My apologies in advance: I think I’m going to be posting a few (hopefully not too long) blogs in succession to try to make up for the fact that I can’t blog from work any more, and school work (and the desire to not be on a computer after a day of work) after coming home have been preventing me from blogging like I used to.
BoingBoing has been following the issue of a new surge of British “fear everything” posters:
BoingBoing tends to have a lot of pretty funny people commenting in their site. I was just reading that Unreasonable Faith site I mentioned a post ago, and got a real chuckle out of his post: Irrefutable proof that Baal exists!, but then read the first comment left on it, and would have spewed soda through my nose should I have been drinking any. It’s the “delivery” that makes it real comedy. 🙂
The entire Salon article is filled with sad and hilarious humor (really, “surreal absurdity” is just the best phrase for it), but the snippet provided is enough to make you shake your head in both disgust and glee (this kind of cognitive dissonance must have a Newspeak term for it. That’d be doubleplusgood!)
Some good stuff is found in the comment, though. Like this ROTFL quip from commentor #2:
I mean, if the pilot is allowed to bring a knife onboard, he might somehow get control of the plane!
On a serious note is this astute observation from #23:
OK, here’s the problem, years ago the corporations… I mean uh… people who run this country decided that they should fund education just enough to turn out people who can blindly regurgitate simple sets of knowledge and can perform tasks without questioning them. In other words, with complete absence of free thought. Now we are beholden to this army of idiots to run our lives. This is the end, people. Time to jump ship.
Well, quite a few heady posts there lately–but, well, guess that’s what happens when one’s Constitution is torn up before your eyes. Lemme tell you something I found humorous today:
I was getting ready for work and flipping channels I found one showing the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” (A new one is in the works, staring Keanu Reeves…and you know what? I actually think he could pull it off.) Klaatu (who’s a human looking alien, by the way, if you don’t know) has been analyzed by military doctors, and two of them are discussing how Klaatu 78 but looks 38, all dejectedly. One complains that he feels like a “3rd rate witch doctor” (do witch doctors have rates?) Another doctor comes in mystified that a bullet wound in his arm has healed completely after a day of being treated with a salve Klaatu provided. He mutters that he’s going to get it analyzed, and wonders if he should just give up medicine. Then the other two doctors light up inside the office.
I’m thinking any doctor, anybody engaged in the sciences, when faced with such amazing discovery, if they mutter and grumble “oh dear, how advanced this is, woe is me for being primitive,” have no right being a scientist. Or human for that matter. When faced with amazing discovery and mystery, a truly inquisitive and skeptical and science minded person should revel in the opportunity to investigate and learn and experience! Shame on fictional grumbling doctors!
It was amusing to see the doctors smoking, and in their office foyer. Ah, a simpler age. Reminded me of Dr. CottleÂ from the new Battlestar Galactica. 🙂
Richard Dawkins is just the coolest!
(Author of such books as The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion.)
Here is a video (22 min long) of his talk at TED a couple of years ago where he discusses just how fantastically weird the universe is, because of the way our brains have evolved to apprehend our universe in a way that assists our survival:
Next is a very short clip (1min20sec) of his response to someone who asks Pascal’s Wager:
Finally, an also brief (2min25sec) clip of astronomer and educator Neil deGrasse Tyson admonishing Dawkins (and rightly so) for perhaps alienating people he could be helping bring to rational thought and science, due to his caustic nature:
Since I already broke my self-imposed block on religious posts for today, just one more–in the subject of personally affecting issues reason and emotion (two subjects that need not be mutually exclusive!) Today’s comic from Cectic:
(a near-consistently great comic strip, by the way.)
(Yeah, I have no idea what that title means either. Sometimes I just throw krahp out there.)
BoingBoing has a story today on how starting Jan 1, the TSA will be severely limiting how many and how large of batteries for electronic devices you can carry on a plane.
In the comments, some of the voices of reason show pretty convincingly that there may actually be a legitimate reason for this, as laptop and device batteries can at times cause fires, and the toxic fumes they put out is extremely dangerous. Considering most deaths on an airplane come not from crashed but from smoke inhalation, I can see the point.
But the real problem is the fact that this is yet another rule the TSA is enforcing with little to know TSA agent training or clarifications which will cause and allow TSA security to enforce it arbitrarily and inconsistently. Pitting their power to harass and bully people against people’s right to travel without being made to feel like criminals, prisoners, and cattle. I’m going to be going to a conference in Florida next March…how can I be sure that some TSA agent with power issues won’t force me to trash my spare laptop battery because he thinks it might have more than the permitted lithium? What if he thinks my laptop batteries, cell battery and MP3 player battery collectively is a problem?
There’s a reason why the TSA has recently far surpassed the IRS as the most despised government agency.
This has nothing to do with explosions or even fires. It’s even simpler.
The problem is that Lithium is the lightest metal. Now, let’s assume everyone on the plane just took all the lithium they wanted onto the plane. Then it only takes one person who is an alchemist to turn all this lithium into gold. Now as you all know from observation, gold is much heavier. The new weight would make flying impossible and the plane would crash.
It’s likely someone in the intelligence community came across this “Al-Qa’my” terrorist plot and are taking proactive steps to prevent it.
Once again, the TSA has made us not only safe, but feeling safe.
Hopefully a quickie post today–on the subject of your spicy brains!
Two really interesting podcasts this week (I understand some people still need reminding you don’t need an MP3 player, certainly not an iPod to listen to podcasts. They’re just MP3 files you can download and listen on your computer.)
The first is The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe: ♦ SGU’s Latest Episode
In addition to other cool topics like their experience at a psychic fair ($20 for a 15 minute reading, and dozens of readings through the day–even just working the fair for 4 hours that’s over $300. For four hours of conning people through play-acting and lying. Amazing. But I digress….) they did some news on some updated research regarding how photographs (and manipulated photographs in particular) influence the way we remember something, which influences what we think about a particular topic.
(Something politicians, spin doctors, and marketers already know all too well.)
They also discuss some research that shows that when we recall a memory, we’re changing the neural paths and proteins that “store” the memory–we change the memory when we remember it! Every time we remember an event, we’re editing it with current sensory stimuli and emotion and thoughts. Keep that in mind next time you think you’re absolutely certain about how something happened, or are dealing with purely anecdotal “evidence.”
And, the latest episode of Point of Inquiry: ♦ Richard Wiseman – Quirkology
Wiseman is a magician, psychologist, and professor of Public Understanding of Psychology. He’s written a new book, they discuss. But talks about his work dealing with perception, how our senses fool us, how others fool us, and the psychology of how we perceive what we do. His experience in magic helps him bring an interesting and entertaining perspective on the topic.
There’s a link on the site to a YouTube video he made that really might blow your mind, regarding our senses and false perception. Cwazy!
And if you want to express your lack of belief in anything in your chewing gum, here’s some flavorless Nihilist Chewing Gum, because they don’t believe in flavor (http://www.mcphee.com/items/11505.html)