is prescribed to women with certain risk factors for ovarian cancer, because it lowers their chance of incidence.  It's also used as treatment for Pol … [Read more...]

Parsing that “98% of Catholics use contraception” figure

I'll be back with a longer post on the actual substance of the contraceptive mandate and my ideas about the reasonable limits to the idea that religious mandates exempt you from the law, but I can't pass up the chance to geek out about social science statistics and methodology.You've all probably heard the "98% of Catholic women use contraception" statistic cited by now, and people have started to take a closer look at the relevant study.  Let me chat you through some of the … [Read more...]

Komen Concedes (but it still sucks)

Komen spent the last two days reaping a financial windfall from pro-life activists, after they pulled their funding for Planned Parenthood.  (Planned Parenthood had a funding surge, too, prompting a friend of mine to say the whole thing felt like a publicity stunt, or a pro-wrestling storyline).  Now, Komen has purged its new policy.But before any pro-choice readers I've got decide to put the money where their mouths are, let me make a plea that you not give Komen any of your money.  Not ev … [Read more...]


Like many sites, I'm drawing attention to SOPA and PIPA, two terrible laws that threaten the web.  You can check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation for a rundown of the bills, but here are some lowlights:SOPA creates a guilty until proven innocent standard for copyright. Instead of filing a complaint about specific infringing content, copyright holders can knock the entire website hosting the content off the web. The Attorney General could de-list websites from search engines.So … [Read more...]

A (non-authoritative) post on Transgender Issues

There was a request in the comments that I do a post on Transgender issues in the same way I did a post on bisexuality for National Coming Out Day (which was followed by bisexuality Q&A and a post on queer political tactics).  I thought those posts prompted some pretty helpful discussion, so I'm glad to set up another opportunity to go over the basics, but this time I have to tag on some major caveats:I'm not trans (well, except transhumanist), so I'm not speaking from a place of … [Read more...]

You Must Have Known This’d be the Thanksgiving Post

 Bonus content: Orion Magazine is running a feature essay on Turkey Pardons.  Here's a preview: The tradition of the presidential turkey pardon has continued to evolve in surprising ways. In the early years the exonerated gobblers were sent to Kidwell Farm, a petting zoo in northern Virginia where, as turkey rock stars, they lived a life featuring excessive drug use and media attention but only the brief fame their overbred and steroid-addled condition would allow. Since 2005, however, … [Read more...]