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2002

Propaganda

There's an interesting advertising campaign on TV right now against drugs. Some of the commercials are very impressive, for want of a better word, employing several completely different approaches to get the message across.

The one titled Okay is particularly noteworthy

A: Okay, so it's true �?" drug money funds terrorism.
B: It is true.
A: OK.
B: OK?
A: Let's say I buy some dope, hypothetically. Now how much of my money actually makes it to the bad guys hands? A couple of bucks. A few bucks, that's it. Peanuts.
B: So you�?Tre saying that it�?Ts OK to support terrorism, a little.
A: Did I say that?

While I am impressed by the delivery, I just can't shake the feeling that it's all propaganda to fuel public opinion on the great War on Terrorism.

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The Monty Hall problem

I've just rediscovered the so-called Monty Hall problem. Deliciously simple, yet rather counter intuitive.

The scenario is such: you are given the opportunity to select one closed door of three, behind one of which there is a prize. The other two doors hide "goats" (or some other such "non-prize"), or nothing at all. Once you have made your selection, Monty Hall will open one of the remaining doors, revealing that it does not contain the prize. He then asks you if you would like to switch your selection to the other unopened door, or stay with your original choice. Here is the problem: Does it matter if you switch?

The solution is left as an exercise for the reader.

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Human cloning

The recent revelation of the birth of the first cloned baby is somewhat worrying. Of course, conclusive DNA evidence has not yet been established, so this could indeed be one of the most obvious(?) hoaxes of the last few years.

Despite the scientific intrigue of the notion of human cloning, there is a huge objection to the whole idea. The religious arguments are clear, but other founded on different concerns are valid also; most seem to stem from the unknown. Fundamentally, there is no real data on the the effects on a single cloned person (degenerative diseases, increased risk of illness, not to mention social reception), or on the longer term effects on society (both at the biological level and the potential pick-and-choose mindset).

I have to suspect that similar arguments were raised in the 1960s regarding space exploration. Of course, things were different then - it was a question of superpower pride; philosophical conerns were nothing compared to beating the other side. Aside from several unfortunate accidents, has the space program adversely affected the human race? Probably not.

I can't help but think of the word 'prohibition'. Surely it's better to conduct this research in a carefully regulated environment (which may be less strict than now), rather than forcing it underground.

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Drink driving

As I write this, there's a tow truck in the process of removing a car from the street below. The car was stopped about 20 minutes ago by a police car; as the officer had the driver exist the vehicle, he threw up on the street right next to the car. Busted!

It made me reflect on the attitudes to drinking and driving I've come across here in the US. I continue to be shocked by the attitude of 'it's OK if you can still stand up'. The difference between here and the UK seems very marked, yet on reflection, it only really exists between my generation and everyone else. While the penalties for driving under the influence haven't significant changed, I've grown up with an agressive, sustained advertising campaign educating drivers to the risks.

I can only conclude that such adverts, while difficult to watch at times, really have worked.

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Change of ISP

Things have been a little quiet on the journal front recently following the move of the site to Brinkster. (As a side note, this means a change from SQL Server to Access, which has sadly slowed things down somewhat).

I've spent today between two equally pointless activities - playing Ghost Recon and playing Splinter Cell. Both games are quite excellent and it's hard to call out the better of the two.

I'm planning to head up to Stevens Pass again tomorrow, but my joints are really starting to ache from all the impact.

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Boxing Day

Christmas Eve turned out to be very relaxed; I stayed around town, did a little shopping and generally a lot of nothing.

Today I went up to Stevens again and spent the entire day boarding. Despite countless questions of 'are you a witness?' and 'why would you spent Christmas day here?' it was great.

I am dearly disappointed that I have to go to work tomorrow; surely it wouldn't hurt to observe Boxing Day, the definitive occassion for recovering after the indulgence of the day before. That said, I have to confess a certain fondness for the 'Day After Thanksgiving' holiday if for no reason other than its imaginative name.

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The Two Towers

Just got back from the late show of The Two Towers. Great film; some of the sequences were absolutely mindblowing.

Reading The Silmarillion earlier this year added a whole new dimension too. The world was created in song - what a fine notion.