Posted by: Ben Bell | June 19, 2010

New Site! New Site! New Site!

Bigger, Better, Brainier

Come check it out!

Posted by: Ben Bell | June 10, 2010

RP Has Moved

Come check us out at our new site!

Posted by: Ben Bell | May 23, 2010

Ben of Ben & Jerry’s on Ethical Business

Whenever I’m relaxing over a nice bowl of ice cream, my mind invariably wonders to the role of business in promoting social responsibility and how that role will develop in the future.  You probably do the same thing, right?  No?  Not at all?  Weird.  Well I’ll have you know Ben Cohen is a master of both disciplines (and maybe a third if you count puns), and he sits down for Tea with the Economist to share the wisdom.

Posted by: Ben Bell | May 19, 2010

Take a Sloth Break

Lasers are pretty sweet. But so are sloths. Let’s not forget that.

via Maximum Fun

Posted by: Ben Bell | May 16, 2010

GOP vs. American Innovation

The Republican Party claims to be a friend to “small business,” which is one my favorite meaningless terms.  Where is the line between “small” business and “big” business?  And why even make such a distinction?

That is perhaps the subject of another post.  The point I am making here is that the Republican Party currently has a reputation for being the champions of industry, while Democrats are widely seen as the party that does all the things businesses detest (more regulation, higher taxes, and so on).  But then I see an article like this:

GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn | TPMDC.

Here we have the classic trick of sandbagging a bill by adding a completely unrelated provision that ensures no one will vote for it:

In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who’ve been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.

I’m not going to waste time decrying the unfairness of such a trick.  It’s been around for a long time and will continue to be so. Read More…

Posted by: Ben Bell | April 13, 2010

Fighting Big Placebo

Science denialism is something I witness constantly from even my more liberal friends.  Nuclear power is dangerous and so is genetically modified food.  And my neighbor’s kid got his MMR vaccine and then was diagnosed with autism.  So vaccines cause autism, right? Wrong.  The New Yorker’s Michael Specter elegantly lays out why this thinking hinders the innovation we need to tackle the world’s big problems.

Posted by: Ben Bell | November 30, 2009

Moratoriums for the Week of 30 November 2009

Keep in mind these bans are as binding as they are inane:

A two year moratorium on making fun of Twitter by saying something like “I don’t care what people are having for lunch,” or “people just say what boring crap they’re doing.”

Did you live a life free of people’s boring/irrelevant stories before Twitter?  No.  Be it by phone, e-mail, talking, Facebook, smoke signals; anyone can tell you stupid stuff about their life at any time.  So quit singling out Twitter like that platform invented it.

If you really want to stop hearing from dumb people, I suggest you run into an abandoned coal mine and blow up the entrance behind you.  But even then someone might come to rescue you, only to tell you what they had for lunch!

Oh yeah, and

A six month ban on Levi Johnston stories in the Huffington Post. Seriously, look at this.  This site’s desperate need for dirt on Sarah Palin has turned into some bizarre infatuation with one of the planet’s least newsworthy individuals.

I think a little time away from LJ is what HuffPost needs to totally realize there are better things to put on your site such as click-baiting celebrity slideshows and promoting pseudoscience.

A two week price ceiling on kittens. I absolutely refuse to spend more than $200 on a Scottish Fold, so I’m setting the price right now like some kind of kitten czar.  But don’t worry, William F. Buckley’s Ghost, you’ll have your precious free market back in a scant two weeks.  That’s plenty of time for me to ask my parents for money to “pay bills.”  Which, as usual, I will blow on a sack of exotic kittens.

I guess that will do it for now.  Now go drink and be merry (until Jan. 3, 2014).

Posted by: Ben Bell | July 3, 2008

Forbidden Love: Robots

Admit it. You have no clue how to hit this.

Actually I’m pretty sure robot love is not forbidden at all.  Frowned upon?  Yes.  I’m frowning right now, in fact.  But sexy roboladies have been celebrated and ogled as far back as 1927 with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and probably even further than that.  And I can see from this article in the Times of India entitled ‘In 2050 Your Lover Might Be A Robot’ that the concept is making inroads all over the world.

I generally support this development. Of the many important life lessons I learned from watching Demolition Man the two most vital were exchanging bodily fluids is gross and every restaurant in the future will be a Pizza Hut.  But I will say this, if by the year 2050 people are actually living with robots as sexual companions, then we will have failed as a society.  How, what, why?  The answer lies in the purpose of robots and the nature of sex.  Robots are doers.  They do things that we cannot or do not want to do.  A robot makes my coffee.  A robot propels me down the street at insane speeds well in excess of 35 mph.  These tasks are firmly physical in nature.

But Ben, isn’t sex also physical, and therefore falls into the realm of robotry? Wrong, boyo.  All of the physical mumbo jumbo involved serves only to release endorphins in your brain that trick you into thinking procreation is fun.  The endorphins are the prize here.  It’s akin to saying we should build robots to shoot heroin into our veins when clearly the answer is to use Voodoo to trick us into thinking we just shot up.

No. Wait.

I lost my train of thought there, but the point is that building robots for sex is a huge waste of resources when the same effect can be accomplished though chemical regulation in the brain.  In Demoltion Man, everyone just did it in Virtual Reality.  This eliminates the need for robots, but I like the Bladerunner solution of just telling a computer how you want to feel and it spits out the right pills.

*Ahem* slightly drunken post-coital bliss, please.

Aaaaand nap time.

Posted by: Ben Bell | June 21, 2008

LHC Is Awesome, Won’t Kill Us All

I see the New York Times is ready to call it in this article.

A new particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider scheduled to go into operation this fall outside Geneva, is no threat to the Earth or the universe, according to a new safety review approved Friday by the governing council of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or Cern, which is building the collider.

“There is no basis for any concerns about the consequences of new particles or forms of matter that could possibly be produced by the LHC,” five physicists who comprised the safety assessment group wrote in their report. Whatever the collider will do, they said, Nature has already done many times over.

The report is available at

The Large Hadron Collider is in fact safe and will not create a black hole that will swallow the world.  Nor will it turn us all into particles called Strangelets. That’s all well and good except for the fact that practically everyone in the scientific community already knew this.  Here’s a good example from Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog back in March. Practically every science blog I read went something like that. I especially like that the “critics” the New York Times mention but never name turn out to be a litigious nuclear health researcher and one guy that seems a bit off his rocker. Kind of pathetic, but I guess it makes for better press when your mind is left to fill in the blank with something remotely legitimate.

Anyhow my goal here isn’t to troll on the New York Times (well maybe a little), but to celebrate the forward progress of one of the All-Time Badass Feats of Engineering. I have my fingers crossed that it’ll produce some sort of Matrix-level revelation about how our universe works. Although if it turns out we actualy are in the Matrix, I may barf a little at the thought of the impending techno orgies [probably NSFW]:

I have faith that awesome science could never lead to that.